Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for February, 2009

Some special DIPAs on tap Saturday at the Bistro’s Double IPA fest

bistro-11th-annual-ipa-fest-glass-hebrew-lagerJust talked to Vic Kralj at the Bistro — he was busy getting ready for the big 7th annual Bistro Double IPA fest, which gets underway tomorrow (Saturday, Feb. 7) at 11 a.m. at the Bistro, 1001 B. St.  Vic says there will be 48 or 49 Double IPAs. New Albion Ale will be on tap as well.

Vic says the festival which officially kicks off SF Beer Week is getting huge; he’s expecting 1,500 people. I’m guessing close to twice that. The entries will be judged in blind tawtings; awards will be announced at 5 p.m.

The basics: Tickets: No reservations — $25 at the door buys a commemorative glass and five, 4-ounce pours. Extra pours $1.50. There will be live music all day and barbeque. They’re setting up an outside stage on Main Street. The street will be closed for the fest.

Getting there: Best way is to take BART to the Hayward Station, then walk three blocks straight east on B Street. Bistro’s on the corner of Main and B.

Here’s a lineup of  some of what’s going to be on tap:

  • Several entries from the Pizza Port breweries, Ballast Point, Alpine, a DIPA from Ithaca Brewing, Ithaca, NY, 120 minute IPA from Dogfish.
  • Sierra Nevada has sent a firkin of a special DIPA; Vic says it’s “absolutely gorgeous.”  Also DIPAs from Auburn Brewing, Rubicon (Sacramento), 50-50 Brewing, Truckee; John Maier of Rogue, Newport, OR has sent a special XS IPA. And, of course, Pliny the Younger from Russian River.

And that’s just part of the list. See you there!

Posted on Friday, February 6th, 2009
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SF Beer Week: Jay Brooks posts the New Albion Ale schedule

Wondering where to find New Albion Ale this week? Jay Brooks over at Brookston Beer Bulletin has just published today’s schedule for Don Barkley, the Napa Smith brewmaster and the beer today. He’s also listed all the places where it will be on tap and the story behind the beer…

The schedule for Don and the beer today:  Noon: Toronado, 547 Haight St., San Francisco,  2 p.m., 1 p.m., Magnolia Pub, 1398 Haight St., 2 p.m. Monk’s Kettle, 3141 16th St., 3 p.m. City Beer Store, 1168 Folsom St., 4 p.m. 21st Amendment, 563 2nd St.

It’s also on tap right now at the Bistro, 1001 B St., Hayward.

Posted on Friday, February 6th, 2009
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The Toronado’s SF Beer Week schedule…

Toronado proprietor David Keene

Toronado proprietor David Keene

The Toronado just sent out their SF Beer Week schedule. It’s awesome, naturally.  Each event goes until closing, but featured guests tend to leave after two or three hours. Happily, the beer remains.

Today, Noon (Feb. 6). SF Beer Week Kickoff:
Join Napa Smith brewer Don Barkley as he taps the first keg
of “Original Albion Ale” at High Noon. This beer is based on
the recipe from the pioneering New Albion brewery, which
was founded by Jack McAuliff in 1976. When New Albion
closed in 1983, Don moved on to Mendocino Brewing
company where he brewed Red Tail Ale, and one of the first
“reputation” beers, Eye of the Hawk.

Sunday, Feb. 8, 6 p.m. Port Brewing/Lost Abbey Night
Port Brewing’s Tomme Arthur for draft and bottle
specials.  On Draft:, Judgment Day, Devotion, Red Barn, Avant Garde, Hop 15, Midnight Sessions, Old Viscosity, Lost and Found, Phunky Duck and more
Special Bottles: Veritas 004, Saints Devotion, Cable Car (on premise only) and more.

Monday, Feb. 9, 6 p.m. Join Rob Tod of AllagashOn Draft: Curieux, Tripel, Odyssey, Interlude, Hugh Malone, Fedelta, Victoria, Victor, Black, Four, Bottle specials.

