Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Homebrewing in the Bay Area

By Jay Brooks
Thursday, January 17th, 2013 at 12:48 pm in On Beer

My next column is about learning to homebrew, so here are some resources in the Bay Area to get you started.

Homebrewing Supply Stores

Homebrew Clubs

If there’s a shop or club I’ve missed, just add a comment here, and I’ll update it.

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Sierra Nevada: Our Story

By Jay Brooks
Thursday, December 13th, 2012 at 5:18 pm in On Beer

Sierra Nevada Brewing recently released a really cool video to tell their 30+ year story, with some great photography by Seattle-based agency Digital Kitchen. Click this link to watch it. Enjoy.

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Cheese & Beer Event At Point Reyes With The Homebrew Chef

By Jay Brooks
Monday, December 3rd, 2012 at 10:02 am in On Beer

This should be a great event. My good friend, Sean Paxton, the Homebrew Chef, has teamed up with Point Reyes Cheese for an amazing day of cheese and beer. On Saturday, December 8th from 10:30 am to 3:00 pm, Sean will be at the Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company, makers of the wonderful Point Reyes Blue, among others. The day will include “an educational walking farm tour, focused cheese tasting and a demonstration class led by Home Brew Chef, Sean Paxton. This special day will include a craft-beer-inspired and paired 4-course lunch. This educational experience is definitely for beer and food lovers!” It would also make a great early Christmas present, too. Wouldn’t you rather be drinking beer, eating cheese and taking in the beauty of nature than fighting the Christmas shopping crowds?

The luncheon will include beer from Anderson Valley, Bear Republic, Lagunitas and Russian River. Here’s the full menu:

First Course
Hog Island oysters topped with an iced Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout mignonette, crumbled Original Blue
Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout

Second Course
A homage to pot pie: local root vegetables and Willie Bird turkey breasts braised in Russian River Temptation with a thyme New Blue barley crust
Russian River Temptation

Third Course
Local lamb cheeks braised in Lagunitas Brewing Co. Cappuccino Stout on a bed of mashed potatoes infused with Toma, sautéed winter greens and garnished with a Marin County gremolata
Lagunitas Brewing Brown Shugga ‘10

Fourth Course
Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye beer caramel mixed into a mascarpone mousse, layered with a fall spiced Red Rocket Ale cake, garnished with a pumpkin seed Heritage Ale brittle
Bear Republic Heritage Ale

Tickets can be purchased online and are $120 per person. That includes everything; a Walking Farm Tour, Focused Cheese Tasting, and the Four Course Cooking Demonstration with Lunch & Craft Beer Pairings by Sean Paxton over four and a half hours.


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Live Vertical Vertical Epic Tasting Thursday

By Jay Brooks
Tuesday, November 13th, 2012 at 7:18 pm in On Beer

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!


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Interpretive Beer Tasting This Saturday Benefits Oakland Feather River Camp

By Jay Brooks
Wednesday, November 7th, 2012 at 10:46 pm in On Beer

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.


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Second Annual Coast To Coast Toast November 15

By Jay Brooks
Saturday, November 3rd, 2012 at 5:47 pm in On Beer

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.


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The Daily’s Foolproof Guide To Picking The Perfect Brew

By Jay Brooks
Thursday, October 25th, 2012 at 10:14 am in On Beer

With tongue firmly in cheek, The Daily posted this chart on Sunday, calling it their Foolproof Guide To Picking The Perfect Brew.


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Great American Beer Festival Winners 2012

By Jay Brooks
Monday, October 15th, 2012 at 11:28 pm in On Beer

Put a fork in the 31st Great American Beer Festival, it’s done, with some pretty impressive statistics again. A record 4,388 beers were judged in 84 categories by 185 judges, of which I was again privileged to be one. Some more factoids on the results and the festival:

  • Category with the most entries: American-style IPA: 203 entries
  • Average number of competition beers entered in each category: 50.6
  • 666 breweries in the competition from 48 states, Washington, D.C. and Guam
  • 578 breweries in the festival hall
  • Over 2,700 beers served at the festival
  • 49,000 attendees

The Breweries That Won the Most Medals:

  • Devil’s Backbone; 8 medals
  • Barley Brown’s, Church Brew Works; 4 medals
  • Captain Lawrence, Figueroa Mountain, Firestone Walker, Green Flash, Lost Abbey, Redrock, Spoetzl, Thai Me Up, Tröegs, Uinta; 3 medals

Last year, one brewery won 8 medals, three won 6 and five won 4 apiece. This year again eight was the highest total medals won by a single brewery, but the next closest was 4.

The Most Gold Medals Won:

  • Spoetzl Brewery, Tröegs; 3 gold medals won
  • Boulevard, Devil’s Backbone, Firestone Walker, Funkwerks, Green Flash, Pizza Port San Clemente, Pizza Port Solana Beach, SandLot, Stevens Point, Thai Me Up; 2 gold medals won

Last year, one brewery won 4, two won 3 and five won 2. This year two breweries won 3 golds and ten breweries one 2 gold medals.

