Saturday, July 12, 2008

Saturday Sips at Auburn Alehouse

Today Tracy and I drove up to the Sierra Nevada foothills to buy fresh fruits and vegetables for the week, there is simply nothing better than fresh produce bought directly at the farms. Once loaded with groceries we stopped in at Auburn Alehouse for a bite and a beer (the IPA there is great). We chose to sit at the bar so we could catch the repeat of today's Tour de France and while there noticed a handmade sign by their top-shelf liquors: "Glenrothes Flight - $25". We quickly inquired about the curious sign and were informed that for the price we could try three Glenrothes Scotch whiskys (Reserve, 1991 and 1987). Being that the '87 typically goes for 32 bucks a glass at the brewery we didn't take long to determine a mini-tasting would be in order.

They were line up in front of us and we made quick order in assessing the aroma, carefully nosing the glasses and jotting notes before moving on to the actual tasting portion. What follows is our findings.

Glenrothes Reserve
This Scotch is a bit unrefined, rough around the edges with its intense alcohol heat burning the nose. Beneath this we found orange, honey and ginger spice, quite disjointed. The flavor was good with lots of orange and spice throughout. There was very little wood in the flavor, which surprised us, and was also without any smoke character.

Glenrothes 1991
There's no two ways around it, this was our favorite of the three offerings. To begin, the whisky had an incredibly well-rounded aroma (not at all harsh) with subdued notes of fresh cracked pepper and orange zest. This was very smooth too, the up-front honey sweetness reminiscent of a dry mead and only a touch of wood detected. If there were a bottle of this available, I would not hesitate to pick it up and share it with friends.

Glenrothe 1987
Choosing the '91 over this was difficult, there just wasn't anything wrong with this whisky. The aroma was a touch more subtle, but had more peppery spice to it. The taste, however, was just a bit out of balance in comparison, the spice coming through in a big way, leaving the orange peel notes wanting just a bit. Overall there did not seem to be enough difference to warrant the added cost for this vintage ($32 vs. $18 a glass). Perhaps that should be reworded - the 1991 was a better value for our taste.

I've since looked up the prices online for a bottle of '91 and '87 and found that the '91 goes for about 70 bucks, whereas the '87 sells goes for more than $80 (750 ml). Each bottle is hand labeled with the distillation date as well as the bottling date, with an approval signature too.

Additionally, each Scotch is made with Speyside malt - something I knew little about before an online search explained it a bit. This is from
Speysides are essentially sweet whiskies. They have little peaty character (although some have a whiff of smoke) and their salient characteristic is estery - typically, this aroma is compared to pear-drops or solvent (nail varnish remover, particularly). They can be highly perfumed: scents of carnations, roses, violets, apples, bananas, cream soda and lemonade have all been discovered in Speyside malts.

They take maturation in sherry-wood well and can be rich and full bodied, medium and light-bodied.

That explains the lack of smoke (peat) in the whiskys. If you're in the area it certainly won't hurt to stop in and see if this flight is still available. If not, you might as well pull up a stool and enjoy the wonderful beers made by Brian Ford, starting with his pilsner in this summer heat.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Reminder: Int'l Brewers Day Next Friday

I'm certain most of you have read about this already, perhaps on Jay Brooks' blog or in The Session a few months back - consider this a reminder. Next Friday, July 18, is the first annual International Brewers Day, a good time for beer enthusiasts around the world to celebrate those who make the beers we love. Of course, the easiest way to do this would be to honor your local brewer with a visit, kind words over a cold pint, but there's a lot more options out there.

Email may be the quickest method, as well as the most impersonal. Consider finding your favorite brewery's website and click the contact link. Typically there'll be some way to email the brewery (info@, beer@, brewmaster@). Send a quick email saying thanks, or whatever it is you want to say. Jay actually has an idea for hugging as many brewers as you can. While at first blush this sounds cheesy, why the heck not? Peter, Scott, Brian - you don't mind a man hug, do you?

There's so many ways to convey your appreciation - find the method that works best for you. I'm trying to figure out the best way to do this, myself. I'll be certain to let you know what I figure out.

I love this idea and hope it takes hold. If the word gets out this year - if we all do our part - I think Jay is right to believe this could grow into something grand (the official site mentions the idea of "meet the brewer" days around the world - that sounds superb!). If you do participate, I'm certain Jay would love to hear what you did, where and who with - I'm not giving out his email address or anything, but I'm sure he'll have a blog entry on this - post there. Oh, pictures - bring your camera. Personally, I'd love to see and hear about the most outrageous display of appreciation from a beer enthusiast to a brewer.


In fact, I'll mail out two copies of the American Brew DVD as prizes to get you thinking. The first DVD is for the most creative expression of appreciation I hear about. The second DVD is for the person with the most brewer hugs. I know. This isn't fair for all of you who don't live near a number of breweries. These are not PBN prizes, you won't need to email or post here to be considered. However, you will have to make a posting somewhere - I suggest

Sorry, but the DVDs will only be mailed in the US and Canada.

