Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for March, 2008

Washington Posts Sweet 16 beer contest is pretty sweet

Washington Post brackets

OK, I don’t like to gamble. I grew up in a family of gamblers, mostly horse races and bridge (You don’t think bridge is gambling. Trust me, it can be.) I guess I’d rather drop my coins on beer.

Therefore, I’m immune to sports gambling and to the growing furor about the NCAA Sweet 16. In the last few years it’s spread to beer, with people nominating favorite beers and everyone voting for their favorite with the most votes for the final two deciding the winner.

Ho hum. We all know if ALL beer drinkers participated, Bud Light would win or maybe Corona. Yuk.

Well, the Washington Post has a twist on this. Their beer columnist (and author of a number of books on beer) Greg Kitsock and Post Sunday Source (Guess it’s their mag. or a section of the Sunday paper) editor Joe Heim start out with 32 beers; then enlisted a tasting panel and worked their way through the beers, flight by flight.

Now they’re down to the simi-finals, the final eight:
Lagers: Flying Dog Old Scratch vs, Raven Lager from Baltimore-Washington Beer works
Ales: Stone Pale Ale (Escondido, CA) vs. Troegs Hopback Amber, Troegs Brewing, Harrisburg, PA.
Specialty & Fruit: Ommegang Hennepin, Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, NY. vs. Oxford Raspberry Wheat, Clipper City Brewing, Baltimore, MD.
Dark Beers: Sam Adams Honey Porter vs. Hook & Ladder Backdraft Brown, Hook & Ladder Brewing, Silver Spring, MD.

Unfortunately, the popular vote doesn’t decide the winners. They’ve already been chosen, but you can vote for your favs anyway and then tomorrow, Monday, March 23, they’ll post the results and we have the Final Four. That round will be announced March 30 and the grand winner will be revealed April 6.

They’ve posted details on all the 32 original beers, plus tasting notes and and transcript of a live Q&A earlier this month.

OK, OK, it’spretty neat and I’m interested. Check it out.

Posted on Sunday, March 23rd, 2008
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We truly live in Beer Nirvana

As regular readers of this blog know, I’ve been scouting for good beer pubs in the South Bay. It’s been a difficult search. Lots of corporate beer down there: InBev, Guinness, Scottish & Newcastle. It’s strange, pubs don’t seem to tap the wealth of good craft beer available, from local brewers like Gordon Biersch, Firestone Walker and Sonoma County brewers like Bear Republic. Did see a bit of Lagunitas, mostly the IPA.

It’s been a sobering hunt and it’s far from over, but to remind myself that we live in a true beer nirvana in the northern Bay Area, at least, I checked the offerings of three local pubs. These are just the draft beers available. Check out the next three posts and remember, we have lots more: Lanesplitter, Luka’s, Bistro, Barclay’s, Jupiter, Albatross, Ben & Nicks, Cato’s Ale Hose, Pete’s Brass Rail, Hoptown...the mind reels.

Posted on Thursday, March 20th, 2008
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What’s On Tap today at the Toronado, San Francisco

As most of us know, the Toronado, 547 Haight St. in San Francisco, 415-863-2276, is about as close as we’re ever gonna’ get to Beer Nirvana.

Consider the current “on-tap” list: Wait, first a message from proprietor David Keene. Two beer nights coming up:

March 25, Firestone Walker night: On draught that night
1. Parabola 2 year old Russian Imperial Stout
2. Abacus Barrel aged BarleywineCantillon glass
3.Union Jack IPA
4.Velvet Merkin Oatmeal Stout
5.Double Barrel All Wood on Cask

March 26, Lagunitas Night: They promise some special beers. Can;t wait.