Medals Won by State:

  1. California = 49
  2. Colorado = 35
  3. Oregon = 24
  4. Pennsylvania = 17
  5. Virginia = 12
  6. TIE: Illinois, Wisconsin = 10
  7. Texas = 9
  8. TIE: Utah, Wyoming = 8
  9. TIE: Indiana, Washington = 7
  10. Missouri = 6

It was a relatively light year for Northern California, with only 11 of California’s 49 medals having been won by eight Bay Area and Northern California breweries.


The 2012 Great American Beer Festival Winners

Category: 1 American-Style Wheat Beer, 29 Entries
Gold: Wagon Box Wheat, Black Tooth Brewing Co., Sheridan, WY
Silver: Shredders Wheat, Barley Brown’s Brew Pub, Baker City, OR
Bronze: American Wheat, Gella’s Diner and Lb. Brewing Co., Hays, KS

Category: 2 American-Style Wheat Beer with Yeast, 29 Entries
Gold: MBC Wheat Ale, Montana Brewing Co., Billings, MT
Silver: Tumblewheat, Altitude Chophouse and Brewery, Laramie, WY
Bronze: Wrangler Wheat, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co., Buellton, CA

Category: 3 Fruit Beer, 58 Entries
Gold: Dry Dock Apricot Blonde, Dry Dock Brewing Co., Aurora, CO
Silver: ChChChCh-Cherry Bomb, Thai Me Up Brewery, Jackson, WY
Bronze: Strawberry Blonde Ale, DESTIHL, Normal, IL

Category: 4 Fruit Wheat Beer, 38 Entries
Gold: Ruby Raspberry Wheat, Mad Anthony Brewing Co., Fort Wayne, IN
Silver: Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing, Chippewa Falls, WI
Bronze: 5 Lizard Latin-Style Witbier, 5 Rabbit Cerveceria, Bedford Park, IL

Category: 5 Field Beer or Pumpkin Beer, 63 Entries
Gold: Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale, Stevens Point Brewery, Stevens Point, WI
Silver: Anaheim IPA, RAM Restaurant and Brewery – Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN
Bronze: Cucumber Saison, Cigar City Brewing, Tampa, FL

Category: 6 Herb and Spice Beer, 114 Entries
Gold: Sweet Heat, Burnside Brewing Co., Portland, OR
Silver: CBC Heather Ale, Cambridge Brewing Co., Cambridge, MA
Bronze: Utah Sage Saison, Epic Brewing Co., Salt Lake City, UT

Category: 7 Chocolate Beer, 39 Entries
Gold: Cocoa for Coconuts, Chicago Brewing Co., Las Vegas, NV
Silver: X – 1, DuClaw Brewing Co., Bel Air, MD
Bronze: Milk Chocolate Cherry Stout, Il Vicino Brewing Co., Albuquerque, NM

Category: 8 Coffee Beer, 63 Entries
Gold: Smog City Groundwork Coffee, Tustin Brewing Co., Tustin, CA
Silver: Hazelnut Coffee Cream Stout, Redwood Brewing Co., Flint, MI
Bronze: Big Shot Espresso Stout, Twisted Pine Brewing Co., Boulder, CO

Category: 9 Specialty Beer, 35 Entries
Gold: Hazelnut Brown Nectar, Rogue Brewery, Newport, OR
Silver: Alaskan Birch Bock, Alaskan Brewing Co., Juneau, AK
Bronze: Exit 8, Flying Fish Brewing Co., Somerdale, NJ

Category: 10 Rye Beer, 62 Entries
Gold: Gramarye, Heretic Brewing Co., Pittsburg, CA
Silver: Kyles Baltic Porter, Flat Branch Pub and Brewery, Columbia, MO
Bronze: Roggenbier, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant – Phoenixville, Phoenixville, PA

Category: 11 Specialty Honey Beer, 33 Entries
Gold: West Bound Braggot, Twisted Pine Brewing Co., Boulder, CO
Silver: George’s Fault, Nodding Head Brewing Co., Philadelphia, PA
Bronze: Kuhnhenn Braggot, Kuhnhenn Brewing Co., Warren, MI

Category: 12 Session Beer, 67 Entries
Gold: Twerp, Pizza Port Carlsbad, Carlsbad, CA
Silver: Dock Street/Thiriez Table Saison, Dock Street Brewery, Philadelphia, PA
Bronze: Bitter American, 21st Amendment Brewery, San Francisco, CA

Category: 13 Other Strong Beer, 55 Entries
Gold: Reverb Imperial Pilsner, Boulevard Brewing Co., Kansas City, MO
Silver: Heart of Gold, Perennial Artisan Ales, St. Louis, MO
Bronze: Double White, Marble Brewery, Albuquerque, NM

