Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for December, 2007

Beer glasses to buy for yourself or a special someone for Christmas

Somewhere along the beer trail I tired of beer t-shirts from breweries or brewpubs I’ve visited and I’m way too shy to wear any of the funny beer t-shirts I’ve been given with slogans like: “Beer. It’s for breakfast” and “Beer is the answer, what’s the question?

Samuel Smith Pub GlassBut beer glasses? I’m a sucker for beer glasses. I love to serve guests beer in glasses branded with the beer I’m serving. One of my big problems has always been that I get a single glass, sometimes with a bottle of beer in a holiday package. Where do I get more glasses to fill out the set.

Sure, there’s always been the web and God forbid, ebay. But who wants to pay $10 for a pub glass?

Things are changing. Just got an e-mail from Merchant du Vin, the Seattle-based importer of Samuel Smith’s from England and Orval from Belgium, among many others. They’re selling those pub glasses I covet for $2.95 plus shipping. Deal.I’m ordering five, to supplement my lone glass, which came in a kit with a bottle of Samuel Smith’s Pale Ale. I looked everywhere, but could never find another kit or the glass.

They also sell Orval chalices, the kind Orval is served in at bars in Belgium and at a few sophisticated bars in the U.S. They’re $5.95, but these are really nice glasses, thick glass with embossed lettering. Gonna order three of those as well to go with the single glass I got a couple of years ago with a bottle of Orval.

OK, it’s a little nuts, I admit. What can I say.

Posted on Monday, December 17th, 2007
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Wine party etiquette gone wrong

Just loved this post on Fray about a city guy who moves to Sonoma and finds himself and the whole town drunk on wine. What follows is his x-rated palate. Think cat piss is bad? Read on. The content may offend delicate ears, so consider yourself warned.

I for one have never compared the flavor of wine to a body part. Dirty gym socks and mold, maybe. This guy probably should’ve just used his indoor voice.  

Posted on Monday, December 17th, 2007
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A Beer Blog from Santa Rosa

In my rambles on the Web, I’ve found a number of interesting beer stops. A new one I’ve found is Brewed for Thought.

Sweet Spot PubIt’s written by a guy who lives in Santa Rosa, CA. His idea is to share what he knows about good places to drink beer in his corner of the world.

Most of us in to beer know about Third Street Ale Works and, of course, Russian River Brewing a block and a half away. But did you now there’s also a pub nearby that serves as an unofficial outlet for Lagunitas Brewing. It’s the Sweet Spot. Read about it here.

Posted on Sunday, December 16th, 2007
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EMAIL: A new craft brewery opens in Santa Cruz

Got this from a reader, who lives in Felton. Haven’t checked the place yet. Has anyone else? Let me know. Post a comment here.

Hi William
, I swapped some e-mail with you back in August about if you knew of any good beer retailers in Santa Cruz. Aside from what you mentioned…. not a lot to add. for Santa Cruz. There are a handful of places that seem to be on the same distribution routes, so you can find some non-disappointing beers, though little that’s particularly rare. The store with the curved brick front on 41st street in Capitola (Forty-First Avenue Liquors, 2155 41st Ave., Capitola, (831) 475-5117) specializes in Belgians and does have a pretty impressive selection.

What I’m actually writing to tell you about is a new brewery in Santa Cruz. Uncommon Brewers has been ramping up in the Sash Mill complex off of River Street, near where it hits Highway 1. I had the grand opportunity to go to their first tasting there last Sunday night – I was the guest of a friend who had won the tour/tasting at a benefit auction.

Anyhow – we got to taste two-and a half beers. The half is that they have their ‘Siamese Twin’ belgian, one batch of which had gone to ‘Trippel’ level at about 10.8% ABV, and another that was the expected dubbel, at about 6.5%. It was an unfiltered mineral amber color with a nice yeasty head. The Siamese part of it was accenting with lemon grass, Indian Coriander, and kaffir lime leaves.

Skot, the brewer giving the tour, clearly gets it – a lot of accent flavored/spiced beers are either homeopathic or so overdone that they’re more like malty schnapps, This had perfect balance on both the dubbel and tripel, giving a really exotic afterglow to a lovely beer. Hallertau and Saaz hops. All organic ingredients.

The other thing we tasted was a really luscious Baltic Porter. Obsidian black, though you could call it antique mahogany if you got it thin enough on the edge of the glass. Accented with licorice root and star anise, again with remarkable balance. More of a head than you typically get on a porter, for height and duration, but utterly slurpable. I think it ran about 7% ABV.

At any rate, I’ve been tasting lots of beers over the last years as part of Stuart Forman’s Yahoo group (he says you two have swapped beer notes a few times). I wanted to very much recommend to you to try to try these guys out when you’re in the Santa Cruz area.

Their logo says ‘uncommon beer for uncommon people’ and they really just nail it. They’re supposedly starting sales any day now – they’re going with Internet sales for pick-up at the brewery, and a micro-canning operation to avoid light skunking on the beer.

Their web link is , which is a not-terribly-up-to-date blog of them getting the brewery running.

If you want to contact the brewer I mentioned, it’s
and the phone number at the brewery is 831-621-6270

I liked your review on Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing ( I get your columns in the Merc). I was at that brewery the first weekend that they were doing tastings and at-the-brewery bottle sales. I think that they’ve improved a lot since that time, and they seem to have found a decent niche – I see them on the shelves at BevMo, as well as most of the stores in greater Santa Cruz.

