Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for July, 2009

Mill Valley Victory

I just heard back from Justin Catalana of the Mill Valley Beerworks. The Mill Valley City Council gave them the approval to move forward with their new brewpub on Monday evening.

Now the hard work begins, but soon we’ll have yet another Bay Area brewery. And that’s always good news. Congratulations guys.

Posted on Wednesday, July 15th, 2009
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Russian River Beer Revival

Today is the second Tuesday of July and that means we dive once more into the mind of Tom Dalldorf, the publisher of the Celebrator Beer News, the nationally distributed “brewspaper” that’s headquarted in Hayward.

Tom Dalldorf

Celebrating Beer with Tom Dalldorf

Russian River Beer Revival

Mark your calendars for August 15 for a great conflagration of beer, barbeque and blues. This will be the seventh annual edition of the Russian River Beer Revival, a stellar event held on the Russian River at Stumptown Brewery near Guerneville, Calif. The brewpub appears to be a small roadside attraction on the way to Jenner and the Sonoma coast. But the backside of the brewery reveals a patio and sloping grassy area that descends all the way to the river and accommodates picnic parties and kayakers alike looking for lunch and a good brew.

Once a year, however, some 35 breweries and an equal number of BBQ teams descend on the small brewery for a unique combination of beerfest and BBQ competition with live music. All the BBQ teams bring their own special cookers, smokers, grills and such and are provided meat by the organizers to cook, smoke and finish with whatever style sauce or rub they favor. They then enter some of their BBQ to the professional judging that takes place in early afternoon at the event. The rest is offered to the attendees who can then judge for themselves who has the best technique in the BBQ arts.

And what goes best with BBQ? Beer, silly. And the Stumptown Brewery invites some of the very best that California has to offer. In addition to the locals including Russian River, Third Street, Moonlight, Bear Republic and Hop Monk, look for great brews from Beach Chalet, Firestone Walker, 21st Amendment, Lagunitas, Marin, Moylands, Pyramid, Rubicon, Sierra Nevada, Trumer, Triple Rock and many more. Three bands are scheduled to play.

The best way to attend with the least hassle is to buy tickets for the beer bus leaving Russian River Brewery in Santa Rosa. The bus takes you to Stumptown and back to the brewery. The parking situation at the brewery is challenging at best so the bus is the safe alternative. And winding up back at Russian River Brewery is not a bad thing either!

Online tickets are already sold out so you’ll have to buy them at Stumptown, Russian River, Bear Republic or Beach Chalet breweries. No tickets will be sold at the door. Great beer, BBQ and blues. Count me in!


Posted on Tuesday, July 14th, 2009
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Do not miss Taste of Terroir July 23

I hate it when this happens. I wrote a round-up of summer wine events coming out tomorrow in the Times Food & Wine section and forgot to include the East Bay’s best. Drat. I think I’m Tweeting too much.

The Livermore Valley Wine Association’s Taste of Terroir is next Thursday, July 23, and you simply must go. I was a judge last year. The venue is stunning. The food is spectacular.

Judges of Taste of Terroir 2008

And the judges are….fabulous. Okay. Yes, I am a judge this year too. But this is not about shameless self-promotion. First of all, I am in serious wine-elite company, as my fellow judges are wine writing colleague Sara Schneider of Sunset magazine, and master sommelier Evan Goldstein, good Jewish boy, author of “Perfect Pairings” and son of my bud, chef and author Joyce Goldstein. They have super palates.

You may recall me raving about the food last year. The other judges and I were beside ourselves. Chefs John Jackson and Alex Olson of Palm Event Center won our vote for Oustanding Dish and the People’s Choice for their Duck Bratwurst on House-Made Caraway Bun with Cranberry and Stone Ground Mustard Glaze. It was paired with the 2004 “Fat Boy” Cabernet Sauvignon, McGrail Vineyard. Deelish.

