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Boobs! Beer! Charity!

By Joe Ruvel · August 3rd, 2011 · Comments Off

Good title right? Well a great beer fest deserves a well titled post.  The 2011 brestfest beer festival happened back on July 2nd at Fort Mason in San Francisco.  This beer fest benefits various breast cancer related charities. It used to take place over the bay at Marin Brewing in Larkspur but it got too big a few years ago and moved to Fort Mason. And let me tell you  – whoever is in charge of running this festival (I know Marin Brewing is a big part of it) knows what they are doing.  What a great time drinking beer and hanging with friends. It was not overly crowded which is a huge plus for any festival that takes place at Fort Mason. The beer selection was also full of surprises and experiments. People bring some of their best stuff to this festival.

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Marin and Moylan’s brought a bunch of beers. Two of my favorites from Marin Brewing were Albion Amber and AltarBoy. The Albion Amber rocked and not just for an amber–it is just a damn fine ale. Bear republic had Apex which is always a special beer to try. I also got to try a Dying Vines beer which was being poured by Linden Street. Oakland Brewing Co. was pouring too – first time I have seen them. They win for best named beer with Needs More Dog Pale Lager.

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Enough from me – enjoy some more pictures of the fest – and go next year – or possibly just donate to the charity the festival is benefiting and stay home – we wouldn’t want the festival to get crowded.

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Comments OffTags: Beerventures · Tastings

A Monday Night Wine

By Jasmine · August 1st, 2011 · Comments Off

There are nights when Joe and I look at each other and say, “Let’s have wine tonight!” Shocking, I know. Tonight we said that and then I added, “A GOOD wine.” So we dug through our special wines, our “company” wines, to see what could have with our gnocchi.
We decided on a 2005 Le Cigare Volant from Bonny Doon. We’ve been hanging on to this one for two or three years now and it seems to have aged beautifully. The story behind the name is a good one, so I’ll give you some excerpts from the label:

“In 1954 the village council of Chateauneuf-du-pape was quite perturbed and apprehensive that flying saucers or “flying cigars” might do damage in their vineyards were they to land therein. So, right thinking men all, they created an ordinance prohibiting the landing of flying saucers or flying cigars in their vineyards. (This ordinance has worked very well in discouraging such landings.) The ordinance further states that any volitational object that did alight was to be taken immediately to the pound…”

And so the makeup of the wine is based on the traditional blend of Chateauneuf-du-Pape: 50% grenache, 24% mourvedre, 22%syrah, 3% carignane and 1% cinsault.

And now you’ll ask, what’s cinsault? Apparently it is the fourth most planted grape in France. But why have we never heard of it? Clearly it’s not popular in the U.S., and as far as I can tell, it’s most often used as a blending grape. Since winemakers don’t always have to list every single grape they use in a blend, only the majority, it seems to be a forgotten little sister.

First Impressions of the wine itself: It’s a deep red, the color of very ripe cherries, with shades of black and almost-purple. Smell is still a bit sharp as we haven’t let it decant for long. Some smokey tones, but not a smoke-heavy wine. Fairly soft, with a lighter mouthfeel than you would expect–from the color I would have expected tobacco and chocolate but no. Very berry aftertaste, but it’s savory, not jammy.  Complex and wonderful, even when it’s clearly not opened up all the way. After a few hours there is definitely more chocolate right up front.

A wine worth seeking out–the Bonny Doon website doesn’t even list this vintage any more, so it must be tough to get. Doesn’t it make you feel special to drink things other people can’t have? Take that!

