Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for July, 2009

A Beer You Can’t Refuse: The Hopfather

At the Bistro IPA Festival next Saturday, August 8, Russian River Brewing will debut their latest beer: The Hopfather. The Hopfather is a 7% IPA that’s loosely based on an IPA recipe Vinnie Cilurzo contributed to Sam Calagione’s book Extreme Brewing, though Cilurzo says he’s changed things up considerably. It starts with CTZ and Magnum hops, but uses primarily Amarillo and Centennial for flavor and aroma to the tune of around 10 pounds per barrel. While Vinnie assures me it will have a big malt backbone, he also promises the flavors and aroma will be “balls to the wall hops.” As if you needed another reason to go to the Bistro IPA Festival, this should make your attendance all but mandatory if you love hops.

Posted on Friday, July 31st, 2009
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Weekend Update 7.31

Things are starting to heat up, at least as far as beer events go, and there’s quite a lot coming up in the next few weeks, beginning with tonight’s Russian River beer dinner.

THIS WEEKEND

Friday, July 31

The Bistro at the Park, part of the Lafayette Park Hotel & Spa, in Lafayette is hosting a beer dinner featuring the beers of Russian River Brewing on Friday, July 31 beginning at 6:30 p.m. The five-course dinner (including appetizers) costs $75 (exclusive of tax & gratuity) and reservations can be made by calling the hotel & spa at 925.283.7108. Thanks to Rod Santos at Wine Thieves for passing this one along.

Russian River Brewing

Friday, July 31-Saturday, August 1

If you feel like getting out of town this weekend, you could do no better than heading off to Mammoth for the 14th annual Mammoth Festival of Beers & Beerapalooza. It’s a bit of a trek to Mammoth Lakes, but worth it. The natural beauty of the surrounding area is awe-inspiring and watching music in a cathedral of trees while enjoying some great craft beer is one of the best things you can do for your soul.

IN THE COMING WEEKS

Wednesday, August 5

Come down to the Trappist in Oakland to meet the brewer from North Coast Brewing, Pat Broderick, at 7:00 p.m. in the back bar.

Wednesday, August 6-9

The SF Chefs. Food. Wine. (where’s the beer?) event will tale place in Union Square over four days and is billed as San Francisco’s premier culinary weekend event. Actually there will be beer events. I’ll be leading a panel discussion on Saturday at 3:30 with the San Francisco Brewers Guild and on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Bruce Paton (The Beer Chef) and Craig Wathen (City Beer Store) will also give a presentation. Both events will be held at Kuleto’s Italian Restaurant.

Saturday, August 8

Mark your calendars, this is one not to be missed. The 12th annual Bistro IPA Festival at The Bistro in Hayward and it promises to be another great one. I spoke to Vic Krajl, Bistro co-owner, and he gave me a list of IPA’s that are confirmed to be served at the festival. One exciting thing to watch for is Russian River Brewing will be debuting their newest beer at the IPA Festival. It’s called Hopfather and I’ll have more about the beer itself later today.

The Line-Up (So Far) For the Bistro IPA Festival

Firehouse
Schooners
Santa Cruz
Moylans
Fat Heads
Big Dogs
Moonlight
Sierra (specially filled keg of Torpedo)
Russian River (debut of Hopfather)
Firestone
Humboldt
Iron Springs
Drakes
Triple Rock
Devils Canyon
Valley
Maui
Ballast Point
Stone
Blue Frog
EJ Phair
Jacks
Dogfish Head
The Bruery
Marin
21st Amendment
Speakeasy
Big Sky
Green Flash
Mission
Acme
Anchor
Lost Coast
Mad River
Lagunitas
Six Rivers

ON THE HORIZON

August 15: The 7th annual Russian River Beer Revival & BBQ Cook-Off at Stumptown Brewery in Guernville.

August 28: Brewfest at the California State Fair in Sacramento.

August 28-30: The Eat Real Festival will take place at Jack London Square for three days, emphasizing local and regional breweries, street food vendors, and farmers. It was also feature a beer pavilion hosted by Dave McLean, from Magnolia, with 40-something regional microbreweries from Northern California.

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 Friday, July 31st, 2009
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Pleasant Hill Wine Merchants offers discounted wines

When you’re making room for Mondavi, anything goes.

