Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Firestone Double Jacks Wins Pacific Coast Holiday Tasting

By Jay Brooks
Tuesday, December 29th, 2009 at 9:45 am in On Beer.

Before Christmas, I attended the 21st annual holiday tasting at Pacific Coast Brewing in Oakland. It was my first time at the long-running event and I had a terrific time. Owner Steve Wolfe and brewmaster Don Gortemiller were gracious hosts. I also didn’t realize just how much food would be served — which I should add was a welcome development — with the fifteen beers. Having done this for decades, they have the process down. Every fifteen minutes a new beer was poured and in between a new dish was made available for noshing.

Steve Wolfe & Don Gortemiller, a bit lighter
Pacific Coast Brewing’s Steve Wolfe with brewmaster Don Gortemiller.

Don and Steve chose all the beers with an eye toward serving the most special beers they could get their hands on, and ones which were appropriate for the holiday season. Nine of the fifteen were holiday seasonals, and three were anniversary ales.

Every attendee was provided with an elaborate scoring sheet along with some guidelines on how to score each beer. Most people in the brewpub seemed to take scoring the beers very seriously. At the end of the tasting, the completed sheets are collected and tabulated. Brewmaster Don Gortemiller released the results of the 2009 tasting a few days before Christmas. This year’s winner was the Double Jack from Firestone Walker Brewing in Paso Robles, California. Deschutes Black Butte XXI came in second and third place went to the collaboration between Dogfish Head Brewery and Sierra Nevada Brewing, Life & Limb. To see the full tally, check out the results on Pacific Coast’s website.

Beer #8: Firestone Walker Double Jack
This year’s winner, Firestone Walker Double Jack.

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  • Ethan Prater

    Sounds like a great event – how have I missed it?

    Was the tasting/scoring done blind, or did the participants know the name/style of each beer while tasting?

  • jbrookston


    No, it wasn’t done blind. Everyone knew which beer that had in front of them. And the were arranged by style, with like styles together proceeding from lighter to heavier, stronger, etc. That does, of course, allow for bias but since the point is more for fun, no one seems to overly concerned.

  • craig

    how was “pacific coast’s” offering…i use’t to go out of my way to go there…not so much any more….