Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for January, 2009

A stunning pairing: Point Reyes Farmstead Bleu, Iron Springs barleywine

The cheeses used in the Iron Springs pairings: Bottom right, Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam, bottom left, Cowgirl Red Hawk, upper left, Cowgirl Pierce Point. Upper right, Point Reyes Farmstead Reserve Bleu.

The cheeses used in the Iron Springs pairings: Bottom right, Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam, bottom left, Cowgirl Red Hawk, upper left, Cowgirl Pierce Point. Upper right, Point Reyes Farmstead Reserve Bleu.

Christian Kazakoff's Iron Springs beers include, left, Dark Path Lager, Casey Jones Imperial IPA and 2007 Barstow-Lundy Barleywine.

Christian Kazakoff's Iron Springs beers included, left, Dark Path Lager, Casey Jones Imperial IPA and 2007 Barstow-Lundy Barleywine.

When it comes to pairing cheese and beer, I’m no genius. What I do is write down memorable pairings at beer dinners or elsewhere  and duplicate them at home.  This past week I stumbled onto one of those at Iron Springs Pub & Brewery, (765 Center Blvd., Fairfax,  CA.)

It’s Reserve Bleu, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co., Point Reyes, CA. and Iron Springs 2007 Barstow-Lundy Barleywine.  They’re a simply wild pairing.

It was the high point of a week of beer and cheese for me that began with a series of pairings of beer, wine and cheese at Rogue Public House, 673 Union St., San Francisco, for food industry types attending the Fancy Food Show at Moscone Center.

The San Francisco Bay Area has become a center for craft beer and for craft cheese and the best was on display. More on the Rogue pairings in a later post.

The Iron Springs beer and cheese event was late last week. Called “Brewed and Cultured in Marin,” the evening featured four Marin cheeses and four Iron Springs beers; both beer and cheese were selected by Iron Springs head brewer Christian Kazakoff.

Three cheeses came from Cowgirl Creamery, a world famous craft cheese maker, at Point Reyes Station. All three were excellent and the first, Mt. Tam, an earthy, almost runny triple cream, paired with  Christian’s Chazz Cat Rye Ale, was spectacular. The rye is spicy, with both the yeast and the rye in the mash adding spice: the crisp, drying taste of the beer was a fine complement to the rich, sweet cheese.

But the aged Farmstead Bleu and the aged barleywine won the day. Obviously, unless you’re lucky enough to live in Marv Marin, it’s going to be hard to get a sample of Iron Springs barleywine, although I highly recommend it. A good substitute is your best aged barleywine.

The cheese is widely available at good cheese stores and places like Whole Foods and Trader Joes. I found some at Trader Joe’s in Concord (CA) yesterday.  My plan is to pair it with a five-year-old barleywine from Schooner’s (Schooner’s Grille & Brewery, 4250 Lone Tree Way, Antioch, CA). The beer’s been languishing in my beer refrigerator for a long time.  We have company coming this weekend and  the pairing’s going to be dessert.  Can’t wait.

Lynn Giacomini Stray, a third generation member of the Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co.,  said their regular blue cheese is  a whole milk, unpasteurized cheese, aged five months; the reserve is aged 18 months, and, she said, not widely released to the public.

She said the 700 acre family dairy farm near the shores of Tomales Bay was started by her grandfather, her father carried on

Iron Springs head brewer Christian Kazakoff

Iron Springs head brewer Christian Kazakoff

. But dairy farming is tough; you milk your cows, send the milk to a co-op or wholesaler and hope for the best from the market. It’s always been a bare living and most dariy farm kids wind up leaving home for college and urban jobs.

A family decision in 2000 changed everything, Lynn said. They decided to become a farmstead cheese company, using the milk from their herd of Holstein cows — those are the big black and white bovines, the work-cows of the American dairy industry. A farmstead cheese company is a cheesemaker using the milk produced on the premises. Cowgirl, for instance, used milk from the nearby organic Straus dairy.

Lynn’s family members did their research, hired a chessemaker and went into business. It’s changed their lives, Lynn said. Lynn and her siblings are back on the farm and their cheese has won a deserved reputation.

