Friday, August 31, 2007

MJ on CNN

I had to capture this image from CNN's website because it just blew me away. This is the list of CNN's "top stories", and Michael's passing is NUMBER ONE! Michael, you earned it.

The Story

Light Beer - Odd Stories from the Web

The last 36 hours have been tough for beer lovers, reading about Michael Jackson's death and the beer world's remembrance of the great man. So, in an effort to provide beer stories that are a bit lighter in weight, I submit this story for your reading pleasure, forwarded to me by my brother-in-law, who happens to live in Wisconsin [thanks Cool-Hand].

You just can't make this stuff up, by the way....

ABBOTSFORD, Wis. - Police in Wisconsin have cited a legless man and his friend on a drunken driving charge, saying the amputee was at the wheel while his friend worked the pedals.

It was the third and second such arrests for the men, respectively.

Police say the amputee was sitting in the driver's seat and told officers he had too much to drink. But he argued he wasn't really driving since the other man was on the brake and accelerator.

Both men also were cited for driving after their licenses had been revoked.

Police say a third man in the truck, who was also drunk, walked himself home after the traffic stop.

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20500197/

18th Annual Sierra Brewfest

Grass Valley, CA 25 August 2007
Written by Mike Sober

“That’s a very good question” was Celebrator Beer News magazine Editor/Publisher Tom Dalldorf’s response to my inquiry as to why his group of brewers/beer people, The Rolling Boil Blues Band, was not the featured entertainment at this year’s Sierra Brewfest. Instead music for the 18th version of this gem of a beer happening was provided by Cold Shot, as part of the Music in the Mountains benefit event.

The Sierra Brewfest is held on the Nevada County Fair grounds amongst the giant pines in picturesque Grass Valley, California. This season 36 breweries accepted the invitation to set up shop in, what over the years I have come to refer to as, Beer Meadow. There were a number of the solid industry standouts in attendance including, host brewer, Sierra Nevada, Alaskan, New Belgium, Sam Adams, Anchor, Full Sail, Lagunitas, Pyramid and Widmer Brothers.

The Nor-Cal region was represented by Hoppy, Sacramento, Anderson Valley, Sudwerks, Blue Frog, Butte Creek, Firestone Walker, Lost Coast, Mad River, Black Diamond and very noteworthy newcomers Fifty Fifty out of Truckee and Auburn Alehouse which just opened it’s doors in June in the old Shanghai building in Old Town Auburn to rave reviews. The San Diego region sent Ballast Point, Back Street and Stone Brewing.

The three and a half hour length of the event seemed a tad on the short side, but with a number of breweries bringing limited amounts of beer, or simply pouring from a few cases of bottles, beer supplies were running short well before the 6:30pm deadline.

There were a few brews that stood out. Lagunitas brought their ‘Imperial Red’ and the new Frank Zappa tribute ale, Kill Ugly Radio. Sierra Nevada broke out a case or two of Bigfoot barley wine half way through, just about the time they were running out of their Anniversary Ale. Back Street Brewing was also a hit, with their single IPA being nearly as hoppy as their double. Auburn Ale House was the last brewer standing, pouring their Pilsner and IPA to a happy crowd of repeat customers. According to the nice pink brewers information handout there were 15 wheat beers, 8 Pilsners, 12 Reds and Ambers, 15 IPA’s and 17 Golden or Pale Ales.

All in all, it was a nice, festive occasion. It clearly wasn't the most remarkable or diverse beer festival I’ve ever visited, but well attended, seamlessly organized and a nice event to test out a lot of the typical craft brews that are available all across the California landscape.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Remembering Michael Jackson

Perhaps not the most gratifying interview ever, but this is the Beer Hunter - getting some laughs with the crowd on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Michael Jackson has passed away, and will be missed by everyone in the beer community.
Michael Jackson Beer Expert - Late Night With Conan O'Brien

UPDATES
Additionally, I found this audio interview from 2005 on NPR. Here, Michael sits with the All Things Considered gang and samples an impressive line of beers.

Please check out these fond farewells, written by those who knew Michael, those with stories to tell.

http://www.realbeer.com/blog/?p=632

http://lewbryson.blogspot.com/2007/08/michael-jackson.html

http://allaboutbeer.com/ - This features Michael's last article

http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art52716.asp


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Craft Beer is Booming... But Will It Bust?

I was just coming into my legal drinking age at the end of the Craft Beer Boom & Bust of the 1990's, so I won't offer an 'expert' opinion here. I am enjoying the boom of craft beer now and have heard similarities between now and then pointed out by those who seemed to have been burned a bit by the 90's fallout. From where I sit, I simply can't imagine the industry collapsing, unless there are unforeseen national economic issues that create larger problems than a plateauing craft beer industry. Today, it seems, the American palate expects more from their food and drink - just look at the cheese or bread aisle of your local grocer to see this evidenced. I don't see this changing anytime soon.

The Miller "Brew Blog" recently raised this question of fallout in the craft beer world, also concluding that a repeat of the 90's is highly unlikely.

No one can predict the future. But plenty of indicators suggest craft beer’s run is more sustainable this time around. Here’s why:

1. Craft beers are generally of higher consistency and quality than they were in the 1990s.

2. The trading-up and customization trends are more broad-based now than it was then.

3. The operators are better. During the last runup, a lot of amateurs and speculators got into the business in hopes of making a quick fortune. That’s not the case this time – at least for now. They’ve also learned from the lessons of the 1990s.

“The companies that are here today are better than they were in the 1990s,” says Gary Fish, president of Deschutes Brewery.

Here's hoping craft beer's success over the last few years doesn't attract those looking to get rich quick, or those who would compromise the quality we enjoy today.

