Local good guy Jake McCluskey has become quite the human interest story in recent years.
SFGate and ABC7 News just recently chronicled his latest fitness journey – running on every street in San Jose and logging over 2,400 miles. Taking 15 months to do so, it was also a way for Jake to explore San Jose and spread awareness of various community pockets throughout the city.
I’ve also written about Jake, for instance, back in 2015 when he was gearing up for his run from San Francisco to San Jose to raise awareness for the Silicon Valley Children’s Fund and in 2012 when he was helping to elevate the local beer scene as manager of Kelly’s Liquors.
To me, he’s the same now as he was then – a down-to-earth, genuine person who is generous, delights in helping others and does all that he can for a good cause.
“I’m a lucky person,” Jake recently told me. “I know I’m getting a second chance, and I want to take as many people along with me if they want to. I don’t want to preach. If you want to go, I’ll help and do all that I can.”
‘Make Jake Smile’
It’s been wonderful to see the support that the local beer community – and beyond – has been giving to Jake and his recent GoFundMe campaign.
Set up by friend and local business owner/marketing specialist Carl Foisy, the money raised will go towards paying for services to help with Jake’s severe dental health challenges.
Jake shared with me, “It was a hard decision to go public with my problem, and the really hard part is yet to come, having everything yanked out of my head. But it has to happen. And I’m feeling so blessed with all the support. It’s like the spirit of the beer community – people helping one another.”
The local brewing community – about 20 breweries at last count – will be coming together Saturday, Nov. 19 at CEFCU Stadium (aka Spartan Stadium at 1257 S. 10th St., San Jose) to rally support for a good person and a good cause – Peter Cogan, the longtime distribution manager for Tied House and Hermitage Brewing Company, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Presented by Hermitage Brewing Company in partnership with the San Jose State University Spartan Athletics Department, “For Pete’s Sake” Craft Brewfest will take place from 2:30pm to 6:30pm – in effect an epic tailgate party to be followed by the 7:30pm game time kickoff between the San Jose State Spartans and Air Force football teams. It’s the final home game of the season for the Spartans.
Tickets – $40 if purchased in advance and $50 for any remaining on the day of the event – include a 5-oz. taster to sample brewery offerings, unlimited tastings and a 50 to 30 yard line game ticket. You’ll need code “FORPETESSAKE16” to purchase tickets.
Below is the current list of participating breweries:
Hermitage Brewing Company
Tied House Microbrewery
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Santa Clara Valley Brewing
Strike Brewing Co.
Red Branch Cider Company
Rabbit’s Foot Meadery
High Water Brewing
Almanac Beer Co.
Santa Cruz Ale Works
El Toro Brewpub
Bison Organic Beer
Faultline Brewing Company
Gordon Biersch Brewing Company
Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery
Sactown Union Brewery
Hermitage Brewing and Tied House Brewery & Cafe national market manager Carolyn Hopkins-Vasquez shares how this one-of-a-kind event came about:
“As soon as we heard the news of Peter’s lymphoma, we knew we had to do something, and a beer festival seemed like the perfect fit. SJSU Spartan Athletics has been wanting to work on a beer fest for a while, so it was perfect timing.
“Less than 24 hours after putting the word out about the festival, we had 20 breweries signed up and also had every volunteer position filled. Everything seemed to click easily.”
As for the quick response from the local brewing community, Carolyn shares:
“Do I really have to put in writing that Peter Cogan is special? Ugh. Okay, but don’t tell him I said anything nice about him. Ha!
“Peter has been around the South Bay brewing scene for almost as long as Tied House. He is the first to volunteer when a brewery needs help with something, whether it be an event, a delivery, anything.
“What’s the saying about 90% of life is showing up? Well, Peter always shows up, and when he does, he’s on time and brings along his British wit and charming accent.
“He and his signature “Brew Crew” t-shirt and khaki shorts have been working tirelessly to support the local brewing scene for years. After years of Peter helping everyone else out, it’s our turn to give back. There are very few people in the area more well-known or well-liked in our profession.”
I recently caught up with Peter to get an update on his health; he also graciously took the time to share a bit of his background and to answer some beery questions, including his thoughts about the upcoming beerfest.
Can you share a bit of your background?
I was born in London but raised in the West Country of England, specifically Plymouth, Bristol and Torquay where I lived from age 11 to 18. Sixteen days after my 18th birthday, I left home and moved back to London to work as a chef at the Savoy Hotel.
