Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for October, 2009

Halloween wine pairings

I got an email today from a public relations firm that will remain nameless. Nameless talked about the goulish flavors of its client’s red wines. The zinfandel was dark. The cabernet sauvignon was smoky. The petite sirah was ghostly. What?

It was all too scary for me.

Halloween wine pairings

But it got me thinking. What will wines types be doing on Halloween? And what is a good Halloween wine? It depends on what you’re doing, of course. If you plan to invade your kid’s pillowcase of all the 60 percent and higher cacao content chocolate when he gets home, may I suggest a nice aged port?

If you’re using the night to stay in and perfect your pumpkin pie recipe for next month’s Thanksgiving meal, you’ll want to bust out the late harvest Riesling to sample your experiment.

And if you’re going to a fabulous pot luck with rich fall foods, like Victoria Bankerd of Pleasant Hill Wine Merchants, take some hearty malbec or tempranillo along. The spice and juicy fruit in these wines will stand up to any roast, chowder or chili.

Here’s to more treats than tricks!

Posted on Friday, October 16th, 2009
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Weekend Update 10.16

There’s both beer and whisky events this weekend, enough to keep the thirstiest person from getting parched.

THIS WEEKEND

Friday, October 16-Saturday, October 17

Oakland’s oldest modern brewery, Pacific Coast Brewing, will celebrate their 21st anniversary this weekend, beginning on Friday, October 16 with a Block Party from 5:00-11:00 p.m. The festivities also include the music of Kevin Cadogan. All day Saturday, the brewpub will offer roll back pricing and have live music. Come down and check out their wonderful beer, now that they’re “Legal At Last.”

pacific-coast-21

Friday, October 16

The 3rd annual WhiskyFest is coming to San Francisco on Friday, October 16, from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Put on by the good folks from Malt Advocate magazine. Tickets are $110 or $155 for a VIP ticket. While that may sound like a steep price, but you can taste a whole lot of pricey whiskies and meet with the makers themselves. If you love single malt scotch, you should not miss this great event.

Saturday, October 17

Saturday will be St. Feuillien Night at the Trappist in Oakland, where you can meet fourth generation owner Dominique Friart. Beginning at 7:30 p.m., for $12 you can try all four beers (5 oz. each) from the brewery that will be served that evening: the 2008 Noel, Tripel, Blanche and the Saison. Taking place at the back bar, there will also be free Charcuterie for all (meat & cheese, the good stuff).

Sunday, October 18

Dean Biersch’s Hopmonk Tavern in Sebastopol will be hosting a beer dinner featuring the beers of Brasserie St. Feuillien. Fourth generation owner Dominique Friart will be on hand to talk about his beers. The four-course dinner costs $50 per person and you can see the menu online.

IN THE COMING WEEKS

Friday, October 23

On Friday, October 23, the last beer dinner at the Cathedral Hill Hotel will take place. The Beer Chef, Bruce Paton, will cook the final dinner featuring the beers of Allagash and brewer/owner Rob Tod will be on hand, as well.

ON THE HORIZON

October 31-November 1: Rubicon, in Sacramento, will hold their 4th annual Hoptoberfest. Rubicon has been collecting their favorite hoppy IPAs and Double IPAs. At the fest they’ll be pouring 21 IPAs on tap.

November 14: The Bistro in Hayward will be hosting their annual Barrel Aged Festival, which will feature beers aged in various types of barrels, whether new or having previously held wine or spirits.

holiday-beerfest

November 15: The first BevMo! Holiday Beer Fest will be held at Fort Mason’s Herbst Pavilion in downtown San Francisco on Sunday November 15th from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. The event will feature 50+ Holiday, Seasonal & Special, “soon-to-be-released beers. Tickets are $35 in advance, and can be purchased online, or $45 at the door the day of the event.

November 18: New Belgium beer dinner at the Hopmonk Tavern.

December 2: Dogfish Head beer dinner at the Hopmonk Tavern.

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 Thursday, October 15th, 2009
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John Cleese’s wine doc is a fun education

johncleese

Actor John Cleese breaks down wine into simple, easy to understand elements in his documentary, “Wine for the Confused.” He’s also funny and charming. There are a few commercials throughout, but they’re short.

Whether you’re a budding enthusiast or a connossieur, you should watch it! He lives about an hour from Gainey Vineyards in Santa Ynez, and visits them (feigning ignorance, I think, since he has enjoyed wine with the Queen of England) among other wineries.

I particularly like his story about how white Burgundy saved his life on the set of “Monty Python” in Scotland.