Comments OffTags: General

Drinking on the Job

By Jasmine · July 31st, 2011 · Comments Off

I love working in retail. I really actually do. But the fact is that it pays beans, you always have to work weekends, and customers can be…challenging (and don’t think that doesn’t include YOU). So when the perks pop up, I’m always grateful. Like when you stay late one night to do inventory and your boss says hey, let’s do a beer tasting! Then I remember why I like my job. Check out the lineup:
Mikkeller’s Alive!
Mikkeller’s Mt. Hood (single hop series)
Mikkeller’s Centennial (single hop series)
Mikkeller’s Coffee IPA
Mikkeller’s Tequila Barrel Black Hole.
Er, guess what our theme was?
My favorite was the Alive–a wild Brettanomyces cultured beer. It has medium levels of funk with no sourness, and a nice fruity aftertaste, a bit like strawberries. Apparently they used the dregs of Orval to kick-start the fermentation.
The Coffee IPA was disappointing to me. Last spring we tried a coffee witbier from Social Kitchen called White Prussian that was saturated with coffee flavor–strong, smooth, sweet, and eye-opening. Mikkeller’s was not like that. More like a pale ale with just a hint of coffee. I prefer my coffee with a splash of beer, not the other way around.
This particular version we tried of Black Hole is a stout brewed with coffee, honey, and vanilla and aged in tequila barrels. I was not a fan. It feels like they sort of just did it for the sake of doing it, with the end result being a cousin to cough syrup. You could definitely taste the tequila. It wasn’t bad, and if you you really did barrel-aged beers you might like it a lot better than me. I bought a bottle of the Black Hole aged in white wine barrels for Joe and I to try together, so I sure hope that one’s better.
The single hops were nice–Mt. Hood was amber-colored with carmel notes to it, while the Centennial was more straight floral hops. Both were nice and worth a taste.
Mikkeller really seems to be pumping out the brews these days, don’t they? Though the tastes are hit-or-miss for me, they never fall into boring territory, I’ll give ‘em that.

Comments OffTags: Tastings

Off to the land of cheese and beer

By Joe Ruvel · July 15th, 2011 · 1 Comment

Yes good readers, it is time your faithful BeerAtJoes staff once again goes exploring in the wonderful world that is Wisconsin. This time we are focusing on southern Wisconsin. A few items we already have on the agenda include Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee and a beer dinner in Madison. As we drive around south west from Madison we are going to try and hit up a few breweries and taste a lot of great local beer on the way.

It always amazes me when we get down to trying beers from Wisconsin, how good they are. I know Wisconsin loves their beer but as time goes on they are liking more and more craft beer. I don’t think we are going to be heading to the hilltop New Glarus brewery (a bit out of the way this time) but you can bet I will be ordering a bunch when I get s chance. And oh yes there will be beer souvenirs (souvebeer).

See you all, full of beer and cheese, soon.

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Santa Fe: Part 1

By Jasmine · July 6th, 2011 · 2 Comments

The best part about having a brother who is basically an itinerant worker is that I can visit him in all the random places he goes. He’s been living in Santa Fe teaching outdoor science to kids for the past few months, and I was determined to visit him. For a city of just 73,000 people, Santa Fe boasts four breweries.

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Being 90 degrees, sunny, and bone-dry most days, it’s no surprise locals like their brews. The first place Luke took me was the 2nd Street Brewery, mostly because we needed food too. He ranks it number 3 out of the 4 breweries. It’s the kind of place that has all the usual–amber, stout, bitter. Mid-sized brewpubs like this can (and usually do) fall in the the “good enough” category, but 2nd Street rates just over that. The bitter was really tasty–refreshing and complex, the burger was high-quality (though the organic option for $1 extra was a bit odd) and they were happy to bring sample sizes of everything.  They don’t bottle, so we had to get our fill that night. The Kolsch was fantastic too–this style seems to be having a resurgence and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorites. DSC05618 We listened to two terrible bands in a row, but since we were lucky enough to score seats outside on the edge of the restored Santa Fe railyard, we were perfectly happy. It was a great place to spend a warm evening and I suspect I’d be a regular here more than any of the other places if I lived here.

Brewery #2 (which is also the one Luke ranks 2nd place) is Marble Brewery. The Marble taproom is on the Plaza, which is the main tourist area of Santa Fe. It’s not just for tourists, though–certainly plenty of locals frequent the area as well. It’s just not big enough of a city to be able to segregate their tourists the way we do in San Francisco (a la Fisherman’s Wharf). I didn’t actually get a chance to visit the taproom, but Luke is a fan and you can grab a slice of pizza next door to have with your beer (which they let you bring in). Instead, we bought six-packs to drink at his house outside, since he actually lives on the Audubon Reserve. That night we were watching as the Los Alamos fire grew to consume 100,000 acres. DSC05706  It’s just an hour away and the ash was floating down on us as we barbequed and drank. The amber and the red are solid, tasty brews, with the red really standing out. I managed to pack a few bottles to take home to Joe. I also tried their Oatmeal Stout at a place called the Sleeping Dog Tavern. That was my favorite–it’s creamy and coffeeish without being bitter.

Although Luke ranks Blue Corn Cafe as fourth on his ranking of Santa Fe breweries, I suspect this is from lack of familiarity. They don’t bottle and it’s more of a sit down cafe than a drop in brewpub. Next time I would go and try to tour their brewery, if only for a shot at meeting their head brewer. Who wouldn’t want to meet that man?

Stay tuned for next time when we visit Santa Fe Brewery and buy a bottle of their Chicken Killer Barleywine!

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