It remains a farmstead operation, she said. “Everything is done by hand; no cheese is released until it’s ready.”

Our blue cheese sample was ready. Farmstead Reserve Bleu is creamy, but not really sweet; the Iron Springs barleywine was somewhat sweet with a lot of hops in the finish. The two just melded. The beer brought out the creaminess in the cheese; the cheese mellowed the hops in the beer’s finish. Together they sinply explode in the mouth. Like I said, “wild.”:

The other two pairings were also excellent:

  • Cowgirl Creamery’s Red Hawk, an aged, washed-rind, triple cream was paired with Christian’s Casey Jones Imperial India Pale Ale. Taste the cheese, then the beer and you got a mouth-filling cheese creaminess, followed by a whoosh of hop bitterness and warming alcohol.
  • Cowgirl Creamery’s Pierce Point,  a cow’s milk cheese washed in muscat wine and rolled in dried herbs was paired with Christian’s Dark Path Lager, a 4.7 percent Schwarz beer: lots of roast malt. The smooth taste of cheese, then the roast malt marches in. Great.

Posted on Tuesday, January 27th, 2009
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Enough with the junk food pairings

Fun piece in the Chronicle’s Uncorked last week on junk foods, but aren’t we done with this topic? I interviewed Mike Pierce of Maverick in November of 2007 about his off beat Wine Wednesday seminars and his penchant for tossing back wine with Cool Ranch Doritos. (He told me Russian River Pinot Noir, not Pinot Gris).


But anyway, why don’t we stop encouraging Americans to eat processed junk? If they want to wade in a cesspool of Carrageenan and Monosodium Glutamate, let them do it with corn syrup based beverages or at best, a cheap beer. Wine is made from fruit and soil, so drink it with real food.

That’s all I have to say about that.

Posted on Tuesday, January 27th, 2009
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DRAFT Mag’s top 25 beers of 2008: Do you agree?

It’s always fun to look at “best of” or “top whatever”  beer lists. here’s DRAFT magazine’s “Top 25 Beers of 2008” . You can find the tasting notes and the story here.

Isabelle Proximus by Lost Abbey Brewinglost-abbey-isabelle-proximus
Wood-aged beer

  • This collaborative effort was greeted with schoolgirlish enthusiasm, long lines, and a lot of attention online. Brewed at Lost Abbey with help from Avery’s, Russian River’s, Allagash’s, and Dogfish Head’s brewers, the beer was celebrated long before it was released to the public.

Orchard White by The Bruery


  • This new SoCal brewery made a splash felt around the country, and its Orchard White has quickly become one of the best interpretations of a Belgian-style witbier around. The Bruery specializes in Belgians stashed in large bottles, as well as special seasonal offerings that mesmerize the senses.

DarkLord by Three Floyds Brewing
Russian Imperial stout

  • This beer is so popular, Three Floyds started a festival for its annual release. This year’s celebration went beyond expectations with specialty drafts from around the country. In fact, the crowds managed to deplete the seasonal supply of Dark Lord well before the festivities concluded. Three Floyds makes a handful of exceptional brews, but this one is especially noteworthy.


    Deschutes The Abyss

Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16 by Harviestoun Brewery

Old ale

  • Harviestoun has long brewed its world-class old ale, Old Engine Oil. To up the ante, the brewery made Old Engine Oil Reserve, which was aged in whiskey barrels. In 2008, Harviestoun pulled out all the stops by releasing a series of old ales aged in some of the finest single-malt barrels on earth from Highland Park. We sampled them all and agreed the most enjoyable of the bunch was 16.

Blasphemy by Weyerbacher Brewing Co.

  • Belgian specialty ale

Blasphemy is appropriately named: The brewers (Easeton, PA.) took their rich, complex QUAD beer and aged it in American bourbon barrels. Experimental, fringe and, yes, even blasphemous, it doesn’t really matter; this beer is unforgivably delicious.

Hopslam by Bell’s Brewing Co.
American IPA

  • Bell’s has a well-deserved reputation as a maker of some of America’s most beloved brews, and this one’s even more exceptional than expected. This hopped-up beast of a beer may be the best display of clean, unadulterated hops in any American beer. It only hits shelves in January and February, so get your hands on it while you can.

