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Linden Street Brewery

Submitted by on October 10, 2009 – 8:18 AMNo Comment
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Inside the Linden Street Brewery

Oakland, CA – Once upon a time, Oakland was a beer producing powerhouse. 100 years ago, the city of 49,000 turned out 35,000 gallons of beer every year. But this golden age came to a close in 1959 when the city’s oldest and largest brewery finally went out of business. But this past June, local residents saw the first step in restoring Oakland’s place in the industry with the opening of Linden Street Brewery.

Co-founded by Adam Lamoreaux (who also serves as brewmaster), Alice Chen, and Carey Peterson, Linden Street produces steam beer, a brewing process that originated in and became synonymous with California starting in the mid-1800s. Steam beer results from using lager yeast without the traditional temperatures associated with refrigeration. For now, Linden Street only produces two beers: Common Lager and Burning Oak Black Lager. The Common Lager, a golden-color  beer with an impressive 39 IBU for those who enjoy tasting their hops, is their flagship beer and the one most commonly available.  Steam beer is so unique in contemporary America that while it does make Linden Street stand out, it also raised some initial questions about whether or not it could draw a large enough customer base to secure the brewery’s continued success.

“We were really talking about bringing an industry back to Oakland that just really hasn’t been here for a long time,” explained Lamoreaux. “We made so much beer out of Oakland before prohibition. Prohibition just killed it. And then World War II kept it dead and basically after World War II this area became more about canaries and other types of food processing. The breweries just disappeared. We found that this style helped us tell this story a lot faster. Because it allowed us to say, ‘This is a lot like the beer you would have found here in 1890 when this building was first built,’ and gives us a chance to tell them that 35,000 barrels came out of Oakland that year. It gives us a chance to tell them that Oakland has huge brewing roots.”

So far it appears that building a fan base around a 19th century brewing technique is going well. Linden Street initially had a weekly four-hour barbeque every Friday but the crowds grew so large that the brewery was going through its beer too quickly. Starting August 1, the barbeque was turned into a monthly affair. “People in Oakland are really looking for something to be proud of,” said Lamoreaux, and he hopes that Linden Street will be that something.