Beer 511

Exploring Craft Beer and Homebrew in Peru (Country Code 51) and the USA (Country Code 1)

SF Beer Week Opening Gala

Last Friday I got to attend the SF Beer Week Opening Gala again, courtesy of the SF Bay Area Brewers Guild. Once again, it was a blast; a true showcase of the greater Bay Area’s best brews and breweries, and a testament to why the Bay Area is a leader in the US craft beer scene.

Of course, every participating brewery strives to bring their biggest and best, often SF Beer Week -specific releases. One such is the excellent Tres Diablos triple IPA, from Danville Brewing Company, brewed by my friend Matt Sager.

Another awesome big beer was Cataclysm triple IPA by the good folk at Concord’s Epidemic Ales. The bitterness is balanced by a pleasant sweetness, and a surprising note of strawberry!

Another brewery I was pleased to run into was Ocean View Brew Works from Albany. I met them last year, when they were about to celebrate their first anniversary. Well, on Sunday they celebrated number two with a big party at the brewery. I’m happy to hear that things are going well for them.

As last year, I made an effort to get to know breweries I had not heard of before, and I was not disappointed. I had some lovely beers and met some awesome, passionate, dedicated brewers.

I’m sure that many have heard of East Brother Brewing, Barrel Brothers Brewing, and even of Asian Brothers Brewing. Well, now there is the other brother: Other Brewer Beer Co.! Other Brother is a 15-bbl brewery located in Seaside. They’ve been open just 3 months. They brought All That the Grain Promises (and More…), a tasty 6.8% abv red ale. As they told me, “Hoppy is in our blood!”

Another pleasant encounter was the 1-year old Kelly Brewing Co. from Morgan Hill. They are still relatively small, at 7bbl kettles, but they are putting out some nice beers. I quite liked their Kelly Light, an almost lager-like golden ale that would come really nicely on a warm day.

Since I left Santa Cruz in the mid-1990s, the then incipient craft beer scene has exploded, particularly in recent years. One of the newest additions, I discovered, is to be Woodhouse Blending & Brewing , on River St in downtown. Woodhouse is 10bbl brewery run by Mike Rodriguez, formerly of Lost Abbey Brewing in San Diego. Mike said their tap house is scheduled to open in March and that he is planning on starting a barrel program in the near future.

Not too far away, in Scotts Valley, is Steel Bonnet Brewing Co. They produce, they said, “about half and half” English and American styles. They brought along the tasty, and cleverly-named, Kiss Me, Hardy, a 7.7% English IPA made with malts from Alameda’s Admiral Maltings and, of course, British hops. They told me that though they are currently a 7bbl-capacity brewery, they will soon be expanding to 30bbl.

And, a special treat was hanging out and talking with the guys from Cloverdale’s upcoming Wolf House Brewing. They’ve been brewing quite a a bit, but are in the midst of putting in the hard work of getting their pub into shape for an opening in the next couple of months. Hopefully by the end of March, or April.

When the pub opens, Dwayne Moran, will run the kitchen. Kevin Lovett, who has been in the industry for years, including a stint at the Mendocino Brewing Company, is running the brewhouse and turning out some tasty beer, as evidenced by their Gala offerings.

And, of course, this year there was the added treat of seeing the original Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. brewhouse cobbled together by founders Ken Grosman and Paul Camusi back in 1980. That brewhouse was sold to Mad River Brewing in 1989. In 2018 Grosman bought it back from Mad River, moved it back to Chico, and had it reassembled on a truck bed. Having read Grosman’s book on the history of Sierra Nevada, Beyond the Pale (Wiley, 2013), seeing it was particularly cool.

SF Beer Week Preview

Last week I had the pleasure of attending an SF Beer Week media preview event in Berkeley. Present were Sierra Nevada, Fogbelt , Henhouse, East Brother, Third Street Aleworks, Almanac, Drake’s, Seismic, Original Pattern, The Rare Barrel, Cleophus Quealy, Trumer, Ghost Town.

There’s some exciting stuff brewing for Beer Week -figuratively and literally!

Santa Rosa’s Henhouse Brewing will, of course, be debuting this year’s edition of Big Chicken DIPA. In addition, one of their newest and more interesting additions is Juiced!, a gose with passion fruit. What makes Juiced! unique, though, is that it is made with that genetically-modified ale yeast that produces lactic acid, which you might have heard about. It was quite good, albeit a bit less salty and more sour than your typical gose.

Ghost Town Brewing debuted Geister Holz, the first beer to be fermented in their brand-new set of foeders. At the SF Beer Week Opening Gala, also look for their pouring of two barrel-aged versions of their Old Trepanner barley wine.

Seismic Brewing is planning to release a barrel-aged version of their Grounds for Termination coffee oatmeal stout. Look for that one at the Gala as well.

Almanac brought samples of two beers that they plan to release during Beer Week: Barrel-Aged Hypernova Volume II, and Bourbon Barrel Pêche. The Pêche is particularly nice. Look for those to be released at the brewery on Feb. 8th (though maybe also at the Gala?)

