SF Beer Week Day 2 – Beer Revolution & The Jug Shop

The Bruery's beer selection at Beer Revolution

And beer week continues. Saturday we headed to Beer Revolution, a relatively new beer establishment (they just had their one year anniversary!) near Jack London Square in Oakland. They were hosting The Bruery’s “Meet the Brewer” event all day so we made sure to stop by there for a few hours prior to our next event.

The Bruery's Oude Tart with Cherries & 7 Grain Saison

Andrei started out with the Oude Tart with Cherries while I opted for the 7 Grain Saison. Both of them we felt were at the lower end of the ABV spectrum (at 7.5% and 5.5% respectively) of the choices we were interested in, as well as not normally being available outside of the brewery. The Oude Tart (Flanders Red) was pretty damn impressive and a big hit showing in the fact that the keg was kicked about an hour after us arriving.  The 7 Grain Saison was refreshing as a saison should be, but with a bit more hop flavor to the finish. Both were very enjoyable.

Special Release - Too Limited To Have Its Own Sticker

We were lucky enough to snag seats at the bar which made getting service quite easy. Both outside and inside were packed with patrons, and Fraggle and Rebecca were working very hard but with so much patience. It was quite impressive. Luckily they had some help in getting everyone their beverages in a timely manner. We also had time to chat with Jonas from The Bruery. We chatted about Orange County being a bit of a lonely place for beer (I went to University down there) and he agreed with our next choices of beer, The Old Richland Barleywine and The Dark Agave Quad. I must admit we didn’t care for these two as much as the first two but they were both still drinkable. After that we moved on to a couple beers from Moylan’s: 2011 Apple Brandy Barrel-Aged Kiltlifter and their Heaven Hill Barleywine. Both of these were super impressive and even though they were not from The Bruery, needed a mention.

Later that evening we headed over to The Jug Shop for their, “It Came From the Wood” Barrel-Aged beer event. We had come here back in August for a Sour Beer tasting and really enjoyed the selection of beers. This night was no different with some stellar choices from Eric Cripe, the local Cicerone.

The 12 Barrel-Aged Beers lined up, ready to be tasted!

We arrived shortly before the event started, and a good thing too! I was shocked with how many people showed up for this event. I think by the end of the evening, there were at least 60 people, which is a lot for this shop to handle. But Eric did a fine job, somehow remembering where people had left off. The highlights of the event for me were North Coast’s Old Stock Reserve, Firestone Walker 14 and Port Brewing’s Barrel-Aged Santa’s Little Helper. We tried three different versions of Fifty Fifty’s Eclipse Imperial Stout, two from 2010 (Evan Williams and Four Roses) and one from 2009 (Heaven Hill). For as expensive as these guys are, I wasn’t too impressed. The Heaven Hill was the only one that I felt really had a good flavor to it and warranted the cost.

Post Mortem....a lot of beer was tasted.

This was a fun way to end our second day of SF Beer Week. Both events we went to today were well planned and had great brews.  For you locals, The Jug Shop and Beer Revolution do tastings/events pretty regularly, so check out their calendars for upcoming events.

SF Beer Week – Opening Gala

San Francisco Beer Week is finally upon us! I remember going last year to a few events and being in awe of how many beer lovers there were in the bay area. This year it expanded even more and I was there to witness it firsthand at the Opening Night Gala.

The craziness of the photo above gives just a hint at how many people were at this event. Once again it took place at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, but it seemed as if there were twice as many people as last year. This event was sadly oversold and in my opinion, poorly planned by the SF Beer Week folks. They had a VIP entrance time of 3:30-5:00 pm and at 5:00 pm, opened up to the plebeian folk, such as myself. I arrived at 5:20 pm and saw the queue wrap around the building. As I was walking by the entrance to the end of the queue, I heard them say that they were at capacity and would have to hold the line. At capacity?! 20 minutes after you’ve “officially” opened?! Absolutely ridiculous. I met a friend who was about 50 people back from the front and was able to stand with him, but we still waited about 35 minutes to actually get into the event. One thing the organizers did decide to do was to allow refunds to people who did not want to wait. While I thought this generous of them, it seemed like if they hadn’t oversold the event, they would’ve been okay. I later found out that they had upped the amount of tickets 3 times to a total of 1600 tickets. C’mon guys, if you’re going to sell that many, get a bigger venue. My suggestion for next year is to do it somewhere like Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. Then you can open it up to even more folks! *hops off soapbox*

