Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for March, 2011

Moylan’s Releases Orange & Black Congrats Ale! For Giants’ Opener

As the Giants get ready to take on the Athletics in the annual Bay Bridge Series that begins tonight, a local brewery gets set to release a new beer to honor San Francisco’s world series victory last year. Moylan’s, in Novato, California, will release Orange & Black Congrats Ale! on March 31 to coincide with the start of the regular baseball season. The special limited release is an American black ale, 6% a.b.v. and 32 IBUs. It will be available on draft, in growlers from the brewpub and in 22 oz. bottles.

Giants spec '11

From the press release:

In honor of the World Champions at the Cove, Moylan’s has created a smooth, American Black Ale brewed with orange zest. A hearty brew for the bleacher bums, the gardeners of turf and patient fans who have endured 54 years of pine-grabbing torture. This ale is a reflection of the many dedicated hearts and minds needed to brew a quality beer. It is made with Montana-grown pale two-row barley malted by Malteurop, crystal and black malted barley grown and roasted in Bamberg, Germany by Weyermann Specialty Malts. The robust flavors in the Black and Orange beer also include Canadian-grown barley supplied by Gilbertson and Paige and Mt. Hood and Liberty hops grown in the Yakima Valley by Puterbaugh Farms for Hops direct.

All the oranges used in this brew were grown locally in the California sunshine. Moylan’s offers an adult beverage to salute the Bat, the Stick, the Rally throng, the Crab, the Seal, the Golden voices in the box and all of the San Francisco legends that helped them see the dream become reality. The Orange & Black beer will be officially released on the Giants Opening Day on March 31st and will be available for a limited time. Alcohol by Volume 6.0%, total IBUs 36, 1.088 Original Gravity. This beer will be seen on draft at the pub and in select locations throughout the bay area.

This should be the perfect beer to enjoy as the Giants begin their run for back to back world series victories.

Posted on Monday, March 28th, 2011
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Remembering Bill Brand

Today would have been Bill Brand’s 73rd birthday, if not for the tragic events of February 8, 2009. Bill, of course, was hit by a Muni Train that evening and passed away twelve days later, on February 20. He was a bastion of support for the local beer community for decades, and one of it’s most visible media faces. He did a staggering amount of good to help brewers throughout the Bay Area, and wrote about the beer he loved so much with an unmatched passion and zeal. His Bottoms Up blog was read by millions, the newest form of his What’s On Tap newsletter that stretched back into the early 1990s. It was my great honor to take over his column and try to continue his legacy of support for craft brewers in the Bay Area and beyond. Drink a toast to the memory and legacy of William “Bill” Brand today. Happy birthday Bill, you are most certainly missed.

Dueling laptops; Bill and me at Magnolia on February 6 for the tapping of Napa Smith Original Albion Ale by Don Barkley. Photo by Shaun O’Sullivan.

Bill toasting with a pitcher of Oakland’s new Linden Street Brewery. Photo by RRifkin.

Bill taking notes at the Monk’s Blood Dinner at 21st Amendment, February 8, 2009. Photo by Jesse Friedman of Beer & Nosh.

Drink a toast to Bill today, it’s how he would have wanted to be remembered.

Posted on Saturday, March 26th, 2011
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Five reasons to attend the Lodi Spring Wine Show

The event takes place 6 to 9 p.m. March 25 and 26 at the Ole Mettler Grape Pavilion at the Lodi Grape Festival Grounds. For tickets and more information, visit the festival’s web site.

1. There will be butter samples. And I don’t mean the kind in chardonnay. One of the food purveyors at the show will be the California Cheese and Butter Association.

2. New this year is an olive oil tasting. Lodi is brimming with producers, from Cecchetti to Coldani.

3. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door – half the price of most large scale tastings.

4. You get to taste wine from 40 wineries including the green Bokisch Vineyards and the Greek-inspired Stama Winery.

5. Did I mention the butter?

Posted on Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011
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Prima wine auction to benefit Japan relief effort

The owners of Walnut Creek’s Prima Ristorante and wine shop have more than 35 cumulative years of residence in Japan, and the earthquake and tsunami that has ravaged the country has no doubt shocked them and made them want to help their Eastern second home.

