Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for September, 2011

The 2011 Alpha King

While GABF judging is done, we won’t know the results until tomorrow. But we do know one winner, the 2011 Alpha King. If you’re unfamiliar with the Alpha King Challenge, it’s a side contest during GABF week to find America’s hoppiest — but still drinkable — beer that’s been going since 1999, and was inspired by Three Floyd Brewing‘s own hop bomb, named The Alpha King. These days it’s sponsored by HopUnion and the Brewing News. After finishing GABF judging this morning, I hightailed it over to the Falling Rock to take part in the Alpha King judging.

The 2011 winner of the Alpha King Challenge was Poor Man’s IPA, brewed by Jeff Bagby at Pizza Port in San Diego. This is the second win in a row for Poor Man’s IPA and the third win by a beer brewed by Jeff.

Jeff Bagby, the 2011 Alpha King

Here’s a list of the winners:

  1. Poor Man’s IPA, by Pizza Port, San Diego, California
  2. Double Jack, by Firestone Walker Brewing, Paso Robles, California
  3. IPA by Sun King Brewing, Indianapolis, Indiana

Posted on Friday, September 30th, 2011
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30th Great American Beer Festival Judging

Right now I’m out in Denver, Colorado judging at the 30th Great American Beer Festival. Because it’s the 30th year, after orientation last night, they took an impromptu group photo of all 167 judges, or at least as many as would fit in the photo. See if you can find me (hint: I’m a little to the left and two-thirds of the way back). Recognize anyone else? There’s plenty of Bay Area faces in the crowd.

Click on the photo for a larger view.

Posted on Wednesday, September 28th, 2011
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High Water Releases New IPA

High Water Brewing of San Leandro has just released another new IPA, this one called No Boundary IPA. At 6.5% a.b.v., it’s their lightest beer yet, though knowing brewer Steve Altimari it probably still packs a good hop punch.


Posted on Monday, September 26th, 2011
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Drink Real, Too, at Eat Real Festival in Oakland This Weekend

Oakland’s Eat Real Festival, at Jack London Square, will be dishing out great food all weekend. The festival opens today and Sunday at 11:00 a.m. and goes until 8:00 p.m. Saturday, but closes at 7:00 p.m. tomorrow night. While it’s a food lover’s dream, you’re going to need something to wash it all down with. Happily, twenty Bay Area breweries will be pouring their beer at the Beer Shed, and they’ve now expanded it into extra areas so the lines won’t be as long. There’s also tons of cooking demonstrations in four different areas throughout the days.


Posted on Saturday, September 24th, 2011
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Great American Beer Festival 1982 vs. 2011

Joey McDaniel created a fun infographic comparing the first Great American Beer Festival in 1982 to this year’s festival. Joey was introduced to craft beer by his wife, Jen, and together they run the beer blog Wet Your Whistles, covering beer in the Bay Area, with an emphasis on the “watering holes along the San Francisco Bay Area Caltrain railway line.” It’s interesting to see how far we’ve come in the 30 years since the first GABF was held.


Infographic used with permission of Joey McDaniel. Thanks, Joey.

Posted on Friday, September 23rd, 2011
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Fleming’s new list of 100 wines by the glass

I recently got a sneak peak at Fleming’s Prime Steak House and Wine Bar’s new list of 100 wines by the glass. The list, which is currently available, is a combination of the usual suspects (Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc) disappointments (Beringer White Zinfandel? Come on, the world is full of beautiful rose) and pleasant surprises (three rieslings).

And that’s just the whites.

I tried a variety of red wine, and was happy to see the wine directors showcasing reliable producers but trying out different wines in their portfolios. For instance, they feature Orin Swift, but it’s the zinfandel, not The Prisoner, which some of us have grown weary of. Duckhorn’s there, but it’s cabernet sauvignon, not merlot, that is being featured. Hoorah.

With a selection of new small plates including delicate ahi tuna skewers and mouth-watering lobster tempura – those will be available starting Sept. 21 – I sipped samples of Penley Coonawarra Gryphon, an Australian merlot with a beautiful smoky aroma of charred blueberries.

Just before dinner, I had a taste of Masi Veneto Campofiorin, an earthy blend from Italy with an acidity so great it was practically begging for marinara.

And lastly, with my petite filet mignon, I sipped Raymond’s Napa Valley Sommelier Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, a rich, full-bodied wine with a good deal of tannins to stand up to red meat.

Posted on Monday, September 19th, 2011
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Talking (And Drinking) Like A Pirate

As today is International Talk Like A Pirate Day, I thought I’d share this version of the Pirate Alphabet, which seems to be more about beer than piracy.



A — The favorite word of Canadian pirates, ey?
B — B stands for Beer!
C — Da ting we sails da boat on
D — Das beer! German pirates
E — ‘e needs a beer
F — ‘f only I had a beer
G — Gee, I wish I had a beer
H — H’aightch and everone one of us should have a beer
I — I wish I had a beer
J — The guy who sells us beer
K — Jay’s wife, she’s a looker!
L — Da place where bad pirates goes when dey dies!
M — ’em folks needs beers
N — ‘nother beer
O — Oh I wish I had a beer
P — (*long pause*) Self-explanatree!
Q — A French word meaning ‘line for beer’
R — A pirate’s favorite word, Arrrh!
S — What you fall on when you drink too much beer
T — Why we beat the British
U — You should have a beer
V — Vikings! Swedish pirates
W — You and you should have a beer
X — Jay’s former wife, she no longer sells us beer
Y — Why not have a beer
Z — Ze beer! French pirates

Posted on Monday, September 19th, 2011
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The Language of Beer

With Oktoberfest starting today in Munich, Germany (and going until October 3), the folks at the Pimsleur Approach — who sell language learning software — put together an infographic appropriately called “Learn the Language of Beer: How to Talk Like a Beer Snob.” As they claim, “it’s a bit tongue and cheek,” but still manages to be fairly informative with a number of good basic terms and ideas for the novice.


Infographic used with permission of Pimsleur.

Posted on Saturday, September 17th, 2011
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