In the heart of the Port of Oakland’s busy industrial neighborhood, at the intersection of Linden Street and Embarcadero, where trains screech as they blow by and the brakes on 18-wheel trucks hiss as drivers park in front of warehouses, sits a quaint brewery which is rekindling the old West Coast tradition of beer making.
The Linden Street Brewery is small and unpretentious, but its owners are proud of their brewing tradition, which goes back to the early 1800’s, when settlers from Germany first made Oakland their home.
The West Coast tradition of brewing, or the California lager, is a steam-brewed ale that is made at a temperature closer to that of lagers. This method creates a “hoppy, more bitter taste”, says Andrew Ritter, lead brewer at Linden Street.
At the turn of the century, West Oakland was home to the biggest of four breweries in Oakland, Golden West. That brewery closed in 1959, but 50 years later, Linden Street Brewery is the first to bring the production brewery back to Oakland.
There are only three employees at the brewery; Ritter and his two partners multitask as brewers, managers and delivery boys. “I sometimes take the beer to deliver personally to the various shops and outlets in the area, the owners appreciate our work,’’ he said.
Andrew Ritter says that the brewery produces roughly 2,500 barrels of beer per year.
“I like the Common Lager the best. Though the Black Lager sells more,” said Ritter, who also noted that the aroma from the fresh roast of the ingredients that go in the Black Lager has been known to attract customers. “We also have two other beers, the Red Lager and the Town Lager.”
Ritter is responsible for personally choosing all of the ingredients from his suppliers. “We get most of our hops from our own farmlands,” Ritter said, referring to a small farm the company owns. “But we have to buy other hops from suppliers, we do not produce enough as of yet.”
The lease to Linden Street Brewery was signed seven years ago, and the company officially began production four years ago. Although the factory is hidden near Oakland’s docks, it is impacting Oakland’s community.
Linden Street brews can be found at a number of bars, restaurants and taprooms around the Bay; including Beer Revolution, Hawker Fare and Luka’s Taproom.
The brewery also has its own taproom that is open for customers to come by and have a drink, open select hours during the week and on the weekend, according to the Brewery’s website.