Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for November, 2006

The Bistro’s Barrel-Aged Beer List

Here’s the list of barrel aged beers that will be on tap Saturday (Nov. 11, 2006) at The Bistro, 1001 B St. in downtown Hayward at the first West Coast Barrel-Aged Beer Festival. Check the posting above for time, cost and history of barrel-aged beer.

Note: This list is incomplete, proprietor Vic Kralj expects a few more.

Bigfoot Barley-Wine-Style Ale, aged in a brandy barrel, Sierra Nevada Brewing, Chico.

North Coast Old Stock Ale, aged in a brandy barrel, North Coast Brewing, Fort Bragg.

Doppel Bock aged in a bourbon barrel from Walking Man Brewery, Stevenson, WA.

Ice Bock, aged in a port barrel from Valley Brewing, Stockton.

Barrel-Aged Imperial Porter 1998, from Full Sail Brewing, Hood River, OR.

Five barrel-aged beers from Pizza Port, Solano Beach, CA including Cuvee de Tommee.

Two barrel-aged beers from Ballast Point, San Diego, CA.

Two Belgian-style (made with wild yeast), barrel-aged beers from Russian River Brewing, Santa Rosa.

Watermelon “Sour” or Funk from 21st Amendment, San Francisco, aged in a Chardonnay barrel.

Three beers from Lagunitas Brewing, Petaluma, aged in steel with oak chips.

Oaken Arrogant Bastard, Stone Brewing, Escondido, CA.

Bear Republic barrel-aged mix., Bear Republic, Healdsburg, CA.

Schooner’s Gold Medal Winning 2004 Barley Wine, aged in new wine barrels “sloshed with Scotch Whiskey. Schooners, Antioch.

Beerman’s Bourbon Barley Wine, Beerman’s Beerwerks, Roseville.

Iron Springs barrel-aged beer, Iron Springs, Fairfax.

Triple Rock Barley Wine, Triple Rock, Berkeley.

Two barrel-aged beers from Marin Brewing, Larkspur.

A barrel-aged Peche (Belgian-style peach ale) and a strong ale from Six Rivers, McKinleyville.

Four barrel-aged beers from Drake’s, San Leandro, including barrel-aged Jolly Roger.

Whew.

Posted on Wednesday, November 8th, 2006
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Barrel-Aged Beer List at The Bistro in Hayward, CA Saturday

1108.06 Barrel Aged Beer List

Here’s the list of barrel aged beers that will be on tap Saturday (Nov. 11, 2006) at The Bistro, 1001 B St. in downtown Hayward at the first West Coast Barrel-Aged Beer Festival. Check the posting above for time, cost and history of barrel-aged beer. One hint: These are all strong beers. Don’t drive, bring a designated driver or use BART.

Note: This list is incomplete, proprietor Vic Kralj expects a few more.

Bigfoot Barley-Wine-Style Ale, aged in a brandy barrel, Sierra Nevada Brewing, Chico.

North Coast Old Stock Ale, aged in a brandy barrel, North Coast Brewing, Fort Bragg.

Doppel Bock aged in a bourbon barrel from Walking Man Brewery, Stevenson, WA.

Ice Bock, aged in a port barrel from Valley Brewing, Stockton.

Barrel-Aged Imperial Porter 1998, from Full Sail Brewing, Hood River, OR.

Five barrel-aged beers from Pizza Port, Solano Beach, CA including Cuvee de Tommee.

Two barrel-aged beers from Ballast Point, San Diego, CA.

Two Belgian-style (made with wild yeast), barrel-aged beers from Russian River Brewing, Santa Rosa.

Watermelon “Sour” or Funk from 21st Amendment, San Francisco, aged in a Chardonnay barrel.

Three beers from Lagunitas Brewing, Petalum, aged in steel with oak chips.

Oaken Arrogant Bastard, Stone Brewing, Escondido, CA.

Bear Republic barrel-aged mix., Bear Republic, Healdsburg, CA.

Scooner’s Gold Medal Winning 2004 Barley Wine, aged in new wine barrels “sloshed with Scotch Whiskey. Schooners, Antioch.

