June 25, 2009

Brewpub spotlight: Schooner's

With so many brewpubs in the Bay Area, it's an embarrassment of riches. Here's the first of what will be a very long series, this time focusing on Schooner's in Antioch (yes, it's technically the Bay Area). Here's my review, but what it doesn't mention is that Half Pint took me here for my birthday...and that they sold me a growlerful of Vin.de.cation. A growlerful!

June 23, 2009


Bryan Kolesar from Brew Lounge  dropped me a line saying he was making it back to the Bay (just in time to miss the National Homebrewers Conference that blew my mind non-stop June 18-20). He asked "is there a venue that could work for bringing in some beers to sample...I've got a box full of local beer to bring."

Those who knew this was an offer too good to pass up: Jay Hinman, Chris Cohen (nascent homebrewer), Steve Shapiro, Jay Brooks, myself (no need to hyperlink to my blog. You're soaking in it.) Bryan Kolesar, and Damian Fagan. That's a lotta beer bloggers.
Bryan wasn't kidding:
Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA
Victory Baltic Thunder
Stoudt's Heifer in Wheat
Sly Fox Saison Vos
Sly Fox Black Raspberry Reserve 
Victory Hop Devil IPA (actually offered by Steve)
Victory Wild Devil (Hop Devil funkified by Brettanomyces)

Other beers consumed (not shown):
Stone's unreleased 13th Anniversary (hop bomb)
Sam Adams Longshot Double IPA by Mike McDole (hop bomb)
Skyscraper Honeyweizen
Four Peaks Kiltlifter Scotch Ale
A few homebrews

In the spirit of bi-coastal relations, I decided to offer homemade Philly cheesesteaks (three cheers to Half Pint for slaving over a hot stove).

Not exactly a beer-pairing event, more of a get-together over beers I won't see until I make it to PA again, though the chocolate raspberry whatnot in the box of pastries that Damian brought went perfectly with the Black Raspberry Reserve.
No talk of tulip glasses or stemware, no talk of lacing or mouthfeel, just a flood of beer-related banter about beer trips past and future, ideas about the ultimate beer dinners, and beer buds looking forward to the next session.

June 20, 2009

...Btwn Jesse Friedman from BeerAndNosh

...Btwn Jesse Friedman from BeerAndNosh & Charlie Papazian of brewing legend.

Taking in Tomme Arthur's 'ingredients

Taking in Tomme Arthur's 'ingredients 5-10' session @ Nat'l Homebrewers Conf. Downing generous Lost Abbey samples, sandwiched...

June 15, 2009

I'm a Beer Runner

Thanks, Tim, for this fun profile as part of Draft Magazine's Beer Runner blog.

June 9, 2009

Ruthless. Gramma Yaeger, 1919-2009

My grandmother, Ruth Yaeger, died this morning. Less than 2 months ago, I was in LA celebrating her 90th birthday.

She was in pretty good spirits that night with her whole family gathered around including her 2 great-granddaughters. Obviously, there are tons of things I will miss about her, but the one memory that sums her up most is the simple pleasure of taking her to breakfast at Junior's Deli in West LA. No matter how long the wait, we always got a table right away; that's what being a regular for 40+ years will getchya.

She used to order her coffee molten lava hot. We called her Asbestos Mouth. If she were the woman who'd ordered coffee at McDonald's, she would've sued them for serving it too cold.

Though she wasn't a beer drinker, she was my #1 fan and as you can see from the picture, kept my book on her side table along with an empty bottle of beer, one that always made and will continue to make me smile--Ruth from Hair of the Dog Brewing in Portland. Here's what the label says:
All American Ale. Ruth is a light and refreshing American Ale, made with pale malt and crystal hops. She was inspired by my Mother's Mother, Granny Ruth because of her love and support. Don't be Ruthless. Have one on Granny.

In heaven there is no beer. But there sure is piping hot coffee. And some Mallomars. I love you Gramma.

June 6, 2009

Session 28 Roundup

Greetings fellow Sessionistas. Welcome to the roundup of the June Session, #28, where I asked everyone to think and drink globally. Bottom line, the notion that if you’re going somewhere, you owe it to yourself to drink fresh brews there is a popular one. While it doesn’t seem any participants have visited breweries in Asia or South America (at least not as the farthest one from wherever home is), enjoy these globetrotting beer trips, separated by continent. And as long as we're reminiscing about brewcations, check out Beer By Bart's topic for The Session #29 on July 3.