Sacramento Bee(r)

In today's Sacramento Bee, the mega newspaper of the Sacramento region, Mike Dunn, Food Editor, has put out FOUR stories on our region's craft beer scene. What's more, he's done a good job on these pieces too! Now, as much as I'd like to copy/paste these stories for your reading pleasure, you know I just can't do that. So, here are some excerpts for you, hopefully enough to tease you into looking up the stories in their entirety.From the Bee's "Hopping on the Bandwagon" piece:
"There's tremendous diversity in beers these days, among the small guys and the big guys alike. They're all looking for new openings," says Charles Bamforth, chair of the department of food science and technology at the University of California, Davis... Beers are being brewed with such exotic ingredients as chili peppers, wasabi and ginger. They're being aged in used wine barrels. They're being inoculated with a strain of yeast that gives them a pungent horsy or barnyard character, repulsive to some, savored by others. There are gluten-free beers and smoke-flavored beers.
From their "Where to Find a Fresh Pint" piece, which highlights nine or our city's breweries:
[Elk Grove Brewing's] Blonde, flavorful but light-style ale with 3.8 percent alcohol; Diamondback wheat (4.8 percent alcohol); and Otis ale, a German-style amber ale with 5.3 percent alcohol Most unusual: Freedom Double IPA, a strong summer ale brewed with three times as many hops as ordinarily used in beers, yielding a brew with 9.7 percent alcohol Summer beer: The light and mild Pony Express summer ale is brewed with a little rye malt to give it a delicate sweetness while preserving a dry finish. What sets it apart: The brewpub, in old-town Elk Grove, occupies a structure built in 1885 to house a harness shop and later a general store.
The Bee also has a "A linguistic guide for what ales you", doing a good job a defining several common beer styles, and the saddest piece of the bunch, which highlights only two of our region's beer fests.

I whole heartedly applaud any major newspaper, and the SacBee is just that, who dares to do new things, and for SacBee, covering beer so extensively is certainly a step in the right direction. I hope to see more in the future, would actually love to see a bi-weekly beer column - clearly, with 9 breweries in the region, this would seem sustainable.

If you want to read the stories, you may have to sign in. I think that's a relatively painless operation though. Thank you to Mike Dunne. If you like what you read, be sure to let Mike know - he's at mdunne -at- sacbee -dot- com

Updated: Link for Where to Find a Fresh Pint

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hood River Hops Fest October 6th

This just in from Full Sail, a great brewery and supporter of so many in this industry. This is announcing one of several hop-harvest time festivities in my home state of Oregon, the Hood River Hops Fest, on October 6th.
Looking for an extra excuse to visit our Brewery and Hood River? Well mark your calendars hop heads, here comes the Hood River Hops Fest, Saturday, Oct 6th, 2007. The event is held in downtown Hood River, right across the street from our brewery on Columbia and 5th Streets. Noon to 9pm

This FREE event will be full of fun for the whole family. Beyond the great live music ranging from hot, soulful blues to Bavarian Umpah, the Hops Fest will have: sidewalk chalk art, face painting, food vendors, arts & crafts, and more. And needless to say - lots of freshly brewed BEER including our Lupulin Fresh Hop Ale and IPA!

While you are here, be sure to swing by for a pint, grab a bite, tour the brewery, or just soak up the view. Our Tasting Room and Pub is open daily @11:30AM. Brewery tours are available daily, free of charge at 1:00, 2:00, 3:00 and 4:00PM.
This is such a beautiful location and this time of year is a great time to visit. If you're in the Northwest and can make the event, you should do what you can to do so. I'm a bit sad to say I won't be there, but I hope you can tell me how it was.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Brewers in Wine Country

The September/October issue of DRAFT magazine is hitting mail boxes now for those who subscribe, and should be on the shelves in all Barnes and Noble or Borders Bookstores early on in September. In this issue be sure to check out my latest published piece, titled "Brewers in Wine Country." This story highlights a weekend getaway I took with my wife back in June, a trip any beer enthusiast will be happy to take. If you missed them, I posted pictures of the weekend a while back, and they're still available for viewing.

I'd love to know what you think about the piece and the magazine overall. Jay over at HBJ has had mixed feedback on his site - I wonder what the rest of you think.

In other news. I tweaked my neck last week and have been mostly out of commission, but feel good now so will attempt to catch you all up on beer stuff from my region. I am also in the process of editing episode 54 of PBN Radio, which should be published soon. In this we sampled a few beers from Argentina, from the Jerome brewery, along with the Schneider Brooklyner Weisse-Bock. All good things.

Friday, August 24, 2007

September 4th in Roseville, Ca

September 4th is going to be a busy day for us here in the Sacramento area, and this post will let you decide where you'd like to be.

Option One: BJ's Belgian Beer and Dinner - Starts at 7:00 PM

I've posted on this already, seats are filling up quick and the beers you'll try make the 30 dollar price worth it. I was lucky to try some of these barrel aged beers that BJ's has stored up, you can read about that here if you want. Menu is below (the red one).

Option Two: Avery Experience at Vino's Wine and Cheese in Roseville - Starts at 6:00 PM
There isn't a whole lot I can say on this, but Adam Avery of Avery Brewing in Colorado will be in Roseville introducing California to his beers. How many beers? Vino's and Adam will be pouring 15 Avery monsters - including the Grand Cru that measures in at 16% ABV. Click on the image for a better idea of what's pouring at Vino's.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

2007 California State Fair Craft Beer Awards Night

The 2007 California State Fair is in full swing now, and tonight was the brewers award ceremony and beer fest. Here are a couple of pictures for your enjoyment. The fest itself was pretty quiet as far as revelers go, but a great time to be sure.

The crew from BJ's celebrating their good showing at this years competition. David Mathis (Puffy) is in the black shirt and is the head regional brewer - Andy is in the white shirt and made most the beers that took honors. Andy is now at Beermann's with Tim, the guy in the maroon shirt.


Chuck of Green Flash - Winner of the top honors this year with his Belgian Trippel.


Brendon Moylan took home a few awards too.


Jason of Lodi Brewing did a wonderful job this year, as evidenced by his ribbons proudly displayed.

More Pictures

Monday, August 20, 2007

Book Review: Beer Guppy's Guide to Southern California

Reviewed by Mark, the Beer Geek

UPDATE:
We intended to put a link in so you can purchase this - here it is. If you're travelling to Southern California, it's well worth the price.


