Bottoms Up

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Archive for the 'what’s on tap' Category

SF Beer Week ’09 Open Thread Wrap up

Here’s a photo of beer blogger Jay Brooks of the Brookston Beer Bulletin toasting our man Bill at  “The Night Of Ales” beer dinner at The Peacock Lounge in San Francisco on Thursday.

Jay Brooks

The latest news I have is that Bill’s condition is the same and that his family thanks us for our continued support and good wishes.

Posted on Monday, February 16th, 2009
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SF Beer Week ’09 Open Thread for Friday

If anyone’s going to the Beer & Chocolate dinner tonight, please post and let me know how it is. I’m particularly interested in how that scallop and chocolate-citrus sauce would do with a Malheur 10.

Beer and Chocolate

Not sure how it works in beer circles, but in the wine community there is a never-ending uncertainty about the pairing. Does it really go with dry red wines, like Cabernet Sauvignon, or do we just wish it would? Or do you need ample sugar to match that sweet flavor, making Port and late-harvest reds such as Mourvedre and Zinfandel the only reasonable choices.

Hope everyone enjoys ending the week with a brew in hand and a toast to Bill every night at 7 p.m. Thanks for being such a great community. I’m sure his family really appreciates the support.

Posted on Friday, February 13th, 2009
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SF Beer Week ’09 Open Thread for Thursday

Thanks to Jesse’s post and pictures yesterday on Beer and Nosh, it’s obvious the Russian River sours were showing quite well at Toronado, and that I missed one heck of a food spread. Weisswurt with curried ketchup, anyone?

I was particularly interested in Jesse’s points about the Toronado 20th Anniversary Ale. He describes the Flanders Red style ale as “sturdy and malty, with a sour finish, but almost no farmhouse funk. The beer is perfectly balanced, with an interplay of roasted malt, hints of brown sugar, and a tart finish that hides all of the alcohol.”

Toronado 20th Anniversary Ale

It cost $50 a bottle, and while that floored me at first, he makes a great point: compared to the mark up of wine in restaurants, which he puts at 150% above retail but it can actually be twice that, this eBay-worthy beer was being sold for less, and for a rare and barrel-aged bottle. “All of that process and storage costs a lot, and it’s reflected in the bottles cost, but also it’s flavors,” he writes. Excellent points.

I’m learning a lot and thank you all for contributing to the open threads and keeping Bill’s community alive. I have great respect and admiration for him. I sit next to another fine columnist, blogger and community builder here at the Times, Gary Bogue, and we chat about Bill and his progress several times a day.

Posted on Thursday, February 12th, 2009
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SF Beer Week ’09 Open Thread for Wednesday

S.F. Beer Week is well under way. Anyone meet Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing last night?

Tonight’s all about the cheese. I look forward to hearing about that cheddar and ale pairing at Rogue Ales Public House in North Beach. Which event are you going to tonight? What are you looking forward to tasting?

Please post your comments and treat the thread like a community blog.

Posted on Wednesday, February 11th, 2009
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SF Beer Week ’09 Open Thread for Tuesday


I understand SF Beer Week is in full swing. I’m sure you devoted readers have much to discuss in the way of brews.

One of Bill’s readers, Andrew, had a great suggestion that as we keep Bill in our thoughts and prayers, we also keep the lively discussion that you’ve come to expect from “What’s On Tap” flowing too – for Bill.

Feel free to share your experiences. Tell us which brewers wowed you and what food pairings knocked your socks off.

I’ll post an open thread every day and let you take it from there.

Posted on Tuesday, February 10th, 2009
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Pulling for Bill Brand

This morning, we learned of our colleague Bill Brand’s accident. Contra Costa Times reporter Robert Salonga’s story “Former Tribune reporter injured in S.F. Muni accident” follows below:

A former longtime reporter for the Oakland Tribune was critically injured when he was hit by a Muni train Sunday night in San Francisco’s Financial District, authorities said.

Bill Brand was in critical condition at San Francisco General Hospital after he was hit about 9:10 p.m. Sunday, family members said.

He was was walking near Second and King streets when an N-Judah train struck him, according to the San Francisco Municipal Railway.

In his career with the Tribune, Brand covered a host of topics for the newspaper, including crime and science. After leaving the paper in July, he continued to write a regular beer column titled “What’s on Tap” and contribute to the Bottoms Up blog.

Here’s a link to Tyche Hendricks’ late-Sunday story in the San Francisco Chronicle.

We’d love to hear from blogging buddies, commenters and community members in the comments below so that we can pass your best wishes as soon as we’re able to share them.