The Abyss, by Deschutes Brewery
Russian imperial stout

  • Deschutes celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2008 and put out several commemorative brews. It was difficult to choose one beer from Deschutes this year, but ultimately we sided with the brewery’s second installment of its wildly popular oak-aged imperial stout.

XII by Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Belgian dark strong ale

  • Beer enthusiasts around the country wondered if it was possible to match Firestone Walker Eleven, the brewery’s previous anniversary beer. Not to fear: XII has even more depth and outrageous complexity.

Blabaer Lambik by Brasserie Cantillon


  • Cantillon has long been the brewery beer enthusiasts turn to for hard lambics, those that make the mouth involuntarily pucker a bit with the beer’s sharp acidity and incredible dryness. Blabaer is the epitome of this exotic style; unfortunately, this beer is rarely found Stateside.

The Angel’s Share by Lost Abbey
American Barleywine

  • What Tomme Arthur does at his San Marcos brewery is nothing short of inspiring, putting out beer after beer that is carefully tended to as it matures in barrels. Angel’s Share presents a jaw-dropping experience at first whiff. It’s deeply complex, but still somehow joins all of its ingredients together for a swallow that is smooth, rich, and cohesive.

Kiwanda Cream Ale by Pelican Pub and Brewery

Cream ale

  • Any idea how good a cream ale has to be to make a top 25 list? As excellent as this one. This brewery (Pacific City, OR.)  may have one of the most beautiful views in America, with a backyard that butts up against the Pacific Ocean, and that beauty soaks into the beer.

Tripel by Abdij Trappisten van Westmalle
Belgian tripel

  • Our first 100-point beer, Tripel is the premier example not just of what a Belgian tripel should be, but of how to brew a beer with a lot of alcohol that isn’t heavy or overwhelming. Westmalle brewers are monks first and foremost; this is one of only seven active Trappist breweries in the world. Perhaps their devotion to the divine explains the heavenly flavors in each bottle.

Pliny the Elder by Russian River Brewing Co.
imperial IPA

  • Vinnie Cilurzo has crafted Pliny the Elder for years in Santa Rosa, Calif. Until 2008, this beer of lore was only available in the country’s top beer bars, mostly in the Bay Area and San Diego. With the installation of an upgraded brewery complete with a bottling line, however, it’s now sold in several regions around the country, much to the delight of beer fans.

Reserve Special Black Bier Ale by Dark Horse Brewing Co.
Baltic porter

  • This beer (from Dark Horse, Marshall, MI) demonstrates just how muscular and balanced a strong ale can be. While clearly powerful, the alcohol presence doesn’t burn or overwhelm the palate, and the overall malt sweetness is bold, but not sticky or syrupy.

Apricot Ale by Cascade Brewing Co.

Fruit beer

  • Cascade’s Apricot Ale  (UPDATE: Cascade Brewing at the Raccoon Lodge & Brewpub in Portland, Oregon – brewed by Ron Gansberg.) takes fruit beer to a whole new level: It’s like opening a bottle of freshly packaged apricots. This is an exquisite beer that allows the fruit’s juicy quality to shine with each thirst-quenching sip.

Perseguidor (Batch 3) by Jolly Pumpkin
Wood-aged beer

  • Jolly Pumpkin’s special release was carefully matured in oak barrels and quickly snatched up by loyal fans eager to sample the Michigan brewery’s next great creation. This beer is a blend of four barrel-aged brews that were aged up to two years. The long wait resulted in a beer that is a complex treat for the palate.

Palo Santo Marron by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Brown ale

  • Dogfish Head  (Milton, DE.) is proud of its off-kilter ways and big beers with a lot of attitude. In 2008, the brewery installed the largest wooden vats in the nation since Prohibition, made from a hardwood most people associate with flooring, then aged this impressive brew inside. The results were amazing, as these potential floorboards lend an excellent flavor addition to a big ABV beer.

