On Saturday the Peruvian 5th National Craft Brewers Congress was held. Naturally, due to the pandemic, this year’s edition of the congress was move online and streamed over FaceBook. As usual, the emphasis was on connecting Peruvian brewers with other Latin American brewers.
This year’s guest speakers were:
José Bini, of Buenos Aires’ Bierhaus Brewing Co., who spoke on “Infinite Reutilization of Yeast in an IPA”.
Dora Durán, co-founder of MUt Cerveza Artesanal in Quito. Duran is also the Director of the Independent Beer Association of Ecuador (Asocerv), and a co-founder of Latin American Women Brewers’ Network. She spoke on “Tips for Making Good Lagers: Processes and Innovation”.
Jaime Zuluaga, co-founder and brewer of the Costa Rica Beer Factory and head of the CRBF Beer School, a project started two years ago and which now has nine instructors and some 400 graduates. Zuluaga spoke on “Pastry Beers, Fruit, and More”.
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.
On Monday, Oct 7th, Fort Point Beer Company will open the doors to its brand new beer hall at 742 Valencia St., in San Francisco’s Mission District.
Fort Point Beer Co. was founded five years ago by Tyler and Justin Catalana, who had previously operated the Mill Valley Beer Works. Today it is San Francisco’s largest independent brewer.
However, despite its beers being found in bars and retailers throughout the city and beyond, and having a toehold in the Ferry Building market hall, Fort Point remained a production brewery and not open to the public. The company was thus wanting of a space in which to show off its beers the way it wanted, while having the opportunity to interact directly with the public. Enter: Fort Point Valencia.
As founder Justin Catalana explained at a media preview soft opening event on Friday evening, opening a place such as Fort Point Valencia had been kind of a dream for them, and that they’ve striven to make it a space which invites customers to feel free to move about the hall, meeting people and enjoying its different areas.
A lot of care and thought went into designing Fort Point Valencia. It certainly does not have the semi-industrial look that is somewhat typical of brewery taprooms these days. While keeping the open ceiling and exposed beam timbers, they’ve eschewed the all-too-common black paint in favor of a pleasant tan or off-white base with vibrant accent walls.
Near the entry is a sort of front room, painted blue, which houses a low, sit-down bar with its own line of beer taps. The main space is populated with round tables of varying sizes with bar-height chairs. There follows a cozier space at the back with tables for two and booths for groups, with red accents and dimmer, more intimate lighting. The anchor for it all is the 40-ft standing bar.
The bar has recesses which accommodate the taps and leaves the bar top uncluttered, freeing customers and servers to interact without having to duck around a forest of towers and tap handles.
According to head of brewing, Mike Schnebeck, all of Fort Point’s regular lineup of beers will be available full-time, along with seasonal offerings and a few guest beers from other craft breweries. Beers from the Black Sands brewpub, which Fort Point purchased last year, will also be available, as well as experimental brews and one-offs which will be served exclusively at Valencia. (A selection of wines and cider is also available.)
As for food, of course one cannot aim to be a proper beer hall without some food on offer. In this regard, the menu at Fort Point Valencia does not disappoint. It is certainly a cut above typical pub grub fare.
Chef Eric Ehler -who was pulled in from Black Sands- explained that he drew on his Korean heritage and on having grown up in Illinois (I’m pretty sure he said Illinois; maybe it was Indiana?) to create the range of flavors and dishes -from the cheeseburger to the dungeness crab rangoon, to the #00 on Rye open-faced egg salad and corned beef tongue sandwich. One of my favorites was the”pork chop bun” (think schnitzel sandwich) which, by the way, pairs really well with Westphalia red ale.
There are also plenty of genuinely tasty vegetarian options, from a crudités plate, to a luxed-up artichoke, to a lovely “hand salad” of endive, quinoa, pickled cauliflower, and black garlic.
As of now, the menu doesn’t have anything very sweet on it, but if you’re in the mood for a dessert, I’d recommend ordering the “party bread”, which is a really tasty sweet-and-savory fry bread (it was a crowd favorite at the event on Friday).
Fort Point Valencia 742 Valencia St San Francisco, CA
From the 19th through the 21st of June, Lima was host to the 4th installment of the Copa Peruana de Cervezas (Peruvian Beer Cup).
The competition is organized by the Unión de Cerveceros Artesanales del Perú and is open to commercial brewer and homebrewers, but is restricted to beers brewed within Peru’s borders.
This year the judging pool was made up of 21 BJCP-certified judges from Peru, Brazil, and Argentina, who together evaluated 200 entries.
I had been invited to observe but I was unable to attend due to conflicting travel plans. Thus, I have no idea of how the flights were organized, but here are the winners, organized according to the BJCP styles, as they were announced (thanks to UCAP and tomandoaltura.com for the info!)
2A. International Pale Lager Bronze medal to Barranco Beer Company (Lima) for their Fifti Lager
3A. Czech Premium Pale Lager Gold medal to Cerveceria Barbarian (Lima) for their Magic Quinua Pils
3C. Czech Amber Lager Bronze medal to Barranco Beer Company (Lima) for Don Mau
6A. Märzen Bronze medal to Curaka (Lima)
12A. British Golden Ale Silver medal to Oveja Negra (Lima) for their Golden Spirit
14C. Scottish Export Gold medal to Cumbres (Lima) for Roja Scottish Ale
15A. Irish Red Ale Bronze medal to Besser Bier (Lima) for La Primera
16A. Sweet Stout Bronze medal to Tempo (Lima) for their Magic Stout
17A. British Strong Ale Silver medal to Cerveceria Antes de Cristo (Lima) for ¿Cómo Quedas?
20C. Imperial Stout Gold medal to Cerveceria Barbarian (Lima) for Apagón Imperial Stout
21A. American IPA Silver medal for 2 Brothers for Capitán 2
22B. American Strong Ale Bronze medal to Melkim (Arequipa) for their Contigo Perú Silver Medal to Sierra Andina (Áncash) for Pachacútec Imperial Ale
24A. Witbier Bronze medal to Beer Stache (Lima) for Blanche
25B. Saison Bronze medal to Cervecería del Valle (Cusco) for their Saison de Pachar
26C. Belgian Tripel Silver medal to Lemaire (Lima) for Premium Triple
28C. Mixed Fermentation Sour Beer Bronze medal to Psycho Brewery (Lima) for EsquizSourFrenia American Wild Ale
29A. Fruit Beer Gold medal to Melkim (Arequipa) for Caperucita Gold medal to Lemaire and Cumbres (Lima) for their collab beer, Inka Champ
31B. Alternative Sugar Beer Gold medal to 7 Vidas (Tacna) for their Oxapampa Honey Ale
1D. American Wheat Beer Bronze medal to Frank Ponce Vela
20B. American Stout Bronze medal Ángel Herrera Armas
21B. American IPA Bronze medal to Juan Carlos Ydrogo
BEST OF SHOW
Inka Champ, a collaboration brew between Lemaire and Cumbres, was voted Best of Show Beer. Inka Champ is a fruited beer made with agaymanto (kapulí), raspberries and blueberries. It is also Peru’s first commercially-released Berliner weisse.
Cerveceria Barbarian was named BOS Brewery, having earned two gold medals.