Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Mateveza/Samuel Adams Collaboration Beer Being Released Tonight

By Jay Brooks
Monday, June 10th, 2013 at 12:53 pm in On Beer

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Tonight from 6-9:00 p.m. at Cervecería de MateVeza, located at 3801 18th Street in San Francisco, there will be a beer-tasting of a new collaboration beer. Here’s the story:

Samuel Adams and MateVeza will come together to celebrate and introduce their limited-release collaboration beer, Boston Tea Party Saison. The unique brew combines MateVeza’s signature ingredient — yerba mate tea — and Samuel Adams’ one-of-a-kind Kosmic Mother Funk (KMF).

After completing a Brewing and Business Experienceship, an extended craft brewing mentoring program offered by Samuel Adams, MateVeza founder Jim Woods teamed up with his mentor to create a unique collaboration beer. The Experienceship is offered to craft brewers as part of Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream, a micro lending and coaching program available to food, beverage and hospitality small business owners as well as craft brewers.

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Jim Woods and Samuel Adams brewer Dean Gianocostas in Boston on the day they brewed the collaboration beer, Boston Tea Party Saison.

Here’s their description of the beer itself:

Samuel Adams and MateVeza came together to brew a Saison, which is a farmhouse beer traditionally brewed in the autumn or winter for consumption during the summer for the farm workers. The final recipe combines MateVeza’s signature ingredient — yerba mate tea — and Samuel Adams’ one-of-a-kind Kosmic Mother Funk (KMF), a blend of wild yeasts and bacteria designed to give beers unique flavors. The bright and satisfying brew has a slightly earthy and deliciously fruity character with a hint of spice and a long dry finish.

If you’re in the city tonight, stop by and give the beer a try. See you there.

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Chris Spinelli and Jon Mervine from Roc Brewing (who also did a similar collaboration beer, though their beer is ThreeNinety Bock), and in the middle Jim Woods, MateVeza, and Jim Koch, from Boston Beer.

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Hog’s Apothecary in Oakland Looking For Founding Members

By Jay Brooks
Sunday, June 9th, 2013 at 12:00 pm in On Beer

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The Hog’s Apothecary, located in Oakland at 375 40th Street, is looking for founding members on the crowndfunding website Indiegogo. With less than 36 hours to go, they need just $3,000 to complete their vision of bringing an American-style beer hall to Oakland. Check out all of the details on Indiegogo or their Facebook page and support their efforts if it looks good to you. Here’s their pitch:

The Hog’s Apothecary is an American-style beer hall and gastropub brought to you by Bradford Earle and John Streit set to open this summer in Oakland’s Temescal District. The Hog will feature 32 American Craft brews and 4 local wines on draft, weekly firkin selections, a selection of craft bottles and a menu of artisanal sausages and roasts, a selection of charcuterie, appetizers and well composed salads, all crafted onsite.

Under construction since November, The Hog’s Apothecary is a locally owned operation. Owners Bradford and John are local residents, excited to make a lasting contribution to our neighborhood. We love Oakland and we could not be happier to be opening our first restaurant in the East Bay. We invite you to be part of speeding us to our grand opening and to making The Hog the place for you to hang out in the East Bay! We hope that you’ll become a Founding Member and feel that The Hog’s Apothecary is as much yours as it is ours.

We can never have too many good beer bars as far as I’m concerned. I wish them the best of luck.