Once inside, the event was enjoyable. There was a great show of breweries, some local and some from other areas of California; all the SF Breweries such as 21st Amendment, Social Kitchen and Brewery,  Speakeasy, Magnolia, Thirsty Bear as well as other “local breweries” such as Linden Street, Iron Springs, Moylan’s, Marin, Russian River, Lost Coast, Eel River, Lost Coast, etc….the list goes on and you can check out their website to see who was there.

Eel River's Set up

One of SF's newest breweries, Social Kitchen

As is the case with most beer galas/festivals, the actual selection of beer ranged from great to horrible with a median of “just okay”. The highlight for me was probably Bunny’s Toe from Triple Rock Brewery over in Berkeley. It’s an American Style Barleywine that had a really lovely toffee smell/flavor and a well balanced hops characteristic to the malt. I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve actually never been over to Triple Rock Brewery, although that will change later today when I go over for their Sour Beer Event.

Highlights of the event for me? Mostly just hanging out with awesome people, which included meeting Sean Paxton (pictured below with Andrei) as well as the guys from Mission Gastroclub (who strangely seem to be following us from event to event…hehe). I also got to meet a few folks from my Bay Area Beer Bloggers group – so nice to put faces to names (also pictured below).

Sean Paxton and Andrei

Joey, Jen, and John

Overall, the gala was a lot of fun and I look forward to the event next year….hopefully in a bigger venue!

Mikkeller Barrel-Aged Black Hole

At some point I will review beers that I find less than fabulous…but this is not one of them.

Last week I made it back over to The Trappist in Oakland after a hiatus of several months (shame on me!).  As always, there was an amazing selection of beers not only on tap, but also bottled. The Trappist is definitely one of the best beer bars in the bay area. But I digress as I’m here to speak specifically about a beer I had that evening, Mikkeller’s Barrel-Aged Black Hole.

I had tried Mikkeller’s Black Hole a few months back and found it to be a delicious example of an imperial stout. Add that to bourbon barrels and age it…it takes it up a notch!  The beer itself appeared very dark in color with a slight caramel colored head. The bottle states quite clearly, “brewed with coffee, honey and vanilla”.  I could definitely smell and taste the coffee and vanilla (oak barrels tend to give off a vanilla flavor and smell) but not so much of the honey.  The finish is creamy and smooth which makes it very drinkable, although I would say it isn’t quite as smooth as some other barrel-aged beers I’ve had…but that may be due to the age (better to age).

If you happen upon this beer, definitely worth trying. If you happen to see it in a store, buy it and age it for a while as it will only get better.

Four out of five pints!

He’Brew Bittersweet Lennys R.I.P.A on Rye

Not a great pic, I know...but the best I could do without a blinding flash!

A  little over a week ago Andrei and I stopped by one of our favorite beer bars in SF, Church Key.  Despite it being in one of the worst areas in San Francisco to find parking, it has a great selection of beer, a cool atmosphere and to top it off, a killer Foursquare deal.

While perusing the menu we came across Shmaltz Brewing Company’s Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A on Rye. Seeing that it was a “limited engagement” beer, we opted to go for that.  Church Key was selling the 22 ounce bottle for $25, but with their foursquare deal we got it for $12.50. SCORE!

This beer had a beautiful amber color to it with an off-white frothy head with a lot of lacing on the glass.  You can definitely smell the whiskey barrels that it was brewed in (to me it gives an almost vanilla-like aroma) as well as caramel.  It has a light carbonation to it and the taste is rich and delicious.

This beer is barrel-aged in Sazerac 6 year rye whiskey barrels and is 10% ABV.  I’m giving it 5 out of 5 pints although maybe I’m being a bit biased because a)I love barrel-aged beer and b)It’s the best I’ve had from Shmaltz so it was a wonderful surprise to find such a tasty brew from a brewery I wasn’t a huge fan to begin with.
Because they’ve limited the release on this I would have to say to buy it if you see it!  Yes, there are better beers out there but this is a sweet gem from Shmaltz that is worth tasting!