Tuesday, Feb. 10, 6 p.m. Russian River ‘Tion Night
Join Vinnie Cilurzo for a night of draft and bottle specials.  On Draft: Redemptionm Single (Blonde Ale), Perdition- Biere de Sonoma, Damnation- (Strong Golden Ale), Salvation- Strong Dark Alem, Rejection- Black Beerm Defenestration- Hoppy Belgian Ale, Benediction- Abbey Double, Mortification- Quadruplem Sanctification- 100% Brettanomyces Fermented, Temptation- Sour Blonde Ale Aged in Chardonnay Barrels (batch 3), Supplication- Sour Red/Brown Ale Aged in Pinot Noir Barrels (batch 3), Consecration- Sour Dark Ale Aged in Cabernet Sauvignon Barrels (batch 1), Beatification- 100% Spontaneously Fermented Ale (batch 2) Bottle specials including Toronado 20th Anniversary (on premise only)

Wednesday, Feb. 11,  6 p.mOmmegang Beers paired with a fine selection of cheeses. Three Philosophers, Chocolate Indulgence, Ommegeddon, Grand Cru Rouge
Cheese pairings to be determined.

Thursday, Feb. 12, 6 p.m. -9 p.m., A Night of Ales
Toronado, Firestone Walker Brewing Company, and the
Homebrew Chef Sean Paxton present A Night of Ales. Special beer
pairings from the Firestone Walker cellar, commentary
from brewmaster Matt Brynildson, and a six course tasting
menu from chef Sean Paxton. Tickets $95, available at the
Toronado. Check out the menu at

Saturday, Feb., 14, 11 a.m. onward…16th annual Toronado Barleywine Festival. The big kahuna!.

Posted on Friday, February 6th, 2009
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“Top Chef” seeks suggestions

Top Chef on Bravo

Got a call from Bravo yesterday asking for recommendations for the upcoming season six of “Top Chef.” They’re looking for “amazing, innovative and diverse chefs” in the Bay Area. Got any ideas? I suggested Hoss Zare at Zare at the Fly Trap in San Francisco. His resurrection of that restaurant is impressive. His personal story is amazing. And his food is top-notch.

They’re looking for executive chefs, chefs de cuisine and extraordinary sous chefs. Post them here (let’s get some East Bay representation!) or send the chef of your choice to the casting call this Sunday Feb. 8 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Ducca Restaurant & Lounge.

Posted on Thursday, February 5th, 2009
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First keg of New Albion Ale headed to Toronado and other pubs in San Francisco Friday

Here’s a bit of a news flash. If you can’t make it to the Bistro Saturday for the Double IPA fest and tapping of a keg of the new New Albion Ale. (See my post below.), Don Barkley, the guy who brewed it back in the 1970s and again this year is bringing a keg to the Toronado , 547 Haight St., San Francisco, on Friday. This news comes from Toronado GM Steve Bruce:

  • I just wanted to let you know that Don is coming to the Toronado on Friday for a “High Noon” first tapping of the New Albion Ale, he’s going to tell some stories, sign some Celebrators, and continue on a pub crawl around the city, tapping the beer at all of the locations that were fortunate enough to get some, finishing at the Anchor Kickoff event that evening.  Magnolia is working out the details of the pub crawl and will probably send out a newsflash about it later today.

My comment:  Don Barkley ways it’s “just a pale ale.: I say: Hot damn. Go SF Beer Week.

Posted on Wednesday, February 4th, 2009
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The search for Pliny the Younger

The search for Russian River Pliny the Younger, the 2009 edition is intensifying. Shared a pint of Double Bastard with a friend tonight at Pacific Coast Brewing,  906 Washington St. in Oakland.  He came there with an empty growler, searching for Pliny the Younger; hadn’t arrived yet.

He went to The Trappist, 460 89th  St., same story: keg not tapped, on to Cato’s Ale House,  3891 Piedmont Ave., same story. Then, I got home and had an e-mail; note from Robert Gaustad,  proprietor of Bobby G’s Pizzeria, 2072 University Ave. in Berkeley. He just put a keg on tap tonight.

Sigh. And so it goes.  One thing’s certain; they’ll have it on tap Saturday at the Bistro’s Double IPA Fest: doors open at 11 a.m.

Posted on Wednesday, February 4th, 2009
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Napa Smith’s Don Barkley recreates New Albion Ale

I don’t usually do this, but today I’m posting my Wednesday newspaper column, because – as SF Beer Week approaches – it’s timely. For info about photos and a video, go to the end of the post.

What’s on Tap:

A piece of craft beer history

— New Albion Ale — lives again

“It’s a place marker in our journey

from frozen  corporate lager to good beer”

By William Brand
Oakland Tribune/MediaNews Group

Posted: 02/04/2009 12:00:00 AM PST

HERE’S A KINKY TWIST.  I haven’t tasted New Albion Ale for nearly 30 years, but it’s our Beer of the Week. New Albion, the pioneering craft brewery, founded in 1976 by Jack McAuliffe, folded in 1983.

