Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for May, 2009

Food and Flavors With the Homebrew Chef

Today is Tuesday and that means once again it’s time for another monthly feature, this one featuring food and beer courtesy of Sean Z. Paxton, better know as The Homebrew Chef. Sean has been homebrewing for many years and combines his love of beer and creating lavish beer dinners running to a dozen courses. His annual dinner at the Northern California Homebrew Festival has been sold out since 2001. He writes a regular column on beer and food for Beer Advocate and Draft magazine, among much else. Each month he’ll be treating us to one of his recipes, more of which can be found at his website.

Craft Beer and Food

By Sean Z. Paxton

Sean Z. Paxton, The Homebrew Chef

It’s time to celebrate! Not only was last week American Craft Beer Week, but also the first anniversary of Orange County’s The Bruery. Patrick Rue has been brewing up some unique, creative and tasty beers that steps outside the style box, while keeping one foot in. With beers like White Orchid, Black Orchid, Saison Rue and Trade Winds; tradition brewing knowledge has been overlaid with updated ingredients that make The Bruery’s beers extremely food friendly and welcome at the dining table.

The Bruery Tradewinds Tripel

Bière Risotto

By using beer, which has been infused with Thai Basil, the classic Italian combination of tomato, basil and garlic are played out in this untraditional risotto.


Four as an entrée and eight as a side dish


  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ ea yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 ea leek, peeled, washed and sliced
  • 2 cups pearl barley
  • 750 ml Trade Winds Tripel Ale from The Bruery (can’t find this beer, substitute any high quality Belgian-style tripel, but then add a tablespoon of Thai basil)
  • 3 cups stock (vegetable, chicken or seafood), sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
  • 12 ea sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, julienned
  • 12 ea roasted garlic cloves
  • ½ cup Asiago Parmesan cheese, grated fresh basil leaves (garnish) and chive blossoms (garnish)

Biere Risotto


Place a 8-12 quart dutch oven over medium heat and add the oil once the pan is hot. Add the onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the leek and cook for another 3-4 minutes or until the onion is transparent and leek is slightly wilted. Add the pearl barley and toss to coat in the remaining oil. Toast the barley for 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Season with salt and deglaze the pan with 1 cup of the beer. Once the liquid is almost absorbed/evaporated add another cup. Repeat this step, one cup at a time until all the beer and stock has been used, stirring constantly. Just before adding the last addition of stock, stir in the sun-dried tomatoes and roasted garlic. Taste the risotto: the barley should have a slight give to each grain, slightly less than al dente. Once almost all the liquid has been added and cooked into the barley, about 35 minutes, turn the heat off and cover the pan with a lid and let sit for 5 minutes. Mix in the cheese, taste again to adjust the seasonings and serve, garnishing with basil leaves and chive blossoms on top.

Biere Risotto Close-Up


This risotto can be used as is or as a base for some seared sea scallops, garlic butter sautéed prawns or sliced grilled chicken breasts.

Posted on Tuesday, May 19th, 2009
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Bandit wines fave for summer sipping

bandit pinot grigio

I cannot say enough good things about anything winemaker and entrepreneur Joel Gott touches.

My latest praise goes to his Bandit wines under the Three Thieves label. The 500 ml of premium California wine comes in bright candy colored Tetra Pak containers. There are so many reasons to consume these wines I’m not sure which to tell you first. So I will make a list. I love lists.

1. They go anywhere.

2. There is no cork so screw the cap back on and drink them later. Way later.

3. They taste like $15 wines but cost $4.50 each.

Last weekend, I was hoping to take the whites (Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay) along on a picnic to the Livermore Valley. But I didn’t have a cooler so they stayed behind.

Good thing. I served the Pinot Grigio with a lentil, tofu and mixed green salad for lunch yesterday. It was a delightful pairing, as the Pinot Grigio was crisp with a beautiful nose of green apples and bright pear fruit on the palate. It reminded me what a great and softer alternative Pinot Grigio is to Sauvingon Blanc.

We had a dinner guest last night so I served the Merlot on the fly with a turmeric and cumin chicken that I quickly tossed with lemon zest, olive oil, red peppers and cilantro. The Merlot knew exactly how to relate to the chicken. By matching its spice but then taking a soft and demure back seat the rest of the way.

I heart Bandit!! They are a value brand you can truly count on.

Posted on Monday, May 18th, 2009
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Monterey Beer Week

If you live in the Monterey area or are planning on being down that way for the Monterey Beer Festival next weekend, then you should also know about a number of other beer events taking place, courtesy of Chris Nelson and Meriedth Canham-Nelson, who write collectively as the The Beer Geek, and also the hosts of this year’s Monterey Beer Festitval.

