Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for April, 2010

New Odonata Saison Released Today

Odonata Beer, a new brewery is Sacramento, is releasing their Saison today. Below is the press release with all the details:

ODONATA (OH-DOE-NAH-TA) is ecstatic to announce the arrival of its flagship beer, Saison! Brewed with malted barley, wheat & rolled oats, Saison is a rustic interpretation of the traditionally Belgium-brewed beer. Spiced with Styrian & East Kent Golding hops Saison has an aromatic, floral & peppery aroma and a modest hop bite. Our Belgian yeast strain also lends the slightly wild scents of passion fruit and spice. Saison is designed for refreshment & complexity; perfect on its own, or paired with ripened cheeses or classic Belgian-style seafood dishes. Saison bottles are bottle-conditioned, so serve chilled.

ODONATA Saison will be available on draft at select Northern California retailers beginning Friday, April 30, 2010 and will begin distributing bottled Saison in mid-May throughout Northern California. For further information regarding Saison, its availability or other inquiries, please contact Rick Sellers using the information found below.

ODONATA Beer Company is based in Sacramento, Ca. Brewmaster Peter Hoey is an experienced, award-winning brewer as well as an instructor at UC Davis’ prestigious brewing school and The American Brewers Guild. Sales Director Rick Sellers is an experienced beer journalist and former Beer Director for DRAFT Magazine, the world’s largest beer publication. Together Peter & Rick started ODONATA in 2009, with their first beer release (Rorie’s Ale) scoring a 100 on RateBeer and was named one of the best beers in the world.


ABV: 6.4%
IBUs: 24
PKG: 22 oz. bottles
Suggested Food Pairings: Ripened cheese like Cyprus Grove Chevre’s Humboldt Fog; Pasta & Cream Sauce; Steamed Mussels
(The Homebrew Chef has also created a special recipe using Odonata’s saison for Saison-Steamed Mussels.
Serving Suggestions: Store Saison upright at cellar temperature & serve chilled, between 40-48 degrees, in a sturdy glass.

Posted on Friday, April 30th, 2010
Under: On Beer | No Comments »
Leave a comment

Jack London Square This Saturday: A New Beer & Food Festival

A new Bay Area beer festival will be held this Saturday, May 1, from Noon to 3:00 p.m., at Jack London Square. It’s sponsored by the local radio station KGO. It will be called the Craft Beer and Fine Food Celebration and will a benefit for the Alameda County Food Bank. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. According to the website, you’ll be able to “taste 30 different craft and specialty beers, along with delicious food from fine Bay Area restaurants.” So far, nineteen breweries are listed on the website along with ten food providers. There’s also a Facebook event page with additional details.


Posted on Thursday, April 29th, 2010
Under: On Beer | 1 Comment »
Leave a comment

Four great merlots for meat-sauce pasta nights

Seven Hills Merlot

Last night, I got home from work famished. I dumped some ground turkey in a pan, hit it with garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, tomato sauce and chopped onions, and put the farfalle on to boil.

Natch, I popped open an Italian wine, a Dolcetto D’Alba. Turned out to be corked. Disappointed and very annoyed, I did what any respectable wine writer would do. I grabbed my corkscrew and opened eight bottles of merlot.

I tasted through all of them – ranging from 2006 to 2008 vintages and hailing from the Central Coast, Sonoma, and Washington – as the juices in the meat sauce started coming together with the herbs and spices. These were the ones that tasted the best with the pasta dish I was cooking.

2007 Anselmo Vineyards, Hollister ($40): This was the standout merlot of the eight I sampled. It was just the kind of juicy, plummy merlot you crave with a white meat sauce. It had chocolately smooth tannins.

Candor Lot 2, Central Coast: The folks at Hope Family Wines make this merlot by blending multiple vintages together, and I think it’s how the wine achieves the complexity of structure and finish I tasted. $20.

2006 Fernwood, Santa Cruz ($30): If you like lighter bodied wine with a bit more acidity, try this bottling made from four small vineyards in Los Altos, Saratoga, and Monte Sereno. It had lower alcohol, 13.7 percent, than its counterparts in the tasting. The peppery notes went well with my meat sauce.

2007 Seven Hills, Walla Walla ($28): This had the same alcohol level as the Fernwood, but it retained the deep, rich color and body that is so indicative of Washington merlots. The fruit hails from one of the oldest vineyards in the Valley.

