Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for December, 2008

The drudge post: California’s DUI law is damn tough

I feel like the New Year’s drudge, but California driving under the influence laws are so stringent, I’ve got to say something.  This excerpt comes from my week column which ran today.

  • Final note: If you live in the Bay Area and plan a night of partying tonight, be warned. California law is tough: “It is unlawful for any person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle.” Weigh 160? Drink one 5 percent beer, you’ll have to wait an hour to be legally sober. My advice: Check to find out how to reach the pub of your choice easily, by public transit.

This brought a call from a reader on the peninsula, who says he got curious about how little or how much beer it takes to become legally intoxicated, so he bought a good breathalizer and started experimenting.

  • “I weigh 175 pounds and an am 5-11,” he said. He drank one Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and waited an hour. He blew a still-legal 0.04.  Later, he tried again, this time drinking two SNPAs.  Bingo. He was way over the limit and, he said, totally shocked.

Next, I got an e-mail from a longtime reader, Paul, who works in our court system. He gives would-be drinking-driving drunks this info:

  • I have been working in Misdemeanor Courts the past month doing many DUI cases. Serious bummer…best to spend the extra to drink good stuff and be safe, and not pay an Atty later (and unless you are destitute, Public Def charges money thru the Dept of Rev.)
  • More bad news for DUIs…even if you are on a bike the Penalty Assesment beginning at midnight tonight for any infraction, misdomeanor or feloney is raised to 280 percent…which makes a $100 fine well over $400 with all the additional charges and fees.

So I asked, did he mean on a bicycle or a motorcycle? A human-powered bicycle, he said. And you can even be arrested on a DUI for riding a horse under the influence.  It’s all disturbing, maybe not as serious as if you were driving a car, he adds.

One hint: Designated driver. Second hint: Check out for mass transit routes to your favorite pub. Hint three. The hell with it: Figure on paying for a cab and leave the wheels at home.

Have a happy and safe New Year.  b

Posted on Wednesday, December 31st, 2008
Under: Uncategorized | 6 Comments »
Leave a comment

Oddbits: Tasting aged Anderson Valley Imperial IPA, New Year’s Eve dinner at Monk’s Kettle,

I paid attention to one of this blog’s posters who said Anderson Valley is planning a new edition of its 20th anniversary Imperial IPA,. so the other night I poured my last bottle. It has been in my beer fridge for about 10 months and was brewed in late fall, 2007, I believe.

Damn, it was a mind blower. The kind of beer that made California craft beer famous. Rich malt aroma, full mouth feels and hops to die for in the fallow. Excellent beer, the best from Anderson Valley in a long time.

Moving along..there’s a three-hour, New Year’s Eve Blowout dinner tomorrow night at Monk’s Kettle, 3141 16th St. in the MIssion in San Francisco, $95. Call 415-865-9523. Here’s the menu, prepared by Chef Kevin Kroger. Dinner starts at 9 p.m., ends with Brut Noir toast at midnight.

1st Course: Portobello Mushroom Soup, featuring Malheur 10°, Gruyere Crostini, Truffle Oil. Beer pairing: Malheur 10° – Belgian Tripel (10.0% ABV)

2nd Course: Parmesan Risotto Crusted Loch Duart Salmon, Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce featuring Malheur Brut, Sauteed Broccolini Beer pairing: Malheur Brut – Bière de Champagne (11.0% ABV)

3rd Course: Malheur 12° Brined Pork Tenderloin, Cheddar Scallion Potato Cake, Caramelized Parsnips and Brussel Sprouts, Chanterelle Mushroom Veloute featuring Malheur 12°. Beer pairing: Malheur 12° – Belgian Quadrupel (12.0% ABV)

4th Course: Chocolate Fondant Cake featuring Malheur Brut Noir with Crème Anglaise. Beer pairing: Malheur Brut Noir (Black Chocolate) – Bière de Champagne (12.0% ABV).