Monterey Beer Festival

Monterey Beer Festival is right around the corner. It’s going to be a great day! We wanted you to know about a few other beer events happening that week:

June 3rd: Strange Brew at the Forest Theater in Carmel
VIP Beer Reception 7:00 – Movie begins at 8:30pm
Tickets $10 (includes movie and two draft beers)
Buy VIP Tickets here
[Note: VIP Beer Reception Tickets will NOT be sold at the door. Pre-sale only.]

June 4th: “Girls Night Out” Belgian Beer Dinner at Ol’ Factory Cafe
$50/person – Contact Ol’ Factory Cafe to Sign Up.

Ol’ Factory Cafe
1725 Contra Costa St.
Sand City, CA 93955
Phone: 831.394.7336

June 5th, 7:00 p.m.: Beer Festival Reception at Ol’ Factory Cafe
Come meet brewers and beer reps and get ready for the beer festival!

June 6th: Monterey Beer Festival
If you haven’t purchased your beer festival tickets,
they can be purchased online.

June 7th, 9:00 a.m.: Hair of the Dog Party at Ol’ Factory Cafe

Posted on Sunday, May 17th, 2009
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Beer Appreciation Day at 21st Amendment Next Tuesday

This just in from 21st Amendment Brewery & Restaurant on 2nd Street in San Francisco:

San Francisco craft brewery 21st Amendment is making special plans for the annual American Craft Beer Week, a national celebration highlighting the culture and contributions of craft beer. On Tuesday, May 19th, 21st Amendment’s iconic founders, Nico Freccia and Shaun O’Sullivan (whose birthday is today), will be hosting “Beer Appreciation Day”, an evening of beer education, food and fun. There are two unique sessions beginning at 5:00 and 7:00 pm.

Master Class in Brewing – Join the Beer School Professor and the 21st Amendment Brewers for an in-depth classroom study of how beer is made–from grain to glass. Learn about the process, taste and smell malt and hop varieties, tour our brewery and sample all our house-brewed craft beers while the brewmaster explains the nuances of each. $25.

Beer Through the Ages – Continue your beer adventure as the Professor takes a trip around the world and throughout beer history. Sample a variety of beers from across the globe, learn about the history and development of beer styles and how they relate to the beers we drink today. And enjoy cuisine from around the world paired to match the beer’s country of origin. $65, which includes all the beer, delicious cuisine, tax and tip.
Sign up for one, or save $10 when you sign up for both classes. .For more information and reservations, call 415-369-0900, or visit 21A’s website.

21st Amendment Beer Appreciatio Day

Posted on Friday, May 15th, 2009
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Friday Fun Fact #2

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

Beer Consumption Chart #2

Posted on Friday, May 15th, 2009
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Weekend Update 5.15

It’s back to Sacramento again this weekend if you want to attend a beer festival or if you just want to sit a taste you can stay in Oakland. See you there!


Saturday, May 16

Pacific Coast Brewing in Oakland will be holding their annual Spring Beer Tasting on the 16th. As of today, beers confirmed for the tasting include Pacific Coast Ultra Yellow Double Maibock Style Ale, Russian River Pliny the Elder Double IPA, Lagunitas Hop Stoopid, Celebrator Doppelbock, Dogfish Head Aprihop, Klokke Roeland Belgian Dark Ale, and Firestone Walker Reserve Porter. More will be added later. The sit-down tasting begins promptly at Noon and ends at 4:00 p.m. Tickets for the tasting must be purchased in advance and cost $50 per person.

West Coast Brew Fest

The 10th annual West Coast Brew Fest in Sacramento’s Miller Park will be held next Saturday from 1:00-5:00 p.m. Over 60 breweries will be pouring beer along the Sacramento River with live music, food and even a V.I.P. Session.


Monday, May 18

On Monday, Pete’s Brass Rail and Car Wash in Danville will tap the first keg in California of Lost Continent Double IPA from the Grand Teton Brewery in Victor, Idaho. In addition, the last two kegs in existence of 20th anniversary Cellar Reserve XX Bitch Creek will be on tap.

Tuesday, May 19

The San Francisco Brewers Guild will host a “Meet the Brewers” event Tuesday evening from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at The Toronado in San Francisco, where you can meet the local brewers of the San Francisco Brewers Guild and try some unique local offerings on draft, with drink specials throughout.

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 for reservations by May 14. You can see the menu for the four-course beer dinner online, and also make reservation there, as well.

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!

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).

