Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for September, 2008

Wine and yoga

Not sure what I think about this combination. They’ve been my favorite past times for over seven years, and I have yet to marry the two. But thanks to Periscope Cellars in Emeryville, maybe I’ll give it a go. Though something about attempting crow pose after a glass of Deep Six does make me feel uneasy.

Here are the details: Instructor Bronwyn Michaelis will lead classes at 6 p.m. Oct 4 and Nov. 15 dedicated to pairing the subtle flavors of Periscope’s wine with deep relaxation and breath work. A longer Ujjayi breath means a more thorough aromatic experience.

Here’s a taste from the Web site: “We will focus on a calm and relaxed mind leading to enhanced awareness as we enjoy the subtle characters of wine. Feel the wine infuse your yoga with warmth and a lightness of spirit as you light up your senses and soften into poses.”

B.Y.O.C (Bring your own cheese).

Classes are $20 and space is limited, so reserve your spot by calling 510-655-7827. Bring your own mat in case you’re prone to party fouls.

Posted on Tuesday, September 30th, 2008
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Where to drink good beer in Marin County

Note…to the commenter who asked about decent pubs in San Rafael in Marin County, I turned to the San Rafael IJ’s Brent Ainsworth, who writes about beer, among many other things, for the IJ:

San Rafael … Let’s see … The Flatiron in downtown…  (724 B St., San Rafael, CA 94901, (415) 453-4318 is a  sports bar (lots of TV screens) with a few decent selections on tap.

The Mayflower on Fourth Street ( 2111 Francisco Blvd, San Rafael, CA 94901, (415) 459-6683) is more of an authentic British pub and a much better choice on the taps, plus traditional Irish music jam sessions on Tuesdays (I think) …

Wipeout Bar & Grill in Greenbrae (302 Bon Air Center, Greenbrae, CA 94904, (415) 461-7400 has Arrogant Bastard and a surf theme …

In Novato, I recommend Finnegan’s Marin, ( 877 Grant Ave., Novato, CA, 94945. (415) 899-1516 ) a classy 2-year-old pub that sometimes has a Moonlight ale on tap …

Frankly, when I’m out and about, I stick to the brewpubs — Broken Drum, (1132 4th St
San Rafael, CA 94901, (415) 456-4677),  Iron Springs in Fairfax, Marin Brewing in Larkspur, Moylan’s in Novato. As a true beer geek and devoted hophead, I loathe \ a long line of tap handles with pils after pils after pils. That’s not selection. – Brent Ainsworth

Posted on Monday, September 29th, 2008
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Oddbits: More delays for Linden Street Brewing, Oakland, Great American Beer Festival is sold out, Cucapa beers here, ’21’ – Full Sail’s 21st anniversary double bock

Got a shock the other night, a friend e-mailed me and said the phone number for Linden Street Brewing, the new Oakland craft brewery, was disconnected. False alarm!

Adam Lamoreaux, who founded Linden Street with his wife, Alice Chen, and friend Carey Peterson last January, explains that they signed up for high speed Internet and had to change their phone number. The new number is 510-291-1220.  Unfortunately, Adam says, YELP hasn’t changed the number in their listing and it’s one  that lots of us rely on.  Hey YELP! change number please.

Meanwhile, Alec says they’ve hit another snag in the permit process. The brewery is installed; everything is hooke up; PG&E has signed off, so has the City of Oakland. However, Adam says,  the building landlord can’t find the approved permits for the earthquake retrofitting required by the city. So the brewery remains on hold.

Adam says he’s out of Linden Street Common Lager, but still has a good supply of his Dark Lager. If the permits aren’t cleared he expect to brew another batch of Common Lager at Drake’s in San Leandro, he says.

Onward.. The 27th annual Great America Beer Festival being held in Denver next weekend, Oct. 9-11 is sold out, the Brewers Association says. That’s something like 47,000 tickets. The only chance, the association says, is a ticket giveaway on radio station AM760 on the Mario-Solis-Marich Show, 3-6 p.m. PDT.  To listen live, go here.

