Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for April, 2005

Porterhouse 4X Stout

Porterhouse 4X Stout
Originally uploaded by whatsontap.

Porterhouse 4X Stout from the Porterhouse Brewing Co. in Dublin, Ireland may be the world’s best stout. Is it? What do you think?

Posted on Saturday, April 30th, 2005
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World’s Best Irish Stout

Attention travelers: If you’re headed to Ireland this summer, Gary, a Castro Valley, CA reader, just back from a trip there, says he discovered the best stout in the world at The Porterhouse, a brew restaurant in Dublin (Ireland).

“Their 4X Stout is the best Irish stout I’ve ever tasted,” Gary says. They also have beers from all over the world, including “imported” Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, he adds. Gary eschewed Sierra Nevada for another round of 4x Stout.

Prowling the web, I discovered the company now has three brew-restaurants in Ireland; the original in Bray on the sea; Porterhouse Temple Bar, in Dublin and the latest in Covent Garden on Maiden Lane in London. You can find more info here.

The company, which bills itself as “Ireland’s largest genuine Irish brewery”, was founded in 1989 in Bray by Liam LaHart and Oliver Hughes. I guess Guinness doesn’t count because it’s become a huge, multi-national company with breweries in 13 other countries.

Wrasslers 4X Stout, Alcohol by volume: 5%
Grain: Pale Malt, Crystal Malt, Wheat Malt, Flaked Barley, Roast Malt.
Hops: Galena, Nugget, East Kent, Goldings.

Made to a recipe originally brewed by Deasy’s of West Cork in the early 1900’s. This was Michael Collins’ favourite tipple – a stout like your grandfather used to drink. A fine fullsome stout, full in every way, a pungent aroma of late kettle hops. A generous quantity of roast grain for flavour, bitter with flaked barley producing that body.

Gold Medal, Belfast 1997,Gold Medal, Huddersfield 1998, Gold Medal, Stockholm 1999, Bronze Award, All Ireland 2000. The bad news: It’s not imported to the U.S. as far as I know.

Posted on Saturday, April 30th, 2005
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Coming: An American Belgians’ Dinner

I don’t know if Stone Brewing will bring their gargoyle with them on June 20 for a gala Belgian-style beer dinner at the Cathedral Hill Hotel in San Francisco. But there will be an amazing amalgation of American Belgian-style beer from Stone, Russian River, Allagash and New Belgium. For info., see the entry below or check out

Posted on Tuesday, April 19th, 2005
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Quote of the Week

Ken Wells, The Wall Street Street Journal Reporter, had an enviable assignment: Go out into America and tell us about beer.” The result was a book. Picked this up from The Beeryard, a beer distributor in Wayne, PA, near Philadelphia. Directions to the place: “Right behind Starbucks.’ Yeah. Anyway, we digress:

“Ken Wells, author of Travels With Barley: A Journey Through Beer Culture in America, attendees at the Grand Banquet which closed the 2005 Craft Brewers Conference last night (Sunday, April 17, 2005) that getting to travel around drinking beer on the company credit card for 18 months was a great gig (“Would you give a gun to a baby? What were they thinking?”) and that he is now a “Beer Geek in training” and obsessed with hops.

“He cautioned the crowd, however, not to dismiss or ignore the passions of those who love “fizzy yellow beer” out of hand, admitted that he too sometimes wanted nothing more. “There are people all over who drink Bud because they like it and think it tastes good.” he said, “and you have recognize that.” He added that “in fact, Augie Busch told me he understood what you’re all about and that he would like to buy you all a drink…oh wait, I misread my notes. He actually said he’d like to buy you all, period.”

There was a lot more, follow the link to read it all.

Posted on Tuesday, April 19th, 2005
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It’s Tuesday, We’re Movin’ On

And furthermore…This comes from a “Beer and Health” Newsletter:

Drinking Beer Doesn’t Make You Fa

“Beer has the undeserved reputation of being a drink that makes you fat. The real culprit, however, is rather the beer-drinkers’ lifestyle and the fatty snacks that often accompany a night out. This position is the central point of a campaign with which the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) intends to convince women to make the change from wine to beer.

Bigger breasts with beer?

No reliable studies are known that would suggest that beer exercises any effect on the growth of the breasts. It is theoretically possible that the phyto-oestrogens present in the hops may have an influence on the sexual characteristics, but that effect is inappreciably small in comparison with the genetic and hormonal influences.

Don’t you love the UK.

Meanwhile, in Marin… If you haven’t made it out to the new Iron Springs Pub & Brewery, 765 Center Blvd., Fairfax, CA., (415) 485-1005, it’s worth the trip. Proprietor Michael Altman’s won a string of brewing awards, at Mountain Sun in Boulder, CO and before that with McMinnamins in Portland, among other places. Here’s an excerpt from Michael’s latest newsletter:

We hope to tap a new and different cask every other Friday or Saturday. Thanks to our great relationship with Magnolia Pub & Brewery in San Francisco, we are in possession of some German Alt yeast. We’ve just brewed up a batch of Altman’s Alt. This recipe has been handed
down from Mike’s great, great uncle ol’ Jebidiah Altman all the way from Düsseldorf Germany! This fine brewed concoction will hit the taps soon.