Posted on Wednesday, April 28th, 2010
Under: Corkheads | No Comments »
Leave a comment

Anchor Brewery Sold

Big news in the beer world, as I learned today that San Francisco’s Anchor Brewery has been sold. Here’s the press release below.

The Griffin Group, an investment and consulting company focused on beverage alcohol brands, announced its acquisition of Anchor Brewing Company which includes its portfolio of craft beers and artisan spirits, including the award winning Anchor Steam Beer.

The Griffin Group is led by beverage alcohol veterans, Keith Greggor and Tony Foglio, two longtime San Francisco residents who have been working with Anchor Brewing Company’s owner, Fritz Maytag to maintain the iconic brewery and distillery in San Francisco.

“Anchor Brewing Company has a long history in San Francisco and The Griffin Group is ushering in an exciting era while maintaining our proud, time-honored history,” said Fritz Maytag. “Combining Keith and Tony’s passion for the Anchor Brewing Company, their industry experience and expertise only means that Anchor will be enjoyed in San Francisco for generations to come.”

“Since 1896, Anchor Brewing Company has been an icon of San Francisco’s history and culture,” stated Griffin’s Founding Partner, Keith Greggor, “I am honored to bring Anchor Brewing Company into our family of craft beers and artisanal spirits through establishing Anchor Brewers & Distillers, LLC.”

Anchor Brewers & Distillers intends to establish a “Center of Excellence” in San Francisco for craft brewers and artisan distillers from around the world. An epicenter of development, education, entertainment and innovation, all designed to further contribute to the culture and heritage of craft beer and artisan spirits.

“San Francisco is the perfect place to establish this center,” stated Tony Foglio, “Through our extensive portfolio of craft beers and fine spirits our focus will be to educate and satisfy the increasing consumer demand for authentic, quality and natural products that reflect the passion of their creators.”

Continuing the Anchor heritage, Mr. Maytag has been named Chairman Emeritus of Anchor Brewers & Distillers.

Posted on Monday, April 26th, 2010
Under: On Beer | 2 Comments »
Leave a comment

GQ Picks 50 Beers To Try Right Now

Finally, mainstream magazines are learning. A number of them, usually men’s magazines, publish an annual list of their picks for good beers, whether global or just American, and varying in the number on the list. But they go wrong by trying to call their lists the “top,” “best” or some similar hyperbole. With such a subjective sensation as taste, getting people to ever agree on a list is a fool’s errand, and ends up pissing people off whose favorite wasn’t included or wasn’t high enough on the list. Personally, I love lists but have found they can be dangerous enterprises.

GQ published one today they’re calling I’d Tap That! 50 Beers to Try Right Now. And despite the awkward “I’d tap that” beginning (why do mainstream beer stories always start with a bad pun?) I think they’re taking the right approach. Just presenting 50 beers they think are worth trying to an audience who may not be familiar with many of them is, I think, the way to go. There’s no rankings, no suggestion that these are the beers, or that they’re better than all the rest. They’re just suggestions. And there are some pretty good ones, too. Of course, there are some I wouldn’t have put on the list, but that’s the nature of these lists.

Nine of the fifty are brewed right here in the Bay Area, and a total of 14 from California, with all but a handful not available here.


GQ’s 50 Beers to Try Right Now

  1. Allagash White
  2. Anchor Christmas Ale
  3. Anchor Steam
  4. BrewDog Smokehead
  5. Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout
  6. Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron
  7. Fritz Briem 1809 Berliner Weisse
  8. Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold
  9. Hitachino Lacto Sweet Stout
  10. Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout
  11. Leelanau Whaleback White
  12. Lion Stout
  13. Ommegang Hennepin
  14. Oskar Blues Dales Pale Ale
  15. Oskar Blues Old Chubb
  16. Picobrouwerij Alvinne Melchior
  17. Pretty Things Jack D’Or
  18. Rodenbach Grand Cru
  19. Rogue Dead Guy Ale
  20. Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout
  21. Sierra Nevada Harvest Ale
  22. Sixpoint Sweet Action
  23. Smuttynose Barleywine
  24. Stone Imperial Russian Stout
  25. Stone Old Guardian
  26. Trumer Pils
  27. Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier
  28. AleSmith Speedway Stout
  29. Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye
  30. The Bruery Saison Rue
  31. Cantillon Iris
  32. De Struise Pannepot
  33. Dieu du Ciel Route des Epices
  34. Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA
  35. Jolly Pumpkin La Roja
  36. Marin Brewing Company IPA
  37. Orval
  38. Port Brewing Shark Attack Red
  39. Russian River Pliny the Elder
  40. Saison Dupont
  41. Schneider Aventinus
  42. Westvleteren Abt 12
  43. Harviestoun Old Engine Oil
  44. Great Divide Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout
  45. Double Mountain Black Irish Stout
  46. Samuel Adams Utopias
  47. Founders KBS
  48. Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier
  49. Russian River Beatification
  50. Monk’s Café Flemish Sour Ale