If you're planning a trip to southern California, or even if you live there, there's now a resource for beer hunters that is a must have: "The Beer Guppy's Guide to Southern California." This book - which actually looks like a magazine - offers the beer traveler a huge amount of information on the region's breweries, brewpubs, and craft beer bars, as well as info on beer festivals, homebrew clubs, and even craft beer retailers.

It's amazing how much info has been collected - and quite frankly, it's amazing how many breweries and brewpubs are now in southern California. The Beer Guppy's Guide was put together by Jay Shevak, and he's collected about 100 pages of useful information together with maps, broken down into four regions (one which is actually the Las Vegas area). His "travel guide" goes for only $9.95 - a real bargain considering how many hidden treasures it exposes.

As you flip through the pages, you'll find that it will remind you of a AAA guide, with icons for a quick overview of each location, hours of operation, lists of beers available, and other amenities offered. If you're traveling through a given area, simply look at the regional map, and you'll most probably find a beer oasis on the way. By reviewing the details of what's offered at each brewery, pub, restaurant, etc., you're bound to find something that will interest you.

Of course you could take the time to search the web and review each brewery's website individually, but this guide will save you a huge amount of time since it gives you useful overview information and consolidates it all into one handy book. If something appeals to you and you want more info than The Beer Guppy already collected, then you can research a location further online. Ultimately, the idea is that you research each location at the source!

Jay Shevak has done a great service for the beer industry in southern Cal with The Beer Guppy's Guide; we here at Pacific Brew News have already made use of it!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Stumptown Beer Revival & BBQ Cookoff

The Third Annual Beer Revival & BBQ Cookoff was this weekend and it was a great opportunity for everyone in attendance to indulge in great BBQ and beer, all while enjoying the beautiful scenary of the Russian River. This year's festivities raised funds for the Russian River Senior Center. Tickets are limited and the crowd managable, meaning there was plenty of food and beer to go around. My wife, Tracy, and I certainly enjoyed the whole event and will certainly be making the 2.5 hour trip out again next year. Here are a few pictures.

Brian of Moonlight Brewing - His "20 to Life" Sour Ale was a huge hit with many in attendance - myself included.


YUM! These ribs are resting for a few minutes before they're served.


Dan of Rafters (brewer) - Great IPA he was pouring.


Brewers of Trumer out of Berkely. Darren Moser, Lead Brewer, and Dave, assistant brewer, thanks for the glass. Oh, Dave, it is always good to see you, we've missed you since you left Beermann's.

More Pictures online here - or listen to the Podcast from the Festival.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Looking Ahead: BJ's Beer Dinner

Alex Puchner, Senior VP for Brewing Operations for BJ's Brewhouse, was in town today for a scheduled meeting with local brewers. In advance of this he invited me out to sample the barrel aged beers they'll be sending off to the GABF and featuring in their inagural Brewers Dinner early next month. I've written before about my admiration of BJ's, the corporate brewery that hasn't lost their passion for beer, so I won't get into a lot of detail here. What I want to, however, is highlight what was a wonderful lunch break.

I arrived at the Roseville location shortly after the lunch rush was over and was quickly greeted by John Allegretto, Chief Supply Chain Officer for BJ's, David (Puffy) Mathis, Regional Brewing Manager for Northern California and Alex. After the obligatory greetings and small talk we quickly took our spots at an open booth and were served the current seasonal, Pook's Pilsner ("Pook" referring to Mr. Puchner). The pilsner was a perfect way to warm up the pallate, light, crisp and clean. While still finishing the sampler, Puffy excused himself to fetch two of the five beers we were there to sample.

Up First, the Jeremiah Red aged in Syrah barrels for eight months on Plums, then aged an additional four months in steel. This was a thing of beauty, with the oak and plum flavors subtly displaying themselves in the warmth of a moderate alcohol level. The balance of this beer was incredible and I am a bit sorry to say that most of you won't be finding this in your local BJ's location. Puffy, man, this was a wonderful creation.

Beer number two was the Nutty Brewnette, fermented additionally with Brett, aged in Zin barrels for six months and then in steel for another six months. "Is it a Flanders?" Puffy was wondering aloud. Damn close. Sour from the get-go, this beer was a wonderfully refreshing example of a well-made Brett beer. Alex and Puffy felt the beer could have been better balanced, and I won't say they're wrong, but I loved the beer the way it was.

Up next was the Owen's IPA, which is an American IPA with oak additions, aged further in Zin barrels for six months - a fact that Owen may or may not appreciate (apparently Owen is passionate about his beer). Still hoppy after the six months in the barrel with significant bittering and a whole lot of Oak. In fact, the Oak here was almost overwhelming after a few sips. I do think this beer will do well in competition though because right up front the aggressive oaking is pleasant, to say the least.

Then came the mother of all beers at this table, the Weizenator, a wheat monster. You may know by the "ator" suffix that this is a Bock of sorts - a weizenbock for those keeping score at home. "How much wheat is in here?" were the first words to fall out of my mouth, directed toward the beer's creator, Alex. He estimated the wheat to be about 55-60%, which was no shock at all. What was shocking? The age. "This beer was made six years ago" Puffy explains, "and I'd estimated it to be around 12% alcohol". Wow. The beer was certainly smooth, with a wheat-like tart character and a sweetness like candy, so upon further inspection I could easily understand the beers age. Yeah, this was my beer of the night...

Which may explain my less-than enthusiastic move to the final beer of the afternoon, a Blackberry Stout. While I appreciate the effort and the flavor, this simply didn't stand up to the Weizenator. Deep black with a rocky, stiff, brown head, the beer was a beautiful thing to behold. The aroma had clear berry character that balanced well the roasty character of the malt. No, there just wasn't anything wrong with this beer, but where's the pitcher of that Brett beer we sampled earlier?

The afternoon was quickly escaping and John and Alex had a plane to catch, so it was time to go. Before heading out, however, Alex took me into the brewery to meet BJ's newest brewer, William (Will) Erickson. Will comes to BJ's with years of brewing experience, both at Mammoth Brewing in Mammoth California and Great Divide Brewing in Colorado. He wasn't around to hear it, but he's already earned some props in Puffy's mind, and I know everyone there is excited to see what Will can do. I, personally, look forward to sharing a few pints with the guy, he made a good first impression.

