Native Suds

Lucky Hand joins the revival of California's own beer style

The wonderful, easy-drinking Cali Common from Lucky Hand ($6 per 22-ounce bottle) has quite the locavore pedigree.

The style, once known as "steam beer" (which Anchor Brewing has trademarked), was invented in the 19th century, when European immigrants began brewing lagers at warmer temperatures–specifically, in San Francisco's temperate climate.

A new generation of local craft breweries, including Lucky Hand and Linden Street Brewery, has recently taken to the style. The latter first developed Cali Common for Lucky Hand owner William Jablon in 2009. When Linden Street's own production grew, Lucky Hand went on hiatus for 10 months as Jablon searched for a new facility.

In December 2011, ensconced in a Santa Cruz facility, he was finally able to release the Cali Common again. Not only is the beer now certified organic, the recipe is current brewmaster Adam Kramer's own.

Drinking a glass is like tasting Anchor Steam through a Hipstamatic filter: The beer's maltiness is intensified, the hops (German Perle) more vivid. The Cali Common is still light enough to accompany the cucumber spears and egg salad you've packed in your picnic basket, but bitter-edged enough to stand up to grilled brats.

Local ones, of course.