Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Oddbits: World of beer on Discovery Channel tonight, Drake’s is looking good, vanishing British pubs, best brewers in the world

By William Brand
Thursday, December 18th, 2008 at 11:21 am in Uncategorized.

It’s not news, but I’m a sucker for a horse photo. These are the Budweiser Clydesdales and they’re gonna’ be in the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena on Jan. 1. Who are these horses? A-B answers:

  • The Clydesdales became part of Anheuser-Busch in 1933, shortly after Prohibition ended for beer, when August A. Busch Jr. and Adolphus Busch III presented a hitch to their father, August Busch Sr., to commemorate the first bottle of post-Prohibition beer brewed in St. Louis.

And now the news...If you’re into beer, there’s a TV production not to miss tonight. It’s “Beer” from  How Stuff Works on  the Discovery Channel. It airs tonight at 8 p.m. PST and 8 p.m. EST.  A crew roamed the U.S. and the world, talking to brewers and beer experts. They went to hop fields in Washington, went to Pilsner Urquell in the Czech Republic.  The show covers all aspects of brewing and homebrewing. Gotta’ be worth watching.

It airs again at midnight tonight, Dec. 18 and again on Jan. 2 at 6 p.m. If you miss it you may be able to watch it online here after it airs.

here’s a video promo… Couldn’t get it to display. But this link works, or cut and paste the coding below.

Moving on... Tom, a reader of this blog and my column and  like me a big fan of Drake’s Brewing (San Leandro, CA.), visited the brewery yesterday and found things humming. John Martin, the proprietor of Triple Rock in Berkeley bought Drakes with a partner earlier this year.  Here’s what Tom says:

  • Hey William I was up at Drakes yesterday for the first time in over a month and it was a wonderful surprise. The place was humming with activity.Fermenters were bubbling away with both Drakes IPA and some beers for Jupiter. The direct sales prices on Drakes kegs of the IPA Amber and 1500 have dropped $10 to $115 and the specialty beers such as the Imperial IPA ( which I picked up for the kegerator ) are $145 + tax. Case prices are also very low. They also have a sales force now. The office area has been cleaned up with all of the awards they have won on display. I’m so happy that my favorite brewery is back at full speed. I sure hope our great beer community will get support Drakes.

Onward…British pubs are dying at an alarming rate, more than 4,000 are expected to close in the next two years as the dear old UK becomes more like us, auto-oriented, home-centered.  Fewer and fewer people choose to while away an evening in the local.  The BBC aired a fascinating report on the subject on Dec. 12: Last Orders – Calling Time on Pubs. Major reasons: price competition from beer sold in supermarkets, many pubs owned by giant pub companies with the usual corporate, cookie cutter sameness and lack of beer choice.

The BBC has a video online, but you have to be in the UK to view it. Haven’t found a version on Youtube or elsewhere,  maybe someone can and post a link or e-mail it to me (  Here’s a link to the BBC’s story on their telecast.

Oh my gawd….the best beer, best pub conflab is heating up again. The Alstrom Brothers, Jason and Todd, the two Boston guys behind have come up with a list of the best breweries in the world and the best pubs in the world in the latest issue of their Beer Advocate magazine.  They note that the listings were determined by popular vote of Advocate posters,
Thanks to Stan Hieronymous of for pointing out how American-cenrtric the list is.

The lists are posted on the Stone Brewing Web site.

  • Top Breweries on Planet Earth. 1. Stone, 2. Three Floyds, 3. Ommegang.  Russian River is sixth.
  • Top Beer Bars on Planet Earth. 1. Ebenezer’s Pub (Lowell, ME.) 2. Brick Store Pub (Decatur, GA.) 3. HopCat (Grand Rapids, MI) Huh.  Nope, the Toronado didn’t make the list.

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

  • http:/// Mario (Brewed For Thought)

    Where’s De Struisse?!?!?!

  • William Brand

    Guess De Struise fans all use Ratebeer.

