Craft brewers will strut their stuff
at Slow Food expo at Fort Mason
in San Francisco this weekend
Slow Food Expo Expected to draw 50,000
Slow Food Nation
A ‘Slow Food’ road trip
Highlights of the Slow Food Nation
What is Slow Food?
Note: This is my column that ran today (Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2008) in the San Jose Mercury-News. The Merc Food Section did the whole section on the Slow Food expo. Follow the links to see the whole report. As for tickets, apparently, there are none. The entire three days of the event, Friday-Sunday is sold out. Well, yesterday, there were a few tickets left at four Whole Foods. Scroll down to my post Monday for the store addresses.
By William Brand
Bay Area News Group
IF YOU LIKE GREAT BEER, the only place to be this weekend is the Slow Food Nation Taste Pavilion. Beer, the real stuff, brewed with love and tender care and great creativity, is one of the original slow foods, and it will have a tent of its own at this amazing, first-in-America, exposition at San Francisco’s Fort Mason.
The curator is Dave McLean, proprietor and head brewer at San Francisco’s Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery, and he says it’s going to be quite a show. “It’s a well-designed space, and it’s much more than a typical beer festival,” McLean says.
“We’ve got beers from 40 or 50 different breweries across the United States.”
There will be three sections, or stations, McLean says: one for real ale, unfiltered, not pasteurized, served straight from casks; another serving regular keg beer — that is, brew that may or may not be filtered and pasteurized, pushed to the tap by carbon dioxide; and the third for bottled beer of nearly every conceivable style and kind.
“The goal is to showcase the diversity of beer styles within American craft beer and also to show the community, the camaraderie, surrounding craft beer,” McLean says. Stations will be staffed by brewers and volunteers who understand the beer they’re serving and talk about it with festivalgoers.
“A lot of people are bringing some very special beers,” McLean adds.
He’s not kidding. Consider:
- Matt Brynildson, brewmaster at the award-winning Paso Robles brewery – Firestone Walker – says he’s bringing a beer dubbed Little Opal. “One of the beers we brewed this year was a ‘wheat wine,’ ” he explains. It was rich and very strong, and after it was made Brynildson’s brewers ran hot water through the remaining grain.
They made a second beer with that runoff that was not nearly as strong. The process called the “second running” is ancient. It allowed brewers to squeeze more product out of the same, very expensive grain.
After boiling the second running wort with hops, it was fermented with a yeast that came from Saison Dupont, the spicy, peppery, Belgian farmhouse beer. “We got this wonderful beer,” Brynildson says. “It was just 3.8 percent alcohol by volume, and it’s been my beer of choice all summer.” (By comparison, a regular Sierra Nevada Ale is 5.5 percent.)
“We’re bringing this beer to San Francisco raw, not filtered and unfined. It’s just a real drinking beer with taste elements of a Belgian farmhouse beer.”
- Oh, yes, Firestone Walker’s also sending a cask of 100 percent oak-aged Double Barrel Ale, the brewery’s flagship beer, aged in toasted French oak barrels.
- Meanwhile, Jolly Pumpkin, the Dexter, Mich., brewer of some of America’s most unusual beers, has shipped three beers rarely seen on the West Coast:
- La Roja, a 7.2 percent alcohol, Belgian-style artisan amber ale, unfiltered, not pasteurized, and blended from beers aged in barrels for two to 10 months.
- Weizen Bam Bière, a 4.5 percent spicy wheat beer.
- Bam Bière, a 4.5 percent bottled farmhouse ale that has been bottle-conditioned and dry-hopped. In bottle-conditioning, a medieval method of preservation, a small amount of fresh yeast is added to each bottle so a slow, second fermentation continues in the bottle. In dry-hopping, fresh hops are added to the beer while it’s undergoing its first fermentation before bottling. The process gives beer a fresh-hop aroma and taste.
There will be much, much more, curator McLean says.
San Diego’s Green Flash is among brewers sending a pallet of beer. Stone Brewing, of Escondido in San Diego County, is bringing Cali-Belgique, a new, Belgian-style ale.
Russian River, Santa Rosa, and Anderson Valley, Boonville, are bringing several unique beers. And offerings by Lagunitas, from Petaluma, include a cask of aged Brown Shugga, a 9.9 percenter aged in oak, and a cask of barrel-aged Gnarly Wine, the brewery’s head-spinning, 9.7 percent barley wine, beer so strong it approaches the strength of table wine.
See you at Fort Mason.
Contact William Brand at firstname.lastname@example.org, 510-915-1180, or What’s On Tap, Box 3676, Walnut Creek, Calif., 94598. Can’t make it to Slow Food Nation this weekend? Brand will be there. Check his blog at www.ibabuzz.com/beer for a report.