Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for May, 2009

Friday Fun Fact #4

Here’s still another fun fact for your Friday, originally from SloshSpot.

Beer Chart #4

Posted on Friday, May 29th, 2009
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Weekend Update 5.29

After the three-day Memorial Day weekend, it’s more of a slow week, beer-wise, a chance to recharge the batteries at home and maybe pick-up something at the store to try with the backyard barbecue.

THIS WEEKEND

Saturday, May 30

At Sudwerk Brewery in Davis, the third annual Citizens Who Care BeerFest 2009 a.k.a. “A Celebration of All Things Beer” will take place on Saturday, May 30, 200 from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tickets are believed to be $25.

IN THE COMING WEEKS

Tuesday, June 2

The second Meet the Brewer event at Rogue Ales Public House in San Francisco, on June 2nd will feature Lars Larson from Trumer Brauerei in Berkeley.

Saturday, June 6

The emphasis on food along with beer makes the Beerfest at Santa Rosa one of the best fests around. Beerfest is a festive microbrew and food tasting extravaganza with more than 35 of Northern California’s best microbreweries and a matching number of exceptional gourmet food purveyors. Your ticket includes all food and beverage tasting and a souvenir glass! Music provided by the THE THUGZ (Cosmic Americana style music) while you enjoy wonderful brews and outstanding food. Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door.

Santa Rosa Beerfest

Also taking place on D-Day is the Monterey Beer Festival, on the opposite side of the Bay Area. The festival will take place at the Monterey Fairgrounds from 12:30 to 5:00 p.m. According to their website, it will include “the greatest assortment of Beer ever assembled on the Central Coast. Sample varied styles of Ales, Lagers & Ciders from over seventy breweries with hundreds of beers to taste. On hand will be the best of beer from around the world, including America, Belgium, Germany, England, France, Australia, Thailand, Italy, Asia, Ireland, Jamaica & California.” This year it will be hosted by Chris Nelson and Merideth Canham-Nelson, who write online at The Beer Geek. They’ll also be hosting several other events throughout the week leading up to the festival. In addition, this year’s theme will feature Tribute Bands including WEEZER (Little Bitches), STING & THE POLICE (Stung) and TOM PETTY (Petty Theft). Tickets are $30 and may be purchased online.

Sunday, June 7

Sunday morning beginning at 11:30 a.m. and running until at least 4:00 p.m., Peg returns to the Toronado for a Belgian Inspired Beer Dinner. The brunch will be five courses paired with American-made, Belgian-inspired beers, including Russian River Toronado 20th Anniversary, Lost Abbey Cable Car, and beers from Cascade Brewery, New Belgium, Allagash, Green Flash, Ommegang, and more. Tickets are $95, and are available at the bar at 547 Haight Street in an Francisco.

Tuesday, June 9

The third Meet the Brewer event at Rogue Ales Public House in San Francisco, on June 9th will feature Derek Smith from Black Diamond Brewery in Walnut Creek.

ON THE HORIZON

June 18: Downtown Hayward Street Party including beer specials at The Bistro

June 18-20: The American Homebrewers Association will be hosting the National Homebrewers Conference in Oakland.

If you know of an upcoming beer event, please let me know about it so I can share it here. Let me know at BrooksOnBeer@gmail.com.

Posted on Thursday, May 28th, 2009
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B Is for Beer

As a beer writer, it isn’t often I have the opportunity to review a novel. Sadly, there are just too few works of fiction whose main plot points involve beer. More’s the pity. But along comes novelist Tom Robbins to add to the sub genre I’m about to invent, which I suppose I’ll call “beer fiction.” Robbins is the author of such popular works as “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues” and “Still Life with Woodpecker.”

His newest novel, a novella really at 125 pages, is entitled “B Is for Beer.” Subtitled “A Children’s Book for Grown-Ups” and “A Grown-Up Book for Children,” it’s the story of a 5-year old girl named Gracie Perkel and her quest to find out the meaning of beer. After a dismal 6th birthday party, she downs a can of beer from her parents’ refrigerator, throws up on the pink carpet in her bedroom and is then visited by the “Beer Fairy.” The Beer Fairy takes her through the seam from this world to another to show her how beer is made and reveal its meaning.

B Is for Beer

If you’re the sort of person who thinks beer and a young girl should never be mentioned in the same sentence, then don’t read it. But for the open-minded, the book is never vulgar and oddly sweet. Uncle Moe means well when he offers to take Gracie on a tour of the Redhook Brewery (they live in Seattle) but he can’t keep his word, nor, in fact, can any of the adults in Gracie’s world. I’ve never been a huge fan of Robbins’ novels. I thought “Still Life with Woodpecker” was alright and never finished “Even Cowboys Get the Blues.” He always reminded me a bit of Kurt Vonnegut Jr., but without the profundity. More whimsical than wise. But “B Is for Beer” is a breeze to read (I finished it over the holiday weekend) and is intriguing enough to keep you turning the page.