Here’s an unusual beer… the new Draeger’s in the Blackhawk shopping center in Danville ( CA.)  has two beers from Cucapa Brewing Co., Mexicali, Baja California Norte, Mexico.  Honey Ale, 4.5 percent,  Pale Ale,  5.8 percent.  Cucapa’s Barleywine is consisently a finalist at the annual Toronado Barleywine Festival in San Francsico in February. Haven’t tried their lower octane beers, but loved the barleywine. Cucapa’s a craft brewer  that opened in 1999 in the border city of Mexicali. The name’s taken from a small band of native people who live along the Colorado River delta, the first humans to inhabit the Mexicali Valley.

How time flies… In 1987 — 21 years ago — Full Sail Brewing in Hood River, Oregon, was founded. And they’ve been working over the past year to come up with a beer worthy of coming of age, finally old enough to drink. Their new beer: a German-style,  very Americanized Double Bock is called: “21.” It’s going to be available in limited quantities in the next few weeks only.

Here’s their own statement:

  • They say your 21st birthday is a rite of passage — the milepost that marks your evolution from child to adult, with all the attendant privileges & responsibilities. We say it’s a great excuse to brew a killer doppelbock. Concocted by our brew crew in celebration of our epic and glorious 21st birthday, we bring you “21″ a deep amber colored lager brewed in the doppelbock style,” said Jamie Emmerson, Full Sail’s Executive Brewmaster.
  • “Twenty-one years ago, we dreamed of opening a brewery. That dream became a reality, and now here we are celebrating our 21st birthday. Our little brewery never would have made it without the support of friends, fans, and family over the years. Many thanks for all you’ve done to help us reach our 21st birthday,” said Irene Firmat, Full Sail’s CEO and Founder.

Photos: Top – Linden Street Common Lager. Bottom: Full Sail Deoppelbock

Posted on Monday, September 29th, 2008
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Events: Coming up – Bruce Paton’s beer and cheese tasting dinner

Events: If you’ve never tried to pair your favorite beer with good cheese, you’re missing out on a treat. Beer and cheese go together in amazing fashion. Take a bite of cheese, then a sip of beer – the beer cleanses the palate and prepares it for another bite of cheese.

And when you match the right cheese with the right beer, it’s a taste symphony. If  you’re curious, check out Beer Chef Bruce Paton’s next event:

Monday October 20, 2008, 6:30 p.m., Cathedral Hill Hotel, San Francisco – A Beer and Cheese Pairing Education with Bruce Paton and Sheana Davis of the The Epicurean Connection,  an expert in matching the perfect cheese and the perfect beer. $75,  make reservations by Oct. 14, 2008

Here’s the menu


6:30 p.m.  Beer Chef’s Hors D’Oeuvre Selection and Cheese Tasting
A Selection of Beers from the San Francisco Brewers Guild


  • 7:30 p.m.  First Course Puree of Sugar Pie Pumpkin with Gratin of Beehive Full Moon Raw Milk Cheese
  • Thirsty Bear Ocktobearfest
  • Second Course – Napoleon of Oven Roasted Pears and Delice de la Vallee Cheese with Peppercress, Gordon Biersch Hefeweizen
  • Third Course – Olive Oil Poached Duck Breast with Carbonera of Duck Confit, Hobbs Bacon and Aged Gouda, 21ST Amendment Diesel (Imperial Smoked Porter)
  • Fourth Course – Mac and Cheese Custard with Franklin Teleme Cheese and Fig Compote. Magnolia Deep Ellum Dubbel

But wait, there’s more. On Monday, Nov. 10, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., Sheana is conducting a “Locavore Beer & Cheese Class, at the Cheese School of San Francisco, 2155 Powell St., San Francisco, $65. Info: 415-346-7530.

‘Locavore’ means  eating a diet consisting of food harvested from within a 100-mile radius, on the basis that local products are more nutritious, taste better, and easier on the environment..

Posted on Monday, September 29th, 2008
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Tasting North Oakland Double IPA (and lots more) at Triple Rock in Berkeley


Made it into Triple Rock, (1920 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley) late Friday afternoon, intent on trying the Pro-Am beer, North Oakland Double IPA, brewed by Triple Rock’s Rodger Davis and homebrewer Nate Smith. (The Pro-Am is a pairing of a professional brewer and a homebrewer to create a beer for the Pro-Am competition at the Great American Beer Festival.

