Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for June, 2008

Oddbits…English love their fish & chips, the Queen and beer, Sam Adams opens new brewery, remembering Miss Rheingold…

Oddbits…I must have column-itis, because this “oddbits” thing is beginning to look like a daily column…What I’m doing is compressing a combination of tiny, but interesting items into a single post. So…here we go…THREE DOT journalism lives again … er- dotdotdot…

…There’ll always be an England, thank Gawd. According to UK blogger Pete Brown…a new survey of 7,000 people in the UK were asked what they loved ost about Britain: 1. Fish & Chips. 2. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. 3. Old Fashioned British pubs. Read the whole post and the rest of the results here… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, June 25th, 2008
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CALENDAR: Anchor Beer Dinner Thursday night at Spenger’s in Berkeley

The third in a new series of beer dinners, this one featuring Anchor Brewing, at Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto is tomorrow night (Thursday, June 26, 2008) at 6 p.m. Chef Devon Boison just forwarded me the menu.

I went to the New Belgium dinner last month. Great time. Very informal, small crowd, New Belgium reps were there. We got to to taste a usually unseen New Belgium beer. The Anchor dinner should be fun too. Cost is $40. Call 510-845-7771 to reserve a seat.

The menu:

  • Reception, Anchor Summer beer
  • Honey Walnut Prawn Grilled Salad, Liberty Ale
  • Barbecue Oysters with Citrus Relish and Brown Butter, Anchor Steam
  • House Cured Smoky Grilled King Salmon, Anchor Bock
  • Grilled local peach cobbler with sweet vanilla ice cream and pomegranate gastrique, Old Foghorn Barley Wine

Posted on Wednesday, June 25th, 2008
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Rare New Belgium Beers on tap tonight at the Toronado

It’s late for me. I start work at 7 a.m. But just got an e-mail from David Keene at the Toronado , 547 Haight St. in San Francisco. Wednesday night, (tonight, if you’re reading this after midnight) June 25, 2008, is going to be
New Belgium Brewing Night.

There are going to be some very interesting beers. It’s doubtful you’ll see some of these elsewhere. One was selected at the brewery by David. They start pouring at 6 p.m. No admission, of course, just pay for your beer. Here’s the list:

Eric’s Ale

This Peche, or Peach beer, started as an ale aged in 130 hl wooden vessels called Foedres for 3 years. It was then transferred and real peaches were added. A second Strong Golden Ale was brewed and blended back into the sour ale. Subtle peach, tropical fruit and tart aromas in the nose, plus some vanilla and oak. The flavor is a balance of sweet and sour. A drinkable and refreshing sour beer hybrid.

Love #34

A single batch from a 60 gallon wood barrel. Not usually kegged as it is used as the starter for all of New Belgium’s wood beers. Started as a brown ale brewed with cherries (no longer produced), barrel aged for 3 years, giving this specific barrel a unique blend of bacteria and yeast, which make the final product a manifestation of New Belgium’s unique specialty styles.

Foedre #3

The base beer for the Le Terroir, hand selected by Dave Keene at the brewery and kegged for him alone. We can’t describe it yet because it has never been tasted outside of the NBB facility.

Abbey Dubbel

Complex, sweet with some chocolate and banana aromas and flavors. A full bodied, warming traditional Belgian Style Dubbel.


Phenolic clove and spice aromas are followed by a creamy mouthfeel and some noble hop character. Alcohol is evident in the palate, finishes bittersweet and spicy.

Posted on Tuesday, June 24th, 2008
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Ale Street News plans a Great American Beer Festival tour

Did you know…there’s a deluxe way to go to the Great American Beer Festival held each fall in Denver: Take the 14th annual Ale Street News GABF tour. Founder Tony Forder.

The cost from Denver is $699 per person double occupancy. It includes three nights at the Sheraton Denver, a lunch with beer sampling and a beer dinner and world of touring Front Range breweries, including New Belgium, Left Hand, Dry Dock Brewing,

Oh yes, admission to the Members-Only Connoisseur’s Tasting at the GABF. Tony Forder and his business partner make the whole trip and will be on hand to answer questions. Info: 800-351-2537.

Posted on Tuesday, June 24th, 2008
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Tasting three Sam Adams experimental beers in Boston

There is no time…I get items for this blog, mean to write them and get caught up in the relentless crush of time. Enough complaining. On with the news…

I got to help judge the Sam Adams Longshot Homebrew Competition in Boston last week at the Sam Adams/Boston Beer Co. brewery. When we finished the judging, Boston Beer CEO Jim Koch and brewery manager Jennifer Glanville brought out some samples of their barrel-aged beer.

I should say “barrel aging beers,” because two came straight out of the barrel. Names are the unofficial ones Jennifer and the other brewers gave the beers. The star (or rather ‘asterisk’) ratings are mine. Basically:
* – don’t toss it, demand a refund.
** acceptable beer, no obvious flaws.
*** Excellent beer.
**** Superior. Stands out. One not to miss.
***** World classic, take it with you to that desert island.

The beers:

— Blonde***1/2. 11 percent. Jennifer said it was a traditional Belgian-style blond. It was spiced in the brew kettle with cardamom, a spice from India, popular in the Middle East. (They use it in coffee.) To add to the spicy hit, the beer was also “dry-spiced.” More spice was added in the fermenter. I don’t believe this beer was barrel-aged, but I’m not sure.

It was a dark copper color with a slightly acidic nose, more like a Belgian Lambic. The taste was mild, slightly sweet with a wonderful dry, spicy finish.