Beerman’s Bourbon Barley Wine, Beerman’s Beerwerks, Roseville.

Iron Springs barrel-aged beer.

Triple Rock Barley Wine, Triple Rock, Berkeley.

Two barrel-aged beers from Marin Brewing, Larkspur.

A barrel-aged Peche (Belgian-style peach ale) and a strong ale from Six Rivers, McKinleyville.

Four barrel-aged beers from Drake’s, San Leandro, including barrel-aged Jolly Roger.

Whew.

Posted on Wednesday, November 8th, 2006
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Back to the Future With Barrel Aged Beer

This column ran in the Oakland Tribune and other ANG newspapes on May 10, 2006. I’m including it for more background on barrel-aged beers. b

By William Brand

A LONG, LONG TIME AGO, I had the dubious distinction of spending some time, courtesy of the U.S. Navy, at Guantanamo Bay, a scorching spit of sand and coral at the southeastern tip of Cuba, much in the news these days.

The only escape then was the bar; trouble was the selection was limited to rum and an American-made ersatz Scotch. It’s only claim to distinction was it was aged in stainless steel vats, not in time-tested wooden barrels.

It was vile stuff, but people liked it because it was “modern.”

The same thing happened to beer. Fermenting beer in wooden barrels became anathema to brewing scientists. Wood can harbor all kinds of unclean, unwanted things, like bacteria, exotic wild yeast.  Stainless steel is clean and each batch emerges exactly like the last.

If you’re making Budweiser, that’s important.

But what if you’re a craft brewer, making at best a few thousand barrels of beer a year, most of it a string of regulars, an amber, a pale ale, a wheat. What does one do for creativity?

One answer for many craft brewers these days is wood. Create a recipe, ferment it the regular way, in stainless – then put the beer in wooden barrels with fresh yeast for a second fermentation. It’s the way all beer once was made.

Here’s a brief list:

Schooner’s Grille & Brewery, 4250 Lone Tree Way, Antioch. Co-founder Shawn Burns and his brew crew have been experimenting with wood fermentations for several years. They won silver for Olde Woody in the Wood and Barrel-Aged Beer category at the Brewers Association World Beer Cup in Seattle last month. They finished second to the stupendous Bourbon County Stout, from Goose Island Beer Co., Chicago. It’s a stout aged in bourbon barrels.

Burns explains Olde Woody was aged in new oak wine barrels that had been sloshed with Scotch whiskey. “Wood softens the beer, just like it softens wine,” Burns said. “You pick up vanilla from the wood, the Scotch from the pre-soaking.”

Woody’s gone now, but Schooner’s has bottles of Scotch Ale, a 7 percenter, aged seven months in Scotch whiskey-soaked oak barrels on sale at the pub now, $5.50 for a 22-ounce bottle.

–  Drake’s Brewing, 1933 Davis St. #177, San Leandro. Rodger Davis, head brewer has been using wood for several years. Rodger and his assistant, Melissa Myers, use a variety of barrels.
* Drake’s Anniversary Lager, is a 13.7 percent alcohol by volume, very strong beer, aged in a bourbon barrel for 10 months. $6.99, 6-oz. bottle.

* Drake’s Jolly Rodger Scotch Ale was aged in barrels for 18 months. It’s 11.1 percent ABV. 6 oz. $6.99.

* Drake’s 2003 Jolly Rodger can still be found. It was aged in brandy barrels for two years; 11 percent, 6.99 for a 12-oz bottle.

Marin Brewing, 1809 Larkspur Landing Circle, Larkspur.  Head brewer Arne Johnson is another wood-adventurer. He’s just produced a barrel-aged version of  his Starbrew Wheat Wine, a strong wheat beer, that was aged in old Chardonnay wine barrels.

“My friend bought a winery and there were these old Chardonnay barrels that had been sitting there for 15 years,” Johnson said. “The wine inside was oxidized, so I took out the wine, threw my Wheat wine in; I left the dregs in the barrels and let them sit for a few months.
“It tastes pretty interesting. I’m going to let it sit there a bit longer, then sell it at the bar,” he said.