Tonight, July 30, until 10 p.m., Pleasant Hill Wine Merchants will be selling wines at $2 to $4 above cost to “Make Room for Mondavi.” The shop is hosting Michael Mondavi to a group of lucky few on July 31 as he premieres the new generation of Mondavi Family Cabernet Sauvignons.

According to the merchants, the priority here is to move inventory and make room. So head down there and get yourself a mixed case of reds and whites to last you through the end of the summer. I’m told they will be very flexible on price. So feel free to bargain.


“Make an Offer on a Mixed Case”

We will accept al offers!

Posted on Thursday, July 30th, 2009
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What elevation constitutes a mountain vineyard?

Parral + Montañas Vineyard

The Food and Wine section was tight today, so my reference to what is being done on an academic level in the United States with mountain viticulture was left off of the cover story on mountain wines.

Randle Johnson, Bill Easton and others from the U.S., Australia and Argentina converged in Lake County two years ago at Elevation of Wine, an international symposium on high altitude viticulture and winemaking. They will meet again next year in the same place.

Winemakers, vineyard managers and viticulturists from Australia, Argentina, and the States met for one day to discuss the characteristics and qualities of winegrapes grown at high elevations and if  wineries should market these wines as originating from high altitudes, much the way they market sustainable or cool-climate wines. Are customers interested?

From my chats with Johnson and Easton, it appears that no major guidelines were reached as to how high a vineyard should be before we can call it a  mountain vineyard (or a hillside one). Such guidelines are firmly in place in Europe, but not here yet. When I asked Johnson, he said, “I’m going to say 500 feet.” Seems low, but perhaps they’ll reach a consensus when they reconvene in 2010.

The most comprehensive coverage I’ve seen of the 2007 symposium is by Jim Gordon of Wines & Vines. I suggest you give it a read.

Posted on Wednesday, July 29th, 2009
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Appellation America ceases new content

Appellation America

It is a truly sad day when one of the liveliest and most creative online  sources for regional wine diversity announces it can no longer pay for new editorial content in this economy.

As a newspaper, we understand.

Appellation America, the site that personifies grape varieties, won’t be giving any new assignments to Dan Berger, Courtney Cochran or the other prolific folks writing on North America’s 300-plus American Viticultural Areas.

But the good news is that despite low advertising revenue, they are sticking around and asking folks for a $4.95 monthly membership. This will help them continue as an archive site and database for who produces what winegrape varieties and where.

I think it’s a nominal fee to pay for the breadth of information and reporting they’ve done over the years.

Posted on Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
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Five things I learned at the Wine Bloggers Conference

What a wonderful and energizing weekend I spent with my colleagues from the wine blogosphere. It was truly a mix. The second annual Wine Bloggers Conference united winemakers, writers, journalists, marketers and Web 2.0 geeks. We converged on Snoop’s town (Sonoma) to answer that age-old (2004) question: Why do I blog about fermented grape juice?

The answers, for me, will no doubt reveal themselves in the form of blog posts, Tweets, and stories in the coming months. But here are the things I learned that you absolutely need to know:

1. Able Grape, Doug Cook’s wine information search engine, now pulls from 41,000 Web sites. That’s 20 million pages of wine 411. Google who? Cook swears that 9 times out of 10, Able Grape will do a better job.

2. Thea of Luscious Lushes is just as fun and sassy as her blog.  If you don’t read her, you should. She is knowledgable, passionate, super friendly and best of all, doesn’t take this wine biz too seriously.

3. Gargiulo Vineyards in Oakville is making serious wines, mostly small production Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The property’s beauty blows Tuscany out of the water and the crew running the winery is beyond hospitable. Make an appointment and visit. You won’t be sorry.

4. Everything I needed to learn about Twitter I learned in junior high. It is totally not important how many Twitter followers you have. Rather, what matters is how meaningful those interactions are. But, follow me on Twitter anyway.

5. Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington state is the single largest producer of Riesling in the world. Yes, bigger than any German or New York wineries. I think in its past life my palate lived in Walla Walla Valley because these wines speak to me. Good thing the 2010 conference will be there so I can bring you all the news on the state’s truly sophisticated and natural approach to winemaking. Get ready for austere Rieslings, silky Merlots, and seductive Syrahs.

Posted on Monday, July 27th, 2009
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Highlights at 2009 Taste of Terroir

I am officially welcoming myself back. Last week was rough. I wrote a record five stories then hit the 2009 Wine Bloggers Conference in Sonoma, which had spotty Wi Fi. More on that in my next post.