To that end, co-owners Peter Chastain and John Rittmaster are holding a silent wine auction online and in store beginning at 10 a.m. March 23 and ending at 6 p.m. on April 2. Auction lots will come from their personal cellars – the first will be four bottles of 1990 Chateau Lynch-Bages from Rittmaster’s cellar – as well as those of long-time customers and wine distributor colleagues.

Their goal is to raise $50,000 for the Red Cross relief efforts in Japan. For more information, visit Prima or call 925-945-1800.

Posted on Thursday, March 17th, 2011
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The best Bay Area wine events

Not sure what it is about spring and wine – call it bud break fever – but two of the year’s best wine events are just around the corner and I wanted to make sure you knew about them. Here goes:

East Bay Vintners Alliance Passport 2011. Now in its fourth year, this annual event on April 2 from noon to 5 is the best way to get a feel and taste for the 23 wineries in Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, and environs.

A $40 ticket gets you a glass, wine samples, appetizers, and admission into all six locations. Each location hosts a cluster of wineries. A $10 designated driver ticket gets you everything except the wine pours and a coffee mug instead of a wine glass.

For information on transportation and shuttle options, visit the East Bay Vintners.

Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting. Of all the overwhelming Fort Mason tastings, this and Family Winemakers are the ones not to much. More then 100 vintners will gather for the 11th annual event from 2 to 5 p.m. March 27 and you’ll be able to taste more than 500 of their wines.

There are 22 grape varieties that hail from France’s Rhone Valley, from stars like syrah and mourvedre to lesser known and up and coming varietals such as grenache blanc and picpoul. Tickets are $45. For more information, visit the Rhone Rangers.

Posted on Thursday, March 17th, 2011
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Fairfax Brewfest This Saturday

This Saturday in the city of Fairfax, in Marin County, the 16th annual Fairfax Brewfest will take place from 1:00-5:00 p.m. Along with festival sponsor Iron Springs Pub & Brewery, at least 17 breweries will be pouring their beer. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door, for unlimited samples and full details, along with how to buy advance tickets online, can be found at the festival website. See you there.


Posted on Tuesday, March 15th, 2011
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The Pliny Song

The San Francisco-based band The Famous regularly plays the beer circuit and can frequently be seen performing at beer festivals and brewpubs around the Bay Area. They’re a terrific band. I’ve seen them several times, most recently at brewmaster Vinnie Cilurzo’s 40th birthday party at Russian River Brewing. At Cilurzo’s party, The Famous did a song created for the occasion, Pliny the Elder or The Pliny Song, an awesome little homage to one of the best known beers from the Bay Area and man it was named for. They’ve now recorded a studio version of it, and have created a music video to go along with it. Enjoy.

Posted on Tuesday, March 15th, 2011
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Happy Birthday Triple Rock

Today is the 25th anniversary of the day that Triple Rock Brewery & Alehouse first opened its doors for business in 1986. They’ll be celebrations going at the brewpub all day long, with rolled back pricing, and at 5:00 p.m. they’ll tap a special keg of beer by brewmaster Rodger Davis. Come on down and try some of this one-of-a-kind brew, and say hello to founders John and Reid Martin. I’ll be there, as well, so say hey.

Here’s some newspaper clippings and photographs, generously shared with me by John Martin, from opening day of Triple Rock in 1986:

Opening Day, inside Triple Rock, on March 14, 1986.

Triple Rock founders Reid and John Martin in the brewery.

John and Reid inside the alehouse, with the brewery in the background, a view you can still see 25 years later.

Posted on Monday, March 14th, 2011
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Guinness Chocolate Cheesecake

With Saint Patrick’s Day less than a week away, I thought I’d share this delicious looking recipe for a chocolate cheesecake made with Guinness, though I suspect any Irish dry stout would work. The recipe comes from Closet Cooking, a food blog by a man named Kevin in Ontario, Canada.


