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Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Archive for the 'what’s on tap' Category

Beer and Chocolate Dinner is nearly sold out

Last-minute warning: Bruce Paton’s  Beer and Chocolate Dinner is nearly sold out. Here’s a note from Bruce:

  • There are a just a few seats remaining for this year’s Beer and Chocolate Dinner. Friday, Feb. 13, 2009.  If you have not yet made your reservations and intend to join us please go to www.beer-chef.com and click on the “Make Reservations” button next to “Friday February 13, 2009 Beer and Chocolate with the Beers of Malheur” and follow the instructions. While you are there please take a look at the rest of the events that make up www.sfbeerweek.org.

I’ve been checking the beer week site and my mind is boggled. A treasury of good things.

Posted on Wednesday, February 4th, 2009
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SF Beer Week: Sunday, Feb. 8 – The problem is what not to do

Moving on through the astounding maze of beer events during SF Beer Week, Feb. 6- 15, here are some highlights — from my perspective — on Sunday, Feb. 8,  I covered Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Feb. 7 in the last post.  OK, here we go….

Sunday, Feb. 8

beer-to-brakers-2009Chuey Brand’s Beer to Brakers 2009, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., $10, 415-845-2032,   This looks like a hoot: The route includes, Gordon Biersch, 21st Amendment & Park Chalet There will be a picnic BRAKE in Golden Gate Park that will feature some craft brews from Thirsty Bear and Magnolia in addition to some delicious home brews and others beers from around the Bay.  One caution Chuey: you can get a DUI bust being drunk on a bike as well as in a motor vehicle.  Chuey Brand is not me. Go to the Web site to find out the details.

Mexican Fiesta: Marin Brewing, 11:30 a.m. – Midnight, Marin Brewing, 1809 Larkspur Landing Circle, Larkspur, 415-461-4677. Arne Johnson’s powerfully hoppy beers paired with fiery Mexican food from chef Mario Gongora.

Lagunitas Beer Circus, 12 noon – 6 p.m. Lagunitas, 707-769-4495, 1280 N. McDowell Blvd.  Guess it’s a real circus with beer. But it’s sold out. No more tickets. Damn.

Brewer’s Sunday Tea, 21st Amendment, 563 2nd St., San Francisco, Noon – 3 p.m. $30, includes 10 tasting tickets and Fatted Calf Sausage, grilled outside at the 21st. This is part of the 21st and Magnolia’s Strong Beer Month. Twelve strong beers, six from 21st, six from Magnolia. The 21st is the place to be on Sunday for strong beer.

caltrain-stopsPeninsula Caltrain Pub Crawl with wetyourwhistles.com, Noon – 4 p.m. This event is way kewl. The idea is to take Caltrain from pub to pub. It starts at noon at Firehouse Brewery, Sunnyvale, which is a short block from the Caltrain stop, then onward to Palo Alto (Rose & Crown), Redwood City (City Pub) and at 4 p.m, Burlingame, for Steelhead-Burlingame Station across the street. This is a tour I want to make, but can’t because I’ve got too many other places to be. I recommend it. And look at it this way: You can do the whole crawl on one ticket, just get on and off again. Sweet. And you can connect with BART at the Millbrae stop.

All “Sour”-style barrel-aged beer tasting, Triple Rock Brewery, 1920 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-843-2739,  1 p.m. Admission: $20, pays for logo glass and two five-oz. pours, extra pours $4. This is going to be one fine event. Triple Rock head brewer Rodger Davis said he has perhaps 30 sours lined up from as far away as Jolly Pumpkin, Dexter, MI. Steve Altimari of Valley Brewing, Stockton will have contributions.

Book-signing and beer: Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head co-founder, City Beer Store, 1168 Folsom St, San Francisco, 1 p.m. Sam will sign copies of his two books, Brewing Up a Business and He Said Beer, She Said Wine. Buy a book, get a free pint of Dogfish beer.  City Beer will have Dogfish beers on ap and in bottle to taste, drink and purchase to take home.

