Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for July, 2011

Recommended IPAs

If you read my most recent column in the newspaper, The Culture of the Hop, it was partly about how the West Coast has become a mecca for hoppy beer. Since the West Coast has essentially an embarrassment of riches, hoppy beer-wise, there wasn’t nearly enough space in the column to list even a few of the great beers available here in the Bay Area. So here is a list of just a few that I can heartily recommend that you should be able to find around town. Some may be a little easier to find than others, but all can be found somewhere throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.


India Pale Ales

  • Big Daddy, Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
  • Blind Pig, Russian River Brewing
  • Bombay by Boat, Moonlight Brewing [Draft only]
  • Brew Free or Die IPA, 2st Amendment Restaurant & Brewery
  • Drake’s IPA, Drake’s Brewing
  • The Hopfather, Russian River Brewing [Draft only]
  • Hop Riot, High Water Brewing
  • Hop Rod Rye, Bear Republic Brewing
  • Hop Ottin’ IPA, Anderson Valley Brewing
  • IPA, Lagunitas Brewing
  • Racer 5, Bear Republic Brewing
  • Sculpin IPA, Ballast Point Brewing
  • Stone IPA, Stone Brewing
  • Torpedo Extra IPA, Sierra Nevada Brewing
  • Total Domination, Ninkasi Brewing
  • Union Jack, Firestone Walker Brewing
  • West Coast IPA, Green Flash Brewing
  • Wipeout IPA, Port Brewing

Imperial or Double IPAs

  • Blue Dot, Hair of the Dog Brewing
  • Denogginizer, Drake’s Brewing
  • Deuce, El Toro Brewing
  • Dorado Double IPA, Ballast Point Brewing
  • Double Jack, Firestone Walker Brewing
  • He’Brew Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A., Shmaltz Brewing
  • Hop Crisis, 2st Amendment Restaurant & Brewery
  • Hop 15, Port Brewing
  • Hop Stoopid, Lagunitas Brewing (Sonoma Farmhouse)
  • The Maharaja, Avery Brewing
  • Maximus, Lagunitas Brewing
  • Moylander Double IPA, Moylan’s
  • Pliny the Elder, Russian River Brewing
  • Pure Hoppiness, Alpine Beer Co.
  • Racer X, Bear Republic Brewing
  • Retribütion Imperial IPA, High Water Brewing
  • Ruination, Stone Brewing
  • Tricerahops, Ninkasi Brewing
  • White Knuckle, Marin Brewing

Triple IPAs

  • Exponential Hoppiness, Alpine Beer Co. [Seasonal]
  • Hopsickle, Moylan’s
  • Pliny the Younger, Russian River Brewing [available for only a short limited time each February]

Hoppy hunting!

Posted on Tuesday, July 26th, 2011
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Oakland A’s Beerfest This Saturday

This Saturday, July 30, the 15th Annual Oakland A’s Beer Festival will take place from 4:05 p.m.-6:05 p.m. in the Eastside Club at the Oakland Coliseum. Fans can enjoy over 30 different microbreweries, live music from Bay Area cover band Tainted Love, and other festivities. Admission to A’s BeerFest is free with a ticket to the A’s 6:05 p.m. game against the Minnesota Twins. A special acrylic souvenir beer mug and three microbrew tastings will be available for $12, with additional tastings available for purchase. Mug and tasting sales end at 5:30 p.m. and the last pour is at 6:00 p.m.


Participating Breweries include: 21st Amendment, Anchor Brewing Co., Crispin & Fox Barrel Cider Co., Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Half Moon Bay Brewing Co., Iron Springs Pub and Brewery, Mendocino Brewing Co., Pabst Brewing Co., Pacific Coast Brewing Co., Pizza Orgasmica & Brewing Co., Rubicon Brewing Co., Sudwerk Brewery and Trumer Brauerei, among others.

Posted on Monday, July 25th, 2011
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Heritage Breweries

Charlie Papazian had an interesting series of posts (See Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3) a few years back that I thought was worth revisiting about what he refers to as “heritage breweries,” a term that he used to describe the few small breweries that not only survived prohibition but are still in business today, over 75 year later. According to his research, when prohibition summarily closed down thriving businesses in 1919, at a stroke 1,179 breweries were out of business, or at least no longer allowed to make their primary product: beer.

