Beer 511

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

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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.

Exciting news from Russian River

Well, the news that has gotten the local beer internet’s attention is the announcement that Russian River Brewing Co. will start bottling its famous Pliny the Younger triple IPA.

Pliny the Younger, as you may know, is a triple IPA, actually brewed with almost triple the amount of hops of a regular IPA, with a starting gravity of 1.088 and a finishing alcohol content of 10.25%. It was first brewed by Russian River in 2005 and has been brewed seasonally since then and released only on tap at Russian River’s pub and at select locations in California during a two-week period each February. Pliny the Younger is one of the most eagerly awaited beers, with people arriving from every state and even from abroad to sample it, often waiting in line for hours.

Last year, with the opening of its new production brewery in Windsor, Russian River was able to more than triple the production of Pliny the Younger, thus reducing wait times and being able to supply more off-site accounts. Clearly taking advantage of that increased production capacity, and seeking to “find ways to add to … guests’ experience”, Russian River will, for the first time, bottle Pliny the Younger.

According to the announcement made by Natalie Cilurzo on Dec. 23rd (though her blog post is dated Dec. 24th), in 2020 Russian River will offer 510 ml. bottles of Pliny the Younger for sale at their brewery in Windsor and the pub in Santa Rosa. However, each guest will be limited to two bottles, and in order to be eligible to purchase them, guests must “come for the full experience in our brewpubs”, which will be tracked via the wristbands each will receive upon entering.

Pliny the Younger will be available from February 7th to the 15th 20th at Russian River, and offsite draft distribution will start the 2nd week of February. Like last year, pours of Pliny the Younger will also be offered to those who book brewery tours during the release period.

2019 Anchor Christmas Ale

I’ve received a couple of bottles of the 2019 Anchor Christmas Ale courtesy of Anchor Brewing, and decided to pop one open for review tonight.

First off, let me say that it is a pretty beer. It has a big tan, rocky head. It appear dark brown and opaque, but when held up to the light a beautiful dark, deep garnet hue comes through.

Following on that impression, it is also a beer that can fool one a bit. Due to its dark hue and big tan head, one might allow oneself to expect a robust beer like a porter or stout. In other words something with a very malt-forward character. However, the 2019 Christmas Ale is actually surprisingly light-bodied, and the first impression upon tasting is one of smoothness, almost as if it had been dispensed on a nitro system.

It has a malty nose, with a light hop aroma, with some subtle conifer notes in the background. As it warms and the head subsides, some caramel or invert sugar aromas come forward.

In the taste, I got some spice, some coffee, and baking chocolate up front, backed up by some malt or caramel notes. It finishes dry, with the bitter chocolate flavor lingering, and some more of that pine at the back end.

It is a good, tasty beer, but to be honest, I’m not as partial to it as I have been to previous years’ iterations of the Christmas Ale. The recipe changes every year, and taste is subjective, so that is to be expected from time to time. I guess I just miss the more robust mouthfeel of those other versions.

However, because it does have that lighter mouthfeel, it is more drinkable than a lot of other seasonal ales that come out at this time of year. This is one that one can have more than one of in a session.

Small Brewery Sunday

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