Thursday, December 11, 2008

Summing up Pacific Brew News

OK, this is seriously cool! This is a "wordle" that is made up of PBN's most frequently used words on Twitter. Also of note - the top five words I use on twitter are:
  1. Beer
  2. Good
  3. Great
  4. Day
  5. IPA
I just love that I say IPA more frequently that, say, "dude" or "loser".

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

OC: BJ's Domestic Winter Warmer Tasting

Just about to head out for the weekend, so won't do anything more than copy/paste the info for this event (I will say the beers look darn good).

Our Domestic Winter Warmer event in Brea is an annual tradition that beer lovers can't afford to miss. This is the time of year when American craft brewers have a little fun and give us their best by brewing something special. Some of these beers will be spiced, and many of will be on the extreme side in terms of gravity and hopping rate. So in the spirit of the holidays, you can expect quite a party on the palate!

Here is the festive lineup:
  • Alaskan Winter Ale
  • Anchor Our Special Ale
  • Anderson Valley Winter Solstice
  • Lost Abbey Gift of the Magi
  • Marin Hoppy Holidaze
  • Moylan’s White Christmas
  • New Belgium 2 Below
  • Pyramid Snowcap
  • Rogue Santa’s Private Reserve
  • Rogue Yellow Snow
  • Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
  • Stone Double Bastard
  • Stone Imperial Stout
  • The Bruery Autumn Leaf
  • Widmer BRRRR
Where and when:
BJ's in Brea on Tuesday, December 2, 7:30pm

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

For more info:
714/990-2095 (Brea)

Happy Thanksgiving

From all of us here at Pacific Brew News we extend Happy Thanksgiving wishes. For us, we're grateful that you stop by now and then and have become a part of our lives. We're also thankful for our local brewers and this weekend we'll be sipping from some of the best around our neck of the woods: Auburn Alehouse, SacBrew and Rubicon. We'll also be making a beer of our own, with our closest friends.

We hope you also have plans that make the holiday festive and special. Drive safe.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sacramento Beer Find: Original Pete's

I've enjoyed Original Pete's pizza in my area for years; the crust, cheese and toppings all properly balanced. That said, this isn't a joint we hit up for sudsy refreshment -- at least it wasn't before we found ourselves at the Midtown location (on 20th and J).

We walked in the pizza restaurant and were immediately turned on by the warm, super-inviting bar made of stone with a wooden counter top. In fact we opted to go no further and staked our seats in front of the large flat-screen showing the Sacramento Kings battle valiantly, but to no avail. Behind the bar we could spy two beer-tap towers that each had six beers (that's 12 taps for those keeping score at home). On one tower were "standard" taps with the house brand - a pale ale and English IPA grabbed my attention. The other tower had Guinness and, read slowly now, Firestone Walker's Union Jack, Pale Ale, Double Barrel and the seasonal Oktoberfest. Are you kidding?!

I looked at the menu and realized this wasn't just an Original Pete's like I had closer to home, this was an Original Pete's "Brewhouse" (apparently the only one of its kind open right now, although their site says another will open soon in El Dorado Hills). Now I knew they didn't have a brewery in back and judging from the Firestone Walker taps, pictures of Matt hanging on the wall next to the brewery pictures, I was pretty certain I knew who was making their beer. Happily I found they too were fond of the Firestone Walker name, and on the inside of their menu they proudly admitted these beers with the Pete's name were brewed under the supervision and care of one of the world's top brewers (I'd be proud too, by the way).

With all the facts taken in it was time to get geeky about beer (OK, so I already had a pint in me by the time I found the FSW info in the menu). I feel like I shouldn't even have to say this, but the beers kicked ass. I won't get into full-on reviews here, but if you're the type of person who has the BJCP style guidelines on your iPhone or PDA, you could just read those while you're drinking these beers and simply check "yes" next to appearance, aroma, flavor, mouthfeel and overall impression. The shocker for me was how over-the-top enjoyable the Skinner's Horse IPA was -- the English IPA. The nose was bold with floral and cedary notes, it's flavor unashamed to settle in for the night with nutty sweetness and more floral qualities. What a gem of a beer this was, and at under $4 a pint I couldn't begin to complain. Of course I couldn't well leave without a pint of Union Jack, a beer that is quickly establishing itself as a "favorite" in my book.

There you are, a new-to-me watering hole that doesn't seem to get a whole lotta love on the interwebblogtubes. If you're in Midtown and need a quick pint, be sure to stop in and check it out on your own (feel free to let us know what you think). If you're in the mood for good pizza with friends while watching the game (whatever game that may be) sit in the restaurant area that is stocked with TVs that every seat can enjoy while taking on a pitcher or two.

I'd be remiss if I didn't show some fond appreciation for the man who turned me onto this little gem of a beer bar - Peter Hoey. Man, thanks!

You'll be interested to note that, according to Peter, there are frequent Cask nights here. I'm sure I'll be there sooner than later to see what this is all about.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Happy Birthday Tracy

Today is my wife's birthday! You may not recognize the name or see her on the site too often, but she's a driving force behind Pacific Brew News and her photos help to tell stories I only have words for. Tracy is home today studying for her BJCP exam tomorrow morning. I have no doubt she'll do well on the exam, or that she'll make a fantastic beer judge.

For those who know her, join me in wishing her the happiest of birthdays!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Welcome to NorCal, Oskar Blues!

So I've been hearing about this for some time and now have a few details to share. As you probably have read or heard, Oskar Blues will be finding its way into the Northern California market in the coming days and weeks. According to Marty Jones of Oskar Blues you will soon see their products on tap in the following locations.
  • The Shack
  • Limelight
  • Pinecove
  • Manderes
  • Brick Oven Pizza
  • Town Pump
  • Happy Viking
Also, to celebrate the brewery's presence in the region they have set up a few events.
  • Nov 19 - Oskar Blues Pint Night at Manderes
  • Nov 21 - Oskar Blues Pint Night at Town Pump
  • Dec 4 - Oskar Blues Punk Rock Event at Elixir - 10 PM-close - tastings in this downtown Sacto bar
  • Dec 8 - Happy Viking Pint Night - Yuba City, CA
Marty promises to keep us updated with more dates as they're solidified. As updates come I'll try to pass them along.

Happy Birthday: Peter Hoey

Peter Hoey and Rick Sellers at SBC filling bourbon barrels

Today we stop for just a moment to wish a very happy birthday to Peter Hoey, brewmaster at Sacramento Brewing Company (as well as a reportedly good husband, father based on interviews with his lovely wife). Peter, in the past few years, has become a very close friend of mine and my respect for him as a brewer and person could not be greater. Peter, all of us at Pacific Brew News wish you the happiest of birthdays. To celebrate it only seems appropriate to stop in for a glass of Old Pappy (bourbon barrel wheat wine) and the obligatory IPA.
Peter and Patrick Rue of the Bruery on a recent trip to Sacramento

Cheers!Peter at the 2007 California Brewers Festival where he took Best of Show

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day Salute

I hope you all can take a moment to stop tonight and lift a glass to the men and women who have served this country in our armed forces. For those in active service now, we salute you for the sacrifices you're making for your country. If you know someone serving now, take a quick moment to drop them an email saying thanks.

When I think of the things happening around the world and in our own country, I am nothing short of thankful and humbled to know we have the men and women we have in uniform protecting all that is American.

Thank you.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Brewmaster's Dinner with Denise Jones (Moylan's)

I got this in my inbox this morning and thought I'd pass it along.
Brewmaster Dinner Series:
Moylan’s Brewery & Restaurant
Dinner with Denise

When: Thursday, November 13th at 7:00pm

Where: Bar and Grill, 2233 Larkspur Landing Circle, Larkspur, CA

What: Join Moylan’s Brewery Brewmaster Denise Jones for the 2nd Annual Brewmaster’s Dinner. Pair a custom menu with house-brewed ales. See full menu below.