How did you get into craft beer? Any craft beer “Aha!” moment/experience?
After moving to California in late 1986, I was drinking the typical beers back then – MGD, Corona and stuff like that. I guess my “Aha!” moment came when I heard about a brewery opening just down the street from where I lived. I went there a day or two after it opened and was awed at how crazy busy it was. Eight beers on tap of varying styles? Amazing! I think for the next couple of months I didn’t drink anywhere else.
You’ve told me before your story of how you became a part of the Tied House team. Can you please share the story with me again?
As a regular customer they found out I used to be a chef back in England, so I was “recruited” to help them with events like New Orleans By The Bay at Shoreline where I would grill catfish and alligator sausage all day and be paid in Hurricanes.
Then I worked an event at Squaw Valley as a fundraiser for MS (the Tied House has been sponsoring this event for more than 25 years), and while I was on a chairlift with one of the owners and the GM, they asked if I would be interested in selling beer for them because I was very outgoing and had the English accent. How could I refuse them with a job interview like that?
How’s it been working with Tied House (and Hermitage) all these years?
Fantastic. I realized many years ago that one of the secrets to a good life is to be happy at work, and the owners and staff at both places have been instrumental in my happiness.
They have always encouraged me in whatever aspect of the business I happened to be in at the time and have always listened to me with any suggestions or criticisms I might have.
I will never be a millionaire, but I will be happy.
How has it been seeing the growth of the local beer scene these past years?
It’s almost like a runaway train. The movement has gathered so much momentum that I can’t keep up anymore. I could try 5 new beers a day for a year and barely make a dent in what is available out there.
As much as I love my IPAs, I grew up drinking European Pilsners, and when I find a good one (or Kolsch), I am like a kid in a candy store.
What does the upcoming beerfest mean for you? How is it seeing all the support from the local brewing community?
I used to run the beer side of the Small Brewers Festival of California in Mountain View from the early 90s until its last year in 2004, so I understand what it takes to put on a festival – the organization, the coordination between brewers, volunteers, equipment rental companies, cities to pull permits, charities…
I am humbled by how quickly all of these breweries offered their time and beer to support me and the LLS. Some brewers I have known more than 20 years, some only a few, but each and every one of them agreed to help no questions asked. I am going to be giving out a lot of hugs on the 19th.
Special thanks to Carolyn for putting this together.
How are you doing, Peter?
Overall, pretty damn good. I feel fortunate that so far chemotherapy hasn’t been too hard on me, although the third round has been a bit tougher.
I have a PET scan scheduled for the 16th to see how things are progressing, followed by another three rounds of chemo.
I didn’t want to see my hair fall out so before I started chemo, I had my signature ponytail cut off and donated it to Pantene so they could use it to make wigs for women with breast cancer.
I have been able to work part time so I am not sitting at home feeling sorry for myself. My brother Dave supplied my mantra for this adventure, and it is simply: “Kick Cancer In The Balls!”
Trust me. With the support I have from everyone, cancer has no chance.
San Jose’s Strike Brewing Company recently tapped the latest offering from their Bullpen Series – Cherry Bonds, a kettle soured blonde ale conditioned on tart cherries.
Cherry Bonds – their 14th Bullpen release for those keeping count – was tart (naturally), crisp, refreshing and very tasty.
Previous Bullpen Series beers from earlier this year have included – to name a few – Berliner Weisse with blueberries and pomegranate, Rained Out Pale Ale with pineapple and toasted coconut, Bergamot Breakfast Pale Ale with local lemon zest and Earl Grey tea, Milk Stout and Big Wall Imperial Stout with Madagascar Vanilla Beans.
Because of the growing popularity of the Bullpen Series and the consistently positive feedback on these beers – combined with the fact that they’re brewed in micro-batch quantities – a Bullpen beer is consumed quickly and then, in most cases, gone forever.
Indeed, Strike co-founder and brewmaster Drew Ehrlich confirmed that the Bullpen beers – released periodically throughout the year and available only at the taproom – rarely last past a couple days.
The Bullpen Series is an excellent complement to their regular beer lineup and is the brainchild of Strike brewer Ryan Bridge. A South Bay native, he joined Strike about two years ago and has been quickly making his mark as a professional brewer.
Ryan recently took the time to share a bit about his background, how the Bullpen Series came about and upcoming beers to look forward to from the Series.