Category: 14 Experimental Beer, 62 Entries
Gold: Redrock Paardebloem, Redrock Brewing Co., Salt Lake City, UT
Silver: Petit Obscura, Telegraph Brewing Co., Santa Barbara, CA
Bronze: Track #8, The Lost Abbey, San Marcos, CA

Category: 15 Fresh Hop Ale, 34 Entries
Gold: Estate Homegrown Ale, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA
Silver: HopTime Harvest Ale, Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa, CA
Bronze: Colorado IPA Nouveau, Tommyknocker Brewery, Idaho Springs, CO

Category: 16 Indigenous Beer, 27 Entries
Gold: Got Beer, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery – Boulder, Boulder, CO
Silver: Signature Gratzer, choc Beer Co., Krebs, OK
Bronze: Hot Rocks Lager, Port Brewing Co., San Marcos, CA

Category: 17 Gluten-Free Beer, 20 Entries
Gold: Nikki’s Gluten Free Honey Pale Ale, Rock Bottom Arlington, Arlington, VA
Silver: Brown, New Planet Beer Co., Boulder, CO
Bronze: Pale Ale, Harvester Brewing, Portland, OR

Category: 18 American-Belgo-Style Ale, 71 Entries
Gold: Le Freak, Green Flash Brewing Co., San Diego, CA
Silver: Chainbreaker WIPA, Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR
Bronze: A Little Crazy, Revolution Brewing, Chicago, IL

Category: 19 American-Style Sour Ale, 34 Entries
Gold: Barrel Select – Gold, Captain Lawrence Brewing Co., Elmsford, NY
Silver: Red Poppy, The Lost Abbey, San Marcos, CA
Bronze: Fitger’s Framboise, Fitger’s Brewhouse, Duluth, MN

Category: 20 American-Style Brett Ale, 29 Entries
Gold: Seizoen Bretta, Logsdon Farmhouse Ales, Hood River, OR
Silver: Flemish Kiss, The Commons Brewery, Portland, OR
Bronze: TPS Report, Trinity Brewing Co., Colorado Springs, CO

Category: 21 Wood- and Barrel-Aged Beer, 51 Entries
Gold: Jerry Maker, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery – Chandler, Chandler, AZ
Silver: Bourbon Barrel Aged Night Sail, Island Brewing Co., Carpinteria, CA
Bronze: Local Species, Blue Mountain Barrel House, Arrington, VA

Category: 22 Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer, 103 Entries
Gold: The Manhattan Project, The Beer Co., San Diego, CA
Silver: Pappy Van Muckle, Sun King Brewing Co., Indianapolis, IN
Bronze: Golden Delicious, Captain Lawrence Brewing Co., Elmsford, NY

Category: 23 Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout, 65 Entries
Gold: Fourteen Fourteen, Central Waters Brewing Co., Amherst, WI
Silver: Silva Stout, Green Flash Brewing Co., San Diego, CA
Bronze: Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout, AC Golden Brewing Co., Golden, CO

Category: 24 Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer, 70 Entries
Gold: Lady Of The Woods, Cisco Brewers, Nantucket, MA
Silver: Sentience, Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project, Denver, CO
Bronze: George’s Phunk, Nodding Head Brewing Co., Philadelphia, PA

Category: 25 Aged Beer, 24 Entries
Gold: 2010 Old Trainwreck Barleywine, Silver Moon Brewing, Bend, OR
Silver: 2004 Triple Exultation, Eel River Brewing Co., Fortuna, CA
Bronze: Lovely Cherry Baltic Porter, Bend Brewing Co., Bend, OR

Category: 26 Kellerbier or Zwickelbier, 32 Entries
Gold: Bottle Rocket, Uncle Billy’s Brew & Que – Lake Travis, Austin, TX
Silver: Redrock Organic Zwickel Bier, Redrock Brewing Co., Salt Lake City, UT
Bronze: Organic Hopworks Kellerbier, Hopworks Urban Brewery, Portland, OR

Category: 27 Smoke Beer, 50 Entries
Gold: Bambastic, Fort Collins Brewery, Fort Collins, CO
Silver: Rauchtoberfest, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant – Lancaster, Lancaster, PA
Bronze: Smoke & Dagger, Jack’s Abby Brewing, Framingham, MA

Category: 28 American-Style or International-Style Pilsener, 26 Entries
Gold: Gold Country Pilsner, Auburn Alehouse, Auburn, CA
Silver: Redhook Pilsner, Redhook Brewery Woodinville, Woodinville, WA
Bronze: Gold Leaf Lager, Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Outpost, Lexington, VA

Category: 29 German-Style Pilsener, 52 Entries
Gold: Sunshine Pils, Tröegs Brewing Co., Hershey, PA
Silver: Hans’ Pils, Real Ale Brewing Co., Blanco, TX
Bronze: Paintbrush Pilsner, Snake River Brewing, Jackson, WY

