Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for April, 2008

Bud Light Lime — Takes your breath away…

Ahh American ingenuity and know-how. With this one ( and with Miller Chill Lime you don’t have to stick a lime wedge into your Corona bottle anymore…

Bud Light Lime will be in the hands of active adults April 28, as they soak up the sun, entertain outdoors and enjoy the patios and verandas of their city’s laid-back bars and restaurants. Savvy partygoers, who not only demand new drink options but also value name-brand cache, will find their new drink of choice in Bud Light Lime.

Playful, outgoing men and women are sure to enjoy Bud Light Lime — while the splash of natural lime flavor will tempt the palates of those who thirst for something refreshingly different.

Brewed at Anheuser-Busch’s Baldwinsville, Fort Collins and Cartersville breweries, Bud Light Lime contains 4.2 percent alcohol by volume (also available in 3.2 percent ABW) and is available in 12-ounce, clear glass bottles, 22-ounce single-serve bottles and 16-ounce aluminum bottles.

Sodden thoughts…they paid somebody a lot of money to write this. And note, 4.2 ABV. An American Mild. 

Posted on Monday, April 28th, 2008
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A report on the 5 Guys and a Barrel Beer Dinner in San Francisco

5 guys and a barrel photo gail williams

Credit: Gail Williams

The brewers and friends, left-right, Vic Kralj, proprietor, The Bistro, Hayward, CA.'; Rod Tod, Allagash, Portland, ME., Adam Avery, Avery Brewing, Boulder, CO.; Tomme Arthur, Port Brewing-The Lost Abbey, San Marcos, CA., Vinnie Ciluzo, Russian River, Santa Rosa, CA. and Cynthia Kralj. Not pictured, he’s hidden behind Cynthia, is Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head, Milton, DE.

Beer dinner puts the spotlight on barrel-aged beer

I couldn’t attend what, no doubt, was one of the stellar beer dinners of the year, in San Francisco last Sunday, April 20, 2008: Beer Chef Bruce Paton’s Dinner with the Brewmasters: Five Guys and a Barrel dinner at the Cathedral Hill Hotel.

Fortunately, Gail Williams and Steve Shapiro, the intrepid creators of, the Web site that shows one how to get to most every decen beer venue in the Bay Area by BART, Caltrain, bus and foot, did go and furnish this account.

Gail took the photo above and has more on her Flickr site.
At my suggestion, they went through the courses one by one. Take over the reporting now Gail and Steve:

This was a remarkable event, created by “the beer chef, Bruce Paton,” last week… “Five Guys and a Barrel” a dinner featuring Allagash White, Russian River Blind Pig IPA,Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA , Avery The Maharaja, Allagash Interlude, Russian River Supplication, Port Brewing Cuvee de Tomme , Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron, Avery The Beast Grand Cru, Lost Abbey Older Viscosity, then a toast with the intensely sour rustic concoction the brewers of all of the above blended after a trip to Belgium together — “Isabelle Proximus”

Beer Chef’s Hors D’Oeuvre Selection
Allagash White and Russian River Blind Pig

Hors D’Oeuvre — included three intense little soups, two in small glasses and one in white Chinese soup spoons — the artichoke and mushroom was a delectable wonder to behold. beers were Allagash White is a very approachable refreshing beer to have with food… andVinnie’s Russian River Blind Pig — ok, not a lot to say except that this is still my favorite IPA on the planet, not to be dethroned by the lovely IPAs to come..

First Course
Citrus Cured Curraun Blue Sea Trout with Accoutrements
Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA and Avery The Maharaja

It was really amazing, sea trout is a form of salmon and it was served with little dabs of sauce. It was a wonderful palate of flavors. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA – a delightful unexpected nutty flavor came thru in
the double IPA in this pairing,

Avery The Maharaja — more floral, perhaps better with the salmon-like dish at hand and the delicious smattering of sauces and roe.

Second Course
Selection of Artisanal Cheeses with House Made Condiments
Allagash Interlude and Russian River Supplication

Both beers were fabulous. And as we ate the brewers were telling stories about their trip to Belgium. Lots of fol de rol and guy stuff. Three amazing cheeses — We’d love to find out what they were.

Allagash Interlude was the more delicate and seductive of these two complex and interesting sour beers, and now I’d try it with any flavorful cheese.

Russian River Supplication was much bolder and more rustic … it did sort of pray for or even demand my full attention, so the name makes more sense to me now. For me, in each course there was a closely paired beer, and an odd couple that sort of triangulated off of the more tightly paired beer. This was an awesome effect.

