Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for October, 2010

San Francisco Brewery & Texas Brewery Make Friendly Bet Over World Series

sf-giants texas-rangers
Craft brewers tend to not be as cutthroat competing with one another as a lot of other businesses. Most believe that the sale of one craft beer helps the sales of all other good beer, too. But that ethos doesn’t necessarily extend to sports. Case in point, the 2010 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Texas Rangers.

Shaun O’Sullivan, from the 21st Amendment Brewery in San Francisco — in fact just a stone’s throw from the ballpark where the World Series be played — got a call today from his friend and colleague Fritz Rahr, who owns Rahr & Sons Brewing in Fort Worth, Texas, proposing a friendly wager on this year’s World Series.

So here’s the bet, as told by Shaun O’Sullivan on the 21st Amendment website in a post entitled It’s On Like Donkey Kong:

If the Texas Rangers win the World Series (highly unlikely in my opinion, but I digress), I will wear a Texas Ranger’s shirt, drinking a Rahr and Sons delicious beer outside of San Francisco’s AT&T Park. And when the San Francisco Giants beat the Texas Rangers (they will), Fritz will be wearing a Giants shirt and drinking a 21st Amendment delicious canned craft beer outside of Arlington Field.

I can’t wait to see those photos. Just one more reason to cheer on the Giants. Though I confess that Rahr makes some outstanding beers and it would be nice to taste a few of them during the series, I think for now I’ll stick to Bay Area beers to root for San Francisco beginning this Wednesday. What will you be drinking during the ball games?


Posted on Monday, October 25th, 2010
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First Time “Bay Area Craft Beer Festival” This Saturday in Martinez

This Saturday, October 23, another new festival will kick off in the Bay Area, in this case Martinez. The Bay Area Craft Beer Festival will be held in the Historic Cannery District at the Martinez Waterfront Park, located at 333 Ferry St. in downtown Martinez from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Tickets are $35 for general admission or $50 for a VIP ticket, which gets you in an hour earlier, at Noon. Tickets can be purchased online or at several locations throughout the Bay Area. Check out the festival website for details.

Admission includes includes a commemorative glass, unlimited tastings and entertainment, which includes three bands. Over thirty breweries will be pouring their beer. Food will also be available for a separate purchase. The festival will take place indoors, so it’s rain or shine.


Posted on Thursday, October 21st, 2010
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Inaugural Good Food Awards Include Craft Beer

Last weekend I was pleased to help judge beer for the inaugural Good Food Awards. As I remarked yesterday in a post about Blue Bottle’s Stout Coffee Cake, while the sustainable and local food community has been slow to accept beer, “things are finally changing and a growing number of self-avowed foodies are accepting craft beer as an equal to other artisanal foodstuffs.” You couldn’t ask for a better example of that than the new Good Food Awards. Started by Seedling Projects, their take on the Good Food Awards is to reward producers whose products are “delicious, authentic and responsibly produced.”

The Good Food Awards will present the best of seven different types of food: beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, coffee, pickles and preserves. Here’s the overall concept:

The Good Food Awards celebrate the kind of food we all want to eat: tasty, authentic and responsibly produced. We grant awards to outstanding American food producers and the farmers who provide their ingredients. We host an annual Awards Ceremony and Marketplace at the iconic Ferry Building in San Francisco to honor new Good Food Award recipients and also organize a month of events and tastings to support the wider community making good food.

More specifically, they included beer for the following reasons:

Good Beer is crafted by brewers who practice water recycling and resource conservation, support their local communities and seek out ingredients that are free of pesticides, herbicides and genetically modified organisms. The Good Food Awards seal will be given out in the categories of Traditional, Experimental and Collaborative brews – those made by more than one brewer working together — a growing practice that highlights the community spirit flourishing amongst craft brewers.

We judged about fifty beers from around the country, divided into broad categories: experimental and traditional. It was then further divided geographically into five regions, though the majority came from the West. We had six judges, a good mix of experience and backgrounds. Dave McLean, from Magnolia, ran the judging behind the scenes and asked me to act as judge captain, though he did manage to judge one late round, when one of the other judges had to leave early.

The beer judging table at the Good Food Awards.

We tried a lot of great beers, and the winning beers were all very impressive beers. The winners in all the categories will be announced on January 14, 2011. Two days later, beginning January 16, they’ll kick-off Good Food Month, which will last until February 20. “Each week will pair two of the food categories” judged and the final week, February 11-20, will include a partnership with our own SF Beer Week to celebrate beer in the Bay Area and beyond.

Renato Sardo and Dave McLean judging beer at the Good Food Awards
Renato Sardo and Dave McLean judging beer at the Good Food Awards.

Posted on Sunday, October 17th, 2010
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Blue Bottle’s Stout Coffee Cake

Back in August, I wrote about a cake made with stout at Miette’s in San Francisco and Oakland. It had been chosen by Alton Brown of the Food Network as one of the Top Ten Sweets in the United States. And while it was very tasty, I lamented the fact that it was made with Guinness stout rather than a local beer. I’ve noticed that a lot of foodies who insist on local food ingredients and even wine are completely blind to the concept of local beer. It’s a head-scratcher, and it’s incredibly sad how slow much of the food community has been to embrace craft beer while at the same time they’ve been so quick to champion artisanal cheese, bread, chocolates, preserves, charcuterie, pickles, coffee, tea, wine and much more. Happily, things are finally changing and a growing number of self-avowed foodies are accepting craft beer as an equal to other artisanal foodstuffs.