Category: 30 Bohemian-Style Pilsener, 53 Entries
Gold: Hometown Blonde, New Glarus Brewing Co., New Glarus, WI
Silver: Summit Pilsener, Summit Brewing Co., St. Paul, MN
Bronze: This is the Pilsener, Hoppers Grill & Brewing Co., Midvale, UT

Category: 31 Munich-Style Helles, 42 Entries
Gold: 6X Helles, CB & Potts Restaurant & Brewery – Fort Collins, Fort Collins, CO
Silver: Session Premium Lager, Full Sail Brewing Co., Hood River, OR
Bronze: Longboard Island Lager, Kona Brewing Co., Kailua-Kona, HI

Category: 32 Dortmunder or German-Style Oktoberfest, 23 Entries
Gold: Move Back, The SandLot, Denver, CO
Silver: Rolling Thunder Dortmunder, Snake River Brewing, Jackson, WY
Bronze: Celestial Gold, The Church Brew Works, Pittsburgh, PA

Category: 33 American-Style Lager, Light Lager or Premium Lager, 51 Entries
Gold: Pabst Blue Ribbon, Pabst Brewing Co., Los Angeles, CA
Silver: Miller Lite, Miller Brewing Co., Milwaukee, WI
Bronze: Keystone Light, Coors Brewing Co., Golden, CO

Category: 34 American-Style Specialty Lager or Cream Ale or Lager, 34 Entries
Gold: Henry Weinhard’s Blue Boar Pale Ale, Blitz-Weinhard Brewing, Hood River, OR
Silver: Old Style, Pabst Brewing Co., Los Angeles, CA
Bronze: Mickey’s Malt Liquor, Miller Brewing Co., Milwaukee, WI

Category: 35 Vienna-Style Lager, 36 Entries
Gold: Vienna Lager, Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Outpost, Lexington, VA
Silver: Chuckanut Vienna Lager, Chuckanut Brewery, Bellingham, WA
Bronze: Danish Red Lager, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co., Buellton, CA

Category: 36 German-Style Märzen, 69 Entries
Gold: Shiner Oktoberfest, Spoetzl Brewery, Shiner, TX
Silver: Mecktoberfest, The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, Charlotte, NC
Bronze: Dominion Oktoberfest, Old Dominion Brewing Co., Dover, DE

Category: 37 American-Style Amber Lager, 45 Entries
Gold: Point Oktoberfest, Stevens Point Brewery, Stevens Point, WI
Silver: Staghorn Octoberfest, New Glarus Brewing Co., New Glarus, WI
Bronze: Uberbrau, Humperdinks Restaurant and Brewery, Dallas, TX

Category: 38 European-Style Dunkel, 20 Entries
Gold: Knight Ryder Munich Dunkel, Equinox Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO
Silver: Pious Monk Dunkel, The Church Brew Works, Pittsburgh, PA
Bronze: Mother Earth Munich Dunkel, Mother Earth Brewing, Kinston, NC

Category: 39 American-Style Dark Lager, 12 Entries
Gold: Shiner Bock, Spoetzl Brewery, Shiner, TX
Silver: Old Virginia Dark, Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Basecamp, Roseland, VA
Bronze: Session Black Premium Dark Lager, Full Sail Brewing Co., Hood River, OR

Category: 40 German-Style Schwarzbier, 32 Entries
Gold: Shiner Bohemian Black Lager, Spoetzl Brewery, Shiner, TX
Silver: Baba, Uinta Brewing Co., Salt Lake City, UT
Bronze: Black Bear, Morgan Street Brewery, Saint Louis, MO

Category: 41 Bock, 33 Entries
Gold: Butt Head Bock, Tommyknocker Brewery, Idaho Springs, CO
Silver: Elixer Maibock, Mad Fox Brewing Co., Falls Church, VA
Bronze: Turbo Cougar, Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Outpost, Lexington, VA

Category: 42 German-Style Doppelbock or Eisbock, 19 Entries
Gold: Uber Bock, Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co., Madison, WI
Silver: Samuel Adams Double Bock, Boston Beer Co. – Samuel Adams, Cincinnati Brewery, Cincinnati, OH
Bronze: Resurrection Doppelbock, Red Lodge Ales Brewing Co., Red Lodge, MT

Category: 43 Baltic-Style Porter, 31 Entries
Gold: The Hammer, Rock Bottom King of Prussia, King of Prussia, PA
Silver: Danzig, Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Basecamp, Roseland, VA
Bronze: Polska Porter, American Brewing Co., Edmonds, WA

Category: 44 Golden or Blonde Ale, 67 Entries
Gold: Steelhead Extra Pale Ale, Mad River Brewing Co., Blue Lake, CA
Silver: Firemans #4, Real Ale Brewing Co., Blanco, TX
Bronze: TAPS Cream Ale, TAPS Fish House & Brewery, Brea, CA