Of the ones that reopened thirteen years later, when prohibition was repealed only a handful managed to make it into the present, braving untold challenges, merger-manias, fickle consumers and ever more oppressive attacks by neo-prohibitionists unconvinced of prohibition’s massive failure. Papazian divides the heritage brewers into four types:

  1. Small, Independent and owned by the original family Heritage Brewers.
  2. Small breweries that have survived that are no longer owned by the original family, yet still independent of the large brewing companies.
  3. Breweries that have survived but are no longer owned by the original family, nor independent of a large brewing company.
  4. Small brewery that may remotely be considered a Heritage Brewery, though original family ownership and location is far removed from the current operation.

Of the first type, those still owned by the original family, only four remain.

  1. August Schell Brewing, New Ulm, Minnesota. (Founded in 1860)
  2. Matt Brewing / Saranac Brewery, Utica, New York. (Founded in 1888)
  3. Straub Brewery, St. Mary, Pennsylvania. (Founded in 1831)
  4. Yuengling Brewery, a.k.a. D. G. Yuengling and Son Inc., Pottsville, Pennsylvania. (Founded in 1829)

For the second type, breweries still considered independent but no longer owned by their original founders or their family, there are a mere six left.

  1. Anchor Brewing, San Francisco, California. (Founded in 1896)
  2. Dundee Ales & Lagers, f.k.a. J.W. Dundee, High Falls Brewing, and Genesee Brewing (prior to 2000), Rochester, New York. (Founded in 1857)
  3. Iron City Brewing, f.k.a. Pittsburgh Brewing, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Founded in 1861)
  4. Lion Brewery, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. (Founded in 1905)
  5. Spoetzl Brewery (Shiner Beer), Shiner, Texas. (Founded in 1909)
  6. Stevens Point Brewing, Stevens Point, Wisconsin. (Founded in 1857)

Of the third type, breweries “no longer owned by the original family, nor independent of a large brewing company,” only one remains, and I’m not sure if it really does fit in the third group.

  1. Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing, Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. (Founded in 1867.) Bought by Miller Brewing, now MillerCoors, in 1988.

I say that because it seems to me that while MillerCoors does own the brewery outright, the family, led today by Jake Leinenkugel, does maintain a certain amount of autonomy and makes a lot of their own decisions about the business. I interviewed Jake a number of years ago for an article I wrote for American Brewer magazine, and that was certainly the impression I was left with. It may not be “owned” by the family any longer, but they do seem to control their own destiny, and that has to count for something.

The fourth, and final category, as outlined by Papazian, is one in which the “original family ownership and location is far removed from the current operation.” Of this type, there are only two remaining.

  1. Cold Springs Brewery, (Originally established as the Mississippi Brewing Company, changed to Gluek Brewing Company sold to G. Heileman, then original brewery was demolished and then restablished itself as Cold Springs in 1997, changed back to Gluek and then back again to Cold Springs Brewery again recently), Cold Springs, Minnesota. (Founded in 1857)
  2. Dixie Brewing, New Orleans, Louisiana. The beer is said to be contract brewed at other locations. (Founded in 1907)

Totaled up, there are only thirteen breweries still in existence that were in business 82 years ago, when prohibition began. Twelve, if you discount brands that are contract brewed, such as Dixie is now post-Katrina. Now that’s just small breweries, but the pictures not much rosier if you include everybody.

  1. Anheuser-Busch InBev, St. Louis, Missouri or New York City, or Leuven, Belgium. (Founded in 1852 as Bavarian Brewery, name changed to E. Anheuser & Co. in 1860, incorporated as Anheuser-Busch in 1875)
    Given the takeover by InBev in 2008 and August Busch IV no longer a member of the board, essentially that would place ABI in Type 4.
  2. MillerCoors, Chicago, Illinois.
    Whether to consider them together or separately, that it is the question.
    • Coors Brewing, Golden, Colorado (Founded in 1873)
      Merged with Molson to form MolsonCoors in 2004, merged their U.S. operations with Miller in 2008 to form MillerCoors. Despite all that mergering, Pete Coors is still involved in running at least part of the company his family founded, but it’s a bit of a crapshoot where they’d fit in Papazian’s categories.
    • Miller Brewing, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Founded in 1855)
      Founder Frederick Miller’s granddaughter, who hated alcohol, sold the company to W.R. Grace in 1966. In 1969, Phillip Morris acquired Miller but sold it to the South African Breweries in 2002 to form SABMiller, and they also merged their U.S. operations with Coors in 2008 to form MillerCoors. That would put them, too, in category 4.
  3. Pabst Brewing, Greenwich, Connecticut or San Antonio, Texas or Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Founded in 1844)
    The Pabst family sold out back in the 1950s, if I recall correctly, and it was recently bought by Greek billionaire Dean Metropoulos. They haven’t owned an actual brewery in years, contracting all of their many brands of beer so it’s unclear, like Dixie, if they should be included at all. If so, they’re a clear Type 4.

