About Bottoms Up
has been a lifestyle writer and wine writer for the Contra Costa Times in Walnut Creek, California, since 2004. She discovered wine, and all its sensual and intellectual pleasures, while working at the San Luis Obispo Tribune and frolicking in the Central Coast’s burgeoning wine country. But her relationship with wine goes a bit deeper than that. Before she was born, her grandfather, an orthodox rabbi, made wine in Iran. Today, she takes wine classes, cooks Mediterranean and vows to make wine, and wine writing, fun for all. Jessica is a member of Women for Winesense and runs with a small but dedicated gang of young wine geeks who accompany her on various adventures. L’chaim!
Originally from Pennsylvania, I grew up outside of Reading, about an hour west of Philadelphia. I have a B.A. in Communications from Alvernia College with some graduate coursework at San Jose State University. I’ve also studied brewing at UC Davis, taken the Siebel Institute’s sensory seminar and attended Hop School in Yakima, Wash.
I spent three years in the U.S. Army, stationed in New York City playing with an Army Band. A lifelong beer fan, my passion was initially sparked while stationed in New York by then-new imports Bass Ale, Guinness and Pilsner Urquell. By 1985, I’d relocated to the Bay Area and witnessed firsthand the early days of the microbrewery revolution. In 1992, I published my first book, “The Bars of Santa Clara County, A Beer Drinker’s Guide To Silicon Valley.”
I later worked for the local chain of liquor stores, Beverages & more, as the chain beer buyer and as the general manager of the Celebrator Beer News, the national brewspaper published in Hayward, California. When my son Porter was diagnosed as autistic, I quit working full-time and became a stay-at-home father and freelance writer, eventually writing for virtually every beer publication you can name. For the last three-plus years, I’ve been writing online at my idiosyncratic Brookston Beer Bulletin. I’ve been a regular beer judge at competitions large and small, from the great American Beer Festival to the Toronado Barleywine Festival. I also helped organize S.F. Beer Week, a ten-day celebration of beer in the Bay Area.
I live with my wife Sarah, and our two young children, Porter and Alice, in Novato, California.
When not drinking, thinking or writing about beer, I’m usually at home with the family or pursuing one of my many geeky hobbies, such a 3-D photography, making my own View-Master reels, or reading, watching films (I’m partial to documentaries) or listening to music. The best way to reach me directly is via e-mail, at BrooksOnBeer@gmail.com.
My favorite beer? Many people love to ask this seemingly innocent question, but I believe it is not the right question. There are just too many different kinds of beer, each wonderful in their own right, and perfect under the ideal set of circumstances, to ever limit oneself to just one. Instead, ask what I’ve enjoyed lately. You’ll probably get a long list, but that’s the point. One of things I love most about beer is that it so diverse. So many varied tastes can be produced by combining four simple ingredients in endless combinations, that we’ll never run out of new and interesting beers to try.
Native of Nebraska, Journalism degree from University of Nebraska, four years in U.S. Navy, among other assignments, I served in a strategic targeting group in the Vietnam era. I was NOT in Nam. I’m a reporter at the Oakland (CA) Tribune, covering science, technology and mayhem, i.e. Unabomber to Columbine to Laci Peterson.
I love beer and have been writing a beer column for the Trib since 1988.
My first articles on beer were published in (long defunct) San Francisco magazine in the early 1980s. One story, for example, featured interviews with founders of the first two brewpubs in California: Mendocino Brewing in Hopland, and Buffalo Bill’s in Hayward.
Currently, I write a weekly column in the Oakland Tribune and the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, CA.) and associated Bay Area New Group papers. I wite a monthly column in the San Jose Mercury News. I’ve been writing this blog and another one at www.beernewsletter.com since September, 2004.
I live with my wife and daughter in Walnut Creek, CA.
When not pursuing news or stories about beer or rare and exotic beer, I often can be found on my horse on Mt. Diablo. I can always be reached (even on the horse, usually) at: (510) 915-1180. My non-Tribune e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
My favorite beer? I bow to the estimable Portland, OR beer expert Fred Eckhardt who says his favorite beer is the one close at hand (bland American lagers excluded, of course.)