7:00 PM

A Trio of Passed Hors D ‘Oeuvres
poached white prawns with spicy tomato & pepper relish
Dungeness crab crostinis with tarragon aioli
smoked Point Reyes oysters
Moylans Brewery Extra Special Bitter

7:30 PM

Marinated Niman Ranch Tenderloin of Beef
on a bed of arugula, fennel & orange with cilantro viniagrette
Moylan’s Brewery Oktoberfest Marzen

Banana Leaf Wrapped Pacific Rockfish
in Adobo sauce with vegetable filled pasilla pepper & queso fresco
Moylan’s Brewery White Christmas Winter Lager

Wheat Ale & Lemon Granita

Pan Roasted Quail
filled with a dried cranberries, wild mushrooms& spinach, sauce Bernaise
Moylan’s Brewery IPA

Walnut Bread Pudding
malted barley caramel reduction
A trio of Moylan’s Brewery Ryan Sullivan Imperial Stout Variations:
Bourbon Barrel
Espresso & Chocolate Infused
Fresh Raspberry

Price: $79.00
Reservations can be made by calling Noonan's.

Here We Go Again

I know it's patriotic to pay taxes and all, but... this is getting silly. In California we're a lot like most states in that we're a little light in the pocket and looking for ways to make a buck. Governor Schwarzenegger is proposing a list of items to bring in some moolah and among them is an increase of $0.05 in the State's excise tax (per drink) on all alcoholic beverages. I assume this is for drinks ordered in restaurants, but haven't found exactly what he's proposing and how deep it would go. That in mind, I think you who live in California should know.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sacramento: Hop Trip Pint Night on Thursday

Join the PBN crew at Owl Club on Thursday night for Pint Night! This week's beer is Deschutes' Hop Trip, their annual wet-hopped pale ale. The details are below for those interested.

$10= Shirt, glass and a pint of Hop Trip;
$5= glass and a pint of Hop Trip;
$4= pint of Hop Trip, no glass or shirt; and,
$3 Hop Trip refills for all of those who purchased a glass special.


While the link below is a humorous piece, I do hope you who are citizens of the USA and of voting age have taken the time to vote today. It's important.

Now, onto the fun stuff. If you're like me you're tired of the PAC ads, the Yes and No on everything ads, the robo calls and random knocks on the door soliciting your vote. Still, I hope you have time to watch one more election day video - for the most important election in the galaxy!

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Monday, November 3, 2008

Hoptoberfest in Review

By Jeff Barber, Pacific Brew News

Like a kid in a
candy store! That's the only way I can describe how I felt attending the Rubicon Brewing Hoptoberfest on Saturday where 21 IPAs were on tap. With me were my daughter and son-in-law, who as light drinkers would be in much better shape for the drive home to Roseville. Already at the event when we got there were PBN friends and hosts Mark, The Beer Geek, and Jeff Scammon, former owner of the Owl Club in Roseville and host of Wild West Radio.

Since Mark and Jeff were ahead of us in beer tasting when we got there, we quickly joined in. I ordered a taster tray of seven beers to get started. It was hard to choose so I started with a few reasonably lighter tasting beers and filled in the tray with beers I hadn't had before. I also have to say up front that Pliny the Elder was all ready out, much to my dismay.

The opening lineup, after brief deliberation, was as follows:
  • 21st Amendment Harvest Ale
  • Anchor Liberty Ale
  • Marin Brewing Mt Tam Pale Ale
  • Elk Grove Brewing Hop Head Red
  • Sacramento Brewing Imperial Red
  • Santa Cruz Aleworks Saison Dubois
  • Bear Republic Apex
This flight was followed by:
  • Sierra Nevada Torpedo
  • Sierra Nevada Celebration
  • Great Basing Ichtysaurus
First off, I'll just say we didn't have a bad beer all afternoon. Some were better than others and some fit their style better than others, but good beer as clearly in evidence. That said, my top ranking was:

#1- Bear Republic Apex IPA- WOW! This was outstanding. Strong dry hopped aroma (simcoe?), well-balanced, very creamy mouthfeel, good bitterness but not lingering. #1 for Mark and Jeff as well.

#2- 21st Amendment Fresh Hop Harvest - Noticeable piney hop aroma, flavor had some fruitness in it with some good malt backbone-could have had a few of these (my son in law's favorite), creamy

#3- Sacramento Brewing Imperial Red - Hops come out strong in the aroma, also well balanced, caramel sweetness in the initial flavor followed by the hop kick, some alcohol warmth as well (my daughter's favorite)

#4- Sierra Nevada Torpedo - Citrusy aroma, bready and caramel sweetness from malt balanced hop bitterness well but bitterness still was prominent, a hop milk shake!

Like I said earlier, all beers were good but to be honest I have to say that the one I didn't enjoy as much as the others was the Santa Cruz Saison Dubois. I love saisons but the level of hops didn't mesh well with the tart saison character and overpowered it a little. The Celebration and Icky both suffered from tired palate syndrome by the time I got to them. I have had both before and always enjoy them.

Kudos to the Rubicon for putting on a good event. It was well organized and by limiting everyone to 5-oz tasters, more beers were available later in the weekend (except for Pliny). Truly enjoyable!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rubicon's 21st Anniversary Party: Hoptoberfest

Sacramento's most iconic brewery has been serving excellent ales for 21 years, and this weekend to show their appreciation to its patrons for the years of support they will be bringing in a lot of well-hopped brews. If you're in Sacramento over the weekend be sure to stop in for a pint.

When: Friday & Saturday (10/31 & 11/1)
Where: Rubicon Brewing Company
2004 Capitol
Cost: Admission is free, you just have to buy your beer.
What's On Tap? Well, check it out below.

  • Rubicon Pilsner
  • Rubicon IPA
  • Rubicon Amber
  • Rubicon Stout
  • Rubicon Monkey Knife Fight
  • Rubicon Hop Sauce
  • Rubicon Rosebud
  • Firestone Walker Union Jack
  • Russian River Pliny the Elder
  • Elk Grove Brewing Company Hop Head Red
  • Triple Rock IPAX IPA
  • Sierra Nevada Torpedo
  • Sierra Nevada Celebration
  • Green Flash West Coast IPA
  • Auburn Ale House Isotope
  • Auburn Ale House Gold Digger IPA
  • Speakeasy Big Daddy IPA
  • Bear Republic Apex IPA
  • 21st Amendment Fresh Hop IPA
  • Great Basin Brewing Co. Ichthyosaur Pale Ale
  • Santa Cruz Ale Works Hoppy Saison
  • Sacramento Brewing Company Imperial Red
  • Mt Shasta Brewing Mountain High IPA
  • Moylans Brewing Company Moylander XX IPA
  • Moylans Brewing Company IPA
  • Marin Brewing Company IPA
  • Marin Brewing Company Mt. Tam Pale Ale
  • Lagunitas IPA
  • Anchor Liberty Ale
Tempting, isn't it?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

NPR, LDA, UVA, BAC, HooFest and More

What's with all the acronyms? I don't know, but I heard on the radio this morning a story on NPR that was interesting and wanted to pass it along to you, my beer-loving friends. It's a story about Social Normalization and on-campus drinking at University of Virginia. It's an interesting program they have going on, and I'd love to know what some of you think about this. The story is about nine minutes long to listen to, but is more complete than the text. Check it out.

Things that interest me? The fact that UVA tries to teach students what alcohol poisoning looks like and what to do. The fact that DUIs are down. Education, not just policing kids underground. The fact that the university is trying.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Rick on WNPR's Faith Middleton Show

Friday I was fortunate to be invited onto WNPR's Faith Middleton show, one of New England's most popular radio shows, to talk about all things craft beer. While on-air folks like Garrett Oliver and Sam Caglione called in while we sampled some fine beers from around the country. In NPR style the show is now online in mp3 format for stream and download listening. To hear it, check out this link.

