Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for July, 2006

A Hoppy Night at the Toronado in SF

This just in…If you missed, as I did, the first annual Drake’s Beer Festival and Washoes Tournament in San Leandro held last Saturday, (July 8, 2006)featuring 15 breweries, each with a beer made with Summit hops, there’s still time.

It looks like 14 of the 15 breweries will have their beers on tap this coming Wednesday, July 19, 2006, at the Toronado, 547 Haight St. in San Francisco. Apparently from 6:30 p.m. onward. Rodger Davis, head brewer at Drake’s said only Sacramento Brewing will not be able to make it.

I know almost nothing about Summit hops – but there’s a lot of buzz this summer from brewers. It’s a high alpha, dwarf hop with distinct orange and tangerine notes, brewers say. See ‘ya there.

Posted on Sunday, July 16th, 2006
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You’re invited to a party

Recently, I was invited to what promises to be the wine party of the summer — private, noncommercially speaking, anyway. Since I can’t make it, the hosts told me to pass on the info to all Corkheads. You should definitely go!

PJ Rhae and Don Jackson are a fabulous couple who are totally into wine. They throw wine parties every Friday night at their Antioch home. At tomorrow night’s summer extravaganza, they’re expecting 60 people, and it’s no wonder: Live local jazz, food, Michael and David Winery of Lodi pouring, as well as selections from Napa’s Bounty Hunter Wines of Napa. It costs $20 and proceeds benefit Access Capital Resource Group, a charity aimed at helping single moms buy homes.

Tell em I sent you, and cheers! To RSVP call Don @                       925-783-2478

Posted on Thursday, July 13th, 2006
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Harold Olmo dies at 96

Like California Chardonnay? Well, you owe it to Harold Olmo, a viticulturist and geneticist that took the grape from its humble beginnings of 50 acres in 1960 to 100,000 acres today. Olmo figured out how to develop the variety with larger clusters and greater disease resistance, and it soared. He created another 30 varietals, including emerald reisling, centurion and carnelian, and though I’ve never tried any of these, I’m going to seek them out this week in his honor. Olmo died of complications from a hip fracture on June 30. He was 96 and spent over half his life working as a researcher and professor at UC Davis. Toast to his life tonight. I know I will.

Posted on Monday, July 10th, 2006
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A Calendar of Summer Beer Events

I grabbed this calendar from the Deschutes monthly newsletter and added a couple of events I know about — the Great British Beer Festival and the IPA fest in Hayward, CA.

Looks like a busy couple of months, doesn’t it. I hope to make it to the Oregon Brewers Festival, one of my all-time favorites. I’ll definitely be at The Bistro IPA fest. See you there.

July 14 – 16 Portland International BeerFest
Portland, OR

July 22 Made in the Shade BeerFest
Flagstaff, AZ

July 23 – 30 Oregon Beer Week

July 27-30 Oregon Brewers Festival
Portland, OR

August 1-6 Great British Beer Festival,
Earls Court London

August 5 Silver Mountain Brews Fest
Kellogg, ID

August 5 – 6 Keystone Bluegrass & Brew Fest
Keystone, CO

Aug 12 9th Annual IPA Festival
The Bistro, Hayward, CA., 50 + India Pale Ales on tap.

Aug 19 – 20 Bend Brew Fest
Bend, OR

Aug 26 Sierra Brew Fest
Grass Valley, CA

Aug 26 Hops in Humboldt
Fortuna, CA

Sept 15 – 17 Telluride Blues & Brews Fest
Telluride, CO

Sept. 16 California Brewers Festival
Sacramento, CA

Sept 28 – 30 25th Great American Beer Festival (GABF)
Denver, CO

Posted on Sunday, July 9th, 2006
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Good Places to Buy Beer in Alameda, CA

Here’s an update to our San Francisco Bay Area list of stores with a good stock of beer. A reader suggests the following in Alameda:


South Shore Liquors, (510) 521-7254, 549 South Shore Center West, Alameda, CA 94501. A reader reports this store has the best beer stock in Alameda, Several beer coolers with a wide selection.