It’s laced with references for the beer lover, though I disagree with his assertion that the Egyptians invented beer. He later acknowledges that many people, myself included, believe it was more likely the Sumerians, but he says that while in Sumeria they did “ferment a kind of grain drink, but that it would be stretching the point to actually call the slop beer.” The inference seems to be that in Egypt we’d recognize their fermented grain differently, more modernly as what we think of as beer, yet in my reading it wasn’t much different, if at all, than what the Sumerians made. But that’s a small quibble in a mostly fun read.

If you’re a beer lover or know one, “B Is for Beer” will make a great book to take to the beach or on your vacation this year. If you read even at a moderate pace you’ll probably be able to finish it on a cross-country flight or shorter. And you’ll discover the meaning of beer for your trouble.

Posted on Wednesday, May 27th, 2009
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Grocery Outlet good spot for wine deals

Hey-ho! It’s been brought to my attention that the Grocery Outlet stores sell decent wines. My source, namely, a co-worker at the communal microwave, said he wasn’t familiar with the labels but that he has bought decent juice at very low prices.

So I called up the Pleasant Hill store and it turns out that my colleague is correct. Their selection is actually impressive. They carry about 50 different labels and 100 different varieties ranging from $1.99 to $30.

According to a fellow in the wine department, it’s mostly second-label bottles by folks such as Beringer. But sometimes it’s stuff BevMo, Safeway and Lucky carry too.

Right now, at the Pleasant Hill store, you can get AU Syrahs and Cabernet Sauvignons for $2.99 and $3.99 that are $9 at Lucky. Hurry my fellow recessionistas and -istos! Oh, and let me know how these wines are showing.

I can’t guarantee the same deal is at all locations, but here’s a list of Grocery Outlets within 25 miles of Walnut Creek. Plus they’ve got three new stores opening in the Bay Area soon (San Leandro, Hayward, Vallejo).

the storefront at coeur d'alene store

Posted on Wednesday, May 27th, 2009
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Brewery Profile: Speakeasy

Speakeasy Ales & Lagers

Location: San Francisco, Calif.
Neighborhood: Bayview / Hunter’s Point
Founded: 1997
Website: http://www.goodbeer.com

Speakeasy Brewing logo

Speakeasy Ales & Lagers brews six year-round packaged beers, each in 12-oz. 6-packs.

  1. Big Daddy I.P.A.
  2. Prohibition Ale
  3. Double Daddy Imperial I.P.A. (in 4-packs)
  4. Old Godfather Barleywine-style Ale
  5. Untouchable Pale Ale
  6. White Lightning Wit Beer

Big Daddy, which was named for Dave Keene, the owner of the Toronado Pub, is their flagship beer. It accounts for roughly half of all the beer Speakeasy sells. Prohibition Ale accounts for another 25% and the rest takes up the remainder.

Big Daddy label

Speakeasy uses imagery from the Speakeasy days of Prohibition, when San Francisco was filled will illegal bars. They were called speakeasys because one essentially had to “speak easy” to gain admittance to these underground clubs where illegal hooch flowed freely. They were especially common in big cities, where people had not supported prohibition, a movement that was largely rural in scope.

Speakeasy Ssshhh!

Shh, what’s the password?

Speakeasy Outside

Outside Speakeasy’s brewing facility.

Speakeasy Brewhouse

The original brewhouse, still going strong. It’s a 15-barrel system on which they produce around 10,000 barrels annually. As many as four batches of beer can be done in a single day in two shifts. In addition to their six main packaged beers, several more draft-only beers and special seasonals are brewed throughout the year.

Speakeasy Brewers

Night shift brewer Kushal Hall with head brewer John Gillooly. One of Speakeasy’s draft-only beers, the Hunter’s Point Porter, has become a favorite of local bars, and it’s easy to see why. It’s sweetly malty with a nutty character and smooth as silk. The finish is tangy with some pleasant hop bitterness. Luckily it’s now available year-round.

Speakeasy's Spent Grain

Like most breweries, the spent grain that’s left over after the first stages of brewing, known as mashing, Speakeasy gives theirs to local farmers to feed to their cows. Cows love it!

Speakeasy's New Bottling Line

Speakeasy’s new bottling line.

The brewery is located in a warehouse inside an industrial park, so it’s not open to the public most days. But every Friday at 4:00 p.m., they fling open the doors to allow folks a peek inside. Friday’s from 4:00 to 9:00 p.m. (8:00 in winter) pints are only $3, most times there’s live music and a taqueria truck sets up shop just outside should you get hungry. Plus, if you arrive early enough you can get a tour of the brewery. Also, and perhaps most importantly, there are often experimental beers on tap that you can only find at the brewery. But to get in, of course, you have to know the password … pssst it’s “good beer.”