If your impression of BJ's is anything less than admirable, I hope my notes help correct that. As said in my previous story, you simply must sample their seasonal and one-off beers because this is where their brewers shine.

Thank you Alex, John and Puffy for a great afternoon.

Pictured (from Top to Bottom): Alex, John, John and Puffy, Will

Mammoth Lakes Festival of Beers & Bluesapalooza

By Mike Sober
After having seen advertisements and listening to a few personal accounts of the annual Mammoth Lakes combination Brews and Blues event for a several years now, I finally decided to see for myself if all the glowing accolades were indeed correct. Friday night, August 3rd, the event officially opened at 5pm and the Rolling Boil Blues Band kicked off the show with their renditions of popular songs whose lyrics that are, shall we say, cleverly altered to cater to the beer drinking community.

We found ourselves a nice spot 60 feet in front of the stage, set down our low back chairs and went in search of our first festival brew. Mammoth Lake Brewing Company is the host of the event and had a beer booth set up just a few meters inside the entrance. Crews of energetic beer volunteers were rapidly filling plastic cups with their Hefeweizen, Amber and IPA. At only 3 bucks a cup the beer line was growing exponentially by the minute.

The setting for the festival is just about as beautiful as it could be. The raised stage set at the bottom of a natural incline surrounded by a forest of intermittent sized pines and fir trees that were spaced just far enough apart to house a maze of paths and beer booths that were being readied for Saturdays main brew event.

The Friday night blues also included the blues and gospel stylings of the Earl Thomas Acoustic Duo and the closer was none other than The Tommy Castro Band, who just blew the meadow away in their set. In a wise bit of time scheduling the show was over by 9:30 allowing ample opportunity to return to our campsite, study the next days brewers list and finish off a few bottles of Alaskan IPA that I managed to obtain for the occasion.

On Saturday the beer festival opened up its gates to the thirsty hordes at precisely noon.
The list of Brewers was impressively displayed on the back cover of the event program which was handed out as the beer enthusiasts entered the grounds.

Northern California breweries included: Anchor, Anderson Valley, Bear Republic, Black Diamond, Blue Frog, Butte Creek, EJ Phair, Hoppy, Hoptown, Lagunitas, Lost Coast, Marin, Mendocino, Moylan’s, North Coast, Rubicon, Sierra Nevada and Trumer Brauerei.

The Southern California and San Diego area’s were also highly represented by some notable brewers such as: Ballast Point, Coronado, Green Flash, Huntington Beach, Karl Strauss, La Jolla, Newport Beach, Pacific Beach, San Diego Brewing, Santa Cruz, and of course Stone Brewing. Carlsbad Pizza Port, Alpine Brewing and Ale Smith were notable by their last minute absences.
Great Basin from Sparks Nevada, Kern River Brewing and of course the sponsor of the event Mammoth brewing also had booths that were well worth visiting. Naturally I tried to start out my day on the lighter side of things but soon found that going light was going to be difficult. It seemed that almost every brewers booth contained at least one IPA and quite a few even offered a double IPA.

So, naturally, I started out with the single IPA’s and Coronado Brewing was the first booth I came to. Coronado’s Islander IPA was a fine way to start my afternoon. Soon thereafter I found that Kern River Brewing’s Just Outstanding IPA was indeed outstanding with it’s generous amounts of Simco and Amarillo hops. The EJ Phair Hop On Board was another great find that I had just recently discovered the weekend prior, but naturally had to sample again in the forest.
Green Flash Brewing, out of San Diego, had an outstanding brew called Hop Head Red that tasted as good as the name. Shall I go on?

Oh…Ok then….sure…uh ….next I made my way to the Ballast Point booth and discovered that they had their Dorado available. I really hated (wink wink) to make my fifth beer of the day a Double IPA but figured any beer that has topped Pliny The Elder in a Double IPA contest (Bistro in Hayward 2006) might be worth breaking the rules for. Indeed it was and that set my palate for a quick trip to the Lagunitas pouring station for some Hop Stoopid, which is definitely in the running for best new beer of 2007.

Along the way I stumbled across a few names that I couldn’t ignore and ended up sampling some IPA’s from Newport Beach, Pacific Beach, Huntington Beach and Great Basin. Obviously I was in heaven, and naturally some IPA’s were more to my liking than others but I didn’t have a single sample all day that I wanted to pour out or couldn’t enjoy.

All good things have to come to an end and our day in Beer Heaven wound down with sprints between the Moylan’s Hopsickle, Lagunitas Hop Stoopid and EJ Phair’s Hop on Board before the 5pm festival closing. I don’t think the fine people at the Kern River Brewing table will forget me anytime soon either as they were pouring to the very end.

Our evening was far from over at that point because one of my blues hero’s Charlie Musselwhite was just taking the stage and the Mammoth Brewing beer bar was just opening up.

In case you're wondering if I'd recommend the Mammoth Festival of Beers “Bluesapalooza”... Well, I’ve already made my plans to attend in 2008.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Beermann's Concert: Radio Astronomy

I wouldn't normally do this, but this Friday (August 17) Radio Astronomy is playing at Beermann's Brewery in Roseville, Ca. I'm posting this because Andy Armstrong (previous head brewer at BJ's and current brewer with Beermann's) is in the band - and yeah, the boy can play.

Great Beer and Great Music

Andy (pictured) is a man worth supporting. I've known Andy since he moved down to NorCal several years back and his passion for brewing great beer is only equaled by his passion to make great music, and his band-mates come together to do just that. Their site (linked above) has some samples of their music - good modern rock. While there make sure you check out the "Shocker" Belgian-esque beer that Tim has made - a blend of beers with 60 pounds of honey and three strains of yeast. At 11% ABV, this beer is highly enjoyable. If you're looking for something a bit lighter, try their Lincoln Lager - lasts years Gold Medal lager at the California State Fair.