It was a great time and I was honored to be part of the hour-long show.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Octoberfest in Sacramento

I can't tell you how far behind in life I am, but a good hint is that I am typing this in Philadelphia. Tomorrow (Saturday 10/18) Sacramento Brewing Company is hosting their Octoberfest party at their Fulton/Marconi location. Here you'll be able to sample EIGHT German-inspired beers brewed by the award-winning SBC, along with brats, face paintings and everything needed to make O-fest all it can be. Stop in, sample the special brews and enjoy the day. Admission is free, you just pay for the beers/food. Brews start flowing at 11:00Am and the tents outside stop pouring at 7:30. If you haven't had your fill, you can then take the party inside.

I hope to see you there.

Monday, October 13, 2008

GABF Coverage

Hey everyone. To begin, I simply MUST say thank you for all the kind words said to me during the GABF this week. Next, you've noticed I didn't cover it here. Instead I kept a running blog on the DRAFT website and did a walking tour of the event with James Spencer of Basic Brewing. You can view the goods at the following locations.
In addition, DRAFT has created a series of brewer interview videos from the event, check these out too!
  • Sean, the Homebrew Chef
  • Mike, of Dark Horse Brewing
  • Patrick, of The Bruery
  • Rob, of Widmer Bros.
  • Brian, of Mad River Brewing
  • Jeff, of Tall Grass Brewing
  • Peter, of Sacramento Brewing
  • Matt, of Firestone Walker
  • Tess, of Boulder Beer Co.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Update on Elk Grove Brewer

I read today that the long-time brewer at Elk Grove Brewery, Bill Wood, is now on the brewer's deck at Auburn Alehouse helping out with Brian Ford. This is good for everyone in the area because Wood is an accomplished brewer we didn't want to lose and Brian could use a hand - the guy works his ass off.

Oh, how good is Wood? He recently brought home a gold medal from this year's World Beer Cup. Not a shabby pick-up for Auburn Alehouse. This may not be the most comforting news for those in Elk Grove, but hopefully you all can come up sometime and enjoy a pint of something brewed by someone familiar.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

So Long Elk Grove Brewery

I've known the business was struggling for some time, but in today's Sacramento Bee I see that Elk Grove Brewery has officially folded. This place made several great beers and the brewer there is a top-notch guy. We wish him and the staff at EGB the best.

From the Bee

In Elk Grove, one of the hardest-hit communities in the region, a longtime business folded over the weekend: Elk Grove Brewery & Restaurant in the Old Town business district.

While the brewpub was hurt initially by extensive construction in the neighborhood, which curbed access to the site, ultimately the economy put the business under.

The Correa family, which bought Elk Grove Brewery & Restaurant in 2003, had to "turn it over to the bank and walk away, unfortunately," said the brewpub's attorney Matthew Eason.

The brewpub was hurting long before the credit crunch became front-page news. But the lack of financing is crippling those businesses that are trying to get off the ground.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Unibroue Night @ BJ's Brea

I got this in my email tonight and wanted to pass it on. If you're in SoCal you may want to figure out a good way to get here for this event.

Our topic for next Tuesday’s Beer Appreciation Night in Brea was originally “Great Craft Beers of Canada”. My plan was to feature the beers of Unibroue, which I consider to be the best brewer of Belgian-style ales outside of Belgium. This craft brewery located in Chambly, Quebec, is dedicated to traditional Belgian brewing methods and brews a range of unique and creative beers. I had some concerns about what else from Canada to pour because I figured they would pale in comparison to the wonderful beers of Unibroue. But my concerns went away when Unibroue’s sales rep Michael Smith told me how many beers he could secure for our event. More than enough to make it an All-Unibroue Beer Appreciation Night! Thanks to Michael, we’ll even be lucky enough to taste several vintage Unibroue Anniversary Beers from his personal stash and the brand new commemorative beer Quatre-Centienne!

Here's the delectable Unibroue lineup:
  • Blanche de Chambly
  • Don de Dieu
  • Ephemere Apple
  • Maudite
  • La Fin du Monde
  • Chambly Noire
  • Trois Pistoles
  • Terrible
  • Quatre-Centieme

…and FOUR Anniversary Beers (we’ll keep the vintages a surprise)!
BJ's Brea
600 Brea Mall
Brea, CA 92821
(714) 990-2095

When: Tuesday, October 7, 7:30pm
Cost: $18 per person (pay at the door).
  • Includes all beer samples, handouts and a souvenir glass. Yes, everyone gets a collectible Unibroue beer glass to take home! Must be 21 years of age.
  • Designated drivers welcome at no charge.

Toronado Wet Hop Harvest Beer Night '08

Just a quick head's up. Toronado, San Francisco's legendary beer bar, is hosting its annual Wet Hopped Harvest Beer Night on October 15th. This event features an array of beers made from the freshest hops harvested in 2008, including several "estate" hop brews made with hops grown on the brewery property.

When: October 15 at 6:00 PM
Cost: Admission is free, just pay for the drinks
Where: Toronado in San Francisco (Haight and Filmore)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Stepping away from beer for a moment to pass on something a lot more important. According to this, some states in the USA have a Voters Registration Deadline as early as October 4th. Please, register and vote.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Bear Republic Night @ Rubicon

Left to Right: Rich (Ricardo) Norgrove Jr., Glynn Phillips, Rich Norgrove Sr.

This week we celebrated the long-awaited Bear Republic pint night with Rich and Rich Norgrove both in attendance (Jr. coming directly from Yakima Valley for his hops selection of the year). This was the first of what Rubicon's owner, Glynn Phillips, hopes will be a running series of events that celebrate the cooperative spirit of the brewing community, a trend I'd love to see fly around the country. If this doesn't mean much to you, think about it for another minute.

Do you know of any business in your town that specializes in making a great product that would not only carry a competitor's product, but invite the people of the competition in for a night-long celebration and meet-and-greet with said competition's fan base? I don't. Perhaps this is a new wave of brewer collaboration, a move we've seen when brewers will make a batch of beer with their friends in the industry - like Isabella Proximus, Collaboration Not Litigation and the Mikkeler/Stone/Alesmith project. Rubicon is clearly not the ground-breaking company in this regard, either. Stone has been bringing in brewers to their facility for some time. That said, this just isn't something I see everyday.

About the Beers

The samples, eight Bear Republic beers

Bear Republic brought eight beers to Rubicon along with pint glasses and shwag for prizes. Among the beers were three offerings that were new to the PBN crew (who was there in full force): Double Aught, Mach 10, Rebellion. Rounding off the list were Racer 5, Red Rocket, Apex IPA, Big Bear Stout and Pete's Brown.

If you haven't been to the brewery you may not know of Apex, their IPA that is a touch bigger and bolder than Racer 5. The hops were a bit resinous and sticky, but also had a lot of flavor you hope for in an IPA.

Rebellion is a beer I think they were trying to pass off as a Pale Ale, but one sip made it clear this was yet another well-crafted IPA. Using only Simcoe hops the beer was bitter, peppery and featured a slightly oniony aroma. Yeah, it was good.

Double Aught was their twist on the American lager, but came across mostly as a big-bodied pilsner. The hops were bright, spicy and floral and at 4.2% ABV was a beer you could enjoy all day. They didn't it, but I think the name must be a take on the street name for Coors - Double-O. If that is the case, well... that's funny.

Mach 10 was their double IPA of the day. We didn't have time with Norgrove to figure out the difference of intent from this brew and Racer X, but they are clearly different animals. This brew was big in alcohol (8.7%) with a bit more fusel notes than expected. Still, in Bear Republic fashion this brew was full of hop flavors and bitterness.

The rest of the beers are a bit more common, so I won't get into them. If you haven't tried them, you can likely trade for a sample somewhere if they're not sold in your location.

Rich Norgrove Sr.

Before calling it a night, Rich senior was presented with a 3-liter bottle of Rosebud, Rubicon's old-ale that is brewed once a year. The bottle was signed by the entire staff and the presentation proved to be a very classy gesture by Phillips and the gang at Sacramento's oldest brewery.


Did you know that the first six batches of Bear Republic beer were brewed at Sacramento's Rubicon brewery? Yup.