Look for more about the new specialty beers head brewer John Gillooly has been working on in next Wednesday’s column in your local newspaper.

Posted on Tuesday, May 26th, 2009
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British media heaviest boozers

Who drinks more? Accountants or real estate agents?

In England, it’s media workers who toss back more alcohol than any other profession. They consume the equivalent of more than four bottles of wine or more than 19 pints of beer a week, according to government research published in The Guardian.

Newspaper

People in the profession drink an average of 44 units a week, around double the recommended limit, a Department of Health survey finds.

The story goes on to say that media workers are the biggest consumers of wine in particular, drinking on average one and a half bottles a week.

I don’t think journalists drink more than anyone else in the country. Honestly, there aren’t enough of us in the biz anymore to even quantify a stat like that.

I entered the journalism field too late (post 1980s) to be privy to its alcoholic tendencies. My colleague’s rush to Jamba Juice or Starbucks for a deadline fix, not the local watering hole.

But I do remember hearing crazy stories at my first paper, the San Diego Union-Tribune, that news assistants used to go fetch certain editors at the bar down the street when stories were ready to be edited.

Posted on Tuesday, May 26th, 2009
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Outstanding in the Field dinners

Anyone been to these? They are supposed to be great and I’m thinking about hitting one up.

Outstanding in the Field

Posted on Friday, May 22nd, 2009
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Friday Fun Fact #3

Here’s yet another fun fact for your Friday, originally from SloshSpot.

Beer Consumption Chart #3

Posted on Friday, May 22nd, 2009
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Weekend Update 5.22: Memorial Weekend

While many people will likely be heading for the hills for the three-day holiday weekend, if you’re staying in town or heading just a short distance from home, there are several fun events to keep your thirst at bay this weekend.

THIS WEEKEND

Thursday, May 21

Tonight in San Jose, you can try what most people consider rice wine, but which is really more properly considered rice beer, at Sake San Jose 2009. Sake San Jose combines sake tasting with a walk through historic Japantown in San Jose tonight from 5:30 to 8:30 pm. It will begin at the Yu-Ai Kai Senior Community Center.

Friday, May 22

The Beer Chef, Bruce Paton, will host a beer dinner featuring the Classic and Contemporary Beers of Duvel Moortgart at the Cathedral Hill Hotel in San Francisco. The dinner will begin with a reception at 6:30 p.m. and the cost per person is $80. Call 415.674.3406. You can see the menu for the four-course beer dinner online, and also make reservation there, as well.

Also, Friday night at the Jug Shop on Polk & Pacific in San Francisco, they’ll be hosting a sampling session of beers from Mateveza. Mateveza beers are all-organic and brewed with yerba mate, the source of the South American caffeinated herbal tea. Jim Woods, who created these beers and brews them at Mendocino Brewery, will be on hand to answer questions and host the tasting. The price is $5.

Saturday, May 23

The 23rd annual California Festival of Beers and Golf Tournament will take place at the Avila Beach Golf Resort near San Luis Obispo, on Saturday May 23 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Tasting ends at 3:00 pm, but the entertainment continues until 4:00 pm. This year will feature an even larger selection of great beers (well over 100) not to mention an exciting concert and a wide array of food vendors!

Sudz in the City

The 15th annual Sudz in the City will be held in Fresno’s Chukchansi Park from 4:00 to 9:00 p.m. The festival will feature “dozens of familiar and not so familiar craft brews, great live music from some of the Valley’s top bands on two stages, plus a wide range of food vendors from barbeque to tacos.” Advance tickets are $25 and $30 at the door (designated drivers are $10).

Saturday & Sunday, May 23-24

Across the Rubicon in Sacramento, they’ll be celebrating their 4th annual Maibock Festivakl on both Saturday and Sunday, beginning each day at 10:00 a.m. until closing. They’ll have multiple Maibock guest taps, along with Rubicon’s Purple, all accompanied by authentic German food as they celebrate the season… the only way they know how! Maibocks are similar to other Bocks, but tend to be lighter in both color and malt character. The name means literally “May Bock” and they are sometimes referred to as Spring Bocks, too, and are traditionally featured in Germany, where the style originated, during spring community festivals and throughout the month of May.

IN THE COMING WEEKS

Tuesday, May 26

Come to the Rogue Ales Public House in San Francisco for the first of a series of weekly “Meet the Brewer” nights that will take every Tuesday from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., showcasing brilliant brewers from across the nation. Each week, a new brewer will feature 3 of their brewing masterpieces while having the opportunity to socialize with San Francisco beer lovers. The first, on May 26th will feature Denise Jones from Moylans Brewery in Novato.