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History & Hops This Thursday

By Jay Brooks
Tuesday, May 21st, 2013 at 1:34 pm in On Beer

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Join us this Thursday for what’s shaping up to be a fun evening of Hops and History at the former U.S. Mint building in San Francisco. The event is being put on by Flipside, a San Francisco History Events Group, in conjunction with the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society. The Society is currently “undertaking the restoration of San Francisco’s landmark Old Mint to house the future San Francisco Museum at the Mint,” and in the meantime is using the space to hold local history-themed events. Flipside worked with the San Francisco Brewers Guild — and I helped a little bit — but especially SF Brewers Guild executive director Brian Stechschulte to create an evening that includes a program of talks about the history of beer in the city, and also includes a gallery showing of San Francisco breweriana on loan from my friend Ken Harootunian, along with some pieces from Anchor Brewing. Here’s what will be going on during the event, which takes place from 6:30 p.m. until 9:30:

  • John Freeman: The Curious 150 Year Cycle of Brewing Beer in San Francisco
  • Dave Burkhart, Anchor historian: History of California Lager
  • A History of Yeast: Man’s Oldest Industrial Organism
  • San Francisco Brewers Guild Panel Discussion (led by yours truly)
  • Screening of Brewers by the Bay film

Tickets are $30 and can be purchased online at eventbrite. Here’s what your ticket includes:

  • Unlimited tasting of all breweries. Participating breweries include 21st Amendment, Magnolia, Triple Voodoo, Beach Chalet, ThirstyBear Brewing Company, Cerveceria de MateVeza, Speakeasy, Pine Street Brewery, Anchor and Pacific Brewing Laboratory.
  • Presentation on brewing history
  • Interactive yeast exhibit
  • Historical brewing memorabilia exhibit by Ken Harootunian & Anchor
  • Food available for purchase from by Off The Grid
  • Docent led tours of the historic 1874 Old Mint
  • Souvenir sampling mug included
  • Photobooth sponsored by UpOutSF
  • Music by DJ Jacob

Join us Thursday for Hops & History. See you then.

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Announcing Session Beer Month & the NorCal Session Fest

By Jay Brooks
Monday, May 6th, 2013 at 11:55 am in On Beer

Back in February, during SF Beer Week, it hit me that we needed a Session Beer Festival in the Bay Area. California is already known for big, hoppy beers but I was convinced that not everybody wants an extreme beer all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I love a hop bomb IPA or an Imperial Stout as much as the next beer geek, but not every day of the week. So I started talking it up, mentioning the idea here and there. I spoke to the San Francisco Brewers Guild, called Joe Tucker from RateBeer, and brought it up with several brewers. Everybody liked the concept.

Somehow word reached John Martin and Drake’s/Triple Rock. Their wonderful marketing director, Kelsey Williams, picked up the ball and has been running with it ever since. After discussions with all of us, she’s set a juggernaut in motion. First, at least in the Bay Area, we’ve declared that May is “Session Beer Month,” and we’re calling on all breweries, bars, restaurants and beer stores to create some sort of event to create awareness of session beers. This is the first year, obviously, so we’re not expecting too much this time around, but are looking at the long haul, hoping to create momentum so that next year Session Beer Month will be huge, or at least will grow bigger each year.

To facilitate that, she’s also created a Facebook Page and Twitter account for SessionBeerMay. Check them out; “like us” and “follow us,” and most importantly, if you’re in a position to help, please consider creating a session beer event this month. If you’re not, please consider supporting the effort by drinking session beers throughout the month. If your favorite place doesn’t have any, ask them to carry at least one session beer. Although it may spark an unwinnable debate, we’re defining “session beers” as 4.5% a.b.v. or below. We accept that sometimes a 5% beer can be considered sessionable, but for our purposes — with tongue firmly in cheek — those we’ll consider “imperial session beer” or “extreme session beers.”

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On the Facebook page, Kesley’s drafted our mission statement.

A Manifesto:

Beer lovers, we are in the midst of a revolution. We have thrown off the fetters of the fizzy yellows and clamored for change. To supplant the sameness, we sought and found the EXTREME. We now have Triple IPAs and World Wide Stouts, Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperials, Belgian Quads, and all manner of High Gravity beers stuffed with fruits, spices, malts, hops. We’ve reached for the outermost precipices of beer, and succeeded.