And now, the “Regular” on tap list:

Brewery Beer Location
Anchor., Anchor Steam S.F.,
Anchor . Liberty Ale S.F.
Anchor Old Foghorn S.F.,
Anderson Valley . Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout Boonville, CA
Anderson Valley Belks E.S.B.
Boonville,CA
Anderson Valley Boont Amber
Boonville, CA
Anderson Valley Triple Naught 000 Boonville,CA
Ayinger Celebrator Germany
Bear Republic Racer 5 Healdsburg,CA
Bitburger Pils Germany
Cantillion Apricot Lambic Belgium HANDPUMP
Cantillion Rose de Gambrinus Belgium
De Kluis Hoegaarden White Hoegaarden,Belgium
De Koninck Ale Belgium
Erdinger Hefeweizen Germany
Guinness Stout Ireland
Humboldt Victorias Triple Arcata,CA
Huyghe Delirium Nocturnum Belgium
Lagunitas Satinugal Petaluma,CA
Liefmans Goudenband Belgium
Lind Brewing Bacchus Ale San Leandro,CA
Lind Brewing Drakes Real Ale San Leandro,CA HANDPUMP
Lindemans Framboise Belgium
Lindemans Cassis Belgium
Lost Coast Brewing Co. Doppelbock Eureka,CALost Coast Raspberry Brown
Marin Mt Tam Larkspur,CA
Meteor Blanche de Meteor France
Moonlight Bombay By Boat IPA Windsor,CA
Moonlight Death&Taxes Black Windsor,CA
Moonlight Twist of Fate Windsor,CA HANDPUMP
Moortgat Maredsous Breendonk,Belgium
Ross Valley Triple Fairfax,CA
Russian River ESB Guerneville,CA
Schneider Aventinus Germany
Seabright IP Ripper Santa Cruz,CA
Sierra Nevada Pale Bock Chico,CA
Spaten Hefeweizen Germany
Speakeasy Big Daddy IPA San Francisco,CA
Speakeasy Prohibition Ale San Francisco,CA
Stella Artois Lager Belgium
Stone Arrogant Bastard San Diego,CA
Thomas Kemper Root Beer Seattle,WA
Two Rivers Apple Cider Sacramento,CA
Van Honsebrouck Kasteel Dark Ingelmunster,Belgium
Weltenburger Asam Bock Germany
Wyder’s Raspberry Cider Canada

Posted on Thursday, March 20th, 2008
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What’s On Tap today at The Trappist, Oakland

St. BernardusThe Trappist, 460 8th St., 51-409-3427, is the greatest gift to downtown Oakland since Luka’s opened five years ago and Pacific Coast Brewing opened back in the 1980s.

This is an authentic Belgian beer cafe smack in the middle of Oakland. Except that there’s no smoking and language is English, you could be in Brussels or maybe Brugge.

Here’s what’s on tap tonight:

1) Koningshoven Trappist Quadrupel 10% ABV 25cl $8

2) Brasserie d’Achouffe Houblon Chouffe 9% ABV 25cl $6.

3) Chimay Cinq Cents Triple 8% ABV 30cl $6.

4) Brouwerij St. Bernardus Prior 8 8% ABV 33cl $6.

5) Het Anker Gouden Carolus Tripel 8% ABV 25cl $6

6) Brasserie Silly La Divine Triple 9% ABV 25cl $6

7) Lost Abbey Lost And Found Abbey Ale 7.5% ABV 33cl $6

8) Konig Pilsener 4.9% ABV 33cl $5

9) **Russian River Beatification ?% ABV 25cl $10 ** May not be tapped till 3/20 or 3/21 call us.

10) Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck Brigand 9% ABV 25cl $6

11) Avery IPA 6.3% ABV 33cl $4.

12) Flying Dog Double Dog pale Ale 11.5% ABV 25cl $6

13) Van Eecke Poperings Hommel 7.5% ABV 33cl $6.

14) North Coast Old Rasputin Imperial Stout 9% ABV 25cl $6

15) Allagash White Ale 5% ABV 50cl $5.

I think I’ve died and gone to heaven. Amen.

Posted on Thursday, March 20th, 2008
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What’s On Tap today at City Beer Store…

If you’ve never heard of City Beer, 1168 Folsom St., San Francisco, 415-503-1033, it’s a place worth a visit. The owner Craig Wathens. has a unique ABC liquor license. It’s an on-and-off-sale license. You can go in, choose from a large stock of bottled beer. He’ll split a beer for you and a friend at the cost of the beer,

If you like it, you can buy some to take home. Prices are fair. Someone I know who’s into numbers says his prices tend to be perhaps 10 percent above BevMo. And believe me, he has beers you’ll never see at BevMo.

