Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for August, 2009

Navarro is in my top 5 best Rieslings

Navarro Vineyards

You know when you love a wine so much you’re almost certain you’ve blogged about it before? Well, it’s Friday and I’m too lazy to search the archives. I should have a drink in my hand by now.

Wait, I do.

Anyway, I went out Tajine in SF with some friends a few weeks ago and they brought me a bottle of 2008 Navarro Vineyards Riesling. Take it to the restaurant or keep it – up to me. So obviously I grabbed a Syrah for dinner with the lamb and chicken and other dishes we were about to eat…so I could savor every sip of that Riesling at home.

I made it last three nights and served it with:

1. Orange curry sea bass

2. Chinese Five Spice tofu and veggies

3. Chicken salad.

Each time it was a sensation. An unbelievably beautiful wine for around $19.  Reminiscent of the best from Germany.

Posted on Friday, August 28th, 2009
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Weekend Update 8.28

The two big things going on this weekend are the California State Fair and the new Eat Real Festival in Oakland, both with beery themes.

THIS WEEKEND

Friday, August 28

If you’re planning a trip to the California State Fair this year, you may want to take the day off and go on Friday, August 28. That way you can enjoy the day and look forward to a beer festival that begins there at 5:00 p.m. The 11th annual Brewfest will take place on the north side of the Miller Lite Grandstand and costs $10 over and above the fair admission price.

Friday, August 28 – Sunday, August 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 will also feature a beer pavilion hosted by Dave McLean, from Magnolia, with 40-something regional microbreweries from Northern California.

eatreal

As a side note, RateBeer and the beer blog Brewed For Thought have teamed up and will be having a contest to give away free tickets to the Beer Shed at the Eat Real Festival. Check out Brewed For Thought for all the details.

Thursday, September 3

Oakland’s The Trappist will host Pro Am Night beginning at 7:00 p.m. Taste several of the Pro Am entries that will be judged at the Great American Beer Festival. Pro Am beers are recipes created by homebrewers but made on commercial brewing systems at one of several Bay Area breweries.

IN THE COMING WEEKS

Saturday, September 12 – Sunday, September 13

The 6th annual Brews On The Bay will again take place aboard the old World War II Liberty Ship, the SS Jeremiah O’Brien. Hosted by the San Francisco Brewers Guild, all seven City craft breweries will be serving 40 beers, with food and music by Zepperella and Zoo Station.

Saturday, September 12 – Sunday, September 13

Beer School will return to The Trappist, this time covering Belgian-style dubbels and tripels. Check out their website for details.

Monday, September 14

Beer & Baroque, a celebration of beer and Bach at Berkeley’s Pyramid Alehouse. The brass quartet Piston Horn Quartet, comprising the horn players from the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, will be performing from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. Only 80 tickets will be sold for this event. Tickets are $20 in advance/$25 at the door and can be purchased by contacting Kenton Kuwada at (415) 252-1288.

Sunday, September 20

The Bear Republic Brewpub in Healdsburg, Calif. will have a special cellar tasting of all 22 beers they’re entering in this year’s Great American Beer Festival. It will take place from 4-6:00 p.m. and will be limited to 50 people. “Guests will have judging sheets, modeled after the official forms used in the competition, and can ask the brewers questions about the beer styles as well as vote for party favorites. The afternoon will include beer sampling, cheese pairing as well as a buffet of pub fare.” The cost is $30 per person and tickets can be purchased online or at the brewpub.

ON THE HORIZON

October 3: It will be Meet the Brewer Night at The Trappist and Chris Bauweraerts From Brasserie d’ Achouffe will be on hand from 5:00-9:00 p.m., in the back bar. The evening will also include specials on four Achouffe Beers, including La Chouffe, Houblon, McChouffe & N’ice Chouffe.

October 7: The Albatross Pub’s 45th Anniversary Party will take place October 7, 2009 from 7:30-10:30 p.m. “The Whiskey Brothers Bluegrass Band will be playing with no cover charge and a buffet will accompany the pub’s fine imported and domestic draft and bottled beers.”

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, August 28th, 2009
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Great visit at Soquel Vineyards

Pinot on horizon at Loma Prieta

The Lockheed fire didn’t keep my fiance and I away from a solid weekend of tasting in the Santa Cruz Mountains a few weeks ago. It was so good that the reduced word count on newspaper stories in these troubled times didn’t allow me to include my final stop at Soquel Vineyards in today’s story “Carve your own trail in the Santa Cruz Mountains.”

