Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for February, 2012

Three Ring Circus Brewer’s Dinner & Sideshow This Wednesday

Home-Brew-Chef speakeasy Ninkasi-white shmaltz
Wow, check out the Three Ring Circus Brewer’s Dinner & Sideshow happening this Wednesday night. To me, this sounds like the most off-the-hook, amazing, one-of-a-kind beer dinner since … well, since the last one Sean Paxton, the Homebrew Chef, did. If this isn’t on your SF Beer Week itinerary, it really should be, at least in my opinion. I admit a certain bias; Sean is a friend, but honestly I’ve enjoyed every single beer dinner he’s ever done. And they just keep getting better because Sean — who I like to call “The Mad Alchemist” — is always challenging himself to do more and more amazing things with beer and food.

So instead of taking your valentine out on the 14th, or buying them some chocolates, why not treat them to something truly amazing, the Three Ring Circus Brewer’s Dinner & Sideshow. Tickets are $120 each, which might sound steep until you consider that this is a nine-course meal that includes a dozen amazing beers, 6 live circus acts, live music, an emcee and a terrific setting: the historic Elks Lodge in San Francisco. Also, the three breweries will be pouring a new beer that all three, plus Sean, collaborated on called Three Ring Circus Ale just for this event. It’s described as “an anything-but-traditional nut brown ale brewed with dulce de leche, popped corn and peanuts that pays homage to the spirit of the circus.”

Tickes can be purchased online at Eventbrite. The poster for event is here and below that is the menu. Check it out. See you there!


Three Ring Circus Beer Dinner Menu

Pre-Dinner Reception Nibbles: Gourmet Popcorn

Bacon fat popped organic popcorn seasoned with tomato powder, roasted garlic, hop salt and smoked in bourbon barrel wood

Black Truffle Oil Scented Popcorn with cooked in vegetable oil with roasted garlic salt flakes

Thyme Infused duck fat popcorn with Sonoma Vella Dry Jack shavings, green peppercorns

First Course: The Mermaid

Lobster and prawn mousse infused with Ninkasi Believer Double Red Ale, wrapped around petrale sole filets, Speak Easy White Lightning Ale “Tide Sauce”, Ninkasi Little One Beer Foam, Speak Easy Prohibition Ale quinoa “sand”

Paired with Ninkasi Sterling Pils

Second Course: The Drumstick

Willie Bird Smoked Turkey legs rillettes layered with He’Brew Genesis 15:15, shallots, dried figs and thyme, Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk cheese, malt pickled heirloom pumpkin, assorted crackers, breads and spiced nuts

Paired with Speak Easy Massacre Black Wheat Wine and Coney Island Geektoberfest

Third Course: The Sword Swallower

“Haute” Dogs infused with 4-H style Lamb, Speak Easy Scarface Imperial Stout, caramelized onions and rosemary Ninkasi Renewale Porter Beer mustard, fennel carrot slaw, sweet roll

Paired with He’Brew Bittersweet Lenny’s RIPA

Fourth Course: Hopped Cotton Candy

Centennial hop scented sugar, wrapped around a cube of Sonoma foie gras terrine mixed with He’Brew Genesis

Paired with Speakeasy Big Daddy IPA

Fifth Course: Slider

Ground elk and duck heart patty, rendered dry aged beef fat, Brioche bun, house made He’Brew Genesis 15:15 beer ketchup, baby arugula, Speak Easy Payback Porter braised red onions

Paired with Ninkasi Conventionale (2010 Imperial Stout), Speakeasy Scarface Imperial Stout and He’Brew Genesis 15:15

Sixth Course: Churro

Point Reyes Blue cheese mixed into a Speak Easy Double Daddy savory churro, roasted garlic powder

Paired with Ninkasi Total Domination IPA

Seventh Course: Three Ring Circus

Roasted red, gold and white baby beets, Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog crumbles, carbonated citrus segments, malt candied hazelnuts, micro greens drizzled with a Three Ring Circus Collaboration vinaigrette

Paired with Speakeasy Prohibition Ale

Eighth Course: Funnel Cake

He’Brew Bittersweet Lenny’s RIPA infused batter with bergamot zest, Three Ring Circus Wort Honey Drizzle, Malted Powdered Sugar Dust, Ninkasi Sleigh’r Beer Caramel

Paired with Coney Island Albino Python

Ninth Course: The Non-Fried Non-Twinkie Cupcake

Ninkasi Conventionale Imperial Stout Chocolate Cake, filled with a He’brew Jewbelation 15 mousse filling, Speak Easy Prohibition Frosting, THCO Cocoa Nibs, Caramel Malt

Paired with Speakeasy, Ninkasi, Shmaltz, Home Brew Chef Collaboration beer: Three Ring Circus

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Posted on Sunday, February 12th, 2012
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The American Beer Revival

I love infographics, a marriage of data and graphic illustration that shows information in a beautiful and understandable way. So I was thrilled when I got an e-mail this morning from a new Silicon Valley start-up,, whose mission is just that, to create and help others create cool visual charts, infographics and videos.