Taste of Terroir 2008

Here’s how it works: Sixteen wineries are grouped with 16 local restaurants to come up with pairings of heavenly proportions. Tickets are $75 and can be purchased on the link above. The event is from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Palm Event Center in Pleasanton. The price gets you a tasting of each of the 16 pairings plus the opportunity to cast a vote in the People’s Choice competition. It also gives you access to an insanely decadent dessert and cheese spread paired with Livermore Valley ports.

Honestly, I felt my inner-grandmother beckoning me to wrap some of those chocolate dipped strawberries in napkins with chunks of stilton. What? I can’t waste cheese. Oooh….. stilton, strawberries, and chocolate ….now that’s a pairing.

See you there. No seriously, see you there.

Posted on Tuesday, July 14th, 2009
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Action! Coppola Director’s Cut Zin delivers

2006 Director's Cut Zinfandel

It was so cold in San Francisco yesterday that Joel and I packed our bathing suits and drove down to Man Jose to take advantage of the 76 degree heat – and his friend, Jesse, who took pity on us and opened the gate to his apartment complex pool.

Jesse is also a world class barbecuing man, so I brought along a bottle of Coppola’s Director’s Cut 2006 Zinfandel ($24), a gorgeous expression of Dry Creek Valley fruit, to go with his pork ribs and chicken wings.

As most of you know, I rarely drink Zinfandel, but this one is a beauty. Aged in French oak to retain its elegance, it’s got a small amount of Petit Sirah, which contributes to its structure, not to mention its inky color.

I got gorgeous aromas and flavors of black currant, briar and caramel on this wine. And, at 14.3 percent alcohol, it didn’t knock me out. I wish more Zin producers could find their happy place in the 14 percent range.

Posted on Monday, July 13th, 2009
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New Mill Valley Brewery Coming?

There may be a new brewery coming to Marin County. Founded by local residents Justin and Tyler, Mill Valley Beerworks will have a hearing tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Mill Valley Townhall to determine their fate. Actually the meeting will probably be taking place at City Hall Council Chambers located at 26 Corte Madera Ave. in Mill Valley. If you live in Mill Valley or know someone who does, ask them to lend their support at the meeting tonight.

The Mill Valley Beerworks website explains their plans for it. It will be a beer cafe that brews their own beer and soda on site, but also will offer a wide range of bottled beers as well. The current bottles list is heavily Belgian with a few other great imported beer choices, too. Their goal is “to become a quintessential Mill Valley institution where our neighbors can enjoy premium and locally-brewed beer close to home.” Sound like a great plan to me, let’s wish them good luck tonight.

Posted on Monday, July 13th, 2009
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That pesky three-tier system

I tweeted about this too, but thought I’d post a link here. If you’ve ever wondered why you can’t find certain wines in your neighborhood wine shop or why you can’t even have them shipped to your home state, read Tom Wark’s essay. He does the best job I’ve seen of explaining the remnants of Prohibition and our country’s archaic three-tier system when it comes to buying alcohol.

Posted on Friday, July 10th, 2009
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Weekend Update 7.10

We’ve now passed the midway point of the year, but we’re still less than a month into the summer beer season. There’s lots more to do and plenty of beer events to enjoy.


Friday, July 10

The Rate Beer Invitational beer dinner by the Beer Chef, Bruce Paton, at the Cathedral Hill Hotel in San Francisco.


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.

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


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 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

Posted on Friday, July 10th, 2009
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Eat, drink, and keep the kiddies smart

The Wine Theives

The good guys at Wine Thieves in Lafayette are at it again: Raising funds for the Lafayette Art & Science Foundation so local public schools that have received cuts in state funding can still churn out smart, well-rounded rug rats.

I certainly don’t know what I would’ve done with my time had it not been for musical theater (lead dancer in “Anything Goes” and “Grease,” thank you very much).

It also happens to be the Thieves’ 10th anniversary in Love Lafayette.