Whiskey Barrel Smoked Porter by O’Fallon Brewery
Robust porter

  • This O’Fallon, Missouri brewery made a name for itself with beers like Wheach, but this smoked beer is something extra special. O’Fallon’s brewers obtained remarkable results when they took their GABF-gold-winning smoked porter and aged it in Buffalo Trace whiskey barrels.

Dragon’s Milk by New Holland Brewing
Russian Imperial stout

  • Dragon’s Milk is a testament to the quality and care that goes into New Holland’s beers. It’s carefully aged in oak barrels, and according to the brewers, it’s the “crown jewel” of the brewery in Holland, MI.  While still made in relatively small batches, this brew is increasingly showing up around the United States, even making a splash at the 2008 Oregon Brewers Festival.

Wisconsin Belgian Red by New Glarus Brewing

The New Glarus booth at the Great American Beer Festival in 2008. The place was always jammed.

The New Glarus booth at the Great American Beer Festival in 2008. The place was always jammed.

Fruit beer

  • This beer  from New Glarus, New Glarus, WI. is a celebration packaged in a bottle, capped, then sealed with wax. It has more than a pound of Door County cherries in every bottle, and is an exceptional display of why these cherries are so popular. This beer made our top 25 list last year, and it reigned supreme again in 2008.

Woodcut No. 01 by Odell Brewing
Old ale

  • Odell Brewing, Fort Collins, CO.,  is pushing into new waters with grace and success with the Woodcut Series that began in 2008. This beer is a true masterpiece with rich flavors and aromas balanced with a wonderful American oak note.

Adam by Hair of the Dog Brewing

Old ale

  • Hair of the Dog is one of the Northwest’s most celebrated brewers for a reason: Every beer it releases is high-quality, and selecting one beer above the rest is no simple task. We landed on Adam because its sweetness, alcohol, and hops are incredibly well balanced, and create a drinking experience that makes you wonder about the way beer used to be. Adam is based on a recipe from the Old World, but the flavors and textures experienced seem new with every sip.

Nuova Mattina by Birrificio del Ducato

  • The U.S. market has seen very little from Italy by way of beer, but in 2008, Nuova Mattina’s output was received with thunderous accolades, and the Italian saison is cream of the crop. In fact, it’s redefining the way we look at Italian beer, with the use of local spices and a clear commitment to quality in brewing and packaging. This beer isn’t cheap, but it’s worth every penny.

Pannepot by De Struise Brouwers

Belgian specialty ale

  • For five years, De Struise has rented space at Belgium’s Deca Brewery to brew its beer. In that time, De Struise has become recognized as one of the world’s premier breweries, and in the last two years, we’ve been fortunate enough to get this beer on our side of the pond. This Belgian treat is perfectly balanced, with bold flavors that never overwhelm the palate.

Darkness by Surly Brewing

Russian Imperial stout

  • Surly releases some of the most aggressive canned beers, but this specialty brew (in a bottle) achieves a level of quality that can’t be beat. The brewery only releases this beer once a year and it doesn’t last long, but those who find it can attest to its outstanding complexity and flavor.

Posted on Monday, January 26th, 2009
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UPDATE: The $7.50 pint of Pliny

A glass of Pliny, exquistely photographed and posted on The restaurant is in Bernal Heights, CA.

A glass of Pliny, exquistely photographed and posted on The restaurant is in Bernal Heights, CA.

And furthermore….On the cost of a pint of Pliny the Elder at Barclay’s, the great beer pub at 5940  College Ave. in Oakland…They’ve raised the price of a pint of Pliny to $7.50, causing consternation among some regulars and Pliny lovers.

Haven’t reached Gene Bromstead, the pub owner yet. But I did talked to Derek Krebs, who is handling beer orders these days. (GM Ryan Westerman has left Barclay’s. Will miss Ryan).

Derek pointed out that Barclay’s pours an imperial pint: 20 ounces, while other good pubs like Cato’s, Ben & Nick’s in Oakland and Hopyard in Pleasanton and San Ramon pour 16 ounce pints.

Doing the math, a 15.5 gallon barrel of Pliny now costs $180, up 33 percent. “We pour 20 oz. pints, it comes up to 98 to 100 glasses,”  Derek said.