So with that, I urge you to put your thinking caps on and do something/anything to show your appreciation for a brewer near (or far from) you.

Russian River's Bottles

The first bottles of Blind Pig and Pliny the Elder were delivered today to accounts in the Bay Area. This shipment includes bottles of Pliny that were bottled this morning and Pig that was bottled yesterday, according to Vinnie. What's that mean? If you're one of the lucky SOB's that lives near one of these bottle shops, you'll be able to buy the freshest Pliny and Pig offerings you can hope for.

According to Shaun O'Sullivan's tweet, he found his sample at Ledgers in Berkeley.

Vinnie says this was a small shipment and that next week would see a larger one. Sorry for those around the country, I didn't ask when you can expect to see these bottles in your neck of the woods. Heck, I didn't even ask when I'd see it here in Sacramento.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

California State Fair Craft Beer Results

Below are the results for the 2008 California State Fair Commercial Craft Brew competition. The fair runs August 15 through September 1 and will include a winner's reception featuring a number of award-winning beers. The awards reception/beerfest is tentatively scheduled for August 22. Admission to the beer reception is pretty cheap, but you do need to pay for parking and fair admission to attend.

Best of Show
Drake's Blond, Drakes Brewing Co.

Best of Show Honorable Mention (in order)
None the Weisser, Pizza Port
Stone 11th Anniversary Ale, Stone Brewing Co.
Ruby Black, Pizza Port

Amber Hybrid Beer
1st El Oso, Bear Republic Brewing Co.
2nd Lug Nut Lager, Skyscraper Brewing Co.
3rd Real McCoy Amber, Mammoth Brewing

Amber/Dark Lagers
1st Bad Santa Dark Lager, The Brewhouse
2nd RC Vienna, River City Brewing Co.
3rd Smokey's Amber, Lager Bayhawk

American Amber Ale
1st Manifesto Pale Ale, Fifty Fifty Brewing Co.
2nd Stony Face Red Ale, Hoppy Brewing Co.
3rd 49er Red Ale, Gold Hill Brewing Co.
HM Calico Amber, Ballast Point

American Barleywine
1st Olde Scoutter, Bear Republic Brewing Co.
2nd Old Blarney Barleywine, Moylan's Brewing Co.
3rd Old Prospector Barleywine, Auburn Alehouse
HM Bigfoot, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
HM Double Bastard Ale, Stone Brewing Co.

American Brown Ale
2nd Albion Amber, Marin Brewing Co.
3rd RC Brown Ale, River City Brewing Co.

American IPA
1st IPA 395, Schooners
2nd Racer 5, Bear Republic Brewing Co.
3rd Moylan's IPA, Moylan's Brewing Co.
3rd Union Jack IPA, Firestone Walker
HM Apex, Bear Republic Brewing Co.

American Pale Ale
1st Pale Ale, Schooners
2nd Drake's 1500, Drakes Brewing Co.
3rd Mt Tam Pale Ale, Marin Brewing Co.

American Wheat
1st Crystal Wheat, Pyramid
2nd Wheat Beer, Sierra Nevada
3rd Hefe Weizen, Beermann's

Belgian Strong
1st Saucerful of Secrets, Firestone Walker
2nd Belgian Tripel, Faultline Brewing Co.
3rd-T Bishop's Tripple Trippel, Main Street Brewery
3rd-T Brussels Blonde, Sacramento Brewing

Belgian/French Ale
1st 2 Live Cru, Newport Beach Brewing Co.
2nd Quad, Marin Brewing Co.
3rd Tiburon Blonde, Marin Brewing Co.

Blonde Ale
1st Mission Street Blonde, Firestone Walker
2nd Honey Brew, Beermann's
3rd Big, But Blond, Elk Grove Brewing Co.
HM Curve Ball, Pyramid

Brown Porter
1st Pete's Brown, Bear Republic Brewing Co.
2nd London Porter, Jack Russell
3rd Old Grind Porter, Etna Brewing Co.

Cider & Perry
1st Black Currant Cider, Fox Barrel
2nd Apple Cider, Fox Barrel
3rd Pear Cider, Fox Barrel

Cream Ale
1st Cream Ale, TAPS
2nd American Ale, Schooners
3rd Kolsch, Fifty Fifty Brewing Co.

Dry/Foreign/American Stout
1st San Quentin's Breakout Stout, Marin Brewing Co.
2nd Velvet Merkin, Firestone Walker
3rd Gragoon's Dry Irish Stout, Moylan's Brewing Co.

