Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for March, 2012

Toronado Belgian Beer Dinner This Sunday, No Fooling

I just learned that one of my favorite beer events of the year still has a few seats left. The annual Toronado Belgian Beer Dinner — really a luncheon — or I like to call it, a Blunch, is this Sunday, April 1, and that’s no joke. The food for this always amazing beer dinner is done by Sean Paxton, the Homebrew Chef, and he’s paired the twelve courses — yes, you read that right, 12 courses! — with 21 different Belgian and Belgian-inspired beers throughout the meal. The Blunch begins at 11:30 a.m. and is expected to be over around 4:30. I’ve printed the menu below to whet your appetite. As I said, there are still a few open spots left. The dinner costs $150 per person and tickets can be purchased at the bar between now and Sunday. See you there.

Toronado Belgian Beer Beer Dinner

Pre-Dinner Reception Brew: Dupont Avril

First Course

Cream of Caramelized Belgian Endive Soup
White Belgian endive coated in Belgian soft sugar and caramelized, Foret Saison, yukon gold potatoes, splash of organic cream

Paired with: St. Louis Gueuze

Second Course

Charcuturie Platter
Liberty duck rillettes infused with Itchegem’s Flemish Red, house-made headcheese cooked in Russian River Temptation Batch 3, duck heart rabbit liver Affligem Noel pâté, herbs de Provence cornichons, house-made Nieuw Ligt Grand Cru ‘03 & date mustard, dried fruit Gouden Carolus Noël compote, red beet juice & Oud Beersel Geuze Vielle pickled cauliflower, served with local ‘The Bejkr’ breads

Paired with: Boon Oude Geuze Mariage Parfait 2003 and Rochefort 6 2007

Third Course

Water Buffalo Butter Poached Sea Scallop
Smoked in Mort Subite lambic barrel staves, De Dolle Oerbier duck demi glaze, turnip purée infused with Gouden Carolus Carolus D’Or 2006, sprinkled with black truffle salt

Paired with: De Dolle Stille Nacht Special Reserva 2005

Fourth Course

Monkfish, crawfish and lobster meat mixed with purple potatoes, baby fennel, leeks, lobster mushrooms, shallots and simmered in a Westmalle Tripel shellfish stock with a sweet cream

Paired with: Delirium Tremens and Tripel Karmeliet

Fifth Course

Lapin a lá Gueuze
Local rabbit braised in Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze with shallots, thyme, bay leaves, served with a candied kumquat baby carrots, caramelized pearl onion gueuze sauce

Paired with: Russian River Temptation Batch 4 3L and Dupont Avec les Bons Voeux 2009

Sixth Course

Duck Braised in Sour Cherry Sauce
Sonoma county duck legs cooked sous vide with a dried and sour cherries Boon Kriek sauce
on a bed of beluga lentils simmered in Goudenband

Paired with: Cantillon Oude Kriek 2008 and Rodenbach Vintage 2008

Seventh Course

Carbonnade of Lamb Cheek
Westmalle Dubbel stewed lamb cheeks with leeks, caramelized onions, prunes, dried figs, thyme, bay leaves and a Mort Subite Kriek red currant sauce

Paired with: De Dolle Oerbier Special Reserva 2002 and Maredsous Brune

Eighth Course

PB & Foie Gras
Cantillon Saint Lamvinus foie gras mousse, on a hazelnut fig cracker, tart cherry gastrique, garnished with vanilla bean sea salt

Paired with: Malheur Brut Michael Jackson Brut 2006

Ninth Course

Beyond Greens
curry-scented cauliflower, quinoa cooked in Fantôme La Dalmatienne, mâche greens, golden raisins rehydrated in Moinette Blonde and toasted hemp seeds
and toasted almonds with a Drie Fonteinen Doesjel Lambic Paneer cheese tossed in a goat yoghurt Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze dressing

Paired with: Duvel

Tenth Course

Assorted Belgian Cheeses, including Grevenbroecker, Meikaas Boerenkaas, Kriek Washed Fromage, Charmoix, Wavreumont, and Le Saint-Servais
With Saucerful of Secrets wort honey, The Bejkr Biologlque bread, Oude Gueuze Tilquin injected dried apricots, Cantillon Rosé De Gambrinus beer jelly and assorted crackers and breads

Paired with: Bockor Cuvee Des Jacobins Rouge and Orval

Eleventh Course

Strawberries & Cream
organic strawberries and lemon thyme macerated in Hanssens Oudbeitje Lambic 2006 with a homemade Advocaat, Lindemans Gueuze Cuvée René 2006 sabayon, almond crumble

Paired with: Russian River Damnation 23 Batch 46

Twelfth Course

Liège Style Waffle
Speculoos flavored yeast waffle made with Chimay Red, Belgian pearl sugar, drizzled with a St. Bernardus Special Edition Abt 12. quad chocolate sauce

Paired with: De Struise Black Albert 2009, De Struise Pannepot 2007 and Rochefort Trappistes 10

Posted on Friday, March 30th, 2012
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Anchor Plaza to Debut at AT&T Park

Today was media day at AT&T Park, where the San Francisco Giants play. It’s not the kind of event I’m normally invited to, but this year is a little different. Debuting this season at the Giants’ stadium is Anchor Plaza, a new area behind the giant scoreboard where fans can find beer from Anchor Brewing, among other related goodies.