Posted on Tuesday, October 13th, 2009
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Black Xantus Hums Into Town

I stopped by City Beer Store last night on my way home from another event to try the latest release by Nectar Ales (the label is owned by Firestone Walker), an imperial stout called Black Xantus. The beer is very limited. Only 500 cases of 22 oz. bottles were produced.

This is the first special release they’ve done under the Nectar Ales label. Playing on the hummingbird theme of their other labels, the name, Black Xantus, comes from a rare species of hummingbird native to Mexico.

According to the press release:

Black Xantus, a bourbon barrel aged Imperial Stout infused with coffee. Black Xantus will definitely be an “odd bird” with chocolate, espresso, bourbon aromas and flavors and over 10% alcohol by volume, a slight departure from the session beers that Nectar has been known for. Local Paso Robles area coffee roaster, Jobella, was sourced to provide the organic, fair-trade coffee infused into this special brew.

“Holy hummingbirds, this beer is amazing,” said Brewmaster Matt “Batman” Brynildson. “We are so excited to be able to brew a beer of this caliber and with so much character,” he added.

Black Xantus will be available beginning October 1 in 22 ounce bottles in select markets where Nectar Ales are currently sold. Only 500 cases of this unique brew will be produced. Bottles are expected to retail for around $15 each.

I picked up a couple bottles for myself and had an opportunity to try the beer on draft. What immediately impressed me was how smooth and chocolately the beer is. The smoothness is no doubt in part because the malt build included 15% oats. Though it’s billed as being 50 IBUs (which is on the low end for this style), wusing 100% American Fuggles, very little hop character comes through and the coffee bitterness doesn’t overpower the beer, either. It’s complex flavor profile never hits you over the head, but the coffee and vanilla notes just tantalize, creating Instead an impression of great balance, subtlety and restraint, which is especially surprising because it’s such a strong beer. It’s already been aged for a time in bourbon barrels, which most likely took some of the edge off of it and I can only imagine, at 13% a.b.v., that it will soften and improve even more with aging. Brewer Matt Brynildson already has a reputation for creating some of the best beers in California. This beer will only serve to further his legend. This is a sublimely terrific beer. Pick up some before it’s all gone.

black-xantus

Posted on Friday, October 9th, 2009
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Weekend Update 10.9

There’s plenty of beer events this weekend. The only problem will be picking which ones to go to, they all look so good.

THIS WEEKEND

Thursday, October 8

Tonight at San Francisco’s City Beer Store there will be a Black Xantus release party beginning at 6:00 p.m. “Only 500 cases were produced of this rare bird of a beer, coffee infused Imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrels created by Firestone Walker’s Nectar Ales brand. Bottles will be for sale, and Nectar Ales will be poured on draft. The name refers to a genus of hummingbird found in Mexico; who perhaps has an affinity for tasting the nectar of coffee plants.”

Saturday, October 10

The Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at U.C. Berkeley will be holding a very unique event called 99 Bottles of Beer: Global Brewing Traditions 2500 B.C. — Present.

99-bottles

Saturday, October 10

Iron Springs Pub & Brewery in Fairfax will celebrate their 5th anniversary with a “special menu, food and beer specials, and dancing to local country music favorites Danny Montana & the Bar Association.”

Saturday, October 10

This should be a fun one. Beer & Nosh is hosting Notoberfest, which they describe as “an epic feast prepared by Ryan Farr & the 4505 Meats Team, custom beer-infused ice creams & treats from Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream, and Reinheitsgebot-breaking beers from Valley Brewing.” The beer dinner will take place from 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 at the Mars Bar (located at 798 Brannan St. in San Francisco). Tickets will be $50 in advance and $60 at the door. You can also view the menu at Beer & Nosh.

Notoberfest

Saturday, October 10

Oakland is throwing its own Oktoberfest, dubbed Oaktoberfest, on Saturday the 10 from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. “Oaktoberfest in the Dimond 2009 will feature fresh brews from many of the best breweries in the Bay Area, served in a giant covered Beer Hall” named “The Bill Brand Memorial Biergarten.” There will also be an Eco Fair, a Kid’s Area with Root Biergarten, a homebrew competition, and vendors from around the Bay. “Celebrate Oktoberfest, Oakland style, in the Dimond at Fruitvale and MacArthur.”