Yet, in our noble quest for more innovation and more experimentation we have flown past many classic, well-loved, craft beer styles that may have seemed, due to their modest alcohol contents, a little too close to the weak, yellow, fizz water we’d escaped.

We have left behind these beers of import, beers perfectly suited to a long conversation at the pub, a picnic at the park, a post-hike refreshment, or a mid-summer beach trip, and beers that one can happily imbibe over the course of a few hours and leave satisfied and still standing.

We call to you beer lovers. Do not disregard a well-made, flavorful Bitter, Mild, Scottish Ale, Dry Stout, or any other Session beer because you perceive a lower alcohol content as a sign of the weak and bland. Allow us to prove that these beers are worthy of consideration. They, just like the extreme beers, have their place in our fridges and on our local taps.

We declare the month of May for Session beers. Beers that need not be analyzed, dissected, sipped, or sniffed in abundance. Delicious beers that not only enhance a good conversation but can extend it through multiple rounds.

Raise a Pint. Raise a Few. Spread the word in May; Less is most certainly more.

Amen. That’s the idea, nailed up to the electronic doors of the church of extreme beer, in the hopes of sparking a session reformation.

The next step? That’s easy: A Session Beer Festival. This year the NorCal Session Fest, will be held modestly at Drake’s Brewing in San Leandro on Saturday, May 25, 2013 from 12-4 PM. As befits session beers, the festival will benefit the East Bay Bike Coalition. Tickets to the event are $30 in advance and $35 at the door. You can buy tickets online at Brown Paper Tickets. In addition to the beer, local food trucks will be on-site with tasty food for sale. Please join us for the first beer festival celebrating session beers in the Bay Area. Let’s make this an annual event. I’ll see you there.

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New Style Guidelines Released by Brewers Association

By Jay Brooks
Monday, March 4th, 2013 at 9:20 am in On Beer

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The Brewers Association this morning released the 2013 Style Guidelines. According to the press release:

Updated annually, this year’s version defines 142 styles of beer, up from 140 in 2012.

Compiling the guidelines annually is a collaborative effort, and the 2013 version incorporates more than 100 suggestions from U.S. and international beer judges and experts, brewers and beer lovers. This year, Adambier and Grätzer styles were added for the first time. Both are historic pre-Reinheitsgebot styles that are making a slow revival among U.S. and international brewers. Adambier and Grätzer are historically smoky ales, with the former thriving in and around Dortmund, Germany, and the latter brewed primarily in Poland.

Changes were also made to the guidelines for American wheat ale, reflecting a growing trend in the craft brewing and homebrewing communities by which all-wheat grists are used in the brewing process.

A pdf of the new guidelines can be downloaded at the Brewers Association website.

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More on Anchor’s Pier 48 San Francisco Brewery

By Jay Brooks
Tuesday, February 19th, 2013 at 4:47 pm in On Beer

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With the news breaking last night about Anchor Brewery building a second, and much larger, brewery near the waterfront at Pier 48, I was immediately keen to find out more. I knew from my earlier discussions with the new owners, and especially Keith Greggor, that they wanted to build the business but were dead set on keeping the business in San Francisco. But since they’re already the largest manufacturer within the city limits, that prospect must have been a daunting — and ultimately very expensive — task.

The new proposed brewery is being built in partnership with the San Francisco Giants and their 27-acre Mission Rock development project. Here’s more information about it from the press release released this morning.

Anchor will continue to operate its facility in Potrero Hill, but will greatly expand its operations with the development of the Pier 48 facility. The two facilities will allow the company to quadruple its annual production capacity from 180,000 barrels to 680,000 barrels.

Pier 48, the southern-most structure of the Port’s Embarcadero Historic District, will be fully rehabilitated and re-established as an industrial hub of the central waterfront. The new Anchor facility will feature production facilities for brewing, distilling, packaging, storing, and shipping; a restaurant, museum and educational facility in the headhouse of Pier 48; and a restored walkway around the entire pier apron that will connect pedestrians to the Portwalk and allow views into the Anchor brewhouse. Anchor will offer tours of the facilities and educational seminars with a focus on the history of craft beer, the art of craft distilling and Anchor’s history in San Francisco. The construction project beginning late 2014 will feature the use of green and sustainable materials, setting the standard for a modern urban brewery.