Encinal Market, (510) 522-7171, 3211 Encinal Ave., Alameda, CA 94501. A reader reports the market has a good stock of California craft beer, plus Belgians and English beer. Also, he says, the store has the best butcher shop in Alameda (Joe Scalise Jr. and Sons).

Want the whole list? Email me at or call (510) 915-1180. I also email my weekly columns in the Oakland Tribune and other newspapers to a large list. Shoot me an email, if you’d like to join the list.

Posted on Saturday, July 8th, 2006
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Blues, Brews, BBQ in Reno This Weekend

If you’re headed toward Reno or thinking about it this weekend and like good beer, you’re in luck. The 11th annual Great Eldorado BBQ, Brews & Blues Festival is this weekend, Saturday, July 8, Sunday July 9 in downtown Reno.

More than 30 breweries from California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii and Alaska will be pouring beer. Plus barbecue and lots of top blues musicians. I’ve caught this fest a couple of times and highly recommend it.

Two Nevada breweries not to miss at Ruby Mountain Brewing, Wells,NV. and Great Basin Brewing, in Sparks.

There’s also a pub crawl inside the El Dorado Friday night. Sample eight beers in four different bars inside the Eldorado and maybe win a prize and get free enteratainment in the Eldorado Cabaret. Info: (775) 786-5700. Or check out the Eldorado Web site.

Posted on Thursday, July 6th, 2006
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Miller Picks Up Malt Liquor Brands

If you care about good beer, then this item most likely belongs in the “small news” category. SABMiller on Monday (July 3, 2006) said it has purchased the Steel Reserve and Sparks brands from McKenzie River Corp., San Francisco for $215 million cash.

The most interesting thing about this deal is who McKenzie River Corp. is. It is a marketing company that first broke ground in urban neighborhoods (that translates as mostly poor and black) around the U.S. selling “40s” – high alcohol, low price, – through mom and pop stores.

Remember St. Ides? How about Black Star?

Their latest gig was selling Steel Reserve, followed a couple of years ago by Spark, then Spark Light and now Spark Plus.

Here’s a quote from SABMiller:

“Sparks is considered the leader in the caffeinated alcoholic malt beverage category, which is particularly strong among men between the ages of 21 and 27, he said. Steel Reserve is the leader in the high gravity lager category, meaning it is slow-brewed.”

Here’s what wholesaler Origlio Beverage says:

Sparks – Sparks blends 6% alcohol with an injection of caffeine, taurine plus natural herbs guan and ginseng, which are “scientifically combined to add that extra dimension to the party experience.” Go all night! Alcohol Content 6%

Sparks Light – This version of the highly caffeinated malt beverage energy drink has only 128 calories and 3 grams of carbs and uses Splenda sweetener instead of sugar. Now you can enjoy this premium energy drink without any guilt. Makes you want to party all night long– doesn’t it?

Sparks Plus – Sparks Plus is hitting the market by storm! This line extension of Sparks, the #1 selling alcohol-energy drink, has enhanced caffeine and 7% alcohol.

Origlio had this to say about Steel Reserve:

Steel Reserve is the only domestic lager in the U.S. that is 8.1% alcohol by volume. It is brewed with nearly twice the ingredients of other lagers and for nearly twice as long and has a well rounded medium body. The result? A beer that’s surprisingly smooth for a “high gravity” lager.

Balderdash. There are lots of craft brew lagers above 8 percent. Anyway, Steel Reserve tastes like not much. I give it ONE STAR – MINUS.

Oh yes. Miller’s been brewing Steel all along and, I believe, Sparks. But here’s the bottom line:
According to Beverage Marketer’s INSIGHTS, McKenzie River shipped 1,250,000 barrels of Steel Reserve in 2005, a 25 percent increase over 2004. That put it just ahead of number 23 Coors Original, which shipped 1,200,000, down 13 percent, and number 24 Pabst Blue Ribbon, which shipped 1,250,000 barrels, up 4.3 percent.