So I’m doing it here. Twin brothers Peter and Paul Bargetto, along with their partner, Jon Morgan, are the triple-threat winemaking team at the relatively new space, which weaves the Bargetto’s Italian heritage and rich family winemaking history into every inch of the space (Bargetto Winery, also in the Santa Cruz Mountains, was started by Peter and Paul’s grandfather and great uncle in 1933).

Peter works with growers in the vineyards. Paul is the lab rat. And Jon is into yeasts. But they do all consider themselves winemakers.

At nearly 1,000 feet, the winery is set atop a rise just three miles from Soquel, and offers a sweeping view of the Monterey coastline. The estate vineyard is six glorious acres of Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo. I tasted the Nebbiolo before it was bottled last week and it was a gorgeous unfiltered and unfined gem reminiscent of orange peels. They’re make about 50 cases that will be released this November.

Of the roughly 150 acres of Nebbiolo planted in California, Soquel’s got about two of them. Why Nebbiolo in Santa Cruz? Well, there’s the Italian heritage thing. But if you read my story, I think it’s more than that. These Santa Cruz mountain men aren’t afraid to experiment. They know the terroir they’re sitting on is capable of so much. Paul Kemp at Loma Prieta is doing elegant Pinotage. David Moulton of Burrell School makes unforgettable Cabernet Franc.

Posted on Wednesday, August 26th, 2009
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Weekend Update 8.21

At first, it appeared it was going to be a quiet weekend. Happily, an alert reader let me know about a new festival taking this place this weekend in Newark.

THIS WEEKEND

Saturday, August 22

K&L Wine Merchants will host two Artisinal Beers beer tastings. At their San Francisco location, it will take place from Noon to 3:00 p.m. and in Redwood City from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. in Redwood City. The cost will be $8.00 per person to taste. You can look over the list of what will be tasted on their events page.

Saturday, August 22-Sunday, August 23

The Newark Summerfest will be held this weekend at the Newpark Mall. SummerFest is a new event, whose main theme is Microbrews and Music. The free festival will also include a motorcycle show, a car show, arts and craft vendors, food vendors and local commercial vendors along with a kids park. There will be free live music both days. The outdoor main stage will feature Ron Thompson and the Resistors, California Dreamin’ and many other great talents. Music will begin at 10:00 a.m. and last until 6:00 p.m. each day.

IN THE COMING WEEKS

Wednesday, August 26

The Trappist in beautiful downtown Oakland, from 7:30-9:00 p.m. with hosting a chocolate tasting featuring TCHO Chocolate. Specials on recommended beer pairings and pairing flights will available, and they’ll be tapping Deschutes Black Butte XXI and Bockor Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge.

Friday, August 28

If you’re planning a trip to the California State Fair this year, you may want to take the day off and go on Friday, August 28. That way you can enjoy the day and look forward to a beer festival that begins there at 5:00 p.m. The 11th annual Brewfest will take place on the north side of the Miller Lite Grandstand and costs $10 over and above the fair admission price.

Friday, August 28 – Sunday, August 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 will also feature a beer pavilion hosted by Dave McLean, from Magnolia, with 40-something regional microbreweries from Northern California.

eatreal

As a side note, RateBeer and the beer blog Brewed For Thought have teamed up and will be having a contest to give away free tickets to the Beer Shed at the Eat Real Festival. Check out Brewed For Thought for all the details.

ON THE HORIZON

September 3: Oakland’s The Trappist will host Pro Am Night beginning at 7:00 p.m. Taste several of the Pro Am entries that will be judged at the Great American Beer Festival. Pro Am beers are recipes created by homebrewers but made on commercial brewing systems at one of several Bay Area breweries.

September 12-13: The 6th annual Brews On The Bay will again take place aboard the old World War II Liberty Ship, the SS Jeremiah O’Brien. Hosted by the San Francisco Brewers Guild, all seven City craft breweries will be serving 40 beers, with food and music by Zepperella and Zoo Station.

Setpember 12-13: Beer School will return to The Trappist. Check out their website for details.

September 14: Beer & Baroque, a celebration of beer and Bach at Berkeley’s Pyramid Alehouse. The brass quartet Piston Horn Quartet, comprising the horn players from the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, will be performing from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. Only 80 tickets will be sold for this event. Tickets are $20 in advance/$25 at the door and can be purchased by contacting Kenton Kuwada at (415) 252-1288.