Can you share a bit about your background? Where are you from/where did you grow up? College/major?
I grew up in Mountain View and Sunnyvale, so I’m originally from the South Bay. After high school I moved down to San Diego to study History and Literature/Writing at UCSD. In August 2014, I moved back up to the Bay Area and started working at Strike.
What’s been your experience with brewing?
I began brewing in college, experimenting first with mead and wine until eventually my dad bought me a homebrew starter kit for one of my birthdays. From that point on I homebrewed regularly.
I spent a lot of time visiting local breweries and usually attempted to clone the recipes of beers that I liked.
How did you go about joining the Strike team? When did you start at Strike?
When I moved back up to the Bay Area in 2014, I knew I wanted to commit to becoming a part of the beer industry. I got in touch with [Strike co-founder and CEO] Jenny [Lewis] and began helping out by pouring beer at events and in the taproom.
Eventually I worked my way into the production side, learning to work the bottling line as well as the cellar. After assisting Drew in the brewhouse for a while, I began brewing full time in early 2015.
How has it been working at Strike?
Working at Strike has been an awesome experience. Since we are such a small operation, we all wear many hats and inevitably learn something new every day.
I’ve grown tremendously as a brewer, and it has been really fun to see Strike expand and become a bigger part of the San Jose community.
Can you share how the Bullpen Series started? What were the goals?
We began the Bullpen Series beers with a couple of goals in mind. First, we wanted to bring a wider variety of styles into the taproom for our regulars and those visiting the brewery.
We also needed an outlet to develop new recipes in the hopes of eventually scaling them up into full production (Shoeless Joe Imperial Coffee Brown, for example).
Ultimately, brewing the Bullpen beers has been a great way for me to practice with fun, new ingredients, as well as brewing techniques.
Can you share more about the brewing system for the Bullpen Series?
When we first started the Bullpen Series, we were brewing on a 10 gallon homebrew system – our mashtun was an Igloo cooler and our kettle was a 15.5 gallon keg with the top cut off.
Once we realized all of the benefits of a dedicated pilot system, we upgraded to a two-tiered K-RIMS system that allows us to brew up to 20 gallons at a time.
How often do you try to release a new Bullpen Series beer?
Our goal is to release two Bullpen beers a month, but it is really dependent on our production schedule.
Just curious – what’s been your favorite one so far?
My favorite so far was probably the barleywine we brewed for our first anniversary party. I think I still have a couple of bottles of that one stashed away somewhere…
Any beers and/or beer ideas coming up for the Bullpen Series?
We have a long list of beer styles ready to be brewed. There is a cucumber/lime Kolsch conditioning in our walk-in cooler currently, and we have some experimental single-hop pale ales in the works as well.
I plan on brewing at least one (hopefully two) for our Second Anniversary party on October 8th at Strike.
Cheers to 2 Years!
The Second Anniversary party on Saturday, Oct. 8 – from 1pm to 9pm – commemorates the 2-year mark for Strike’s South 10th Street brewery and taproom location.
And as demand for Strike beers continues to climb – both Jenny and Drew recently confirmed that Strike’s never been busier – the party will also be an occasion to celebrate their accomplishments to date.
$20 gets you a special glass that’s yours to keep and 3 pints of your choosing. Everything is a pint that day.
There will be a band, a raffle, a Sports Gallery Silent Auction and more.
On hand will be food trucks Gow Chow (1pm-5pm) and Kushi Yaki (5pm-9pm).
The second annual Pints for Pups fundraising event takes place Sat., April 16 from 2pm-6:30pm at Strike Brewing Company (2099 S. 10th St.).
Presented once again by the popular Facebook group Southbay Beer Hounds with Clay Planet, Pints for Pups combines local beer, art, food trucks and prizes to benefit the Silicon Valley Pet Project (SVPP), “a 501(c)3 non-profit organization made up of volunteers committed to saving local at-risk shelter pets through rescue, community involvement and education.”
A Pint Glass and Growler Art Show will feature 20 tables of local artists selling one-of-a-kind functional art items – including steins, mugs, chalices and growlers – and competing for the Pint Glass- and Growler-of-the-Year awards.
Food trucks Waffle Amore and Los Jarochos Grill will be present, and there will be a silent auction and raffle.
Tickets are necessary to attend but are free and available at the Pints for Pups Eventbrite page. Donations are welcome – and tax deductible – and can be made through Eventbrite or at the event.