This recipe for the Guinness chocolate cheesecake is a pretty basic chocolate cheesecake recipe with the addition of the Guinness but the similarities stop there. The addition of the Guinness changes the texture and properties of the cheesecake making it more souffle like. Normally you can tell when a cheesecake is done by shaking it a bit and if only the center wiggles it is done but the entire surface of this cheesecake will wiggle the whole time, even after 2 hours of baking. You pretty much just have to trust the recipe and the results are certainly worth it!


The Guinness chocolate cheesecake is a moist one as might be expected with all of the extra liquid provided by the Guinness but it is also nice and light and creamy. This cheesecake has a texture that seems to be like a cross between a souffle and fudge and it is simply amazing! The Guinness flavour is very subtle but it seems to enhance the overall chocolate flavour which is quite welcome. In all honesty, this cheese cake does not need any garnishes but feel free to top it with some Bailey whipped cream if you like.

Here’s the recipe, but without the blockquotes for ease of reading:

Guinness Chocolate Cheesecake
(makes 6+ servings)
Printable Recipe


1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons heavy cream
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup Guinness


1. Mix the graham cracker crumbs, cocoa powder, sugar, and butter and press into the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan.
2. Melt the chocolate in the cream in a double boiler.
3. Cream the cream cheese.
4. Mix in the sugar, chocolate, sour cream, eggs, vanilla, and Guinness.
5. Pour the mixture into the spring form pans.
6. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 60 minutes.
7. Turn off heat and leave cheesecake in the oven with the door slightly ajar for 60 minutes.
8. Let it cool completely.
9. Chill the cheesecake in the fridge overnight.


Boy that looks tasty. I’m hungry.

Posted on Monday, March 14th, 2011
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Berkeley’s Triple Rock Brewpub To Celebrate 25 Years On Monday

Time sure has flown. Twenty-five plus years ago you weren’t even allowed to operate a brewpub in the State of California. Finally in 1983 that finally changed, thanks to some hard work and a lot of meetings. Shortly thereafter, the first two brewpubs in California opened, Mendocino Brewing and Buffalo Bill’s. The third opened 25 years ago come this Monday, March 14, 1986. It was started by the Martin brothers — John and Reid — who had both homebrewed in college. It originally opened under a name you may not be familiar with: Roaring Rock. Unfortunately, the folks from Latrobe, Pennsylvania, who brewed Rolling Rock, thought the name was too close to their own, and so the Martins had to pick a new name. Eventually they settled on Triple Rock Brewery & Alehouse.

Triple Rock when it opened in 1986.

This Monday, March 14, 2011, Triple Rock will be celebrating the 25th Anniversary of opening its doors. Here’s what will be going on at the brewpub all day long:

In celebration Rodger has re-brewed “Brew #1,″ the first beer ever made in the Triple Rock system. Reid & John originally brewed it on Christmas Day 1985. On March 14th we will be pouring Brew #1 (a Pale Ale) all day for just $1.75 a pint (the original price for a pint in 1986). We will also tap a hopped-up cask version of Brew #1 at 5 pm. Kind of a “2011 hopping meets 1986 cask ale” beer. Come by and try both of them!

The kitchen will be serving some old-school items, such as our original Muffaletta sandwich. But no, you’re not going to have to go to the “window” to order your grub, like you did in ’86.

John & Reid will preside over the tapping of the cask, and maybe go for another round of arm-wresting (John lost to Reid at the Festivus celebration last Dec.) Join past & present TRB brewers, staff, and long-time regulars to toast The Rock’s 25 years of making beer!

We’ve also created a special anniversary tee-shirt that pays homage to our original name, ”Roaring Rock Brewery”. There will be just one small print run of this shirt, so you should get yours before they’re gone. But, if you are up on your trivia of the early days of Roaring Rock/Triple Rock — you just may win one!


Posted on Friday, March 11th, 2011
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