But first, we must dish on Livermore’s annual Taste of Terroir, which happened on Thursday July 23. While ticket sales were down this year – the economy or that feisty Kathy Griffin who was performing down the highway at Wente? – the chefs and winemakers still brought the goods.

Judges of 2009 Taste of Terroir

I judged the competition alongside Sara Schneider of Sunset magazine and Evan Goldstein of “Perfect Pairings.” With the exception of one or two safe dishes (salmon and Chardonnay, anyone?), I felt that all 14 chefs in the Tri Valley made a splash as far as quality and creativity goes.

I’ve been of the mind lately that we’ve gotten carried away with food and wine pairings, but these clever chefs and winemakers reminded me of the power of pairing: Balance yields pleasure. I was floored at how much better and simply more quaffable some of the wines were when washed down with the right nosh.

For instance, I found the Wente Vineyards 2007 Nth Degree Pinot Noir too big and high in alcohol to be true to varietal, but paired with Chef Arthur’s (of the Restaurant at Wente) fantabulous House-Cured Duck Proscuitto, it was the very definition of harmonious yum.

Not only that, but he used six – count them, six – local ingredients in the dish. The red onion and basil was from the restauran’ts own garden. Most chefs stopped at two ingredients. Some didn’t use anything local. Props to him. If you haven’t chowed at the restaurant, I suggest you do.

Posted on Monday, July 27th, 2009
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Weekend Update 7.24

You’ll have to drive a fair distance to attend the closest beer festival this weekend, but the beautiful surroundings of Grass Valley will probably more than make up for the journey.

THIS WEEKEND

Saturday, July 25

The Sierra Brewfest, a.k.a. Music in the Mountains will be held at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley. Featuring unlimited tastings of beer from 25 breweries, music by Bob Mora & the Third Degrees Blues Band, and food like sausages, BBQ, roasted corn, Mexican food, and ice cream. Tickets are $25.

IN THE COMING WEEKS

Friday, July 31

The Bistro at the Park, part of the Lafayette Park Hotel & Spa, in Lafayette is hosting a beer dinner featuring the beers of Russian River Brewing on Friday, July 31 beginning at 6:30 p.m. The five-course dinner (including appetizers) costs $75 (exclusive of tax & gratuity) and reservations can be made by calling the hotel & spa at 925.283.7108. Thanks to Rod Santos at Wine Thieves for passing this one along.

Russian River Brewing

ON THE HORIZON

July 31-August 2: The 14th annual Mammoth Festival of Beers & Beerapalooza. It’s a bit of a trek to Mammoth Lakes, but worth it.

August 8: The 12th annual Bistro IPA Festival at The Bistro in Hayward.

August 15: The 7th annual Russian River Beer Revival & BBQ Cook-Off at Stumptown Brewery in Guernville.

August 28: Brewfest at the California State Fair in Sacramento.

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 Friday, July 24th, 2009
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Beersicles

Today is Tuesday and that means once again it’s time for another delicious recipe courtesy of Sean Z. Paxton, better know as The Homebrew Chef.

Beer on a Stick

Bierepops, Hopsicles, Beer Ice and more

By Sean Z. Paxton

Sean Z. Paxton, The Homebrew Chef

On these hot days, nothing quenches the thirst better than an iced cold beer. Well why not freeze some of your favorite beers and make them into beer popsicles? Seriously, think of how refreshing a Union Jack IPA Pop would be? Or a Plineysicle? Or a Drie Fonteinen Schaerbeekse Krieksicle? When the outside temperature starts reaching the high nineties, walk over to the freezer and pull out a pop; you will see what I mean. Have some friends coming over for a BBQ? Why not have some beersicles ready, just in case that weather person is wrong and it is that hot outside!

Each Recipe Makes: 6 popsicles (2.5 oz each)

Beersicles-1

Union Jack IPA Pop Ingredients:

12 ounces Firestone Walker Brewing Co. Union Jack IPA
2 ounces simple syrup, recipe below

Midasicle Ingredients:

12 ounces Dogfish Head Midas Touch
2 ounces simple syrup, substitute 1/2 cup of honey for 3/4 cup sugar

Bastard Pop Ingredients:

12 ounces Stone Brewing Co. Arrogant Bastard Ale
2 ounces simple syrup

Kriek Popsicle Ingredients:

12 ounces Drie Fonteinen Schaerbeekse Kriek
2 ounces simple syrup

Goose Island Bourbon County Stoutsicle Ingredients:

12 ounces Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
1 ounce simple syrup
1 ounce heavy whipping cream

Simple Syrup Ingredients:

4 cups water
2 cups organic sugar

Simple Syrup Directions:

To make the simple syrup, bring water to a boil and add sugar. Whisk to dissolve the sugar and boil for 3 minutes on high. Remove from the heat and chill. This can be made in advance and will hold in the refrigerator for 3 weeks. Also perfect for cocktails and other desserts.