They'll be selling CD's and Beermann's will be pouring good beer at great prices. Cash strongly recommended.

Beermann's Beerwerks
8284 INDUSTRIAL AVE.
ROSEVILLE, CA 95678
916-781-BEER (2337)

Anderson Valley Night at Vino's

This just in from Sean and Toby at Vino's Wine and Cheese, in Roseville, Ca.
Beer tasting with Anderson Valley Brewery; 5:30-8:30pm, cost is $5 per person. We will have two of their beers on tap: Brother David's Double and Boont Amber, as well as tasting the ESB, IPA and Stout. This is a great line up of beers!
This is being put together by Premium Beverage's Terri Burch, who you may know from Hoppy Brewing back in the day. Terri's a great beer broker and evenings at Vino's are always good.

In addition to the AVBC beers, you'll probably find Hopsickle, Racer 5 and Deschutes 19th Anniversary ale on tap. Compliment your beers with Toby's super fantastic cheese boards - the guy knows his cheese.

Vino's Wine & Cheese
973 Pleasant Grove Blvd. # 110
Roseville, CA. 95678
(916) 781-VINO(8466)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Legal Drinking Age

MSNBC has this story about a small movement afoot to lower the legal drinking limit to 18 throughout the USA. Apparently, according to the article, there is huge opposition to this - "77 percent of Americans opposed lowering the drinking age to 18." Now, I can't believe that huge a percentage is opposed to legalizing alcohol for adults, but then again I don't know why anyone is opposed to letting adults drink alcohol.

Assuming that the 77% figure is right, it is clear that the legal drinking age throughout the country won't be lowered anytime soon. I am OK with that. Really. So long as we then make it illegal for anyone under 21 to serve in our military, on our streets as police, or fire fighters. As long as those under 21 aren't allowed to have a gun, teach our kids or work as an EMT. In fact, under 21? You shouldn't be allowed to work on ships, in mines, at refineries or around dangerous chemicals - like gasoline. After all, we're only trying to protect you.

Unreasonable? Yes, I think it is too. Let adults be adults, or redefine what age our citizens become "Legal" adults. Lower the drinking age already.

Coors to Brew Herman Joseph... again

Now, I admit that I am too young to remember anything about this beer's early attempts at success, I am hoping one of you can help contribute to this piece - maybe on your own blog even. According to Miller's blog, Coors Brewing Company is filing a patent for Herman Joseph, "A Super Premium Beer" according to that label.

According to the BrewBlog:
Beer industry vets with good memories may recall that Coors launched Herman Joseph’s – named in honor of Coors co-founder Adolph Herman Joseph Coors –as a superpremium ale back in 1980. It was discontinued due to weak sales in 1989. Coors relaunched the brew in 1995 as craft beers took off... Coors pulled the beer out of the market after a few years.
I'll be interested to see how this works for Coors, more specifically, how Coors works this. I won't blast them at this point, maybe they'll have success equal to that they enjoy with Blue Moon - who knows? I fear, however, that they'll use they distribution influence to squeeze out smaller beers from the shelves - similar to what A-B is doing with their "craft" brands. I do think they have a better chance in today's beer market than they would have had in the past - and it has to be better than Miller Chill.

If you remember the beer from its earlier days, please let me know what you remember - what kind of beer was this? Otherwise, hold on and see just how good - or how bad - this all can be.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mike's List

For those who don't know, Mike Sober (aka Big Mike, Taliban Mike) is a man of few words and exceptional beer taste. As co-host for the award winning beer podcast, Pacific Brew News, it is assumed (and rightfully so) that the man knows a thing or two about anything beer related... and today he's willing to share. Listed below is a partial list of the beers Big Mike considers among his favorites. I encourage you all to submit feedback requesting more of Mike - his writing skills and creativity are second to none and I simply love seeing in words what goes through this man's head.

Here it is - this list.

Mike’s favorite beers

Hefeweizen’s/Lighter Beers
Franziskaner Weissbier
Hoegaarden witbier
Sudwerks Hefeweizen
Sacramento Brewing Hefeweizen
Schneider Weisse
Mad River Extra Pale Ale

Session Hop drinks
Auburn Ale House Gold Digger IPA
Sierra Nevada Celebration
Bear Republic Racer 5
Green Flash West Coast IPA
North Coast Brewing Red Seal
Alpine Brewing Duet
Sequoia Brewing Hop Fest
Russian River Blind Pig
Speakeasy Big Daddy
EJ Phair Hop On Board
Kern River Brewing Just Outstanding IPA
Lagunitas Brewing XX Birthday Red
Amnesia Copacetic IPA

The Big Hop Monsters
Green Flash Imperial
Russian River Pliny the Elder
Russian River Pliny the Younger
Walking Man Homo Erectus
Alpine Brewing Pure Hoppiness
Alpine Brewing Exponential
Sequoia Brewing Buzzsaw
Sequoia Brewing Log Splitter
Water Street Brewing Big Phatty Imperial Red
Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye
Bear Republic Racer X
Moylan’s Hopsickle
Elk Grove Freedom IPA

Stouts, Porters & Barleywines
Stone Brewing Imperial Russian Stout
Sierra Nevada Big Foot
Alaskan Brewing Smoked Porter
Rubicon Brewing Winter Wheat Wine

List obviously, and happily, subject to change

See Rick's List

Elysian's TangleTown Events

Latest Elysian newsletter just came in - if you're not subscribed, do so from their site because I rarely post from newsletters. Mainly I am posting this because the August 15th Sour Reds event seems like something everyone in the Seattle area should try to make.

Every Wednesday is a beer tasting at TangleTown join us from 5-8PM as we sample a style or a Brewery with a matched nosh from our kitchen.

August 15th - Sour Reds- Rodenbach Grand Cru, New Belgium La Folie, Duchesse
de Bourgogne all on draught (for a few days)
August 22nd ­ Elysian BĂȘte Blanche Belgian-style Tripel release party
August 29th - Big Time Challenge Scarlet Fire vs Prometheus ­ Cask Bhagwans vs Cask Immortal
September 5th - Belgian Tripels - Chimay, Karmeliet, Gouden Carolus
September 12th - Rogue Challenge Sebbie Stout vs Dragonstooth ­ Rogue Red vs The Wise ESB
Those are some fantastic looking beer nights, hope you can make at least one. If you do, let us know what you thought.