But thanks to brewer Don Barkley, a New Albion brewer, it lives again for SF Beer Week and making it our Beer of the Week’s a no-brainer. This beer is part of our historic journey from frozen corporate lager to good beer.

I honestly don’t remember much about New Albion Ale. I only know when I tasted it, because I was living in Mexico and came back to Berkeley on a visit. I found it in a 22-ounce bottle at a shop in Oakland and I recall being shocked to find something local and interesting.  In those days, either we made friends with a home-brewer, bought imports or gave up and drank swill.

But thanks to SF Beer Week, New Albion Ale lives again.  Barkley said he was hanging out this past October at the Great American Beer Festival with Tom Dalldorf, publisher of the Celebrator Beer News  and Dave McLean, proprietor of Magnolia Pub in San Francisco.  “We were talking about SF Beer Week and they said, ‘You should make some more New Albion Ale.”  I said, ‘That’s a good idea and then I forgot about it.”

“Three weeks ago, Dave called me and said, ‘Hey, are you going to make New Albion Ale?’”

So Barkley reached under his desk and pulled out the handwritten ledger started by Jack McAuliffe and looked up the recipe. He brewed it at his new Napa-Smith brewery in Napa. The first keg will be tapped Saturday at the Double India Pale Ale Festival at the Bistro, 1001 B St. in downtown Hayward.

Another keg will be tapped at the Celebrator Beer Festival Feb. 15 at the Oakland Convention Center in downtown Oakland.

Saying Don Barkley was a New Albion brewer is not precise. He started working for a case of beer a week and camping out at the brewery. When New Albion folded in 1983, Don took McAuliffe’s handmade brewplant to Hopland and helped found Mendocino Brewing, the second brewpub in America since Prohibition. Both Red Tail Ale*** and Eye of the Hawk*****  are his beers.

He retired last year and became master brewer at Napa-Smith, a new brewery and winery owned by Kathleen Smith-Cutuli and Greg Cutuli.

Don has three new beers, Pale Ale***½, 5.5 percent alcohol by volume, with a whack from cascade hops; Napa Smith Wheat, 4.6 percent, and my favorite, Napa Smith Amber***½, a very different amber, 5.75 percent, but not sweet, with a complex malt palate quite different from the average, sweetish amber.

Barkley says the original New Albion barley malt came from Bauer & Schweitzer, a long-gone San Francisco malting house. (It’s now a condo complex.)  “Jack didn’t have any pale malt, so Fritz Maytag at Anchor opened his malt silo for us. The malt came from Bauer & Schweitzer; it was a fantastic malt, Barkley said. “It had an earthy quality and to duplicate it I used two malts that I have here,” he said.

Mendocino still uses the original yeast from New Albion, so Don got it for this beer. Hops then and now were floral, spicy Cluster and new-in 1977, citrusy Cascades. Don recalled they originally used Bullion hops, then switched to Northern Brewer then finally wound up with Cluster and Cascades. “As far as I know Cascades were only used in homebrewing back then, this was in 1977-1979.

The original was fermented in a converted 55-gallon Coca-Cola syrup barrel. The new batch comes from a 30-barrel, modern brew plant. The whole plant was built around cast-off, 55 gallon Coca Cola syrup drums, he said. “Jack built a three-level brewhouse, so it was all gravity fed: hot liquor on top, down to the mash  tun…It was all homemade, a copper tube cooler that Jack made all  by himself. Primary fermentation was in four open drums; we kept them in an air conditioned room, then after five to seven days, we racked the beer into 55 gallon drums on their sides with little fermentation locks.

“From there, once the  beer settled, another week or two, we would pump it through – believe it or not, a beer meter. We had to have a beer meter and this one came out of a Hamms brewery or somewhere like that. The beer would go into a ‘bottling tank’ – another 55 gallon drum with a three spout siphon filler.

“We had a hand crowner and then the bottles went on to a labeler. Jack had rebuilt a 1910 semi-automatic labeler. You’d press a food pedal  and these arms would come flying out with the label on them. You sort of got ouit of the way stuck the labeled bottle somewhere or other…”
I could hear Don chuckling over the foam as the memories came racing back. ‘New Albion Ale  was as individual in that day as Anchor  Steam,” Barkley says. “But today, it’s just a nice pale ale with good body and a decent amount of alcohol.”

Taste it during the Double IPA fest at the Bistro. The fun begins at  11 a.m. More than 50 double IPAs, live music, $25. See you there – and thanks for the memories Don!