Even pulling everybody, big or small, contract beer company or actual brewery, that’s still only 17 remaining from the original 1,179 left. That’s only 1.44% still in business after 82 years. Back out the big guys, and it’s 1.1%. I’m an inveterate pessimist, so I find that sad. I know that’s business in general, and many of the brewery mergers are the result of the cannibalistic nature of many of the big brewers (and corporate business more generally), but I’m a romantic pessimist, the worst kind. As much as I don’t really like the beers so many of the fallen breweries (and many of the remaining big ones, too) make, I still think we lose some part of our history every time yet another one closes or is bought out.

Posted on Thursday, July 21st, 2011
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Happy International Brewers Day

Today is the 4th annual holiday celebrating brewers around the world, International Brewers Day, which I created in 2008. While I haven’t been able to put as much effort into it as I might have liked, someday I will. In the meantime, some parts of the international brewing community are carrying on with celebrations, most notably in Australia. For now, a quiet celebration involving beer and any brewer you happen to encounter today is in order.


You could see the original idea, the plan and why I chose July 18 at the old International Brewers Day website, but unfortunately it’s currently down. I’ll have to get that moved and back up again one of these days.

Here was my original driving thought:

Brewers have given so many of us the pleasure of their artistry and enriched our lives with their beer since civilization began. So I think it’s time we recognized their efforts by celebrating their lives, their commitment and their craft. We’re all beer people, but without the brewers what would we be drinking?

For now, just drink a toast to your favorite brewer by drinking one of his or her beers. For most brewers I know, that’s thanks enough.

Did I mention that hugging brewers is a big part of the holiday?


As the old Czech saying goes:

Blessed is the mother who gives birth to a brewer.

Posted on Monday, July 18th, 2011
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Travel + Leisure Chooses The America’s Best Beer Cities

Travel + Leisure magazine, in their July 2011 issue, made their picks for America’s Best Beer Cities. Actually, the title is a bit misleading. It’s not really the “best” cities so much as the most “popular;” and most popular according to the magazine’s readers; and not all of their readers but specifically the ones who took the time to answer the poll. Looking more closely, the readers polled were asked to choose among 35 pre-chosen cities, too, meaning there was no chance for any town not on the starting list, too. Asheville, NC, for example, was presumably not among the 35 cities on Travel + Leisure’s list.

So that’s a very different thing and probably accounts for what I can only describe as some odd, but interesting, inconsistencies with other similar polls. Certainly Portland deserves the top spot, though it probably goes without saying I’d place San Francisco a lot higher than ninth. But Philly fourth from the cellar — along with San Diego even lower? — that seems like a travesty.

It does, however, tell us how people who like travel enough to subscribe to a periodical devoted to it perceive which cities are best for beer. Undoubtedly, many people voted for their local city so in a sense it’s partly a reflection of the magazine’s geographic readership. But that probably doesn’t tell the whole story. When asked to rank 35 cities, most people (apart from the very well traveled) I’d wager have not been to all of the cities. That would mean they’d be inclined to go with what they’d heard or read about the cities they hadn’t personally visited. They’d make a value judgment based on that particular city’s perception of beer-worthiness. Seen through that prism, it’s a more interesting list, to me at least. It also means I need to visit Savannah. What’s your take on the list?

Travel + Leisure’s 2011 Poll: America’s Best Beer Cities

  1. Portland, OR
  2. Denver, CO
  3. Seattle, WA
  4. Providence, RI
  5. Portland, ME
  6. Savannah, GA
  7. Boston, MA
  8. Austin, TX
  9. San Francisco, CA
  10. Nashville, TN
  11. Kansas City, MO
  12. Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
  13. Charleston, SC
  14. Chicago, IL
  15. Anchorage, AK
  16. New Orleans, LA
  17. Philadelphia, PA
  18. San Diego, CA
  19. Phoenix/Scottsdale, AZ
  20. Houston, TX

Posted on Thursday, July 14th, 2011
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Area Code Beer

After Anheuser-Busch InBev‘s recent acquisition of Goose Island for just under $40 million, it seems they may be taking a page from the Chicago microbrewery’s success. One of Goose Island’s most popular beers is 312 Urban Wheat Ale, named for the Chicago telephone area code.

Officially known as the Telephone Numbering Plan, it was first implemented only in large metropolitan areas in the late 1940s, and was nationwide by 1966. Until the number of area codes exploded due to fax machines, beepers (remember beepers?) and then mobile phones, many cities became closely associated with their area codes, being recognizable at once to anyone in the know. Thanks to such positive associations — not to mention being a tasty brew — Goose Island’s 312 became their best-selling beer, especially in their local market.

