From the HBD Archive
From: cjh@diaspar.HQ.Ileaf.COM (Chip Hitchcock)
Subject: re re: Why Lager?
Date: 1992-04-07 19:56:19 GMT

Since you've brought the subject up---would you care to guess how it got
warm enough in San Francisco to make steam beer a necessity? I used to
spend an occasional weekend at conventions in Oakland or San Jose, so I
never believed Mark Twain's "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer
in San Francisco." Then I arrived in SF proper in mid-July, driving down 101
with the fog flooding through the gaps in the coastal hills and virtually
covering the Golden Gate, and nearly froze downtown; and now a physicist
friend who taught in Sacramento for two years says that's standard (due to
rising air in the central valley sucking cold wet air off the ocean?).
So how did it happen that ]room-temperature[ lagers were necessary? Were
they really brewing across the bay? Or is a daytime high of 50 not cold
enough even for the older styles of lagers? Or (global warming on the east
coast to the contrary---the Charles almost never freezes hard enough to
walk across any more) was it actually warmer in SF in the last century?
For that matter, how/when did lagers spread compared to mechanical
refrigeration? 1840 is well before compressors, and somewhere around the
start of ice-block refrigerator cars for cattle carcases. The word means
"cave", I'm told because that's where the beer was stored to stay cool;
were there no caves or cool cellars available in SF? Or wasn't there enough
ice inland from SF in the winter (considering that there's skiing within
easy reach of LA) that summer brewing should have been possible?

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