Along those lines. There's been a rumor around Sacramento that Racer 5 was actually Rubicon's IPA. Just to be clear, that is entirely false. It ain't even close. But, to be fair, when the IPA category was introduced in the GABF, Rubicon won the first two gold medals! To this day they are the only brewer to win back-to-back golds in that category.

Also, Norgrove Jr. found his appetite for better beer while he went to school in Sacramento at - you guessed it - Rubicon Brewing. It was great seeing his facial expressions as Rich (Ricardo) retold the stories of his younger days in Sacramento drinking beers that the local legend Phil Moeller made. For those up on your local beer history, you can figure out just how long ago that was.

Extra! Extra!

As mentioned, Norgrove had just returned from his hop selection in Yakima. The news? Things are definitely looking up, but this year looks to be a little tight for American brewers. Sounds like things will be exponentially improved in 2009. Oh, with the declining dollar American hop growers have been selling a whole lot more hops to big European and Asian brewers who have one thing on their mind: Alpha Acids. In case you're interested, many American brewers look for a whole lot more.


The turn-out for Rubicon's pint night was outstanding! Thanks to all of you who made the event a success.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

SNR People's Choice

The votes are counted and people in the Sacramento region have spoken via the Sacramento News and Review. Here are the beer-related results for the area.

Best place for a beer

1. Streets of London Pub
various locations,

2. Rubicon Brewing Company
2004 Capitol Avenue, (916) 448-7032,

Best brewpub

1. Rubicon Brewing Company
2004 Capitol Avenue, (916) 448-7032,

2. Brew It Up! Personal Brewery & Grill
801 14th Street, (916) 441-3000,

3. Sacramento Brewing Company
2713 El Paseo Lane, (916) 485-4677; 7811 Madison Avenue, Citrus Heights; (916) 966-6274;

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

NCHF: The Dinner

You ever been camping with people who really like to cook? My mom is one of these people and when she "camps" she usually brings along an array of cookware used to make wonderful breakfasts and dinners. I know others as well who pride themselves on camp cooking. Nothing, however, compares to what Sean Paxton pulls off.

You may have read about The Dinner elsewhere and already understand that the meals are elaborate, well thought-out and above all, delicious. What isn't talked about a whole lot is Paxton's "kitchen". To be frank, there isn't one. Instead Sean has a few outdoor burners, a nice smoker for meat and odd-and-ends put to good use. To state this mildly, it is not an optimal cooking environment. Still, year after year Paxton pulls off a meal that leaves nobody wishing there was just a bit more, no complaints are heard about the meal or the beer.

To that end, allow me to talk about the beer at the NCHF Dinner. I was fortunate enough to be able to talk to several brewers who contributed beer for the dinner this year (Shaun O'Sullivan of 21st Amendment, Peter Hoey of SacBrew and Matt Brynildson of Firestone Walker) and every one of these brewers were honored to have their beer poured at a Paxton dinner. By the way, this was not an easy event for Matt or Shaun to drive to - the commitment in the commute alone should impress anyone. OK, now perhaps I can talk about the beer...

Paxton spends a whole lot of time agonizing of the beers he is selecting for this meal and brewers are asked months in advance if a certain beer will be available. What's he looking for? Well, much like chefs on TV boast about their painstaking efforts of finding the best food at farmers markets, Paxton chooses only the best beers around. He isn't guessing either. He's tried the beers, knows the brewers and talks in advance with the brewers to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Additionally, what Sean does that is unique in his dinners is a prominent use of selected beers in every dish he serves. Again, this isn't an accidental step in his efforts, but a deliberate, thoughtful ingredient of choice. He wants the flavor of the beer to be detected in his dishes and for people to reevaluate the way they look at cooking with beer. To that end, Sean is successful. Already this week he's been asked for recipes for his dishes - recipes he's happy to share.

Perhaps the biggest key to his dinners' success is Sean Paxton, himself. This weekend was my third Paxton dinner and every meal, every dish, excites the audience not just because the appearance, taste and aroma, but because Paxton makes the dishes exciting. He'll walk you through the thought process of each dish and the beer pairing. He also invites contributors to talk about their beer (Hoey and Bryndilson articulated well the beers they brewed and why they worked so well with the dishes). This isn't a meal where you sit back and get served and walk away with only a full belly. Sean's enthusiasm drips on every word he utters, just as much as it drips off every bite taken. He isn't just a cook, he's more than a homebrewer - Sean Paxton is a true beer evangelist and time spent at his table only strengthens the diners' love of good beer and great food. If you haven't been to a dinner yet, keep an eye open for your shot - he gets around.

Other Notes

No, I didn't discuss the meal plate-by-plate. There was no need to I figured after reading posts by JJ at The Thirsty Hopster and Jesse at Beer and Nosh. You want to learn more about the dishes, that's all you'll need.

My beer of the night? Firestone Walker's unblended, unfiltered pale ale. All I know is I was still drinking this beer at 4:30AM with Sean, JJ and Matt.

Photo of Shaun O'Sullivan courtesy of Peter Hoey at Sacramento Brewing Co.

NCHF: What More Can You Ask For?

This past weekend saw me attending the Northern California Homebrewers Festival, a gathering of homebrewers from across the region all toting along their homebrew and food items to share with each other. I don't know how many attend this event, but it isn't a huge attraction for beer enthusiasts.
From left to right: Pete Slosberg, founder of Pete's Wicked Ales, Steve Wagner, President and Brewmaster at Stone Brewing, me, Matt Brynildson of Firestone Walker, JJ of The Thirsty Hopster, Pete of Sacramento Brewing, Peter Salmond of SBC's Oasis and Sean Paxton the Homebrew Chef. Photo courtesy of Peter Hoey.

