Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ballast Point story

Here's a great example of what fun taking craft brewing seriously can be. It's from Ballast Point Brewing, another San Diego powerhouse who, if they never made anything else but Sculpin IPA,  would be on my top ten list.

Story here:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

McMurtry at Lagunitas

A bum knee and repair work on the swimming pool deck has kept me from updating this site lately, but that is about to change. At no time did my favorite libation intake vary.... especially at Lagunitas, home of the seasonal Undercover Investigation. They've begun Monday night concerts, usually free if you pick up the tickets yourself, and we were fortunate to catch James McMurtry two Mondays ago (told you this place needed updating!). Forthwith, some photos of the event and the new metal cups that allow beer consumption in the Amphitheaterette.

Wore my Stone Brewing shirt to the Lagunitas concert - didn't get thrown out!

James McMurtry working that guitar. He likes distortion from his amps!

Part of the crowd on the grassy slope enjoying McMurtry and beer.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Stone and Video Night at TAPS

Yes, yours truly hauled out the trusty Panasonic 200A to capture the festive activities as reps from Stone Brewery, Escondido, CA, came to participate in one of TAPS signature events: Meet the Brewers night. The video is not edited yet but here's a few production stills to give you a flavor of the evening. Needless to say (although I will), a good time was had by all and the Sublimely Self-Righteous Black IPA met all my expectations, once again. Also stopping by for some Stone enjoyment and picture taking was this guy, Mario Rubio, who really seemed to know a lot about beer (joke! Find him at

The pix:

                     Dave Hopwood from Stone Brewery explains his ideal job.
Note: The Pizza Port Brewing t-shirt is to convey my impartiality.

TAPS owner Eric Lafranchi, showing Big Wood, and Stone Brewing Rep. Dave Hopwood, visual aid in hand, express the camaraderie that exists among craft brewing enthusiasts and drinkers, me included!

 What's this, another beer blogger crashing my video interview session?
Well, actually, no.... this is Mario Rubio, from, demonstrating the ideal beer glass size and Dave seems very interested.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Voodoo Beer?

Putting Voodoo Doughnuts and Rogue Beers in the Same Sentence

Two great Oregon institutions: Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland, Rogue in Newport, have crossed paths at last in the form of... wait for it..... Voodoo Doughnuts Bacon Maple Ale. I have a picture of the bottle over there to prove it.

My two connections to these entities: One, I was married at Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland (that's my wife Kay and wedding official, Cat Daddy himself in the photo with me)...

...and, two, today we visited for the first time the new Rogue Pub in San Francisco's North Beach, where I found the pink bottle available for sale. I did not try it, somehow just not in the mood tho I'm sure it's as tasty as Voodoo doughnut's infamous Bacon Maple bars, the ale's name sake.
I did try Dad's Black IPA from Rogue, which was full bodied, had a strong malty finish without being overpowered by too much hoppiness (if there is such a thing); all in all a well balanced example of the style which I will certainly order again sometime.

Voodoo Doughnuts Bacon Maple Bars. Yes, they are as good as they sound!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Stone at TAPS

Just learned that this Thursday's Brewer's Night at TAPS, Petaluma will feature Stone Brewing, one of my top 5 brewers. I'll be there doing video interviews and if they have the Oaked Arrogant Bastard (which I tried at the brewery back in March) on hand, go for it. I liked the slightly mellower (is that a word?) finish that the oak barrels give it; still plenty of hops to satisfy tho.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Busy weekend of beer

Time to get caught up on beer related activities for this weekend, and it was a busy weekend starting with:

Hop Monk Tavern in Sebastopol, for a KRSH sponsored Friday after work music concert, where the warm weather and soft breeze made for total enjoyment of our Green Flash West Coast IPA, paired with sweet potato and regular fries.

Sunday found us at TAPS Petaluma,  doing my part for their Stone "Bitter Beer" competition. I had, for the first time, Stone's Double Dry Hopped Ale (6.9% abv), pictured at left, which was a perfect choice for a hot day after walking several blocks of the Novato Street Fair. Crisp, refreshing, well balanced hops and lingering finish. Will be drinking this one again, competition or no.
Kay tried a new one from Firestone Walker, the Wookey Jack Black IPA, shown on the right. Great hops aroma and taste, good balance of malt in the finish and lighter bodied than the color might indicate. Another one to try again.

Lastly, time to have some early dinner (or late lunch) at home and a fortuitous visit to Whole Foods led me to a six pack of 21st Amendment's Big Daddy IPA. Now, having just read the results of a blind IPA tasting in the latest issue of the Celebrator which had this beer finishing first, it was a great time to judge for myself and pair it with grilled, locally made sausages. They paired wonderfully and I am now eager to try it on tap.... I'm sure TAPS will have it again before too long.