He also has a Belgian Trappist-style quadrupel, another very strong beer, aging in old bourbon barrels. A stout’s now aging in Old Fitzgerald whiskey barrels, he previously used to age his barley wine.

Johnson also had a porter, aged in old pinot noir barrels that had been used by a distillery to make a chocolate aperitif. “I left the sludge from the cocoa in the barrels. It made the porter pretty interesting,” he said.

Bottom line at Marin. There’s almost always something barrel aged available, either in bottles or on tap. Bottles sold to take home usually cost around $10, Johnson says.

This list is necessarily short. I’ve left off some major players in the barrel-aged business, including Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing, Santa Rosa, and Dave McLean at Magnolia in San Francisco among many, many others.

The idea has spread widely and Vic Kralj, co-proprietor of The Bistro, 1001 B. St., Hayward, is planning a barrel-aged beer festival for Saturday, Nov. 11. There will be three categories, beers aged in whiskey, port, sherry or Madeira barrels or aged in wine barrels. “There are just a lot of brewers making barrel-aged beer,” Vic says. “I thought we might have a little party at The Bistro and bring them all together so people could sample them.”

He’s expecting 30 to 40 beers. Stay tuned.

Posted on Wednesday, November 8th, 2006
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Piemonte tasting at Prima

John Rittmaster of Prima is hosting their Second Annual Evening in Piemonte this Thursday (tomorrow) and they still have a few seats available. Like last year, the evening will be divided into two separate events. The first will be a tasting of contemporary wines from the region with the suppliers on hand and special one-night-only pricing in place.

The second is a dinner featuring a selection of mature Barolo alongside an elegant expression of Piemontese cuisine. Admission for the first event, which runs from 5:30 to 7p.m. is $48 and includes tax and tip. Seats at the dinner are $395 and all-inclusive. I know it’s expensive, but if you have the money, treat yourself! RSVP for either event by calling 925-935-7780.

            A Sampling of Wines at the Tasting:

            2005 Matteo Coreggia Roero Arneis

            2005 Vietti Roero Arneis

            2005 Tintero Moscato d’Asti

            2005 Villa Giada Moscato d’Asti

            2005 Cascina Ca’Rossa Birbet

            2004 Aldo Marenca Dolcetto Dogliani ‘Suri’

            2004 Massolino Dolcetto d’Alba

            2005 Albino Rocca Rosso di Rosso

            2004 Giovanni Corino Barbera d’Alba

            2004 Vietti Barbera Scarrone

            2001 Travaglini Gattinara

            2001 Antoniolo Gattinara 

            2004 Guido Porro Barbera

            2000 Vietti Barolo Castiglione

            2001 Guido Porro Barolo Santa Catarina

            2001 Massolino Barolo Serralunga 

            2001 Giorgio Rivetti Barbaresco Gallina

            2001 Azelia Barolo Bricco Fiasco

            2001 Scavino Barolo Carobric

            (list tentative)

            And for Dinner!

            2005 Matteo Coreggia Roero Arneis

            2001 Vietti Barbera La Crena

            2001 Rivetti Barolo Campe

            2000 E Pira Barolo Cannubi

            2000 Mascarello Barolo Monprivato

            1993 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Cru Gallina

            1993 Angelo Gaja Barbaresco Cru Costa Russi 

            1993 Giovanni Corino Barolo Cru Giachini

            1990 Paolo Scavino Barolo Cannubi

            1974 Borgogno Barolo Riserva

            1967 Antoniolo Gattinara Riseva 

            1952 Borgogno Barolo Riserva

            2005 Moscato TBA

            (list tentative)

Posted on Wednesday, November 8th, 2006
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Background on Sorghum Beer

In my column today (Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2006, Oakland Tribune) I wrote about a new, gluten-free beer for people with an allergy to gluten in wheat, oats, rye and other cereal grains.

It’s Dragon’s Gold**** from the Bard’s Tale Beer Co. in Lees Summit, MO, brewed under contract by Gordon-Biersch in San Jose, CA. It’s made from malted sorghum, which a source at Gordon-Biersch tells me, contains no detectable gluten.