There is way too much that happened over the weekend to fit into one post, so here are just a few quick hits.
  • I am a lucky son of a bitch. Being there and seeing familiar faces along with new drove it home just how happy/lucky I am to have great friends at nearly every beer event I go to - around the country. Seriously, it's humbling.
  • There isn't a festival in Northern California that shows the diversity in beer styles as well as you'll find here. Big, mild, hoppy, malty, meads with fruit or plain, barrel aged, wild, tame - you name it, it was likely here. It was so cool to try, in order, a peach mead, well-hopped IPA, Berliner weisse, Flanders red, English mild and a 100% brett beer! That was just the tip of the iceberg too.
  • Reminds me. I wish there were more Berliner Weisse beers on the market in the summer.
  • Chile beers don't have to suck.
  • If you can't make Sean Paxton's legendary dinner, don't worry. If you bring along some good beer and some food you can typically find people around the campground Friday night interested in sharing what they brought along. This is a great way to meet new people, try new beer and kick the weekend off right.
  • Be careful though. This year saw a sickening sight as a fellow homebrewer fell into a ravine in the dark, resulting in a compound leg fracture and some worrisome moments. Lesson: bring a flash light.
  • The festival location is as beautiful as you can hope for. A large grassy area surrounded by rolling hills and a plethora of dragonflies can't be beat when sipping beers with origins from around the world.
  • Homebrewers can cook, and not just Sean - although, well, I'm not sure we can call what he does homebrewing or cooking. It seems to be something a tad bit more complicated. I guess it isn't a surprise for me. As someone who has been known to make my own beer, I feel confident in a kitchen and generally feel like I can make a good meal.
  • People - you can't go there and not appreciate the diversity there is among us. Sure, we all have one thing in common (our fondness for beer), but from there you see just about everything humanity has to offer (OK, not a lot of prohibitionists represented here). Man, you people are awesome.
  • It is apparently possible to set up a tent at 4:45 in the morning, even if you've been drinking for nine hours or so.
  • It may not be possible to do so without waking your neighbors.
  • If you wake the neighbors, they'll quickly forgive you if you share a beer with them at some point during the weekend.
  • No, I didn't set up a tent - I found the back seat of my car worked just great.
  • I predict that sometime in the next five years, Peter Hoey and Sean Paxton are going to collaborate on something that will blow people away. The way the two of them approach beer and food is so cerebral, geeky and passionate that I can't imagine anything they do together being anything less that spectacular.
  • Speaking of this duo - Hoey brought two blends of a beer they brewed together, Old Pappy bourbon barrel wheat wine. One blend was 17% barrel, the other was 30%. One sip, no - one wiff of the 17% barrel (83% stainless, lest you think that's an ABV) told me I was fortunate to live in Sacramento.
  • Be inspired. Be amazed.
  • Brynildson brought Porabola in a bottle too. I had to have a seat and some quiet time to fully appreciate the complexity of that beer. My goodness.
  • There is something to be said about driving to a place you don't plan on driving away from after a night of drinking. People imbibed on beer and mead from the morning hours with their breakfast till way beyond sunset. Yes, driving for many stopped being a legal option right around lunch time. The good news was their tents were only a short hike away.
  • To add to that last point, no there's nothing wrong with that.
  • The speakers here are inspiring. I know a thing or two about beer and brewing, but to learn in-depth geeky things about water and mashing was, well, impressive. Wagner also did a great job detailing the history of Stone and took questions with grace. If you didn't make the speakers booth this year, plan on resting your feet and engaging the brain next year, if only for a little while.
  • To add to that last point, it was quite interesting to learn about how chlorine and chloramine will impact your mash differently. Chloramine sounds as if it may be better for pipes and water supplies, but not so good for brewing. Gonna have to rethink my water supply.
  • Furthermore, seems like the water content readings homebrewers want from their municipal water agency aren't all that helpful. If I understood right the readings you get may not be more than a single day's testing - and sorry to say, it seems they don't really care about how water impacts our mash so long as there is nothing biological in the water. I guess that's not a horrible thing.
  • This isn't a scavenger hunt where the person who tries the most beers wins a prize. My first year I didn't realize this. My third year I could easily spot those who were learning the hard way - like I did.
  • I love it when brewers get geeky.
  • I love it when brewers just sit back and drink a beer too.
  • I need to brew a batch of beer sooner than later.
  • What was up with the talk like a pirate day carryover into Saturday?
  • I'd love to read something from Peter Hoey where he talks about some brewers inability to hop a beer properly. I believe the rant started with something like, "hoppy and bitter aren't the same thing". This, of course, came up after trying Mike McDole's Pliny Light - a beer that was certainly properly hopped.
  • The unblended, unfiltered pale ale Matt brought from Firestone Walker was a thing of beauty, and quite low in alcohol. Made me realize that I a lot of beer enthusiasts miss out on a whole lot when their focus is on extremes.
  • Watching Shaun O'Sullivan's face as he watched his cask ale abused (shaken, turned upright, then sideways, then upright again) while placing it on the stand was priceless. Sorry Shaun, I know it hurt you to see that, but from where I was sitting it was damned funny. Don't worry, all you reading at home, the beer was great.
  • You can't say enough about the fervor many homebrewers have about their hobby. Some know their history in and out, others can tell you the chemical reasoning for their brewing techniques and a whole lot can can tell you, accurately, the subtle differences in different malt and hop and yeast varieties. If you are willing to learn, to ask questions, you can't help but walk away from this knowing more than you did when you left the house.
Just a few random thoughts from a weekend I wish didn't end. A big thank you to those who make this event possible each year. This is an example of what a homebrew festival can be.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sour Night @ Sacramento Brewing Co.

Sour Beer Night, Come in, Pucker up

It isn't enough that Sacramento Brewing Company won a medal for its Imperial Stout at last year's GABF, and it isn't enough that SBC took a medal home from this year's World Beer Cup in one of the competition's deepest styles (Amber Ale). No, since that's happened Peter Hoey and the SBC team has brought in some barrels (bourbon, wine, port) and is doing some pretty wicked experiments with them, the first of which will be released this winter: Old Pappy, a bourbon barrel-aged wheat wine. Other barrels use strange, exotic yeast strains from around the world (California, Colorado, Belgium) in order to make what promises to be outstanding sour beer. Hell, apparently not even that is enough.

Peter Hoey has told me that he now has kegs of New Belgium's Eric and Deschutes' The Dissident with plans of tapping them both on the same night for a wild experience in sour ales we don't see too often around these parts (yet, waiting for his barrel-aged beers to mature). Now, what the heck are these beers all about anyway?

New Belgium's Eric is part of the brewery's Lips of Faith program that allows employees there to brew a batch of beer. This is a sour ale aged on peaches! I've had this only once and am certainly excited to hear it will be on tap locally.

Deschutes' The Dissident is a Flanders Brown Ale matured more than a year in barrels. This is a pretty special beer and I promise you won't see it around in our region for very long. This beer won't be as sour as Eric, but if you're new to the style it'll certainly grab your attention.

While both the Dissident and Eric will be available at both locations, you'll have to make it to their Town-and-Country location to participate in Pint Night.


Monday, Sept. 22 starting at 5PM

Oasis (Madison/Sunrise) and SacBrew locations (Fulton/Marconi)

Admission is free, just show up.

$4.75 gets you either the Dissident or Eric served in a wine glass (8-ounce pour)

$10 (estimated; only at Fulton/Marconi) gets you Eric in a New Belgium-logo stemmed glass that you get to keep! (very nice, by the way; 16-ounce pour)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Fresh Liberty @ Toronado

I don't know if you saw the July/August issue of DRAFT or not, but it featured Anchor Liberty as the PICK (a beer I considered appropriate for our All-American issue). Well, the only thing better than Anchor's Liberty is an Anchor Liberty kegged the same day you enjoy it on tap. The folks at San Francisco's world-famous Toronado understand this, and on Wednesday September 10th they will be pouring "Kegged-Today" Anchor Liberty at a "special" price (read "good"). I seriously doubt I can make this event, but if you live nearby, it may just be worth stopping in for a pint.

More Info

Kegged Today Anchor Liberty Night

Come try a keg on the day it was born! Anchor Liberty
delivered fresh from the brewery on kegging day.
Special pricing all night.

Location: Toronado, 547 Haight, San Francisco, California
Time: 5PM
Admission: no charge
Contact Phone: 415.863.2276

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Follow-up on the Jordan Family Farm Hops

Yesterday I was on hand to help finish the first-ever hop harvest on Jordan Family Farms, and I am happy I was there. The farm is truly a family operation that mostly sells mandarins, but also has various fruit trees spattered around their property. Scott is the owner and is passionate about his farm, his family and his community - people like this you can't help but hope for the best. Joining us yesterday was Brian from Auburn Alehouse, Steve from Placerville Brewing Co., Brian from River City Brewing, Mike and Mark from Pacific Brew News, members of AAH's Mug Club and a few homebrewers from the region hoping to get some fresh hops of their own to take home. It was a good day.

In all there were 13 varieties of hops pulled off the field yesterday, the most productive plants being the Cascades and Clusters. Several varieties did very poorly in their first year, some looked good but didn't offer much to pick from, but overall the brewers agreed it was a good first year for the farm. One brewer was fresh off his trip up to Yakima for Hop School and was able to offer some very interesting commentary and tips for the volunteers.

Below are a few pictures from the day. If you'd like to see the entire album from yesterday's harvest, click here.Brian Ford of Auburn Alehouse
Harvesting Cluster Hops
After harvest, drinks were in order
An appropriate image: AAH's IPA in a bed of hops.
Glass by River City, beer by AAH. River City did bring a keg up as well that was greatly appreciated, a harvest wheat beer.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Happy Labor Day America

We at Pacific Brew News hope you all have a great holiday weekend, hopefully you're able to get a three-day weekend out of Labor Day. For those who are driving and partying, remember the cops are all out in force to make a point, so be smart about the driving to drinking ratios.

For those living in the Northern California, the cops have come out and said they're increasing their patrols around Folsom Lake this weekend, as well as the major freeways (80, 5, 50). In fact, here's the statement from California AVOID's website (which I found shockingly informative).