Then there are five more “bonus beers” under the sub-heading “In Defense of Bodega Beer,” which presumably means the downscale contrast to the upscale first fifty.

  1. Budweiser
  2. Tecate
  3. Magic Hat #9
  4. Red Stripe
  5. Yuengling Traditional Lager

Posted on Friday, April 23rd, 2010
Under: On Beer | 1 Comment »
Leave a comment

2008 Patianna Sauvignon Blanc – lipsmacking good

2008 Patianna Sauvignon Blanc

This dry, crisp Patianna sauvignon blanc is made with biodynamically farmed grapes in gravelly Mendocino soil.  The result is a refreshing and full of minerals. If you like the New Zealand style, you’ll be stoked to drink this refreshing, screwcapped wine. It’s bright, fresh, and has all the tangy citrus and gooseberry flavors plus the acidity you come to expect from this variety. It’s a bargain at $14 if you ask me.

I love cooking with this style of white wine. I came home after the gym and tossed a splash of the Patianna with two handfuls of sliced cherry tomatoes, three cloves of garlic, certified California olive oil, parsley, butter and some butterflied shrimp. I poured the whole thing over some basil pasta and added a squeeze or two of fresh lemon. It was to die for. The wine cut the sweetness of the cherries and the richness of the shrimp, butter and oil. The lemon squeeze really mirrored the citrus flavor in the wine. 

Try it!

Posted on Friday, April 23rd, 2010
Under: Corkheads | No Comments »
Leave a comment

Support Women in Brewing This Saturday in Sacramento

This Saturday, April 24, another festival will be taking place in Sacramento. If yo happen to be up that way — or live nearby, of course — check out the 4th annual Women in Brewing Festival at Rubicon.

Here’s the info, from Rubicon’s blog:

In 2007 the Rubicon Brewing Company established the Women in Brewing celebration. This is an event that digs up the history of women in brewing while spotlighting the talent of those brewers in our industry today. The 4th Annual Women in Brewing Festival will take place at the Rubicon Brewing Company at 2004 Capitol Avenue starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 24th and will go until the beer is gone. Many talented female brewers have been invited to showcase their special recipes and hard to find brews. Some of these ladies will make the journey to the Rubicon Brewing Company to chat with event goers while enjoying a day in the sun with their fellow brewster’s and a pint. This event is not a competition nor is it a “brewfest.” It is a typical day at the Rubicon where we will highlight the fabulous “brewed by women” beer on tap for tasting in sample, goblet or pint along with food specials and, as always, great friends. A silent auction will be held with great prizes donated by local businesses. While honoring and bringing recognition to our women in the brewing industry, the Rubicon Brewing Company is dedicated to raising money and awareness for WEAVE. The event raises more than $4,000 to support crisis intervention services for victims of sexual assault. WEAVE is the primary provider of crisis intervention services to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in Sacramento County.

Denise Jones, the head brewer at Moylan’s will be on hand, and probably additional brewsters, too. Stop by and help support a worthy cause.

The beers below will be served Saturday, and each one was brewed by a female brewer:

  • Auburn Alehouse: Scarlet Red
  • Blue Frog: Ginger & Meyer Ann
  • Lost Coast: Scotch Ale
  • Moylans: Hell’s Lager
  • Rubicon: Bull of the Woods, Stardancer, 80 Grit
  • Santa Cruz: Witches Wit
  • Sierra Nevada: Summerfest, Scotch Ale
  • Urthel Al: Hop It, Samarath

Posted on Wednesday, April 21st, 2010
Under: On Beer | No Comments »
Leave a comment

Bay Area Firkin Fest This Saturday

This Saturday, April 24, the 7th annual Bay Area Firkin Fest will be held at Triple Rock Brewery in Berkeley. Doors will open at 11:00 a.m. and tickets are $20. Admission includes a commemorative logo glass and six 4-oz. pours. Additional samples may be purchased for $2 each (or 3 for $5). This is one of the most fun festivals of the season, especially if you love cask beer. See you there.