Category: 45 German-Style Kölsch, 61 Entries
Gold: Capital City Kolsch, Blind Tiger Brewery & Restaurant, Topeka, KS
Silver: Chuckanut Kolsch Style, Chuckanut Brewery, Bellingham, WA
Bronze: Sky Blue Golden Ale, Carolina Brewery, Pittsboro, NC

Category: 46 English-Style Summer Ale, 38 Entries
Gold: Cross of Gold:, Revolution Brewing, Chicago, IL
Silver: Sum’r, Uinta Brewing Co., Salt Lake City, UT
Bronze: Mother Lode Golden Ale, Laurelwood Brewing Co., Portland, OR

Category: 47 Classic English-Style Pale Ale, 29 Entries
Gold: Royal Scandal, Peticolas Brewing Co., Dallas, TX
Silver: Gayle Force Pale Ale, Wind River Brewing Co., Pinedale, WY
Bronze: Hurricane Reef Pale Ale, Florida Beer Co., Melbourne, FL

Category: 48 English-Style India Pale Ale, 54 Entries
Gold: India Pale Ale, Goose Island Beer Co., Chicago, IL
Silver: Silverspot IPA, Pelican Pub & Brewery, Pacific City, OR
Bronze: Monumental IPA, Port City Brewing Co., Alexandria, VA

Category: 49 International-Style Pale Ale, 29 Entries
Gold: River Runners Pale Ale, Eddyline Brewing, Buena Vista, CO
Silver: Southern Chaos, Hollister Brewing Co., Goleta, CA
Bronze: Pipe Organ Pale Ale, The Church Brew Works, Pittsburgh, PA

Category: 50 American-Style Pale Ale, 109 Entries
Gold: Brickstone APA, Brickstone Brewery, Bourbonnais, IL
Silver: The Weight, Piece Brewery, Chicago, IL
Bronze: Zombie Dust, Three Floyds Brewing Co., Munster, IN

Category: 51 American-Style Strong Pale Ale, 111 Entries
Gold: Melvin, Thai Me Up Brewery, Jackson, WY
Silver: Lumberyard IPA, Lumberyard Brewing Co., Flagstaff, AZ
Bronze: Laughing Dog IPA, Laughing Dog Brewing, Ponderay, ID

Category: 52 American-Style India Pale Ale, 203 Entries
Gold: IPA, Tap It Brewing Co., San Luis Obispo, CA
Silver: Pallet Jack IPA, Barley Brown’s Brew Pub, Baker City, OR
Bronze: Duet, Alpine Beer Co., Alpine, CA

Category: 53 Imperial India Pale Ale, 128 Entries
Gold: 2 X 4, Thai Me Up Brewery, Jackson, WY
Silver: Café Racer 15, Bear Republic Brewing Co. – Healdsburg, Healdsburg, CA
Bronze: Double Jack, Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA

Category: 54 American-Style Amber/Red Ale, 87 Entries
Gold: Hopback Amber Ale, Tröegs Brewing Co., Hershey, PA
Silver: Fixed Gear American Red Ale, Lakefront Brewery, Milwaukee, WI
Bronze: Winterhook, Redhook Brewery, Woodinville, Woodinville, WA

Category: 55 Imperial Red Ale, 60 Entries
Gold: Organic Deranger Imperial Red Ale Laurelwood Brewing Co., Portland, OR
Silver: Imperial Red, Marble Brewery, Albuquerque, NM
Bronze: 547 Haight – The Toronado San Francisco’s 20th Anniversary Imperial Red Ale,
Pizza Port Carlsbad, Carlsbad, CA

Category: 56 English-Style Mild Ale, 31 Entries
Gold: Bristlecone, Uinta Brewing Co., Salt Lake City, UT
Silver: Breakside Session Brown, Breakside Brewery, Portland, OR
Bronze: S.S. Minnow Mild Ale, Dry Dock Brewing Co., Aurora, CO

Category: 57 Ordinary or Special Bitter, 37 Entries
Gold: DBA, Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA
Silver: Mens Room Original Red Ale, Elysian Brewing Co., Seattle, WA
Bronze: Sawtooth Ale, Left Hand Brewing Co., Longmont, CO

Category: 58 Extra Special Bitter, 53 Entries
Gold: Crystal Bitter Ale, No-Li Brewhouse, Spokane, WA
Silver: The Tower E.S.B., Bull & Bush Brewery, Denver, CO
Bronze: Extra Special Ale (ESA), Yards Brewing Co., Philadelphia PA

Category: 59 Scottish-Style Ale, 29 Entries
Gold: Wee Heavy, Maui Brewing Co., Lahaina, HI
Silver: Isle of Skye Scottish Ale, Boscos Brewing Co., Memphis, TN
Bronze: MacPelican’s Scottish Style Ale, Pelican Pub & Brewery, Pacific City, OR