I guessed the spice was coriander. Wrong. Cardamom also provides a drier finish. Any homebrewers or brewers reading this? Let me know the difference.

–Kriek***. 10.5 percent. Aged on black cherries. It had a mile, cherry noes. The taste was mellow, not sweet, rather dry not sour. It had been on wood since January.

— Cosmic Motherfunk ***, 10.5 percent, 6-12 months in barrels, mostly wine barrels. Fermented with brettanomyces (wild yeast) and various bacteria. The nose was slightly sweet and malty. There wasa hint of sourness in the taste, but it wasn’t overpowering. I found it delicious.

Don’t know what the future holds for these beers. Perhaps, they’ll be components in the next Utopias, Sam Adams $100-plus, strong beer. I’d buy all three individually without blinking.

Posted on Tuesday, June 24th, 2008
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Walmart wine

Anyone tried Wal-mart’s answer to Charles Shaw? The big box store’s under $3 label goes by the name Oak Leaf, and whispers in the wine blogosphere indicate it’s “not that bad.” I believe they make a Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

I’m thinking of doing a public blind taste off between Oak Leaf and Charles Shaw. So I need some preliminary comments about the wines. Has anyone tried them who can give me some opinions? Share them here. Thanks!

Posted on Tuesday, June 24th, 2008
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Finding the name of a beer on a cafe table in Brussels in an old photo

The wonders of the Web…Back on June 10, I posted an e-mail from John, which started a huge discussion about “yellow beer” and “drinking beer and geting thin.” John sent along a photo he took last year at a cafe Brussels, that showed the beer he was drinking and loved (Orval) and another beer his wife was drinking. My question was: What beer was that? He replied that it was some kind of Lambic. He remembered the name of the cafe, but not the beer.
So I sent the photo to the Campaign For Real Ale representative in Brussels, Stephen d’Arcy and asked him Stephen passed the info along to friends and now we know:

“It is Mort Subite Xtrême Framboise. I have found it on the internet now that he gave me the name and I can see it is the same label. I thought all along it was Mort Subite, but for some reason Alken-Maes don’t have pictures of their beers on their website so I couldn’t see if it was the same one. Rhodri”

Thanks everybody. Stephen, by the way, publishes a A Selective Guide to Brussels Bars:

By Stephen D’Arcy. This guide can be described as an A4 paperback and as the name suggests covers Brussels but it also covers Antwerp, Bruge, Ghent and many other towns and cities. It gives information on individual bars and beers sold, opening times and snippets of general interest; also included is how to get there. Continuously updated and published by CAMRA BRUSSELS. Available from Stephen D’Arcy, Rue Willems 16, Apartment 2031, B-1210, St-Josse-ten-Noode, Brussels, Belgium.
e-mail Stephen.D’

Posted on Saturday, June 21st, 2008
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Why isn’t beer sexy? (And what can we do about it?)

Jeff Moses, the guy behind Boxer Lager and Route 101 Root Beer, has written a most interesting article on UGO: Lifestyle for Gamers, a gaming site. His question: Why isn’t beer sexy? Great question. Comments anyone?

Jeff was marketing director for the late-lamented Coast Range Brewing in Gilroy, and is the guy behind the Monterey Beer Fest, Aug. 2, Here’s the top of his post…

UGO: LIFEStyle for Gamers
Beer will make you fat, is named things like “Budweiser” and “Heineken” and is sold in oversized plastic cups at sporting events. These are just a few of the reasons why beer isn’t considered sexy. In fact, I don’t know a single normal person who thinks beer is sexy, besides the Anheuser-Busch sales guy and my friend Joe who looks like he’s about to give birth to a 9-pound, 2-ounce 6 pack. I’m not saying there’s no sex in beer. I mean, we’ve all probably spent some time with it in the back seat of a car. But beer is not sleek or stylish or any of the other things that make something sexy in today’s society.

Why do we want beer to be sexy? Because when you and your date sit down for that special dinner, on the table will likely be a bottle of wine with some kind of cutesy label. Why? Because women think wine is sexy. Read the rest of the post…

PHOTO: Jeff Moses drinking Boxer Brews…

Posted on Saturday, June 21st, 2008
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Registration to comment provision ends now on this blog; going silent

Some news for readers/posts on this blog…I’ve convinced the tekkie powers in this organization (MediaNrews Group) to stop requiring people to register before they can post a comment.

Not sure if they’ve done what they promised yet. So, if you try to post a comment and the system still requires you to register, shoot me an e-mail and I’ll call the Mercury-News help desk.

The way it will work is you can post, but they come to me for approval. I approve everything except the “f” word and a couple of “c” words. Never edit them. And I monitor constantly for comments.

However, if you’re a spammer, you f’k’d.

My e-mail address is

Final note…my other, pioneering beer blog, (started in 2003) .is kaput. I’m shutting it down for now. wb

Posted on Saturday, June 21st, 2008
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Iron Springs brewpub in Fairfax, CA. gets a new lease

Great news from Marin County…According to the Marin IJ, Mike and Anne Altman have reached a deal on a new lease that allows their prize-winning Iron Springs Pub & Brewery to remain open in Fairfax.

They were facing a 53 percent increase in rent, which was impossible, but settled for a 15 percent increase on a new five-year lease. Read the IJ story by Rob Rogers… Deal allows Iron Springs pub to remain open

Posted on Friday, June 20th, 2008
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