Want a bit more history? Check out the “Time Machine” post on my blog.

CALENDAR: OK, SF Beer Week is upon us. It all begins with a private tapping of a ceremonial keg of beer at Anchor in San Francisco Friday night (Feb. 6). There are more than 100 events around the Bay Area. Check the listings at http://www.

Reach William Brand at or call 510-915-1180 and ask for his Retail Beer Store List or Good Pub List. Read more by Brand at

Why there are no photos. The Napa Register, a newspaper in Napa, CA. , has a great photo of Don Barkley, but they refused me permission to run it.  Google Don Barkley and Napa Register and you can see it.

However, author Stan Hieronymus, who writes the Appellation Beer blog, posted a link to a series of photos of historic craft brewers on You Tube. It’s in a video and you can see it here.  He also posted a facebook link to Beer Guppy Jay Shevek’s advance teaser on a documentary  on the craft beer revolution. Thanks Stan.

Posted on Wednesday, February 4th, 2009
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Beer and Chocolate Dinner is nearly sold out

Last-minute warning: Bruce Paton’s  Beer and Chocolate Dinner is nearly sold out. Here’s a note from Bruce:

  • There are a just a few seats remaining for this year’s Beer and Chocolate Dinner. Friday, Feb. 13, 2009.  If you have not yet made your reservations and intend to join us please go to and click on the “Make Reservations” button next to “Friday February 13, 2009 Beer and Chocolate with the Beers of Malheur” and follow the instructions. While you are there please take a look at the rest of the events that make up

I’ve been checking the beer week site and my mind is boggled. A treasury of good things.

Posted on Wednesday, February 4th, 2009
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SF Beer Week: Sunday, Feb. 8 – The problem is what not to do

Moving on through the astounding maze of beer events during SF Beer Week, Feb. 6- 15, here are some highlights — from my perspective — on Sunday, Feb. 8,  I covered Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Feb. 7 in the last post.  OK, here we go….

Sunday, Feb. 8

beer-to-brakers-2009Chuey Brand’s Beer to Brakers 2009, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., $10, 415-845-2032,   This looks like a hoot: The route includes, Gordon Biersch, 21st Amendment & Park Chalet There will be a picnic BRAKE in Golden Gate Park that will feature some craft brews from Thirsty Bear and Magnolia in addition to some delicious home brews and others beers from around the Bay.  One caution Chuey: you can get a DUI bust being drunk on a bike as well as in a motor vehicle.  Chuey Brand is not me. Go to the Web site to find out the details.

Mexican Fiesta: Marin Brewing, 11:30 a.m. – Midnight, Marin Brewing, 1809 Larkspur Landing Circle, Larkspur, 415-461-4677. Arne Johnson’s powerfully hoppy beers paired with fiery Mexican food from chef Mario Gongora.

Lagunitas Beer Circus, 12 noon – 6 p.m. Lagunitas, 707-769-4495, 1280 N. McDowell Blvd.  Guess it’s a real circus with beer. But it’s sold out. No more tickets. Damn.

Brewer’s Sunday Tea, 21st Amendment, 563 2nd St., San Francisco, Noon – 3 p.m. $30, includes 10 tasting tickets and Fatted Calf Sausage, grilled outside at the 21st. This is part of the 21st and Magnolia’s Strong Beer Month. Twelve strong beers, six from 21st, six from Magnolia. The 21st is the place to be on Sunday for strong beer.

caltrain-stopsPeninsula Caltrain Pub Crawl with, Noon – 4 p.m. This event is way kewl. The idea is to take Caltrain from pub to pub. It starts at noon at Firehouse Brewery, Sunnyvale, which is a short block from the Caltrain stop, then onward to Palo Alto (Rose & Crown), Redwood City (City Pub) and at 4 p.m, Burlingame, for Steelhead-Burlingame Station across the street. This is a tour I want to make, but can’t because I’ve got too many other places to be. I recommend it. And look at it this way: You can do the whole crawl on one ticket, just get on and off again. Sweet. And you can connect with BART at the Millbrae stop.

All “Sour”-style barrel-aged beer tasting, Triple Rock Brewery, 1920 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-843-2739,  1 p.m. Admission: $20, pays for logo glass and two five-oz. pours, extra pours $4. This is going to be one fine event. Triple Rock head brewer Rodger Davis said he has perhaps 30 sours lined up from as far away as Jolly Pumpkin, Dexter, MI. Steve Altimari of Valley Brewing, Stockton will have contributions.