One of their latest works is The American Beer Revival, created by Nate Whitson. Here’s how they describe it:

Over the last hundred or so years, the brewing industry in the United States has changed dramatically. From the saloon era through consolidation to today’s flourishing craft beer culture, it’s been quite a ride. Take a look at how the small brewer is making quite a comeback after nearly a half century of decline.

But better yet, just watch. Head over to to see The American Beer Revival.

Posted on Thursday, February 9th, 2012
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New Sour Beer Brewery Announced

Yesterday I received the word that there’s a new brewery opening soon in the Bay Area. It’s called The Rare Barrel and they’ll be a gypsy brewery specializing in sour beers. By gypsy, they mean to brew at area breweries and then ferment, age, package and serve their beers at their own facility, with that location still to be determined. One of the founders, Jay Goodwin, used to be the Head of Barrel Aging at The Bruery, so he knows his way around a barrel room.


From the press release:

Northern California is rich in brewing tradition and is home to some of the best breweries in the world. Hoping to add to this proud history, we are pleased to announce that we will be launching an all-sour, all-barrel aged “gypsy” brewery in the San Francisco Bay Area named The Rare Barrel.

What do we mean by “gypsy” brewery? We plan to partner with the great breweries of the Bay Area for our brewing needs, and we will be building our own barrel warehouse for fermentation, packaging and serving our beers to the public.

Our team is made up of people committed to producing the highest quality sour beer. Co-founders Jay Goodwin, former Brewer and Head of Barrel Aging at The Bruery in Orange County, Alex Wallash, homebrewer and Sales Representative in biotechnology, and Brad Goodwin, entrepreneur in the pharmaceutical industry, make up our crew of passionate craft beer lovers.

We hope to release more details of our plan over the next few months. We look forward to producing beer with experimental methods, a singular focus on quality sours, and a commitment to the craft beer community.

No word yet on when we’ll see, or more importantly taste, the first beers, but you can follow their progress on The Rare Barrel Blog or on the website.

In the meantime, here’s how the describe the idea for The Rare Barrel:

As Head of Barrel Aging at The Bruery, Jay started focusing on inoculation and management of the sour barrels. The brewers would send him wort and he had a whole warehouse full of barrels to play with. The idea was born there. Why not team up with breweries here at home in the Bay Area and start entire sour-only barrel warehouse to Northern California?

Since sour beers will take over 1 year to mature (a long time!), they are brewed less frequently due to limited fermentation space. Jay quickly realized that if they built their own brew house, it would collect probably a good amount of dust. Therefore, they decided to partner with host breweries in the Bay Area to produce our wort. While a host brewery will produce their wort, The Rare Barrel will manage fermentation, blending, packaging, and distribution. This model ultimately allows The Rare Barrel to maximize barrel aging capacity while supporting local craft breweries. It’s a win-win situation!

Posted on Wednesday, February 8th, 2012
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Brew Are You, Strong Beer Month?

21st magnolia-new
It’s February, and that means it’s time for the 10th annual Strong Beer Month, once again with six new extreme beers each at 21st Amendment and Magnolia throughout the month, which this year has one more day to help you make it to the finish line. Try them all, and you get to keep the commemorative logo glass. Just collect all 12 punches in your Strong Beer Month ticket before the beer’s all gone.

Here’s the beer for this year:


  1. Old Thunderpussy: barleywine, 11.9% abv
  2. Smokestack Lightning: imperial stout, 10.7% abv
  3. Pride of Branthill: imperial ESB (extra special bitter), 8.9% abv
  4. Tweezer Tripel: abbey tripel, 10.1% abv
  5. Promised Land: imperial IPA, 11.5% abv
  6. Punch You in the Rye: strong rye ale, 8.0% abv

21st Amendment:

  1. Lord & Master: strong English blonde, 8.3% abv
  2. Triple Crisis: imperial IPA, 11.0% abv
  3. Red Giant: imperial red ale, 13.0% abv
  4. Oaked Drunken Monk: dark abbey ale, 9.5%
  5. Two Lane Blacktop: imperial black IPA, 9.8% abv
  6. Hendrick’s: imperial stout, 9.5% abv

This year’s theme is the 1978 Who album “Who Are You” featuring Nico “Roger Daltry” Freccia, Ben “John Entwistle” Spencer, Dave “Keith Moon” McLean and Shaun “Peter Townsend” O’Sullivan. Frankly, I think “Moon McLean” might stick as a nickname. Have all twelve strong beers, and you too might start singing “Brew Are You.” I really want to know.


Posted on Thursday, February 2nd, 2012
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