Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for September, 2009

Weekend Update 9.4

Due to many people heading out of town for the Labor Day weekend, there’s little planned for in town this weekend. But just wait until next weekend …


Friday, September 4 – Monday, September 7

The San Francisco Rogue Public House will be having a “garage sale” throughout the Labor Day Weekend, with special deals on all their merchandise, including plates, glassware and assorted knick-knacks. Things will begin each day at Noon. They’re located at 673 Union St.


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.

Saturday, September 19

Half Moon Bay Brewing will host a new festival, Oktoberfest on the Coast, on September 19 from Noon to 4:00 p.m. at Pillar Point Harbor.

Organizers expect to have more than 15 microbreweries in attendance, including Sierra Nevada, Lagunitas, Bear Republic, Kona, Seabright, Steelhead, Speakeasy, Mad River, Los Gatos Brewing Company, Moylan’s, and, of course, the coastside’s own Half Moon Bay Brewing Company. The $30 admission fee will get you a commemorative pilsner glass and unlimited, delicious beer to fill it with. There will plenty of hearty food cooking on the grill including savory sausages and jumbo dogs.

There will be live music all afternoon by Catie Chase and the Getaways.


Saturday, September 19

The 15th annual California Brewers Festival will be held in Discovery Park in Sacramento. The festival features beer from over 50 breweries and takes place from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Tickets cost $25 and can be purchased online, but at the gate they cost $30. Music to my ears, kids under 12 are free. And speaking of music, three bands will be performing: Utz!, the Shuttlecocks and Velvet Tongue.

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.


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

Posted on Friday, September 4th, 2009
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Join harvest Crushcamp at Crushpad in SF

Fermenting grapes

If you want to try your hand at winemaking but don’t have the $900,000 it takes to start a winery, Crushcamp may be your ticket to vino bliss.

From the folks at Crushpad, the urban winery in San Francisco, comes Crushcamp, a “more the merrier,” community-focused take on harvest that democratizes wine and winemaking. At Crushcamp, you will sort, de-stem, and crush grapes plus perform punch downs in fermentation bins and participate in the sensory analysis of various grape varietals. All you need is ten bucks and a set of clothes you don’t care about.

The next harvest Crushcamp will be held on Sept. 19 at 11:30 a.m. Learn more about it and sign up on the Crushpad website.

Posted on Friday, September 4th, 2009
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A Guide To Hosting A Food & Beer Pairing Event

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 hosoting your own food and beer pairing event.

Bruce Paton, the Beer Chef

Food & Beer with Bruce Paton

A Guide To Hosting A Food & Beer Pairing Event

Pairing food with beer is a wonderful way to jazz up a house party whether your having friends over to watch a game, hosting a barbecue or just showing off your cooking skills with a candle lit dinner for your in-laws. Beer can go with everything from nachos on up to steak and lobster and there are several beers available to fit any occasion. There are several ways to go about tasting beer and food ranging from tasting a variety of beers with a selection of finger foods, as one would do while viewing a sporting event all the way up to a sit down dinner with each course matched with a particular beer. So first you must decide what sort of event you are going to have and remember the whole idea is to have fun while educating yourself and your friends to the joys of beer and food.

The next and the most difficult task is choosing which beers your are going to taste. To accomplish this daunting chore you can go to your local liquor or grocery store, see what is available and pick up a couple of bottles to try out. If there is a pub in your area that carries a variety this is also an excellent option.


Here is the first secret tip. Relax (remember, this is fun), taste and pay attention. The professional beer tasters, judges and brewers have a system for tasting and it is not rocket science. First pour the beer into a clean glass and leave a little room at the top. How does it look? Then gently swirl the beer and take a healthy sniff. What do you smell? Now sip about an ounce into your mouth and swirl it around so it hits all your taste buds and then swallow. What flavors are apparent? Now take another sip, close your eyes and swallow it while thinking “What would taste good with that?” You haven’t even invited your guests over and you are already tasting beer and it gets even worse. After tasting several different beers you have to make a decision and narrow it down to the few that you want to serve to your guests (you may find that you really like all of them) and the very worst part is to get good at this tasting process you have to practice a lot. I have been doing this tasting choosing thing for the better part of fourteen years so I definitely feel your pain. Remember you are looking for flavors in the beer that will accentuate the food. A very simple example is discovering a citrus flavor in a beer and pairing with something that you know will like citrus such as fish or shellfish.

My method for a “Dinner with the Brewmaster” is to choose four beers of different styles made by that particular brewer, using the lightest beer for a reception with snacks and pairing three dishes to go with each of the remaining beers. The progression usually goes from light to dark or mild to heavy. For example I might have an Amber for the reception then move on to a Pale Ale for the appetizer, a Porter for the main course and a Barleywine for dessert. This of course is not a rule written in stone but it is a good way to start out if you are doing your first pairing. However there are a couple of good rules for a successful evening of beer entertainment. First keep the pour amounts within reason so your guests don’t have “too much fun” and are able to get home safely. Second is the basic dinner party rule of not attempting any dishes that may be beyond your culinary scope for the first time when friends are dining in your home.