September 20: The Bear Republic Brewpub in Healdsburg, Calif. will have a special cellar tasting of all 22 beers they’re entering in this year’s Great American Beer Festival. It will take place from 4-6:00 p.m. and will be limited to 50 people. “Guests will have judging sheets, modeled after the official forms used in the competition, and can ask the brewers questions about the beer styles as well as vote for party favorites. The afternoon will include beer sampling, cheese pairing as well as a buffet of pub fare.” The cost is $30 per person and tickets can be purchased online or at the brewpub.

October 3: It will be Meet the Brewer Night at The Trappist and Chris Bauweraerts From Brasserie d’ Achouffe will be on hand from 5:00-9:00 p.m., in the back bar. The evening will also include specials on four Achouffe Beers, including La Chouffe, Houblon, McChouffe & N’ice Chouffe.

October 7: The Albatross Pub’s 45th Anniversary Party will take place October 7, 2009 from 7:30-10:30 p.m. “The Whiskey Brothers Bluegrass Band will be playing with no cover charge and a buffet will accompany the pub’s fine imported and domestic draft and bottled beers.”

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, August 21st, 2009
Under: On Beer | 2 Comments »
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Jolly Pumpkin La Roja Pickled Cherries

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.

The Homebrew Chef

Jolly Pumpkin La Roja Pickled Cherries

By Sean Z. Paxton

Sean Z. Paxton, The Homebrew Chef

A perfect way to capture a season. By using a sour beer and some vinegar, cherries can be preserved and enhanced at the same time, to be served at a later day or for a special dinner. Try these cherries with a cheese plate, serve with a grilled piece of veal or pork, a torchon of foie gras, or even as the cherry for your Manhattan cocktail. The beer and spices blend with the cherries sweet and sour flavor, creating harmony on the palate.

Makes: 2 quarts of cherries

paxton-cherries-1

Ingredients:

2 each wide mouth quart jars with lids

3 pounds fresh cherries

750 ml La Roja from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1 ½ cups brown sugar, light

1 tablespoon mixed peppercorns (black, white, green & red)

1 tablespoon kosher salt

6 each cloves, whole

4 each cinnamon sticks

4 each thyme, fresh springs

1 each oranges, zested

1 each bay leaf

paxton-cherries-2

Directions:

Start by cleaning the mason jars well and then submerge into a pot of boiling water, with the lids to sterilize for 15 minutes. Wash the cherries well, removing any moldy or damaged fruit. Dry well.

In another pan, add the La Roja, red wine vinegar, brown sugar, peppercorns, salt, cloves, cinnamon, thyme, oranges and bay leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Remove from the heat after 2 minutes of a boil and the liquid cool completely. Divide the cherries between the two jars. Pour the cooled pickling liquid over the cherries, filling the jars to almost the top, making sure the cherries are submerged completely. Tap the jars on the counter, to remove any air from the jars. Seal with the lids and refrigerate for 2 weeks to 2 months.

To serve, open the jar and add the cherries to a sauce, by themselves or use the juice as vinegar for a salad dressing. The opened cherries will last for a month or so.

paxton-cherries-3

Posted on Tuesday, August 18th, 2009
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Must-visit Santa Cruz wineries

When we arrived in Los Gatos this past Saturday, the Lockheed fire was only five percent contained; but we still managed to slog up the Santa Cruz Mountains and carve our own little tasting path in this rugged AVA.

I’ll save the juicy details for my cover story on the subject, which comes out Aug. 26 in Food & Wine. But some tasting rooms to put on your radar: Burrell School (for the wines and the student in us all), Loma Prieta (for the view, and Pinotage!), Silver Mountain (for the greenest of green properties) and Sonnet (for some of the country’s best Pinot Noir).

Stay the night in Santa Cruz, like we did, and eat at Aquarius restaurant. You will not be sorry.

Posted on Monday, August 17th, 2009
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American Breweries Top 1,500

The Brewers Association, the trade association representing the majority of U.S. brewing companies, reports America’s small and independent craft brewers are still growing (see Craft Brewing Statistics) despite many challenges and are continuing to provide jobs to the U.S. economy. Dollar growth from craft brewers during the first half of 2009 increased 9%, down from 11% growth during the same period in 2008. Volume of craft brewed beer sold grew 5% for the first six months in 2009, compared to 6.5% growth in the first half of 2008. Barrels sold by craft brewers for the first half of the year is an estimated 4.2 million, compared to 4 million barrels sold in the first half of 2008.

