Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Cantillon’s Zwanze Day 2013 Announced

Cantillon just announced both the date — September 14 — and the participating bars for this year’s Zwanze Day. If you’re not familiar with it, here’s an overview I wrote about last year’s Zwanze Day for my newspaper column.

Belgium has essentially two separate regions, with the northern half known as Flanders. The language spoken there is a dialect of Dutch, known by the same name as the people of Flanders: Flemish. The word “zwanze” is unique to Flemish, has its origins in Yiddish, and essentially means a self-deprecating type of humor that’s typified by sharp-edged, playful jokes, usually good-natured. It’s said that this type of humor has become “a characteristic, defining trait” of the Flemish themselves, and for some a way of life. A “zwanze” is a joke, a “zwanzer” a joker.

It was with that same playful spirit that Cantillon approached the concept of making a Zwanze beer. The goal was to create a fun beer; something a little unusual, using non-traditional ingredients. This year’s Zwanze beer is made with rhubarb. The base beer is a Lambic, with two seasons, or summers, in wooden barrels. That’s then moved into a stainless steel conditioning tank where 300-grams of rhubarb per liter — about 2/3-pound — are added and aged for roughly three months, and then it’s kegged directly from the tank.

The first Zwanze beer was made in 2008, and was also a rhubarb beer. In subsequent years they’ve made it with elderflowers, pineau d’aunis (a red wine grape) and last year they brewed a sour witbier, made with the traditional coriander and orange peel. This is the only repeat so far, which was necessitated when the originally planned 2012 version — a Lambic take on a Trappist Abbey Ale — didn’t mature in time. Van Roy decided instead to make the rhubarb Lambic again, primarily because it was his wife’s favorite.

As a result, while it’s not been announced, I believe this year’s Zwanze Day beer will most likely be that Lambic take on a Trappist Abbey Ale that wasn’t quite ready last year.


A worldwide toast of the rare, unique beer will be held simultaneously at 46 beer bars and breweries across the globe, in 14 countries, mostly European. By far, the U.S. has the most, with 22, including four in California:

  • Beachwood BBQ — Seal Beach, California
  • Mikkeller Bar SF — San Francisco, California
  • Russian River Brewing — Santa Rosa, California
  • Stone Bistro & Gardens — Escondido, California

You can find the full list at Cantillon’s website.

Posted on Sunday, July 14th, 2013
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Bistro 18th Anniversary Tomorrow in Hayward

The Bistro, in Hayward, California, has been an institution for … well, eighteen years. They put on four niche festivals each year — Double IPA, IPA, Wet Hop and Wood Aged — plus a hops rhizome event. Tomorrow they’re celebrating their 18th anniversary, not with a whimper, but a bang.

On tap, they’ll have some classic beers, such as Anchor Christmas Ale 1999 and in bottles, such rarities as a vertical tasting of North Coast Old Stock from 2000 until the present vintage, Unibroue’s anniversary ale, from 2004 to 2007. They’ll also have bottles of Russian River Brewing’s first bottling of batch 23 — circa 2007 — and Avery The Beast 2008 to name just a few.

There will be live music at the pub, beginning at 4:30, with The Hipbones, who first played here in 1997, The Travis Larson Band, along with special guest from Canada, Dave Martone.

The festivities start when they open at 10:30. Should be a great time. Happy 18th Vic and Cynthia!

Bistro owners Cynthia and Vic Kralj announcing the winners of the 2009 Double IPA Festival.

Posted on Thursday, September 20th, 2012
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New Sour Beer Brewery Announced

Yesterday I received the word that there’s a new brewery opening soon in the Bay Area. It’s called The Rare Barrel and they’ll be a gypsy brewery specializing in sour beers. By gypsy, they mean to brew at area breweries and then ferment, age, package and serve their beers at their own facility, with that location still to be determined. One of the founders, Jay Goodwin, used to be the Head of Barrel Aging at The Bruery, so he knows his way around a barrel room.


From the press release:

Northern California is rich in brewing tradition and is home to some of the best breweries in the world. Hoping to add to this proud history, we are pleased to announce that we will be launching an all-sour, all-barrel aged “gypsy” brewery in the San Francisco Bay Area named The Rare Barrel.