Book-signing and beer: Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head co-founder, City Beer Store, 1168 Folsom St, San Francisco, 1 p.m. Sam will sign copies of his two books, Brewing Up a Business and He Said Beer, She Said Wine. Buy a book, get a free pint of Dogfish beer.  City Beer will have Dogfish beers on ap and in bottle to taste, drink and purchase to take home.

Alembic Sunday Supper with Sam Calagione and Dave McLean, founder of Magnolia Gastropub and the Alembic ,  3 – 7 p.m. No reservations, no admission, pay for your food and beer pairings.  Alembic Bar, 1725 Haight St., San Francisco, 415-666-0822. If you’ve never visited the Alembic, put it on your list. Great little bar.

miss-pearls-jam-house-logoMiss Pearl’s Jam House Beer Dinner, Miss Pearl’s Jam House,  1 Broadway, Oakland, 6 – 9 p.m., $55, 510-444-7171. They haven’t posted the menu or beer pairings yet, but thie noveau New South restaurant and chef Robert Barker have earned lots of praise.  Promises to be most interesting, even if Jax beer sucks. No, I don’t think they’ll have Jax.  Does Jax still live other than in James Lee Burke’s novels? What? You never heard about James Lee Burke, the great detective fiction writer? Check him out.

A Beer Dinner with Hoembrew Chef Sean Z. Paxton, 21st Amendmenent, 6 – 9 p.m., $50. This is a big deal dinner with a lot of rare beers pulled from the 21st “library.

Meet Lost Abbey/Port Brewing’s Tomme Arthur, Toronado, 547 Haight St., San Francisco, Begins at 6 p.m. and goes onward into the night. Many, many specials on draft and in bottles. No admission, pay for your beer.

The Ol’ Factory Around the World in 8 Beers Dinner, ‘Ol Factory Cafe, 1725 Contra Costa St., Sand City (Monterey peninsula), 831-394-7336, $50.

Posted on Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009
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Sonoma Springs Brewing open for business in Sonoma, CA


The town of Sonoma has a new brewery:  It’s Sonoma Springs Brewing Co. (no Web site yet). Proprietors Tim and Ann Goeppinger have received their final city permit and are open for business at 750 West Napa St.

Tim and Ann Goeppinger, Sonoma Springs Brewing

Tim and Ann Goeppinger, Sonoma Springs Brewing

Tim’s a native of Peoria, IL.,  graduated with an engineering degree from Northwestern. He worked at big breweries in the Midwest, then signed on with Matt Brynildson at Firestone-Walker in Paso Robles when he came west. Then he worked at Lagunitas in Petaluma and while he was getting his own brewery going, he’s been working part-time at Russian River.  Now there’s a gold star resume.

I’ve tried three of Tim’s beers and I give them a thumbs up. Most excellent. At this point, it’s a keg only operation and three restaurants on the Sonoma Plaza are stocking his beers. Tim and Ann sell growlers at the brewery for $15, refills $11 and they’ll pour samplers at no cost.

Talk about convenience, the seven-barrel brewery’s next door to a bake shop; you can buy baked goods there at discount and eat them with your beer at the brewery.

I caught up with Tim and Ann  the other night at wine, beer and cheese tasting held by Sheana Davis of the The Epicurean Connection at Rogue Public House in North Beach (San Francisco).  They were pouring Tim’s Roggenbier and a pale ale.
Tim’s fascinated with German top-fermented beers and the Roggenbier, a 5.8 percent, German-style rye beer, made with a blend of 30 percent rye, 60 percent barley, including a touch of crystal malt for color, was excellent.

Hops were Hallertau and Saphir, a German noble hop, noted for its mild, citrus aroma.  I got cloves and spice in the nose; taste was medium full and spicy. This would be a lovely beer to take home in a growler.

Tim said the 5.6 percent Pale Ale was dry hopped with Cascades, Simcoe and floral Ahtanum hops. Impressive package. Tasty beer.

Last summer, I tasted Tim’s Dunkelweizen, a dark, top-fermented wheat and found it just about perfect: crisp, drinkable, lots of tasty dark malt.

Truth-telling time. While I’m always charmed by the bucolic, pristine streets and houses in Sonoma, the tourist scene around the square (Remember Back to the Future? That’s the town square),  bores me to tears.  Sonoma Springs gives me, finally, a good reason to visit. See you there.

Sonoma Springs Brewing Co.,
750 West Napa  St.
Sonoma, CA,
Wednesday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Posted on Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009
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