Moving along… if you live down in Southern California, Stone, 1999 Citracado Parkway, Escondido, is going to open its tanks tomorrow, Dec. 31, 2008 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. for growler fills. Tanks that will be available, Company Store Supervisor Erick Gordon says, are:

    — 2008 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine, 2008 Stone Imperial Russian Stout, Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, Stone 08.08.08 Vertical Epic Ale, 2008 Double Bastard Ale, Sawyer’s Triple (100% or Sawyer’s Triple fills goes to charity!),
    — Stone Supercalibelgolistic Ale, Stone Cali-Belgique IPA

    If you got a chance to try Schneider and Brooklyner Hopfen Weiss****, the 8.2 percent,85 IBU collaboration between Brookyn Brewing brewmaster Garrett Oliver and  Schneider (Germany) brewmaster Hans-Peter Drexler, here’s some good news. Ed Chainey who represents Schneider in the Bay Area says they’ve brewed another batch and we can expect to see it in the Bay Area around March, 2009. Now that is something to put on your calendar. It’s a phenomenal beer.

    </p> <p><span class=”>

Parting shot…I got this video the other day from New Belgium in Fort Collins, CO. showing them adding new conditioning tanks at the brewery. In the video, the suckers look f-ng huge. So Iasked. They are indeed huge: New Belgium says each is 46 feet high and hold 2,220 hectoliters (1,874.4 barrels). They’ve been placed on a building 60 feet high.

Posted on Tuesday, December 30th, 2008
Under: Uncategorized | 13 Comments »
Leave a comment

Fish and chips and Sauvignon Blanc

flora springs 'wines

The other night, weary from a day trip to the Peninsula, I cracked open a bottle of 2007 Flora Springs Soliloquy while I was making a quick dinner of breaded cod and sweet potato fries. I chilled the bottle and sprinkled balsamic vinegar on the fish and what do you know – this steely, sprightly Sauvignon Blanc stood up to it.

Flora Springs’ Crossroads Vineyard in Oakville is known for yielding stately Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. But they’ve devoted two blocks of the vineyard to Sauvignon Blanc, and the result is two clones that create a mouth-cleansing, fat-absorbing citrus explosion. I typically allot less than $20 to a Sauvignon Blanc purchase, but this unique bottling merits its $27 tag. Buy it at the link above.

Posted on Tuesday, December 30th, 2008
Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Leave a comment

Party manners: What do you do at a party with only swill beer?

Here’s a question I picked up from a thread at Beer Advocate: OK, it’s the holiday week and you’re invited to a party by friends. “We’ll provide the beer,” they tell you.

So you show up and there it is — the beer: Bud Light, Tecate Light and et – Bud Light. What do you do?  How can you prevent the situation next time?

I’ve always gone with a bottle(usually a 750 of something really good, tucked it in a hidden corner and surreptitiously poured myself a glass from time to time.  But is that the right way? Do I need better friends? Should I move? Comments welcome.

Posted on Monday, December 29th, 2008
Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Leave a comment

Where to buy good beer in Silicon Valley

We’ve had quite a discusson on the blog in the last month about Finding Beer in Silicon Valley.  Turns out, it’s not quite a beer wasteland.  Here’s the retail store list I’ve developed so far – with the help of many of you.  Got comments, got additions or places you think we should delete, post your comment here or email me at Onward…ever onward into a new world order where craft beer rules!

Here’s our Retail Beer Store list….


Most Beverages N More Stores with Santa Clara and Mountain View having larger footprints allowing them to stock and carry more.  Yes it is a chain but they have a great selection with good prices and turnover so the beer is usually pretty fresh.
Whole Foods – The new Cupertino store (2nd largest in the country) and the new Los Altos store (open 1 year now and pretty big) have a very good selection of beers.
Andronico’s Markets – both the Stanford location and Los Altos store have good selections.


Freddie’s Liquor, 1581 W. Campbell Ave., Campbell, CA 95008, (408) 378-0666. A distributor said this place has a decent stock of craft beer and imports, but nothing like some of the better Bay Area stores like Ledger’s in Berkeley. I called the store, but  noone was much help. If someone knows about this store and what they stock, let me know.


Coach House Wine, Liquor and Deli, 655 So. De Anza Blvd, Suite 1,  Cupertino, CA 95014 , (408) 252-7141, Most beer is refrigerated; but cases and sixers of fast-moving brands like Gordon Biersch are out on the floor.  Wide selection of local beers, including Gordon Biersch, San Jose; and  Devil Canyon, Belmont. Their wide range also includes Speakeasy and other beers from San Francisco. Budweiser doesn’t sell very well here, the owners say. This is a convenient stopping place for Silicon Valley high tech workers. They come here from all over; they know their  beer and they don’t buy Bud, one of the owners said. Coach House  also makes first-rate sandwiches, fans say.


