Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for August, 2007

The Champion Beer of Britain: A Dark Mild



The Champion Beer of Britain chosen at the Great British Beer Festival in London today is a mild, an ancient style of low alcohol, malty brew popular in workingman bars in the 19th Century that is undergoing a bit of a revival, thanks to the Campaign for Real Ale.

Here’s the winning announcement from CAMRA:

“Hobsons Mild from Hobsons Brewery in Shropshire was today judged to be the best beer in Britain by a panel of brewers, beer writers and journalists at the Great British Beer Festival at Earls Court.
“The Shropshire brewed mild beer was chosen as the overall winner from over fifty finalists in eight categories, including beers from tiny micros to major regional brewers.
Nick Davis, Director of Hobsons said:
“What a great surprise! It’s a nutty mild and despite being only 3.2% abv it’s packed full of flavour.”

Complete results of today’s judging can be found here . Problem is – as far as I can tell none of the winning beers are imported to the U.s. But if you’re headed to the UK, it’s a handly list to take along for sampling.

But, if you’re within striking distance of London, the Great British Beer Festival is running all week. For a schedule, location, tickets, more info, go here.

So what’s a mild? It’s a style of low alcohol, malty beer that was popular in workingman’s bars a century ago. The style was eclipsed in recent years by the erosion of the industrial age and cold lager. But there’s been a revival in recent years – thanks to CAMRA.

Want to try a mild? If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, the best place to go is Magnolia’s Pub & Restaurant , 1398 Haight St. in San Francisco. Proprietor, brewmaster Dave McLean is a fan of the style and almost always has a mild on handpump.

Another option to is to find Anchor Small . Technically, it’s not a mild, but it’s low alcohol and quite malty – just like a mild. It’s hard to find, but worth the search.

Posted on Tuesday, August 7th, 2007
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He’Brew Tailgater Wednesday at Giants Park

He’Brew Tailgater Wednesday at Giants Park


Headed to the Giants game Wednesday night (Aug. 8) to watch Barry walk further into the record books. Before the game, check out Parking Lot D from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. Jeremy Cowan, founder of Schmaltz Brewing (He’Brew) is celebrating Jewish Heritage Night and the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love, pouring four beers for all at a tailgate party. Everyone (21 and over) invited to join in.

Beers will be Origin Pomegranate Ale****, Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A.****. Genesis Ale*** and Messiah Bold***. Everyone of these beer’s a winner and if you haven’t tried them, and are in the neighborhood, even if you aren’t going to the game, give ’em a try


Meanwhile, He’Brew’s getting know in film. Schmaltz publicist Jesse Cutler says it’s shown up here:

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, CNN Headline News, The Onion, the motion picture Garden State, Friends, The Today Show, Bravo, NPR’s “Weekend Edition,” The New York Times, Newsweek, FHM, Playboy, Associated Press, Reuters, San Francisco Magazine, MSNBC, The Jerusalem Report, New York Jewish Week and

After all, Jeremy points out that He’Brew is “the chosen beer.” For a backgrounder on He’brew and Jeremy , check out this link.

Posted on Monday, August 6th, 2007
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$10 corkages in the East Bay

My sister visited this weekend from San Diego and we ate our way through the East Bay: Rick & Ann’s, Trattoria Sicialiana, Mistral (okay, that’s in the Ferry Building), Soi Four and Zachary’s. Here I was stressed out about getting us in at Slanted Door or Kokkari Estiatorio, and we had a culinary romp of our own right in my neighborhood.

I know I live around a lot of great restaurants, but I didn’t know that their corkages are only $10! Even Lark Creek’s is double that. I took a Frappato-Nero D’avola blend to Trattoria (yes, I gave them another chance after that brutal experience last month and even more brutal blog post. Guess I believe in third chances) and my usual knock-their-socks-off with Thai or Vietnamese Taltarni Brut Rose, I took to Soi Four. Excellent fresh and modern city cuisine from Bangkok.

If you haven’t been, get the star anise tofu with mushrooms, bok choy and glass noodles. It’s insanely good. So was our bill. Three women polished off a bottle of sparkling wine for around $3 each. It really makes a difference in the price of dining out.

I’m going to keep my eye out for other $15 or less corkages in the East Bay. If you know of some, please feel free to post them here as well!

Posted on Monday, August 6th, 2007
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More on the Toronado’s 20th Anniversary Bash


note: graphics, links are still fouled up on this site. Please visit my mirror site, where everything works. Thanks. William Brand

toronado-logo.jpgThe Toronado, the venerable beer pub at 547 Haight St. in San Francisco, celebrates its 20th next weekend. Here are some details straight from proprietor David Keane. The fun begins at 5 p.m. next Saturday, Aug. 11.
“I approached Vinnie (Cilurzo, Russian River Brewing, Santa Rosa, CA) two years ago about making a beer for the Toronado Anniversary, my guidelines were wood aged, big, and barnyard. We toyed with the idea of making six beers and blending them into one, but agreed this was too time consuming as Vinnie has a lot on his plate.