Thank you for reading.

Update, 3 p.m.: We’re making more calls to try to update Bill’s condition. Here are links to Henry K. Lee’s San Francisco Chronicle story, and stories by CBS5, KTVU, and Kimberlee Sakamoto’s KRON-4 story.

Posted on Monday, February 9th, 2009
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SF Beer Week: Rocking out at the Bistro DIPA fest


Part of the crowd at the Bistro Saturday.

bistro-dipa-2009-crowd1Did you make it to the Bistro’s Double IPA fest Saturday (Feb. 7, 2009)? What a great-kickoff to SF Beer Week. Bistro proprietors Vic and Cynthia Kralj hadn’t figured the gate, but they guessed the turnout would reach 1,500.

It was a great event and the Bistro crew had really transformed the festival area. The City of Hayward let them close the block of Main Street outside the pub.  They transformed the street into a large, long, enclosed arena with beer tap stations under canvas and actual wooden serving tables.

bistro-dipa-2009-glass-closeupSo participants could wander from the outside patio on B Street into the pub and onto the main street arenas. They wound up with 46 double India Pale Ales, plus New Albion Ale. I posted the winners of the professional judging here.

There were several entries from out of state including Avery Ale to the Chief, Boulder, CO., Oskar Blues Gordon, from Lyons, CO., Deschutes Hop Henge Experimental IPA, Bend, OR, Rogue XSIPA from Newport, OR, Shmaltz Bittersweet Lenny’s RIPA from Saratoga, NY,  Big Dog’s Hop Harvest Ale, Las Vegas, NV,  Dogfish Head 90-Minute IPA, 120-Minute IPA, Milton, DE, and Flying Dog Double Dog, Frederick, MD.

Besides the winners, I tried Stone Sublinely Self Righteous Ale, 8.7 percent, 85 IBUs.Very nice:  a dark brown with malt on the nose and a creamy head. Taste was malty with a dry, mildly hoppy finish.

Also, Pizza Port, Solana Beach, Lou P. Lin: 8.2 percent, 87 IBUs, A real hop bomb, aromatic nose, decent, balanced taste and a whoosh of hops in the finish.

Rogue XSIPA from John Maier was a surprise: 9.5 percent, 7 IBUs: Soft malty nose, a mildly sweet taste with lots of sweet malt and hops in the finish. Very drinkable.

Hats off to the Bistro.  And if you love the Bistro, check out two more upcoming events there this week:

  • The Bistro’s North County Cheese-Off, Tuesday, Feb. 10; 6:30 p.m., $45, Five cheeses paired with beers from Bear Republic, Lagunitas, Marin Brewing, North Coast and Russian River.
  • Thursday, Feb. 12, 6:30 p.m.  The Bistro Beer Mixology & Sensory Appreciation, $40. Hosted by Judy Ashworth (Americas Premier Lady Publican) & Terence Sullivan (of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.),   Judy one of the craft brew pub pioneers has long had a hobby of blending different beers together for some intriguing and tasty drinks.

Make reservations at: 510-886-8525.

Posted on Sunday, February 8th, 2009
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SF Beer Week: The beat goes on…

SF Beer Week is roaring into high gear and I’ve got a lot of catching up to do this afternoon before I check in at the Sour Sunday fest at Triple Rock. Plan to hit there about 4 p.m. (It starts at 1 p.m. and I advise going early, if you can — I can’t.

Then it’s on to the 21st Amendment for a beer dinner prepared by homebrew chef Sean Paxton and featuring Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head as honored guest.

About Sour Sunday, the list I posted last night includes both the sour beers that will be on tap today at both Triple Rock and Jupiter and the barrel-aged beers that will be on tap at both pubs on Tuesday.  The glass can be used at both pubs and each has the same selection today.  For the updated Sour Sunday list, check comments below.

Anchor’s Fritz Maytag with a magnum bottle of Our Barrel Ale
Anchor's Fritz Maytag with a magnum bottle of Our Barrel Ale

OK, catching up.  Here’s a photo of Anchor proprietor Fritz Maytag holding a bottle of Anchor’s Our Barrel Ale, thanks to Beer & Nosh. In comments at the Friday night unveiling of the new beer, Fritz said he long was strongly opposed to barrel-aging beer. He recalled touring pubs in England when he firsts got his feet wet, buying Anchor in the mid-1960s. Lots of beer came ot of barrels and it was often sour, he said.

I’m told that at the time Fritz bought Anchor, the beer’s qualty was spotty. He set out to change that and he did.