The following is a partial list of specialized DUI enforcement:

Friday August 29:
  • DUI / Drivers License checkpoint to be held in the City of Davis at Richards and Olive Drive.
  • Lodi Police Department to conduct Saturation Patrol, from 7 pm – 3 am
  • Escalon Police Department to conduct Saturation Patrol, from 7 pm – 3 am
  • Sobriety Checkpoint to take place in Ripon, from 7 pm – 3 am
  • The CHP will place all available officers on the road to assist AVOID allied agencies in removing intoxicated drivers from County roadways.

Saturday August 30:
  • Saturation Patrols to take place in the Cities of Livingston, and Los Banos.
  • DUI Checkpoint hosted by the UC Davis Police Department
  • Multi-Agency Saturation patrol to be held from 6 pm – 2 am. Participating agencies include Lathrop Police Department, Tracy Police Department, Ripon Police Department, and Stockton Police Department.
  • The CHP will place all available officers on the road to assist AVOID allied agencies in removing intoxicated drivers from County roadways
There will also be an increased presence in Placer County and I'd expect Yolo as well.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sacramento Summerfest

In Sacramento the options for beer festivals are astounding, especially this time of year. With that in mind I'd like to throw this out there, the Sacramento Summerfest that benefits the Alzheimer’s Association’s Sacramento Memory Walk. No, this isn't just a beer festival, you'll also be able to sample wine and sample food from area restaurants, browse local art and listen to live music.

It's Sept. 6th at Sacramento's Miller Park, from 1-5PM and admission is $25 in advance, $30 the day of the event.

If you're in the area and are looking for something to do, check this out. Not only is it a good cause, you'll also find some good beer judging from the list of participating brewers I was given.
  • Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
  • Hoppy Brewing Co.
  • Anderson Valley Brewing Co.
  • River City Brewing Co.
  • Binding Brauere USA
  • Blue Frog Grog & Grill
  • Brew It Up
  • Sudwerk
  • Elk Grove Brewing Co.
  • Czechvar Lager
For more information please check out their website,

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Drunken Driving Fatalities Down in 32 States

Some more good news that seems to follow suit with a survey released a couple of weeks ago. According to the AP drunken driving fatalities are down in 32 states! California saw the most dramatic drop, followed by Texas and Arizona. North and South Carolina experienced the largest increase in the country.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mayor's Marzen

Often it seems that whenever a politician is associated in a story about beer it's of them taking a stand against the beer industry, or just saying something stupid about alcohol in general - sometimes it's nothing more than a politician getting caught with his pants down. Today's story, however, is not the case.

I first made my way to Auburn Alehouse a few months before they had opened (along with Mike and Mark of PBN, of course). On that first trip it was hard to not notice the proximity of the brewery to Auburn's city buildings, the heart of all things local in the city. We'd asked about how that was, if the city was giving Brian a hard time with permits and licenses. Well, it turns out the folks that work for the city were making a fuss over AAH, but it was mostly them stopping in to interrupt construction to find out when they could get a cold beer with lunch! Yes, it goes without saying that the city of Auburn (which includes the City of Auburn) has embraced their new brewery, not a chore when someone like Brian is on the brewdeck.

All this leads me to the point of the post. A couple weeks ago Brian had a special guest brewer to lend a hand in the making of Auburn's Octoberfest. This guest was none other than the Mayor of Auburn - Keith Nesbitt! According to Brian this wasn't just a photo opportunity for the Mayor, in fact I don't even think there was a press presence during the brew. No, it seems that Nesbitt helped with hauling ingredients and even mashing out - and apparently he enjoyed the work too!

Given that Octoberfests and Marzens are essentially the same beer (German amber lagers) Brian decided to call the beer Mayor's Marzen - “mayorzen” (unofficial at this point, I believe). I hope that the Mayor will return to pour the first pint, it seems like the right thing to do after all.

So, here's to a good collaboration between brewing and politics. Personally, this is story I'd love to see played out around the country.

Hop Harvest Pics and More

Today I was in attendance as the first crop of hops were harvested from Penryn's (California) Jordan Family Farms. I was invited by owner Scott Jordan as well as Auburn Alehouse owner/brewer Brian Ford to take pictures, lend a hand and hang out for this special occasion. It is believed that Jordan has the third largest hop farm in California, but before you get too excited know that there is only a little more than an acre of hops here.

To read my DRAFT story from the day, check it out on the official website.

To view pictures of the day, just click here.

In Pictures: Sacramento Brewing Summer Dinner

Last night was the Sacramento Brewing Company's Brewmaster's Dinner and it was outstanding. This was the third dinner we've been to and my personal favorite, the portions were spot on and the beer pairings were exceptional. I think my favorite food/beer pairing was the first dish of seared ahi tuna on a mustard sauce, paired with Independence double IPA. That said, there wasn't a stinker in the meal. Enjoy the pictures below taken from the dinner, August 26th.

Chef Rodriguez put on an awesome show for those in attendance.

Chef talking with Oasis head brewer, Peter Salmond

Dessert: Banana's Foster with Hefeweizen

Soup with fresh oyster

The crowd

Left: Peter Salmond Right: Peter Hoey

SBC Owner, George

Filet Mignon with Sac-Squatch

Seared Tuna

A happy couple, enjoying their meal

Peter Salmond caught with his mouth full

Brewmaster Peter Hoey addressing the crowd

Peter and Peter - two great brewers, great people

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Collaboration Stories

I received this from Todd Ashman, head brewer at FiftyFifty Brewing Co., a few weeks back and have wanted to provide more of a commentary with it. Realizing now that I won't have the time, I figured it was better to share it was is - it's pretty cool.
Three Craft Brewers Spread Collaboration
In the Brewing Community

For a number of years, Todd Ashman had the idea to formulate an interesting and unusual beer, share that recipe, and conduct tastings of the various interpretations. This collaboration would serve to demonstrate that just as each brewer has a distinctive brewing style, each brewery also has attributes that make it unique; the local water supply, brewing equipment and ingredient sources all contribute to the distinctive character of a beer. Todd found that special beer in Concentrated Evil: a strong, dark, Belgian-style ale that was originally brewed at Todd's home base, FiftyFifty Brewing Company in Truckee, California. Concentrated Evil is made with a variety of unusual ingredients including raisins, exotic sugars and aromatic spices. The complex array of flavors and moderately high level of alcohol make this an enjoyable beer. Todd chose fellow brewers Zac Triemert and Matt Van Wyk to participate as he has worked with both gentlemen in various capacities.

Zac Triemert, Co-President and Co-Founder of the newly established Lucky Bucket Brewing Company, holds a bachelors degree in microbiology and a masters degree in brewing & distilling from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. Zac is the winner of numerous national and international brewing awards. Zac is also a member of various committees for the Brewers Association and a member of their Board of Directors. Zac’s newest venture is opening Nebraska’s first craft distillery. Operations for The Sòlas Distillery begin next spring. When asked about this project, Zac stated: “Concocting this collaboration beer with two brewing friends continues to be a terrific amount of fun. We all plan to put our own unique spin on what is already a great beer. After these beers have sufficient time maturing in wood, the tasting events will be a kick.”

Matt Van Wyk is Head Brewer for Flossmoor Station Brewing Company in Flossmoor, Illinois (Todd Ashman's alma mater). He attended the renowned Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago, Illinois in 2001. Matt was formerly a science teacher and previously worked at three other Chicago area breweries. Matt is the recipient of several regional, national, and international brewing awards. In 2006 he was awarded the Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year and Flossmoor Station was named Small Brewpub of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in Denver, Colorado. “It is an honor to be asked to participate with these two great brewers in this collaboration project. It just shows what a great industry we work in where cooperation is often more valued than competition. Crafting a beer with Todd and Zac has been a great experience,” said Matt.

Todd Ashman began his long brewing career in 1987 as a homebrewer. After completing a craft brewers apprenticeship program, Todd brewed professionally in New Mexico, Illinois and Wisconsin. In 2004 Todd joined the Brewers Supply Group division of Rahr Malting as Staff Brewmaster. In 2007 Todd returned to brewing and his native California as Brewmaster for FiftyFifty Brewing Company. He has received numerous regional, national and international brewing awards. Many of those awards have been for beers that utilized unusual and unique ingredients and/or processes. Todd's thoughts: "I’ve been thinking about working on a Collaboration for sometime now. I really wanted to work with a couple of brewers that knew each other and I’m really glad that Matt and Zac signed on to try this out. These guys have amazing brewing talent and the end result of our Collaboration will not only be fun for our customers at our respective breweries but especially fun for folks at the 2008 GABF. The chance to try our respective beers under one roof will be great!”