In addition, there will be the five one time-only collaborative beers brewed with malts from the Bay Area’s own Admiral Maltings, by each of the Bay Area’s beer regions. Those will be officially released at the Gala, but there was some of the East Bay’s offering, Rice Stratasphere IPA to be sampled at the preview.

Created by Original Pattern, Ghost Town and Shadow Puppet, and brewed at Drake’s, Rice Stratasphere was brewed with Admiral pilsner malt, rice, and Strata, Citra and Denali hops. It was rather tasty; light, clean, crisp, and with a dry mouthfeel thanks to the rice.

A special treat at the Opening Gala this year, I was informed by the Sierra Nevada rep, will be the appearance of the original brewhouse put together by Ken Grosman and Paul Camusi back in 1980. That brewhouse was sold to Mad River Brewing in 1989. In 2018 it was bought back from Mad River, moved back to Chico, and reassembled on a truck bed. Now it will make the trip to San Franciso to be displayed at the Gala on Feb. 7th.

List of breweries participating in this year’s SF Beer Week Gala

The Bay Area Brewers Guild has released the list of breweries who will be pouring their beers at the SF Beer Week Opening Gala. This year the list consists of 125 of the region’s best and brightest:

COAST
Alvarado Street Brewery
Brewery Twenty Five
Discretion Brewing
Fruition Brewing Co.
Half Moon Bay Brewing Co.
Hop Dogma Brewing Co.
Humble Sea Brewing Co.
New Bohemia Brewing Co.
Other Brother Beer Co.
Peter B’s Brewpub
Promised Land Brewing Co.
Sacrilege Brewery + Kitchen
Soquel Fermentation Project
Steel Bonnet Brewing Co.
Uncommon Brewers
Woodhouse Blending & Brewing

EAST BAY
21st Amendment Brewery
Admiral Maltings
Alameda Island Brewing Co.
Ale Industries
Almanac Beer Co.
Altamont Beer Works
Armistice Brewing Co.
Berryessa Brewing Co.
Bruehol Brewing
Calicraft Brewing Co.
Canyon Lakes Golf Course & Brewery
Cleophus Quealy Beer Co.
Danville Brewing Co.
Del Cielo Brewing Co.
Drake’s Brewing Co.
East Brother Beer Co.
Eight Bridges Brewing
E.J. Phair Brewing Co.
Elevation 66 Brewing Co.
Epidemic Ales
Federation Brewing
Five Suns Brewing
Ghost Town Brewing
Gilman Brewing Co.
Heretic Brewing Co.
Lucky Devil Brewing
Novel Brewing Co.
Oakland United Beerworks
Ocean View Brew Works
Original Pattern Brewing Co.
Pennyweight Craft Brewing
Perching Bird Brewing Co.
The Rare Barrel
Shadow Puppet Brewing Co.
Temescal Brewing
Triple Rock Brewing Co.
Trumer Brewery

NORTH BAY
3 Disciples Brewing
Adobe Creek Brewing Co.
Barrel Brothers Brewing
Bear Republic Brewing Co.
Cooperage Brewing Co.
Dempsey’s Restaurant & Brewery
Fogbelt Brewing Co.
HenHouse Brewing Co.
Indian Valley Brewing
Iron Springs Pub & Brewery
Mad Fritz Beer
Marin Brewing Co.
Moylan’s Brewing Co.
No Quarter Brewing Co.
Old Caz Beer
Parliament Brewing Co.
Plow Brewing Co.
Pond Farm Brewing Co.
Russian River Brewing Co.
Seismic Brewing Co.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Sonoma Springs Brewing Co.
Steele & Hops Public House
Tannery Bend Beerworks
Third Street Aleworks
Wolfhouse Brewing
The Woodfour Brewing Co.

SAN FRANCISCO
Armstrong Brewing Co.
Barebottle Brewing Co.
Barrel Head Brewhouse
Bartlett Brewing Co.
Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant
Black Hammer Brewing
Cellarmaker Brewing Co.
Ferment.Drink.Repeat
Fort Point Beer Co.
Harmonic Brewing
Headlands Brewing Co.
Hop Oast Pub & Brewery
Laughing Monk Brewing Co.
Local Brewing Co.
Pacifica Brewing Co.
Pedro Point Brewing
Pine Street Brewery
San Francisco Brewing Co.
Seven Stills Brewery & Distillery
Social Kitchen & Brewery
Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
Standard Deviant Brewing
Sunset Reservoir Brewing Co.
ThirstyBear Organic Brewery
Triple Voodoo Brewery
Woods Beer Co.