Tonight, beginning at 5 p.m. (and running until about 10 p.m.) he’ll be pouring Stone Imperial Russian Harviestoun Old Engine OldStout 2007 and 2008. Pay by the drink.

Also: he has several constantly rotating taps as well. Here’s what’s on tap today:

Allagash White
Eel River Organic Extra Pale Ale
Meantime London Porter
E.J. Phair Stout
New Belgium Abbey Ale
Moylans Irish Red

His newest bottled beers are three from Harviestoun Brewery in Alva, Scotland: Old Dubh, aged in a variety of Scotch whiskey casks. The beer starts out as 11 percent Old Engine Oil. Whew. One’s aged in 12-year-old barrels, one in 16 year barrels and one in 30 year barrels.

Posted on Thursday, March 20th, 2008
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The Great Silicon Valley Pub Quest: Readers speak

EJ Phair TapsIn my column in today’s San Jose Mercury News, I stick my neck far out and attempt to name the Best Beer Pubs of Silicon Valley. In my previous column I asked for suggestions from readers. Did they ever comment. Summary: The South Bay is a (expletive deleted!!) beer desert.

Then I spent several days trekking around the South Bay checking out pubs. Whew. They weren’t kidding. There is no Toronado, no Bistro, no Barclay’s, no Ben & Nick’s, No Cato’s Ale House, no Lane Splitter, no Trappist Beer Cafe, no Luka’s, no Jupiter, no Albatross. (What? You’ve never heard of these places? E-mail me at whatsontap@sbcglobal.net and ask for our Good Beer Pub List.

And now some of those e-mails:

Hi, William ~ We travel for great beer – 3 or 4 trips a year to Oregon, San Diego and numerous trips to the wine country (no wine – Russian River and Bear Republic and Moonlight and 3rd Street Aleworks – they’re all so great). We’re headed to GABF this year – we could go on and on…..

So you’ve asked the question we’ve been trying to answer for 4 years (the beginning of our love affair with craft beer!). Where is a great beer bar in the South Bay??? We’re unable to help answer this question; in fact – we hope something exists in the South Bay that somehow has just managed to stay under the radar so we don’t have to drive to Pete’s Brass Rail or Hopyard Ale House so often.

But we don’t have much hope – just check out the listings in the Celebrator Hop Spots. … If a good beer bar exists anywhere in the South Bay(Empire Tap Room in Palo Alto has quiet a few decent taps, we’re told, but we consider that the Peninsula)

Firehouse Brewing logoJust a few weeks ago after a couple of pints with our favorite local brewer, Steve Donahue of Firehouse Grill and Brewing, we lamented the absence of exactly what you’re looking for; that wonderful combination of unique rotating brews and staff that can talk about it and in a perfect world, one that might even remember that you’d been there after your 10th visit (way too much to ask in most places, we find).

If we win the lottery, first thing we’re going to do is get the best beer bar in Northern California up and running (how about the same tap line up that was at Beerapalooza on Sunday….mmmmmm); if we don’t, we’re praying someone else takes an interest down here and fills a much needed gap in the craft beer scene – we’ll be their first customers.Best regards, Diane Crawford and Michael Luna

Hi Diane and Michael. Oh my. My heart bleeds for you guys. The South Bay is really a beer desert, isn’t it. I’ll take your advice and stay away from Paul and Eddies. Don’t both with Mission Street Ale House, great name, but more of a club than a pub. Indifferent bar staff, corporate beer list plus sierra nevada pala ale.
I’m going to have to visit Empire Tap Room soon.
Question? what about BJs, the chain pizza, brewpub in Cupertino. I hear they have a rotating list of guest beers that are excellent?

BJs CupertinoWilliam, I’ve visited BJ’s, and many of the BJ’s chain across the US. It is a chain and their beers are mainstream, the only good thing they have going is they have GUEST TAPS, which means I can get SN celebrator, or at times EL Toro Deuce there. Bj’s does an OK job as a chain, their IPA is good, the beers are true to style but a notch or two weaker for the masses, the Belgium beer selection can be good but I’m not too keen on that so my opinion has no bearing.