I did try it North Oakland Double IPA and found it asbsolutely excellent. But first, Rodger, poured me samples of his current beers. Triple Rock has had a standard retinue since it opened in 1987, but successive brewers have done their own interpretations.  I predict that Rodger will stretch the limits of the recipes and bring us some new, tasty delights.

Right now he has a Schwarzbier, a German-style black lager on that’s unusual. Often the American versions of this German classic are dry as toast. But this one was different:  Roast malt nose, taste was very slightly sweet with a dry finish. A higher mash temperature, brought out the sweetness, Rodger said.

He’d just put on his Harvest Ale, served on handpump, It was slightly tart with a big whoosh of hops, pine trees and maybe citrus. Cascades, Rodger said.

He also had a Belgian-style Pale Ale, 5.8 percent with a beautiful, swooney, spicy yeast nose, nice malty taste with hops and spice and lots of fruit in the follow.

We finally got to North Oakland Double IPA. It’s a beautiful dark copper, clean nose with lots of hops. Taste is full with lots of hops carrying through into the finish. This is a very hoppy beer, but it has great balance; the hops don’t overpower . Great balance doesn’t come cheap.  It took lots of malt and the beer is 9 percent ABV.

But then, there was a finale: They’re calling it “Christian’s Last Stand.” It’s the last beer made by Christian Kazaloff, who left Triple Rock to become head brewer at Iron Springs in Fairfax in Marin County.

It’s a 10 percent Imperial Stout that’s been aged for two months with coffee and vanilla beans added in the mash. Truly excellent. Don’t drink this puppy and expect to drive.

Photo: North Oakland Double IPA. A copper-hued beauty.

Posted on Sunday, September 28th, 2008
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Odd bits – Dogfish pumpkin ale at Monk’s Kettle in San Francisco, More worries about AB 1245

Oddbits… Just talked with Nat Cutler at Monk’s Kettle, the neeat Belgian-style cafe at 3141 16th St. in the Mission in San Francisco. Yes they have Dogfish Head Punkin (yes Punkin, not Pumpkin) Ale on tap: $3.75, in a 10-oz. tulip-shaped glass. They also have Dogfish 90 Minute IPA in bottles and a wild assortment of craft and Belgian beer on tap. If you’ve never visited this cozy, friendly, neighborhood bistro, make it a stop, its an excellent place.

Details are emerging (and the poster above) on the Oakland Oktoberfest being held next Saturday, Oct. 4 from 11 a.m. -6 p.m. in the Dinond District at MacArthur Boulevard and Fruitvale Avenue.  The beer garden will feature brews from Pacific Coast, Linden Street, Trumer, Berkeley and Triple Rock and most likely many more.

The district once had four beer gardens so in an effort to reclaim history, there’s going to be a beer garden (and a root beer garden for kids).

Entrance to the beer garden is $10, which buys a commemorative glass stein and one full pint or four, four ounce tastes. This is going to be a way cool event. People who live in the Dimond neighborhood are really attached to it and lots of things are happening.

...Haven’t seen it yet, but Don Russell, who writes the Joe Sixpack column in the Philadelphia Daily News has a new book coming out: Christmas Beers: The Cheeriest, Tastiest and Most Unusual Holiday Brews (Universe, 2008)

It’s due out sometime this fall. Here’s blurb from the press release:

  • Christmas Beers ranks the “50 Best Christmas Beers,” with Harrisburg, PA brewery Troeg’s “Mad Elf” coming in number one;  offers reviews of 150 plus Christmas brews;  and provides home brewing recipes for ambitious readers who want to try their hand at the winter warmer brewing tradition.
    The book also shines a spotlight on cultural reactions to mixing Christmas and beer, examining how advertising has adapted to regulations forbidding the inclusion of children’s characters, such as Santa Claus, on beer labels.  Beers that have been banned in some American states, including the English import “Santa’s Butt,” are also explored.

Great idea for a book, huh. But Troeg’s as the best Christmas beer? Hmmm, sounds Philadelphia-centric too me.

Have you heard about AB 1245, the bill now on the governor’s desk, passed over the stringent opposition of craft brewers, that greatly increases how much money and how much product brewers can give away to boost their beer?