IN THE COMING WEEKS

Friday, October 16-Saturday, October 17

Oakland’s oldest modern brewery, Pacific Coast Brewing, will celebrate their 21st anniversary this weekend, beginning on Friday, October 16 with a Block Party from 5:00-11:00 p.m. The festivities also include the music of Kevin Cadogan. All day Saturday, the brewpub will offer roll back pricing and have live music. Come down and check out their wonderful beer, now that they’re “Legal At Last.”

pacific-coast-21

Friday, October 16

The 3rd annual WhiskyFest is coming to San Francisco on Friday, October 16, from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Put on by the good folks from Malt Advocate magazine. Tickets are $110 or $155 for a VIP ticket. While that may sound like a steep price, but you can taste a whole lot of pricey whiskies and meet with the makers themselves. If you love single malt scotch, you should not miss this great event.

Saturday, October 17

Saturday will be St. Feuillien Night at the Trappist in Oakland, where you can meet fourth generation owner Dominique Friart. Beginning at 7:30 p.m., for $12 you can try all four beers (5 oz. each) from the brewery that will be served that evening: the 2008 Noel, Tripel, Blanche and the Saison. Taking place at the back bar, there will also be free Charcuterie for all (meat & cheese, the good stuff).

Sunday, October 18

Dean Biersch’s Hopmonk Tavern in Sebastopol will be hosting a beer dinner featuring the beers of Brasserie St. Feuillien. Fourth generation owner Dominique Friart will be on hand to talk about his beers. The four-course dinner costs $50 per person and you can see the menu online.

Friday, October 23

On Friday, October 23, the last beer dinner at the Cathedral Hill Hotel will take place. The Beer Chef, Bruce Paton, will cook the final dinner featuring the beers of Allagash and brewer/owner Rob Tod will be on hand, as well.

ON THE HORIZON

October 31-November 1: Rubicon, in Sacramento, will hold their 4th annual Hoptoberfest. Rubicon has been collecting their favorite hoppy IPAs and Double IPAs. At the fest they’ll be pouring 21 IPAs on tap.

November 14: The Bistro in Hayward will be hosting their annual Barrel Aged Festival, which will feature beers aged in various types of barrels, whether new or having previously held wine or spirits.

holiday-beerfest

November 15: The first BevMo! Holiday Beer Fest will be held at Fort Mason’s Herbst Pavilion in downtown San Francisco on Sunday November 15th from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. The event will feature 50+ Holiday, Seasonal & Special, “soon-to-be-released beers. Tickets are $35 in advance, and can be purchased online, or $45 at the door the day of the event.

November 18: New Belgium beer dinner at the Hopmonk Tavern.

December 2: Dogfish Head beer dinner at the Hopmonk Tavern.

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 Thursday, October 8th, 2009
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“Green” in wine is same as bananas

Bananas and wine

If you’ve ever heard me or a winemaker talk about a wine having a “green” quality, you might have thought, “Green? Huh? It looks white (or red) to me.”

When we say “green” we’re referring to an underripe quality in the fruit. Think of it as you would a banana. As it (or any fruit) ripens, it become sweeter or more flavorful. Unripe bananas are hard, tangy and acidic. Their flavor as we recognize them doesn’t truly come out until they get yellow, soft, and sweet.

Grapes behave the same way. The more they ripen (with sun, heat, and time), the sweeter they become and the less tart or “green.”

Strangely enough, I prefer my bananas, and often, my wines, just under ripe. As long as I can remember, I’ve preferred bananas that are hard and almost starchy. I spread a dollop of peanut butter on the top and slice and slip into my mouth until I reach the bottom. Good times.

Posted on Wednesday, October 7th, 2009
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99 Bottles of Beer at the Museum

If you read my column in today’s newspapers, you already know that the Hearst Museum at UC Berkeley will be launching an exhibition of artifacts of beer-making from 2500 B.C. through the present.

99-bottles

The Museum will unveil their latest show this Saturday, October 10 from 12-6 p.m.: “99 Bottles of Beer: Global Brewing Traditions 2500 B.C. — Present.” The event will include a Beer Fair and Symposium with such speakers as Fritz Maytag, from San Francisco’s Anchor Brewery, Charles Bamforth, the Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences at UC Davis, and the Beer Chef, Bruce Paton.

The exhibit itself includes some 130 beer-related items, most from the museum’s collections and many on display for the first time. The goal, says Jacknis, is to reveal “the striking unities and diversities of human cultures as they come together to celebrate the fruit of the grain.”

Among the treasures: a limestone statue of a servant woman, straining mash for beer, that dates back to the Old Kingdom, Egypt, circa 2500 B.C. It’s the oldest item in the Heart Museum collection. Other items came from local excavation sites and other sources. Possibly the quirkiest display is a full beer bottle, believed to be between 100 and 150 years old, stored in the museum’s refrigerator.

