Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for July, 2008

Flash — History Channel focuses on beer tonight, 10 p.m. PDT, July 31, 2008

Russ, a regular poster to this blog just sent me this note: “10PM, show about Beer coming up on the History Channel tonight. Looks interesting.”

I’m gong to check it out. Let me know what you think and I’ll weigh in with my dime.

Posted on Thursday, July 31st, 2008
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Oddbits: Miller abandons “craft beer lite”, a tour at the Great British Beer Fest, Oregon Brewers Fest sets record

Oddbits…in the noose, er news…Unclear on the concept, department: MillerCoors (That’s their U.S. name now) has abandoned test marketing its Miller Lite Brewers Collection. Guess the idea of “craft beer light” won’t fly…Miller notes consumers who’ve tasted the beers like them…Sure, that’s why they scrapped the national rollout.

The Miller execs should steer their market execs noses toward Portland, OR. where the 21st Annual Oregon Brewers Festival was held last weekend. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, July 31st, 2008
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An excellent guide to pairing beer and cheese

Ever try pairing cheese and beer. It’s a fun thing to do, but sometimes it can seem to be overwhelming, you know: so many beers, so much cheese…

Mario, who writes the Brewed for Thought beer blog forwards a link to a Brewer’s Association chart that goes through a lot of modern styles, suggesting good food pairings and good cheese and dessert pairings.

For example, a Double IPA.

  • Food: Smoked beef brisket, grilled lamb or Southern chicken-fried steak.
  • Cheese: Sharp and rich American artisanal blue.
  • Dessert: Very sweet desserts like carrot cake, caramel cheesecake or creme brule.

Another example, Imperial Stout (I know, I’m choosing amped-up examples, but I have more trouble pairing these than any other styles and they;re are the kinds of beers I really like these days)

  • Food: Easily overpowers most main dishes, but stands up to foie gras, smoked goose.
  • Cheese: Long-aged Gouda, Parmesan or cheddar.
  • Dessert: Dark chocolate truffles, chocolate raspberry mousse cake.

Wow. Gonna try one of these with a bottle of North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout

Anybody else have ideas? Comments very welcome. .

Posted on Thursday, July 31st, 2008
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Beer and Cheese Pairings at the Commonwealth Club, San Francisco

Photo: Rick Mitchell, of Luka’s, Oakland, pours North Coast Le Merle at the Commonwealth Club Belgian-style beer and cheese pairing in San Francisco.

In my weekly column today, I wrote about the Commonwealth Club Beer and Cheese Tasting in San Francisco last week. Great event. All the beer and all the cheeses are available in the San Francisco Bay Area at good cheese stores and beer stores with excellent beer stocks.

Here are the pairings:

Cheese pairings by Sheana Davis, The Epicurean Connection

Delice de la Vallee, a fresh blend of cow and goat milk cheese, to be released September 2008.
Carmody, a raw Jersey cow milk cheese made by Bellwether Farms
Italian Table Cheese, a raw holstein cow milk cheese, made by Charley Malkassian


Rodenback Flemish Sour Ale, donated by La Trappe
Paired with Delice de la Vallee

North Coast Le Merle Saison
Paired with Delice de la Vallee

Duvel Belgian Golden Ale
Paired with Delice de la Vallee

St. Bernardus Triple, donated by The Trappist
Paired with Vella Italian Table Cheese

Prior 8 Wit
Paired with Vella Italian Table Cheese

Ommegang Three Philosophers
Paired with Carmody

Affligem Blonde Abbey Ale
Paired with Carmody

Golden Currants, Sweet Baguette, Cracked Whole Wheat Baguette, Almonds, Pistachios & Apricots

Posted on Wednesday, July 30th, 2008
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He’brew Coney Island lagers are at BevMo, Whole Foods in the Bay Area now

Just got this from Jesse at He’brew about the Coney Island lagers. They’re planning a big product rollout later in the summer and widespread distribution…

They are currently in Whole Foods and BevMo! here in the Bay Area. The flagship Coney Island Lager is being brewed at Greenpoint Beer Works in Brooklyn, and the rest (Albino Python, Sword Swallower) are being brewed at Olde Saratoga Brewery/Mendocino Brewing Company in Saratoga Springs, NY.

Posted on Wednesday, July 30th, 2008
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Oddbits: Beer drinkers vs. wine drinkers, Coney Island Lagers, the Beer Belly Cooler

Oddbits...Is this important? Dunno, but the Gallup Poll reports that nationwide more adults prefer beer over wine and hard liquor. Huh? Well, briefly, back in mid-2006, more Americans preferred wine to beer. Fortunately for all brewers, young adults 21-29 have always shown a strong preference for beer, Gallup says.

You know…swill lager, then better beer, then cocktails, then cheap, but good wine, then good wine, then back to beer to stay via homebrew…That’s my personal odyssey from raw youth to middle age. Here’s the Gallup trajectory:

Meanwhile, a very relieved (at the poll results) Anheuser-Busch points out that they’ve resuscitated the Here’s to Beer Web site. Checked it out, there are some excellent Flash graphics, like rotating glasses of beer, click on a glass, you get info on that style. For utter beginners, there’s some excellent basic info. Trouble with their beer styles explainers is they stop about 1992. No imperial stouts, no double IPAs, for that matter, no milds. That’s a shame.

Moving on…Jeremy Cowan the ebullient proprietor of Schmaltz Brewing (He’brew) is releasing a string of lagers here in California with a Coney Island Theme…

Coney Island Lager, 5.8 percent ABV, Albino Python White Lager, 6 percent, and Sword Swallower Steel Hop Lager, 6.8 percent, plus two seasonal curiosities Human Blockhead Tough-As-Nails Strong Lager, 8.8 percent, summer 2008, only on draft in New York City and Freaktoberfes Blood Red Lager, 6.66 percent, Halloween 2008. Proceeds help Coney Island USA, an Arts Non-Profit fulfill its mission to defend the honor of lost forms of American popular arts and culture in Brooklyn’s historic Coney Island neighborhood.