  • Mike

    Quite an East Coast centric list. All of the West Coast beers are the widely distributed ones to the East Coast. 90 Minute IPA ahead of Pliny or Pure Hoppiness or Dorado or Hopsickle…that ain’t right.

  • Derrick

    It’s just a single data point of my observations, but out here in the great beer desert of San Jose, I’m seeing a lot more Drake’s on the shelves of BevMo. And BevMo seems to be giving them more shelf space,s something I doubt a savy retailer like BevMo would do without some assurances the space would be filled.

    It’s tough enough to sell anything, and you hate to see a company like Drakes lose business simply because they didn’t return phone calls or reliably deliver to willing customers. Glad to hear it sounds like things are turning around.

  • William Brand

    Answering posts… about Drake’s. For some reason, BevMo has always stocked Drake’s and now that they’re back in action (Drakes, I mean) it’s good to know that BevMo is keeping the beer in stock. Now if Drake’s would just bring back their Friday afternoon open house, I’d be a happy camper.

    About the Beer Advocate lists. It’s really East Coast centric, isn’t it. Pliny belongs at the very top, for instance, but few people in the East have ever tried it. It has much better malt hop balance than 90 Minute and I’m a fan of 90-Minute. Wouldn’t turn either one down, however.

  • William Brand

    And furthermore…What’s really gonna be interesting is when ace homebrewer Mike McDole’s (Clayton, CA) double (or triple?) IPA comes out in January as one of three Sam Adams Longshot beers. It’s going out nationally and it’s a tweaked, Pliny clone: 100 IBUs, seven or so hops, and about 8 percent.

    Sam Adams sent an advanced version to some East Coast bloggers, who said it lacked “hop-malt balance.” To which I say…hmmm.

  • craig

    “west coasters” like hop cool-aid…

  • Ian

    Love the BA but they are located in Boston after all. Initially, I was shocked that Toronado didn’t make the list but they are clear that the results are user generated so those of us crying on the west coast need to start participating.

    I do think that BA is one of the best things to come along in the craft beer publishing world in quite some time.



  • Ryan K

    It was suprising and excellent to see one of my old professors on the Discovery Channel show. Charlie Bamforth is awesome! He taught one of, if not the greatest courses I ever took in college (sadly I wasnt a Beer and Brewing major). It was funny because right before he appeared I was thinking that maybe theyd interview someone from Davis. Awesome.

  • jeff


    Really enjoy the website Lots of very friedly and knowledgeable beer people. The site has allowed me to obtain and try a lot of impossible to find east coast beers through trades with other forum members. In fact I just recently traded a number of bottles of pliny the elder and blind pig in exchange for a bottle of three floyds dark lord stout and surly darkness. I think i got the better of the deal from the standpoint that the Russsian River products are available year round while the bottles i obtained are available only once a year at the respective breweries. Anyway I recommend it to anyone who is interested in locating and trying high quality non-West coast beer.

  • William Brand

    You;re right about Dark Lord. Whjen they release it, there’s a line a block long. I’ve tried it at GABF and at Falling Rock in Denver: a stunning beeer, well-named. Trades wth Beer Advocate forum members? That’s a great idea. The only troulbe with trading beer, if you’re cheap like me, is the freight is very costly. I sometimes trade with a friend in Manhattan. He once sent meMonster 2000 from Brooklyn Brewing. But it cost him $10 for shipping. (That one was worth it.).

  • easong

    Stone is quite good (Ruination!), but Port and Russian River are undoubtedly better. Honorable mention to non-west coasters Great Divide and Smuttynose.

  • easong

    I shouldn’t have left Moylan’s off the list. Always keep a Hopsickle in the fridge for a hop emergency. And I just had a snifter from the latest batch of Bear Republic’s Racer X (Rose and Crown, PA). Nice.

  • Georgia / Things That Are Brewed

    The “Top Beer Bars on ***Planet Earth***” list is surprisingly North American centric.

  • William Brand

    Yeah, a very narrow list. Shows where the bulk of Beer Advocate’s readers live: New England