That comes out at about $5.55 a pint. (My math.)  So that’s less than a $2 profit a pint; the profit has to pay for everything, the pub rent, taxes, employees, equipment, upkeep.

Derek adds that Vinnie Cilurzo,, Russian River’s brewer-owner, tells them he signed hop futures contracts last year, which means he now pays more for hops than he had been.  So there were are, our economy sucks, doesn’t it. Everybody’s caught in the same squeeze. Damn.

But I’d rather drink a 20 ounce glass of Pliny at $7.50,  than any corporate beer ever made. Period.  You know what I mean, there you are stuck in a hotel or chain restaurant with friends, you look at the menu and they have:  1. many light beers. 2. Heineken. 3. Stella. 4. Guinness…the mind reels and the palate is sickened.  What would I be willing to pay for a glass of Pliny right then.  $7.50? Damn right.

Posted on Monday, January 26th, 2009
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Cost of a pint of Pliny: $7.50

Just got this email note from a blog reader..

  • William, Faithful blog reader here – I encountered an oddity tonight that I cannot help but pass by you: Barclay’s, 5940 College Ave., Oakland, CA. has raised the price of one Imperial Pint of Pliny the Elder to $7.50, claiming that keg prices have risen by $40! Though this did detour me to the Shastafarian Porter (yum!), being a Russian River fan, I’m quite curious if this is to become the norm or a temporary situation?

It’s certainly food for thought and I’ll check it out. What’s going on? I know craft beer prices are jumping really fast, but…Ideas anyone.

Posted on Friday, January 23rd, 2009
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That was the week that was in beer videos

Fishing through You Tube again. Found these commercials. The first one advertises Hamms, a very forgetable, bland beer from St. Paul, MN. But oh my, how many times on assignment did I sit in a boring bar somewhere in nowhere America watching the rotating bear in the Hamms beer display.

Here’s what Wikipedia says about Hamms fate:

In 1968 the company was acquired by the Heublein Brewing Company, which sold it to Olympia Brewing Company. In 1980 Olympia merged with Pabst, which was acquired by Stroh’s in 1984 and it by Miller Brewing in 1999, and that in turn by South African Breweries later that year. The future of the brand is uncertain.

Also, who says craft brewers can’t compete with the big brewers on TV in the area of bad taste. Check out this one from Troeg’s…

This one from Brahma in Brazil’s tolerable, kinda’ creative.

Posted on Friday, January 23rd, 2009
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A great idea from Philly Beer Week: A daily mass transit pass

Here’s an idea from Philly Beer Week., Their regional transit system, rail and bus, I guess, are offering a $9 day pass for people going pub to pub during their beer week, March 6 -15.

Gee, wonder if BART and MUNI would do that?

Posted on Friday, January 23rd, 2009
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Bison to brew beers at Mendocino Brewing in Ukiah

Mendocino Brewing is going organic. Well, at least one bottling line is.  Talked to Daniel bison-chocolate-stoutDel Grande, proprietor of Bison Brewing, the former Berkeley brewpub. Two ears ago, Daniel gave up the pub, sold the brewplant to  Adam Lamoreau of Linden Street Brewing.

He made a deal with Butte Creek, the organic brewer in Chico, where he brewed for the last 18 months. Now, he said, he’s moved to Mendocino
Brewing in Ukiah.

“We’ve gotten organic certification,” Daniel said. “And I won’t be a brewer any more. Mendocino is union, so I just have to watch.” He said the first Bison beers from Mendocino should arrive in about a month.

Bison’s beers are all highly drinkable and a couple are outstanding. I particularly like his Chocolate Stout and Bison Saison. The fact that they’re organic is a plus. You go Dan.

Posted on Friday, January 23rd, 2009
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SF Beer Week vs. Philly Beer Week? We get a little cheeky

Note: This is my column from the San Jose Mercury News on Wednesday, Jan 21. 2009, Comments are welcome? Did I go too far? Is Philly way ahead of us?

Bay Area to answer Philly with big week of beer events

By William Brand
for the Mercury News
Posted: 01/20/2009 05:00:00 PM PST

Have you heard about SF Beer Week? It’s a Bay Area celebration of great craft beer beginning Feb. 6 with the tapping of a special barrel at Anchor Brewing in San Francisco and ending 10 days later with a festival of more than 60 breweries in Oakland.

