Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for November, 2004

Desperately Seeking Fantome

William: I have been reading your column in the Oakland Tribune for several months now, and find it quite valuable. I am hoping that you can help me with a bit of information.
I live in Piedmont and I am trying to find a store that sells Fantome.
A friend tells me that there is a place in Santa Cruz, but I was hoping that you might know of something that is a bit closer. Actually, maybe a better question would be for your recommendation on the best stores to buy beer in the bay area. There are, after all, many beers to try.
Any info that you could provide would be most helpful. Thanks for your time.
— Dave S.
Dave — I tried Fantome in Belgium and loved it, especially the Noel. But I’ve never seen it here in the Bay Area. The Shelton Brothers, P.O. Box 486, Belchertown, MA 01007 , import Fantome, so I’ll shoot them an e-mail tonight and ask them where you can get it.
Wait a minute… maybe the Toronado in San Francisco carries it _ that’s a great bar at 547 Haight St.
…OK, I called the Toronado and here’s the news: They have three Fantomes in bottles: Fantome Noel 2001 and 2002 and Fantome, the Saison. Noel is 10 percent alcohol by volume and Fantome Saison is 8 percent.
I’ll still e-mail the Sheltons, but if you’ve never visited the Toronado _ a glass of Fantome is a great reason to do so.
The place looks like it belongs on the Lower East Side in New York City . It’s scruffy, but wonderful. – William Brand

Got a question about beer? Or looking for our list of the best places to buy beer in the San Francisco Bay Area. E-mail William Brand at

Posted on Friday, November 19th, 2004
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On the E-Mail Front

The E-Mail Blog…

From time to time I’m going to post letters and e-mail we receive from readers, along with our attempts at answers. Here’s the first:

I had run across a Wisconsin Cherry Beer at the Brewfest in Portland, Oregon a few years ago. It was a hit with the microbrew swillers attending.

I have been unable to find this product in California or anywhere else for some time now. The beer was bottled in capped wine or champagne bottles and wax sealed. Do you have any idea how I might track down the brewery? It really is an extraordinary beer!



Hi Rande:
Well, you have excellent taste. The beer is Wisconsin Belgian Red. It’s brewed by New Glarus Brewing, New Glarus, WI, which is southwest of Madison.
I just called the brewery and they told me it’s not sold anywhere these days except in Wisconsin. Belgian Red has won about every beer award that exists. You found it in Portland, because the Oregon Brewers Festival invites a selected number of brewers of great beer across the country to participate each year, plus all Oregon brewers.
Here’s some info I pulled off the New Glarus website: (http:

W i s c o n s i n B e l g i a n R e d

You hold the marriage of wine and beer. Belgian Red is a tapestry of flavor. This beer is brewed with whole Montmorency Cherries, Wisconsin-farmed wheat and Belgian roasted barley, lagered in oak tanks and balanced by Hallertau hops we aged in our brewery one full year.

Over a pound of Door County Cherries in every bottle makes this beer uniquely Wisconsin. So unique , in fact, that we applied for a patent. Expect this beer to be ruby red, with a medium body that is highly carbonated and intense with cherry flavor and bouquet. Serve your friends Belgian Red in a brandy snifter or champagne flute and toast life with beer from the land of Wisconsin.

S t y l e
W i s c o n s i n C h e r r y A l e
F l a v o r
H i g h l y c a r b o n a t e d a n d i n t e n s e w i t h c h e r r y f l a v o r a n d b o u q u e t .
A l c o h o l
5 . 1 % b y v o l u m e
A v a i l a b l e i n 7 5 0 m l a n d 1 / 2 b a r r e l s ; 1 / 4 b a r r e l s b y s p e c i a l o r d e r )

William Brand
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Posted on Tuesday, November 16th, 2004
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These aren’t your conservative beers

HOW about a walk on the wild side? Lou Reed wasn’t talking about beer when he wrote the song in 1972, but today, with a fair amount of liberal interpretation, it’s easy to apply the words to some of the beer being made today. Here’s a sampling:

Wild Dog Double Pale Ale, Flying Dog Brewing, Denver, Colo. This is extreme pale ale, in honor of Flying Dog’s 10th anniversary ale. It’s enough to drive conservative Brits wild. This is hallucinogenic stuff — Cascade hops pour out of the glass and circle the brain. It’s hugely hoppy at 85 International Bitterness Units (Bud has 11 IBU), but at 9.5 percent alcohol by volume, there’s enough malt to balance the hops. Well, almost.

Double Bastard Ale, Stone Brewing, San Marcos. In 1972, your family newspaper couldn’t even print the name of this huge, malty wonder. (And maybe, if certain trends continue, we won’t be able to print it again.)

The much heftier son of Arrogant Bastard, this 10 percent alcohol by volume beer is more like an after-dinner brandy than a summer cooler.

