Last night I went out to a mixer at a coffee shop with Linden Street Brewery’s Burning Oak Black Lager on tap. Because I haven’t gotten around to checking out their brewpub in Oakland, I instantly chose a pint of this one in support of local brewing and to give my palate some practice picking apart dark beers.
In color, this black lager is a smooth and deep coffee bean brown with a mahogany glow in the sunlight. Within the first minute the head disappears but sticks along the glass at the top and wisps down the side nicely. The nose tickles with sweet and bitter grass, which adds herbal spice to the taste of coffee and burnt caramel. Toasty oak seeps out and is washed out in the body by moderate carbonation and hop backing, and, despite the watery mouth-feel, this beer’s flavor profile is bulked up once it begins to warm up with smokier malt and tangier hops. Because of this, it becomes a little more complex and a better beer to sip than to down with a meal. Try pairing it with light bar fare like pork cold cuts, toasted almonds or dried figs to bring out the toasty and sweet flavors.
My favorite qualities about this beer are its light body and the balance between smooth and flavor-packed malt and bitter, spicy hops. It drinks easily as a comfort beer but with enough going on to keep your tastebuds on their toes.
Photo credit: oaklandnorth.net