Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for May, 2010

Grapevine moth lands in Fresno

The grapevine moth is spreading throughout California. According to this article in the Fresno Bee, it is not just preying on wine grapes. The moth also likes tree fruit, so the state’s olives and pomegranates are also at risk. I covered the quarantine caused by the moth in Napa, Sonoma and Solano a few weeks ago in our paper.

Posted on Thursday, May 6th, 2010
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The Lagunitas Beer Circus is Coming to Town

If you missed last year’s Lagunitas Beer Circus, you missed one of the most amazing spectacles involving beer I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending. It was so good, they’ve moved it to May for the better weather and because it deserves its own time slot.

Tickets are now on sale for the 2nd annual Lagunitas Beer Circus, which will be held Sunday, May 16 from 1:00-6:00 p.m. Tickets are $35, which includes admission and 10 beer tokens, and be purchased by calling 707.769.4495.

Here’s a description of the circus from one of two Facebook pages for the event.

This year’s going to be c-r-a-z-y. In lieu of a bigtop they’re gonna take over the entire Lagunitas parking lot and Beer Sanctuary. More space means more Circus.

Already confirmed are awesomeness like a midway with carnival games; different stages with bands like the kings of klown-fi, Gooferman; aerialists, contortionists, and sideshow freaks like Jo-Jo The Dog-Faced Boy and The Bearded Lady; oilpunks of the Golden Mean Giant Snail Car and burlesque teasers Boiler Bar Revue & Theater; with tons more to be announced.

Oh yeah, and the beer in Beer Circus? Well, this is a Beer Festival and Lagunitas always does ‘em right. So with your ticket you’ll get a healthy number of pours. Not only from their standard lineup and one-of-a-kind brews found only in their TapRoom, there’ll be taps from 10 local breweries: Ace Cider, Dempsey’s Brewing, Russian River, Moylan’s, Marin Brewing Company, Moonlight Brewing, Sonoma Springs Brewery, Napa Smith, Third Street Aleworks, and Iron Springs Brewerys (hopefully with their Ambrewlance).

I had such a great time at this last year, it’s definitely one not to be missed. See you there!


Posted on Thursday, May 6th, 2010
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Pearls Before Swine Asks Sierra Nevada For Samples

The comic strip Pearls Before Swine had a shout out today for Sierra Nevada samples. I doubt that’s going to work out for them, but you have to admire the chutzpah to try.


Posted on Thursday, May 6th, 2010
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H.R. 5034 threatens direct wine shipping laws – again

Great, comprehensive article in the Washington Post today about how if passed the bill HR 5034 could make it really hard to get wine shipped directly to your home.

It threatens a piece of 2005 legislation passed by the Supreme Court that you might remember. It put the job of regulating the distribution of alcoholic beverages in the hands of states as long as they didn’t discriminate against out of state producers. It’s a coup that today, 37 states allow their residents to go to a favorite out of state winery and have a case shipped back home.

I doubt HR5034, brought to Congress by wine wholesalers and Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass) will pass though. As the author says, Nancy Pelosi lives in northern California and owns a vineyard.

Posted on Wednesday, May 5th, 2010
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Fritz Maytag Talks About Anchor’s History On PBS

Last Friday on KQED, San Francisco’s PBS station, aired a live interview with Fritz Maytag and Keith Greggor about the sale of Anchor Brewery. It’s fun to hear Maytag reminisce about th early days and Greggor talk about his plans for the future. The podcast of the interview, Anchor Steam Sold, is up and you can listen to it on the KQED Archive or download it for you iPod. Or you can just push the play button below.

Posted on Monday, May 3rd, 2010
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Clarksburg’s Dancing Coyote: Unique, value wines

 Dancing Coyote 

Anyone in California can make chardonnay and zinfandel. And, they do. So I was definitely intrigued by Dancing Coyote’s portfolio. Exotic, food-friendly white wines at an approachable, drink-me-know price point of $9.99 to $12.99. 

Maybe you can’t affored that Austrian tasting at Fort Mason in San Franisco on May 3. Maybe you’re not sure how to pronounce gruner veltliner, and so never bring it up to your local wine merchant.

That’s why producers like Dancing Coyote, which make 10,000 cases that they farm from 600 acres in Sacramento Valley, are important.  They’re introducing value-shopping Americans to gewurztraminer, verdelho, and to my surprise, gruner veltliner, of which barely any is planted  in California. Bravo.

They also make two reds – petit sirah and pinot noir.

Here’s a taste:

2009 Verdelho: I love this Portuguese grape, and I’m glad it’s gaining popularity in the States. Dancing Coyote’s dry version is surprisingly high in alcohol for a white wine (14.5 percent) with lovely aromas and flavors of pear and honeysuckle. I get a slightly bitter metallic finish at the end, but it’s not off-putting enough to keep me away. Especially with a bite of Greek salad.  

2009 Gruner Veltliner: Anyone in California who wants to take a stab at this steely Austrian varietal is OK by me. My gut reaction when I taste one from here, however, is that it’s not cold enough to grow gruner here. So you’re not going to get the acidity and minerality that are the core characteristics of the wine. Particularly at this price point, however, I think Dancing Coyote’s is great. It has peach aromas and flavors and finishes clean with a touch of pepper, another hallmark of the grape.

2009 Gewurztraminer: Ah, this is the stuff. Aromas of rose and lychee. Flavors of pear and honeysuckle. A hint of sweetness on the finish followd by a spicy exhale. I’d rock this wine with a spicy Thai noodle dish. A wine of this complexity and beauty at a food-friendly 12 percent alcohol? Get some before it’s gone.

2008 Petit Sirah: I don’t typically reach for wines like this, but I’ve judged many in competitions, and this one is spot-on accurate. Inky with big, mouth-drying tannins, and aromas and flavors of just-baked blackberry pie cooling on the windowsill while hickory wafts in from the outside grill.

Posted on Sunday, May 2nd, 2010
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New Brewery Opens in San Francisco

San Francisco’s newest brewery opened today, Social Kitchen & Brewery, at 1326 9th Avenue. Rich Higgins, who was the beer week director this year for SF Beer Week, is the brewer there. He’s been working on it for a while now, and it’s finally open. Stop by and say hello to Rich and wish him well … oh, and try one of his beers. There are also additional details on their Facebook page, too. If the address looks familiar, that’s because it’s the same location that Wunder Brewing was recently located at, and before that it was Eldo’s, and originally Golden Gate Brewery.

Outside the new Social Kitchen & Brewery.

The initial lineup of beers.

Posted on Saturday, May 1st, 2010
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Moonlight Goes Wild

Brian Hunt, from Moonlight Brewing, has announced the acquisition of two used French champagne foeders (oak barrels), which he’ll be using make spontaneously fermented beers. Also known as wild ales, it’s the way all beer used to be made before yeast was discovered and understood. Each foeder will hold 34 barrels (1,054 gallons). Don’t expect to see any beer for at least 18 months, because he’ll be aging the beer for at least that length of time, possibly longer. What will they be called? Perhaps Sonambic (a combination if Sonoma + lambic), which is a term Brian Hunt coined, and which Vinnie Cilurzo also uses at Russian River for some of his wild ales, and both breweries are in Sonoma County.

Brian Hunt and his assistant brewer, Jeff Barkley, in front of Moonlight Brewery’s new foeders.

Posted on Saturday, May 1st, 2010
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