Monthly Archives: January 2014

Bay Area Trip Part 2

In the last post, I talked about how much fun we had brewing At Heretic in early January. In addition to brewing at Heretic Brewing Co I also got to visit two exciting new breweries while in the Bay Area.

Rodger Davis is a Bay Area brewing icon, having been the brewmaster at both Triple Rock and Drake’s, and he recently opened his new brewery, Faction Brewing with his wife Claudia. Located in an old military  hangar in Alameda, they have tons of space with an incredible view of the San Francisco skyline. They have plans to put a deck outside to capitalize on the view, and their tasting room, while still being constructed, is already a great place to enjoy their really nice beer selection. I’m a big fan of Rodger’s beers, so I hope they make their way to SoCal at some point. If not, I’ll just have to visit every time I’m in the area!

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I love this logo

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Isn’t this view amazing? It will be unobstructed forever, because of an endangered bird species that makes its home in the area.

 

Stone NorCal Brewery Rep Dave Hopwood, Mike McDole and I also went to a new brewery, The Rare Barrel in Berkeley. Jay and Alex do exclusively Brettanomyces with Lactic Acid Bacteria or Pediococcus soured beers. Excellent beers, and I really like their approach. I sometimes have trouble drinking sour beers, though I do enjoy tasting them, but the beers at The Rare Barrel had such a pleasant, mellow tartness that I could drink them all day. Their facility consists of barrels and primary fermentation (from Brettanomyces…they’ve never used standard brewers yeast). They don’t have a brewhouse, they brew at other local breweries, and ship the wort back to their facility for fermentation and aging.

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Amazing beer list. My favorites were Egregious, a dry hopped sour golden, and Sirius Black, their blackberry sour. But they were all fantastic.

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I also want to make mention of some great beer locations that we visited while in the area:

The Diablo Valley needs more craft beer spots, but it’s getting there. Creek Monkey Tap House is a great spot, in an old house alongside a creek in downtown Martinez. We’ve done several Stone events there in the past couple of years, and they always have Jamil’s Heretic beers on tap.

Another Diablo Valley favorite is ØL BEERCAFE & BOTTLE SHOP, in downtown Walnut Creek. Great bottle shop and bar, they focus primarily on Belgian beers. I had a Gueuze Tilquin there, from Belgium’s newest gueuze maker, and it was quite nice.

I didn’t get to EJ Phair Concord this time around, but it’s one of may favorite spots in central Concord, right across the street from Todos Santos Plaza, where the Brewing Network will be holding their annual Winter Brews Festival on January 25th. I was also excited to learn that The Brewing Network will be moving their studio to a location right by EJ Phair in Concord, and they will have a tap house there as well. Exciting times!

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Had some great barbecue and Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale at Slow Hand BBQ in Pleasant Hill.

Surprisingly, this was the first time I had a chance to visit Jupiter Beer in Berkeley, and we enjoyed some Pizza and some house brewed beers.

The Bay Area is “home” for me, and I always love visiting. Hope to get back there soon!

 

 

 

 

Evil Cubed-Bay Area Trip part 1

 

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The San Francisco Bay Area (the Diablo Valley/East Bay specifically) is home for us. Both my wife and I grew up there, still have family and friends there, and it holds a special place in our hearts. I love having the opportunity to visit, I don’t get to enough, but I did get to go last week for a few days, and had a great time visiting breweries and some new craft beer bars.

Had a great experience brewing with 2 of my favorite people in the craft beer world, Jamil Zainasheff of Heretic Brewing Company, and Mike “Tasty” McDole, Homebrewer/Collaborator extraordinaire and Brewing Network legend. This whole idea came together a year ago, when I was able to attend the Brewing Network’s Winter Brew Festival in Todos Santos Plaza in central Concord (I went specifically to taste a Session IPA I brewed with Alex Nowell at Drake’s over the holidays). We were having a beer together when Mike suggested we brew a beer together once Jamil’s brewery opened up. After some schedule wrangling, we finally made it happen, and we spent a great day at Heretic in Fairfield brewing a Triple IPA.

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At the event that started this idea, back in January 2013-The Brewing Network’s Winter Brews Festival. Heretic Brewing has pictures like this all across their bar top, which is really great.

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That photo above inspired this amazing logo for the beer!

I love brewing at other breweries as a collaborator. Often it’s the only occasion I have to really brew anymore. As I described in a previous post, my job currently involves running and managing the brewery (as opposed to brewing). Though I have to say that this day, Chris, Jamil’s head brewer, and brewer Warren did the bulk of the work, and we just tried to not get in their way. It was a super fun day, Jamil and Liz Zainasheff were wonderful hosts, and we ate and drank very well while there. If you haven’t tried Heretic’s beers, you need to. Evil Twin and Evil Cousin are amazingly hoppy and delicious. And, we seriously hope to have Jamil visit us at Stone for a collaboration brew sometime soon.

