Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Letters: Eggplant and Finding Anchor Small Beer

By William Brand
Sunday, July 15th, 2007 at 9:53 pm in Uncategorized.


note: the tekkies still haven’t gotten to this site to fix it. For a better presentation, go to my much better site:

Letters: Eggplant and Finding Anchor Small Beer
July 15th, 2007

Glad you reprinted this one. I’ve always loved eggplant because I think it’s the vegetable that tastes the most like meat; on the other hand, I’ve got a friend who replied to the previous statement of mine by saying, “I hate eggplant, because it’s the vegetable that tastes the most like *eggplant*.” I’ve put that in a fictionalized setting for the novel I’ve just written.

Ordered Thai food delivery last night and didn’t have much in the way of standard beer. So I decided to crack open the 22 oz. of Alaskan Smoked Porter. Actually worked fairly decently together: the green curry and the smoked malty beer.

Wishing you further recovery in a speedy fashion.

Best, Greg, Denver.

Note: Read the Eggplant and Damnation article and recipe here.

Finding the Elusive Anchor Small Beer

Hi Bill, I enjoy your column tremendously. I read about Anchor Small in your article a few weeks ago but have not been able to find it anywhere in Walnut Creek, Concord, or Pleasant Hill. Do you know where I can get it?

Anchor SmallThanks for your help. Kevin

Hi Kevin. Your best bet is Monument Wine & Spirits, 2250 Monument Blvd. (Just north of Oak Grove Road in the Safeway shopping center. (925) 682-1514.
They only make it when the make Old Foghorn, which they do several times a year. But Monument probably has it; they keep all their beer refrigerated, so it should be in good shape even if its a couple of months old. Good hunting.

Hi Bill, I checked Monument but Stephen Drury the beer buyer said he doesn’t have room. He wasn’t impressed with the taste for some reason. Any other place that you know in the Bay to try it?

Hi Kevin. I talked to my primo beer retailer source, Ed Ledger at Ledger’s Liquors in Berkeley. He said Anchor’s East Bay distributor won’t carry it. So Ed called Anchor, They said if he comes over to the brewery, they’ll sell him some. He said he’s headed over there next week and will let me know when he has it. And, I’ll let you know.
I’ll also give Anchor a ring on Monday.

Mr Brand,
I recently stumbled upon your column about beer in the CC Times and thoroughly enjoy it. I have a couple of questions. A friend of mine spent time in the marines in San Diego and found a couple of fabulous beer houses with dozens (hundreds) of beers on tap that rotate from week to week. Do you know of any places in Contra Costa County that have a large selection of beers on tap that would bring my friends there Monday after Monday during football (and basketball and baseball) seasons??

I read your article reviewing Consumer Reports article on light beer. I have never heard of Anchor small beer. Where can I find it? I eagerly await your reply!

Jim, Contra Costa

Hi Jim. I’m going to answer your questions by forwarding my retail beer store list and my good pub list.
Good pubs include Pete’s Brass Rail in Danville and Hoptown in Pleasanton. Stadium Hot Dogs in Walnut Creek has an OK, but not great beer list, but lots of big screen TVs. EJ Phair in downtown Concord has their own beer and always a decent list of guests, plus big screen tvs. A place with one of the best beer lists, especially Belgians, in the Eastbay is Bo’s Barbecue in Lafayette. However, I don;t even know if they have a TV. But the food is four star barbeque.
Best places to find Anchor Small Beer in Coco are Monument Wine & Spirits in Concord and Jackson’s Liquors in Lafayette. (Of course, I was wrong. See above.)

Anchor LabelsHi,
Thanks for drawing my attention to Anchor’s Small Beer. We have corresponded before on the subject of session beers and this looks like it could be a winner. I wonder if you could ask your contacts in the industry why Anchor feels it can charge full price for what was historically a safe substitute for polluted water? “Because it can” is probably the answer, I can only hope that market forces may persuade them to reposition the ale.

Now if I could find it being cask conditioned and served from a hand pump, cost would not be an object.


Hi Tim. Sorry for the delay. I’ve been ill and am just getting back to my email. I believe Anchor charges full price for the beer because they don’t want to confuse it with the low-priced swill that passes for mainstream beer in this country. They believe Anchor is a hallmark of quality and they don’t want to confuse the issue. They do add a lot of hops to their second running and most of the cost of beer is the packaging and sales, not the ingredients.

It’s really more of an English low gravity mild and just a bit too mild for me to enjoy several pints at a session. But then, I’ve never considered it that way either. Intriguing idea. Think I’ll try a couple of pints tomorrow night. Thanks for the info. b.

Anchor flash pasteurizes all their beer. Wish they didn’t. And on hand pump? That’s a great idea. About pasteurization – when Fritz Maytag took over the brewery in the late 1960s, Anchor wasn’t pasteurized and it often arrived at the pub or restaurant in terrible condition. Anchor sells beer across the country and pastuerization insures the beer arrives in good condition without infections.