Saturday, May 30

At Sudwerk Brewery in Davis, the third annual Citizens Who Care BeerFest 2009 a.k.a. “A Celebration of All Things Beer” will take place on Saturday, May 30, 200 from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tickets are believed to be $25.

Tuesday, June 2

The second Meet the Brewer event at Rogue Ales Public House in San Francisco, on June 2nd will feature Lars Larson from Trumer Brauerei in Berkeley.

Saturday, June 6

The emphasis on food along with beer makes the Beerfest at Santa Rosa one of the best fests around. Beerfest is a festive microbrew and food tasting extravaganza with more than 35 of Northern California’s best microbreweries and a matching number of exceptional gourmet food purveyors. Your ticket includes all food and beverage tasting and a souvenir glass! Music provided by the THE THUGZ (Cosmic Americana style music) while you enjoy wonderful brews and outstanding food. Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door.

Santa Rosa Beerfest

Also taking place on D-Day is the Monterey Beer Festival, on the opposite side of the Bay Area. The festival will take place at the Monterey Fairgrounds from 12:30 to 5:00 p.m. According to their website, it will include “the greatest assortment of Beer ever assembled on the Central Coast. Sample varied styles of Ales, Lagers & Ciders from over seventy breweries with hundreds of beers to taste. On hand will be the best of beer from around the world, including America, Belgium, Germany, England, France, Australia, Thailand, Italy, Asia, Ireland, Jamaica & California.” This year it will be hosted by Chris Nelson and Merideth Canham-Nelson, who write online at The Beer Geek. They’ll also be hosting several other events throughout the week leading up to the festival. In addition, this year’s theme will feature Tribute Bands including WEEZER (Little Bitches), STING & THE POLICE (Stung) and TOM PETTY (Petty Theft). Tickets are $30 and may be purchased online.

Sunday, June 7

Sunday morning beginning at 11:30 a.m. and running until at least 4:00 p.m., Peg returns to the Toronado for a Belgian Inspired Beer Dinner. The brunch will be five courses paired with American-made, Belgian-inspired beers, including Russian River Toronado 20th Anniversary, Lost Abbey Cable Car, and beers from Cascade Brewery, New Belgium, Allagash, Green Flash, Ommegang, and more. Tickets are $95, and are available at the bar at 547 Haight Street in an Francisco.

Tuesday, June 9

The third Meet the Brewer event at Rogue Ales Public House in San Francisco, on June 9th will feature Derek Smith from Black Diamond Brewery in Walnut Creek.

ON THE HORIZON

June 18: Downtown Hayward Street Party including beer specials at The Bistro

June 18-20: The American Homebrewers Association will be hosting the National Homebrewers Conference in Oakland.

If you know of an upcoming beer event, please let me know about it so I can share it here. Let me know at BrooksOnBeer@yahoo.com.

Posted on Thursday, May 21st, 2009
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Prima Pinot Dinner a hit

Heavenly Pinot Noir winemakers’ dinner on May 19 at Prima in Walnut Creek. Wine director John Rittmaster always offers impressive line ups. His palate’s on the pulse, so to speak.

Prima Ristorante

Seven A-list domestic Pinot Noir producers, including Failla Wines and Etude Winery, poured wines that  showcased their Burgundian roots and yet brought the Cali thunder.

I was already familiar with Ehren Jordan’s wines and have long bowed at the altar of Etude’s Estate Pinot Noir, but was pleased to taste the balanced and truly lovely Estate Pinot Noir of White Rose, which produces around 2,500 cases from the eponymous vineyard located high in the Dundee Hills of Oregon.

The 2006 White Rose Estate Pinot Noir ($68) has a lot of depth of fruit, particularly dark cherries, but it finishes smooth and long, with a lot of cedar and earthy notes. Bust this baby out in two years and I think it’ll be stunning. They only made 198 cases of this wine, and I’m pretty sure Prima’s got most of it.

The best part of the evening was the food, courtesy of executive chef Peter Chastain. Each one was a home run, from the roasted Sonoma Duck Breast and Grape Salsa to the smoky agnollotti filled with ricotta and prosciutto. I know Prima’s an Italian restaurant, but Peter’s inspired and rustic slow-simmered Niman Ranch pork shoulder took me back to the Loire Valley and the fantastic saucy foods I enjoyed in Saumur and Vouvray.

OK, I was in the Loire last month so it wasn’t that long ago. But I’m telling you, it rocked. I hope he does more dishes like this in the future.

The next Prima winemakers’ dinner is on June 10 and focuses on Tuscan food and Chianti. The wines of  Querceto di Castellina in the heart of Chianti Classico will be showcased. It’s five courses for $88 (can’t beat that) and Peter’s making rabbit.  I seriously suggest you check this out. Call 925-935-7780.

Posted on Thursday, May 21st, 2009
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