Though the Bayview-based brewery's offerings are available on tap and in the bottle all over the Bay Area, we suggest visiting a Firkin' Friday happy hour open house at the brewery from 4 to 9 p.m. every week.
1195 Evans Ave, SF. (415) 64-BEER-1, www.goodbeer.com
This Berkeley brewery encompasses what's advantageous about imported and local beers. The only non-Austrian outlet for this 400-year-old recipe gets many of its ingredients from its sister company in Salzburg. But bottles, packaging, and, of course, the beer, all are made in the East Bay. What makes Trumer special is a process called "endosperm mashing," which means brewers separate the barley husks from the starchy endosperm during milling, then reintroduce them at the end of the process to highlight the warm, toasty flavor of the malt. Trumer also uses a process called krausening, a slow, secondary fermentation that helps build natural carbonation. (One reason for its signature glassware is to show off the tiny Champagne-like bubbles.)
1404 Fourth St., Berk. (510) 526-1160
This Prohibition-themed South Park brewery has been getting lots of attention lately for its canned craft beers Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Beer and Brew Free! Or Die IPA and for good reason. Though cans are the best way to keep beer fresh (since sunlight can't penetrate metal), convenient for carrying, allowed at locales where glass isn't, and (let's face it) good for shotgunning, the delivery method has long been associated with cheap, watery beer. But this stigma seems to be slowly eroding, thanks in no small part to forward-thinking breweries like 21st Amendment.
563 Second St., SF. (415) 369-0900, www.21st-amendment.com
We realize that this list is only a tiny glimpse at the myriad breweries, alehouses, brewpubs, and better beer bars in and around the Bay Area. Indeed, Northwest Brewing News lists more than 100 such places between Bakersfield and Blue Lake and we're willing to bet there are many more. Check our Web site for information and extended interviews about breweries like Bear Republic, Shmaltz, Thirsty Bear, Triple Rock, and Magnolia, plus recommendations from beer experts at Toronado, City Beer, and Healthy Spirits.
Still think we're missing someone? Let us know.
Light beer's plight
I like to drink beers. Plural. I'm the guy the ad men were thinking of in that classic jingle, the one that goes "Shaefer is the one beer to have when you're having more than one." One summer a few years back, my friends and I polished off 1,000 cans of beer over a four-day weekend on Lake Shasta; there were only about 10 of us drinking. Do the math on that one, and you get a sense of my taste for the blessed amber fluid.
But that was then, and this is now. And today I have two kids who wake up at 6 a.m. and keep me on the go day and night; I'm not as young as I used to be; and I can't handle the intoxication the way I once did.
But I still drink beers, plural, every day, and I'm not about to give it up. What I've done is switched to light beer. Correction: "Light" is a bad word. Among serious drinkers, it's called "session beer."
It's a choice more and more people are making in this country beer with lower alcohol content is one of the fastest growing parts of the industry. But it presents a problem: how do you drink local (and high quality beer) when most of the craft breweries and brewpubs focus almost entirely on the heavy and the strong?
Quick definition here: light beer is generally promoted and advertised as having fewer calories than regular brew.