What do we mean by “gypsy” brewery? We plan to partner with the great breweries of the Bay Area for our brewing needs, and we will be building our own barrel warehouse for fermentation, packaging and serving our beers to the public.

Our team is made up of people committed to producing the highest quality sour beer. Co-founders Jay Goodwin, former Brewer and Head of Barrel Aging at The Bruery in Orange County, Alex Wallash, homebrewer and Sales Representative in biotechnology, and Brad Goodwin, entrepreneur in the pharmaceutical industry, make up our crew of passionate craft beer lovers.

We hope to release more details of our plan over the next few months. We look forward to producing beer with experimental methods, a singular focus on quality sours, and a commitment to the craft beer community.

No word yet on when we’ll see, or more importantly taste, the first beers, but you can follow their progress on The Rare Barrel Blog or on the website.

In the meantime, here’s how the describe the idea for The Rare Barrel:

As Head of Barrel Aging at The Bruery, Jay started focusing on inoculation and management of the sour barrels. The brewers would send him wort and he had a whole warehouse full of barrels to play with. The idea was born there. Why not team up with breweries here at home in the Bay Area and start entire sour-only barrel warehouse to Northern California?

Since sour beers will take over 1 year to mature (a long time!), they are brewed less frequently due to limited fermentation space. Jay quickly realized that if they built their own brew house, it would collect probably a good amount of dust. Therefore, they decided to partner with host breweries in the Bay Area to produce our wort. While a host brewery will produce their wort, The Rare Barrel will manage fermentation, blending, packaging, and distribution. This model ultimately allows The Rare Barrel to maximize barrel aging capacity while supporting local craft breweries. It’s a win-win situation!

Posted on Wednesday, February 8th, 2012
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The Bay Brewed: A Rock & Roll Beer Festival

This sure sounds like a fun new event. The San Francisco Brewers Guild along with City Beer Store and The Bay Bridged is putting on a beer festival and a music festival called The Bay Brewed, which is scheduled to take place on December 3, from 2-7 p.m. at San Francisco’s Verdi Club, located at 2424 Mariposa Street. Here’s some more info from the press release:

Presented in partnership with the City Beer Store and the SF Brewers Guild, a ticket to The Bay Brewed includes unlimited beer tastings from San Francisco Bay Area breweries including 21st Amendment, Anchor Stream, Beach Chalet, Lagunitas, Magnolia, Social Kitchen & Brewery, and Speakeasy, and musical performances from four excellent San Francisco bands: Weekend, Sleepy Sun, Extra Classic, and Terry Malts. Food will be available for purchase courtesy of Rosamunde Sausage Grill.

Christian Cunningham, General Manager of The Bay Bridged, explained the desire to create an event pairing local bands and local craft beers: “San Francisco’s music and beer scenes are both unbeatable when it comes to the talent and creativity of the people involved. The Bay Brewed is our way of bringing together people who like great music and people who like great beer for a unique event that couldn’t happen anywhere but San Francisco.”

Ticket prices are $45 and can be purchased online, or buy them at the door for $55. According to the ticket page, “[y]our ticket purchase includes performances by four great local rock bands — Weekend, Sleepy Sun, Extra Classic, and Terry Malts — and a commemorative mug that gets you unlimited beer tastings all day long from an array of awesome local breweries. In partnership with the City Beer Store and the SF Brewers Guild, you’ll be sampling beer from and meeting the brewers behind 21st Amendment, Anchor Stream, Beach Chalet, Lagunitas, Magnolia, Social Kitchen & Brewery, and Speakeasy, with more still to come.”


Posted on Friday, November 4th, 2011
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3rd Annual Bear Republic Cellar Party Announced

The date has now been announced for the 3rd Annual Bear Republic Cellar Party. Tickets go on sale today, but are limited. The even will take place on Sunday, August 28, from 3-6 p.m. in the Bear Republic Brewpub Courtyard and Barrel Room adjacent to the Bear Republic Brewpub located at 345 Healdsburg Avenue in Healdsburg.Tickets are $60.