Category: 60 Irish-Style Red Ale, 48 Entries
Gold: Irish Red, Glenwood Canyon Brewing Co., Glenwood Springs, CO
Silver: TAPS Irish Red, TAPS Fish House & Brewery, Brea, CA
Bronze: Balefire Red, Echo Brewing Co., Frederick, CO

Category: 61 English-Style Brown Ale, 46 Entries
Gold: Sierra Blanca Nut Brown Ale, Sierra Blanca Brewing Co., Moriarty, NM
Silver: Red Hydrant Ale, Big Dog’s Brewing Co., Las Vegas, NV
Bronze: Molly’s Titanic Brown Ale, Rock Bottom Westminster, Westminster, CO

Category: 62 American-Style Brown Ale, 61 Entries
Gold: Face Down Brown, Telluride Brewing Co., Telluride, CO
Silver: Upslope Brown Ale, Upslope Brewing Co., Boulder, CO
Bronze: Redrock Nut Brown Ale, Redrock Brewing Co., Salt Lake City, UT

Category: 63 American-Style Black Ale, 61 Entries
Gold: Wookey Jack, Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA
Silver: Turmoil, Barley Brown’s Brew Pub, Baker City, OR
Bronze: Black IPA, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant – Wilmington, Wilmington, DE

Category: 64 German-Style Altbier, 35 Entries
Gold: Balt Altbier, Union Craft Brewing Co., Baltimore, MD
Silver: Land’s End Amber, Kannah Creek Brewing Co., Grand Junction, CO
Bronze: Little Red Cap, Grimm Brothers Brewhouse, Loveland, CO

Category: 65 German-Style Sour Ale, 29 Entries
Gold: Berliner Metro Weiss, Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Basecamp, Roseland, VA
Silver: German Sparkle Party, 10 Barrel Brewing Co., Bend, OR
Bronze: NBB Love Felix, New Belgium Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO

Category: 66 South German-Style Hefeweizen, 70 Entries
Gold: DreamWeaver Wheat, Tröegs Brewing Co., Hershey, PA
Silver: Ebel’s Weiss, Two Brothers Brewing Co., Warrenville, IL
Bronze: Yazoo Hefeweizen, Yazoo Brewing Co., Nashville, TN

Category: 67 German-Style Wheat Ale, 23 Entries
Gold: Wildpitch Hefeweizen, The SandLot, Denver, CO
Silver: AlpenGlow, Fat Heads Brewery & Saloon, North Olmsted, OH
Bronze: Weizeneisbock, Gordon Biersch Brewing Co., San Jose, CA

Category: 68 Belgian-Style Witbier, 50 Entries
Gold: ZON, Boulevard Brewing Co., Kansas City, MO
Silver: White Rascal, Avery Brewing Co., Boulder, CO
Bronze: White Lightning Belgian White, Full Pint Brewing Co., North Versailles, PA

Category: 69 French- and Belgian-Style Saison, 68 Entries
Gold: Saison, Funkwerks, Fort Collins, CO
Silver: Saison, Aspen Brewing Co., Aspen, CO
Bronze: El Verano, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing, Long Beach, CA

Category: 70 Belgian- and French-Style Ale, 68 Entries
Gold: Saint’s Devotion, The Lost Abbey, San Marcos, CA
Silver: Your Favorite Foreign Movie, DC Brau Brewing Co., Washington, DC
Bronze: Domaine DuPage, Two Brothers Brewing Co., Warrenville, IL

Category: 71 Belgian-Style Lambic or Sour Ale, 42 Entries
Gold: Sour Reserve, Upland Brewing Co., Bloomington, IN
Silver: Barrel Select – FO/BB, Captain Lawrence Brewing Co., Elmsford, NY
Bronze: Sans Pagaie, The Bruery, Anaheim, CA

Category: 72 Belgian-Style Abbey Ale, 86 Entries
Gold: Green Flash Trippel, Green Flash Brewing Co., San Diego, CA
Silver: Sanitarium, Bier Brewery, Indianapolis, IN
Bronze: ABT 12, Dock Street Brewery, Philadelphia, PA

Category: 73 Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale, 51 Entries
Gold: Deceit, Funkwerks, Fort Collins, CO
Silver: Rhinoceros, Telegraph Brewing Co., Santa Barbara, CA
Bronze: AleSmith Grand Cru, AleSmith Brewing Co., San Diego, CA

Category: 74 Brown Porter, 44 Entries
Gold: Pluff Mud Porter, Holy City Brewing, North Charleston, SC
Silver: Exodus, SweetWater Brewing Co., Atlanta, GA
Bronze: Peter Brown Tribute Ale, Bear Republic Brewing Co. Factory Five, Cloverdale, CA

Category: 75 Robust Porter, 62 Entries
Gold: No Medal Awarded
Silver: Coco Loco, NoDa Brewing Co., Charlotte, NC
Bronze: Black Sand Porter, Kona Brewing Co., Kailua-Kona, HI