Based upon your request for good tap rooms I would never have thought of BJ’s – a brew pub with a couple guest taps. 21st Amendment (San Francisco) has guest taps as well, which is always great. I love it when a brewpub has guest taps. It shows they 1. trust their beers. 2. have the capacity to run taps/lines for additional beers. E. J. Phair in Concord comes to mind as well as a brewpub with plenty of great beer and guest taps. A great place in the new bustling downtown of concord. I keep wishing I could get the more extreme beers in bottles that you can only get in the pub. – Terry from San Jose

P.S. Oh Yeah, had a couple beers at El Toro today in Morgan Hill with Gino, the Brewer, have you beer there? He has 15+ tap of his OWN beer. Pretty cool how he does it. Let me know if you need more info. Terry.

Bill…You heard correctly about BJ’s. They usually have at least two guest beers. Normally it is something popular like Guinness or Bass, and then something a little more exotic. Tom.

You wrote (in the Merc):

I’m on a quest to find the best beer pubs in the South
Bay. I have three criteria.

One: A warm, friendly, welcoming place without
attitude or snobbery.

Two: A beer list that goes beyond the standards and
frequently offers new beers.

Three: Bartenders and waiters who are interested in
and care about beer.
————————-

Rose & Crown Palo Alto: http://www.jatbar.com

Rose and Crown pub in Palo Alto. Photo:http://www.jatbar.com. Used by permission.

I am afraid that the beer pubs in the south bay that meet your 3 criteria consist virtually of a null set. By far the best pub south of the city, in my view, is the Rose and Crown in (547 Emerson S.) Palo Alto (but I don’t know that this would be considered “South Bay”). It is the only pub that I know of that satisfies criteria #2 (by far
the most important of the criteria in my view).

The current owner/manager has been there about 2 years and is doing an excellent job of bringing in interesting beers and rotating some of them regularly. He is a
bit hampered by distribution (e.g., Russian River just does not come down here), but no other pub that I know of south of the city meets this most important
criteria #2. For brief example, on tap right now are Racer X, 2 vintages of North Coast Old Stock, Full Sail Slipknot, Double Daddy, Anchor Liberty, El Toro
Oatmeal Stout, etc. Other recent taps include Bigfoot, Chouffe Houblon, Goulden Draak, Green Flash Imperial IPA, Left Coast Hop Juice, Lagunitas Imperial
Red and Cappucino Stout, etc. I think you get the idea.

I think the Rose and Crown satisfies criteria #1 as well. Criteria #3 is hit or miss depending on who is behind the bar, but I don’t depend on the bartender’s
beer knowledge, so I rate this criteria as relatively unimportant.

Other than the Rose and Crown, pickings are extremely thin. The El Toro pub in Morgan Hill is supposed to be good, and certainly carries a wide range of beers
with some rotation (albeit El Toro beers), but I have not been there personally (and Morgan Hill stretches the definition of South Bay, too).

Trials in San Jose at least has a couple of interesting beers from English Ales Brewery (on cask) and a good atmosphere, but virtually no rotation.

City Pub in Redwood City has a few interesting beers, but hardly ever anything new, and is a bit more “upscale” in atmosphere.

All of the area brew pubs are essentially average or below, with Faultline probably the best of an uninspired bunch, in my view. Beyond that, you are left with some sports bars/pseudo\Irish pubs, etc. where you might find an ok tap or two, but no rotation of interesting beers. I hope I am wrong and you turn up some great pub[s] I don’t know about, but I doubt it. Barry

William — If you count Palo Alto as south bay, try Rose and Crown, 547 Emerson
St Palo Alto, CA 94301. They have a small collection of Belgian and
american craft beers.

I go there about once a month. It’s an OK place. The food is average. I like that they have Anchors ‘Liberty Ale’ on tap. I like that beer a lot. They also have some Belgian glasses to go with the beers they sell, which I think is a nice touch. I live in Cupertino and the pickings are slim down here. Other than the brewpubs that are here I really can’t think of any other place that has a great selection of beers in the south bay. If I want to get something different I have to go to Bev Mo or to the City. I wish there was a City Beer down here. Dave

Mission Pizza & Pub

Mission Pizza & Pub in Fremont. Easy access from San Jose, just off I-680 and worth the trip.