Third Course
A Study in Duck
Port Brewing Cuvee de Tomme
Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron

Various forms of duck including a seasoned”duck ham” with Port Brewing Cuvee de Tomme — the room adored hearing Tomme say “cuvee de me” and Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron — made in a rare incense-like jungle wood container. It’s fascinating that wood is becoming so important in craft beers. Our table loudly wished he’d said “cuvee do moi” but had no complaints with the pairing.

Fourth Course
Warm Chocolate Mocha Cake with Blood Orange Sabayon and Fig Syrup
Avery The Beast Grand Cru
Lost Abbey Older Viscosity

Steve: The Older Viscoscity was wonderful It worked so well with the chocolate. Just a beautiful pairing. They were counterpoints to each other.

Gail: Was that delicious! Avery The Beast Grand Cru — this was the beer I’d have had if I had
skipped dessert, but the Lost Abbey Older Viscosity completely went with the chocolate and citrus — this pairing was one of those amazing combos that knocked both of us out of the park. Again, The Beast became the counterpoint for me.

The final toast
Isabelle Proximus

Gail: Isabelle Proximus is the 5 guys beer — five American brewmasters who play at a high level with Belgian beer styles went to Belgium and brought back some magical mystery bacteria! There’s something so amusing and delightful about the concept.

Isabelle Proximus is complex, intense — tough after the sweet course, but quite the experience! thank goodness I’ve been letting Vinnie, Tomme and all the guys educate my palate in this direction… this was no beginner’s Belgian… It was demanding but terrific. Hooray for five guys plus Bruce!

Steve: There were a number of sour beers. It was a treat. It gave us such a wide diversity of beer styles, big and sweet, intense and sour.

Post dinner: Afterward we went to the hotel bar in order to leave with Blind Pig on the palate. The fact that that beer is nearly always availble from the hotel bar puts the Cathedral Hill Hotel at Van Ness and Geary on the mental map of SF beer fans.

Final note from me: Except for Isabel Proximus, every one of these beers can be purchased here in the Bay Area. Don’t know where? E-mail me at and ask for our 2008 Northern California Retail Beer Store List. Bruce Paton has lots more dinners coming. Sign up for his e-mail list here.

Posted on Sunday, April 27th, 2008
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An End of Passover beer tasting: Petrus, Avery, Lightning

Passover ends at 8:28 p.m. PDT tonight (Sunday, April 27, 2008) and I intend to celebrate with a bottle of Petrus Aged Pale. A friend’s coming with a bottle of Black Lightning Porter from Lightning Brewing, Poway, CA. and I have a sample bottle from Avery (Boulder, CO.) of Samael’s Oak Aged Ale, 15 percent ABV.

The Lightning Web site desxribed Black Lightning Porter this way:

Lightning Black Lightning PorterBlack Lightning Porter: (ABV 8.5%) A Baltic Porter (Fall Seasonal)
We have created our Black Lightning Porter to have intensely rich malt aromas with strong notes of chocolate and coffee. This has been by the judicious blending of 9 different malts, the bulk of which are from classic UK maltsters. Even though many breweries will add coffee and cocoa extracts to produce these effects, we feel this cannot replace the subtleties experienced by using only malted and then roasted barleys.

Here’s what Avery says about Samael’s:

Samael’s Ale is a super-caramelly, oak aged English-style strong ale. Perhaps the least hoppy (sacrilege here at Avery!!) beer we’ve brewed, to accentuate the malt. The oak is very apparent in this rich and high gravity ale, adding additional depth and complexity with a woody and cask-like nose and a pronounced vanilla flavor on the palate. Notes for 2007 – With the addition of an additional roasted malt, Samael’s now delivers subtle bitterness to add balance to the natural sweetness.

Oh yeah, there’ll be a few bottles of homebrew as well. Hallelujah.

Posted on Sunday, April 27th, 2008
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What’s doing on the Brewers Network tonight…

What’s on The Brewing tonight:

Brewing Network logoThe Session (Sunday Show)
Sunday, April 27, 2008, 5:00pm PT
This week The Session returns after a week off with a great show to make up for it. First we’ll be covering our trip to the Craft Brewers Conference last week with a couple interviews and some good Craft Beer Industry news. Then we’ll have Peter Hoey back on the show (formerly of Bison Brewing but now with Sacramento Brewing Company) to talk about single hopped beers and his new barrel program at Sac. Brewing. As always, join the chat to participate and ask questions

A lot of people these days (me included) are downloading the shows to an iPod, then listening to the show from time to time while commuting.  I’m  going to take a road trip this week, driving an older relative’s car from Southern California to New Mexico (by way of Stone Brewing in Escondido and a few other stops). I’ve got a couple of shows loaded to listen to on the way. I’ll turn ’em on as soon as we hit the Bible radio belt,  somewhere west of San Diego.