What a way to end the weekend, Sonoma beer loving style!!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Marin brewing menu

Love this menu from Marin Brewing! Gotta get over there next Tuesday (it's a half hour from my home) and get my $3 worth!!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Tap25 Livermore Party

Just found out about this party, over in Livermore. I have a bad feeling that I'm gonna regret not being able to make it.... this time:

Push Here

Bitter Times at TAPS, Petaluma

Just got a Facebook post from TAPS Petaluma announcing that they are once again participating in Stone Brewing's "Most Bitter Bar" competition and inviting us hop lovers to come drink up! I'll be showing up because they are currently pouring one of my favorite brews from Stone, the Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale. Here's a description from the Stone web page about this ale:  

"Its bitterness hits our sweet spot. Its blackness lightens our hearts. Its liquid dichotomy pulls it all together in this sublimely sacrosanct ale."

The Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale is the second from left.
To that I add, "ditto!"  I had it as part of a sampler (shown here ) when I visited the brewery back in March. It was the stand out for me, from among some fierce competition, including the Oaked Arrogant Bastard.

So, do yourself a favor, get down to TAPS in Petaluma soon (where there's a good chance you'll find me) and try it for yourself.

TAPS on Facebook

Monday, June 4, 2012

Sampler Array

I'm always interested in doing samplers when visiting a new brewery, for obvious reasons, and I also find interesting the great variety of sampling methods (or size of serving). So, here's some examples that I have run across and enjoyed:

Ninkasi Brewing, Eugene, OR

Stone Brewing, Escondido, CA

Lagunitas Brewing, Petaluma, CA
If I can find my notes, I'll add the names of the various brews. The Lagunitas names are fairly obvious, but I'll include them too. Stay tuned!!

Emmylou at Lagunitas

Emmylou Harris, that is.. This will be a fun, intimate time, in the Laguminiamphitheaterette I imagine.
Get more info here!

Platypus Venom Imperial Stout

Photo: Marin Brewing

Saw this on Marin Brewing's Facebook page this morning. I'll have to try it next time I'm down in Larkspur and report back. Adding ice cream is an interesting touch. At 10% abv, I'll have to tread carefully.

Platypus Stout - no kidding!

Obama the Homebrewer - Who Knew!

This is a fun story:

Beerfest Fotos and Fun

Saturday's Beerfest 21 - The Good One, held at the Well Fargo Center in Santa Rosa, CA was as much fun as anticipated and more so! Sunny and warm with an easy breeze blowing through made for a comfortable and beer-friendly afternoon. So, what follows are some photos and thoughts, in no particular order but I will save the announcement of my favorite beer of the day until the last. Cheers!

Knowing that folks were eager to get to the beers, the organizers got us through the wristband-beer glass routine very quickly. Off to the tents!!

 My first stop....

 ...where they were pouring Lucky 13 and the ever popular IPA. Little Sumpin fans like me had to settle for the bottled version, but it was still good. WTF was a seasonal favorite of mine as well, but gone now, alas.

Concord at one time had coal mines,  one called Black Diamond as I recall. These days the name is associated with some excellent brews: this one being handed to me is the Red Ale; big, caramelly and hoppy with the right touch of maltiness for my taste. A pleasant 6.7% abv made a safe second round, especially when BD's Mike Pierce told me that this was the first outing for their Red... sort of testing it under actual beer drinking conditions. I liked it and hope they keep with it... makes a visit to CoCo county worthwhile.

People frequently come up to me while I'm covering some beer-centric event, wanting to know, "how do I become a beer blogger?"  If I can't get them to go away with a hard stare, I'll usually tell them it requires the tools of the trade and the journalistic devotion to using them. Here they are:
1. Beer
2. Rib and corn bread
3. Notebook to record what you've tasted so that you can remember the next day what the hell you had. And, a trusty pen, of course. The rest is just a matter of getting out there and asking questions and hoping for a lot of free beer. 

Came across these lovely ladies who were obviously so impressed with the Beerfest that they wanted their visit documented, as only a friend with a digital camera can do.
I confess that I did volunteer to take a pic of all, at which point I was inundated with 5 cameras, each with a request to take a picture. The great thing about a beer fest like this is, before long, you are more than happy to comply. I hope they enjoyed the photo I took and that it was in focus.

Of course, the other side of an event for beer lovers like this is, there are people who are seriously into not just drinking the beer, but who want the "back story" as it were. These two guys, one of which is a stand-up comedian (on right), had several questions for the Sierra Nevada folks who were pouring.
(Note to wannabe bloggers: be sure and get names before they stagger off).

Sierra Nevada was only pouring bottles this day, but that did not deter too many beer lovers, the line was there for most of the afternoon.

Apparently, there's a law that says you can't have a beer festival without Big Sky Brewing's Moose Drool.
So, here it is.