The gubinator may be about to sign the damn thing, but riding in like the Lone Rangers at the 11th hour and 59th minute is the California Coalition on Alcopops and Youth, an ad-hoc, non-profit that includes the Girl Scouts, the  California Council on Alcohol Problems and many others with similar feelings.

AB 1245  would increase the industry’s marketing and promotional item limits for “freebies” by 1200 percent, the coalition says. It’s one thing if the bill becomes law that Anheuser-Busch could give out free samples of Bud and all the many Bud-like accoutrements in vast quantities. But when one starts thinking about “alcopops,” those sugary sweet, fermented  drinks laced with alcohol.

The bill, coalition attorney Fred Jones, would allow boozemakers to target youth markets in a big way and that’s something the coalition (and most of the rest of us) oppose.  Remember Joe Camel? He didn’t say that, I did.

If you agree, do this: Send Arnold an e-mail. Tell him to veto the damn thing.

Posted on Friday, September 26th, 2008
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Oddbits: Final vote on Anheuser-Busch takeover is Oct. 3, Drake’s Friday bash not coming back for a while, new beers at City Beer from Orange County

Oddbits…Well, the writing is on the wall…Anheuser-Busch has scheduled the  stockholder vote on the takeover by Belgium’s InBev for Oct 3. It is, of course, a done deal unless something totally weird happens:

  • ST. LOUIS, Sept. 24  Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. (NYSE:BUD) today announced Oct. 3 as the record date for its special meeting for shareholders to consider and vote on the combination between InBev N.V./S.A. and Anheuser-Busch.
  • At the closing of the transaction with InBev, shareholders of Anheuser-Busch will be entitled to receive $70 for each share of stock held by them, and Anheuser-Busch will become a wholly owned, indirect subsidiary of InBev.

Moving on…
talked to Pete Rogers, of the Rogers Family, owner of Drake’s in San Leandro, CA.  All the runors about Drake’s folding are untrue. The brewery under head brewer (corrected wb) Josh Miner is going strong, Pete says.

The rumors come from two sources, apparently. 1. Drake’s abruptly suspended their Friday afternoon open houses last month and 2. the Rogers coffee company is moving to Lincoln,  in the Sierra foothills east of Sacramento. The brewery stays where it is behind Wal-Mart, just off David Street.

About the Friday soirees.
They were getting way too popular, Pete says. There was a bad fight at the last one, he said, and the San Leandro Police Department and the City of San Leandro strongly suggested making some changes. “We decided to to prudently take some time out and restructure it a little,” he said. And that’s where it stands right now. Maybe the Friday events will resume, but not right away.

And furthermore…Got this e-mail from Craig and Beth at City Beer

  • Orange County darling “The Bruery” makes its first bottle appearance in the bay area.  Our beer ambassador Scott and his trusty dog Guinness carted the tasty brew to City Beer and on the shelf they sit, ready for your drinking pleasure.  The fine selections are: Black Orchard, Orchard White, Saison Rue, Tradewinds Triple.
  • Other new bottles on the shelf include Hitachino Ginger, Uncommon Brewers Siamese Twin, and Cave aged Ommegang

Cave-aged Ommegang There’s a winner. The Siamese Twin from Uncommon Brewers is spiced with kifir lime and can conditioned. It’s a Belgian-style double.

Posted on Thursday, September 25th, 2008
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Awesome $11 Chenin Blanc

I went to a wine tasting party a few weeks ago and forgot to dish about my favorite wine of the night, a 2007 Husch Vineyards La Ribera Chenin Blanc from the Anderson Valley.

Chenin is widely known as a grape for sweet and off-dry wines in its home, France’s Loire Valley. This Mendocino family winery has been crafting Chenin since 1984, and making an off-off dry style that is ever so sweet without sacrificing any of the wine’s vibrant acidity, flavors or food-friendliness.

The 2007 vintage was harvested in the early morning cold, according to Husch’s web site, and crushed and pressed at the winery. They bottled the wine and a long and cold fermentation.  The aromas are both floral and fruity: I got honeysuckle, roses and white peaches and apricots. The aromas translate perfectly to the palate, striking a near-perfect balance of zesty fruit and brisk acidity.

It’s a great alternative to bubbly for sucking down oysters.