William...I nominate Mission Pizza in Fremont, they have attitude but it is the right kind of attitude. There are more than a few offerings on tap (approx 30) to accompany the best pizza in town. On Friday and Saturday nights there is live bluegrass playing. Since they are quite busy on these (and most) nights, be content to listen and sip a brew while you wait or call in your order to have it ready when you arrive. Sybil

William: You can’t go wrong with Mission Pizza & Pub in Fremont’s Mission San Jose District. They know their beer and serve a huge selection. All that and they make best pizza you’ll ever taste. They approach both with knowledge, experience, a focus on offering a quality product & the fun of introducing their customers to something new. I never miss the chance to stop by if I’m in the Fremont area but it’s also well worth a drive across the bay!

Don’t miss their LIVE Blue Grass/Country music, their Comedy nights or the Sun, Mon, & Tues double coupon days! Everyone I’ve introduced to it now calls it their new favorite place for Pizza &/or beer. I LOVE this place! Janis

Hey William, Ducked into Empire Tap Room today to see if anything
was different; I saw no evidence of rotation; same beers I have been seeing there for a long time, CA offerings consisted of Sierra Pale, Lagunitas IPA and Trumer Pils; a few from the NW (Rogue Dead Guy), Widmer Hefe, Deschutes (Mirror Pond or Black Butte (didn’t really pay attention)); rest were the large name Euro beers or pseudo craft beers.

So, while you certainly can get a decent beer to drink there, nothing unusual or out of the ordinary and no rotation to speak of.

They do have a nice outdoor dining patio area when the weather is nice, which I hear is the best part about the place. I’ve never eaten a meal there, however. Barry

William, I could write a diary of the dearth of pubs in the South Bay. I hate being negative and pessimistic but the reality is that the cost of doing business in the South Bay, (very high rents, cost of living —driving away good quality help/bartenders/waitstaff, insurance, etc.) makes it hard for many to operate in a good way.

So many operate their business and buying decisions based on “getting a good deal” (who will give them a free keg, etc.) that they totally ignore some basic principles as to how to operate a good business…

One recommendation: Empire Tap Room – downtown Palo Alto on Emerson – they definitely deviate a bit towards some eclectic beers. Usually pours their beers properly. Josie the owner – she is hands on and always around. What I love about her is that she is actually open to input and ideas and feedback. A high brow Palo Alto crowd that drinks more Rombauer Chardonnay than anything else. From reading your blogs and articles I know you like eclectic / boutique / unique craft beers. Those are still a very tough sell in the South Bay. San Jose correspondent.

William, Try Murphy’s Law in Sunnyvale. $2.00 happy hour pints, all drafts. Bob

William – If you find this elusive pub of perfection, please do share it with your readers! The closest thing I’ve found is 99 Bottles in Santa Cruz… but you have to
be willing to drive over the hill. Madeline

Hi Madeline…thanks for the suggestion. I’ve heard a lot about the place, but haven’t visited. Will have to do so soon. best. wb

El Toro logoHi William – I really enjoy your columns in the Merc, I’m a beer lover and home brewer. Your question today sets off one of my favorite rants – the complete LACK of first class beer pubs in the south bay. If you find one in santa clara county that meets all three of your points, I’ve sure never been there.My faves:
- El Toro brewpub, Morgan Hill – I don’t think you meant brewpubs but I’ll mention it anyway. They have more house brews than most places and I like most of them. Biggest problem is they’re too far away (I’m in Sunnyvale)

- Duke of Edinburgh, Cupertino – my favorite for atmosphere, and it’s close by, and they’re the only place nearby I can find Fuller’s. But they take their Englishness seriously – new beers are as unthinkable as putting the Giants game on the TV.