The yearlong exhibit kicks off with the Symposium, Beer Fair and Workshop on Oct. 10 from noon-6 p.m. at the museum, which is located on the UC Berkeley campus on the corner of College and Bancroft. Tickets are $20 for either the Symposium or the Beer Fair and Workshop, or $30 for both, and may be purchased online at hearstmuseum.berkeley.edu/beer.

To whet your appetite, here are a few more pieces that will be in the exhibit.

P1160648

Museum curator Ira Jacknis, down in the bowels of the museum, giving me a preview peek at the collection early last week.

Cat. No. 6-19811

The oldest piece in the exhibit is this figurine of a servant woman “straining mash for beer.” It’s painted limestone and dates from the Old Kingdom in Egypt’s 5-6 Dynasty (2465-2150 BCE)

P1160649

Egyptian tumblers, with pointed bottoms, and their frame holders. They’re pointed, too, so they can be stuck in the ground to keep the beer from spilling. I imagine cocktail parties with everyone’s glasses stuck in the ground as people talk and enjoy the party.

Cat. No. 16-14917

A corn beer tumbler in gold from the Ica Valley in Peru. It dates from around 1000-1476 CE.

P1160656

The corn beer tumbler with other items being prepared for the exhibition.

P1160652

Beer steins.

Cat. No. 7-6408

A South American stein.

P1160655

The tallest item from the collection, from Peru.

Cat. No. 7-6338

A German mug made of salt-glazed stoneware ad pewter, created some time between 1880 and 1940.

P1160651

A pair of gold drinking vessels made for South American royalty.

I hope to see you at the show. If you can’t make it on Saturday, the exhibition will be open for at least a year, so stop by when you get a chance to get a glimpse of beer’s long history.

Posted on Wednesday, October 7th, 2009
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Virginia makes TripAdvisor’s top U.S. wine destinations

Virginia wine

TripAdvisor’s list of the Top 10 wine country destinations came out last week. All the usual suspects in California, Oregon, Washington, New York made it.

But I was intrigued about their No. 10 pick. Virginia. From the Monticello AVA, where Thomas Jefferson spent years trying to grow European grape varieties at Monticello, to the Northern Oak Grove region, where just about everything (including Cabernet Franc, Traminette and Riesling)  grows, and thrives.

There are more than 140 wineries, most family owned, in 15 regions (six of which are official AVAs). Spend some time perusing the Virginia Wine web site. Might make you thirsty for a new region.

Posted on Tuesday, October 6th, 2009
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A Beer And A Sandwich

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 pairing your favorite sandwich with a beer.

Bruce Paton, the Beer Chef

Food & Beer with Bruce Paton

A Beer And A Sandwich

When I got the seriously involved in beer and food pairing I decided my dual missions were to expose people to beer by attracting them with high end food as well as to lift beer and food to the elevated position that wine and food has held forever. While maintaining these missions in the forefront it is good to remember that one cannot fine dine seven days a week and there is also a revered place for beer in a casual dining setting. However just because the food is casual doesn’t mean reverting to mass produced beer.

I have always been particularly fond of sandwiches and with the current movements of comfort food, approachable food and “artisan everything” the sandwich has moved back in to the forefront. So where do we go from here as far as beer is concerned? Well here are some pairing suggestions to accompany classic sandwiches reborn.

Since we are talking classic lets start out with the perennial hotel favorite the Club Sandwich. Toasted bread, roast turkey, bacon, avocado and mayonnaise are all flavors we associate with comfort. To escort this classic sandwich and its mélange of flavors past the taste buds choose a classic easy drinking beer like Anchor Steam. The beers malt backbone recalls the roasted flavors in the bread and turkey while the light hop character washes down the avocado and mayonnaise while taming the salty bacon.

club-sandwich

Next up is another old favorite the Grilled Cheese Sandwich. If you’re going the old school way with Mild Cheddar then Trumer’s Austrian Style Pilsner is a perfect feel good pairing. The biscuit flavors in the beer bring out the grain notes of the buttery toasted bread and the Saaz hops accent the nutty characteristics of the cheese. If you are using a more assertive cheese it will call for a more assertive beer.

Biting into a Meatball Sandwich is a multifaceted pleasure. The meaty flavor and firm texture of the meatballs, combined with the tangy tomato sauce and the rolls delicate grain flavors comingle in each bite. The light citrus yeast flavors of a Belgian Style Saison like North Coast La Merle draw out the herbal accents of the meatballs and tomato sauce. The carbonation and slightly dry hop finish rinse your mouth of the tomatoes acidity as well as the fat from the meatballs.

pbj

We will finish this exercise with that old classic Peanut Butter and Jelly. Talk about recalling food memories from your youth. Bite into a PB and J and childhood comes rushing back. A Sierra Nevada Porter’s dark roasted malt flavors match up well with those of the roasted peanuts, while the beer’s effervescence washes the stickiness from your teeth. The sweet grape jelly evokes the chocolate notes of the porter creating a truly grown up snack experience.