Also liked the Xmas beer review list that you just did. I very much look forward to the columns as they come out. I thimk they are a nice breath of fresh culinary air to compliment the restaurant and wine reviews.

Happy Holidays, Duff

Posted on Saturday, December 15th, 2007
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Where to get Firestone Walker 11 today: City Beer

I’ve gotten calls and e-mails from people looking for 11, Firestone Walker’s new barrel-aged, 11th anniversary beer (More about it here.)
Fireston Walker 11
One sure place find it today is City Beer Store, 1168 Folsom St., in San Francisco. Proprietor Craig Wathen says that beginning at 5 p.m. tonight (Dec. 14, 2007). he’ll have four Firestone Walker beers on tap including 11 and a new Belgian-style ale.

City Beer has a unique license; they also sell beer in bottles to take home. Anyone who likes 11 can buy up to three bottles to take home. Haven’t reached Craig yet to find out how much bottles are selling for, will post it when he calls back. Shouldn’t be too much. See ya’ there.

Posted on Friday, December 14th, 2007
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The wine raver

Hey folks, if you like Corkheads, check out my friend Megan’s blog, Wine Clubbie. Megan and I are in the same wine club, Wine Groupies, and her twist on the cork– she likes da techno — is awesome. Megan’s got a great palate: big into Rhone varietals with a Spanish flair. So I’m sure she’ll be recommending some great wines and taking you on her various club kid adventures while swirling some excellent vino.

Posted on Friday, December 14th, 2007
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Update: Dixie Beer Returns to the Bay Area

DixieIt took nearly two months, but Dixie Beer** and Dixie Blackened Voodoo Lager*** and Dixie Jazz Amber Light** are back in stock in Bay Area stores.

Just got a note from Beverages & More that Blackened Voodoo Lager and the other two are now in stock at their stores. Blackened Lager is a very drinkable, Vienna-Marzen-Oktoberfest style lager; fairly malty, hint of hops.

Background: Hurricane Katrina and the looting that followed dealt Dixie Beer, a century-old New Orleans brewery, an almost fatal blow. No beer’s been brewed there since Katrina. However, the owners are struggling to build a smaller brewery on the site as part of an office or condo development. Nothing’s been done, but they’re hoping.

In the meantime, they’ve contract brewed their first beers since Katrina at a brewry in Monroe, WI. This is the beer that’s reaching the Bay Area now.

My suggerstion and what I’m going to do: Buy a sixer, toast New Orleans tonight.

Find out more about Dixie Beer and Katrina here.

Posted on Friday, December 14th, 2007
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Imperial IPA coming from Anderson Valley, also – whiskey-cask ale from the UK

New beers headed our way…

I was talking to Ed Chainey, Anderson Valley Brewing’s Northern California rep the other night at the new Trappist Beer Cafe in Oakland. He said the brewry’s got a dynamite new beer to mark Anderson Valley’s 20th anniversary.

It’s an Imperial India Pale Ale, 100 IBUs (International Bitterness Units: Bud’s 13 IBU), 9 percent alcohol by volume. Release date will be Feb. 2, 2008. Can’t wait.

Harviestoun Old Engine OilAlso Matthias Neidhart, the German-born proprietor of B. United International, importer of a string of excellent beers, promises a new one from Harviestoun, , Alva, Scotland, the primo UK craft brewer in February. This one’s called Ola Dubh (Gaelic, I think — for Black Oil).

It’s 8 percent, aged in Highland Park Scotch Whisky barrels. The beer, Matthias says, is a collaboration between Harviewstoun and Highland Park, named Distiller of the Year in the UK.

The beer itself is based on the recipe for Old Engine Oil, an English, 6 percent, strong ale, which has many fans. Now, all Matthias needs is a distributor in the Bay Area and some customers.

Posted on Thursday, December 13th, 2007
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Paris: bubbles, birthday suit, blech

Dear God,

Why oh why do you create annoying and highly ironic people? Paris Hilton hits the slammer repeatedly for DUIs and now she’s launching a sparkling wine in a can? Oh the humanity.  And what, might I add, is the connection between canned bubbly and gold lame in the desert? See ad campaign.

The hotel heiress’ Rich Prosecco is being billed as a ‘starter drink for your night or a special pleasure as a reward at the end of the day.’ But with flavors ranging from passion fruit to strawberry, it sounds disgusting.

Why the Germans have to be the first poor fools to taste this is beyond me. Haven’t they suffered enough?

Your humble Corkhead,


Posted on Thursday, December 13th, 2007
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The search for Cerveza Noche Buena

Back on the Cerveza Noche Buena quest

Just got this reply from FEMSA, the Mexican conglomerate that produces many Mexican beers including Noche Buena – which hasn’t been sold around here for several years.

Buen Día:

Agradecemos su interés en nuestra empresa y nuestros productos. Por este medio le informo que puede escribir directamente a nuestras agencias de distribución a través del apartado “Contactos” del sitio de Internet de Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma.

Esperando le atiendan a la brevedad.
Comunicación Corporativa FEMSA

So, I went to the Website suggested and sent this message:

Buenas Dias. Yo busco cerveza Noche Buena. No puedo encontrarla en California en EU. Se vende Noche Buena en los Estados Unidos? Gracias. William Brand

Vamos a ver.

Apologies for the unaccented Spanish. Ideas anyone? Post your comment here.

Posted on Thursday, December 13th, 2007
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