So if you’re looking for some fantastic wine and grub, stop by the parking lot behind the store from 1 to 5 p.m. July 11. Eight local caterers and restaurants, including Postino and Pizza Antica, will churn out yummies to go with more than 30 wines hand-picked by Rod and the boys.

There will also be phat tunes, I’m told.

Anyhoo, all this costs you $10. Tickets, which are limited, can be reserved on the Wine Thieves site.

Posted on Wednesday, July 8th, 2009
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Let’s Beerbecue

It’s time once again for Bruce Paton, better known as the Beer Chef, to share some of his culinary magic with us, this time around on the subject of beer and barbecue, a match made in heaven.

Bruce Paton, the Beer Chef

Food & Beer with Bruce Paton

Let’s Beerbecue

No I haven’t lost my spelling skills. I just think that two of our favorite pastimes can be intertwined in more ways than we think. I am talking about what a large portion of the world populace does when the weather is warm. Fire up the grill and open up a cold beer, does that sound like a plan or what? After all, cooking over fire and consuming beverages fermented from grain both go back thousands of years. The word barbecue is derived from the Taino Indians of Haiti who fashioned platforms out of sticks and dried meat over fire. The Spanish explorers that landed on the island translated the Indian word to barbacoa. The American tradition was started by the English settlers in the early eighteenth century as a social gathering to enjoy meats roasted over hot coals.

I like to enjoy a refreshing beer while I am closely tending the coals and the foodstuffs I am cooking. While I am doing the grilling I prefer lighter styles, also know as “session” beers. These tend to be lower in alcohol and go down very easy in warm weather without tiring the grill chef. Pilsners such as Trumer from Berkeley and Lagunitas Czech Style are excellent choices. If your taste goes toward beer with more hop flavors, Drakes 1500 or Moylan’s Tipperary Pale Ale fit the profile while being easy on the alcohol. And what could be more fitting on a hot summer day than a cold Watermelon Wheat from 21A.

I also like to go to the next level and involve beer in the cooking process. There are several ways to go about this and that is where the fun begins. Beer is an excellent ingredient for marinades and brines as well as basting sauces to finish the cooking process. Marinades do double duty in adding flavor and tenderizing the items to be grilled. Brining and basting are useful to add flavor as well as moisture to foods like poultry and pork that may otherwise become dry during the cooking process. A flavorful beer is perfect in any of these roles. My preference leans towards Porters, Stouts and doesn’t a Smoked Porter Marinade sound good (see recipe below)try Alaskan Smoked Porter or Stone Smoked Porter . Point Reyes Porter from Marin or Magnolia’s Cole Porter also fit the bill, as does Anderson Valleys Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout. The roasted malt flavors complement the roasted flavors of the food while adding elements of taste.

Now it is time to enjoy all that hard work and consume the fruits of our labor. What can we wash down the grilled delights with? How about a beer (big surprise) but which one should we choose? Well that my friends will depend on what you have opted for in the food department. For traditional American grilled items such as steaks, chicken or ribs with a spicy sauce I prefer and India Pale Ale like Racer 5 from Bear Republic or Blind Pig from Russian River. You could also drink the Porter that you used for the marinade or brine. The choices are limitless so fire up the grill and enjoy.


Chef Bruce
The Beer Chef

Dark Beer Marinade

1 C Porter, Stout or Smoked Porter
½ C Chopped Garlic
¼ C Pimentone Dulce (Sweet Smoked Paprika)
¼ C Dijon Grain Mustard
1 C Olive Oil

Marinate ribeye steak, pork chops or chicken overnight.

Posted on Tuesday, July 7th, 2009
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Goulash wine

Beef goulash

Help. I’ve been invited to a traditional Hungarian dinner. I’m assuming they’ll be serving goulash. In any event, there will be beaucoup de paprika. What wine should I bring?

Posted on Tuesday, July 7th, 2009
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