Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for November, 2012

Live Vertical Vertical Epic Tasting Thursday

Thursday is going to be a fun day, an extra fun day, apart from the travel, at least. I’m flying down to San Diego for a really fun beer tasting, one that you’ll actually be able to watch, but more on that in a minute.

Almost eleven years ago Stone Brewing began an epic journey, releasing a new beer on subsequent Bonza Bottler Days each year. Created by Australian Elaine Fremont in 1985, “Bonza,” in down under slang, means “super, great or fantastic,” while “Bottler” is apparently Australian slang for “something excellent.” So a Bonza Bottler Day is a “super excellent day.” She created Bonza Bottler Day so there would be at least one day each month to celebrate. They occur each month when the day matches the month, so there’s a Bonza Bottler Day every January 1, February 2, March 3, April 4, etc.

Stone Brewing went one step farther and added the year, so that the first Stone Epic Vertical was released on 02.02.02, or February 2, 2002. The seventh was on my daughter Alice’s 3rd birthday, 07.07.07, or July 7, 2007. The eleventh, and last, release will come out in a few weeks on December 12, 2012, thankfully just nine days before the world will end … or not.

But before the Earth is reduced to a smoldering mass of ash by a cataclysmic fireball, I’ve been invited to try all twelve Stone Epic Vertical beers, which includes an early taste of the latest offering, 12.12.12. The entire beer tasting will be broadcast live over that series of tubes known as the interwebs via livestream this coming Thursday. Here is Stone Brewing’s description of the event.

Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale marks the end of an era. Since 2002, Stone has released a unique, Belgian-influenced, bottle-conditioned ale, with each subsequent beer available one year, one month and one day from its predecessor, and designed to be aged and enjoyed together on 12.12.12. Beer collectors everywhere are planning tastings and wondering how these long ago procured beers taste. In preparation, Stone founders Greg Koch and Steve Wagner assembled a panel of beer experts to provide fans a live, comprehensive report on the state of the Vertical Epic Ales. That group includes top tasters and the very artisans who constructed these beers. Join Stone brewmaster Mitch Steele, former brewmaster Lee Chase, craft beer ambassador “Dr.” Bill Sysak, beer journalist Jay Brooks, Joe Tucker of RateBeer, Stephen Johnson of New Brew Thursday, plus Jason and Todd Alström of BeerAdvocate as they join Greg and Steve for an examination of one of the most ambitious brewing projects in history.

So join us for this monumental beer tasting on Thursday, November 15, beginning at Noon, Californy time (3:00 PM EST) until 1:30 PST (4:30 East Coast time). Watch the festivities on livestream. It’s going to be epic!


Posted on Tuesday, November 13th, 2012
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Interpretive Beer Tasting This Saturday Benefits Oakland Feather River Camp

This Saturday, the Oakland Feather River Camp is hosting an “Interpretive Beer Tasting,” which they’re describing as “A Tastebud Tour of the World’s Best Brews.”


Here’s the details:

Saturday November 10, 2012
7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Lake Merritt Garden Center
666 Bellevue Avenue

Tickets: $25 each (Includes beer samples and bar snacks).

From the press release:

Beer is universal. Every culture knows beer and every culture is proud to boast that its brew is the best on earth. Civilized people all over the world brew and enjoy truly great beers, but could it be possible that beer is responsible for civilization as we know it?
Ponder this and other truths as you take a tastebud tour of some of the world’s best breweries. Join well-known Tastemaster, Ira Bletz, as he looks at the history, lore and mythology surrounding beer and brewcraft. Find out the truth about beer advertising. Taste some new treats or savor some old favorites. Learn how beer is made and discover a beer famous in story and song. Join us for a fun, informative, and raucous evening. We’ll be enjoying Oakland-brewed beer, among others! Beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages will also be available for purchase.

To purchase tickets, please call 510-336-2267

Or mail your check payable to “CIC” to
Camps in Common
P.O. Box 11061, Oakland, CA 94611

Their program is great fun and supports their camperships for needy families, ongoing upgrades, and renovations. There will also be a raffle for camp gear, a free night a camp and some of the leftover crafted beverages. Here’s a history of the camp:

Oakland Feather River Camp opened in 1924 on federal land under a long-term lease agreement with the US Department of Agriculture. The Camp has been operated continuously since that time, even during WWII when some thought the program should be suspended during that difficult time. The perseverance of loyal campers and City of Oakland officials prevailed, however, and the Camp continued to serve the children and families “at home.” In fact, a surprisingly large number of campers from that era still cover to Camp every year.

Though camper attire may have changed over the last 80 years and campers have traded in their canteens for water bottles, much is still the same at Feather River. Traditions abound such as swimming in the swimming hole, singing around the campfire, participating in the camper show at the Starr Bowl, dancing on the Veranda and, for the stouthearted, even doing pushups when you come in late for dinner. Come to think of it, some of those late arrivals do look like they practice all year.

Until the late 50’s, not all campers upheld the tradition of comparing drive-times from the Bay Area. Many campers arrived at Camp via the train that let them off right inside the Camp. You can still hear the trains passing the Camp.

And here’s a map of the camp today:


Below is a flyer with all of the details about the event. Sounds like a great cause.


Posted on Wednesday, November 7th, 2012
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Second Annual Coast To Coast Toast November 15

Last year, Vanberg & DeWulf, the beer import company founded by Don Feinberg and Wendy Littlefield, celebrated their 30th anniversary with a Coast to Coast Toast. It was such a great success, that they’re doing it again this year. C2CT2 — Coast to Coast Toast 2 — will take place this year on November 15, which in Belgium is “King’s Day,” a national holiday celebrating their monarchy.


Last year, about 350 establishments across the country participated in the Coast to Coast Toast to Belgian beer. This year, Wendy tells me it should be at least 400. If you want to see if there’s a C2CT2 event taking place near you, there’s a list you can download at their website. If you want to consider hosting a toast, you can sign up at Eventbrite.


For example, here in the Bay Area, “Oakland’s Beer Revolution is the hub for a girl power summit on beer, and female bloggers, cicerones publicans, and beer geeks will be descending upon this top rated watering hole. City Beer in San Francisco, located just down the street from Twitter HQ, is hosting a tasting for techies.”

Even if you can’t make it out — I’m staying in again and toasting with the missus, for example — toast them in the comfort of your home. It should be easy enough to find one of the great beers they import. Any beer from the following Belgian and European breweries will fit the bill.

  • Amiata
  • Castelain (also St. Amand)
  • De Cam
  • Dilewyns
  • Dubuisson (Scaldis and Cuvee de Trolls)
  • Dupont (also Moinette, Foret, Les Bons Voeux and others)
  • Ölvisholt BrugghÚs, Iceland
  • Slaghmuylder (Witkap Stimulo Singel Abbey Ale)
  • V&D exclusive collaborations with De Troch (Lambrucha)
  • V&D exclusive collaborations with Et Famille (Lambickx)
  • V&D exclusive collaborations with Scheldebrouwerij (Hop Ruiter)

You can also find a list of all of their beers in their portfolio at their C2CT2 website.


Posted on Saturday, November 3rd, 2012
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