Alembic Sunday Supper with Sam Calagione and Dave McLean, founder of Magnolia Gastropub and the Alembic ,  3 – 7 p.m. No reservations, no admission, pay for your food and beer pairings.  Alembic Bar, 1725 Haight St., San Francisco, 415-666-0822. If you’ve never visited the Alembic, put it on your list. Great little bar.

miss-pearls-jam-house-logoMiss Pearl’s Jam House Beer Dinner, Miss Pearl’s Jam House,  1 Broadway, Oakland, 6 – 9 p.m., $55, 510-444-7171. They haven’t posted the menu or beer pairings yet, but thie noveau New South restaurant and chef Robert Barker have earned lots of praise.  Promises to be most interesting, even if Jax beer sucks. No, I don’t think they’ll have Jax.  Does Jax still live other than in James Lee Burke’s novels? What? You never heard about James Lee Burke, the great detective fiction writer? Check him out.

A Beer Dinner with Hoembrew Chef Sean Z. Paxton, 21st Amendmenent, 6 – 9 p.m., $50. This is a big deal dinner with a lot of rare beers pulled from the 21st “library.

Meet Lost Abbey/Port Brewing’s Tomme Arthur, Toronado, 547 Haight St., San Francisco, Begins at 6 p.m. and goes onward into the night. Many, many specials on draft and in bottles. No admission, pay for your beer.

The Ol’ Factory Around the World in 8 Beers Dinner, ‘Ol Factory Cafe, 1725 Contra Costa St., Sand City (Monterey peninsula), 831-394-7336, $50.

Posted on Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009
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Sonoma Springs Brewing open for business in Sonoma, CA

sonoma-springs-brewing-map

The town of Sonoma has a new brewery:  It’s Sonoma Springs Brewing Co. (no Web site yet). Proprietors Tim and Ann Goeppinger have received their final city permit and are open for business at 750 West Napa St.

Tim and Ann Goeppinger, Sonoma Springs Brewing

Tim and Ann Goeppinger, Sonoma Springs Brewing

Tim’s a native of Peoria, IL.,  graduated with an engineering degree from Northwestern. He worked at big breweries in the Midwest, then signed on with Matt Brynildson at Firestone-Walker in Paso Robles when he came west. Then he worked at Lagunitas in Petaluma and while he was getting his own brewery going, he’s been working part-time at Russian River.  Now there’s a gold star resume.

I’ve tried three of Tim’s beers and I give them a thumbs up. Most excellent. At this point, it’s a keg only operation and three restaurants on the Sonoma Plaza are stocking his beers. Tim and Ann sell growlers at the brewery for $15, refills $11 and they’ll pour samplers at no cost.

Talk about convenience, the seven-barrel brewery’s next door to a bake shop; you can buy baked goods there at discount and eat them with your beer at the brewery.

I caught up with Tim and Ann  the other night at wine, beer and cheese tasting held by Sheana Davis of the The Epicurean Connection at Rogue Public House in North Beach (San Francisco).  They were pouring Tim’s Roggenbier and a pale ale.
Tim’s fascinated with German top-fermented beers and the Roggenbier, a 5.8 percent, German-style rye beer, made with a blend of 30 percent rye, 60 percent barley, including a touch of crystal malt for color, was excellent.

Hops were Hallertau and Saphir, a German noble hop, noted for its mild, citrus aroma.  I got cloves and spice in the nose; taste was medium full and spicy. This would be a lovely beer to take home in a growler.

Tim said the 5.6 percent Pale Ale was dry hopped with Cascades, Simcoe and floral Ahtanum hops. Impressive package. Tasty beer.

Last summer, I tasted Tim’s Dunkelweizen, a dark, top-fermented wheat and found it just about perfect: crisp, drinkable, lots of tasty dark malt.

Truth-telling time. While I’m always charmed by the bucolic, pristine streets and houses in Sonoma, the tourist scene around the square (Remember Back to the Future? That’s the town square),  bores me to tears.  Sonoma Springs gives me, finally, a good reason to visit. See you there.

Sonoma Springs Brewing Co.,
750 West Napa  St.
Sonoma, CA,
Wednesday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
707-202-8295

Posted on Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009
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SF Beer Week: Plus 100 events and counting…

sf-beer-week-logo-2

OK, I’m flummoxed, non-plussed, bewildered, confused… SF Beer Week has gotten so damn big that I don’t know what to do. I don’t know which events to attend, which ones to publicize. It’s rapidly  getting out of hand, far, far out of hand.