Told you it was cool.

Results: Cal. Brewers Festival

The California Brewers Festival has been around for a number of years and is put on by the local Rotary club. In fact the judging for this event features many Rotary members, mingled in among beer judges (mostly members of the Gold Country Brewers Assn, a local homebrew club) and whatnot. It's a fun enough place to judge, it's laid back and the food is always good. The results are incredibly varied from year to year - last year's Best of Show was Sac-Squatch by SacBrew, a strong Scotch ale, this year is Blue Moon... slightly different.

Below are the results of the judging portion of the event. The actual beer festival will be Sept. 20th at Discovery Park, but I unfortunately won't be in attendance as I'll be at the Northern California Homebrewers Festival, having just finished a legendary Sean Paxton dinner.


Best of Show
Blue Moon, a Belgian White Ale

Juniper Ale by Rogue, entered as a Pale Ale

Third Place
Peligroso 07 by Blue Frog, entered as a Wood-Aged Ale

Amber Ales
  1. Red Horse, Sacramento Brewing Co.
  2. Red Head, Brew Brothers
  3. Sac-squatch, Sacramento Brewing Co.
Light Ales
  1. Honey Beer, Beermanns Beerwerks
  2. Big But Blond, Elk Grove Brewing Co.
  3. Pale Ale, Napa Smith
  1. Peligroso 07, Blue Frog
  2. Bourbon Barrel Stout, Beermanns Beerwerks
  3. Oud Bruin, River City
American Pale Ale
  1. Juniper Ale, Rogue Ales
  2. Tipperary, Moylans
  3. XP Pale Ale, Bear Republic
English Pale Ale
  1. Bachelor ESB, Deschutes
  2. Double Barrel Pale ale, Firestone-Walker
  3. Youngers Special Bitter, Rogue Ales
  1. Mountain High, Mt. Shasta
  2. Racer 5, Bear Republic
  3. India Pale Ale, Blue Frog
  1. Obsidian, Deschutes
  2. Steelhead Export Stout, Mad River
  3. Cream Stout, Sam Adams
  1. Black Butte Porter, Deschutes
  2. Holiday Porter, Sam Adams
  3. Mocha Porter, Rogue Ales
  1. Boston Lager, Sam Adams
  2. Doppelbock, Sam Adams
  3. Noddy Black Lager, Buck Bean
  1. Blue Moon White, Blue Moon
  2. Hefewiezen, Blue Frog
  3. Wheat Beer, Napa Smith
Brown Ale
  1. Hazelnut Brown Ale, Rogue Ales
  2. Hemp Ale, Humbolt
  3. Brown Ale, Sam Adams
Fruit Beer
  1. Apricot Wheat Ale, Pyramid Ales
  2. Cherry Wheat Ale, Sam Adams
  3. Kriek Ale (Cherry Ale), Mt Shasta
Strong Ale
  1. Imperial Red Ale, Rogue Ales
  2. Abyss, ,Deschutes
  3. Steelhead Double IPA , Mad River
Top Brewery
Sam Adams - 6 awards

Sacramento: Vote for SNR's Best Of 2008

Sorry I didn't get this up sooner, but the Sacramento News and Review's annual "best of" voting is underway now. This is a pretty big deal in the region and to get awarded from this means a bit more than some other local honors. If you've got a few minutes please cast your votes for your favorite places and people. In particular (related to this site) vote for your best place to have a beer, best brewpub and best place for a drink after work. Voting closes 8/27.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

California State Fair: The Beer Report

I've been to the California State Fair twice this year in a tradition Tracy and I have had going for eight years. We like the fair, mostly we like spending time in the livestock area and milling around the the farm stuff, but we also like the exhibits and even indulge in the fair food annually. Of course there's the beer too.

One of my first-ever beer festivals was at the California State Fair. Each year they'd award the craft brewers of the state and immediately following there would be a small, unadvertised beer event that was cheaper to enter than it was to buy a large Bud. It was good fun, but so under-achieving. Well, they're trying to fix that and this year they moved the beer fest out by the horse racing track, advertised it in one of our local papers and tried to make it a big thing. It sort of worked too.

The Brewfest was under a large tent and admission was an additional ten dollars (above the fair admission fee), which bought revelers ten three-ounce beers and an itty bitty souvenir glass. There wasn't much in the way of organization under the tent, just a bunch of tables around the outside and a few picnic tables in the middle. I wasn't a big fan of the ticket system they had for folks to get their beer, a bracelet with ten little squares that were to be ripped off by the pourers each time a beer was handed out. These little bracelets must have seemed like a good idea on paper, but in practice they were a nightmare that most stands had little patience for.

The beer at the fest, however, was top-notch. Green Flash was there with a couple taps and the rest of their lineup in bottles. Auburn Alehouse continued to impress the locals with Brian's new batch of IPA and a baleywine. Valley Brewing was even in attendance with a couple of bottled products, a sour stout and their grand cru. Obviously there were more brewers represented, but these are the few that come to mind. (Note: I'd be remiss not to mention FiftyFifty's beers - Todd Ashman's products are always a treat).

In all the event was good with a lot of room for improvement, and the improvements should begin long before the main event. Each year it seems the competition for the State Fair gets messier - the results take too long to get to the brewers and the political rift in the local beer judging scene is an embarrassment to the region. If this is to be a great event the judging and communication must improve, otherwise I'm just not sure why brewers would continue to send in their beers and pay the fees. Given that it is the State Fair I do hope the organizers figure this out sooner than later - I think this should be one of the best competitions in the country, it just isn't right now (not even the best in the region).


If you plan on making the fair in its last week, don't be too disappointed that you missed the event. This year, for the first time I remember, there are a number of better-beer options for those so inclined. Behind the California Dept of Forestry's forest fire area is the Craft Brew booth where you can buy glasses of Dogfish Head 90 Minute, Racer 5, Red Rocket, Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere, Anderson Valley and several other craft beers. The cost is a buck more than a glass (albeit a bigger glass) of Miller or Miller Lite served next door, but if you're at the Fair I assume you plan on some price gouging. There's also a nice English pub area where you can get Guinness, Boddingtons and other European imports - again, a buck more than Miller, but these seemed to have large glasses.

Other Attractions

I admit, I have been going to the fair for years primarily to see the livestock shows. Most of the judging for the livestock has wrapped up for the year, but that's always a good thing to see - especially for those who judge beer (I have a whole rant about this). In all it's a good event that my wife and I enjoy attending. Maybe next year you can plan a trip that coincides with the Brewfest.

Friday, August 22, 2008

L Wine Lounge Inaugural Brewmaster's Dinner

First, thanks to Dan Scott for pointing me to this event. Sunday (8/24) the L Wine Lounge Urban Kitchen will host its first-ever Brewmaster's Dinner, featuring Chuck Silva of Green Flash Brewing Company who will be up for the State Fair. If you're in Sacramento and have any interest, please find the details below.

Sunday, August 24th
6PM Arrival; 6:30 Seating

L Wine Lounge & Urban Kitchen
1801 L Street Suite 50
Sacramento, CA 95814


~ Amuse Bouche ~
'Fish Tacos'
Prawn & Pepper Salpicon Petitaco
Beer: West Coast IPA

~ First Course ~
Braised Pork Belly, Fried Evergreen Tomato,
Cheesy Potato & Pan Jus
Beer: Hop Head Red

~ Second ~
Trippel Battered Halibut, Crispy Pommes Anna,
Preserved Lemon Butter, Fennel Frisee Salad
Beer: Trippel

~ Intermezzo ~
Honeydew Sorbet, Prosciutto, Orange Zest
Beer: Le Freak

~ Third ~
Grilled Marguez Sausage, Toasted Couscous,
Leeks, Peach & Harissa Oil
Beer: Imperial IPA

~ Dessert ~
'Ice Cream Float'
Ginger Ale, Mango & Green Flash Stout Sabayon

Beer: Stout

Reservations call (916) 443-6970

Thursday, August 21, 2008

California State Fair Brewfest

Tomorrow (Friday) is the Brewfest at the California State Fair. This year's a bit different than years past in many ways, most notably that it's by the horse track and actually advertised a little, they're hoping for about 1,000 people. I just received the list of brewers who are slotted to be there tomorrow, so check it out.