SILICON VALLEY
Alpha Acid Brewing Co.
Blue Oak Brewing Co.
Campbell Brewing Co.
Clandestine Brewing
Devil’s Canyon Brewing Co.
DTSJ Brewing
Freewheel Brewing Co.
Ghostwood Beer Co.
Golden State Brewery
Hapa’s Brewing Co.
Hermitage Brewing Co.
JP DasBrew
Kelly Brewing Co.
Lazy Duck Brewing
Loma Brewing Co.
Strike Brewing Co.
Taplands

Memories of NYC: Heartland Brewery

This morning one of those “Your Memories” things popped up on my Facebook feed. It was from five years ago, when I joined my wife in New York City for a few days while she was there on a more extended stay.

The specific “memory” was of our visit to the Heartland Brewery and Rotisserie at the Empire State Building.

We had gone out walking in midtown Manhattan and went up to the top floor of the Empire State Building, only to turn around, put off by the high price of admission to the observation deck. Back at ground level, was passed by Heartland, noticed it was a brewery, and decided to go in out of the cold and to make the most of the evening.

The place was one of those where they’ve gone a long way to make the venue feel old-timey when it obviously isn’t, but it was nice enough. Friendly and warm. Packed with tables and booths, it was obvious that the beer was produced somewhere else, but that’s no matter.

We didn’t order any food, so I can’t comment on that, but I recall the beers all being quite solid. They were all classic styles -pale ales, a stout, a heffeweizen, amber, and so on. I remember particularly liking the stout and the heffeweizen. Not bad for my first taste of NYC local beer!

From what I see online, that location is now closed, but Heartland –an employee-owned company– still maintains two locations near Times Square.

I do hope in plying that touristy area, they’ve kept up the quality of their brewing. However, since they’ve won a few medals at the New York State Craft Beer Competition in recent years, there’s no reason to think they haven’t still got it.

Get Ready for SF Beer Week

The following is a press release from the organizers of San Francisco Beer Week, the biggest event series on the northern California beer calendar:

SF Beer Week Celebrates the Creativity of Craft Beer, Feb. 7-16

SAN FRANCISCO – SF Beer Week is back. The SF Beer Week Opening Gala on Friday, February 7, will launch ten days of community, collaboration and independence. This annual craft beer extravaganza at the historic Pier 35 on San Francisco’s waterfront, shines a light on the region’s exceptional brewing creativity.  

Over 120 independent Northern California breweries will tap more than 300 select beers for tasting. Attendees may also sample five limited-release beers designed and brewed collaboratively by members of the five chapters of the Bay Area Brewers Guild. 

Representing the North Bay, East Bay, South Bay, Monterey Coastal region and San Francisco proper, these collab beers will pour side by side in a friendly showdown. (Tickets for the SFBW Opening Gala are on sale now at sfbeerweek.eventbrite.com).

The rest of SF Beer Week follows through Feb. 16 at venues stretching north into the Napa-Sonoma beer country, south beyond Monterey Bay and east into Livermore Valley. 

All ten days of festivities are aggregated at sfbeerweek.org, where craft fans select from events that express the latest and most compelling examples of beer creativity.  

  • Find a brewery pouring experimental beers you may never taste again – or that may be a harbinger of the next big trend in the craft beer world. A flight of extreme special effects beers designed to amaze taste buds and eyeballs alike will be on tap at the Barebottle Brew Co. Experimental Beer Night. Mon., Feb. 10, SF. 
  • Look for smaller festivals among the many happenings. Almanac Beer Co. is hosting an artisan Valentines night market at their Alameda brewery. The Almanac & Friends Night Market brings locally crafted beers, foods and gifts together with a cosy town square vibe. Fri., Feb 14, Alameda.
  • Dine marvelously with beer, the most food-friendly family of beverages. This time of year, chefs get the green light to design dishes to elevate classic beer styles and new creations alike. Look for multi-course dinners as well as specific culinary pairings such as the Uptown Funk Beer and Cheese Pairing at Drake’s Dealership. Tues., Feb. 11, Oakland.  
  • Along with the opportunities to take beer seriously, you’ll find plenty of events that are just plain entertaining. Share a beer and laugh, sing, stretch your brain or perhaps exercise your eye-hand coordination at Pinball and Pints. Support the Pacific Pinball Museum as you sip from 20 select beers and play unlimited pinball on over 100 vintage machines. Sun., Feb. 9, Alameda. 
  • Raise a toast for a cause! You’ll find plenty of fundraisers listed. The generosity of the Bay Area brewing community relies on enjoyment of beers they donate, so bring some friends to fundraiser events for a win-win night out. One cherished tradition is SF Beer Week edition of the California Academy of Sciences NightLife, an evening out for adults supporting the science museum, aquarium and planetarium in Golden Gate Park. Sip beers, explore fermentation science and beyond. Thurs., Feb 13, SF. 

Build a custom itinerary at SF Beer Week.org 

SF Beer Week is produced by the Bay Area Brewers Guild, a non-profit trade association whose mission is to promote local, independent craft beer and breweries throughout the greater Bay Area. Stay on top of the region’s craft beer scene year-round at DrinkBayBeer.com.

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