So I was thrilled to learn that another local company, Blue Bottle Coffee, was making a pastry — in this case a coffee cake — using a local stout, Magnolia Stout of Circumstance. Dave McLean’s Magnolia Gastropub makes some great beers (and has really good food, too) so I was very keen to try the coffee cake made with his beer.

Blue Bottle Coffee has six locations in the Bay Area (five in San Francisco and one in Oakland; and there’s a seventh location in Brooklyn, too) and last week I stopped by their Kiosk location on Linden Street in San Francisco.

Waiting in line at the Linden Street Kiosk.

It turns out that the co-founder of Miette, Caitlin Williams Freeman — who made the other stout cake — sold her interest in Miette and started making pastries for her husband’s company, Blue Bottle Coffee. Her most famous pastries are the art-inspired creations she makes for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. But it was the beer confections that caught my interest.

Blue Bottle Coffee’s coffee cake made with Magnolia’s stout.

The coffee cakes are sold in a small, round personal size. They’re quite tasty, with a melange of different flavors. There appear to be oats, chopped walnuts, caraway seeds and possibly dried currants in the cake. The stout brings out a nice balancing sweetness that’s treacly and molasses-like. That sweetness also balances the dry cake and makes it nice and moist so that when you bite into it you get both dry and wet sensations. I’m not actually much of a coffee drinker — I prefer tea — but I can see how this cake would be a perfect compliment to their coffee, which as I understand it are some of the best.

The Blue Bottle Coffee Cake close-up on my kitchen counter.

Posted on Saturday, October 16th, 2010
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Gloria Ferrer 2002 Royal Cuvee: A compelling steal

Gloria Ferrer 2002 Royal Cuvee

I recently opened this Gloria Ferrer 2002 Royal Cuvee sparkling wine by accident. Meaning, I’d usually save something this tantalizing for a special occasion. But the special occasion in this case was my bird brain, so here goes. I was mesmerized.

The gorgeous gold tone in the glass was breathtaking, not to mention the almost pedantic stream of bubbles. I poured it into two flutes to see how it performed: A cheap, thick stemless and a thinner, higher quality stem. It danced in both.

The aroma was equally beautiful. Crisp apple tart with a distinct brioche. On the palate, I got lemon, apple, and more brioche flavors plus an extra long finish. Sixteen base wines were blended for the final cuvee, and the wine was aged on the lees for more than five years. It shows. I think it will continue to develop complexity for at least another 5 years. But I’m not sorry I opened it.

Honestly, it is an utter steal at $32 and is available on the Gloria Ferrer website.

Posted on Friday, October 15th, 2010
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Black Diamond Runs 1st TV Commercial

If you haven’t watched much sports on television lately perhaps you missed the new cable television commercial by the Bay Area’s own Black Diamond Brewing of Concord. Happily, it’s now up on YouTube. Go Flames!

Posted on Wednesday, October 13th, 2010
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In the Brewery at Firestone-Walker

Firestone-Walker Brewing just posted a cool video shot in the brewery, with great production values and music. I’m not sure if we’ll see it anytime soon on television, even cable, but it’s better than most of the beer ads currently running.

Posted on Saturday, October 9th, 2010
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The World’s Strongest & Strangest Beers

Here’s an interesting infographic created by, of all people, Term Life Insurance, showing The World’s Strongest & Strangest Beers.


Here’s a close-up of the strongest beers.

And another close-up of the strangest beers.

Posted on Saturday, October 9th, 2010
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A Conversation with Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada

Tom Dalldorf, of the Celebrator Beer News, did a great interview with Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada Brewing for the most recent issue of the Celebrator. The new issue features part of the interview and also Grossman on the cover for Sierra Nevada’s 30th anniversary this year.


The entire interview is just under 30 minutes and was done last month in Chico. Enjoy.

A Conversation with Ken Grossman from Wing and Wing Productions on Vimeo.

Posted on Thursday, October 7th, 2010
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Free tastings at Williams Selyem’s new Russian River winery

Williams Selyem's new Sonoma winery

How’s that for a great recession headline? It’s true. Williams Selyem, producer of some of the world’s most iconic and coveted small production pinot noir and chardonnay, has opened a new, 33,000 square foot winery off Westside Road in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County.

Even better, they offer free tastings. Yes, free. The tasting consists of three to six wines. Typically, two of the wines are only available in the winery, and the others are dependent on the time of year and availability. In general, their wines are sold through a list and are allocated two times a year on a first come, first served basis.

So you may not be trying that 100-point pinot, but all of their wines are produced using artisan methods and a proprietary yeast. They lack fining and filtration, and are glorious in my opinion.

What’s not glorious is the Williams Selyem List. It’s been in place ever since the early 80s and consists of about 20,000 people to date. To take advantage of the free tasting and tour of the new facility, which includes a new bottling line and barrel room, you need to sign up on the website, and naturally, there’s gotta be a wait.

But I’ve been relatively assured that if you sign up online you shouldn’t have to wait too long to book your free appointment. Let’s hope by Christmas.

Posted on Tuesday, October 5th, 2010
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