Posted on Sunday, April 27th, 2008
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A return visit in the time machine to Lyons Brewery and Judy Ashworth

Photo: Judy Ashworth with Andy Musser, former Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster, now Anchor’s rep in Philadelphia. Taken at Anchor’s 2007 Christmas party.

The trouble with blogs is they’re linear. They’re like a moving finger that writes and moves on. Early this month I posted part of an article I wrote for Northwest Brew News about Judy Ashworth, who without a doubt was America’s first craft beer publican. She held court at a place called Lyons Brewery in Sunol, which is in the San Francisco East Bay about 50 miles east of San Francisco.

The comments posted by former Lyons pub folks have been great. Unfortunately the post is buried four screens back….

Here’s the top of the story…

Time Machine — Remembering When…

By William Brand

Judy Ashworth with Andy Musser at the Anchor Christmas Party 2007 It’s almost impossible to imagine the Northern California pub world of 30 years ago: With luck, in a typical neighborhood tavern, there were perhaps four taps, Bud, Coors, Miller and maybe, for variety: Schlitz or Olympia. Differences were slight: Bud was fizzy, Coors was light, Miller tasted slightly sweet, Schlitz was dry, Oly was sour.

Anchor was evolving into something splendid, but it rarely made it out of San Francisco and certainly never to neighborhood bars.

There was no light beer; counting calories like avoiding cholesterol and stopping smoking were in the future and bars were smoke-filled; ashtrays were ubiquitous.

The beer was boring – there for the mild buzz, although most of us got our buzz outside with reefer.

We were between wars: Vietnam had dribbled into closure, more crap was ahead, but Billy Joel hadn’t yet written the song. All we wanted _ those of us who had chosen to oppose the war, dropped out and grew our hair long, and those who got drafted and wound up getting their asses shot off in Nam _ was a little peace.

Beer was boring, so what… Well, craft beer changed all that, it was like the Billy Joel song, NewAlbionMendocinoNewmansSierraNevadaWidmer…

But what about the lowly pub? Those smoke-filled arcane places full of stoners sipping tepid lager? What happened to them? They were hit by a whirlwind, her name is Judy Ashworth.

A single mom with three kids, she bought Lyons Brewing, a pub in bucolic Sunol, California in1983. “It was a longneck, Bud-drinking cowboy bar,” Ashworth says. “I was 39 years old, the owner wanted to sell and couldn’t so he sold it to me on a note.”

“I was known as a mixologist, even then. I had a mix, I called ‘Judy’s mix,’ Bavarian Dark and Coors. But I’m not even sure why, but I wanted other beers. READ THE REST OF THE POST…

And here are some of the comments:

A. Ass Says:
April 17th, 2008 at 11:24 pm e
Thanks for the story on Judy Ashworth. That brought back some meories. My (eventual) wife and I stumbled across the Lyons Brewery Depot completely by accident one night and never looked back. What a treasure that place was. I still drink from the glass we got at the benefit, still occasionally wear my LBDCC shirt, and still curse that fire every time I drive through Sunol.

She was always very welcoming, and enthusiastic about her newest discoveries. We learned a great deal about beer from Judy, and I’m glad to hear she is doing well.

William Brand Says:
April 18th, 2008 at 7:07 am e
All hail Judy!! (May she open another pub))

Jessejps Says:
April 26th, 2008 at 9:04 pm e
Lyon’s brewery was such a big part of my life in my 20’s. from the time I turned 21 until I move away to Seattle I was there every Tuesday and almost every Sunday. with the “Tuesday night crew” Rick was our barman, Mark, Dave, Erik, Bob, Brian, and a cast of others who I aplogise for leaving out. Judy’s Pub was where I learned to truly love Beer. She had a “Passport” where you could get a stamp for every new beer you tried at 25 you got a free beer, 50 was a t-shirt and 100 was a huge glass boot full of the beer of your choice. I lost track of how many different beers I tried after 150 or so. It was that kind of place, Judy was always looking for good beers and we watched new breweries come and go or grow and succeed. It was the only place I know of to have barley wine on tap. Judy LOVES to talk about beer, and she definetely knows her beer.
Great friends, great beer, so many great memories. It’s good to hear that Judy is doing well. The Tuesday night Crew still meets at the Hopyard in San Ramon as far as I know, the faces may have changed a bit, I know Mark, Dave, Eric, Dan and Rick are still around. I live in Minnesota now, maybe I’ll make it out there to look them up this summer