I just saw a “Movie Poster” for this beer, a Triple IPA late and dry-hopped with Amarillo and Australian Summer hops. Tropical fruit goodness, I do hope I get to taste some. I know it will be poured all over the Bay Area during San Francisco Beer Week, but I don’t think I’ll make it to the Bay Area this time. In the Bay Area, it should be available at the 2014 Winter Brews Festival in Concord, and at The Bistro in Hayward for their 14th Annual Double IPA Festival on February 8. But I also know that Jamil is trying to get some to Southern California.

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The “Movie Poster”. Note the music credit

Here are some photos from brew day:

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The Brew Log. Hoping to dispel the rumor that I don’t like crystal malt.

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Getting ready to mash in. Milling is done on a high level, accessible by the scissor lift on the left.

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Trying to stay out of Heretic Head Brewer Chris’ way. Found out about halfway through brew day that he doesn’t like people on his brew deck. If true, he dealt with all of us incredibly well!

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It was a nice surprise having Chris from Dunbar Brewing in Santa Margarita spend the day with us. Several of Team Stone brewed a collaboration with him at his brewery last year.

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And on another note:

Stone Double IPA

Thanks to my friend, London Brew Wharf’s Angelo Scarnera for the picture. He liked the beer.

The 8.5% abv Double IPA (see how I did that?) I brewed with Fergus at Adnams in December has apparently been released and is now pouring at the braver JD Wetherspoon locations in the UK. If anyone tries this beer, please let me know how it tastes!

UK Revisited

Less than a week after I returned from Asheville, I packed the family up and we flew to London for the holidays. I got to brew another beer with Fergus Fitzgerald at Adnams in Southwold, this time an 8.5% Double IPA (California Style!) that will be dry-hopped with Centennial, Citra and Mosaic. This beer should be available in Wetherspoons pubs in mid-January.

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It’s become a tradition-my first beer after arriving in the UK is always a Fuller’s!

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I love seeing historical brewing sites-this was in London.

I am very curious to see how people react to our beer, since the alcohol  is much higher than what beer drinkers in Britain generally find acceptable. It’s an interesting point of difference between the US and UK beer drinking cultures. When having beer discussions with folks in the UK, the alcohol content is one of the first things always mentioned when describing a beer.  Whereas, in the US, some of the first things we mention are the IBUs and/or hop varieties. It’s part of the culture in the UK to drink multiple pints in a session at a pub, so the alcohol content is kind of an important consideration, I get it. But it also sometimes seems a little extreme, like when we brewed our first beer for JD Wetherspoon back in 2008, a 7.2% IPA that many people wouldn’t even try because the alcohol was so high. I’m sure we’ll have people on both sides of the fence with this beer, and am looking forward to seeing any comments. I do think craft beer fans will really like this beer.

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The recipe sheet for our Double IPA.

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Mash-in complete. West Coast IPA!

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This was the street our cottage was on. At the end of the street, turn right and you’re at the Adnams Brewery.

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Cool historical poster at Adnams

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Hop Dosing system at Adnams.

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We mashed in at 5:00am, and so I got to get some shots of an amazing sunrise from the Southwold shoreline at about 8:00 am.

On Christmas Eve, we went back to London and spent 3 days there with the family. It was a great opportunity, the kids had never been out of the country before.

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I have a lot of pictures of my son’s hand.

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We took a Thames River Cruise on Christmas day, and saw this guy piloting an amphibious car.

London in the evening was beautiful:

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Asheville Revisited

I had the pleasure of returning to Asheville, one of my favorite places, in mid-December for some more great beer events and some great music. I’ve been there twice now, both times in 2013, and have really fallen for the town. The people there are so nice, always rolling out the red carpet, it’s in a beautiful setting, and the beer scene is great.

Our first event was a “Tap Takeover” event at the new Thirsty Monk, at the Biltmore Park area, in between Asheville and the airport. Stone Southeast Regional Manager Scott Sheridan and I had visited the original Thirsty Monk in downtown Asheville on our last visit, and this time we had well over 30 taps pouring some core Stone Beers and many rare beers from our archives. It was a super fun event and very well attended. Barry, the owner of the Thirsty Monk, and GM Dylan put on a great event, and it was packed with beer fans. I met a bunch of brewing students from a local community college, AB Tech, while there, and that was fun.

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The Stone Tap Takeover at The Thirsty Monk in Biltmore Park.

The next day Scott and I had breakfast at a great place called the Sunny Point Cafe. I’m normally not one for a Bloody Mary, but I had to get this bacon infused one. And the food was amazing-comfort food plus. I had an omelette called “The Southern” with bacon, diced tomatoes and pimento cheese filling. Fantastically rich!

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Bloody Mary with bacon and bacon wrapped jalapeño. Nice way to start our day.