To put it in context, ALL American craft brewers shipped 7,112,886 31-gallon barrels in 2005, up 9 percent over 2004. That puts all 1,300-plus brewers just behind the sixth best-selling brand in America, Corona Extra (which shipped 7,845,000 barrels and ahead of number seven Busch (the low-cost Anheuser-Busch beer), which shipped 5,025,000 barrels.

According to Beer Marketer’s INSIGHTS, top seller was Bud Light (39,600.000 barrels), number two was Budweiser, (27,400,000 barrels) and number three, Miller Lite (18,100,000).

Number four was Coors Light (16,500,000); five was Natural Light (8,350,000).
This last factoid: A barrel of beer is equal to 330.6 12-ounce cans. G’nite and have a happy, safe, 4th.

Posted on Monday, July 3rd, 2006
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Tip, of the bottle

Tip, of the bottle: When I try a good bottle, I promise to tell of you about it. Today, it’s Schramsberg’s Cremant Demi-sec, a dessert-style sparkler made from the Flora grape. It’s a cross between Semillon and Gewurzt, so not too sweet, crisp and peachy. We had it with Burmese food and were in heaven. It retails for around $35.

Posted on Monday, July 3rd, 2006
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2006 California State Fair Craft Beer Winners

I’m in the gotta’ get this posted now mode. Lots and lots of winners.

So, without comment, here are the results of the judging of the professional brewers section of the California State Fair.

There will be a beer tent at the fair and most of the winners are supposed to be on tap. The fair starts Aug. 11, 2006 and runs through Sept. 4.

Best of Show: Brother David’s Double Abbey Ale, Anderson Valley Brewing Co., Boonville. This dark, chewy, 9 percenter was first brewed for sale at the Toronado in San Francisco. David, of course, refers to Toronado founder David Keene. Ever since it was first made, it’s been making waves.

Amber Hybrid (9 entries)

Gold: Eel river, Climax Calif. Classic,
Gold 2nd, Bear Republic, Healdsburg, El Oso

American Amber Ale (18)

Gold: Drake’s, San Leandro, Drake’s Expedition
Gold, 2nd, Firestone-Walker, Paso Robles, Red Nectar
Gold, 3rd, Beermann’s Beerworks, Roseville, Rip Roarin Red

American Brown Ale (10)

Gold: Amber Ale, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, Santa Cruz,
2nd, Mr. Brown, Valley Brewing, Stockton.
3rd, Earl’s Hop Farm Amber Ale, Hoppy Brewing, Sacramento.

American Lager (8 entries)

Gold, Lincoln Lager, Beermann’s Beerwerks.
2nd,Lagar Diabla, Devil’s Canyon Brewing, Belmont
3rd, Firestone Lager, Firestone-Walker.

American Pale Ale (32 entries)

Gold, XP Pale Ale, Bear Republic
2nd, Nectar Pale Ale, Firestone-Walker
3rd, Firestone Pale Ale, Firestone-Walker.

American Wheat (15)

Gold: Heritage Hefeweizen, Back Street Brewery, Vista
2nd, Bayhawk Hefeweizen, Bayhawk Ales, Irvine
3rd, Lazy Dog Wheat, Bayhawk Ales/

Barleywine (6)

Gold: Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale, Sierra Nevada, Chico.
2nd, Old Scouter’s Barleywine, Bear Republic
3rd, John Barleycorn, Mad River Brewing, Blue Lake.

Belgian and French Ales (5)

Gold: Curly, Backstreet Brewery, Ladera Ranch
2nd, Breakwater Wit, The Brewhouse, Santa Barbara
3rd, Jack’s Farmhouse Ale, Jack Russell Brewing, Camino.

Belgian Strong Ale (6 entries)

Gold: Brother David’s Double Abbey Ale, Anderson Valley Brewing, Boonville
2nd, BJ’s Belgian Blonde, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery,
3rd, Brother David’s Triple Abbey, Anderson Valley.

Bitter, Ordinary, Best (10)

Gold: Double Barrel Ale, Firestone-Walker
2nd, AC Ale, Angel City Brewing, Torrance.
3rd, Jack London ESB, Bear Republic.