The Anchor expansion will create approximately 200 new jobs, 75% of which are production-oriented positions that employ a diverse work force.

“We are making things in San Francisco and creating a magnet for jobs for thousands of people from every background in our thriving local manufacturing sector,” said Mayor Ed Lee. “Making sure our homegrown companies stay and grow right here in San Francisco remains my top priority and I want to thank Anchor Brewing and the San Francisco Giants for driving the engine of economic growth, bringing jobs and revitalizing our world class waterfront.”

The Anchor Brewery expansion project also represents the first major tenant of the Mission Rock Project — a new, mixed use urban neighborhood currently being developed by the San Francisco Giants. The Anchor Brewing facility will cover 22% of the overall project site.

“As a longtime partner of the Giants, we are delighted to welcome Anchor Brewing to the waterfront and to partner with them on what will become an exciting place for San Franciscans to live, work and play,” said Larry Baer, Giants President and CEO. “Given the rich history of the Giants and Anchor Brewing in San Francisco, it is only fitting that we work together to help transform this historic part of the City’s waterfront.”

In addition to Anchor Brewing’s new facility, the Mission Rock Project will include more than eight acres of parks and open space, 650-1,500 residential units, 1-1.7 million square feet office space, parking structure to serve ballpark and Mission Rock patrons, and up to 250,000 square feet of retail, restaurants, and public amenities. In total, Mission Rock is expected to create 4,800 construction jobs and 6,400 permanent jobs.

Mission Rock Park will include Seawall Lot 337 (SWL 337) & Pier 48.

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Last April, SocketSite began showing artist drawings of what the proposed site might look like with their post Mission Rock Plans Dusted Off With Giants Swinging For A 2015 Start and last month’s Giants Moving Forward With Massive “Mission Rock” Development.

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Here’s an overview of the 27-acre site, of which approximately 22% will be the Anchor Brewery complex. It will apparently be 212,000 square feet and will ultimately allow total beer production to be increased to an impressive 680,000 barrels annually. “The new Anchor facility will feature production facilities for brewing, distilling, packaging, storing, and shipping; a restaurant, museum and educational facility in the headhouse of Pier 48; and a restored walkway around the entire pier apron that will connect pedestrians to the Portwalk and allow views into the Anchor brewhouse.”
Anchor & Pier 48 Exterior

The interior of the proposed restaurant portion of the Anchor Brewery project, with the brewhouse visible in the background.

Anchor & Pier 48 Interior

This afternoon, I had a chance to talk with Anchor co-owner Keith Greggor, who was kind enough to fill me in on some of the other aspects of the project. Here’s what I learned.

Anchor has been talking to the Giants about the Mission Rock project for at least the last year and a half, and the city and Mayor Ed Lee are especially thrilled that a deal could be done. Apparently, it’s a perfect expression of Mayor Lee’s “keep and grow” concept for keeping businesses from leaving San Francisco as they succeed and grow larger. In fact, the mayor apparently suggested Anchor as a tenant, not realizing at the time that it might actually work. The Port is also very happy to have only one tenant, and it has to be a day and night difference having the city, local politicians and the landlord all very supportive and happy to have a brewery there, which is not the situation that often occurs.

Anchor will eventually take over all of Pier 48, but will begin renovating Shed A, and will later take on Shed B, too. The two sheds are essentially different buildings with what they call a “valley” in between. Most of the design work is done, and the first order of business will be to spruce up the building. They expect to move in during the 3rd Quarter of 2014 and be open by the 4th Quarter of 2015.