“I was surprised when it came to light that he had come up with five, 1 year old, wood aged beers to blend. Vinnie mixed 5 different blends and we tasted them together, all were fine beers , blend #1 was so good that we filled one keg with it calling it 50-50.

“After removing this quantity of beer from the over all blend ,we decided on a new blend halfway between blend #4 and blend #5. The result, Vinnie says, is a 10.43 percent alcohol by volume beer that is smooth and soft with a faint sourness — a beer that hides its alcohol well. “It drinks like a 6-percent beer.” I say thank you Vinnie, for an outstanding beer, beyond my expectations. Awesome!
The bottles will be available for $20 each at the Toronado and Russian River Brewing Co only.”


Anchor Cask Conditioned Porter
” Steam was the first draught beer at the Toronado,so I think it only fitting to have something from them for our 20th, Fritz Maytag answered the call, with a cask conditioned Porter, to be served on handpump.

Thanks to Mark Carpenter for crafting this special product and to Fritz for taking the time to recognize ouranniversary.”

And still more: Lost Abbey/Pizza Port Cable Car on draught and in

Tomme Arthur (Port Brewing/Lost Abbey), scoured his wood casks and blended a beer for our Anniversary, we have one keg and a limited number of bottles. I have not sampled this beer yet, but have it on the authority of John Hansel, of the Malt Advocate, that it in his opinion it is the best beer he has had from Lost Abbey and perhaps in the entire USA. Can’t wait to try it.

“At last count there were 13 other rare beers that brewers have made or are releasing from their cellars for this event. I will get a complete list together when possible. Hope to see you there .”
Big Daddy (David Keene).

Posted on Saturday, August 4th, 2007
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Gary Vaynerchuk goes mainstream

A big thing happened for the wine blogosphere last night. Gary Vaynerchuk, the YouTube generation’s answer to Robert Parker, went mainstream, landing a spot on the Conan O’Brien Show following his glowing profile in Time magazine. He’s our wine guru, and he’s making us proud.

If you don’t know Vaynerchuk, you soon will. He’s 31 and airs his daily video blog, Wine Library TV, out of the large Springfield, New Jersey wine shop of the same name that he runs with his dad. He has five episodes a week, focusing on a grape or region, and gets about 30,000 new viewers an episode. I’m sure that’ll change after the Conan bit.

Wine Library TV is awesome. It’s so low budget it reminds me of Wayne’s World but for wine. Vaynerchuk refers to dollars as bones (like, this Napa Cab is so not worth $55 bones). His spatoon is a New York Jets bucket, and he’s quite the frat boy ham. But he knows his wines, and we agree on a lot of stuff: namely, the dumbing down of gamay by Beaujolais Nouveau, and slapping wine off of its pedestal.

Check him out. You won’t be sorry.

Posted on Thursday, August 2nd, 2007
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In Wine Country awards finalists announced

If you watch NBC’s show “In Wine Country” you’re probably familiar with its annual Golden Grape Awards. This is the third year of the contest, and the finalists have been announced. The winners won’t be announced until a special “In Wine Country” show in September, which kicks off the show’s seventh season.

Until then, here are the finalists. I’ll put in my two cents where I can:

Best Winery to Visit: Clos LaChance Winery, Passalacqua Winery, Preston Vineyards. None. I say Reverie on the Mountain in Calistoga.

Best Wine Country Adventure: Private Jeep Tour of Pisoni Vineyards, Relish Culinary School, O.A.R.S. Wine on the River Series. Wine on a river? That one, if I could afford it.

Best Wine Country Spa: The Spa at the Carneros Inn, The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, Jefferson Street Day Spa. None. I say Kenwood’s Caudalie Spa.

Best Wine Country Restaurant Splurge: Cyrus Restaurant, The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards, Tra Vigne. Gotta give props to Wente!

Best Wine Country Resort: Auberge du Soleil, The Carneros Inn, Meadowood. Meadowood all the way!

Best Wine Country Bargain Bites: Boon Fly Cafe at the Carneros Inn, Oakville Grocery, Taylor’s Automatic Refresher. Taylor’s Refresher. Have you HAD the sweet potato fries?

Best Wine Country Bed and Breakfast: Grape Leaf Inn, Honor Mansion, Madrona Manor. I wouldn’t know. Never stayed at a B&B in the Valley.

Best Wine Country Gardens: Clos LaChance Winery, Ferrari-Carano Vineyards & Winery, Passalacqua Winery. I’m kind of thinking Hall Winery on this one.

Feel free to vote and share your thoughts with me!

Posted on Wednesday, August 1st, 2007
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