Elysian-TangleTown
2106 N 55th St, Seattle
Phone: 206-547-5929

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Mark Your Calendars: 12th Annual Madison County Hop Festival

I received this info today Dott Willsey, announcing the lineup of activities for the 12th Annual Madison County Hop Festival. The event kicks off on Sept 14th and winds down three days later. If you're in the New York area, this seems like an event worth catching.

All proceeds from the Hop Fest support the educational programming at the Madison County Historical Society.

Event highlights (from Press Release)
Hop Fest Weekend commences on Friday, September 14 with a paired brew dinner at the Ye Olde Landmark Tavern in Bouckville, NY. The restaurant's CIA trained chef has created a delicious four- course meal that has been paired with Landmark Brewery. Reservations are required by September 10 and can be made by reserving them online at www.mchs1900.org/hopfest. Tickets for the dinner are $35.
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We have paired the following restaurants, chocolatier and breweries to create a culinary sensation that is sure to whet everyone's palate:
  • Blue Barbeque of Chittenango paired with Wachusettes;
  • Copper Turret, of Morrisville, paired with Magic Hat;
  • Dave's Fireside of Bouckville paired with Saranac;
  • Hotel Solsville, of Madison, paired with Saranac;
  • Ye Olde Landmark Tavern, of Bouckville, paired with Landmark Brewery;
  • Meyers Chocolate of Oneida, paired with Brewery Ommegang.
Reservations are limited and some tickets may be available the day of the event. Tickets are $20
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The weekend winds down on Sunday, September 16 with a guided coach tour of beautiful hop kilns in Madison County; included during the tour will be stops at various restaurants for light fare and craft brew. Tickets are $60.
Again, this sounds like a fantastic weekend for beer enthusiasts. I'm a bit of a sucker for things historical, and that Hop Kiln tour sounds absolutely amazing!

A few Pictures from Toronado's 20th

Yes, it was a good time - wish you all were here. As it was, the place was crowded and the beers were out of this world good.

For more pictures - click here.


Mike Sober & Rick Sellers of PBN - we were having a good time.

David Keene, owner of Toronado, pouring himself a beer

Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River pouring Temptation for the revelers at Toronado

Jay Brooks (right) & Dave Suurballe (left) - Dave was a long time manager at Toronado & Jay is a wonderful beer writer for Celebrator - both great guys you'll find at many beer events on the west coast. Jay is also the man behind Brookston Beer Bulletin - one of the best beer blogs online today.

Beers sampled on this night... all under one roof!
Russian River: Damnation 23, 50/50, Toronado 20th, Temptation
Ommegang Ommegeddon
Lost Abbey Cable Car
Lagunitas XX Birthday
Chimay Triple
Sierra Nevada Wood Aged Stout
New Belgium La Follie
St Fuellin Triple

Friday, August 10, 2007

Toronado: 20 Years Worth Celebrating

Click here to see pictures of the events

What would you expect the night to be like when one of the world's best brewers throws a party for one of the country's most celebrated publicans? You got it, a noteworthy celebration worth the long drive and late hours. This was the scene last night in Santa Rosa's Russian River Brewing Company, owned by head brewer, Vinnie Cilurzo, when they threw a party in David Keene's honor (owner of the Toronado). San Francisco's crown jewel of beer bars is celebrating 20 years in operation this week, and to kick off the official festivities, Russian River had an open house party for hundreds of Keene's closest friends.

There was, of course, great beer to be had, all made by Vinnie at his brewpub. The main attraction was the Toronado 20th Anniversary beer, a Flanders Red type of beer that was just too easy to enjoy for the power of it all - 9.9% ABV. In addition to the 20th Anniversary beer, revelers were able to enjoy the Lap Dance (Vinnie's Pale Ale), Bravo (their single-hopped IPA using the new hop by the same name), Sanctification (100% Brett beer), and a handful of other beers scrawled upon the infamous Russian River chalk board. As if this weren't enough, a few observant folks found themselves enjoying a nip of Supplication (a sour Belgian inspired beer aged in oak barrels on cherries) and Damnation (the top-selling Belgian type ale on the board) poured by Vinnie from large Magnum bottles.

It was a veritable night of "who's who" in the beer community, with brewers, beer brokers, importers, writers and hard-core enthusiasts rubbing elbows and exchanging stories... all while enjoying the quality beers found at the bar. Each person was here for one reason, to celebrate Toronado & David Keene, the bald, bouncer-looking man who has been at the helm of Toronado since since 1989 when he bought out the other owners and began making a name for himself and putting his mark in history. They were here, many of them anyway, to say thank you, as the Toronado has done so much to promote small batch brewers that produce beers of intense flavor and complexity. In addition, the bar has etched its way into the national beer conversation by continuing to put on beer festivals and events that attract people from all over - perhaps most notable is the Barley Wine Festival that occurs each February.

Yes, over the past twenty years the Toronado has done a lot in the Bay Area to define what a beer bar can and should be, a place that welcomes all who love the best beer has to offer. Don't believe me? Well, stop in sometime and just watch - it isn't uncommon to see professional brewers, beer writers and enthusiasts from around the world stop in for a pint or three. They won't fly a banner announcing their profession, so it may not be as obvious as their passion, but they're there just like anyone else, and for the same reason. The place simply has the best beer you'll ever find under one roof. Yes, there are bars around the country with more taps (Toronado has 46 taps), but none will have the consistent quality found on any given day in the dark and hallowed halls of Toronado, on Haight and Filmore in San Francisco.

Did you know?
David Keene has two beers named in his honor - Big Daddy by Speakeasy and Brother David by Anderson Valley.

Lagunitas Sirius Cream Ale

Well, this isn't officially a Summer beer, but a Spring release instead. That said, this has been a great find this last week, a bit of a diversion from the normal and uber-hopped beers I seem to gravitate to. The guys at Lagunitas call the Sirius a "Hi Gravity Cream Ale", which is a bit like having an Imperial Pilsner I suppose.