However,. he told the crowd of brewers  Friday night, his nephew, John Dannerbeck and head brewer Mark Carpenter finally convinced him to give barrel-aging a try.  He said he realized that the oak barrels used to age Anchor’s Old Potrero Straight Rye Whiskey were free of bacteria. The high alcohol of the distilled rye whisky made that certain.

As I said, the beer’s  a blend of many of the Anchor beers, but not Anchor Steam. They’ll go on sale in 50.7 ounce magnum bottles, $30. They’ll only be sold at the brewery, starting sometime in mid-February.

Posted on Sunday, February 8th, 2009
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SF Beer Week: The lineup for ‘Sour Sunday’ at Triple Rock

Just got the list of beers from John Martin for Rodger Davis’ Sour Sunday at Triple Rock and Jupiter in Berkeley Sunday afternoon. It begins at 1 p.m. $ 20 (price includes one logo glass and two 5oz. tasting pours; additional tasting pours $4)

Allagash – Curieux
Ballast – Sea Monster
Ballast – Sour Wench
Beach Chalet – Dubbel
Bethelham – Framboise
Blue Frog – XXX
Brewmaster – Signature Ale
Bruery – Blend
Cantillion – Classic Gueuze
Cantillion – Kriek
Cherish – Rasp.Lambic
De Ranke – Cuvee
De Ranke – Kriek
Deproef – Seasonal
Desuhutes – The Dissadent
Dogfish Head – Palo Santo
Drake’s – Frankenwine
Drake’s – Impinoir
Drake’s – Sideways Stout
Drake’s – Cherry Port
Drake’s – Blueberry Port
Drake’s – Brettamber
Drie – Gueze
Duchesse – De Bourgogne
Echte – Kriekenbier
Firestone Walker – SaucerfulSecrets
Gordon Biersch – Hefe
Green Flash – Dbl.Bbl. Stout
Haandbryggeri – Haandbakk
HeBrew – Lenny on Rye
Hitachino – XHShochuCask
Iron Springs – Barleywine
Ithaca – Oaked Nut Brn
Ithaca – Brute Golden
Jolly Pumkin’ – Wit
Jolly Pumkn’ – La Roja
Jolly Pumpkin – Stout
Magnolia – Trippel
Mayfield – XXX
Monks Café – Sour Ale
Moonlight – 60 to life
Moonlight – Sourpuss
Moylans – Hopsickle
Petrus – Old Brown
Petrus – Aged Pale
Reinaert – Flem.Wild Ale
Rodenbach – Grand Cru
Russian River – Consecration
Sac. Brewery – Wheatwine
Schooners – Old Woody
Speakeasy – Hunter’s Point Porter
St.Somewhere – Dubbel
Stone – 07 Vertical Epic
The Bruery – Blend
The Bruery – Berliner Weisse
Thirsty Bear – Imp. Stout
Valley Brew – Effingreat
Zoetzuur – Flemish Red

Posted on Saturday, February 7th, 2009
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Napa Smith’s Don Barkley recreates New Albion Ale

I don’t usually do this, but today I’m posting my Wednesday newspaper column, because – as SF Beer Week approaches – it’s timely. For info about photos and a video, go to the end of the post.

What’s on Tap:

A piece of craft beer history

— New Albion Ale — lives again

“It’s a place marker in our journey

from frozen  corporate lager to good beer”

By William Brand
Oakland Tribune/MediaNews Group

Posted: 02/04/2009 12:00:00 AM PST

HERE’S A KINKY TWIST.  I haven’t tasted New Albion Ale for nearly 30 years, but it’s our Beer of the Week. New Albion, the pioneering craft brewery, founded in 1976 by Jack McAuliffe, folded in 1983.

But thanks to brewer Don Barkley, a New Albion brewer, it lives again for SF Beer Week and making it our Beer of the Week’s a no-brainer. This beer is part of our historic journey from frozen corporate lager to good beer.

I honestly don’t remember much about New Albion Ale. I only know when I tasted it, because I was living in Mexico and came back to Berkeley on a visit. I found it in a 22-ounce bottle at a shop in Oakland and I recall being shocked to find something local and interesting.  In those days, either we made friends with a home-brewer, bought imports or gave up and drank swill.

But thanks to SF Beer Week, New Albion Ale lives again.  Barkley said he was hanging out this past October at the Great American Beer Festival with Tom Dalldorf, publisher of the Celebrator Beer News  and Dave McLean, proprietor of Magnolia Pub in San Francisco.  “We were talking about SF Beer Week and they said, ‘You should make some more New Albion Ale.”  I said, ‘That’s a good idea and then I forgot about it.”