Perhaps the most amazing news is that they already have a brewhouse for the new location. About twenty years ago, a nearly exact duplicate of Anchor’s current copper brewhouse came on the market in Germany, and Fritz Maytag bought it, hoping to use it when Anchor expanded. But later Maytag decided against moving the brewery and instead had been storing the equipment ever since. The only difference between the two is that the newer one is over twice as big, and is a 270-barrel brewhouse. In addition to brewing at Pier 48, they will also have a working distillery there, but will also continue to make gin and whisky at the Potrero Hill location, too.

The museum portion of the project will include Anchor’s massive brewing book collection and breweriana, including a recent purchase of another collection from a gentlemen who’d been collecting his entire life and recently decided to sell it all. There will also be an educational component, and will be similar to their original concept of having a “Center of Excellence” that the Griffin Group talked about when they first bought Anchor. Greggor had been talking about the Mission Rock project with Fritz Maytag the entire time during the negotiations, and Maytag is reported to be very happy with the new brewery plan.

Still undecided is the restaurant, which will not be a brewpub. They may yet partner with someone to do the food, but since the restaurant will be one of the later parts of the project to be completed, they’re still weighing their options. The current estimate is that the restaurant won’t open until 2017.

Looking at it from all the angles, it really seems like an elegant solution to the thorny problem of how to grow the business without sacrificing what makes Anchor such a great brand. They’ll have a more public space, perfect for tourists, locals and baseball fans, and will be able to make even more Anchor beer right in San Francisco. It will create jobs, help with the economy and should attract more tenants to the Mission Rock development project. What’s not to like?

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Anchor Announces Second Brewery in San Francisco

By Jay Brooks
Monday, February 18th, 2013 at 7:32 pm in On Beer

The San Francisco Chronicle broke the news tonight that Anchor Brewing Co. will be building a second brewery near the waterfront at Pier 48, in partnership with the San Francisco Giants and their 27-acre Mission Rock development project. The Anchor Brewery space will apparently be 212,000 sq. ft., and will include “production and distribution facilities, a restaurant, museum and other public attractions.” It will also allow them to increase brewing capacity to approximately 600,000 barrels, while keeping all of their brewing operations within the city limits. The new facility is also expected to more than double the number of Anchor employees. Below is Anchor’s artist’s design for the new brewery.

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For now, you can read the story at the Chronicle’s Anchor Brewing plant on S.F. waterfront. I spoke to Anchor Brewery co-owner Keith Greggor this evening and learned that there will be an official announcement tomorrow morning around 10 a.m. where we’ll learn more details, and I also have scheduled an interview with Greggor afterwards to go over the project in more details, so stay tuned.

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And here’s what it should like inside part of the 212,000 sq. ft. building.

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Russian River Brewing Honored By California State Legislature

By Jay Brooks
Thursday, February 14th, 2013 at 9:19 am in On Beer

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California State Senator Noreen Evans, from District 2, honored Russian River Brewing Co. with a Resolution from the California Legislature. The resolution was also signed by Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro, who joined me and the crew from the Celebrator Beer News, at Beer Camp #93 at Sierra Nevada. Evans was also joined on stage by State Senator Alex Padilla, from District 20 (the San Fernando Valley) so that both the southern and northern parts of the state were represented.

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Senator Padilla, Natalie and Vinnie Cilurzo and Senator Evans presenting a joint legislative resolution from the State of California yesterday.

The joint legislative resolution “recognizes RRBC’s outstanding community and customer service, exemplary business ethics and liquid craftsmanship that have provided the county with huge local economic benefits through jobs, sales and distinction.”

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Senators Alex Padilla and Noreen Evans, Tom McCormick, Executive Director of the CCBA, and Natalie and Vinnie Cilurzo yesterday at the Russian River brewpub.

Congratulations to Vinnie and Natalie, and all of the Russian River Brewing employees, for this great honor.

Click on this YouTube link to see a short video I shot of the ceremony (using Sean Paxton‘s camera because mine was unwell, and who also shot the above photos for me — thanks Sean).