What exactly is a Cream Ale? A dear friend of mine recently asked this very question and I'll tell you what I told her. Basically, if you take a pre-Prohibition lager and use an ale yeast, you've got yourself a Cream Ale. Pre-Prohibition lagers, of course, used a fair amount of corn (20%), American six-row malt and whatever hop variety the brewer could find - American or otherwise. There aren't a lot of Cream Ales or Pre-Prohibition beers out on the market these days, which is a sad realization for those of use who love the beers. However, if you have a good homebrewing friend you can make a day of it and brew both in one day - same malts, same hops, different yeast. A good friend of mine, David, makes wonderful Cream Ale, and I am always happy to sample it in the Summer months.

Back to Sirius, which apparently is the brightest star in the night sky, sometimes visible in the daylight. The beer is golden in color, has a white foamy head that has decent retention and great clarity. The aroma is light overall, but it isn't too hard to detect the grassy hop notes - it is a bit harder, however, to nail down the malt character (at least for me). I also can't rightfully say if the guys at Lagunitas uses any corn in this or not - I would assume so, but I am not getting it in the aroma or flavor. The beer is downright drinkable, highly enjoyable and deceptively powerful - 7.6% ABV, are you kidding me?!

I know the review is late, that most this has flown off the shelves by now, but if you happen to see a random six-pack laying around, do yourself a huge favor and pick it up.

Score: 3.6/5

Thursday, August 9, 2007

E.J.Phair Brewing Company

Written by Mike Sober

There seems to be a reoccurring theme in my life that I wish I would do away with once and for all. And that would be the annoying propensity to categorize, stereotype or just simply misjudge, mislabel or ignore certain breweries or beer destinations despite the obvious stupidity of ever entertaining such an idea in the first place. I seemingly do this despite several episodes that should have utterly slapped this occasional annoying habit clear of my conscience forever. And hopefully E. J. Phair in Concord California has once and for all driven this point home and accomplished this feat during my visits this past weekend.

EJ Phair is located in old town Concord California a couple three miles East of Highway 680. I travel the Highway regularly throughout the year to my youngest son’s house but have never bothered to stop mainly due to the presence of Hop Yard Ale House in nearby San Ramon. Hop Yard features their own Hop Town brews from their facility in Pleasanton as well as a couple dozen revolving quest taps of fine West Coast craft brews.

My wife and I decided that our latest trip from Roseville was going to take us straight to Concord for a visit to EJ Phair, figuring that even if we didn’t find any beers hoppy enough to satisfy our hophead cravings we could always stop off at Hop Yard for a Pint of Pliny the Elder.

I have to admit I hedged my bet a little right before we left town and did a quick check of EJP’s website. I was happy to see that their were two IPA’s listed under the heading of “E.J. Phair Brews”, including an entry in this years single hop IPA competition called “Johnny Bravo”. What really took my breath away was the “Guest Brews” which included Green Flash ‘West Coast IPA’, Bombay by Boat IPA from Moonlight Brewing, Bear Republic’s Racer 5, Drakes I.P.A. and Pliny the Elder from Russian River.

Despite of love of the hops I decided to forgo jumping straight into the India Pale Ale and went with some tasters of their American Wheat, Pale Ale, Pilsner and English style IPA. My son Zack joined me in trying the samples and we both agreed that all four were solid representations of the styles, very refreshing and worthy beverages.

By that time I was anxious to try some of the ‘Johnny Bravo’ which was EJP’s entry into Drake’s Brewing annual single Hop duplicate festival. As soon as I ordered a pint our friendly and efficient Beer Wench reminded us that there was also a beer available that wasn’t listed on the board. A new IPA (could there really be another IPA here?) called “Hop on Board”. Naturally we also requested a pint and went to tasting the two seasonal head to head. The Bravo IPA was a solid and drinkable beer with a lot of grapefruit and piney notes but a less than stellar mouth feel that was unfairly matched against the greatness of the HOB. The HOB was light in color, huge on aroma and a pure joy to behold.

Despite the presence of Racer 5 and arguably my favorite beer of all time Russian Rivers ‘Pliny the Elder’, I stuck with the HOB for the rest of my evening; and of course filled up a growler to take home as well.

We also had dinner that evening and the food was almost as good as the beer selection. I highly recommend PJ Phair’s as a great beer destination. Whether you’re a hop head or not….. don’t wait as long to stop in as we did…. you will not be disappointed.

MSober

E.J.Phair Brewing Company
2151 Salvio Street
Concord, CA 94520
925-691-4253

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Judging a Book...

For all of you who couldn't get past the somewhat generic looking cover of All About Beer Magazine - well, shame on you first and foremost. For the years I have subscribed to this magazine I have maintained it is the best 'craft beer' publication out there with regards to content. The one drawback seems to have always been appearance, a sad statement for those who love the beers with obscure labels. Well, if you've fallen into the category of people who have simply overlooked the magazine I have good news - All About Beer has undergone cosmetic surgery and now looks as slick as anything you'd find on the shelf.

I don't know why they did this, but I suspect the introduction of DRAFT and Beer Advocate in the last year help prod redesign. For the purest out there, you'll be happy to know this new look hasn't come at the cost of content. In fact, the September issue has a wonderful piece on Pubs and Publicans and still features works by Randy Mosher, Fred Eckhardt, Charlie Papazian and those you've come to admire and look up to.

Confession

As much as I have enjoyed this magazine over the years, I admit this 'seemed' a bit nicer overall. Yeah, I guess I too am a sucker for slick looks - or, as my friend Tyrone Wells sings...
beauty makes me stop and stare just like any other man
So, congratulations to AAB on their new and improved look. I hope this brings the results you were hoping for. Oh, if you are not yet a subscriber - it is only 19.99 a year if you order online. I don't know of anyone with discount links like we have for Draft and BYO - but twenty bucks ain't nothing.

