Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for June, 2008

Oddbits…A-B drops caffeinated drinks, brewers dinners at Magnolia, new beers at City Beer

Odd bits..Did you see this from our former mayor, now… California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today joined ten states in announcing that Anheuser-Busch will no longer sellalcoholic energy drinks, including Tilt and Bud Extra  WHY? Researchers at Wake Forest University of Medicine found that the combination of caffeine and alcohol sends mixed signals to the nervous system, causing the effect of a “wide awake drunk.”
...Magnolia Pub & Brewery, 1398 Haight (@ Masonic), San Francisco
is starting three course Monday suppers, featuring  their new chef, Brandon Jew last at Pizzetta 211: 5 p.m. until closing or the food and beer’s gone: under $30.
…New at City Beer, 1168 Folsom St., Sana Francisco… Hitachino Espresso Stout, Marin Brewing Company White Knuckle, Ommegang Ommegeddon Batch 2…On tap: La Fleurette, the lovely floral collaboration between Vinnie at Russian River and Italian brewer Agostino Aridi

Posted on Monday, June 30th, 2008
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Triple Rock Brewer Christian Kasakoff signs on with Iron Springs

I’m on Southwest, we stoped at Midway in Chicago and cjhecked in on my e-mail and saw a post from Jay Brooks of the Brookston Beer Bulleting

This comes from Iron Springs in Fairfax:

Iron Springs Pub & Brewery is proud to announce, taking over the helm as the new head brewer, Christian Kazakoff. Christian comes to Iron Springs with a lengthy background in brewing in the Bay Area. Christian spent the last 10 years running Triple Rock Brewery in Berkeley and has worked with some of the finest brewers around San Francisco. We are excited to have Christian as the newest member of the Iron Springs family and we feel he is going to take the brewery into this new era for Iron Springs. Iron Springs plans to offer brewer’s dinners four times a year to highlight Christian’s ales from the brewery and the pub’s famous food.

My question is: will the annual Firkin Fest now move to Iron Springs. It ought to. The fest was Christian’s idea from the start. It’s truly his baby.

Posted on Monday, June 30th, 2008
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Buying beer by mail – A few links…

Got an e-mail today from Dudley, who lives in the Midwest and was looking for a mail-order place that stocks Old Peculier, the dark, funky, wonderful English ale.

I told him about Liquid Solutions, which is based near Portland, OR. Then I dug out an e-mail from a friend who lives in Washington and frequently orders via e-mail. He lists several Web sites that either specialize in mail-order beer or stock a large beer list and ship by mail. Thanks again Alan.

About the cost of shipping, Alan noes:
Shipping is still steep, but some few beers are worth it.
It’s best to get a case or more, then the price isn’t too
bad per bottle. I’ve bought a few “antique beer bottles
(unopened)” via ebay. One of those links has Goose Island
Bourbon County Stout. I’m tempted to grab more of that.
I’ve had a few sips now and then and wonder if it’s as
good as I remember. Plus I’d like to compare it to my own
bourbon baggie imperial porter.

I also bought some bottles of Utopias for $125-170. At
that price the $20-25 shipping doesn’t seem so bad. I buy
it, or a friend, then we all gather and split the price
depending on how many samplers we get out of it.

Skal, Alan

The links:

Vintage Cellar
John’s Grocery
Belmont Station (in Portland, OR.)

www.beergeek.biz/ lots of out of stock stuff
http://www.internetwines.com/beer.html

Posted on Monday, June 30th, 2008
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Oakland homebrewer wins Alameda County homebrew competition

The Alameda County Fair is running this month in Pleasanton, CA. and the Drought Board, the homebrew club that runs the annual Alameda County Fair homebrewing contest have released the results:
Best of Show: Nathan Smith, Mad Zymurgists, (from Oakland) for his Imperial IPA.
Honorable Mention: Greg Robles (from Livermore) for his Schwartzbier (Black Lager).

I helped judge the finals. My tasting notes show Nathan’s Imperial IPA was indeed a beauty: It was a beautiful, clear copper color with a big hoppy nose. There was some sweetness and the follow was all aromatic hops with very little bitterness. I’d drink this baby anytime.

The runnerup, was right on the target for a black German-style beer: Quite dry and well balanced.

A couple of us argued for another honorable mention for the mead. It was nicely done, somewhat sweet like a mead should be, but a nice balance.