While researching sorghum beer, I discovered that beer made with sorghum is very popular in Africa, it’s been brewed by Africans for hundreds of years. Most African sorghum beers, known as “opague” beers are brewed using wild yeast, can be somewhat sour and have a shelf life of only days. Sorghum, by the way, is a tropical grass that originated in Africa, it’s now grown in warm areas around the world.

Here’s a bit of info with links to my sources:

First, did you know…“Benjamin Franklin is credited with introducing broomcorn to the United States. While traveling in Europe, Franklin was impressed with a small broomcorn broom he used to clean his hat. He found a few seeds attached to the straw, and took them with him when he returned to Philadelphia. He planted the seeds and initiated an industry. Arcola, Illinois is known as the “Broom Corn Capital of the World.” Since the late 1800′s, area farmers grew the sorghum used in the broom industry. The broom corn is processed in Arcola and brooms sold across the country. Arcola holds an annual Broom Corn Festival each September.”
Source: Southwest Biotechnology and Informatics Center.

Sorghum beer in Africa from Business Africa…

COMPANIES
SABMiller’s new clear sorghum beer
Lynn Bolin
Wed, 02 Feb 2005
SABMiller, one of the world’s largest brewers, has launched a new brand of clear sorghum beer, Eagle, which is aimed at helping African sorghum beer drinkers move up the beer ladder to clear lager by bridging the gap between the two.

The new brand was unveiled at a presentation on Wednesday by SABMiller’s managing director for the Africa and Asia division, Andre Parker.

It has already been launched in Uganda, and is set to be launched in Zambia on April 1, as well as in Zimbabwe.

Looks like a normal lager

According to Parker, Eagle is a sorghum-based beer, but instead of the usual cloudy appearance, it is a look-alike to normal lagers, with the same alcohol level as well.

It is positioned to take advantage of the trend among African consumers to move to drinking clear beer as they move up the income scale…

…In Zambia, sorghum beer has a 60 percent share of the overall drinks market, with clear beer and carbonated soft drinks commanding only 20 percent each.

SABMiller already has a 50 percent share of the sorghum beer market via its Chibuku brand, and boasts 100 percent of the local clear beer market. Castle Lager is the largest brand in the country.

xxx
A tasting in Toronto of a South African sorghum beer with interesting comments about apartheid…

“Sorghum beer is generally only served in black bars, or black areas. Apartheid extended to the world of beer as the whites in South Africa drank the European-style brews of SAB, and blacks were allowed only to drink sorghum beer, at least until 1962.

Today sorghum beer still holds a strong market amongst the Zulu population of the region. Though commercially produced, they still maintain traditional methods. They are made from sorghum, not barley, and are not hopped. Fermentation is short, and finishes up after bottling. Some brands are packaged in milk cartons, which leak, and others in plastic bottles, which have a “breathing” mechanism in the top to allow fermentation gases to escape.”

From Zulu Kingdom… The Zulu Beer Trail..

“The national drink of the Zulu people.”

“Traditional beer brewing has been part of the Zulu culture for hundreds of years and still forms part of their heritage today. The “mild” sorghum beer is the national drink of the “African” people.”

Handbook of Brewing (Food Science and Technology) by William Hardwick
Excerpt – on Page 41: ” … beer brewed in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. In South Africa, the Bantu tribes brewed a grain-based beer called kaffir or sorghum beer, after the grain employed in its brewing. Both sorghum beer and bouza are still brewed in rural Africa. …

And finally, there’s another sorghum beer being made commercially in the U.S. It’s New Grist, made by Lakefront Brewing in Madison, WI. This excerpt comes from Ratebeer.com.
Find out more about New Grist from the brewery.

Commercial Description:
An all-sorghum beer. New Grist, a beer for Celiacs brewed from sorghum and gluten-free yeast grown on molasses. New Grist is the first “official” gluten free beer in the U.S., although it cannot technically be called “gluten-free” until established governmental guidelines are determined for all products claiming “gluten-free” status. In the interim, this Celiac-safe beer can be called “barley-free,” and is a welcome product to those who need to live on restricted diets due to intolerance to gluten, a protein found in common brewing grains such as barley, wheat, rye, oats, spelt, kamut and triticale.

