Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for February, 2010

New Brewery To Open In Vallejo

According to the Vallejo Times-Herald, Ed and Karen Cummins have recently had their plans approved by the Vallejo Planning Commission to open a microbrewery on Georgia Street in downtown Vallejo, the first in town since Prohibition. “From the 1860s until Prohibition hit Vallejo, there were three establishments in the city that today would qualify as microbreweries, said Jim Kern, director of the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum.” It will still likely be several months before it could open, as there’s still quite a bit left to do from paperwork, more permits and actual construction, too. Since microbrewery is a term with a specific meaning; “a brewery that produces less than 15,000 barrels of beer per year with 75% or more of its beer sold off site,” I’d be surprised if the newspaper was using that term correctly. In other words, a microbrewery is package brewery, not a brewpub, which sells most of its beer on-site. Everything else about the story suggests that a brewpub is more likely, but we’ll have to wait and see. Still, a new brewery in the Bay Area is always wlecome news as far as I’m concerned.

Posted on Friday, February 19th, 2010
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Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Video

Sierra Nevada Brewing, of course, is celebrating their 30th anniversary this year in grand fashion. Sierra Nevada founder Ken Grossman is doing collaboration beers with some of the true pioneers of craft beer: Fred Eckhardt, Fritz Maytag, Jack McAuliffe and Charlie Papazian. The 30th anniversary website, Sierra 30, has a great little video of the pioneers with an overview of the collaborations. The first beer, Fritz & Ken’s Ale, will be released in mid-March.

Posted on Wednesday, February 17th, 2010
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2010 Toronado Barleywine Festival Winners

Here are the results from the 2010 Toronado Barley Wine Festival, held earlier today in San Francisco.

Congratulations to all the winners.

Posted on Saturday, February 13th, 2010
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Twenty Things Worth Knowing About Beer

Here’s an interesting online comic from The Oatmeal with 20 Things Worth Knowing About Beer, a nice presentation of beer trivia. Enjoy.

Posted on Friday, February 12th, 2010
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The Bistro Cheese-Off

Last night, the Bistro held its 2nd annual cheese-off, one of my favorite SF Beer Week events. Similar to last year, Bistro co-owner Vic Krajl picked four cheeses and then asked four breweries — Eel River, Mad River, Moylan’s and Sierra Nevada — to pick the beer they made that they felt was the best pairing with each cheese.

Pairing #2: Moylan's Hefe, Eel River Amber, Mad River Jamaica IPA & Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Here’s flight 2, for example, one cheese with four beers.

After choosing our favorite from each round, we handed in our scorecards and they tallied up the results to determine which pairings were the most popular. A prize was awarded to whoever correctly predicted the most popular choices. Only one person, for the second year running, chose all four most popular. While I’d argue that most popular doesn’t necessarily mean best, especially since people’s tastes and palettes vary widely, it was still a fun way to wrap up the evening and determine at least what a majority of people thought about the choices. Below is a list of each of the cheeses along with the beer pairings chosen by each brewery and then what was determined to be the most popular. The beer in bold was chosen as most popular and italics indicates my personal choice, in case you’re interested.

Cheese No. 1: Wavreumont (cow)

  1. Molyan’s: Celt’s Golden Ale
  2. Eel River: Triple Exultation
  3. Mad River: Mad Belgian Golden Ale
  4. Sierra Nevada: Kellerweis

Cheese No. 2: Petit Agour — Tomette d’Helette (sheep)

  1. Molyan’s: American Hefeweizen
  2. Eel River: Amber
  3. Mad River: Jamaica IPA
  4. Sierra Nevada: Pale Ale

Cheese No. 3: Sunlight (goat)

  1. Molyan’s: Hells’ Lager
  2. Eel River: Porter
  3. Mad River: Jamaica Red Ale
  4. Sierra Nevada: Torpedo Ale

Cheese No. 4: Bleu de Laqueuille (cow)

  1. Molyan’s: Barrel-aged/blended Kilt Lifter
  2. Eel River: IPA
  3. Mad River: John Barleycorn Barleywine 2008
  4. Sierra Nevada: Glissade Golden Bock

What’s interesting to me is that I chose all four of the beers from Mad River Brewing, and similarly last year I picked four of the five beers from a single brewery: Bear Republic. What that suggests is that while palates do differ, we tend to be in sync with them, that is my palate was similar to whomever chose the pairings last year at Bear Republic and this year at Mad River.

Cynthia Kralj at a table w/ Bruce Paton & Denise Jones
Bistro co-owner Cynthia at one of the cheese-off tables.

Hat’s off once more to Vic and Cynthia for coming up with such a simple yet effective new way to approach cheese and beer pairings. It’s such a great way to educate yourself about cheese and beer and at the same time have an enormously fun time. I really hope to see more of this type of event in the future.

Below is a slideshow of the Bistro Cheese-Off. This Flickr gallery is best viewed in full screen. To view it that way, after clicking on the arrow in the center to start the slideshow, click on the button on the bottom right with the four arrows pointing outward on it, to see the photos in glorious full screen. Once in full screen slideshow mode, click on “Show Info” to identify each photo.