Blonde Ale (7 entries)

Gold: Big But Blonde Ale, Elk Grove Restaurant & Brewery, Elk Grove.
2nd, Tommy Bahama Blond, Bayhawk
3rd, Extra Pale Ale, Sacramento Brewing,Citrus Heights.

Bock (11)

Gold: Lodi Dopplebock, Lodi Beer Co., Lodi.
2nd, Sudwerk Doppelbock, Sudwerk Hubsch, Davis.
3rd, Lodi Eisbock, Lodi Beer Co.

Brown Porter (8)

Gold: Penalty Shot Porter, Jack’s Brewing, Fremont.
2nd, Chocolate Porter, Bayhawk Ales
3rd, Lazy Dog Porter, Bayhawk Ales.

Cider, Perry (7)

Gold, Pear Cider, Fox Barrel Cider Co., Colfax;
2nd, Oak Barrel-Aged English Cider, Two Rivers Cider, Sacramento.
3rd, Hard Apple Cider, Fox Barrel.

Cream Ale (8)

Gold: Golden Nugget Cream Ale, Hoppy Brewing
2nd, Celts Golden Ale, Moylan’s Brewing Co., Novato.
3rd, Sierra Nevada Unfiltered Wheat, Sierra Nevada.

Dark Lager (8)

Gold, AC Dunkel, Angel CityBrewing;
2nd, E.J. Phair Schwartz, E.J. Phair Brewing, Concord
3rd, Japanese Black Beer, Sacramento Brewing.

English Brown Ale (10)

Gold, Red Ale, Schooner’s Grille & Brewery, Antioch
2nd, Downtown Brown, Lost Coast Brewery, Eureka.
3rd, Green Flash Nut Brown Ale, Green Flash Brewing Co., Vista.

English Pale Ale (7)

Gold: Annandel Pale Ale, Third Street Aleworks, Santa Rosa.
2nd, East Side Ale, Bison Brewing Co., Berkeley. (Made for Cato’s Ale House, Oakland.)
3rd, Drake’s Amber, Drake’s.

Euro Amber Lager (3)

2nd, Aprilfest, Main Street Brewery, Corona,
3rd, E.J. Phair Marzen, EJ Phair.

Fruit Beer (6)

Gold, Mom’s Raspberry Ale, Old Baldy Brewing Co., Upland
2nd, Spring Blossom Apricot Ale, Third Street.
3rd, Raspberry Trail Ale, Marin Brewing.

German Wheat & Rye (9)

Gold: Harvest HJefeweizenr, BJs, Roseville.
2nd, Heffa’s Hefeweizen, Hoppy Brewing.
3rd, Sudwerk Hefeweizen, Sudwerk Hubsch.

Imperial IPA (12)

Gold: Stone Ruination IPA, Stone Brewing Co., Escondido.
2nd, White Knuckle Ale, Marin Brewing
3rd, Moylander double IPA, Moylan’s.

IPA American (30)

Gold: IPA, Schooner’s.
2nd, IPA, Beermann’s Beerwerks.
3rd, Racer 5, Bear Republic.

IPA English (6)

Gold: Tyson’s Twisted Pale Ale, Hoppy Brewing
2nd, Red Devil Rye IPA, Devil’s Canyon.
3rd, Organic India Pale Ale, Butte Creek Brewing Co., Chico.

Irish Red Ale (2)

2nd, TAPS Irish Red, TAPS Fish House & Brewery, Brea.
3rd, Irish Red Rye Ale, River City Brewing, Sacramento.

Kolsch (5)

2nd, Ken’s Kolsch, Silverado Brewing Co., St. Helena.
3rd, Mammoth Gold, Mammoth Brewing Co., Mammoth Lakes.

Olde Ale (5)

Gold: Jack’s Olde Ale, Jack Russell Brewing.
2nd, Shorty’s Beverage, EJ Phair;
3rd, Triple Exultation, EJ Phair.

Pilsner (6)

Gold: Sudwerk Pilsner, Sudwerk Hubsch
2nd, IN-Sanity Czech, Valley Brewing.