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Pliny the Younger Day 2013

By Jay Brooks
Saturday, February 2nd, 2013 at 4:18 pm in On Beer

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This is the 9th year that Russian River Brewing has made their seasonal Triple I.P.A. Pliny the Younger, and the fourth year since it blew up into a huge event in 2010. I’ve been going every year since before then, and it’s been fun watching this event grow organically. This year was no exception, and was great fun. Oh, and the beer was pretty good, too.

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Each year since they were caught off guard in 2010, they’ve made changes each year to streamline the day, make it easier for more people to get a taste of Pliny the Younger and keep the event from spiraling out of control.

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When I arrived around 10:00 a.m., the line already stretched down the block from the brewpub entrance and turned the corner, running back to the beginning of the parking lot in the back of the block.

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The first people in line this was a trio from San Rafael, who started waiting in line at 3:00 a.m. the night before!

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Vinnie Cilurzo giving a last minute pep talk to the brewpub staff before opening the doors.

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Then the entire staff drank a beer shot of Pliny the Younger to prepare themselves for the onslaught of thirsty patrons about to fill the brewpub.

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Pliny the Younger 2013. This year’s version weighed in slightly higher than last year, at 10.8% a.b.v. The hop bill changed, Vinnie dropped Columbus, reduced the Tomahawk and stepped up Warrior, using it as the primary hop in the 30 day dry-hopping. Overall, Younger used Amarillo, Centennial, Chinook, Tomahawk and Warrior. He also changed the fermentation temperature, the dry hopping schedule and used even more hops. The result was an even smoother taste, amazing balance and terrific hop character. Big and bold. Vinnie believes it’s the best Younger yet, and it’s hard to disagree.

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The first customers of the day, having waited in line 8 hours for this moment. There were about 325 people in line when they opened the doors around 10:30, half an hour early.

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Vinnie Cilurzo, enjoying the day.

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By lunchtime, the brewpub was packed, and the line stretched down the block with people waiting for their turn to come in all day long.

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Back in the brewery, a final moment toasting with Natalie and Vinnie. Here’s to Pliny the Younger 2013.

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As I left the brewpub, relinquishing my spot for the next lucky person, I surveyed the line outside one last time, and noticed two artists capturing the spectacle in paint.

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The Band Is Back For Strong Beer Month

By Jay Brooks
Friday, February 1st, 2013 at 10:12 pm in On Beer

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It’s February, and that means it’s time for the 11th annual Strong Beer Month, once again with six new extreme beers each at 21st Amendment and Magnolia throughout the month. Try them all, and you get to keep the commemorative logo glass. Just collect all 12 punches in your Strong Beer Month ticket before the beer’s all gone.

Here’s the beer for this year:

Side M: Magnolia:

  1. Promised Land Imperial I.P.A.: 10.5% abv
  2. McLean’s Wee Heavy: 8.4% abv
  3. Delilah Jones Rye: 9.6% abv
  4. Quadlibet for Tenderfeet: 9.4% abv
  5. Old Thunderpussy Barleywine: 10.6% abv
  6. Smokestack Lightning Imperial Stout: 9.8% abv

Side Two: 21st Amendment:

  1. Lord & Master Strong English Blonde: 8.2% abv
  2. Dub Step Imperial I.P.A.: 10.2% abv
  3. Nelson, Jade, and Helga Imperial I.P.A.: 10.5% abv
  4. Red Giant Imperial Red Alek: 11%
  5. Two-Lane Blacktop Imperial Black I.P.A.: 10% abv
  6. Hendrick’s Imperial Stout: 8.6% abv

This year’s theme is the 1969 album “The Band” featuring Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, John Simon, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson and Richard Manuel, and while I know the names, I couldn’t pick most of them out in a line-up, so I’m not sure who’s playing who this year.

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And here’s the back cover, too:

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