July 22, 2009

Recently at the Toronado

Last week at the Toro-nado here in SF, I rode there primarily there to meet Jens Ungstrup,  the primary RateBeerian who, to date, has reviewed 13,546 beers. I’d recently interviewed him for a story on beer geeks in the August All About Beer and he happened to be in town for the Rate Beer Summer Gathering (which I was out of town for over the weekend:-(

In addition to chatting over several great beers (including http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/fantome-saison/7661/ provided by staff), Jens left me with a bottle of Amager Rated XX.

This Danish Double IPA boasts 23 different hops in this one bottle; I'm expecting to be overwhelmed.

Ultimately, it was a night of great drinking that proved yet again what is so great about the beer community, which is, that it’s not just about the beer. Here we were, total strangers (except that I knew something about him, such as that his mom is worried he drinks too much and he has a 12-year-old daughter who doesn’t know what to make of her dad’s hobby), and we spent almost 5 hours together trying 5 new (to us)

beers apiece. For the record, all of mine were winners: Telegraph Reserve Wheat (with lemon verbena and Brett), Russian River Publication (an Imperial Saison brewed for a gathering of publicans), English Ales Black Prince Porter (from a brewery in Monterey I’d barely heard of), the above mentioned Fantome Saison (gor-jus. Truly tasted like str

awberries), and El Toro Deuce DIPA (brewed with 5 hops including my fave, Simcoe).

We were joined by Steve Shapiro from Beer By Bart and his friend Mark, the T’s Betsy, and later Steve’s wife Gail Ann Williams. It was just one of those nights where nothing monumental happened, but the Duvel’s in the details.

July 16, 2009

Brewing 101

How could I be the first to think of this? A brewery ought to open up along the major highway that runs up California's Pacific Coast, probably in the Central Coast, and call itself Brewing 101. The basics of brewing. They could offer many basic styles such as an Amber, Pale Ale, Brown Ale, Porter or Stout, and maybe throw in an IPA.

On the way back from a brief road trip to LA, Half Pint and I took the scenic Highway 101 back to SF, which is how I finally made it to the Santa Maria Brewing Co. It's easily one of the tiniest breweries I've seen. It stands on the north side of a "river" (I've never seen a drop in it) across the bridge that separates it from Santa Barbara County, which is why it's in the more easy-going Nipomo instead of restrictive Santa Maria, evidently. It's for this reason that I think it ought to be called the more accurate name of Brewing 101.

Inside, it's a jovial place with room enough for 
perhaps 3 regulars at the bar--each with non-stop refills of $4 pints, and table space enough for 4-5 regulars to hang out with a pitcher and take-out from the highly regarded "Santa Maria Style BBQ" joint directly adjacent.

Since I was driving and had precious cargo in Half Pint and our dog Patsy, I only had one pint so I had to choose wisely. It was rather hot, so I figured the Wheat Beer was the safest. Let's just say the sample I asked for of the Belgian Brown proved I should've gone for that instead, as the Wheat that day had a slight infection. Not that anyone at the bar, or the jovial bartender John seemed to mind. And should any off flavors abound next time I pop in--and I will--I'll splurge the extra buck for a pint of the IPA. Should go great with a pulled pork sandwich from next door.

If my count is correct, this marks the 45th California brewery I've hit. Only about 200 to go.

SF Beer Examiner posts: Rum Month

So many outlets (mostly online), so little time. When the Examiner rolled out the red carpet for their Rum Month project, I thought I'd be left out in the cold. Being resourceful, I found two ways to incorporate rum into writing about beer.

The first was to write about rum barrel aged beers as well as a beer-and-rum cocktail.

The second was to write about the 3 craft breweries that have launched craft distilleries that produce rums (if you know of any others, please leave a comment or email).

Yo ho ho, indeed.

July 3, 2009

Session 29: Will travel for beer

Beer by Bart's Gail & Steve ask us Beer Bloggers this month to pontificate about traveling, drinking beer, and melding the two concepts. I know a li'l somet'in'-somet'in' about going on a beer odyssey. Nowadays, I simply cannot travel anywhere without looking for the beer aspect.

Take last week for instance. The plan called for going to Sun Valley, Idaho for a friend's wedding. To get there, Half Pint and I planned to fly into Boise, then rent a car and drive to Hailey/Ketchum. Keep in mind these were Half Pint's friends first, but she allowed me to shanghai the beginning of our vacay by starting things out at one of five brewpubs in Boise. I researched everything about them and intended to hit Table Rock Brewpub, the first in town. I'll skip over the part about us spending 10 hours in SFO and let it be known that we did not get to make it to the brewery. After all, there was still Sun Valley Brewing in Haily.
(Note that the brewery isn't hyperlinked. That's because it's so rinky-dink, it doesn't have a Web site). Tragically, I tried two of their beers, both of which were tainted. I never did get to make it to the brewery, which might be for the best, but despite having a blast with our married friends, I think my trip was saved by the fact that the open bar at the reception featured two macro lagers and Au Naturale Blonde Ale from my friends in-state at Grand Teton Brewing.

The next time I know I'll be flying is in March, 2010. My family is going skiing in Whistler. So while I can't wait to hit the slopes with Half Pint and my nieces, I can almost taste that High Mountain Brewhouse pint of Columbus IPA now.