Sudz in the City


June 6: Beerfest, Santa Rosa

June 6: Monterey Beer Festival

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

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

Posted on Thursday, May 14th, 2009
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Celebrating Beer With Tom Dalldorf

Today we begin the first of what will be monthly features by a variety of well-known beer personalities around the Bay Area. The second Tuesday of each month we’ll feature the thoughts of Tom Dalldorf, who for well over a decade has been the driving force behind the Celebrator Beer News, a nationally distributed “brewspaper” that’s published in Hayward. Dalldorf is a ubiquitous sight at Bay Area beer events and was one of the organizers, along with myself and four others, of SF Beer Week. If you’re not familiar with the Celebrator, pick up a copy at your favorite watering hole throughout the area.

Tom Dalldorf

Celebrating Beer with Tom Dalldorf

D-Day Beer Festivals

By now we are all in agreement that the Bay Area is a magical beer region. The roots are deep (Anchor’s revival in 1965 and New Albion’s birth in 1977) and the ground fertile for craft beer development. I was asked to produce the first beer festival in 1988 to be held at the Alameda County Fair Grounds. When I went to secure a license for the event I discovered that beer tasting events were not allowed by California State ABC law. What?

Having had much success running wine tasting events for several years I thought, in my naiveté, that there would simply be a beer version. Not so. Our friends at the Big Guy Breweries didn’t see a need for people to actually taste their beers comparatively and so moved to make it illegal to do so. After discussions with the State ABC, they agreed that it didn’t seem fair and would give me temporary permission to hold a beer tasting while they revised the law administratively. Uncanny logic prevailed for once.

We are now in full beer fest mode with the summer months rapidly approaching. Be sure to plan a visit to a beer festival near you and take advantage of a great tasting opportunity to reacquaint yourself with old favorites and possibly find some new tasty treasures as well as help raise money for worthy charities.

Two fests coming up that are sure to be great include the annual Beerfest at the Luther Burbank Center in Santa Rosa and the Monterey Beer Festival at the Monterey Fairgrounds. Both are excellent and both are held Saturday, June 6th.

The 18th annual The Beerfest is always a great gathering of Northern California’s finest brewers and is spread around the center both indoors and out. The Beerfest is a microbrew and food tasting extravaganza. More than 35 Northern California microbreweries will be featuring their best beers plus a matching number of exceptional food purveyors. All beer and food tasting included in ticket price! Live music features The Thugz. Check out their website or call 707-544-1581 for ticket information.

The 2009 Monterey Beer Festival “A Tribute to Beer” at the Monterey County Fairgrounds will have a great lineup of breweries from northern and southern California and beyond. In addition, this year’s theme will feature Tribute Bands including WEEZER (Little Bitches), STING & THE POLICE (Stung) and TOM PETTY (Petty Theft). This year’s hosts are Chris Nelson & Merideth Canham-Nelson, beer experts that have visited over 400 breweries around the world. Visit them at For ticket information go to

Posted on Tuesday, May 12th, 2009
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American Craft Beer Week Tapped Today

American Craft Beer Week begins today and lasts until Sunday May 17. The week is described as “a national celebration highlighting the culture and contributions of craft beer.” Craft brewers want the week to inspire beer enthusiasts to declare their independence by supporting breweries that produce fewer than 2 million barrels of beer a year and are independently owned. During the week, special brewery tours, beer and food pairing events, special release craft beers and festivals will take place all across the U.S. It’s sponsored by the Brewers Association, a trade organization of small brewers based in Boulder, Colorado. Originally held on a single day, it was changed to a week when it was recognized by the U.S. Congress, who declared the weekly holiday when they passed House Resolution 753 in 2006. You can find our more information at the ACBW website and also the ACBW Facebook page.

American Craft Beer Week

Posted on Monday, May 11th, 2009
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Don’t miss RAP on May 12 in SF


Pink Out! is the rose extravaganza organized by the Rose Avengers and Producers and is absolutely one of my favorite annual wine events. I go to fewer and fewer these days, but this one is always on my calendar.

Overall, roses are cheap and pair perfectly with almost any food.

As always, it takes place at Butterfly (Pier 33) on the Embarcadero in San Francisco. Festivities begin at 6:30 p.m. Leave room for Chef Robert Lam’s Pan-Pacific yummies.

As a bonus, for the first time RAP is including more than a dozen roses from the Loire Valley this year, inlcuding one of my favorites, Remy-Pannier’s Rose D’Anjou.

Tickets are $35 online and $45 at the door. See you there!

Posted on Friday, May 8th, 2009
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Friday Fun Fact

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

Beer Can Chart

Posted on Friday, May 8th, 2009
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