And, for the technically minded, The Journal of Food Technology in Africa has a discussion about the yeast used to make Opague Beer (beer made with sorghum). Check out this link.
link.

Posted on Wednesday, November 8th, 2006
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Lodi is my new favorite wine country

Alright, time to rave about Lodi. I loosely followed a story we ran last year about the region, but soon found my own way. Just to give you an idea of how much I enjoyed their wines, I bought six bottles, which is a lot for me.

At the corner of Hwy. 5 and 12 is Michael David Vineyards, a garden diner-tasting room, I fell for the Sparkling Duet, ($18) a subtle combo of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The Seven Deadly Zins and their whole line of Earthquake wines have enough 90+ point ratings, I don’t need to tell you how good they are. What I will tell you: Buy Don’s Lodi Red, a rather interesting blend — high on the vegetal and pepper characteristics, so a total Jessica wine — that’s only $8. It’s the perfect picnic wine, with its gingham red and white label. People were buying two and three bottles at a time (2 for $15).

From there we continued down Hwy 12 to Jessie’s Grove, a barn-like tasting room which produces a beautifully crisp blend of Viognier, Roussane and Marsanne called — how cool — Jessence ($18)! I wanted it so bad and told Jenny it wasn’t just for the  swirly label and name but that it’s also hard to find a good white blend. She agreed, adding that even if I did want it for the Jessence, it’s OK. She’s bought many a bottle (hello Bonny Doon) for the label. What are best friends for eh?

Next: We checked out the Lodi Visitor’s Center, which was so modern it reminded me of a mini Copia. There’s definitely money in Lodi, and Jenny’s fiance, Marke, our chauffeur, kept wondering how he could get in on it. "It’s got to be more than that Tokay grape," we kept saying. You can do a flight there (they feature most wines whose grapes come from Lodi), but they charge, so we figured going to the individual wineries would give us a better sense of place. Yeah. And it’s free.

We spent the rest of our day at Vino Piazza, a collection of 10 tasting rooms and another testament to Lodi’s subdued sophistication. Whoever designed the structure deserves the architectural award equivalent of the Oscars. Man, where to begin: Cantiga Wineworks is a tiny, stony cave of a tasting room and their Cab-Shiraz blend was a must purchase for me: 80% of the grapes come from Paso Robles; the rest from Monterey, and boy, could you taste the pepper in there.

From there we crossed to Stama Wine, where the vineyard manager, a jolly Greek fellow and third generation farmer, was on hand to talk to us about the grapes. I couldn’t believe it, but they made an incredibly tropical and dry White Zinfandel. Yes, I swear. Jenny and Marke bought 3 bottles. Even their Chardonnay was tropical and light-bodied, not buttery and thick. For you Retsina fans, he’s having some sent in from his hometown of Kalamata. He promises. I bought the Old Vine Red Zinfandel (many appelations in Lodi have old vines (under 100 years and ancient vines, over 100). It was all black fruit, smoke and white pepper. Macchia, across the courtyard, also makes several memorable zins. My standout fave was the 2004 Adventurous, from the Linsteadt Vineyard. Again, if you like big zins rather than sweet ones, you must try Lodi.

We ended our day with memorable, off-the-wall and easy-drinking whites. At Boitano, a family operation, we all grabbed some of the Raspberry sparkling ($12), which will definitely be a trend for the holidays. The winemaker mixed it for us with some of his port, and it was fantastic. I highly recommend the combo.