In between are dozens of events, including more than a few in the South Bay: beer dinners, beer-and-cheese pairings, meet-the-brewer nights.

So what’s this all about? Blame Philadelphia. Last spring, craft brewers and fans of good beer in Philly held a week of beer-related celebrations; they called it “Philadelphia Beer Week.” It was a great idea — but they went too far. They proclaimed Philadelphia “the best beer-drinking city in America.”

Indeed. While we respect Philly and its many craft breweries, those of us who live in the Bay Area don’t think so.

  • Consider history: It’s true that many pints of strong ale helped Ben Franklin and his fellow revolutionaries draft our Constitution. But the ale they quaffed was washed away in a century of light lager, and that’s mostly what Philadelphians were drinking when the craft beer revolution began.

It started right here in the Bay Area in the mid-1960s, when Fritz Maytag bought Anchor Brewing, resuscitated it and blazed a good beer trail for America to follow. In 1976, Jack McAuliffe, who learned about good beer while stationed with the U.S. Navy in Scotland, opened New Albion Brewing in Sonoma on a shoestring.

  • I don’t know what they were drinking in Philly at the time, but it wasn’t hop-smacking bottles of Anchor Liberty Ale or tall bombers of dark, strong, malty-yeasty New Albion Ale.

The first brewpub in America opened in 1982 in Yakima, Wash. The next two opened in 1983 here in Northern California: Mendocino Brewing in Hopland and Buffalo Bill’s in Hayward.

And Philadelphia certainly wasn’t the first to hold a beer week. Tom Dalldorf, publisher of the Hayward-based Celebrator Beer News, came up with the idea, and since 2003, with the help of friends, he has packed a mid-February week with events and called it Beerapalooza.

Then Philadelphia came along with its cheeky slogan.

After months of strategizing and a beer or two, SF Beer Week was born. Personally, I hate the name: It ought to be San Francisco Bay Area Beer Week. But that’s a minor point; we’re stuck with that big, gorgeous city, aren’t we?

  • “The whole idea is to bring a focus to the rich treasure trove of beer and brewing that started in the San Francisco Bay Area,” Dalldorf says. “We may not have the density of small breweries that, say, Portland, Ore., has. But if you look at the aggregate in Northern California, there really is a lot going on. “We’re trying to have enough events going on that it will make people realize the wealth of brewing we have here,” he said.

Bottom line to all this: It’s fun, but it’s folderol. The important point is that the craft beer revolution has gone so far that two great, American metropolitan areas — and let’s not forget Portland, Seattle and Denver — can have a friendly quarrel over good beer.
It shows how far we’ve come from the time when most beer was brewed in a handful of big beer factories and mostly it tasted like water. Three cheers for SF Beer Week, and hats off to Philadelphia, too.
Contact William Brand at whatsontap@sbcglobal.ner. Read more beer reports on his blog,

Some beer week highlights

For details and many more listings, go to Some events have a ticket charge, but at most you”ll just pay for what you eat and drink.
Friday, Feb. 6
Uncommon Brewer Beer Dinner, 6 p.m., Red Restaurant & Bar, 1003 Cedar St., Santa Cruz; about $70. Brewer Alec Stefansky will bring kegs of previously unreleased beers. (831) 621-6270.
Saturday, Feb. 7

  • Ninth annual Double India Pale Ale Fest, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Bistro, 1001 B. St., Hayward; $25, includes commemorative glass and five taste tickets. More than 60 beers on tap. One of California”s premier beer festivals, highlighting strong, highly hopped double IPAs.
  • Santa Cruz Ale Works Beer and Cheese Pairing, noon-6 p.m., Parish Publick House, 841 Almar St., Santa Cruz. (831) 421-0507.
  • Beer and Chocolate Tasting, noon-7 p.m., Seabright Brewery, 519 Seabright Ave., Santa Cruz. (831) 426-2739.

Sunday, Feb. 8

  • Alembic Sunday Supper, 3-7 p.m., Alembic Bar, 1725 Haight St., San Francisco. With Sam Calagione, co-founder, Dogfish Head Brewing.