I could go on and on as there are a plethora of sandwich and beer combinations out there but you should try some experimentation on your own. Also with all the great ingredients out there it is fairly simple to update the classic sandwiches into new classics. So what are you waiting for.

Cheers,

Chef Bruce
The Beer Chef

Posted on Tuesday, October 6th, 2009
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Weekend Update 10.2

The big festival this weekend, at The Bistro in Hayward, is their Wet Hop Festival, where you can sample the freshest beers going, the beer world’s equivalent of Beer-jolais Nouveau.

THIS WEEKEND

Saturday, October 3

The Bistro in Hayward will be hosting their annual Wet Hop Festival, which will feature beers made with fresh hops added to the boil directly from the field for the freshest tasting beer you’ll ever drink.

Saturday, 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.

IN THE COMING WEEKS

Wednesday, 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.”

Saturday, October 10

The Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at U.C. Berkeley will be holding a very unique event called 99 Bottles of Beer: Global Brewing Traditions 2500 B.C. — Present.

Saturday, October 10

Iron Springs Pub & Brewery in Fairfax will celebrate their 5th anniversary with a “special menu, food and beer specials, and dancing to local country music favorites Danny Montana & the Bar Association.”

Notoberfest

Saturday, October 10

This should be a fun one. Beer & Nosh is hosting Notoberfest, which they describe as “an epic feast prepared by Ryan Farr & the 4505 Meats Team, custom beer-infused ice creams & treats from Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream, and Reinheitsgebot-breaking beers from Valley Brewing.” The beer dinner will take place from 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 at the Mars Bar (located at 798 Brannan St. in San Francisco). Tickets will be $50 in advance and $60 at the door. You can also view the menu at Beer & Nosh.

Saturday, October 10

Oakland is throwing its own Oktoberfest, dubbed Oaktoberfest, on Saturday the 10 from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. “Oaktoberfest in the Dimond 2009 will feature fresh brews from many of the best breweries in the Bay Area, served in a giant covered Beer Hall” named “The Bill Brand Memorial Biergarten.” There will also be an Eco Fair, a Kid’s Area with Root Biergarten, a homebrew competition, and vendors from around the Bay. “Celebrate Oktoberfest, Oakland style, in the Dimond at Fruitvale and MacArthur.”

pacific-coast-21

Friday, October 16-Saturday, October 17

Oakland’s oldest modern brewery, Pacific Coast Brewing, will celebrate their 21st anniversary this weekend, beginning on Friday, October 16 with a Block Party from 5:00-11:00 p.m. The festivities also include the music of Kevin Cadogan. All day Saturday, the brewpub will offer roll back pricing and have live music. Come down and check out their wonderful beer, now that they’re “Legal At Last.”

Saturday, October 17

Saturday will be St. Feuillien Night at the Trappist in Oakland, where you can meet fourth generation owner Dominique Friart. Beginning at 7:30 p.m., for $12 you can try all four beers (5 oz. each) from the brewery that will be served that evening: the 2008 Noel, Tripel, Blanche and the Saison. Taking place at the back bar, there will also be free Charcuterie for all (meat & cheese, the good stuff).

Sunday, October 18

Dean Biersch’s Hopmonk Tavern in Sebastopol will be hosting a beer dinner featuring the beers of Brasserie St. Feuillien. Fourth generation owner Dominique Friart will be on hand to talk about his beers. The four-course dinner costs $50 per person and you can see the menu online.

Friday, October 23

On Friday, October 23, the last beer dinner at the Cathedral Hill Hotel will take place. The Beer Chef, Bruce Paton, will cook the final dinner featuring the beers of Allagash and brewer/owner Rob Tod will be on hand, as well.

ON THE HORIZON

October 31-November 1: Rubicon, in Sacramento, will hold their 4th annual Hoptoberfest. Rubicon has been collecting their favorite hoppy IPAs and Double IPAs. At the fest they’ll be pouring 21 IPAs on tap.

November 14: The Bistro in Hayward will be hosting their annual Barrel Aged Festival, which will feature beers aged in various types of barrels, whether new or having previously held wine or spirits.

November 18: New Belgium beer dinner at the Hopmonk Tavern.

December 2: Dogfish Head beer dinner at the Hopmonk Tavern.

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, October 2nd, 2009
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