One small downside to the event was the long lines for some food vendors. Apparently the fish tacos offered by Rubios was worth the wait... me, I decided to pass and try yet another brewery.
And I'm glad I did because I took the time to visit one of my favorite breweries, Lost Coast from Eureka. I tried their Double Trouble IPA, an imperial double IPA, which was refreshing, hopped enough to bring a smile to this hophead's face, with a crisp, clean after taste. Here's a review I found:
"Hoppy up front, with some resin, pine, and grapefruit bitterness. Maltiness is there in the background, slightly sweet, with some caramel malt flavors. Finish is crisp with more hoppiness. Mouthfeel is good, full, with good crisp carbonation.Overall, a pretty solid beer. It kind of drinks more like an IPA instead of a double."
Couldn't have said it better myself. 

If you've seen the latest Celebrator (June-July) then you know that the folks at Ruth McGowan's Brewpub are having just too much fun. Here, they were happily pouring a Drinko-de-Rye'o, which I suspect has something to do with a certain holiday in May, around the 5th? Whatever, it was good and made me want a fish taco to go with it but.... see above. They were also pouring their Dry Irish Stout but I never made it back to try it. I've had it before at their Cloverdale brewpub so I know I like it. Next time I'm there I'll have two to make up.

Crowds weren't too bad most of the day.

In photography, this is what we call an "action shot." In beer drinking circles it's called, "hurry up already!"

Who doesn't?

Acme wasn't pouring but obviously someone at North Coast remains loyal to an early craft brewery, if not the first (ask Fritz Maytag), even while allowing participants to sample some of their most excellent brews. No trip to Fort Bragg is compete without a visit to their brewery and pub... their samplers are amazing. I'll be covering that in a future post.

Here's an interesting story. The ingredients for
this Pilsner come from Austria and are assembled and brewed in Berkeley. Very refreshing on a hot day and even tho I am not a big Pilsner fan, I thought this was a well made beer and could imagine how it might enhance the flavor of a good Brat!!


OK, so you want to know which beer I enjoyed the most. I have difficulty saying the "best" beer because they are all good, so it comes down to which one affected me the most this particular day. And it was a surprise. Here's the photographic proof of..... wait for it.... Drake’s 1500 Pale Ale – 5.5% ABV 
Not normally a pale ale drinker, I was amazed at this extra hoppy version. According to the brewmaster this was the strategy: "Loads of Simcoe and Amarillo hops are blended in the fermenter just after fermentation has finished to impart a huge aroma of pine and citrus."  It was certainly special and I unapologetically went back for seconds where I met.....

...these two ladies who were pouring all that goodness (and being very generous about it). My apologies for not getting their names but by this late time of the day, I was concentrating on reassuring myself that I had made the right call.
Again, every beer/ale served that day were all great and I would not hesitate to order any of them at a local pub, but, we are talking about which beer made the most impression on me, this particular day, and without doubt, the Drake's 1500 extra hoppy Pale Ale really caught my attention.

Friday, June 1, 2012

American Craft Beer Week

American Craft Beer Week came and went so fast, I have to consult my notes to remember which beers (ales) I had. I do recall that Kay and I made a Friday evening stop at TAPS in Petaluma, the night after the big Stone Brewing evening event, which meant there was some really interesting Stone brews still available. We tried the More Brown than Black Black IPA which is a collaboration beer with Stone, Ninkasi and Alchemist. We both rated it very drinkable and would certainly order it again.

Kay decided to try the Grand Teton Wakeup Call Stout. That's the large glass in the photo here. We both liked it, Kay calls it iced coffee!

Then things got really interesting, as they tend to do when encountering new beers to try (and TAPS is the right place for finding new ones!).
See that little glass to the right in my iPhone photo? It's from Firestone Walker, they named it Parabola. With an alcohol content of 12.5%, you get a small serving but the taste was gigantic!! Aged in whiskey and wine barrels for 8 months, this Russian Imperial Stout is a taste sensation, a full fledged party going on in your mouth from the first sip. Chocolate and coffee are the predominant flavors but the bourbon notes are there and the alcohol does call attention to itself, but mildly, not in an aggressive way. This is a very special beer, they only make 3000 cases of it so it's not easy to get if you don't live in Paso Robles, but when you find it, you owe it to yourself to give it a taste test. I promise, you will love the result.

So, Craft Beer Week is gone, now it's time for the big Beerfest this weekend in Santa Rosa. Here's how the event is described at their website:

Saturday June 2, 2012 is the 21st Annual Beerfest featuring over 40 different microbreweries and a vast assortment of gourmet food purveyors, making the event the premier North Bay beer and food event. From 1pm to 5pm you will be served unlimited food and beer in your own commemorative Beerfest glass.

I'll see you there and report back here on Monday! Saluté