So remember relax and have fun. This is not rocket science or surgery and everything is going to be just fine. Go out pick up some beer and get started.


Chef Bruce
The Beer Chef

Posted on Thursday, September 3rd, 2009
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New wine village at Livermore’s Harvest Celebration

If you read our story last week on Livermore’s 28th annual Harvest Wine Celebration taking place from noon to 5 p.m. Sept. 6 and 7, you know the grapegrowers association has scaled back this year’s festivities. Thanks, economy.

But the good news is that they’ve stepped up the convenience factor. Let’s face it. As much as we like schlepping from winery to winery in triple-digit heat, what we’d really prefer is to have them all in one place, preferably a park, where we can electric-slide our feet from booth to booth tasting the nectar of various wineries.

This year, 21 wineries will pour their stuff at Robertson Park’s “Harvest Village.” It will be held both days, Sept. 6 and 7, and will feature tastings, live music, ping-pong, arts-and-crafts, and food that you pay for separately.

This is the way to see, er, taste your way through Livermore. A two-day ticket is $50 in advance and $75 at the event and includes free shuttles (Sunday only), tastings/food/entertainment at wineries and Robertson Park. Sunday-only tickets are $45, Monday-only tickets are $40 and include tastings at all wineries on the tour. For tickets, visit the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association.

Posted on Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009
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Harvest starts in Livermore Valley at Retzlaff

Harvest began early this morning in the Livermore Valley, where the staff at Retzlaff Vineyards, the only certified organic vineyard in the Livermore Valley AVA, began picking and crushing Sauvignon Blanc grapes.

Harvest at Retzlaff Vineyards

In the below photo, tasting room manager Connie Vandevanter watches as freshly picked Sauvignon Blanc grapes are dumped into the de-stemmer/crusher at Retzlaff Winery.  The low, orange box on the right contains grape stems, skins and seeds, which are returned to the vineyard as fertilizer.

Harvest at Retzlaff Vineyards

Sparkling houses such as Mumm began harvesting as early as Aug. 14. Winemakers in the Napa Valley, much like Livermore, have reported good things about quality this year, thanks to mild weather and even ripening throughout the season. Yields are average to slightly above average. Luckily, according to a post on the Yountville Appellations’ harvest blog including comments from Julie Nord of Nord Vineyards, none of the vines still hanging with fruit seemed troubled by Saturday’s heat spike – Napa hit 106 degrees. But they are keeping an eye on the developing hurricane in Mexico. Could mean unexpected rains for us.

Posted on Tuesday, September 1st, 2009
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California State Fair Winners

The awards for the 2009 California State Fair and the California Commercial Craft Brewers Competition were handed out at a ceremony last weekend and I’d thought I’d share the list of winners.

Amber Ales

  1. Imperial Red by Lagunitas
  2. Red Horse by Sacramento Brewing
  3. Green Lake Organic by Deschutes

Light Ales

  1. Emma by Lock Down Brewing
  2. Kolsch by Brew It Up!
  3. Cascade by Deschutes

Specialty Category

  1. Apple Cider by Samuel Adams
  2. Orange Cider by Two Rivers
  3. Boysendberry Cider by Two Rivers

American Pale Ales

  1. Pale 31 by Firestone Walker
  2. Tipperary by Moylan’s
  3. New Dog Ale by Lagunitas

English Pale Ales

  1. Twilight by Deschutes
  2. Double Barrel by Firestone Walker
  3. Churchills by Brew It Up!

India Pale Ales

  1. IPA by Sacramento Brewing
  2. Indica by Lost Coast
  3. Inversion by Deschutes


  1. Stout by Sierra Nevada
  2. Obsidian by Deschutes
  3. Luck o’ the Irish by Blue Frog


  1. Helles by Sudwerk
  2. Dark Lager by Primator
  3. Boston Lager by Samuel Adams

Wheat Ales

  1. Kellerweiss by Sierra Nevada
  2. Imperial White by Samuel Adams
  3. Haywire by Pyramid

Brown Ales

  1. Downtown Brown by Lost Coast
  2. Hemp Ale by Humboldt

Fruit Beers

  1. Raspberry Brown by Lost Coast
  2. Audacious Apricot by Pyramid
  3. Cranberry Wit by Samuel Adams

Strong Ales

  1. Abyss by Deschutes
  2. Hop Stoopid by Lagunitas
  3. Brussels Blonde by Sacramento Brewing

Best of Show
WINNER Helles by Sudwerk
First Runner UpPale 31 by Firestone Walker
Second Runner UpIPA by Sacramento Brewing

Posted on Tuesday, September 1st, 2009
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