Category: 76 Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout, 16 Entries
Gold: Seaside Stout, Pizza Port Solana Beach, Solana Beach, CA
Silver: Oyster Stout, Stewart’s Brewing Co., Bear, DE
Bronze: Ramsey’s Draft Stout, Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Basecamp, Roseland, VA

Category: 77 Foreign-Style Stout, 25 Entries
Gold: Starry Night Stout, Island Brewing Co., Carpinteria, CA
Silver: Whiteface Black Diamond Stout, Great Adirondack Brewing Co., Lake Placid, NY
Bronze: Ramsey’s Export Stout, Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Basecamp, Roseland, VA

Category: 78 American-Style Stout, 43 Entries
Gold: Order in the Port, Pizza Port San Clemente, San Clemente, CA
Silver: American Stout, 10 Barrel Brewing Co., Bend, OR
Bronze: Ironman, Free State Brewing Co., Lawrence, KS

Category: 79 Sweet Stout, 32 Entries
Gold: Udder Love, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing, Long Beach, CA
Silver: Milk Stout, Rock Bottom Westminster, Westminster, CO
Bronze: Udder Madness, Bastone Brewery, Royal Oak, MI

Category: 80 Oatmeal Stout, 45 Entries
Gold: Oats, Pizza Port Solana Beach, Solana Beach, CA
Silver: Stumbler’s Stout, Columbia River Brewing Co., Portland, OR
Bronze: Stagecoach Stout, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co., Buellton, CA

Category: 81 Imperial Stout, 58 Entries
Gold: Anastasia Russian Imperial Stout, Weasel Boy Brewing Co., Zanesville, OH
Silver: Imperial Stout, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA
Bronze: Russian Imperial Stout, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant – Media, Media, PA

Category: 82 Scotch Ale, 44 Entries
Gold: Way Heavy, Pizza Port San Clemente, San Clemente, CA
Silver: Iron Thistle, Rahr & Sons Brewing, Fort Worth, TX
Bronze: Scotch Ale, Barley Brown’s Brew Pub, Baker City, OR

Category: 83 Old Ale or Strong Ale, 31 Entries
Gold: Heini’s Hooch, The Church Brew Works, Pittsburgh, PA
Silver: Papier, The Bruery, Anaheim, CA
Bronze: AleSmith Decadence ‘10 Old Ale, AleSmith Brewing Co., San Diego, CA

Category: 84 Barley Wine-Style Ale, 51 Entries
Gold: Johan the Barleywine, Sun King Brewing Co., Indianapolis, IN
Silver: Barley Wine, Charleville Vineyard & Microbrewery, Ste. Genevieve, MO
Bronze: Dr. StrangeLove, Strange Brewing Co., Denver, CO

2012 Great American Beer Festival Pro-Am Competition
Gold: More Fun Blonde, New Belgium Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO
Brewmaster: New Belgium Brewing Company, AHA Member: Jay Shambo
Silver: Pointon’s Proper – An English Mild RAM Restaurant and Brewery – Wheeling, Wheeling, IL
Brewmaster: Lanny Fetzer, AHA Member: Scott Pointon
Bronze: Classic American Pilsner, Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery, Minneapolis, MN
Brewmaster: Mike Hoops, AHA Member: Kyle Sisco

The 2012 Great American Beer Festival Brewery & Brewer of the Year Awards

Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year
Devils Backbone Brewing Company – Basecamp, Roseland, VA
Brewer: Devils Backbone Brewery Team

Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year
The Church Brew Works, Pittsburgh, PA
Brewer: Steve Sloan

Brewpub Group and Brewpub Group Brewer of the Year
Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company, Madison, WI
Brewer: Rob LoBreglio

Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Funkwerks, Fort Collins, CO
Brewer: Funkwerks Brewing Team

Mid-Size Brewing Company and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Troegs Brewing Company, Hershey, PA
Brewer: John Trogner

Large Brewing Company and Large Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Pabst Brewing Company, Los Angeles, CA
Brewer: Gregory Deuhs

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Hops: A Journey from Ground to Glass

By Jay Brooks
Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012 at 7:55 am in On Beer

Hopefully, you’ve arrived here after reading my latest column in the newspaper, The Hops Harvest. If not, go ahead, I’ll wait. Done? Okay, here we go. Below is a series of photographs I’ve taken at hop fields around the world, from Germany to Yakima, Washington. These should help better illustrate the story as they show each step along the way as hops go from the ground to your glass. Enjoy.

This is a hop field before planting time. The wooden posts have been put in, and the wire trellises have been run, creating a grid-like pattern. The rhizomes will be planted as soon as the Spring weather is right. This was taken in the Hallertau region of Germany.

But as harvest time approaches, the hops grow to the top of the 18-foot trellises. These were taken in Yakima, Washington.

Here you can see what good climbers they are.