Gene’s Fine Foods, 18850 Cox Ave., in the Quito Center, Saratoga, (408) 379-8300. Haven’t visited, but this is a 75-year-old gourmet grocery.
Kelley’s Liquors, 18812 Cox Ave, Saratoga, CA 95070
(408) 379-8888. A reader said this store has a good beer supply. I’ve not visited.

San Jose

Cosentino’s Market, 5667 Silver Creek Valley Rd , San Jose, CA 95138 ,(408) 270-1561.  The store’s beer buyer says some of the other beers he stocks includes the entire Dogfish Head line, Moylans, Bear Republic, some Flying Dog beers, Drake’s, Stone, He also has a small Belgian selection, a lot of imports and a large selection of other craft beers and seansonals.

Grapevine Wine Bar & Noshery, 1389 Lincoln Ave., San Jose, CA 95125, 408-293-7574.  Mostly a wine and cheese shop, but a reader says he’s had good luck with beer there as well: “Their selection isn’t vast, but they have some interesting choices on a sporadic basis.”

Kelly’s Liquor Store,  498 N. 4th St., San Jose, CA 95112, (408) 297-4411. Another store
suggested by a reader. Haven’t visited.

Nob Hill Foods, 7076 Santa Teresa Blvd., San Jose, 95139, 408-226-0203. This is a fairly high-end San Francisco-based supermarket chain. A reader says this one’s good in a pinch: “Not a great selection, but has stuff like (Marin County, Stone, Moylans, Lost Coast, Anderson Valley) and a decent import list.  Pretty good selection for a regular grocery store.

The Wine Rack,
5768 Santa Teresa Blvd, San Jose, CA 95123, 408-227-8882.  A regular poster to the blog checked it out gives this little place a surprise thumbs up: “Pretty unassuming in a old, slightly run down strip mall.  It’s a small place, crammed full of stuff.  Lot’s a local brews:  Stone, Speakeasy, Moylans, Santa Cruz Ale Works, Duval, Chimay, Belhaven, a few others I forgot about.  Not a great selection, but a pretty good one, and most of the beer inventory is kept cold.  (Í found a few good wine selections in there, too.)

Zanotto’s Market
,  1988 Naglee Ave., 408-971-9257. Also, 38 So. 2nd St., 408-977-1333. Upscale grocery stores with a good stock of beer. For instance, they stock Malheur Tripel and Malheur 12, both expansive, hard-to-find Belgian beers.

A distributor who carries a decent line of craft beer also suggested these places. Haven’t visited them yet. If you have and have an opinion, e-mail me at and let me know the scoop.  The distributor’s list:

Campbell Plaza Bottle Shop, Campbell
Hecker Pass Liquors, Gilroy
Park Vasona Liquors, Los Gatos
Old Oak Bottle shop, Union Ave, Los Gatos
Sun Valley Liquors, Morgan Hill
Southside Market, Morgan Hill
M&M Liquors, Morgan Hill

Branham Wine & Liquor, San Jose
Cherry Liquor, San Jose
Clyde’s liquors, Snell Ave, San Jose
Dry Creek Liquor, San Jose
Leanardi’s Markets (2 in San Jose)
Liquor Bin, San Jose
Maplewood Liquor ,San Jose
The Wine Fountain , Pearl Ave ,San Jose
Green Earth Foods, Santa Clara (took over the old Cosentino’s)

Posted on Monday, December 29th, 2008
Under: Uncategorized | 9 Comments »
Leave a comment

Post your toast with Schramsberg


As New Year’s draws closer, we’re reminded of how to set realistic resolutions. In the words of Dr. Leo Melvin in “What About Bob?”: Baby steps.

Schramsberg Vineyards wants to help you get there. They know a thing or two about toasts. Schramsberg is the only domestic sparkling wine that has been served at official White House functions every year since 1972. They were also the first non Champagne sparkling to be served at these functions, back in the 1960s.