William Brand Says:
April 26th, 2008 at 10:36 pm e
Wow Jesse. Those are memories. If you cone back here this summer and go to the Hopyard and those same people are still there, let me know. I’d love to write about them (and you)

You know, you had a front seat on Craft Beer history. Lyons was totally unique. She was far ahead of her time. Thanks for the info and memories. wb

Posted on Saturday, April 26th, 2008
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An auction for a rare beer, no bids, KQED Belgian Tour bidding heats up

Two auctions I’m following are the 1987 J.W. Lees Harvest. Bidding closes Monday. No one has bid so far, it’s still at $9.99.  I’m gonna bid on  it tomorrow. This should be an excellent beer, worth more than $10.

On my KQED Belgian Beer Tour of San Francisco and Oakland, there’s been a bit of activity. Price is now up to $403. Bidding ends tomorrow

Posted on Saturday, April 26th, 2008
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Wino web geeks: Wine 2.0 was a hit

Such a scene at Wine 2.0 last night. In a good way. The annual convergence of the wine and tech worlds happened this year at Crushpad’s new urban winery in the Dogpatch hood of Potrero Hill. I’d say there were about 500 people there, from winemakers and marketers to bloggers (word!) and venture capitalists.

Think about it. Wine is exploding. Yes, even at a time when got itself a swanky brick and mortar (4th Street on Berkeley, if you haven’t checked it out yet). Moving right along, you can buy, sell, flip and write about wine online; you can market it; you can track your cellar and share it with friends; and make new ones of those too, while you’re at it.

Not familiar with Wine 2.0? Check out and join their Facebook page. The group, cofounded in 2006 by Jeff Playter and Cornelius Geary (formerly of Diageo), is a wine industry and consumer trade show. In other words, massive networking both online and off and tasting of many very cool boutique wines. It is 11,000 registrants strong, with 1,500 of those in the Bay Area.

The wine of the night for me was left-handed and charming The Boxer Shiraz from Molly Dooker. It’s $20 and has violet and cassis aromas that lead to blackberry and licorice flavors. Very rich yet balanced. I loved this wine.

molly dooker's the boxer Shiraz

Posted on Friday, April 25th, 2008
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How to open a bottle of beer with a sheet of paper. No lie.

One of our posters told about this video series by Moe Harris, who is a real, live bartender in Washington D.C., on opening a bottle of beer without an opener. There are several here. Check this one out, the peruse the others…talk about a party trick.

Posted on Friday, April 25th, 2008
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The winner of the Ultimate Blind Date drawing

Happy Friday, everyone. Thanks for all your submissions for the Ultimate Blind Date tasting at Flora Springs Winery. It was great fun reading through your answers. I printed out the correct ones and then pulled the winner’s name out of bowl that I sometimes use as a decanter.

The question, once again, was: Besides drinking, wine is used as a cleanser. What is it good for cleaning, and why?

Here’s the answer: According to Dr. Mark Daeschel in the Journal of Food Science, wine is a great cleaner of kitchen counters and silverware, as well as of fruit and vegetables. Its acidity and alcohol are effective at combating E. Coli and staphylococcus. The journal went on to say that someday, a wine-based cleaner could be a natural alternative to bleach.

So, the winner is: Chip Ferguson.

In his answer, Chip went on to give the ‘why.’ He wrote:

The wine acts as a disinfectant and kills salmonella, a common food-borne bacterium, within a few seconds. Wine is a natural antimicrobial and scientists at Oregon State University are developing a new disinfectant containing wine to fight off microbes like bacteria. Dry whites, such as Sauvignon Blanc, work best because they don’t leave a stain or sticky residue.

Well done, Chip! Email me and I’ll hook you up with your tickets. Everyone else, check back Monday for the next trivia question. We’ve got four more pairs to give away!

Posted on Friday, April 25th, 2008
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Only two more days to bid on KQED’s Belgian Beer Pub Crawl

KWED Belgian Beer Pub Crawl

Help. I need a secretary or an aide-de-camp. I’m VERY LATE with this posting. Let me explain, last year I volunteered to do a San Francisco pub crawl for KQED, KTEH, the public broadcast stations. It was a big success.

This year I’m doing a Belgian Beer Tour, also with Mr. Toad’s Tours furnishing the transportation. It up right now on the KQED Online Auction. There are only two moe days remaining to bid.

So if the idea of a whole lot of great Belgian beer at a number of spots in the East Bay and San Francisco grabs you and you feel like making a charitable, tax deductible donation, check it out. This is for a very worthy cause and the price is low.

Posted on Friday, April 25th, 2008
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