Posted on Thursday, February 11th, 2010
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Collaboration Beer Dinner Thursday

This Thursday, the Homebrew Chef, Sean Paxton, will host another of his legendary beer dinners at Mercedes in San Francisco. It’s an eight-course dinner. The cost is $98, and that includes all food, beer and gratuity. There’s limited seating, so snap up your tickets now. This should be a good one. It will feature the collaboration beers of Belgium’s De Proef Brouwerij and our own Firestone Walker Brewing. Tickets can be purchased online. See you there.


Collaboration: A Beer Dinner

Thursday, February 11th, 6:30 pm

Aspall Cuvee Chevallier Double Fermented Cyder

First Course

Local Fromage
cowgirl creamery Mt. Tam, Humboldt fog goat cheese, dried apricots, cinnamon smoked almonds,
malt crackers, Saison Imperiale beer jelly, white pepper infused 30 year old aged honey

De Proef Brewmaster’s Collaboration Signature Ale with Tomme Arthur

Second Course

Union Barrel Smoked Day Boat Scallops
atop Reinaert Flemish Wild Ale braised Belgian red endive, Les Deux Brasseurs Ale biere blanc and micro herb salsa

De Proef Brewmaster’s Collaboration Les Deux Brasseurs Ale with Jason Perkins

Third Course

IPA Ceviche Margarita
fresh halibut cured in citrus juices, Union Jack IPA, mangos, red onions, peppers and chilies, topped with an IPA foam

Firestone Walker Union Jack

Fourth Course

House-Made Sausage
Sonoma pork, infused with Sauserful of Secrets, thyme, dried fruit and caramelized shallots
on a bed of lentils, drizzled with a chorizo amarillo hop oil

Firestone Walker Bourbon Barrel Aged Saucerful of Secrets 2007

Fifth Course

Local Pork Belly
braised in Zoetzuur Flemish Ale on a bed of parsnip purée, Flemish ale reduction, raddish pickle

De Proef Brewmaster’s Collaboration Van Twee Ale with John Mallet

Sixth Course

Belgian Tamale
bison short ribs cooked “canronade style” in Van Twee, onions, shallots and thyme
stuffed into a sweet potato masa pillow, Black Xantus TCHO mole, beet foam

Firestone Walker Velvet Merkin

Seventh Course

French Flan
DBA beer caramel topped with dark chocolate Lozen Boer Abt pot de crème
pork fat shortbread cookies, malted mascarpone chantilly cream

Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale, 100% Oak Aged on Cask

Eighth Course

My Sweet Valentine

(chocolate truffles made with Pete Slosberg)

Van Twee Ale Caramel in a Dark TCHO Chocolate Shell
Black Xantus Caramel with TCHO Cocoa Nibs in a Dark TCHO Chocolate Shell
La Grande Blanche Brittle Infused with Blood Orange and Milk Chocolate in a Dark TCHO Chocolate Shell

Firestone Walker XIII Anniversary Ale

Posted on Monday, February 8th, 2010
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Bistro Double IPA Winners

Pizza Port‘s Welcome Back Wipeout IPA was chosen best in show at the 10th annual Double IPA Festival yesterday at the Bistro in Hayward, California. That’s the second year in a row that a Pizza Port beer has won. The full winner list is below.

Below is a video of Vic and Cynthia announcing the winners.

Posted on Sunday, February 7th, 2010
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Beer Revolution Opens In Oakland

Oakland’s newest beer store is set to open today. Beer Revolution, located at 464 3rd Street in Oakland, just off Broadway. Co-owners Rebecca and Fraggle plan to open the doors at Noon. Stop by and check it out. Better yet, pick up a few bottles to let them know you support better beer stores.


Posted on Friday, February 5th, 2010
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SF Beer Week Begins Friday

On Friday, the 2nd annual SF Beer Week will begin, and with two days to go, we’ve just surpassed 200 events, roughly fifty more than we had last year. More importantly, all the events look spectacular and there’s a wide range different types of them taking place throughout the ten days of SF Beer Week. Check out the Schedule to find out what you’ll be doing next week.


Posted on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010
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Rioja, Long Island join Wine Place & Origin protection movement

What does wine and real estate have in common? Location, location, location.

The next time you’re at a dinner party and someone serves you Champagne, ask them what part of France it’s from.

Nine times out of 1o, they’re pouring you a sparkling wine from California, a Prosecco from Italy, or a cava from Spain. Those are all great sparkling wines, but they’re not from Champagne.

Get it?

The Office of Champagne was a founding member of the Joint Declaration to Protect Wine Place & Origin. It was signed on July 26, 2005 in Napa Valley and its aim is simple: To educate consumers on the importance of location in winemaking. Others who signed that day include Jerez, Porto, Walla Walla, Oregon, Napa Valley, and Washington State.

Now, the wine regions of Long Island, New York, famous for cool climate wines such as riesling, and Rioja, Spain, known for its big push in the value red market in the United States, are the latest signatories of the Joint Declaration to Protect Wine Place & Origin.

It now has 15 members including Chianti Classico, Paso Robles, Porto, Sonoma County, Victoria, Tokaj, and Western Australia.

Just as it’s impossible to call a sweet wine made outside of Jerez by the name Jerez, the growers and vintners from these regions believe their wines are distinctive and should be accurately reflected on a label.

In other words, consumers deserve to know what they’re getting, and that the label matches the juice. It’s kind of like buying a bottle of olive oil and getting canola oil.

Posted on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010
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