Popsicle Directions:

In a small bowl, mix together the beer (cold) and the simple syrup (also cold) with a whisk. Add cream if using. Pour this mixture into the popsicle molds, ice cube trays, silicone molds or small plastic cups. Place into the freeze, making sure the mold/container is level. Freeze for 6-12 hours in a 0°F or below freezer, until completely solid. Since 40% alcohol cannot freeze until 173°F, the higher the alcohol content of the beer might change the texture of the finished popsicles.

If you don’t want to make popsicles, but like the idea of frozen beer, try the same recipe, but place the mixture into a small casserole pan. Place in the freezer and after 1 hour, using a fork, scrape the mixture. Repeat this scraping every 30 minutes, until the mixture can be formed into an icy pile. This is similar to a Italian Ice called granita.

If traveling with these pops, remember that ice is only 32°F and will warm up the pops (being at 0°F). It is best to use dry ice to transport these pops. Dry Ice can be purchased at most wielding supply stores and some other locations.

Tips:

Now there are more than just popsicle sticks that can be used to make these tasty treats. Try using chopsticks, bamboo skewers, cocktail picks and even cinnamon sticks. Think about what flavors the beer brings to the dessert. Then build of those flavors and add an appropriate stick.

Since these popsicles have to be stored in a freeze, they are the perfect make ahead dish and will last several weeks, if they don’t get eaten first.

Beersicles-2

Popsicle Molds Resources:

Posted on Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009
Under: On Beer | 5 Comments »
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Weekend Update 7.17

Having lost my mother to breast cancer, this weekend’s 9th annual Fermenting Change: Microbreweries Battling Breast Cancer at Marin Brewing is very near and dear to my heart. See you there.

THIS WEEKEND

Saturday, July 18

In mid-July it will be time once more for the 9th annual Fermenting Change: Microbreweries Battling Breast Cancer at Marin Brewing in Larkspur, a great opportunity to take the ferry over from San Francisco. 25 breweries will be pouring their beer from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door.

Breast Cancer Ribbon

IN THE COMING WEEKS

Monday, July 20

The Beer Chef, Bruce Paton, will host a beer dinner featuring the beers of Lagunitas Brewing and The Chefs Association of the Pacific Coast at the Cathedral Hill Hotel in San Francisco. The price of the beer dinner is $75. Reservations can be made online.

Wednesday, July 22

Sacramento Brewing in … well, Sacramento is hosting their own IPA Festival — IPApalooza — with 23 different IPAs on tap (so far) plus two more on cask. The free fest (just buy tastings of the ones you want to sample) begins when they open at 11:30 a.m. The restaurant will “have plenty of great Mexican specials.”

Saturday, July 25

The Sierra Brewfest, a.k.a. Music in the Mountains will be held at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley. Featuring unlimited tastings of beer from 25 breweries, music by Bob Mora & the Third Degrees Blues Band, and food like sausages, BBQ, roasted corn, Mexican food, and ice cream. Tickets are $25.

Friday, July 31

The Bistro at the Park, part of the Lafayette Park Hotel & Spa, in Lafayette is hosting a beer dinner featuring the beers of Russian River Brewing on Friday, July 31 beginning at 6:30 p.m. The five-course dinner (including appetizers) costs $75 (exclusive of tax & gratuity) and reservations can be made by calling the hotel & spa at 925.283.7108. Thanks to Rod Santos at Wine Thieves for passing this one along.

Russian River Brewing

ON THE HORIZON

July 31-August 2: The 14th annual Mammoth Festival of Beers & Beerapalooza. It’s a bit of a trek to Mammoth Lakes, but worth it.

August 8: The 12th annual Bistro IPA Festival at The Bistro in Hayward.

August 15: The 7th annual Russian River Beer Revival & BBQ Cook-Off at Stumptown Brewery in Guernville.

August 28: Brewfest at the California State Fair in Sacramento.

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 Friday, July 17th, 2009
Under: On Beer | 2 Comments »
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