Australia and Oceana vacation

The Beer Nut in Dublin, Ireland once found himself at the Speight’s Brewery in Dunedin, New Zealand, nearly 12,000 miles from home. He managed to track down a bottle of Speight’s Gold Medal Ale. I wonder if Kiwi hipsters order SGM like Yanks order PBR.

Jay Brooks from the Brookston Beer Blog in Marin County, CA traveled to New Zealand with the fam. That’s where he discovered the Hallertau Brewery and their Brett’ed Porter Noir. While you won’t find this on store shelves, guess who squirreled some back home.

Europe vacation

Stan Hieronymus from Appellation Beer (and The Slow Travelers) of Corrales, NM (near Abq.) had a tough time figuring out which brewery was farthest, finally settling on Birra del Borgo near Rome, Italy. Alas, while his favorite Re Ale isn’t available in Northern California where his slow travels currently find him, North Coast’s Red Seal Ale suits him just fine.

Ryan Knock, virgin Sessioner over at Ale Monthly in San Francisco, blogs about his visit to Brasserie St. Georges in Lyon, France, and the beers he enjoyed drinking from towering columns. Viva la girafe! Since St. George Ambree isn’t available back home, Ryan gets bonus points for posting his homebrew clone recipe.

Gail Ann Williams from Beer by Bart in the East Bay (CA), host of next month’s session, eschews Bay Area Rapid Transit for Norway, where she happened upon a quaint brewpub within the Arctic Circle (Oslo Mikrobryggeri). Any chance the British-style beers were aged on Norwegian Wood?

Allyson Shaw from Impy Malting, an ex-pat living in London. After utilizing three methods of transportation to make her way across the Orkney Mainland to Quoyloo (looks like the northernmost tip of the UK) just for some Dragonhead Stout of the Orkney Brewery. She then segues into Pete Brown’s new IPA odyssey, Hops & Glory.

Andy Couch from I’ll Have a Beer and a brewer in Iowa blogs down memory lane about visiting Andechs monastery brewpub in Munich, Germany. Because he preferred their Dunkles Weiss over their Weissbier with apples, and since it’s not available outside Germany, he likens it to the Schneider Weisse Munich Dark Aventinus

North American vacation

Derrick Peterman from Bay Area Beer Runner in San Jose, CA makes his Session debut and knocks it outta the park. Blogging about his visit to Rohrbach’s Brewpub in Rochester, NY, he gets in a history lesson, a gentle nudge that we should all burn off more of our beers, and, in light of not having access to Rohrbach’s Sam Patch Porter, compares it to his local El Toro Porter.

Nemsis from BeerTaster in Ontario, Canada drove 3 days to get to Ottawa to drink up the local pub and brewery culture. While the Pub Italiano was a better experience overall, still, that Scotch Irish Brewery sounds pretty cool and I wish their Natural Session Ale was available south of the Great White North.

Steph Weber from Brew.Cook.Pair.Joy blogs about her pilgrimage to GABF in Denver, CO and taking in a tour of Great Divide while in town. I’m jealous she gets their Espresso Oaked Yeti back near her home in Audubon, PA.

Matt C. from A World of Brews in Bakersfield, CA blogs about visiting Russian River in Santa Rosa, CA—but he was living in FL at the time. He has been to Germany, where he visited the Spaten Brewery giftshop, and calls “Drinking an ethnic beer like a mind vacation.”

Jon Abernathy from The Brew Site in central OR (I believe) has but a fuzzy memory of his visit to Goose Island in Chicago. At 13% ABV for that Bourbon County Stout, I’d have a hard time recollecting much of anything, too.

Since Ray and Mel from Bathtub Brewery in Delran, NJ blog simultaneously, they get 2 destinations. Mel recalled cooling off from the Las Vegas sun with a Gordon-Biersch festbier, which tops even her local Victory Festbier (nor does Victory Brewing make a goat cheese ravioli in brown butter sauce). Ray got some northern exposure at Glacier Brewhouse in Anchorage, AL (where he downed a Kentucky bourbon-aged Scottish Ale).

Al from Hop Talk in the Washington, DC area once earned an all-expense paid trip to Hawai’i. How does it get even better? He stopped in at the Kona Brewery. He says his T-shirt is dyed with their beer, but I suspect those are just stains.

Another newbie, Geoff Kaiser from Seattle Beer News (guess where), has drank at the Nodding Head Brewery in Philly (and stood outside the gates at that “other” Bud in Cesk√© Budejovice). So what beer did he write about? Lagunitas Pils from Petaluma, CA.