Robust Porter (14)

Gold: Organic Porter, Eel River Brewing
2nd, Steelhead Scotch Porter, Mad River Brewing;
3rd, Plowshare Porter, Lodi Brewing.

Russian Imperial Stout (9)

Gold: TAPS Imperial Russian Stout, TAPS.
2nd, Czar’s Tar, Brew-It-Up, Sacramento;
3rd, Raveneye Stout, Eel River.

Scottish Ale (7)

Gold: Kiltlifter, Moylans;
2nd, Blue Frog Fifth Anniversary, Blue Frog Grog & Grill, Fairfield;
3rd, R.C. Woodenhead, Main Street Brewing, Corona.

Smoke & Wood (4)

Gold: Old Woody, Schooners.
2nd, RC Woodenhead, River City.
3rd, Bourbon Barrel-Aged Old Dipsea Barleywine, Marin Brewing.

Specialty (16)

Gold: Bourbon Barrel Barleywine, Beermann’s Beerwerks.
2nd, Hop Rod Rye, Bear Republic.
3rd, Lazy Dog Honey Ale, Bayhawk Ales.

Spiced, Herb & Veggie (10)

Gold: Lodi Christmas Ale, Lodi Brewing.
2nd, Sombrero, Bison Brewing.
3rd, Organic Honey Basil Ale, Bison Brewing.

Stout, Dry, Sweet, Foreign, American (9)

Gold: Steelhead Extra Stout, Mad River.
2nd, Sierra Nevada Stout, Sierra Nevada.
3rd, Organic Chocolate Stout, Bison.

Stout, Oatmeal (6)

Gold: Oatmeal Stout, Schooner’s.
2nd, Black Pearl Stout, Main Street Brewing.
3rd, Oatmeal Stout, Brew It Up.

Posted on Sunday, July 2nd, 2006
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Great Beer Fest at Drake’s Next Saturday

OK. The net has changed everything. I know. But, when I get email from readers telling me they found out on a website about a big-deal beer festival at Drake’s Brewing in San Leandro next weekend, I realize I’ve got to put things in this blog a lot faster.

I got a note from Drake’s a couple of days ago and I was holding onto it until my column next Wednesday in the Oakland Tribune and other papers.

Can’t do that anymore. Gotta get the noos-er news out fast.Sooo…

First, the facts. It’s true. There’s a great beer lineup. According to Drake’s vice president Pete Rogers, Drake’s is holding its first annual Beer Festival and Washoes Tournament next Saturday, July 8, 2006 from noon until 6 p.m. at the brewery,1933 Davis Street, Suite 177 in San Leandro. This place is hard to find. Check out the map here.

The fest’s a benefit for the teachers of Jefferson Elementary School in San Leandro. Hopes are to raise $16,000. Drake’s promises to match every dollar contributed.

Tickets are $35, which are tax deductible, and include a sample glass, t-shirt, and beer. There will be raffle prizes and prizes for the Washoes Tournament.

Breweries besides Drake’s include, Marin Brewing, Larkspur; Bison, Berkeley; Magnolia Brewery, San Francisco; 21st Amendment Brewery, San Francisco; Triple Rock, Berkeley; Iron Springs Brewery, Fairfax; Russian River, Santa Rosa; Bear Republic, Healdsburg; Thirsty Bear, San Francisco; Rubicon Brewing, Sacramento Brewing, Sacramento; EJ Phair, Concord; Eldo’s Brewery, San Francisco, Sudwerk Brewery, Davis, and Seabright, Santa Cruz.

The best lineup in the East Bay in many a year. Tax-deductible donations can be sent in care of Pete Rogers, Drake’s Brewing Company/Rogers Family Company, 1933 Davis Street, Suite 308, San Leandro, CA 94577. Receipts for donations will be sent to donors by mail. Or pay at the door.

Washoes, by the way, is game of washer tossing, modeled after horse shoes. Here’s a link.

Personally, this is one not to miss. See ‘ya there.

Posted on Saturday, July 1st, 2006
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