Then we stopped by the new Sierra Nevada Brewery for a quick visit. Located just behind the Asheville Airport, the brewery was still under construction, but they had started test brewing. It looks like when they finish the facility will be just as stunning  as their Chico location. I can’t wait to see it when it’s done, they are projecting late summer 2014. When we were there, the area was still a major cvonstruction zone, with scaffolding and tarping all over the brewhouse, and a big hole in the ground where their pub will go. But what they are doing there will be absolutely amazing.

From there we drove south to Greenville, South Carolina, and met up with Mike Okupinski and Ed Buffington at the Community Tap, a beer and wine store and tap room that has a fantastic selection. I had known Mike on Facebook for a while, but we never had actually met, so it was great to see him, and see everything that they are doing to promote craft beer in the Greenville area.

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After an afternoon “Meet and Greet” at the Community Tap, we then packed in Mike and Anna’s new minivan and drove out to the Greenbrier Farms for a farm to table Stone Beer Dinner that Community Tap set up with Scott and the the team at Greenbrier Farms. This location is beautiful, and they set up the dinner in a barn that was a bit cold for a thin-blooded Southern Californian like me, but there was a bonfire in the middle that kept everyone warm and in good spirits.  Amy, Chad, and Roddy, the folks that run this farm, are very cool, and the meal was fantastic, the beer pairings superb. At the end of the dinner, Mike absolutely floored me by presenting me with a hand-built electric guitar that was made by his father. An SJO Custom, it’s a beauty, and plays great! To say I was moved and touched by the kindness here doesn’t do the emotions I was feeling any justice at all. I’m still totally blown away by this.

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Farm-to-Table beer Dinner at Greenbrier Farms

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Chicken was the main course. Paired wonderfully with Stone Pale Ale and served with mashed potatoes, carrots and greens.

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The full menu from our beer dinner

 

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Look at how beautiful this guitar is! I was touched beyond words.

After dinner, we had a couple of beers at Barley’s in Greenville, a very cool craft beer spot. Drew was a great host, and we tasted some really cool beers there. I should mention that Barleys has won our annual “Most Arrogant Bar” contest 2 years in a row!

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Check out the Rare Beer Cellar at Barley’s. I was honored to be able to drink a couple of very rare beers in that room.

On the way back to Asheville the next day, we stopped in at Oskar Blues brewery in Brevard, just outside of Asheville and near the Pisgah National Forest, for a tour and a couple of beers. Great spot, the beers were tasting excellent, and it’s an awesome place to hang out. Special thanks to Eric Baumann, who I first met at the MBAA conference in Austin in November, who showed us around.

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Each one of these bags, called super sacks, holds 1000 pounds of malt. I want Oskar Blues’ super sack station that they use to hold the bags and weigh out the grain they need. We hope to get something like this in 2014 at Stone.

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Dale Katechis, the owner at Oskar Blues, also builds bikes. Everyone who works there gets one of these Reeb bikes after 2 years (Reeb=Beer spelled backwards). It’s a cool bike, it is belt-driven instead of a standard bicycle chain. There is a ton of good mountain bike riding around the brewery.

 

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The wall of cans, ready to be filled!

I spent the next couple of days meeting up with some other Stone peeps who came down for the Warren Haynes Christmas Jam, an annual music showcase. We started Friday afternoon at Altamont Brewing Company, where they had a few special kegs of our beer pouring. And then from there we went to Wicked Weed Brewing, and we enjoyed hanging out a lot with our good friends Luke, Walt and Abby there before the first show.

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The Stone crew and the gang from Altamont Brewing before Christmas Jam!

While at Wicked Weed Friday night (they put on Suede specially for my visit!), I also met Mike, the brewmaster from Green Man-who is doing some fascinating historical recipe brewing-he had a bottle of Burton East India Pale Ale, a recipe from 1850, hopped with 100% Fuggles, that he shared with us and it was stellar. I wrote a lot about historical recipes in my IPA book, and it is cool to see so many people brewing these and other long-forgotten recipes. I’d love to brew some of these beers myself some day.

 

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Warren Haynes rocks!
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Green Man, one of Asheville’s best breweries.

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Check out these historical beers that Mike has brewed at Green Man. The IPA was great, I was sorry I couldn’t try more.

ON Saturday, we spent most of the day before the show hanging out with Luke, Walt and Abby at Wicked Weed again. It was a very fun afternoon, followed by an incredible night of music.

Some of my highlights from the Christmas Jam included on Friday night, Keb Mo, seeing John Scofield for the first time, Warren Haynes and Greg Allman acoustic, and the Phil Lesh Quintet taking me back to my days of going to Dead shows. On Saturday, Grace Potter and The Nocturnals rocked, and Greg Allman & friends were great, playing some Allman Brothers Band classics.

Combining great craft beer with really great music always works for me. We’re hoping this becomes an annual tradition.