English Barleywine
1st Stone Old Guardian Barleywine, Stone

English Bitter
1st Double Barrel Ale, Firestone Walker
2nd Hitman Gold, Valley Brewing Co.
3rd English Amber Ale, Black Diamond
HM Dude of York, Dale Bros

English Brown Ale
1st Downtown Brown, Lost Coast Brewing Co.
2nd English Red Ale, Schooners
3rd Hemp Ale, Firestone Walker

English India Pale Ale
1st Cap'n Boomer's IPA, Jack Russell Brewing Co.
2nd Epic IPA, Mammoth Brewing Co.
3rd Organic India Pale Ale, Santa Cruz Brewing Co.

English Pale Ale
1st ESB, Brew It Up
2nd Stone Pale Ale, Stone Brewing Co.
3rd White Water Pale Ale, Jack Russell

Fruit Beer
1st Apricot Ale, Pyramid Brewing
2nd Raspberry Brown, Lost Coast Brewing Co.
3rd Pommegranate Wheat Ale, Moylan's Brewing Co.

German Wheat Beer
1st/1st HM BOS None the Weisser, Pizza Port
2nd Hefeweizen, Sacramento Brewing
3rd Sudwerk Weizen, Sudwerks

1st Maibock, Brew It Up
2nd RC Maibock, River City
3rd Pale Bock, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Imperial India Pale Ale
1st West Coast IPA, Green Flash Brewing Co.
2nd White Knuckle, Marin Brewing Co.
3rd Stone Ruination, Stone Brewing Co.

Irish Red Ale
1st Celtic Amber Ale, Sacramento Brewing
2nd Danny's Irish Red, Moylan's Brewing Co.
3rd Jeremiah Red, BJ's - Oxnard

1st/BOS Drake's Blond, Drakes Brewing Co.
2nd Kolsch, Faultline Brewing Co.
3rd BJ's Blonde, BJ's - Oxnard

Light Lager
1st Condor Pilsner, The Brewhouse
2nd Sudwerk Lager, Sudwerks
3rd Lincoln Lager, Beermann's
HM Longshoreman Lager, San Pedro Brewing Co.

Old Ale
1st Eye of the Hawk, Mendocino Brewing Co.
2nd Old Headbanger Ale, Valley Brewing Co.

1st Wingman American Lager, Skyscraper Brewing Co.
2nd Sudwerk Pilsner, Sudwerks
3rd-T Pilsner, Faultline Brewing Co.
3rd-T Summerfest, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
HM High Country Pilsner, Mammoth Brewing

Robust/Baltic Porter
1st/3rd HM BOS Ruby Black, Pizza Port
2nd-T London Porter, Faultline Brewing Co.
2nd-T Toddy Coffee Porter, Blue Frog
3rd Double Nut Brown Ale, Mammoth Brewing

Russian Imperial Stout
1st Green Flash Double Stout, Green Flash Brewing Co.
2nd Drake's RIS, Drakes Brewing Co.
3rd Russian Imperial Stout, Sacramento Brewing

Scottish Export/Strong Ale
1st 90 Shilling Scotch, TAPS
2nd Scotch Ale, Brew It Up
3rd Sacsquatch Ale, Sacramento Brewing

Smoke/Wood Aged Beer
1st Decadence 12 Cuvee Speciale, Valley Brewing Co.
2nd Bourbon Barrrel Stout, Beermann's
3rd Peligroso 2008, Blue Frog

Sour Ale
1st Bob's Old Woody, Main Street Brewery
2nd Krieken Cluster Funk, Schooners
3rd Sour Blonde, BJ's - Roseville

Specialty Beer
1st/2nd HM BOS Stone 11th Anniversary Ale, Stone Brewing Co.
2nd Le Freak, Green Flash Brewing Co.
3rd-T Donner Party Porter, Fifty Fifty Brewing Co.
3rd-T Wild Cat Sour Coffee Stout, Valley Brewing Co.
HM Vendication, Schooners

Spice/Herb/Vegetable Beer
1st Organic Winter Warmer, Bison Brewing
2nd Aye! Aye! Aye! Chili Beer, Sacramento Brewing
3rd Grand Cru 8, BJ's - Oxnard

Sweet/Oatmeal Stout
1st Oatmeal Stout, Sacramento Brewing
2nd Loamy Trowel Cream Stout, Hoppy Brewing Co.
3rd Oatmeal Stout, Brew It Up

1st Lobotomator Dopplebock, The Brewhouse
2nd Dopplebock, Mammoth Brewing
3rd Bock Lager, Elk Grove Brewing Co.
3rd Imperial Dopplebock, Eel River Brewing Co.

1st Brother Levenion Saison, Ballast Point Brewing Co.
2nd Summer Seasonal White, Mendocino Brewing Co.
3rd Wine Country Wheat, Bear Republic Brewing Co.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy Independence Day America

Pacific Brew News wishes Americans everywhere a safe and fun Independence Day. For the rest of the world, we'd like to wish you a happy and safe fourth of July.

If you're in Sacramento, make it to Sacramento Brewing for some Independence Ale, Peter's double IPA that is certain to satisfy. Out of the area? Enjoy some good American craft beer.