Cost: $10 - all you can drink, on top of State Fair entry fee (also $10).

  • Anderson Valley Brewing
  • Auburn Alehouse
  • Bear Republic
  • Beermanns Beerworks
  • BJ's Restaurant & Brewery
  • Black Diamond Brewing
  • Blue Frog Grog & Grill
  • Brew It Up!
  • Drakes Brewing Co
  • Eel River Brewing Co
  • Fifty Fifty Brewing Co
  • Firestone Walker Brewery
  • Fox Barrel Cider Co
  • Green Flash Brewing Co
  • Hoppy Brewing Co
  • Jack Russell Brewing
  • Lost Coast Brewery
  • Marin Brewing Co
  • Mendocino Brewing Co
  • Moylans Brewing Co
  • River City Brewing Co
  • Sacramento Brewing Co/Oasis
  • Schooners Grille & Brewery
  • Sierra Nevada Brewing Co
  • Stone Brewing Co
  • Sudwerk P. Hubsch
  • Trumer Brauerei Berkeley
  • Valley Brewing Co.
Hope to see you there.

Drinking in a Down Economy

There's a rule made popular by Modern Drunkard that says "if you can't afford to tip, you can't afford to drink in a bar. Go to a liquor store." This is a rule I generally believe in and try to live by. But events over the past several weeks have me asking questions about this.

On my way back from New York I was in a bar wasting time. The server was an outspoken man, in his mid-twenties, and while I was there enjoying my beer and burger he started chatting. In what was a horrific moment he began to complain about customers over the past several months who weren't tipping the amount he was used to. I was mortified, this sort of conversation is so completely inappropriate I finished my one drink and food, left a not-so-generous tip and left, certain I'd just be another point of evidence that people today are cheap because of gas prices and the economy in general.

Then there's been the other bars since then, the empty ones. I think most people understand Rule 28 and don't want to be the dick that orders his or her drinks, at happy hour price, and leaves with little tip left. I was curious enough at this that I've spoken with some bar owners to get some feedback, opinions, and right about now I admit I'm a bit befuddled.

Is it cool to cheap on a tip? Hell no. But is it so bad that we stay at home to drink bottled beer bought at places with shitty service and marginal quality? I guess I'm thinking about the owners of the bars more than I am about the servers, and maybe that's where my argument goes south, but I just can't help but think it's better to drink and be "cheap" (or economical) than it is to stop patronizing your local watering hole - be it a bar, brewery or pub. Is it cool to just order drinks, cut the food (eat at home), and call it a night?

I know where you're sitting this must just seem like an absurd post, but I'm really trying to wrap my head around things. I don't claim to have the answer and don't want to be used as an excuse for being cheaper than you need to be. If you can spare the buck, leave the buck... but then it all goes to pot for me.

I'll be thinking about this topic for some time, it's just the way my brain works. If you have thoughts or different perspectives, I'd love to hear them. For now I am leaning to supporting the bar to the extent possible (reasonable), especially if it's a small place that provides good beer and good service - it's a shame every time one of these closes because people stopped coming in.

I have to close with the reality check. If you're counting pennies to make rent or pay bills, then hopefully the answer is clear - it's only beer.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Beer Podcasts

It seems like every month a new conversation is struck on the most popular beer forums where people are looking for the best beer podcasts. As a semi-podcaster that's been around for a few years, I feel like I can help a bit with the quest.

Your first stop (perhaps your only) would be to check out Here you'll find a collection of some of the best beer podcasts all under one feed. Who's there? To begin there is the pioneer in beer podcasting, the Good Beer Show, along with popular shows like Craft Beer Radio. Heck, there's even a great food/beer show called My Life as a Foodie. These podcasts and many more are delivered to your computer and you only need to subscribe to one feed. How cool is that?

Notable shows not on Beer Safari include Basic Brewing Radio (and Video) and The Brewing Network. Both of these shows are great, informative and entertaining - be sure to check them out as well.

Roseville (Calif.) DUI Crackdown

The city I live in is not the City of Angels, but it ain't a bad town. The streets are generally safe,drug use is about the same as any other city in America and crime isn't much of an issue - mainly idiots being idiots. That said the city of Roseville has seen an increase in the number of alcohol related accidents over the past few years, even as general traffic incidents have declined. I for one don't exactly buy into the numbers they tout, seems like any time there's a fender bender and the driver has had a drink in the past few hours it become 'alcohol related' - maybe I'm just seeing things funny though.

Regardless, Roseville has built up a pretty good case for needing to crack down on drunk driving... well, driving by those with a BAC of 0.08% or more anyway. Their grand idea? DUI Checkpoints, and lots of them. For some time now the local news outlets get press releases from the Roseville Police Dept. announcing a checkpoint coming up - so be careful. Most recently (Saturday) the RPD teamed up with law enforcement officials from FOUR other agencies (other local Police Dept. and County Sheriff's Office) to do one of these high profile stops. The results?

Cars Stopped: 2,500
DUI Arrests: 11

Forgive my ignorance for a few moments, but this seems absolutely ridiculous! I don't know exactly how many law enforcement officers were involved in this spectacle, but I suspect it was too many. Is this what we've come to expect from our law enforcement, a group of uniformed officers who set up camp and wait for the bad guys to come to them?

Oh, if you've not seen a DUI Checkpoint before, or been through one, they're pretty hard to miss and can often be seen many many blocks before you are confronted by a cop. Lights, more lights, with a bit of light added to make it safe. It's no wonder the arrest count was low.

Maybe the cops just don't know. As someone who goes to many bars around the country I've figured out that if there's heavy law enforcement in an area near the bar in question, the early-out folks are very quick to text a buddy in the bar pointing out just where a checkpoint is located. Within a few minutes, word gets to the barkeep and most patrons. It may sound bad for the dry folks, but it's just the way it works.

Don't get me wrong, I don't like drunken fools behind a wheel of a big metal moving object, but I also don't think the folks nabbed at checkpoints are the people I'm most worried about. No, instead I worry about the people who can't drive straight and have troubles remembering where that damned brake pedal is. Ironically, I've seen quite a few of these in my city with nary a cop to see it. These people may be sopped in alcohol, but they know it. They see cars stopping ahead, they get off the road... at least that road.

So, what to do? We can't encourage cops to come into bars and pull folks out who've been enjoying the juke box and beers all night - although they're trying to. We can't throw out our liberties to catch people that may or may not need to be caught (I do have issue with the 0.08 BAC limit, by the way) - what about the 1489 sober drivers this weekend? There simply isn't a cut and dry fix for the solution, but I do think we need to have a national conversation about this - along with the drinking age - and figure something out.

Quick story. I had a boss once from Norway. Apparently there the rules are rigid and the penalties swift. That said, there's also a touch of common sense. As it was told to me if you blow over the country's quite low BAC limit, but maybe just by a bit, you're allowed to sit for 30 minutes and blow again. If you're still over that limit, then you're in trouble - the thought being if you can be under 30 minutes later you weren't all that drunk to begin with. Now what if we kept the nation's .08 limit and instituted such a ruling? After all, my breathalyzer (yes, I own and use one) tells me in the instructions that I need to stop drinking 20 minutes before using to get an accurate test.

I don't want to seem to be disrespecting police, I honestly admire the work they do and am happy someone is there in those rare instances I need them. If anything I would like to see them allowed to police my city, not stand guard on a busy corner to administer a breath test for motorists that just want to get home.