An Anchor beer stand sits in the center of Anchor Plaza.

Which is known as Anchor Taproom.

There’s plenty of seating in Anchor Plaza.

And the entire Anchor Plaza is also ringed with related food and beverage vendors.

Anchor co-owner Keith Greggor behind the taps at the Anchor Taproom. Sadly, no beer was flowing today.

The sign overlooking Anchor Plaza.

Which is located out of sight, behind the scoreboard. It looks like it could be a great place to get away from the crowds for a spell, and enjoy an Anchor Steam Beer. There are large screen televisions back there so you won’t miss the game while you sip your beer.

Posted on Thursday, March 29th, 2012
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New Albion Vintage Beer Tasting

Today I had a great experience that’s been a few months in the making. Last October, one of my newspaper columns was about the 35th anniversary of the date in 1976 when New Albion Brewery, the first modern microbrewery built from scratch, was incorporated by Jack McAuliffe. A homebrewer and beer collector in San Jose, Ed Davis, read my piece in the San Jose Mercury News and contacted me with an intriguing proposal. He had some full bottles of New Albion beer — Ale, Porter and Stout — and did I know anyone who might be interested in them? Obviously, I knew at least one person — me! — and I suggested that it might be fun to open them with Don Barkley, who would been involved in their creation, since he had been the assistant brewer there. Finding a day we were all available took some time, but today Ed and I traveled to Napa to Napa Smith Brewery and met with Don Barkley, who’s now the brewmaster there. But in addition to working at New Albion, Don also founded Mendocino Brewing during his illustrious career, before building and running the new Napa brewery.

Ed told me he’d bought the beers originally at Beltramo’s around 1979 and they’ve been stored in his garage ever since. While they were stored at a slightly higher than cellar temperature, the temperature was relatively consistent and they hadn’t been moved in all that time.

Ed brought one bottle each of Stout, Ale and Porter.

Don Barkley, me and Ed Davis each with a 1979 bottle of New Albion beer, that Ed was kind enough to donate to the cause.

Each of the three beers and their bottles.

Click on this link to see a video of our tasting of these beers on YouTube.

After the tasting, Don, Napa Smith lead brewer Michael Payne, me and Ed.

In addition to the New ALbion beers, Ed also brought a few additional treats, too.

A bottle of DeBakker Porter. DeBakker was a short-lived brewery (1980-82, I believe) that was located in my hometown of Novato, California and was started by a fireman, Tom DeBakker, who had been a homebrewer for about a decade before he opened the brewery.

Ed also brought a run of old Anchor Christmas Ale, 1978, 1980 through 1985, 1991 and 1996.

What a great way to spend a Friday afternoon! I wish all my Fridays could be as enjoyable. The DeBakker porter also held up quite well, it still had a fair amount of carbonation with chocolate notes. The Anchor beers were a mixed bag, some were still terrific, others were past their prime though none were strictly speaking undrinkable. Some of the spicier ones were still showing those spices, though a few of the earlier ones were oxidized, at least a little. The real surprise, of course, was how well the New Albion beers had held up after 33 years. They were bottle-conditioned, which probably helped, but still I expected them to be in worse shape than they were. I think we all though that, but we were pleasantly surprised. I could stand to be surprised like that more often. Thanks, Ed, for being able to not open those beers for over thirty years and for sharing them with us today. It was like opening and tasting a piece of history.

Posted on Friday, March 23rd, 2012
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Beer Saved the World

Here’s an interesting infographic on beer — both history and factoids — created by Online Bachelor Degree Programs, presumably to drive traffic. But as I’m a sucker for infographics, I’ll happily fall for it. At least they listed their sources at the end. Enjoy!


To see it full size, go to Online Bachelor Degree Programs.

Posted on Friday, March 23rd, 2012
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Anchor Video On History Of California Lager

Anchor Brewing today posted a new video about the history of California Lager, and their new Zymaster series which attempts to recreate the beer brewed by Boca Brewing in the 1870s. You can read more about that history on their blog, too, in Part 1 and Part 2.

Posted on Monday, March 19th, 2012
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San Francisco Gordon Biersch To Move

The picturesque location on San Francisco’s Embarcadero of the former HillS Brothers Coffee building is home to the third Gordon Biersch brewpub, which opened originally in 1992. According to Inside Scoop SF, as of the end of April, that will no longer be the case. (And thanks to Pete S. for sending me the link.) Apparently the twenty-year lease expires April 28, and the landlord and Gordon Biersch have been unable to reach an agreement. Gordon Biersch is currently scouting for a new location nearby. So you’ve got a little over six weeks if you want to pay the brewpub one last visit.

Posted on Tuesday, March 13th, 2012
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