Posted on Thursday, September 25th, 2008
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Tasting the GABF Pro-Am beers at 21st Amendment, Triple Rock

The Pro-Am competition at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver each October is a contest where professional brewers and  home brewers team up and brew a beer. I haven’t paid much attention to the contest – there’s just too much going on at the GABF to deal with it.  Besides,  how can anyone taste the beer?

Well, this year there are at least two places in the Bay Area, and more likely many others, where you can taste a pro-am beer:

  • On tap at Triple Rock , 1920 Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley:  North Berkeley Double IPA, brewed by head brewer Rodger Davis and homebrewer Nathan Smith,  Mad Zymurgists, Dublin, CA..  Among other awards, Nate’s Imperial IPA won best of show this summer at the Alameda County Fair.  Rodger earned serious stars as the head brewer at Drake’s in San Leandro.  He took over at Triple Rock this summer after Christian Kazakoff signed on at Iron Springs in Fairfax.

I’ve tried Tasty and it is indeed tasty. Mike, of course, is the champion homebrewer whose double IPA will be produced this winner as one of four Longshot beers by Boston Beer Co./Sam Adams.

Tasty is 5.8 percent ABV, 55 IBUs. It’s a medium copper color, pours with a little bit of foam that leaves a nice lacework trail down the side of the glass.  It starts out  dry with a rising hoppy finish.  It’s a very drinkable, hoppy, American style pale ale.  Once it warms up, the malt-hop balance improves and it becomes damn good, highly drinkable.

I haven’t tasted Triple Rock’s North Oakland Double IPA, but  Rodger says it’s 9 percent, made with a lot of Simcoe, Centennial and Columbus hops. It’s basically made with two-row, pale malt with a bit of speciality malt for color. It’s 80 IBUs, unfiltered. Sounds delicious.

By the way, Rodger says he currently has all the beers he entered in the various Great American Beer Festival competition on tap right now at Triple Rock:

  • A Belgian-style pale ale, 5.8 percent, made with a Trappist yeast, dry hopped with mild and spicy Mt. Hood and Styrian Golding hops.
  • A German-style Schwarz beer,
  • Pinnacle Pale Ale, 4.8 percent
  • Monkey Head, 8 percent, sold in bottles on Thursdays.

Rodger said he’s also made a harvest ale. “We took a bunch of fresh hops and threw down some Pinacle on top of the hops,”  Rodger said.

Besides Triple Rock’s own beer, Rodger currently has Valley Brewing’s Uberhoppy on tap. If you’ve never tried the beers made by Steve Altimari at Valley in Stockton, this is a great one to try. Hint: Plan on BARTing it, don’t drink this puppy and expect to drive away.

Here are the notes on that from Steve Altimari at Valley.

  • A massively hopped Imperial IPA brewed to celebrate Valley Brews 10th anniversary. 1 pound of hops were added every 10 minutes during a 100 minute boil, a total of 10 different boiling hops. 4 different fresh hops were used in the hopback and then the beer was passed through a chamber containing 10 lbs of fresh hops on the way from the serving tanks to the bar taps. Hopperiffic. Approx. 10.5% ABV

Posted on Thursday, September 25th, 2008
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BeerS of the Week: Saison Fantome, Rochefort 10

What’s on Tap

A tale of two beers:

Rochefort 10 and Fantome Saison

By William Brand
Oakland Tribune
Article Launched: 09/09/2008 12:02:59 PM PDT

THIS IS A TALE OF TWO BEERS, both from breweries in the Ardennes in the west of Belgium. One is small and world famous; the other is absolutely tiny and famous only among beer geeks like me.

The first is Rochefort 10 ****1/2 It’s made at the Trappist Abbaye Notre Dame de St. Remy, a religious institution founded in 1230. This is a dark, strong, 11.3 percent beer, one of a handful that are made at the six Trappist abbey breweries in Belgium.

The second is Fantome Saison ***½, made by a lone brewer, Dany Prignon, who has a deserved reputation for being both daring and chaotic. No one really knows what’s in Fantome Saison, the big, 8 percent, luscious beer Prignon brews year-round…READ THE REST OF THE POST…

Posted on Wednesday, September 24th, 2008
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