Deschutes Night at Vino's

I don't really know what our official role was in this, but last night we hung out at Vino's Wine & Cheese (Roseville, Ca) with a dozen of our closest friends to welcome the Deschutes 19th Anniversary Ale on tap. In fact, Sean and Toby of Vino's decided to make it a Deschutes night, where five bucks bought you samples of the Twilight, Mirror Pond, 19th Anniversary, Black Butte Porter and Obsidian Stout. Vino's is always a good thing on a Tuesday night.

The 19th was a good beer, a Belgian Golden with a high level of sweetness. Twighlight seemed to just be what I needed though - a wonderful seasonal offering. While there Deschutes was informed that they'd won first place at the California Brewers Festival (judging took place over the past weekend) for their Abyss Imperial Stout and third place for their 19th Anniversary beer. Congrats to the boys from Bend.

In addition to the tasting, I picked up a bottle of Vertical Epic to sample along with the 19 (both are Belgian inspired creations). I simply didn't care for the Epic - couldn't even finish it. How disappointing is that? I am hoping it was a bum bottle, but I got notes of old apples, sausage and smoke in this monster. None of those were what I was hoping for.

Another major disappointment was the slow realization that Hopsickle has indeed changed. Yes, it is still a good beer, but it just isn't the bright star it once was. No more fresh hop aroma, no crisp hop flavor up front - no more feeling like you are smelling a handful of fresh hops. More caramel, a longer lingering bitterness and generally more aggressive in the malt than it once was. I've waited for a while to post this in hopes my thoughts were incorrect, but alas I realize things have really changed.

On the other hand... Racer 5 kicked ass! Wow. I don't know if it was just super fresh or what, but the citrus in this was way more than I recalled from all my prior tastings of this already beautiful beer. May be an anomaly, but whatever it was, it worked.

Thanks to the guys at Vino's. Thanks to Max at Deschutes. Thanks to all who showed up and made it a great time.

Upcoming Vino's Events: (PBN will be podcasting for these events)
Anderson Valley Night, August 21st.
Avery Night, Sept 4th (check back on this date)

7th annual Brew Festival Raises 35,000 for Cancer Clinic

Now, this is great news for everyone involved. Kudos to all who attended and extra kudos to Marin Brewing & Noonan's for putting on a good show.


Press Release

“Fermenting Change – Microbreweries Battling Breast Cancer”

7th annual Brew Festival Raises 35,000 for Cancer Clinic

LARKSPUR, CA- The 7th Annual Microbreweries Battling Breast Cancer hosted by Marin Brewing Company and Noonan’s Bar and Grill on July 21st 2007, was a day of fantastic weather, music, food. Most importantly, however, were the 1500 beer lovers, cancer survivors and families who gathered at Larkspur Landing in hopes of raising funds for the Charlotte Maxwell Complimentary Clinic, a non-profit organization based in Berkeley, CA and offers alternative methods and medicines for low-income women struck with cancer. Pink shirts, pink pants and pink hats were the most popular retail items, adding to the funds raised through raffle and ticket sales. Despite the hot weather, attendees joined together to sample over 28 microbrews from all over California, making it possible for $35,000 to be raised in just one day.

Jenn Procopio, general manager of Marin Brewing Company and founder of the festival confirms this year as being the most successful thus far, surpassing last years total donation by $15,000. Charlotte Maxwell Medical Director Beverly Burns, states “As a clinic that provides direct services to underserved women with cancer, we are always working to try and raise funds to provide this care. Jenn Procopio and the Marin Brewing Company have provided us with unrestricted funds to increase the number of women that we can serve. For this we are incredible grateful and appreciative.” Marin Brewing Company and Noonan’s Bar and Grill are looking to next year to continue on in the spirit of good beer, good food and a good cause.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Please Read This...

Many have seen the various media outlets talking about beer and "binge drinkers" in the last day or so. I was trying to figure out something to say, but frustration seems to have halted that part of my brain. Luckily, J over at Brookston Beer Bulletin has put together a well stated argument that every beer enthusiast in the USA should read.

http://www.brookstonbeerbulletin.com/researchers-target-beer-as-binge-drink-of-choice/

Thank you J for having the words that seem to fail so many of us.

Monday, August 6, 2007

BJ's Beer Appreciation Night: Czech and German Pilsners

For too long now the good guys at the Southern California BJ's have been doing good Beer Appreciation Nights the first Tuesday of the month. If you're in Orange County you really must check these out - organized by BJ's Uber-Brewer, Alex P. I've been trying for years now to get the just-as-good guys in NorCal to do something like this. Puffy, you reading this?

August is Pilsner Month it appears. Check this out, an impressive lineup for a very good price.

Press Release...
Originating in 1842 in the Bohemian city of Pilsen as the first pale lager, "pilsener" soon became the most popular beer style in the world. But sadly the vast majority of beers called "pilsener", "pilsner" or "pils" are mislabeled. In the US, it is very difficult to find "the taste of a true pilsner beer", and you can be sure that Miller Lite is about as far from a true pilsner as you can get! Most so-called pilsners are watery and hopless interpretations of what is traditionally an intensely aromatic and flavorful style. For the most part, only Czech and German pilsners remain true to the style. At Tuesday’s Beer Appreciation Night in Brea, we'll experience what real pilsner is all about. Doesn’t this sound like a great way to spend a summer evening?

Here's our lineup of Bohemian pale lagers:

Czechvar
Klaster
Pilsner Urquell
Zatec

And here's our selection of German pilsners:

Aktien
Allgauer
Altenmunster
Bitburger
Konig
Paulaner
Schoenramer
Spaten
Warsteiner
Weltenburger

In addition, we'll taste a few authentic examples of pilsner brewed domestically, including BJ's own Pook's Pilsner, our seasonal German-style pilsner.

Where and when:

BJ's in Brea on Tuesday, August 7, 7:30pm

Admission:

$18 per person (pay at the door). Includes all beer samples, handouts and a souvenir glass. Yes, everyone gets a collectible beer glass to take home! Must be 21 years of age. Designated drivers welcome at no charge.

For more info:

714/990-MALT (Brea)