- Empire Tap Room, Palo Alto – good but not great beer selection, also a really superior liquor selection. It’s in downtown P.A. and a little yuppie but I wouldn’t say snobbish. The atmosphere is “restaurant with a good bar” rather than a drinking place. Chris

Wow Chris. You and I are on the same page. I really like El Toro too, it has a nice atmosphere and Gino makes an incredible assortment of decent beer.

William - I enjoy the brews, food and atmosphere at Britannia Arms on Almaden Expressway in San Jose. Second choice is Trials Pub on North 1st St in San Jose. SH
Thanks for the note Steve. I’m with you on Britannia Arms. I like the place. Had a plate of bangers and a Fuller’s ESB there recently. Perfect. If only they had a wider English beer selection

I like the pub atmosphere at Trials and the people who hang out there and the bar staff. My only criticism is the beer list’s a bit tired. Mostly big corporate beers… Guinness, Stellla Artois etc, although the three craft beers on handpump were a plus.

OK, this was just a selection. I received many more. So what do you think? I’m still open to suggestions. Post a comment here or email me at whatsontap@sbcglobal.net

And finally, in case you didn’t click on the column link, here’s my top four. Still haven’t found number five.
1. Mission Pizza & Pub, 1572 Washington Blvd, Fremont, (510) 651-6858..Reason: Awesome beer list, good pizza, friendly, family atmosphere.

2. Rose & Crown, 547 Emerson St., Palo Alto, (650) 327-7673, very good beer list, great staff, friendly pub atmosphere, an owner who really cares about beer.

3. El Toro Brewing Co., 17605 Monterey Road, Morgan Hill, (408) 782-2739, Geno Azevedo has 32 beers on tap, all his own and they range from drinkable to excellent and he rotates constantly. Warm, frieendly pub atmosphere. Worth a drive.

4. BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, 10690 N. De Anza Blvd., Cupertino. Relentlessly corporate, but nice. Friendly clientel, excellent wait staff. BJs beers brewed in Roseville are all drinkable. Excellent, impressive Belgian beer list.

BJs Cupertino tap handles
Tap handles at BJs in Cupertino.

Mission Pizza old beer cans

Old beer can display at Mission Pizza in Fremont.

Posted on Wednesday, March 19th, 2008
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Last chance for Belgian beer classes at La Trappe SF

Stu Stuart Belgian beer classesStu Stuart’s an interesting guy; he lives in Mendocino, he works as a standup comic. But his big love is beer, especially Belgian beer. He travels to Belgium frequently and leads tours there.

This winter, he’s been conducting classes on Belgian beer at La Trappe San Francisco, the new North Beach Belgian beer restaurant. His last class is this Saturday at 3 p.m.

There’s still room.The cost is $65 and involves tasting a number of different beer styles, snacks, course materials and a glass. To sign up, email Stu at stu@belgianbeerme.com or call him at (231) 215-0173. Check out his Web site here.

LaTrappe is located at 800 Greenwich, near Columbus & Mason, in San
Francisco.

Posted on Tuesday, March 18th, 2008
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Light lagers still rule in the U.S.A.

Think we’re awash in a wave of craft beer. True, craft beer ( I like to call it “beer with taste”) – sales are booming. But consider this from America On Line and weep:

Top Searched Beer Brands on AOL Search:
1. Guinness Beer
2. Corona Beer
3. Budweiser Beer
4. Heineken Beer
5. Coors Beer
6. Busch Beer
7. Bud Light Beer
8. Miller Lite Beer
9. Newcastle Beer
10. Harp Beer

And this – Top Beer Import Brands in Supermarkets.

Top Import Brands in Supermarkets

The day is long and we have far to go.

Posted on Tuesday, March 18th, 2008
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Three under $30 from Rhone Rangers

Busy day, but wanted to briefly share some impressions from Rhone Rangers. The parking sucked but the sun was shining and the food rocked. I’m still dreaming about Girl & the Fig’s duck cassoulet. Of course, the wines showed well, too. I’ll be writing more in the months to come, but here are some standouts:

Bell Wine Cellars: 2006 Canterbury Vineyards Syrah. A soft, round and peppery Syrah with controlled alcohol (14.2%) and an even more moderate price. Shows what food-friendly Syrah the Sierra Foothills are capable of producing. Does not taste young and tight. I was shocked when I saw the vintage. Buy it. Store it or drink it.

