Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Sampling Christmas in July at Barclays

By William Brand
Saturday, July 28th, 2007 at 5:08 pm in Uncategorized.



Cartoon Christmas TreeMade it to Christmas in July late Friday afternoon at Barclay’s Restaurant and Pub on College Avenue in North Oakland.
It was already crowded and I wound up sitting with a couple of brewers, Rodger Davis and his bride, Claudia, and Christian Kazakoff, head brewer at Triple Rock.
Rodger has just left Drake’s in San Leandro after years of producing prize-winning beers. Rodger and Claudia– she’s famous in her own right as the best barkeep at 21st Amendment Restaurant and Brewery in San Francisco – have plans to start their own craft brewery or brewpub around here. It’s just a matter of raising the cash. So if you want an investment deal, shoot me an e-mail and I’ll put you in touch.
What’s Christmas in July? Well, Barclay’s holds back kegs of holiday beer until summer, then puts them on until they run out.
I was a day late, but the supply was good. In order, I tasted Christian’s Reindeer Ale, a dark brown, tasty brew, a bit of sweetness remaining, satisfying roast malt taste and lots of hops in the follow.
I followed that with Drake’s 2006 Jolly Roger, thick and powerful: Rodger calls it an Imperial IPA at 11 percent, 70 International Bitterness Units, it’s quite regal. Still quite sweet, nearly 9 months after it was made, with a huge hoppy hit.
Followed that head-spinner with another Jolly Rodger 2006 aged in oak brandy barrels. All I say is whew. This one had vanilla in spades from the oak and drank like it had just come out of the barrel. You can still find both of these in small, six ounce bottles. They’re worth hunt.
Finished off the afternoon with a sample of Coast Range’s most unusual Farmhouse Mure Sauvage.
It wasn’t fair to try this unusual, expermental seasonal after those sweet, oaked beers.But hell, it was Christmas.
The color of apple brandy, head brewer Peter Licht brewed it with wild yeast – Brettanomyces and a Belgian yeast. It came out intensely sour and Peter balances the beer with French blackberry flavoring.Besides pale malt, Peter added a dollop of Belgian candy sugar to boost the alcohol.
I can’t say I loved this one. But you know, I’m headed back to Barclay’s tomorrow to try it again, without drinking any Christmas beers first.
By the way, I just checked with Barclay’s and they have lots of holiday beers left. Find the entire, up-to-date list here.

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