Iron Springs also has music coming up including: — April 20th, Triad with the Rocket Rhythm Section: folk rock, rhythm and blues; — April 27th, David Thom Band, a traditional bluegrass band from San Francisco.

…Good things to eat and drink are coming from Bruce Paton, executive chef at the The
Cathedral Hill Hotel in San Francisco, (415) 674-3406. On Friday, May 20 there will be a beer dinner featuring the beers of Stone Brewing, San Marcos (think Arrogant Bastard). On Monday, June 20, the Chef’s Association of the Pacific Coast will host a dinner featuring four brewers who make beer in the Belgian style: Allagash Brewing, Portland, ME, New Belgium, Fort Collins, CO, Pizza Port, Solano Beach, CA. and Russian River, Santa Rosa, CA.

Buy a dinner ticket and get a special room rate at the Cathedral Hill. Good idea, when you’re drinking Belgian-style ales. Call for more info or check out

Posted on Tuesday, April 19th, 2005
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Beer Radio and Jokes on TV

OK, it’s Tuesday…time for squibs and other stuff, possibly of interest to some of us

…If you’re within range of the Los Angeles rocker KSLX-FM on Saturday April 30, May 14 or May 21, 2005 from 3 -5 p.m., check out the The Tasting Room with Tom Leykis. He tastes the beers of Firestone Walker and interviews co-founder David Walker. I spent half an hour this evening web-surfing, but apparently KSLX remains in the stoned — er stone age. No streaming on the web. The show’s also on Westwood One, which goes almost everywhere. Again, no streaming.

Oh yeah, KSLX can be found at 100.7 FM.

Moving on…This comes from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a liberal watchdog non-profit. This month, the target is our good frienz at Anheuser Busch.

“WASHINGTON—-A new ad for Bud Light beer depicts men joking about lies they’ve told to cover up their daytime drinking, and two watchdog groups say the Federal Trade Commission should crack down and ask Anheuser-Busch to pull the ad. In a letter to FTC enforcement official Janet Evans, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) say the ad irresponsibly makes light of alcoholic behavior.

“The ad in question features a group of men drinking at a bar. The bartender asks the men how they are able to leave work early every day to drink. The men each then recount various lies or excuses they use to prioritize drinking over their job responsibilities—the kind of lies that real-life alcoholics might use to disguise their covert drinking, according to the groups.

“Anheuser-Busch no doubt thinks this ad is funny, but there is nothing funny about promoting the destructive and addictive behavior that is recklessly presented in this ad,” said George A. Hacker, director of CSPI’s Alcohol Policies Project.

“Anheuser-Busch is signaling to heavy drinkers and alcoholics that it is perfectly okay to lie to coworkers, or ask them to lie for you, to conceal work-time drinking.”

Gosh. A big brewer can’t even crack a joke without someone dumping on ’em.

Posted on Tuesday, April 19th, 2005
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A Firkin-Good Beer Festival At Triple Rock in Berkeley

Promises. Promises. OK, I did plan to post a list of the real ales at Triple Rock’s 2nd annual Firkin Fest, held March 26, 2005 at the Triple Rock brewpub in downtown Berkeley. Everyone had a great time; the beer was awesome and I’m personally looking forward to next year.

Here _ belatedly _ is the list:

Punched in the IPA, Triple Rock Brewery; Double IPA, Firestone-Walker, Paso Robles, CA; XXX Old Ale, Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant, San Francisco; Blarney Sisters Irish Stout (real ale version), Third Street Aleworks, Santa Rosa, CA; Epiphany Hoppy Amber, Iron Springs Brewery, Fairfax, CA; Wild Rice, Black Diamond Brewing, Concord, CA; Brothwick’s Best Bitter (B.B.B.), English Ales Brewery, Marina, CA.

Oaked Bastard, Stone Brewing, San Marcos, CA; E.S.B., Bison Brewing, Berkeley, CA; Chocolate Milk Stout, Drake’s Brewing, San Leandro, CA; Pale Ale, Pyramid Brewery & Alehouse, Berkeley, CA; English Red, Schooner’s Restaurant & Brewery, Antioch, CA; Blue Bell Bitter, Magnolia Brewing, San Francisco.

Dry Hopped Pale Ale, Sierra Nevada Brewing, Chico, CA; Starbrew, Marin Brewing, Larkspur, Ca; Extra Pale Ale, 21st Amendment, San Francisco; E.S.B., Thirsty Bear, San Francisco; Cocoa Brown, Seabright, Santa Cruz, CA; French Cabernet Oak IPA, Kelly Brothers, Manteca, CA; Dunkelweiss (Dark Wheat), Eldo’s, San Francisco; Vanilla Porter, Hoptown, Pleasanton, CA.

Pliny the Younger, Russian River Brewing, Santa Rosa; Imperial Red, Lagunitas, Petaluma, CA; Porter, Sacramento Brewing, Sacramento, CA; I.P.A. , Faultline Brewing, Sunnyvale, CA; (Oak Cask) Apple, Two Rivers Cider Co.,

Posted on Wednesday, April 13th, 2005
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Germany’s Beer Troubles

What is it about good beer? It’s fate always seems to be hanging by a thread: Good breweries go belly up; lousy breweries making lousy beer go on and on.