Wednesday, Feb. 11

  • Firehouse Grill & Brewery and Milk Pail Market beer and cheese pairing, 6:30 p.m., Firehouse, 111 S. Murphy Ave., Sunnyvale, (408) 773-9500.

Thursday, Feb. 12

  • Sour Beer and Chocolate Night, 5-9 p.m., City Beer Store, 1168 Folsom St., San Francisco.

Friday, Feb. 13

  • Beer Chef Bruce Paton”s Beer & Chocolate Dinner, 6:30 p.m., Cathedral Hill Hotel, 1101 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco; $80. This is a big deal, featuring some of America”s finest beers and great food. Reservations essential; it will sell out. (415) 674-3406,
  • Meet the brewer, with tasting, 6-9 p.m., Devil”s Canyon Brewing, 111 Industrial Way, #7, Belmont. (650) 592-2739.
  • Firehouse Chocolate Dinner with Pete”s Wicked Ale founder Pete Slosberg, Firehouse Grill & Brewery, 111 S. Murphy Ave., Sunnyvale, price to be determined. (408) 773-9500.

Saturday, Feb. 14

  • Sixth annual Barleywine Fest, doors open at 11 a.m., Toronado, 547 Haight St., San Francisco. People come from around the world; expect a crowd. (415) 863-2276.


  • Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing and India Joze Culinary Beer Journey, 1-6 p.m., Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, 402 Ingalls St., Suite 27, Santa Cruz; $20. (831) 425-4900.
  • Celebrator Best of the West Beer Celebration, 4-8 p.m., Oakland Convention Center, 1000 Broadway, Oakland. $35-$50. A really big festival with dozens of breweries.

“” William Brand

Posted on Friday, January 23rd, 2009
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Sam Adams releasing trio of “imperial” beers, Longshot coming in April

sam-adams-imperial-series-logoThere’s some beer news from Sam Adams (Boston Beer Co.) In the next couple of weeks they’re coming out with a trio of “imperial” beers:  Sam Adams Imperial Stout, Sam Adams Double Bock and Sam Adams Imperial White. Don’t have the specs on the imperial trio yet, ABV, IBUs, just the “sell sheet” sent out to distributors.  But they’re going to released in rotation year-round.

Sam’s also coming out with a Blackberry Witbier.  It was the winner of the fourth annual Sam Adams Beer Lover’s Choice — 50,000 votes cast.  (The company notes that among craft beer sales nationwide — all breweries — the fruit beer category was up 15 percent last year and  witbier sales jumped 33 percent. Taking a bit of hide off BudMillerCoorsHeinekenStella and their light companeros.)

Also, Sam Adams will release the winning beers the national  Longshot homebrew contest in April, the company says. Those are worth marking your calendar and rushing to the store.  Two of the three were made with formulas from East Bay homebrewers. Read about them here.

  • One is a Double India Pale Ale, based on the recipe for Russian River’s Pliny the Elder. The winning homebrewer is Mike McDole, of Clayton, CA, a member of  DOZE – Diablo Order of Zymiracle Enthusiasts.
  • The second is  Traditional Bock,  conceived by Alex Drobshoff of Livermore (CA).  His winning beer was chosen from over 1,200 contestants from all over the United  States.
  • The third beer in the Longshot porfolio will be Cranberry Wheat, brewed by Boston Beer Employee Karissa Swigart, of Boston.

And finally, if you happen to be at a beer fest somewhere in the East and Sam Adams is pouring, look for Boston Beer’s Finnish Sahti. Boston Beer’s Michelle Sullivan explains:

  • We have brewed a Finnish Sahti at our Boston Brewery that has been served at our tour center here in Boston and some beer festivals.  It is brewed with juniper berries and was brewed using the same traditional method from Finland.  That includes leaving the mash sitting overnight and placing juniper boughs in the bottom of the lauter tun.  They are used as a filter aid and as a flavoring in the mash.  Sahti’s are one of the oldest styles in the world.  Several breweries in Finland still brew and sell them.

Posted on Thursday, January 22nd, 2009
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