Hops fill the rows as far as the eye can see.

A close-up of cones on the bine, ripe for for the picking.

When harvesting begins, a tall truck slowly works down the field, clipping the hops at the top of the wire.

Once clipped, the long strand of hops is dropped into a truck.

Full trucks drive to the nearby processing plant.

The trucks full of unprocessed hops drive into the building, where the strands of hops are fed onto a series of hooks, that transport them into the adjacent room.

The hops are essentially picked up on hooks and whisked through the air.

Once in the next room, the hops go through a series of Rube Goldberg-like machines, which strip away the bines and the leaves.

Through the gears and conveyors.

Where the hops ride on a series of conveyors.

Until eventually, the hop cones are separated from the rest of the organic material.

The cones are then sent to the kiln.

The kilns are very large warehouses where the hops are dried.

The hops are placed in shallow rows, with a low, dry heat permeating the space. The hops are in the kilns removing moisture until the hops are only 8-10%, down from 80% when they were first picked.

Once dry, the hops are moved to the next building, via a conveyor, which drops them onto a small mountain of hops.

Mt. Hops, waiting to be baled.

While I don’t recommend it, it is fun to jump into the pile of hops. But the downside is you spend the rest of day sticky with hop oil on your skin. But I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

The freshly dried hops are then put in a mold that creates a bale, in a shape that resembles a large stick of butter.

The molded hops are then encased tightly in bales, stitched together in a thick material.

The hops are stored and transported in the bales, until ready to be boxed and sent to a brewery.

If you cut open a bale, the packed whole hops look like this. Eventually, hops are cut into smaller packages, known as bricks, that look a bit like this.

The bales are stored in temperature-controlled warehouses, where the cool temperature keeps them from catching on fire, a problem for compressed hops.

But the modern harvesting of hops is not how they were traditionally picked. Before the industrial revolution, whole communities would come from town to the fields to help with the hop harvest. It was an event, where the whole community pitched in. Some local brewers have small hop fields and use a variation of the old traditional harvests, inviting friends to help harvest. This was taken at Moonlight Brewing’s small hop yard, with friends sitting around picking the hops by hand. The freshly picked hops will be added to the kettle later the same day, to create Moonlight’s fresh hop beer, Homegrown.

My daughter Alice helping out in the hop yard.

A close-up of a hop cone in the field. This one was in nearby Santa Rosa, at the small hop yard that Moonlight Brewing maintains.

Hugging the wet-dry-hops bag
After processing, whole hops ready to be used in brewing. Here Russian River Brewery’s Vinnie Cilurzo about to add whole hops to a brew.

After the harvest, a few stragglers left on the wire above. Planting will begin again in the spring, and the process will start all over again.

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All Hopped Up For the Cure at Russian River

By Jay Brooks
Monday, October 1st, 2012 at 8:52 pm in On Beer

It’s October now, and that means that Russian River Brewing is once again All Hopped Up For the Cure, their annual charity benefitting Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is the sixth year they’ve raised money for Sutter Breast Care Center in Santa Rosa. Last year, they donated $67,000 to the center. Their goal for this year’s efforts is $75,000. Stop by the pub this month, as they’ll be a lot going on and swag to buy to help support the cause. Here’s co-owner Natalie Cilurzo writing on the brewery’s blog about their charity drive:

We also have 3 different styles of commemorative “All Hopped Up For The Cure” shirts available for purchase at the pub and in our online gift shop! Original design on this year’s shirts is by local tattoo artist, Joe Leonard, and Matt Morgan from Farm Fresh Shirts. In addition to the beer and the shirts, we are raffling off some very cool items later in the month. The Pink Vespa, Pink Guitar, and Pink Bicycle are being delivered this week for our raffle on October 27th. Raffle tickets available and items on display at the pub all month long. I will post pictures once they show up. I have only seen the scooter in person, but the guitar and bike remain a mystery. And NEW this year is the 2013 Pin-Up Calendar also available for purchase at the pub!

This one is always personal to me, because my own mother passed away when she was only 42 — and I was just 22 — a victim of breast cancer. So please generously support Russian River’s All Hopped Up for the Cure.

Bartender Amir Bramell and co-owner Natalie Cilurzo pouring pink beer as the month-long breast cancer awareness charity drive begins at Russian River Brewery.

For a second year, they’ve brewed a special beer, Framboise for a Cure 2012, a perfectly pink beer brewed with raspberries. The beer uses Temptation as its base beer, to which 800 pounds of fresh raspberries are added, and then it’s aged for several months in Chardonnay barrels spiked with brett, lacto, and pedio. The beer is available only at the Santa Rosa brewpub (with 3 notable exceptions) on draft and in bottles throughout October (or until it runs out). 100% of the proceeds of this beer are donated to the local breast cancer charity. Bottles are $15. They will run out. BTW, it’s absolutely delicious, a near perfect blend of sour and sweet, tart fruit.

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