I used to think, well, there’s always Germany. Germans love their beer. Sadly, times are changing. I got a hint a couple of years ago when I saw a bunch of young German tourists running out of a Beverages N’ More store in Oakland, cases of American Budweiser on their shoulders. Oh my.

Then, on a trip to Germany last year, I sat in on a press event at a large regional brewer’s headquarters. Know what the buzz was? Beer with cola? Can’t blame the brewer. They make a very fine pils, which is imported into the United States.

But in Germany, they went to Cola and Lemon and Energy (caffeine) added beer to sell to the 20-something market. “Young people today just don’t want to drink what their grandfathers’ drank,” one VP said.

Don’t believe it? Check out this story in Tuesday’s Independent, the big London daily: Here are a couple of quotes:

“For those of us brave enough to have taken German as a foreign language option at school, the linguistic difficulties caused by words like Verantwortungszuständigkeiten were usually compensated by the prospect of a language exchange to Germany, because in Germany were beer halls and in beer halls was German beer. Frothing over the glass, hauled over to the table by fragrant maidens, huge in volume and cheapish in price, it was beer with exotic ethnic spectacle thrown in.

“But not for much longer, if recent rumblings about the worsening relationship of Germans with their beer are true. There’s even a word for it – Brauereinsterben, or the death of brewing. Last month, two sizeable breweries closed down in Berlin and Dortmund, with 450 jobs lost. According to the Federal Office of Statistics, Germans are drinking only 113.9 litres of beer a year, whereas they drank 132.7 in 1994. German beer consumption is declining by between one and two per cent a year, according to a 2003 report by Credit Suisse First Boston. It may still be the third-largest beer market in the world (after the US and China), but trouble, nonetheless, is definitely afoot.

“German breweries are an increasingly vulnerable target. International mega-firms like Interbrew have started buying German breweries, somewhat of a shock for a country that – compared to the lands of Carlsberg or Stella – hasn’t bothered exporting many of its products, and whose beer purity law has been a source of national pride for eight centuries. But in 2001 Interbrew bought Beck’s, and the year after that Heineken bought Karlsberg, and things changed for good.

“Birte Kieppe, a spokesperson for the German Brewers Association, refers pointedly to “the so-called ‘death of breweries'” and says the number of breweries in Germany has stayed almost constant: 1,275 this year and 1,274 in 2003. “But I’d be very careful with that number,” says one industry analyst. “If you break it down, 800 of those breweries are selling 5,000 hectolitres or less per annum. Some of them are no more than hobbies, and they don’t contribute much to the industry profit-pool.”

“Micro-breweries are pumping up the numbers, and the bigger ones – Radeberger, Warsteiner, Beck’s – are faced with falling consumption of a product that is less trendy than the latest alcopop, and the unavoidable demographic truth that Germany’s beer-drinking population is ageing fast and drinking less, and its young people, like Britons, are turning to alcopops and wine.

“In the UK, 82 per cent of people say they don’t think beer goes with food and 81 per cent think beer can’t be part of a healthy diet. Germans are coming to the same conclusion. Beer bellies are no longer popular, no matter how often brewers point to the purity of their products, or the provisions of the Reinheitsgebot purity law from 1516, which – until this February, when a small brewer won the right to add syrup – obliged Germans to brew beer that contained only grain, water, hops and yeast.

Posted on Wednesday, April 6th, 2005
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Hop Rhizomes and Hoppy Beer

HAYWARD _ In a small-scale revival, the Bistro, a pub-restaurant at 1001 B St. in downtown Hayward this Saturday will sell hop rhizomes, the underground stems of the hop plant, at low cost to interested gardeners and home brewers.

It’s an almost forgotten chapter of Bay Area history, but 75 years ago, hops, the bittering agent in beer, were widely grown here. Pests and a persistent mold forced hop growers to move north into Oregon and Washington.

There’s been a small-scale Bay Area revival recently, which is why Bistro proprietor Vic Kralj holds an annual festival. On sale for $3 each, will be rhizomes of Cascade, Chinook and Centennial hops. Hours are noon-7 p.m . and a number of beers made with these hops will be on tap. Information: (510) 886-8525.

Posted on Tuesday, April 5th, 2005
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Beer, Beer and More Beer

Well, we’re back home in the San Francisco East Bay, which indeed is beer country. Checked out an Andronico’s, the fancy supermarket chain, this morning. Of course, I had to do my beer shelf survey.
This new store in Walnut Creek, CA is a fine place to buy beer. All the beer, except for a few caseload specials, is displayed on refrigerated shelves. Would you believe it? Thirty five linear feet of craft beer and import shelf space.
Now get this: About two feet of shelf space for Bud and all the rest of America
‘s yellow beer. Amen.
One last note on our trip to the Palm Springs area. At one, fairly fancy restaurant, Sam Adams, the only decent beer available, was listed under imports.

Posted on Tuesday, April 5th, 2005
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