Complete results can be found on the Draught Board Website here.

Posted on Monday, June 30th, 2008
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Wunder Brewing in San Francisco apparently closed forever

Waiting for a flight back to the Bay Area from Philadelphia, got his e-mail. Says it all about Wunder Brewing. Makes the third brewpub on that site that has died:

Hi William,

Sadly, as of yesterday, there are “For Sale” signs on Wunder Brewing.

Best regards, Erik

Here’s a link to a post about John Wonder, the proprietor and his dreams and hopes for Wunder Brewing:

Posted on Monday, June 30th, 2008
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Millennium beer dinner – Vegan food with American Belgian beers

Millennium, a very fancy vegetarian restaurant at 80 Geary St. in San Francisco with a staff interested in good beer .held a beer dinner last week and Steve and Gail of beerbybart.com attended. Steve files this report.

Don’t think vegetarian cuisine and beer go together? Check out this menu and read Steve and Gail’s report. Beerbybart.com, by the way, is a guide to reaching great beer bars by mass transit. Going to a pub tonight? Check out beerbybart.

The Menu:

Belgian Beer Dinner
Tuesday June 24, 2008, 6pm-9:30 (ish), $70/person; 5-course prix fixe

Amuse
Russian River Little White Lie
Trumpet Mushroom Ceviche,
coconut milk chiles, aromatics, little gem lettuce

Lost Abbey Red Barn Farmhouse Ale
Cornmeal Crusted Squash Blossoms,
herbed tofu “cheese,” roasted corn salad, saffron scented squash coulis
New Mexican chile emulsion

Russian River Beautification
Apricot and caramelized onion flatbread
purselane salad, cashew ranch dressing
witte beer battered Blue Lake green beens, basil aioli

Russian River Supplication
Butter Ball Potato Stoemp Cake
seared porcini mushrooms, wilted Bloomsdale spinach, smoked dried cherries
Supplication reduction

Russian River/Avery Collaboration
Beer Braised Morel and Exotic Mushrooms
collaboration broth, grilled broccoli rabe, gigaante beans,

Avery Samuels Scotch Ale
Summer Cherry Napoleon
bourbon glazed cherries, coconut vanilla bean ice cream,
toasted coconut tuile, black pepper-marionberry coulis

My note: Coulis is a French sauce which can be sweet or savory, depending on what it is meant to accompany…The word is French for “strained liquid,” and it is derived from colare, the Latin word for “strain.” Many fans of French cuisine are familiar with coulis, since it is added to a wide range of dishes from roasts to dessert cakes. The sauce is also used in fusion cuisine and fine dining establishments, especially by cooks who have been classically trained

Bill: Here’s a little summary of our night at the Millennium beer dinner. We enjoyed it greatly and enjoyed the company of Bruce Paton, (the Beer Chef), Jessica Jones, of The Thirsty Hopster, Christmas, from Russian River, Nicole from the Trappist and several other folks in attendance. There was one long table and we were at one end so we didn’t get to interact with many other of the 40 or so attendees.

Vinnie Cilurzo was unable to be able to make it down for the sold-out event, due to commitments at the new RR brewhouse. Christmas, his associate from Russian River, attended in his stead and articulately and passionately described RR’s beers and told some of the stories behind their creations.

Millenium Executive Chef, Eric Tucker described his pairing strategies for the beer line-up. Jessica Jones of the Thirsty Hopster, who helped organize the dinner, provided some lively commentary on the beer and food pairings.

(The food was vegan, complex and delicious. Gail’s favorite pairing was the rich pinot wine-barrel and sour-cherry brewed Russian River Supplication with a big rich puff of potato “stoemp cake” (I have no idea – talk about being out of my culinary confort zone but loving it). This potato scoop was topped with delicious seared porcini mushroom, spinach, smoked died cherries and a Supplication reduction. Great echos of the beer flavor.!

Note to Steve and everyone. Stoemp is a Flemish word for a Belgian dish. Wikipedia says: The stoemp is a popular dish (in Belgium), rural simple and in general well appreciated. It is based on mashed potatoes and one or more other vegetable like onions, carrots, leeks, spinach, green peas or cabbage, seasoned with thyme and laurel…

Vegetarians and omnivores alike looking for a delicious dinner with interesting beer might look to Millenium on a non-beer-event night, too. The regular beer list there looks impressive!