“Three weeks ago, Dave called me and said, ‘Hey, are you going to make New Albion Ale?’”

So Barkley reached under his desk and pulled out the handwritten ledger started by Jack McAuliffe and looked up the recipe. He brewed it at his new Napa-Smith brewery in Napa. The first keg will be tapped Saturday at the Double India Pale Ale Festival at the Bistro, 1001 B St. in downtown Hayward.

Another keg will be tapped at the Celebrator Beer Festival Feb. 15 at the Oakland Convention Center in downtown Oakland.

Saying Don Barkley was a New Albion brewer is not precise. He started working for a case of beer a week and camping out at the brewery. When New Albion folded in 1983, Don took McAuliffe’s handmade brewplant to Hopland and helped found Mendocino Brewing, the second brewpub in America since Prohibition. Both Red Tail Ale*** and Eye of the Hawk*****  are his beers.

He retired last year and became master brewer at Napa-Smith, a new brewery and winery owned by Kathleen Smith-Cutuli and Greg Cutuli.

Don has three new beers, Pale Ale***½, 5.5 percent alcohol by volume, with a whack from cascade hops; Napa Smith Wheat, 4.6 percent, and my favorite, Napa Smith Amber***½, a very different amber, 5.75 percent, but not sweet, with a complex malt palate quite different from the average, sweetish amber.

Barkley says the original New Albion barley malt came from Bauer & Schweitzer, a long-gone San Francisco malting house. (It’s now a condo complex.)  “Jack didn’t have any pale malt, so Fritz Maytag at Anchor opened his malt silo for us. The malt came from Bauer & Schweitzer; it was a fantastic malt, Barkley said. “It had an earthy quality and to duplicate it I used two malts that I have here,” he said.

Mendocino still uses the original yeast from New Albion, so Don got it for this beer. Hops then and now were floral, spicy Cluster and new-in 1977, citrusy Cascades. Don recalled they originally used Bullion hops, then switched to Northern Brewer then finally wound up with Cluster and Cascades. “As far as I know Cascades were only used in homebrewing back then, this was in 1977-1979.

The original was fermented in a converted 55-gallon Coca-Cola syrup barrel. The new batch comes from a 30-barrel, modern brew plant. The whole plant was built around cast-off, 55 gallon Coca Cola syrup drums, he said. “Jack built a three-level brewhouse, so it was all gravity fed: hot liquor on top, down to the mash  tun…It was all homemade, a copper tube cooler that Jack made all  by himself. Primary fermentation was in four open drums; we kept them in an air conditioned room, then after five to seven days, we racked the beer into 55 gallon drums on their sides with little fermentation locks.

“From there, once the  beer settled, another week or two, we would pump it through – believe it or not, a beer meter. We had to have a beer meter and this one came out of a Hamms brewery or somewhere like that. The beer would go into a ‘bottling tank’ – another 55 gallon drum with a three spout siphon filler.

“We had a hand crowner and then the bottles went on to a labeler. Jack had rebuilt a 1910 semi-automatic labeler. You’d press a food pedal  and these arms would come flying out with the label on them. You sort of got ouit of the way stuck the labeled bottle somewhere or other…”
I could hear Don chuckling over the foam as the memories came racing back. ‘New Albion Ale  was as individual in that day as Anchor  Steam,” Barkley says. “But today, it’s just a nice pale ale with good body and a decent amount of alcohol.”

Taste it during the Double IPA fest at the Bistro. The fun begins at  11 a.m. More than 50 double IPAs, live music, $25. See you there – and thanks for the memories Don!

Want a bit more history? Check out the “Time Machine” post on my blog.

CALENDAR: OK, SF Beer Week is upon us. It all begins with a private tapping of a ceremonial keg of beer at Anchor in San Francisco Friday night (Feb. 6). There are more than 100 events around the Bay Area. Check the listings at http://www.

Reach William Brand at or call 510-915-1180 and ask for his Retail Beer Store List or Good Pub List. Read more by Brand at

Why there are no photos. The Napa Register, a newspaper in Napa, CA. , has a great photo of Don Barkley, but they refused me permission to run it.  Google Don Barkley and Napa Register and you can see it.

However, author Stan Hieronymus, who writes the Appellation Beer blog, posted a link to a series of photos of historic craft brewers on You Tube. It’s in a video and you can see it here.  He also posted a facebook link to Beer Guppy Jay Shevek’s advance teaser on a documentary  on the craft beer revolution. Thanks Stan.

Posted on Wednesday, February 4th, 2009
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