“At a time when many of the giant beer brands are declining, small and independent craft brewers are organically growing their share and slowly gaining shelf and restaurant menu space one glass of craft beer at a time,” said Paul Gatza, Director of the Brewers Association.

100-yr-count

The U.S. now boasts 1,525 breweries, the highest number in 100 years when consolidation and the run up to Prohibition reduced the number of breweries to 1,498 in 1910. “The U.S. has more breweries than any other nation and produces a greater diversity of beer styles than anywhere else, thanks to craft brewer innovation,” Gatza added.

That’s certainly great news for those of us who love craft beer. In talking with brewers throughout the Bay Area, almost everyone tells me they’re doing great business.

Posted on Monday, August 17th, 2009
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Make Your Film Debut With Beer

The “First Ever” short-film festival on the subject of BEER will debut at the Monterey Beer Festival on June 5th, 2010, from 12:30pm to 5pm. Do you love beer? Have you ever thought about being a filmmaker? Or perhaps you’re already a professional or even amateur filmmaker. If so, here’s your chance to showcase your talent with a short (3 minutes or less) film about beer. The deadline for submissions is May 1, 2010 and the form and rules can be found on the Night That Never Ends website. It’s free to enter your film.

There are four separate categories for you to submit a film under:

  1. Live Action Short Films
  2. Animated Short Films
  3. Music Videos
  4. Commercials

Organizer Jeff Moses expects lots of lighthearted looks at brew, including personal stories about drinking beer with friends or visiting breweries. He also anticipates a few entries by “serious brewers” who’ll reveal the exact steps to making beer. Moses says being a bona fide beer connoisseur isn’t necessary for the creative process — just having a “connection” to brew should suffice. He also suggests “filmmakers throw back brewskis after shooting and avoid keg stands so they’re actually able to finish their projects.”

ShortPour

The Short Pour Film Fest will take place on June 5th, 2010, during the Monterey Beer Festival (and is free to festival attendees) at the Monterey Fairgrounds, 2004 Fairgrounds Road, Monterey, California, 93940 and will be free of charge to Monterey Beer Festival attendees.

Short Pour Film Fest honors both individuals who have achieved excellence in short filmmaking and amateur filmmakers. This unique short-film festival showcases film making talent on the subject of BEER.

Films will be shown in the historic ”King City Room”, a 10,000 square foot building at the Monterey Fairgrounds (home to The Monterey Jazz Festival & The Monterey Blues Festival).

Posted on Saturday, August 15th, 2009
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Weekend Update 8.14

There’s a lot going on this weekend, from Speakeasy’s 12th Anniversary Party to the Bistro’s IPA Festival.

THIS WEEKEND

Saturday, August 15

The Toronado will celebrate its 22nd anniversary with “special beers on tap, special bottle releases, food and fun all day.” The party begins at 11:30 a.m.

Saturday, August 15

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

IN THE COMING WEEKS

Saturday, August 18

The Melting Pot in San Mateo will host a beer dinner featuring four Sierra Nevada beers paired with three courses of fondue for $59 per person. After dinner, the price includes a nice cigar and after dinner drink on the patio.

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 will also feature a beer pavilion hosted by Dave McLean, from Magnolia, with 40-something regional microbreweries from Northern California.

ON THE HORIZON

September 12-13: The 6th annual Brews On The Bay will again take place aboard the old World War II Liberty Ship, the SS Jeremiah O’Brien. Hosted by the San Francisco Brewers Guild, all seven City craft breweries will be serving 40 beers, with food and music by Zepperella and Zoo Station.

October 7: The Albatross Pub’s 45th Anniversary Party will take place October 7, 2009 from 7:30-10:30 p.m. “The Whiskey Brothers Bluegrass Band will be playing with no cover charge and a buffet will accompany the pub’s fine imported and domestic draft and bottled beers.”

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, August 14th, 2009
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Low acid wines

A reader named Jim emailed today inquiring about low acid wines. He suffers from acid reflux and while he realizes that high acidity is favorable, he needs to drink the flabby stuff. Any suggestions? I pointed him in the direction of Viognier and Merlot. Please post your wisdom.

Posted on Wednesday, August 12th, 2009
Under: Corkheads | 2 Comments »
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