Though we certainly didn’t take extensive notes on the pairings, several items of interest to me were:

According to Exec Chef Eric Tucker, goat cheese would work well with the Cornmeal Crusted Squash Blossom (2nd course)

RR calls their Beatification a “Sonambic” (Sonoma/Lambic). This pairing with the Apricot and Carmelized Onion Flatbead (3rd Course) was designed to mirror and contrast. It did so.

The Collaboration, Russian River’s latest blend, is 55% RR and 45% Avery was chosen to pair with the Beer Braised Morel and Exotic Mushrooms to allow the bitter greens to mirror the hops.

The dessert pairing was a challenge for me. The dessert itself was terrific. The beer, Avery’s Samuels Scotch Ale, had an aroma that was incredibly strong and not particularly pleasant to me. I couldn’t identify it. People around the table began to proffer guesses that fell mostly to Bourbon or Scotch. I agreed with what would later be revealed to me to be a misplaced identity.. I could not drink it.

This morning Bruce Paton called to Adam Avery to ask him what was up with this beer. Adam told him that it was a combination of raw oak and toasted oak. No booze involved. Bruce is guessing the toasted oak gave it that whiskey flavor.

Posted on Saturday, June 28th, 2008
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Benziger’s Tribute blowing my mind

benziger tribute

I hit a winemaker’s dinner last night at Harris’ in San Francisco.  The steaks were fine but the wines, the wines were spectacular. The 2005 Benziger Tribute Sonoma Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon was extraordinary, and still on my mind: clean with soft tannins, a lingering chalkiness in the mouth and a full and luscious bouquet of grapes and soil.

Yes, you’re not going to get a flowery list of berries out of me on this one. The fifth installment of the winery’s biodynamic Bordeaux blend tastes the way it should. Like fermented grape juice nurtured from a vineyard that is treated like a unique, living, breathing organism, where the roots are a nervous system that is soothed by valerian and chamomile, not antidepressants.

Well worth the $80 for tasting older than its time; for easily lasting five days when I recork it and leave it on my counter, ungassed; for a pleasure that is consistent velvet from entry to finish. And for not singeing my nose hairs.

Posted on Friday, June 27th, 2008
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Pyramid pub at Oakland International needs a makeover; G-B is decent, but tiny

Found myself at Oakland International twice in the last week, once in the old terminal flying Jet Blue to Boston and this week in the newer, Terminal 2 flying Southwest to Philadelphia. Each terminal has a craft beer pub.

Terminal 1 has a Pyramid pub, Terminal 2 a new Gordon-Biersch. They’re both very small, put the Gordon-Biersch Pub, like everything in Terminal 2 is brighter and much more interesting. My only disappointment at G-B was they didn’t stock their new Dunkleweizen,which I truly love, or Blonde Bock, my other fav.

They’re both tiny. The Port of Oakland, the airport operator, needs to tour other airports. No comparison. The two Oakland pubs are tiny.

Posted on Friday, June 27th, 2008
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Question for Southwest Airlines? Why do you only sell light lagers?

On the road again…to Philadelphia this weekend for a wedding…flew Southwest, an airline I swear by. Only trouble is the beer. All they have is light lagers: Bud, Bud Light, Coors, Heineken.

“Well, what kind of beer would you like us to have, “the flight attendant asked me? I was flummoxed. You know, so many beers, so little time. Started to say something stupid (and desirable to me like St. Bernardus Abt 12). “Uhh Sierra Nevada Pale Ale,” I manated to say. “Well, I really like a cold Coors Light,” another attendent chipped in. Enuf said.

Hint to Southwest: I still love you, but stock at least one beer of a different stripe. You don’t offer five Chardonnay wines. Why five light lagers? Even Delta sells Leinenkugel Wheat. Yes, Miller owns Leiny, but the wheat is decent and not a light lager.

Posted on Friday, June 27th, 2008
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True Sake a real wine lover’s treat

If you haven’t stumbled upon True Sake in Hayes Valley, I suggest you make a specific trip. The owner’s tasting notes are some of the best I’ve seen in the City, including those at wine bars.

What’s brilliant is he makes sake accessible by listing not only aroma, flavor and mouth feel descriptors, but he also includes what kind of wine and what kind of beer the sake it most like. We bought an unfiltered Nigori that’s akin to Chardonnay. I’ll let you know. For now, check out the store!

Posted on Wednesday, June 25th, 2008
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