Posted on Wednesday, April 21st, 2010
Under: On Beer | 2 Comments »
Leave a comment

Sarah Palin’s speech to Wine & Spirit Wholesalers of America

Wondering what Sarah Palin got paid $75,000 to say to the Wine & Spirit Wholesalers of America last week in her keynote address at their Las Vegas conference? Find out by listening to Palin’s speech here off a link in Tom Wark’s Fermentation blog.

What you’ll discover is she didn’t say much. Just a few bad wine puns and the usual finger wagging at Washington, which is all about special interest groups. Isn’t WASW a special interest group? According to attendees, the word wine wasn’t even mentioned.

Posted on Monday, April 19th, 2010
Under: Corkheads | No Comments »
Leave a comment

The Top 50 Craft Breweries

The Brewers Association, a trade group for small breweries, just announced their annual list of the top 50 craft breweries in the U.S. based on sales, by volume, for 2009. The full list is below, with the California breweries italicized. Eleven of the 50 breweries on the list, or over 20%, are from California.


  1. Boston Beer Co.; Boston MA
  2. Sierra Nevada Brewing; Chico CA
  3. New Belgium Brewing; Fort Collins CO
  4. Spoetzl Brewery (Gambrinus); Spoetzl TX
  5. Pyramid Breweries; Seattle WA
  6. Deschutes Brewery; Bend OR
  7. Matt Brewing; Utica NY
  8. Magic Hat Brewing Company; Burlington VT
  9. Boulevard Brewing; Kansas City MO
  10. Harpoon Brewery; Boston, MA
  11. Alaskan Brewing; Juneau AK
  12. Bell’s Brewery; Galesburg MI
  13. Kona Brewing; Kailua-Kona HI
  14. Full Sail Brewing; Hood River OR
  15. Stone Brewing; Escondido CA
  16. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Lewes DE
  17. Brooklyn Brewery; Brooklyn NY
  18. Abita Brewing; New Orleans LA
  19. Summit Brewing; Saint Paul MN
  20. Anchor Brewing; San Francisco CA
  21. Shipyard Brewing; Portland ME
  22. New Glarus Brewing; New Glarus WI
  23. Great Lakes Brewing; Cleveland OH
  24. Rogue Ales/Oregon Brewing; Newport OR
  25. Long Trail Brewing; Bridgewater Corners VT
  26. Lagunitas Brewing; Petaluma CA
  27. Gordon Biersch Brewing; San Jose CA
  28. Sweetwater Brewing; Atlanta GA
  29. Firestone Walker Brewing; Paso Robles CA
  30. Victory Brewing; Downingtown PA
  31. Flying Dog Brewery; Frederick MD
  32. BJs Restaurant & Brewery; Huntington Beach CA
  33. Odell Brewing; Fort Collins CO
  34. Rock Bottom Brewery Restaurants; Louisville CO
  35. Bridgeport Brewing; Portland OR
  36. Lost Coast Brewery; Eureka CA
  37. Big Sky Brewing; Missoula MT
  38. Stevens Point Brewing; Stevens Point WI
  39. Mac and Jack’s Brewery; Redmond WA
  40. Karl Strauss Breweries; San Diego CA
  41. The Saint Louis Brewery; St Louis MO
  42. Blue Point Brewing; Patchogue NY
  43. Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants; Chattanooga TN
  44. Oskar Blues Brewery; Longmont CO
  45. North Coast Brewing; Fort Bragg CA
  46. Breckenridge Brewery; Denver CO
  47. Utah Brewers Cooperative; Salt Lake City UT
  48. Saint Arnold Brewing; Houston TX
  49. Boulder Beer; Boulder CO
  50. Bear Republic Brewing; Cloverdale CA

Four breweries are new to the Top 50 Craft Breweries list; Bear Republic Brewing, Oskar Blues Brewery, Saint Arnold Brewing and Stevens Point. In addition, four dropped off the list; Otter Creek Brewing, Pete’s Brewing, McMenamins and Anderson Valley Brewing. Here is the press release from Brewers Association.

Posted on Saturday, April 17th, 2010
Under: On Beer | 3 Comments »
Leave a comment