The moveable fest we’re calling SF Beer Week  — Feb. 6 – Feb. 15 — has really taken off; all kinds of pubs and restaurants and bloggers and who knows whom have jumped in. Hell, I ‘ve learned that even Oliveto’s, the posh (and most exccellent) restaurant in Rockridge Oakland has a beer dinner going featuring the beers of Russian River with Vinnie Cilurzo on hand to provide commentary… The mind reels

I’m going to quickly run through the  two days and list some high points, but it’s utterly impossible to be fair about it. The only thing for each of us to do is go to SFbeerweek.org, check out the events and make your own list… and keep checking back, they’re well over 100 events and counting…

So without further blabbing…

petrus-noel-tight-closeup-of-glassOverview:
The event kicks of with tapping somehting, perhaps a special keg of beer at Anchor, San Francisco,  Friday evening, Feb. 6.  The event is private. They tried to invite our guvantor,  Arnold Schwartzenegger, a guy who actually drinks beer. But politics got in the way, I’m told. SF Mayor Gavin Newsom’s out, of course — don’t ask me why — just check this news story. They’re still casting around for a likely candidate. I think Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, the guy who carried the legislation in 1982 making brewpubs legal in California would be a good choice. Who knows.

Blabbing on. So, the official kickoff will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 7 when the Bistro’s annual Double IPA Fest gets underway in Hayward: More than 50 double IPAs,  live music, food, street closing, a tent if it rains, $25, includes commemorative glass, five taste tickets. More can be purchased. Awards announced at 5 p.m.

The 10-day week wraps up on Friday night, Feb. 13, with Beer Chef Bruce Paton’s big Beer and Chocolate Dinner at the Catherdal Hill Hotel, San Francisco, followed on Saturday, Feb. 14, with the annual Toronado Barleywine Fest at the Toronado, 547 Haight St. in San Francisco. Doors open at 11 a.m. No admission, pay for your beer.

Both the Bistro Double IPA and the Barleywine Fest are professionally judged in blind tastings; there will be winners.

The final, final event will be the Celebrator Bay Area Beer Celebration, Sunday, Feb. 15 at the Oakland Convention Center (rear of the Oakland Marriott,  1000 Broadway). $35, 4 – 8 p.m. More than 50 breweries pouring beer, the price gets you all the beer you want. There’s a VIP session from 3- 4 p.m., $50.  The event celebrates the Celebrator Beer News 21st anniversary.  Good going folks.

OK, here are  a few events, on the first two days:

Thursday, Feb. 6

Uncommon Brewers Beer Dinner, Red Restaurant and Bar, 1003 Cedar St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, 831 621-6270. $65. The menu has been posted.

Brewed for Thought Presents an Introduction to Belgian Beer, 7. p.m., Alpha Sigma Phi- UC Berkeley, 2498 Piedmont Ave, Berkeley, CA: Reservations: 707-206-8422, $15, includes Belgian beer glass with five, 4oz samples, plus one full pour.

Park Chalet Toga Party with the Hallway Ballers,  Park Chalet, 1000 Great Highway, San Francisco, 415-386-8439. $3 pints, $2 pizza. Park Chalet is the downstairs restaurant on the  Golden Gate Park side; the Beach Chalet is upstairs and overlooks Ocean Beach.

Millenium Vegetarian Organic Beer Dinner,  (also, Saturday Feb. 7). This is top flight organic, vegetarian cuisine, paired with four course beer dinner with all organic brews, featuring their wonderful vegetarian food pairings with Eel River IPA, UnCommon Brewer’s Siamese Twin, UnCommon brewer’s Porter and Bison Chocolate Stout. The menu is available throughout service from 5:30  – 9:30 p.m.  Reservations a must: 415-345-3900.

Saturday, Feb. 7.

allagash-white-glass-wfoam

A glass of Allagash White

Bistro’s 9th Annual Double IPA fest, 11 a.m.  (See above.)

Santa Cruz Ale Works and The Parish Public House Beer and Cheese Tasting, Parish Publick House, 841 Almar St., Santa Crz, 831-421-0507. No admission, pay for beer and cheese. This is a new, excellent pub in Santa Cruz; the brewery is also Santa Cruz’s newest and makes a range of very drinkable ales.

Monk’s Kettle,  SF Beer Week Kickoff Reception, The Monk’s Kettle, 3141 16th St., San Francisco, 12:30 – 2 p.m. Featuring San Francisco Brewer’s Guild President Rich Higgins, of ThirstyBear Brewing. Large and growing list of West Coast beers on tap. Happy hour prices. There will be many more events at Monk’s Kettle as the week rolls on.