Here’s how the beer tasting is described:

The 3rd Annual Bear Republic Cellar Party is your chance to sample the exact batches submitted for judging at this year’s festival and competition in Denver, CO. Guests can participate in mock judging and ask the brewers questions about the different beer styles. The afternoon will include beer sampling, hors d’oeuvres and a commemorative glass to take home. Please join us for a fun and educational beer gathering.

Full details on the event and online tickets can be found on Bear Republic’s website.


Bear Republic has been the recipient of 15 awards from the Great American Beer Festival®, including the honor of 2006 Small Brewing Company of the Year.

The Great American Beer Festival® is the largest American beer competition with nearly 3,400 beers entered, 457 participating breweries and more than 130 professional judges. The festival is presented by the Brewers Association, a not-for-profit educational trade organization devoted to making quality brewing information available to anyone.

Posted on Sunday, July 3rd, 2011
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Breastfest This Saturday at Fort Mason

From 5-9 p.m. this Saturday, July 2, Fort Mason will once again inundated with pink, pink ribbons that is. The 11th annual Breastfest, sponsored by Marin Brewing will again be held at the Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason Center. Nearly 60 breweries will be pouring their beers, along with food and live music. Tickets are $45, and for an additional $10 you can get a VIP pass that lets you in the festival one hour earlier. You can find all the details at the Breastfest website.


Posted on Thursday, June 30th, 2011
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“How Beer Saved The World” To Be Revealed January 30

The documentary that the Discovery Channel was rumored to be working on, How Beer Saved the World, is now scheduled to air on Sunday, January 30 at 8:00 p.m. Pacific time. The trailer is a bit overwrought, but they appear to have some good people being interviewed on camera, such as Charlie Bamforth (brewing professor at UC Davis) and Gregg Smith (a beer historian). This should be interesting.

Posted on Friday, January 21st, 2011
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Mutineer Magazine’s Holiday Comedy Festival In Wine (& Beer) Country

This should be a fun — and funny — event. Mutineer Magazine is hosting a comedy event to benefit A Child’s Right, an organization with a mission to ensure children have access to safe drinking water. The Mutineer Magazine Holiday Comedy Festival will take place at the Jacuzzi Family Vineyards in Sonoma on December 11, beginning at 7:00 p.m. In addition to Jacuzzi wine, tequila from sponsor Don Roberto and beer from Lagunitas and Firestone Walker will also be served.

The evening of stand-up comedy will include comedians Ben Morrison (host), Bryan Callen (co-headliner), Natasha Leggero (co-headliner), Ben Gleib, Greg Wilson, and Daryl Wright. In addition, the winner of a Laugh Factory contest is scheduled to appear. Also special guest Jonathan Goldsmith will appear. He’s the Dos Equis spokesperson for the “The World’s Most Interesting Man” advertising campaign. You can read more about each performer at the Mutineer event website.

Tickets are only $35 and can be purchased online.


From the press release:


Performing against this fantastical blue backdrop (blue for water relief, naturally!)? An all-star lineup of standup comedians and special guests, no shortage of Hollywood-style glamour (think paparazzi-style photogs on the blue carpet) and outstanding libations from some of the finest names in beverage. It’s all in line with the publication’s rep for pushing boundaries and exceeding expectations where drinks and lifestyle experiences collide, and looks to be one of the wildest nights wine country will see this side of 2011. Los Angeles-based funnyman and festival host Ben Morrison – known as well for being Ashton Kutcher’s right-hand man on the hit MTV show “Punk’d” as for his prolific appetite for Single Malt Scotch – says, “It’s a totally rare opportunity to see this caliber of comedic talent all under one roof, in one night outside of Hollywood.”

Even better: it’s for a good cause.


The festival is an ebullient catalyst for Mutineer’s 2011 trek to Nepal, where magazine staff, select “cultural influencers” and beverage industry reps will install five water filtration systems on behalf of relief organization A Child’s Right. The systems will provide clean drinking water to 25,000 children for ten years. To bring the full impact of the outreach home to readers, magazine editors will blog about the trip along the way and report on the endeavor with significant coverage in the May 2011 issue. Kropf sees it this way: “There’s nothing funny about the need for clean water. But bringing top comedic talent – and lots of laughter – to wine country to raise funds for water relief among at-risk kids? Priceless.”