Anyway, the winery has created Toast To Change, a blog and forum for sharing ideas about change and growth in the New Year. The site includes a photo gallery, video library and “Celebrate” page, which includes entertaining ideas for parties, including inauguration celebrations.

Share your resolutions and meet like-minded bubble aficionados. I posted about doing more yoga in 2009. And no, the photo of me with the ice pack on my head has nothing to do with drinking too much Champagne. I actually hit my head on a car door right before a friend’s birthday party.

Posted on Monday, December 29th, 2008
Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Leave a comment

He’brew, the chosen beer, how it all began

A beer for Chanukah: He’brew Jewbilation 12

Note: This is an updated version of an article I wrote for Northwest Brewing News in 2005.

By William Brand
SAN FRANCISCO –  “He’Brew – The Chosen Beer.’’ It all began as a joke between  two  high school kids in suburban San Francisco, a long time ago.

“We were the only Jewish kids in our immediate group of friends,’’ Jeremy Cowan explains. It was back in the 1980s. Sam Adams had been on the market a little while. They thought, `You know what  – Jews need their own beer.’

They played with the idea and came up with slogans like `Don’t Pass Over Sober.’

Those 17-year-olds  never would have guessed that two decades later that very beer would be sold in 20 states and the people – Jews and most everybody else – would laugh at the joke and enjoy the beer.

Cowan recalls that He’brew remained an inside joke among friends for years, but the craft beer movement in the San Francisco Bay Area kept growing and Cowan got serious.

It’s not widely publicized, but Jews have an incredible drinking and brewing tradition, he said. “I came up with He’brew.  I thought it would be a fun idea, a unique idea. I had bartended; I had worked at a brewpub in New Orleans,’’ he said. But he was not a brewer.

So he went to a  `brew  on premises’ shop in Mountain View,  CA to work out a formula. “I wanted to make a really good beer that I could be proud of,’’ Cowan said. “It was just a tiny place,’’ Cowan said. “But the brewer  there  was really good.’’ READ THE REST OF THIS POST…

Posted on Sunday, December 28th, 2008
Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Leave a comment

Events: Benefit for Zap Comix artist S. Clay Wilson today at the Bistro, New Year’s Eve dinner with Malheur beers at Monk’s Kettle

Events…It’s not too late to make a contribution at a benefit today for S. Clay Wilson, the underground Zap Comix artist who is ailing.  Buy a pint or something among the many things for sale today.  It’s at the Bistro, 1001 B St. in downtown Hayward, starts at 2 p.m. goes until  8 p.m.

Also, Monk’s Kettle, the most excellent pub and restaurant at  3141 16th St in  San Francisco is hosting a New Year’s Eve dinner featuring a range of beers from Malheur, the Belgian brewer. Cost is $95 and the dinner runs long, ending sometime after a 12 midnight toast with  a glass of Malheur Limited Edition. To reserve a spot, call 415-865-9523 or email

And, by the way, if you’ve never visited Monk’s Kettle, it’s worth the trip.  This is a very nice, small and cozy spot with an impressive beer list, an eclectic mix of great craft beer and Belgians. It’s three blocks from the 16th St. BART station, so access is very easy. Read my review here.

Posted on Sunday, December 28th, 2008
Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Leave a comment

Best and worst of 2008: Pliny and light lager

It’s that time of the year again, the sodden end of 2008. Here’s a question to ponder this weekend: What’s the best beer you tasted this year and what’s the worst.

My best, also goes to near the top of my all-time great list is Pliny the Elder in bottles. This is simply awesome double IPA: 80 percent, 100 IBUs. And Russian River got it right in bottles. Is the bottled version or the tap version best? That’s a taste test I haven’t tried. They’re pretty close, I believe and that makes bottled Pliny my “best of” this year.

Worst beer this year?  Haven’t tasted any of the “lime” beers, Bud Light Lime, etc.  But I did try a sample tall can of . ‘Nuf said.

Anybody else? Comments welcome. Let’s talk.

Posted on Friday, December 26th, 2008
Under: Uncategorized | 25 Comments »
Leave a comment

Music with wine glasses

Scroll down to the Dec. 20 post on The Blog Wine Cellar and watch this guy creating music out of water-filled water glasses. The only thing wrong is that it’s Christmas music and not The White Stripes.

Posted on Friday, December 26th, 2008
Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Leave a comment