Meet the Brewer: Rob Tod, of Allagash, at The Trappist, 6 p.m., The Trappist, 460 8th St., Oakland, 510-238-8900. Rob will bring many of his very fine and interesting beers. No admission, pay for your beer.

City Beer Store Tasting with AleSmith (San Diego) beers (including hopefully, Speedway Stout. Alesmith’s founder Peter Zien will be present. No admission: pay for your beer and beer will be available in bottles to purchace and take home.  Time to be announced.

German Beer Tasting, Rosie’s Cracker Barrel with Chris Nelson and Merideth Canham-Nelson from thebeergeek.com, Rosie’s Cracker Barrel, 1 Esquiline Road, Carmel Valley, CA, 831-659-2629.  Chris and Merideth will pour five of their favorite German beers, served with snacks and music. In the last year, they’ve traveled the world creating beer videos. They’ve hit Germany at least twice.

Posted on Monday, February 2nd, 2009
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New head brewer at Tied House San Jose: Peter Licht of Coast Range

tied-house-san-jose-map

tied-house-beer-logoBig changes at Tied House San Jose If you live in the South Bay and like good beer, you’ve no doubt visited Tied House, 65 N. San Pedro St,  in downtown San Jose. It’s a large, barn of place in a design that in New York they call a “floor through.”  You can enter on either San Pedro or the next street. They’ve always offered a long list of very drinkable beer; but I’ve never been a big fan.

That’s changing fast. The owners, who also operate Tied House in Mountain View, have hired Peter Licht, the longtime former Coast Range head brewer, as their head brewer in San Jose. Peter’s injecting new life into the pub.  Among other things, he’s putting on a different cask ale every Friday. A reader and frequent poster to this blog,  expressed shock at the improvement in the beer. He said the next beer on”Firkin Friday” will be a black IPA.

He also said he was told Tied House has just signed a contract to brew  “exotic beers” for BevMo, to be sold under another name.  “Interesting…I’ve never really think of Tied House as a destination for exotic beers,” he says.

Well, with Peter Licht at the helm, you can expect some interesting twists and turns. Tied House, by the way, is one of the original American brewpubs. The first one in Mountain View opened in 1988. The original head brewer was Cheuck Tom, who was masterbrewer at San Miguel in the Philippines, then at Anhueuser-Busch. So the beer from the start was excellent.

A second brewpub in Alameda on the Estuary opened in1989, but closed during the big craft beer downturn in the 1990s.  San Jose opened in 1991.

Posted on Monday, February 2nd, 2009
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Videos of the week: Closets, iceberg beer,

This new (I guess it’s new) Heineken commercial handles differences between men and women very evenly. Did my wife laugh? She wouldn’t watch it. Oh well. Thanks to Hoptalk and Geeks Are Sexy for the link.

A reader posted the link to a video made by Quidi Vidi Brewery in Newfoundland (Canada) that makes a beer using water melted from an iceberg.  The thing about iceberg water, the narrator says, the water is 23,000 years old and is the purest water on Earth. It has no organics and no minerals… One problem, looks like light lager to me. Oh well.

The History Channel last week on it’s Day in History Web series  posted a nifty video that include a salute to the first canned beer: Jan. 24, 1935…See the video and read about it here…

Posted on Monday, February 2nd, 2009
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Two beers each for servicepeople in Iraq during the Super Bowl

iraq-beers-for-super-bowl-espen
While you and I sip our favorite and greatest beers this afternoon during Super Bowl XLIII, think of the American servicepeople on duty in Iraq. Thanks to presidential edict., they get two beers each.  Doesn’t sound like much, but Iraq is officially dry for the U.S. military (although when I was in the Navy overseas, we always had booze).

No matter, the word is: two beers.  And, according to this report from ESPN, the beer is very likely to be Budweiser, I dunno about you, but two cans of Bud vs. no beer at all is a no brainer. Go for the Bud.

Last note, about what to drink during the Super Bowl — the trouble with all my favorites is they’re strong.   What’s called for is a British-style “mild”, a malty, drinkable low-alcohold session beer, around 3.5 percent.  Trouble is the only beers of that strength in America — outside brewpubs, where milds are starting to show up  — are light beers.  Amsel Light, the Heineken import, for instance, is 3.5 percent.  Michelob Ultra is 4.2 percent,  Sam Adams Light is 4.05 percent.  With the possible exception of Sam, these are beers of little taste.