It appears that ABI is hoping such positive associations with local area codes will work as well in other cities as it has in Chicago, including San Francisco. Earlier this year, in May, they applied for a federal trademark for the area codes in fourteen metropolitan areas. So far they’re seeking a trademark for 202 (Washington, D.C.), 214 (Dallas), 216 (Cleveland), 303 (Denver), 305 (Miami), 314 (St. Louis), 412 (Pittsburgh), 415 (San Francisco), 602 (Phoenix), 615 (Nashville), 619 (San Diego), 702 (Las Vegas), 704 (Charlotte), and 713 (Houston). I’m a bit surprised that both New York (212) and Philadelphia (215) are both missing from the list. Both seem more well-known to me than several on the original list. So far, there’s no information about ABI’s plans for the trademarks, whether it’s to market the Urban Wheat branded for specific markets or to do different beers in each city. But it’s certainly possible we could see some version of the beer below at some point in the future. Stay tuned.


Posted on Thursday, July 7th, 2011
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3rd Annual Bear Republic Cellar Party Announced

The date has now been announced for the 3rd Annual Bear Republic Cellar Party. Tickets go on sale today, but are limited. The even will take place on Sunday, August 28, from 3-6 p.m. in the Bear Republic Brewpub Courtyard and Barrel Room adjacent to the Bear Republic Brewpub located at 345 Healdsburg Avenue in Healdsburg.Tickets are $60.

Here’s how the beer tasting is described:

The 3rd Annual Bear Republic Cellar Party is your chance to sample the exact batches submitted for judging at this year’s festival and competition in Denver, CO. Guests can participate in mock judging and ask the brewers questions about the different beer styles. The afternoon will include beer sampling, hors d’oeuvres and a commemorative glass to take home. Please join us for a fun and educational beer gathering.

Full details on the event and online tickets can be found on Bear Republic’s website.


Bear Republic has been the recipient of 15 awards from the Great American Beer Festival®, including the honor of 2006 Small Brewing Company of the Year.

The Great American Beer Festival® is the largest American beer competition with nearly 3,400 beers entered, 457 participating breweries and more than 130 professional judges. The festival is presented by the Brewers Association, a not-for-profit educational trade organization devoted to making quality brewing information available to anyone.

Posted on Sunday, July 3rd, 2011
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Best Beers In America 2011

The readers of Zymurgy magazine, which is for homebrewers, were asked to send in a list of their 20 favorite commercially available beers. With a record number of votes in the poll’s third year, 1,306 different beers from 433 breweries made the full list. The results are an interesting list of what the people who are passionate enough about beer to make it at home drink when they’re not enjoying their own homemade beer. The results are also printed in the latest issue.


Top Rated Beers
(T indicates tie)

Six of the top ten are California beers, with sixteen making the list.

1. Russian River Pliny the Elder
2. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale
T3. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
T3. Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout
5. Bell’s Hopslam
6. Stone Arrogant Bastard
7. Sierra Nevada Celebration
T8. Sierra Nevada Torpedo
T8. Stone Ruination
10. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
11. Stone Sublimely Self Righteous
12. Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine
13. Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
T14. Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter
T14. Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale
T16. Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
T16. New Glarus Belgian Red
18. North Coast Old Rasputin
19. Bell’s Expedition Stout
T20. Deschutes The Abyss
T20. Left Hand Milk Stout
T20. Odell IPA
T20. Samuel Adams Noble Pils
T20. Surly Furious
T20. Troegs Nugget Nectar
T26. Rogue Dead Guy Ale
T26. Samuel Adams Boston Lager
28. Anchor Steam
T29. Bear Republic Racer 5
T29. Ommegang Three Philosophers
T29. Oskar Blues Ten Fidy
T29. Three Floyds Alpha King
T29. Three Floyds Dark Lord
T34. Avery Maharaja
T34. Dogfish Head Indian Brown
T34. Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron
T34. Three Floyds Gumballhead
T38. Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA
T38. Lost Abbey Angel’s Share
T38. New Belgium La Folie
T38. New Belgium Ranger
T38. Oskar Blues Old Chub
T43. Ballast Point Sculpin IPA
T43. Great Divide Yeti
T43. New Belgium 1554
T43. Russian River Blind Pig
T43. Ska Modus Hoperandi
T48. Alesmith Speedway Stout
T48. Dark Horse Crooked Tree
T48. Green Flash West Coast IPA
T48. Summit EPA
T48. Victory Prima Pils

Brewery Rankings

Based on the total number of votes a beer from the same brewery received, the following list is of the top 50 breweries based on the voting. Seven California breweries made the list, with six from Colorado, and two apiece from Michigan and Oregon.

1. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, Del.
2. Bell’s Brewery, Kalamazoo, Mich.
3. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, Calif.
4. Stone Brewing Co., Escondido, Calif.
5. Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa, Calif.
6. Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids, Mich.
7. New Belgium Brewing Co., Fort Collins, Colo.
8. Boston Beer Co. (Samuel Adams), Boston, Mass.
9. Three Floyds Brewing Co., Munster, Ind.
10. Oskar Blues Brewing Co., Longmont, Colo.
11. Goose Island Beer Co., Chicago, Ill.
T12. Lagunitas Brewing Co., Petaluma, Calif.
T12. New Glarus Brewing Co., New Glarus, Wis.
14. Deschutes Brewery, Bend, Ore.
15. Great Lakes Brewing Co., Cleveland, Ohio
16. Odell Brewing Co., Fort Collins, Colo.
17. Avery Brewing Co., Boulder, Colo.
18. Great Divide Brewing Co., Denver, Colo.
19. Victory Brewing Co., Downington, Pa.
20. Surly Brewing Co., Minneapolis, Minn.
21. Rogue Ales, Newport, Ore.
22. Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, Calif.
T23. Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, N.Y.
T23. North Coast Brewing Co., Fort Bragg, Calif.
T24. Bear Republic Brewing Co., Healdsburg, Calif.
T24. Left Hand Brewing Co., Longmont, Colo.

Best Portfolio

They also determined which breweries got the most votes for different beers that they produce, and called that list “best portfolio.” The number following their name is how many of their beers got at least one vote.

1. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, 28 beers
2. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., 23 beers
T3. Avery Brewing Co., 18 beers
T3. Goose Island Beer Co., 18 beers
T3. Lagunitas Brewing Co., 18 beers
T3. Boston Beer Co./Samuel Adams, 18 beers
7. Bell’s Brewery, 17 beers
T8. Founders Brewing Co., 15 beers
T8. Great Divide Brewing Co., 15 beers
T8. Southern Tier Brewing Co., 15 beers
T11. Brooklyn Brewery, 14 beers
T11. Odell Brewing Co., 14 beers
T11. Rogue Ales, 14 beers
T14. New Belgium Brewing Co., 13 beers
T14. Russian River Brewing Co., 13 beers
T14. Stone Brewing Co., 13 beers
T17. Deschutes Brewery, 12 beers
T17. Three Floyds Brewing Co., 12 beers
T19. Boulevard Brewing Co., 11 beers
T19. Dark Horse Brewing Co., 11 beers
T19. New Glarus Brewing Co., 11 beers
T22. Alpine Beer Co., 10 beers
T22. AleSmith Brewing Co., 10 beers
T22. Great Lakes Brewing Co., 10 beers
T25. Cigar City Brewing Co., 9 beers
T25. Firestone Walker Brewing Co., 9 beers
T25. Flying Dog Brewing Co., 9 beers
T25. Harpoon Brewery, 9 beers
T25. The Lost Abbey, 9 beers
T25. Shorts Brewing Co., 9 beers
T25. Ska Brewing Co., 9 beers
T25. Sprecher Brewing Co., 9 beers
T25. Summit Brewing Co., 9 beers
T25. The Bruery, 9 beers

Top Imports

With a lot of ties, a few imports also received votes as readers’ favorite beers.

1. Rodenbach Grand Cru, Belgium
T2. Fullers ESB, England
T2. Guinness, Ireland
T2. Rochefort 10, Belgium
T5. Duvel, Belgium
T5. Saison Dupont, Belgium
T5. St. Bernardus Abt 12, Belgium
T8. Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock, Germany
T8. Cantillon Gueuze, Belgium
T8. Chimay Grande Reserve, Belgium
T8. Orval, Belgium
T8. Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown, England
T8. Unibroue La Fin du Monde, Canada

Spirit of Homebrew

And finally, the “Spirit of Homebrew” list is compiled by taking the number of votes a brewery received and dividing it by their annual production. The idea is to reward smaller breweries for having big reach. I was amazed to see that four of the five are from California. Congratulations to Pat, from Alpine McIlhenney, for being the biggest little guy.

1. Alpine Beer Co., Alpine, Calif
2. Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa, Calif.
3. AleSmith Brewing Co., San Diego, Calif.
4. The Bruery, Placentia, Calif.
5. Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, Dexter, Mich.

Posted on Friday, July 1st, 2011
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