In fact, the 10-ounce glass made to go with it looks like it’s made for a whiskey highball. It’s a malt cocktail with a huge malty nose, quite sweet taste with a rush of alcohol and a long delicious follow. Interested in buying the Italian crystal glass? It’s $8. Go to

Brown Shugga, Lagunitas Brewing, Petaluma. If you like the taste of brown sugar and like your beer strong and sweet, this November seasonal is for you. The brewers add 200 pounds of brown sugar to each 50 barrel batch. Yeast loves sugar, so the beer is 9.9 percent alcohol by volume. It has an intense molasses nose with fruity background notes. The taste is sweet, with lots of hops.

Frambozen, New Belgium Brewing, Ft. Collins, Colo. This is New Belgium’s holiday beer. Frambozen is Flemish for raspberries and in this one real Oregon raspberries are added to a traditional Flemish brown ale. It has a raspberry aroma mixed with pear notes from the ale. The taste is slightly sour, with a citrus tang from, I guess, the American hops. It’s unusual but worth a try.

Another beer to watch for is Trumer Pils. It’s not wild at all. It’s a very drinkable, straightforward, Austrian pilsner made at the old Golden Pacific Brewery, 1404 4th St., Berkeley, by San Antonio-based Gambrinus Co. and Privatbrauerei Josef Sigl. It has a light, hoppy nose, huge creamy head, and perfect malt-hops balance. It’s unusual because it’s made here and arrives in stores immediately after six weeks of aging.

And don’t forget Pacific Coast Brewing’s 16th annual Tasting of Holiday Beers from noon to 3 p.m. Dec. 11. Advance tickets are $35. A great selection of holiday beers from around the state will be offered. For more information, call (510) 836-2739 or visit Pacific Coast Brewing is at 906 Washington St., Oakland.

William Brand publishes What’s On Tap, a consumer craft beer and hard cider newsletter. His column runs every other week. Write him at or P.O. Box 3676, Walnut Creek, CA 94598, or call (510) 915-1180.

Posted on Friday, November 12th, 2004
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Beer for Brunch? OK, — If There’s Chocolate

Beer for Breakfast? OK With Chocolate

I often make jokes about beer for breakfast, but ever since I spent the night and early, early morning in an overseas seaport bar with a bunch of drunken shipmates _the idea has very little attraction.
I remember that bleary morning, because a First Class Boatswain’s Mate pulled his head off the bar and said, `Hell, it’s time for breakfast.’
Since I had been sound asleep since around 4 a.m., I thought that was a good idea _ you know coffee and maybe a sweet roll or…
This guy ordered a tall glass of lager and a shot of bourbon and a raw egg. You got it: He dumped the egg into the beer, followed it with the bourbon _ including the shot glass and drank the whole thing.
I must admit that after the election, the idea of getting blotto by 8 a.m. almost seems attractive, then I go back to my days in Uncle Sam’s Naivee and…
Anyway, this is a long-winded lead-in to an excellent use of beer _ if not for breakfast, then for brunch: Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock French Toast.
Actually, any of the chocolate beers we have here in the Bay Area, made with real chocolate, will do: Sam’s Chocolate Bock, Bison Chocolate Sout or Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. Over the Sierra, Great Basin, Sparks, NV, occasionally makes Death By Chocolate Stout.
Rogue makes Chocolate Stout and Brooklyn Brewing’s regular winter seasonal is Black Chocolate Stout. Neither contains chocolate, the flavor comes from a cunning blend of malts. They taste like chocolate and no doubt would work well in this recipe.
Boston Brewing, Jim Koch and Sam Adams Chocolate Bock _ made in Cincinnati _ gets credit, because Chef Juan Carlos Mejia created it for a brunch, hosted by Koch at Gallagher’s Steak House (1480 Arapahoe St.) in Denver last month.

Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock French Toast

6 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. Vanilla
1/4 cup Sam Adams Chocolate Bock
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 loaf of the best hearty country-style boule you can find. Cut slices 1/2 inch thick


1 1/2 cups real maple syrup
1/2 cup Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock

Mix syrup and beer until desired thickness is achieved.

Mix eggs, cream, vanilla, beer and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.
Heat large, non-stick skillet or griddle to a medium heat,
Soak bread slices in egg mixture until heavily saturated.
Place in buttered skillet or on grill, cook on medium heat until golden brown on both sides.
Top with butter, powdered sugar, Chocolate Bock syrup. Bananas or strawberries can be added on top.
Sit back, eat and go to heaven.

Note: A “boule’’ is a round, French loaf. Rustic, means whole grain. In the Bay Area, Semifreddi and Acme both make boules. If you’re anywhere near where I grew up (Extreme Western Nebraska) get a cookbook (and remember to adjust baking time for the 4,000 foot altitude.)

I duplicated the recipe at home using Bison (Berkeley, CA) Chocolate Stout and thick slices of a Semifreddi challah. Delicious – William Brand.

Posted on Friday, November 5th, 2004
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