One low alcohol beer I really like — but haven’t found in a while is Brasserie Dupont’s  Avril. It’s 3.5 percent, but the first time I tried it, I assumed it was another hefty, Belgian ale. Doesn’t taste like 3.5 percent: lots of spice and malt. We need more beers like Avril in America. I have some Pliny and Dogfish 90-Minute on hand. But after I drink one or two of either, I’m finished for the day.

On the subject of lower alcohol session beers, Lew Bryson, the Philadelphia author and beer writer, has just started a new blog: The Session Beer Project. He wants to create a forum and buzz for lower-alcohol beers…Great idea. The time has come.

For a list of popular beers and their alcohol content, check out this site for starters.
So, let’s build a session beer list. Comments welcome. I’ll use the list in a future column –

Posted on Sunday, February 1st, 2009
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The audacity of statistics: Rate Beer names the best

Oh my gawd… Ratebeer.com has done it again. They have a new “best of” list for 2009. It’s based on ratings on the site.  Comments anyone? (I, personally, am speechless)

Best Brewery in the World: Three Floyds Brewing

Best Beer in the World: Närke Kaggen Stormaktsporter

(Best Beer in the USA): Three Floyds Dark Lord

Best Beer Bar in the World: Kulminator (Beligum)

(Best Beer Bar in the USA): Oldsmar Tap House (Oldsmar, FL)

Best Brewpub: Dieu du Ciel! (Canada)

(Best Brewpub in the USA): The Brew Kettle (Strongsville, OH)

Best Beer Retailer: Ølbutikken (Denmark)

(Best Beer Retailer in the USA): Vintage Estate Wine and Beer (Boardman, UT)

Best Beer Restaurant: Ebenezer Kezars Restaurant and Pub (Lovell, ME)

Best Brewery to Visit: Hair of the Dog Brewing Company

Posted on Saturday, January 31st, 2009
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Celebrate the anniversary of legal homebrewing at Triple Rock, Berkeley

Here’s an interesting factoid about beer in America. Did you know — brewing your own beer was illegal until 1979, when President Jimmy Carter signed into law a bill — sponsored by Sen. Alan Cranston, D- California, making it legal.

That one signature put the craft beer revolution into hyperdrive.  People who loved beer started homebrewing, jumped into professional brewing, started craft breweries and brewpubs and…on and on…

To mark the occasion,  Triple Rock, 1920 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley  is tapping a special keg of beer Sunday,  Feb. 1, 2009. Here’s Triple Rock head brewer Rodger Davis:

  • Homebrewer Chad Mosher (from the Brewingnetwork.com) came in and brewed a Southern English Brown ale which we will be serving four ways on Sunday.  It is a nice dark malty beer, weighing in at 4.2%ABV. We’ll serve it on our nitro tap our regular tap and two different cask conditioned ones via our handpumps. One has been dry hopped with Styrian Goldings and the other with Ahtanum hops. Hope to see you there.

Ahh, a session beer for the Super Bowl. See you about noon Rodger.

Posted on Saturday, January 31st, 2009
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The Sierra Nevada Bigfoot video…

Forget Bud Light for the moment (if not forever).  It’s time for Sierra Nevada  Bigfoot Barley Wine-Style Ale. It’s just now reaching a store near you (and if your favorite store doesn’t have it, for gawd’s sake find the manager and complain.

This year, Sierra Nevada’s posted a time-lapse movie showing the process of fermenting Bigfoot. They use open fermenters in a sealed, sterile room, just like Anchor.

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To watch the video, click on this link: http://www.sierranevada.com/beers/images/bigfootsmall.mov

This year’s Bigfoot, SN says, is 9.8 percent (It’s been almost 11 percent at times). It’s 90 IBU. Bittering hops are Chinook, finishing (late addition) hops are Cascade and Centennial. Dry hopping — whole hops added in the fermenter — were Cascade, Centalennial and Chinook.
Malts were two row pale and English caramel.  That’s interesting. Bigfoot has evolved from inky brown to what appears to be a caramel color. Hmm.

Has anyone tried this year’s Bigfoot? Let us know what you think.

Posted on Friday, January 30th, 2009
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