Officially on the program roster: Cocktails by presenting sponsor Don Roberto Tequila and other select purveyors in the beverage tent, festive surprise guests, base-thumping holiday soul and funk beats, and lots of laughs. As for the show itself, the endlessly funny Natasha Leggero (as seen in NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” Comedy Central’s “Reno 911” and “Ugly Americans”) and Bryan Callen (“MadTV” and “The Hangover”) are set to co-headline an elite group of seven Hollywood humorists, all of whom have pledged to share with guests their most amusing insights into the theme of thirst. One of the comedians for the evening will be a wild-card performer selected at a Mutineer-sponsored search contest at LA’s Laugh Factory November 18, 2010, and a special appearance will be made at the festival by Jonathan Goldsmith, who famously portrays “The Most Interesting Man In the World” in Dos Equis’ advertisements.


Best part of all? Festival guests will know that they’re laughing and sipping in the name of charitable water relief. And thanks to the show’s top-shelf talent, delicious drinks, eye-popping blue décor and insanely affordable ticket price — Mutineer tagged entry at a rightly reasonable $35 to make the show as millennial-accessible as possible — it looks as though everyone gets to have the last laugh come December 11. Cheers to that.

Posted on Friday, December 3rd, 2010
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Organic Beer & Wine Tasting Announced

Sponsored by the CCOF, or California Certified Organic Farmers, the 5th annual Organic Beer and Wine Tasting will take place at San Francisco’s Ferry Building on October 29 from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Tickets are $30 for unlimited beer and wine tasting and a commemorative wine glass. Special food pairings from the Ferry Building Marketplace artisans will also be available for purchase. Proceeds from the event will help fund CCOF’s education and outreach programs. Eight organic breweries and 18 organic wineries will be pouring their wares. For a complete list and to buy tickets online, visit the CCOF website.

From the press release:

CCOF, one of the largest organic certifiers in the U.S., reports that organic wine is among the fastest growing sectors of organic. The wines featured at the tasting will come from organic farms in California’s premiere grape growing regions, including Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, and Lake counties. Wineries increasingly recognize that preserving the precious resources of these areas goes hand in hand with producing top quality products. Organic farmers use natural fertilizers and pest control methods to make sure their vineyards stay healthy. Emtu Estate Wines raises orphaned birds of prey, and is proud of the fact that many owls stick around as grown-ups, becoming part of the vineyard’s ecosystem.

Eventgoers will appreciate the thought these companies put into their energy use and waste streams. Uncommon Brewers chose to package their unique beers in aluminum cans. Not only is this the best way to protect beer from spoilage due to light exposure, aluminum is easier to recycle than glass and lightweight to save energy in shipping. Barra of Mendocino recently partnered with another CCOF operation, Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op, to help Redwood Valley residents recycle their wine corks. The corks collected at drop-off locations in the valley are shipped to ReCORK for grinding and used by SOLE to make cork-based socks and shoes! Many of the featured producers also use smart design and alternative energy sources to reduce their carbon footprints.

The ever-growing turnout for CCOF’s beer and wine tasting event is a testament to the organic wine sector’s growth in quality and to consumers’ desire to enjoy themselves while minimizing their impact on the environment. In addition to favorites from past years, this year’s tasting will feature two new wineries and one new brewery. Domaine Carneros will pour their 2006 Brut and their 2007 Estate Pinot Noir, and Kelseyville Wine Company will offer a 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon as well as their newly certified 2009 Zinfandel. Napa Smith Brewery will round out the beer sampling with their new organic IPA.

Posted on Monday, October 4th, 2010
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Jack London Square This Saturday: A New Beer & Food Festival

A new Bay Area beer festival will be held this Saturday, May 1, from Noon to 3:00 p.m., at Jack London Square. It’s sponsored by the local radio station KGO. It will be called the Craft Beer and Fine Food Celebration and will a benefit for the Alameda County Food Bank. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. According to the website, you’ll be able to “taste 30 different craft and specialty beers, along with delicious food from fine Bay Area restaurants.” So far, nineteen breweries are listed on the website along with ten food providers. There’s also a Facebook event page with additional details.


Posted on Thursday, April 29th, 2010
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