Ethan Cox & Dan Conley at Beer-O-Vision who I believe are from Buffalo, NY almost stroll down memory lane to breweries they visited in Belgium and Scotland, respectively, but instead we watch as Ethan tours SF’s own Anchor Brewery via a bottle of Liberty Ale and Dan pours us a tour of the Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick, MD c/o Horn Dog Barleywine.

Steve from All Good Beer in Houston, TX joins the Session by blogging about his liquid breakfast of Geuze from his favorite Brasserie Cantillon in Brussels, Belgium. “Experience standing in a 100+ year old family-owned brewery and sharing a beer with the brewer himself.”

Jimmy from Hop Wild in North Cackalacky posted a picture of the Steam Whistle Brewery as seen from the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada. Which of their beers did he sample? The only one they brew, Steam Whistle Pilsner.

Bryan from In the ‘Burg, Fredericksburg, VA that is, links to a previous post about Google Mapping “Interesting Stuff” while in Tucson, AZ and winding up at the Nimbus Brewery. Old Monkeyshine anyone?

Another beer blogger from Fredericksburg, VA, David at Musings Over a Pint doesn’t do many beercations, but one favorite destination is Denver’s Great Divide and their Hercules DIPA.

Mental staycation

Mario from Brewed for Thought of Santa Rosa, CA sips from a growler of Lost Coast’s Double Trouble which, at 8.5% ABV, sends him on a journey to Eureka, CA. Sure it’s 4 hours by car, but where we’re going, you don’t need roads.

June 5, 2009

Session #28: Think/Drink Globally

I’m an avid traveler and an avid beer drinker. So when it’s up to me to pick the topic for the June edition of The Session, I’d hope I could blog about the time I was in Kenya and visited the Tusker Brewery (more specifically, East African Breweries, Ltd.). While I didn’t make it to the brewery in Nairobi, I did wash down some grilled zebra and giraffe with Tusker Lager!

While studying in Russia, I attempted to visit the Baltika Brewery in St. Petersburg with my classmates, but tours weren’t offered at that time. Considering the director was assassinated after my semester abroad, it’s possibly for the best.

So the farthest brewery I’ve been to is Allagash in Portland, Maine. The city is picturesque, though not so the business park the brewery is situated in. I was actually there to interview Karen and David Geary, the once-married still-owners of the D. L. Geary Brewing Co. I think their London Porter is one of the best out there, but I’ve written sufficiently about them.

So back to Allagash. Brewer Rob Tod (that’s me pictured with him) started Allagash a decade after Geary’s in 1995. As such, Allagash was an early adapter in brewing Belgian styles here in the US. My sole familiarity with them before visiting Portland was their flagship Allagash White. Next to Hitachino Nest White, it’s still my favorite Witbier. And finding it on tap for a mere $3 was the bargain of my stop in town. But I also discovered their bourbon barrel aged triple, Curieux, which I’d focus on today, except it was the subject of my Session #24. So where does that leave me? Apropos of a guy who blogs at BeerOdyssey.com, I’m partaking of a brew day with buddies Greg & Ryan and amid our homebrew tastings, we’re popping the cork on my Allagash Odyssey pulled from my Beeradise.

Before I get into my notes about Odyssey, I should note that the kitchen I’m in is rife with a hoppy aroma that contradicts with the Odyssey. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. This beer is a 10.4% ABV wheat beer that’s been aged in both new medium toasted oak barrels (as such, part of Allagash’s excellent barrel-aged series) and part aged in stainless steel for half a year. On tap, I recall it having a much more billowy, wheaty character, but this 750-ml bottle presents a much roastier, toastier flavor. I've noticed that Allagash beers on tap are generally more subdued than bottled. The bottled Curieux is more bourbony; the bottled White is corianderier.  In fact, I dare say I’m enjoying today's Odyssey more. Must be that it’s a new barrel and I guess “medium” toasted indicates toastier than standard toasting (though less so than charred oak).

Does it remind me of some lobster bisque I had back in Portland, Maine? No, main-ly because I don’t dig on lobster. But it’s a great reminder of the zymurgelogical wonders that Rob Tod conjures up and that, even if I can’t track down a bottle of his new Gargamel (a 375-ml corked beer that doubtfully tastes like Smurfberries), at least I know his brett’ed Confluence has made its way to the Bay and that I don’t have to make another 3,203 mile trek to drink fresh Allagash.