Having been scared out of my wits on the Coney Island roller coaster when I was a teenager, I’ll drink to Coney Island.

Most of these beers are going on sale in the Bay Area; they’re brewed in New York.

And finally…this is the stupidest beer-related thing I’ve seen since… The “Beer Belly Cooler.” Words fail me, here’s the info from the company:

Getting tired of paying $8.00+ dollars for a beverage at your favourite event?
Why not bring 80oz of your favourite sipper in with you as a spare tire?
That’s right, a beer belly cooler that you fill with beverage and sneak into movies, concerts, sporting events, church……just kidding, and anywhere with outrageous drink prices.
The Beerbelly Deluxe Kit, $49.95

Posted on Wednesday, July 30th, 2008
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Events: Monterey Beer Festival is Saturday, Bistro IPA Fest, Aug. 9

Events: Monterey Beer Festival, Monterey Fairgrounds, Saturday, Aug. 2, 12:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. $30 advance, $35 at the gate. Here’s a video.


Coming up: Saturday, Aug 9, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.,Bistro, 1001 B St., Hayward, Bistro 11th annual India Pale Ale Festival. over 50 IPAs on tap, live music, barbecue.

Posted on Tuesday, July 29th, 2008
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The Belgian Beer Pouring Ritual: How Belgian cafes serve beer

Ever wonder why, in an authentic Belgian beer cafe, the barkeep always washes the glasses first? Drew, a poster to the blog, asked:

Drew Says: William – Do you know why The Trappist (Oakland, CA.) rinses out each of their glasses prior to pouring the beer? I’ve always thought that pouring a beer into a glass that was just rinsed will have a negative effect on head retention and lacing.

The answer: It’s the Belgian method. Until recently, every good Belgian bar had a running water sink. Now each beer tower includes a sink that automatically sprays the glass and rinses it inside and outside with cold water. The idea is go get the tempoerature of the glass to about the same temperature as the beer.

That does not mean ice cold or frozen. Frozen glasses, while a great sales technique, much pushed by the manufacturers of tasteless light lager, impede the taste of the beer. The Belgian method is much better.

InBev, when it was InterBrew, long before all the current fuss, appropriated the age-old Belgian serving technique and created, the Stella Artois Draught Master Championship in 1996. It drew (and hopefully still does draw) bartenders from all over the world. They created a 9-step process for serving beer.

I got to watch the finals in Leuven, Belgium in 1998. It was wild, competitors had just seven minutes to pour and serve two glasses of Stella Artois on tap, one glass of Hoegaarden on tap, and one bottle of Leffe.

Here’s a link to the Belgian Beer Pouring Ritual and a video of the method. Frozen glasses? Humbug.

Posted on Tuesday, July 29th, 2008
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San Francisco winemakers to watch (er, drink)

Hope you made it out to the inaugural San Francisco winemakers tasting on July 27 at Arlequin Wine Merchant. I’m assuming you did because it was a packed house. I applaud Arlequin for taking on this event and cause, and hope they make it an annual thing. Negociants have been the Renaissance men and women of wine forever and in countries around the world. It’s SF’s turn.

I’ll try to stick to wines and winemakers I haven’t mentioned in this blog, though it’s hard…not…to…gush about Bryan Harrington’s wines. I savored every drop of the 2006 Brosseau Vineyard (Chalone) Pinot Noir ($52.50). The limestone in the soil of this Monterey property is a dead ringer for Burgundy, with tea, herbs and chalk.  Check back with me in 2013 on that one. If you want Bryan’s wines, go to his web site.

Onward. Riding the same elegant wave is August West’s 2006 Pinot Noir Graham Family Vineyard ($48). Ed Kurtzman’s Sandler 2006 Dry Creek Zinfandel ($30) is also a nod to balance and subtlety, two words you probably don’t associate with California Zinfandel. It was a cool year, apparently, because the grape behaves way more like a Pilates instructor than a body builder. It’s lithe, not brawny. For Ed’s wines, sign up for his mailing list. No guarantees, but it’s worth a try.

A.P. Vin poured two Pinot Noirs, and the 2006 Keefer Ranch Russian River Valley ($48) was showing beautifully. Freakishly balanced, it showed equal parts fruit, pepper and earth, and paired amazingly well with everything Arlequin was serving — from heirloom tomato gazpacho and grilled cheese to lamb sliders.

My biggest thrill of the day was tasting the wines of Broc Cellars. I bought a bottle of the 2006 Dry Stack Vineyard ($34) from the Bennett Valley and am so stoked to share it with some Rhone rangers. Jeff Cohn,  have you tried this wine? It’s game, it’s velvet, it’s herbs and smoke. Chris Brockway brings it. A delightful wine at a good price point. You can buy it on his web site.

Posted on Tuesday, July 29th, 2008
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Oddbits: Craft beer sales boom in 2008, the Trappist glassware policy, Root Beer, the roundup

Oddbits…Good craft beer may be selling for as much as $10 a six-pack (who buys sixers, I dunno. Somebody must), but the Brewer’s Association reports that craft beer sales continue to boom in the first six months of 2008.

” Craft beer dollar sales during the first half of 2008 increased 11percent compared to this same period in 2007. The Brewers Association attributes this growth to a grassroots movement toward fuller flavored, small batch beers made by independent craft brewers.

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Posted on Tuesday, July 29th, 2008
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