Price: $22. Who’s got it: Jackson’s, Lafayette.

Cass Wines: 2005 Grenache. An impressive Paso Robles expression of this often low-acid grape, think of it as a hefty Pinot Noir with only 15 percent Mourvedre added for backbone. I loved this wine, which has a tinge of South African sensibility (that’s where the winemaker hails from)

Price: $28. Buy it online at www.casswines.com.

Treana Winery: 2006 Mer Soleil Viognier-Marsanne. Fruit from this Monterey vineyard helps to churn out a succulent, balanced and flavorful wine with excellent minerality, aromas of jasmine and flavors of pear and honey. Where’s the Chinese take-out when you need it?

Price: $25. Buy it online at www.treana.com.

Posted on Tuesday, March 18th, 2008
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St. Patricks Day and Chocolate Stout Brownies and Guinness Stout Cupcakes and Green Beer

Beer Stout CupcakeWell, it’s St. Patrick’s Day _ a day that all of us our Irish. Stout originated in Ireland as a ramped-up porter and thanks, I’m sure, to the worldwide reach of of Guinness, it’s become the trademark drink on St. Patrick’s Day.

Internet cooks have also been busy. Lucy Saunders, who has written a series of very excellent beer cookbooks, contributes a recipe for Fudge Stout Brownies and the Web site, BigCitylittlekitchen.com weighs in with a recipe for Guinness Stout Cupcakes.

Lucy also wrote an article in the Sunday, March 8, 2008 Milwaukee Journal.

Do American craft brewers turn green with envy as St. Patrick’s Day approaches and imported Irish stout (one well-known brand in particular) takes over taps across the country?

Not a chance.

Thanks to a dizzying assortment of specialties, you can toast the luck o’ the Irish with a dozen different styles of stout. Choose a cherry stout (Bell’s Brewery), an oatmeal stout (Sand Creek Brewing Co.), a coffee stout (Lakefront Brewery), a chocolate stout (Rogue Ales) or even a hybrid such as a bourbon barrel-aged oatmeal stout (Founders Brewing Co.). And that’s just the tip of the stout selection.

But it’s the style known as Imperial stout that is hugely popular – and perhaps an imperiled style as well. READ MORE…

Here’s the Fudge Stout Brownie Recipe,…

Recipe adapted from “The Best of American Beer & Food: Pairing and Cooking with Craft Beer,” by Lucy Saunders (Brewers Publications, $22.95, available at www.amazon.com).

Green beer

Makes 16 fudgy brownies
Butter to coat pan

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

4 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 large eggs

2 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup coffee stout (see note)

2 tablespoons Irish whiskey

¾ cup sifted flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped nuts (such as macadamia, pecans or walnuts) (optional)
Suggested pairing: Coffee stout or Imperial stout
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare a 9-inch metal baking pan by buttering it well and dusting the inside with 1 tablespoon cocoa powder. Set aside.

In 2-quart saucepan, melt the ½ cup butter over low heat. Add chopped chocolate, stirring often, until melted and smooth. Remove saucepan from heat and let cool to lukewarm (still liquid but not hot).

Stir in sugars and mix well 1 minute. In large measuring cup, beat together 2 eggs, yolks, vanilla, stout and whiskey until smooth. Sift flour with salt into a separate bowl. Stir stout mixture into saucepan in thirds, alternating with flour by 1/3 cupfuls, and stirring after each addition until batter is just blended. Stir in nuts if desired. Do not overbeat.

Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven about 1 hour. Let cool to lukewarm before slicing. Use a knife dipped in warm water and wiped clean with each slice (otherwise, because of the very fudgy texture, the brownies will clump).

Note: Coffee stouts are made by breweries across North America, but if you can’t find one, substitute 2 ounces sweet stout mixed with 1 ounce brewed espresso.

Photos: Guinness Stout Cupcaskes, from www.bigcitylittlekitchen.com. Green beer photo — not Stout from www.brewboard.com

Posted on Monday, March 17th, 2008
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