Ok, so the last place we hit was Old Lockeford Winery, which has a fossil-endangered species theme. Very cool. Get ready for this: There’s a mut grape, I’m still looking for the name, that produces a literal butterscotch wine. But it’s not a dessert wine, full-bodied or syrupy like a muscat. It’s off-dry and has a lot of other things going on in the bouquet. Anyway, I’ve got a call in to their winemaker about the 2005 Wild CA Butterscotch — the grapes come from Lockeford — and while you can’t order it online, you can recently call them: 207-727-9770. After doing a story on Thanksgiving wines, I’m willing to pass on all those and serve this for dessert at Thanksgiving. Or with some of Lark Creek’s butterscotch pudding. Incidentally, they have a bunch of Lodi wines on their menu. Someone’s on top of it there.

Posted on Wednesday, November 8th, 2006
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I heart Lodi

So we went to Lodi over the weekend for Jenny’s birthday. I wasn’t expecting much; maybe quality on par with Livermore. But I have to tell you Jenny and I were blown away. From the moment we arrived at Michael David Winery — makers of the uncannily smooth Earthquake series — to our final romp through Viano Piazza – a modern structure of 10 independent tasting rooms — it was high- caliber value wines over and over again. I think it’s the soil: more clay and loam than sand, and that makes for more pepper and spice than fruit. Hence, you can actually find zinfandels that don’t taste like a jar of Smuckers. It reminded me of Paso Robles, which in five years has gone from barns and ranchers to the third largest wine region in California. I’ll bring my list tomorrow and fill you in on everywhere you should go. But mark my word, this place is going to boom like a Paso.

Posted on Tuesday, November 7th, 2006
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Winey numbers

I’m not one for consumer studies, at least not a lot of them. But when it comes to wine, they can be interesting and quite telling of the future, and corkheads. So here are a few released today that jumped out at me.

- Baby boomers are currently making the majority of wine purchases. Early indicators show the milennial generation taking the lead as more come of age. That’s us!

- 74 percent of wine consumers get serious about wine before they turn 40. Us again!

- The Top 5 cities for wine consumption are LA, NY, Chicago, Boston and D.C. What about SF?

- America’s top 5 wines (all table) include Carlo Rossi and Beringer. Younger and minority consumers are more likely to buy a more expensive bottle. Those 21-34 are more likely to spend more than $20 per bottle.

- The average U.S. retail price of a bottle of wine is more than twice as expensive as the typical bottle sold in France; and more than three times the average in Italy. Wow.

- and my personal favorite: U.S. demand for table wine is the greatest it’s been since the 1970s late wine boom.

Posted on Monday, November 6th, 2006
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Lark Creek corkage

So, like Postino, Lark Creek Restaurant in Walnut Creek has a low corkage — only $15. So for Jenny’s birthday last night, I brought a 2002 Justin Cabernet Sauvignon and Michaela brought L’Etoile, a sparkling from Domain Chandon. We figured $30 for six people to each have two glasses of wine was pretty good. But when Jenny’s friend Keith ordered a half bottle of red, the waiter waived both corkages. Woohoo! It’s the restaurant’s policy. And it’s my policy to pass these good deals on to you. Cheers and happy Friday.

Posted on Friday, November 3rd, 2006
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Old Stock Ale Tasting Tonight, Seats Left for Dogfish Head Beer Dinner

This is starting to sound like a commercial, but City Beer has an interesting tasting tonight: Vertical tasting of last year’s (2005) North Coast Old Stock Ale in bottles and the new one, just out on tap (and not yet in bottles).

Time is today: Nov. 2, 2006. The place is The City Beer Store, 1168 Folsom St.,San Francisco, CA 94103. (415) 503-1033.

Also, Beer Chef Bruce Paton, executive chef at The Cathedral Hill Hotel in San Francisco, says he has a few seats remaining for the Nov. 10 dinner featuring the beers of Dogfish Head Brewing, Rehoboth Beach and Milton, Del. Founder Sam Calagione will be present. If you’re unfamiliar with Dogfish Head beers, you’re in for a treat.

Check out my posting in October for  the menu, price etc. Contact Bruce at (415) 674-3406 or check out his web site. www.beer-chef.com

By the way, if you work at, own a store/tavern/restaurant in Northern California and plan something interesting, beerwise, let me know. Email: whatsontap@sbcglobal.net and phone: (510) 915-1180. — William Brand

Posted on Thursday, November 2nd, 2006
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