Bill: Sorry to hear you’ve been under the weather.
I had to order Anchor Small through my specialist winemerchant as BevMo couldn’t keep it in stock. (I suspect disinterest rather than rabid demand.)
Weimax in Burlingame ordered me a case – great people incidentally. They taste everything they sell and can talk intelligently about every bottle in stock, and the stock is huge! Tell them what sorts of wines you enjoy and a price range and they will hand pick a mixed case in which every bottle is a winner. They aren’t so strong on the spirits, but you can’t fault their selection.

Anchor is failry unique among small breweries in that it does not appear to have a pub attached. To drink the beer on premises you must sign up for the tour (they recommend a month in advance). Seems like a lot of work to taste Anchor on draft.

BTW, have you noticed how New Belgium out of Colorado is cranking out great beers now? Used to be that all I saw was Fat Tire, a very respectable hearty bitter. Now there are over half a dozen varieties in my supermarket. I like the seasonals, especially Skinny Dip and 2 Below. – Tim

Hi Bill,
I’ve just recently read your
Wednesday May 9th article from the San Mateo County Times, titled
“Belgian Trappist Ale Nearly Religious Experience”. First off, I
must say thank you for bringing attention to a collection of the
most amazing ales I have ever experienced! I have just recently
returned from my first trip to Europe where I fell in love with the
Trappist brew collection. I found it quite sobering to return home,
however, to realize how underappreciated, and frankly unknown,
these ales are in the U.S.
Since then, I have been on a quest to learn more about the brewing
process, history, and overall Trappist experience.
I have had the good fortune to be able to experience a selection
from 4 of the 7 Trappist Breweries, and have made it my personal
goal to work my way through the rest of the list. The biggest
dilemna however, has been trying to track these ales down back in
the States. Thank you so very much for the listing of Bo’s
Barbecue, as it sounds like an excellent beer lovers find which I
am truly looking forward to visiting as soon as I can. I’d also
like to request your “2007 Retail Beer Store List” to guide me in
my search as well.
Again, thank you so much for sharing your “What’s on Tap?” wit
and wisdom with us! I might also point out, if you aren’t already
familiar with The Toronado Pub in San Francisco (547 Haight
Street), they too have a truly amazing beer selection, which I
recently stumbled upon. They have a spectacular bottled beer list
which includes Westvleteren, Westmalle, Rochefort, Chimay, and
Orval! Plus, with over 45 taps, they really can’t go wrong! (Yes, a
tear of joy comes to my eye just thinking about it!)
Anyhow, thank you for all the wonderful information you have
provided in your columns, and I am looking forward with great
anticipation to the Retail Beer List. Keep up the good work & CHEERS!


Hi Leah…excuse my delay in replying to your note. I’m pleased that
you’ve discovered the world of great beer. Wow, you’ve expanded your
horizons, even discovered the Toronado, which is kind of hidden away
on a scuzzy block of lower Haight. There’s another place you might
find interesting (if you haven’t already found it: City Beer. It’s
fairly unique, you can sample any beer they have in stock for the
price of the bottle, then buy more if you like it.
I’m also sending you my Good Pub list. And finally — you’re
obviously a first-rate beer scout. So if you find any retail spots or
good pubs not on our list, let me know.

Hey Bill!
Thanks for the great beer lists! I’ve been having some computer problems myself (glass of water in the keyboard is never a good thing!), so I apologize for the delayed response! I did have a chance to get out to New Star-Ell for the first time yesterday and was COMPLETELY blown away by the Belgian selection. I can’t thank you enough for sharing your great finds! I will definately keep you updated if I find any spots that aren’t on your list as well. Also, I have no problem with you posting my original letter. As you can tell, I got excited and went on a bit of a rant, so feel free to edit! :)
Thanks again for sharing your beer wisdom!
Cheers! -Leah

Mounting a Bigfoot expedition

Bill… As you know, Sierra Nevada makes a beer called Bigfoot barley wine style ale. I had one recently and the bottle cap said something about 2007 Exposition. Is there an event? If so when and where?


Bigfoot Bottle CapHi Kati, Good question. I e-mailed someone I know at Sierra Nevada. But I believe it’s all in fun. It’s always been on Bigfoot bottlecaps. I don’t believe it refers to an actual event.

Thanks for checking. And if it turns out it is not an actual event now, maybe they should consider creating one. Bet it would have a solid following!

The writer could use some eyeglasses. The crown says “2007 Expedition”, which is a joke about searching for Bigfoot.

Steve Dressler, Sierra Nevada Brewmaster.

Pubs: The Great and Not So Great

Hi Bill,

So sorry to hear you’re ill. We’re wishing you a very quick recovery. We just got back from Southern Oregon and Northern Ca. where we did some camping, siteseeing and visits to about 10 breweries, with a big finish at Russian River. Loved Etna. Bill, the brewmaster gave us a taste of his not-to-be-released smoked porter, smoked with applewood. Wonderful concoction. Standing Stone (Ashland, OR) and Wild River in Grants Pass, Oregon had at least 1 or 2 beers we enjoyed, 6 Rivers in Mckinleyville had a good IPA. We were not very impressed with Stumptown or Sebastopol.

Hope we can bend an elbow with you soon.


Note: Steve and his wife, Gail, are the creators of This very neat site guides one to the best brewpubs, pubs and beer restaurants within walking distance of a BART station in the San Francisco Bay Area. Check it out.

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