Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Oddbits…An iPhone breathalizer, Black Diamond Winter Ale, no Sprecher IPA2 in the Bay Area…yet

By William Brand
Monday, December 22nd, 2008 at 1:12 pm in Uncategorized.

OK, this is the topper in Christmas weirdness and it actually looks like it might be useful: Meet the  iBreath Breathalyzer & FM Transmitter for iPod.  It costs $79 and attaches to an iPod or – I guess – an iPhone.

You connect it to the iPod, then hit a button and little wand comes out, blow into it and a readout appears showing the percentage of alcohol in your breath.  Sounds handy.  Actually, I’m not sure what the iPod has to do with it, since it looks like a self-contained unit.

Oh yes, it’s also an FM transmitter and sends your tunes wirelessly to –- not sure where.

Here’s their video.

I’ve seen these devices on line for as low as $17.95 like this one here.

But I don’t know if I’d risk my driver’s license on something bought at steep discount on the net.  Personally, I take public transit whenever possible. I rely on beerbybart to get me to my destination.

One more possibility for a Christmas present would be a subscription to a beer magazine. The Alstrom Brothers, Todd and Jason, ( are offering a one year sub to their new magazine: Beer Advocate, $30 for 12 issues.  That’s far from cheap, I realized. But then, I really like the tone of their mag; it’s low on bs, with lots of useful info.

Two other beer magazines are the pioneering All About Beer, $20 for six issues, and Brew Your Own, aimed at homebrewers, 8 issues for $25.

On to beer… Bad news about the Sprecher IPA2, the stellar double IPA from Wisconsin I reviewed last week. I got a sample from the brewery rep.  He said they had a distributor network set up throughout the state, but the distributor in Los Angeles went belly up.  Now they’re regrouping. The beer should be in Beverages & More stores next month.

Black Diamond Winter Ale from Black Diamond Brewing, Concord, CA. is finally out. The brewer, Derek Smith, said it’s brewed with a yeast “similar to Chimay” and weighs in at 7.2 percent ABV. It’s dark, with a mildly spicy nose and a bone dry finish. Wish it wasn’t so dry, but then I’m prejudiced toward big and malty. THREE STARS – . It’s in stores around Contra Costa County (Suburban San Francisco) and in good stores in Alameda County.

Another new beer, making its way into fine beer stores here is Ballast Point Big Eye India Pale Ale. Nice beer: 6 percent, big rocky hjead, hops on the nose, cirus and pineapple. Taste is dry with a hoppy finish.THREE STARS. In 22 oz. bottles.

And another… Altenmunster Winterbier Doppelbock, 7.2 percent, in 25 oz, flip top bottle: Nice beer, not a stunner, but quite drinkable. It’s fairly sweet with lots of caramel. THREE STARS –.

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


    FM Transmitters are very useful. If you have a CD player in your car, you might not have any other way of playing your iPod while you drive. You set the FM Transmitter to a station not in use, typically in the 88.7 range, then tune your radio to it, and now you have your iPod playing in your car.

    So, will this deter drunk drivers from driving or will you just hear “I blew a .17 after the party, drove home, and I didn’t even get pulled over.”

  • William Brand

    About FM transmitters. The best one in my opinion is from Monster. You can pre-select three FM frequencies and switch around when interference messes up one frequency.

    I think you hit the nail on the head Mario. “Wow I blew a 0.,17 and didnt evern get pulled over,”: sounds about right.

  • William Brand

    Does anyone reading this blog have experience with breathalizers (other than in the hands of the police)? I have a friend in Seattle, who uses one constantly.

  • James

    I bought a breathalizer as a gag gift for my girlfriend. It was used as a party favor by most. At the end of the birthday party night it was “lets see who can has the highest BAC!” It was about $40-$50 from Kragen. I have heard there are more expensive and accurate one out there. The one I bought says its not accurate after .08 (the legal limit.)

    For me it is a fun party idea, not something to use in a real situation. My advice is know your limit don’t rely on a machine. DMV’s website posts the number of drinks per hour a person can consume. Includes different weights and accounts for differing periods of time…but they base it off a 5% abv beer. Double IPA & Barleywine drinkers beware.

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

    Your friend uses it constantly? Is it installed into the steering wheel and linked to the ignition?

  • William Brand

    No, he carries it with him. It’s a little device about the size of one of those butane cigarette lights. When he’s thinking oif leaving a bar, he checks the alcohol…