I recently caught up with fellow Southbay Beer Hounds Lance Boyle and Deb Anderson. They graciously took the time to answer questions about how the idea for the Pints for Pups event came about. I also asked about the Southbay Beer Hounds, including the origins of the popular Facebook group.
How did the idea for Pints for Pup come about?
Deb: When we first started talking about Pints for Pups, I was the one who suggested that SVPP be our beneficiary because I had witnessed first-hand the passion this group has for helping dogs (and cats) at our local shelter find loving homes.
Our youngest dog, Molly Beans, was a parvo survivor who we fostered at eight weeks old and ended up adopting. She was the poster girl for the first Pints for Pups, showing what rescue is all about.
With my project management and event planning knowledge I took his idea of Pints for Pups and added a bit of structure (like an Eventbrite registration page) so we could have an idea of how many people to expect and help coordinate volunteers that first year to make sure the day flowed smoothly.
Lance: This is a funny place. Everyone who owns a house is a millionaire, but there is so much missing – humanities, fun, hijinx, whimsy…
I have long thought things like this just needed to be done. People don’t know that art is made by artists and does not come from the mall. I thought an opportunity to knit segments of folks together would be fun and exciting. And who does not want one more glass… something special and different from anything on earth?
Rooting through tables of wonderful pieces of beautiful things and finding one that speaks to you… it’s exciting. It’s a treasure hunt.
The wonderful part is, you find your piece and feel it, and see how it was made by human hands. You meet the person who made it, chat with them. You learn the process of how your piece was made… maybe it’s fired at cone 10 (super damn hot, total fusion, tap with your nail and it rings like crystal) or maybe it was wood fired, an ancient technique, which makes each piece drastically different.
It’s just fun to do, especially at an event where others look and admire your mug or piece. It’s like for a brief moment in a way, we all become title millionaires, collectors, patrons.
And the beneficiaries are pets who need a bit of help.
All of this was a chasm that needed to be crossed. I just happened to see the materials to create the bridge.
And Jenny Lewis at Strike has been incredibly easy to work with.
Care to share a bit of your backgrounds?
Deb: I’ve been involved in local theater for 40 years and am currently on the Board of Directors at City Lights Theater. My other passion is animal rescue, mostly dogs. :) I got involved in dog rescue several years ago, and all of our dogs have been rescues.
Lance: Deb won a Theatre Bay Area award in 2014, which is quite impressive.
I have an elaborate art background in illustration, cartooning and sculpture.
More importantly, I have long enjoyed going to the zoo in a gorilla suit, walking through a crowded church in a devil costume waving or wrapping myself in toilet paper and sneeking up behind people at the Rosicrucian museum.
I got mixed up with the Cacophony Society in the ’90s when they were pilfering my cartoons for newsletters… decades of pranks and fun. I suppose the Beerhounds is just all my own extension of things like that.
Speaking of the Beer Hounds, could you share with me again how the Southbay Beer Hounds group started?
Lance: The Beerhounds got started kind of on a whim, originally because I thought it was an easy way to communicate about expensive Imperial Stouts released around Christmas which were not sold and then marked down in price by Groundhog’s Day (the end of the holiday season) when in fact they were actually better (aged).
I also met folks who I thought should be friends. Often they had quirky things in common… love of odd beer was often one.
There were like 30 of us for years. Nobody posted much. Then one day my friend Eric had a lengthy rant about a beer he loved. Folks started chatting, and it seems like that spark made it jump from 35 or so to 700.
Getting close to 800 group members in fact. By the way, I know some folks who are a bit bummed that they never received those special Lance Boyle introductions.
Lance: It’s a bit odd. The side of it nobody but me sees is who I don’t let in, which is more than half the people who ask to be added. I block more people than I let in.
After a couple of scammers and sales clowns got in, I started screening their profiles a bit, perusing photos, seeing if the people even liked beer before I let them in. Lots of Nigerian royalty.
It felt a bit sinister, so to make it clear to people that I went through their profiles and looked them over, I started using a photo from their pages – which are all based on solid facts, as you know – for the introductions.
It also seems like a friendly touch, and I hope it lets new folks feel like they can jump right in.
What are some of the highlights from running the Southbay Beer Hounds group?
Lance: I suppose seeing that something silly and fun can be planned and can make a difference. That having a happy hour at a brewery or a sticker release or a fundraiser can, at this point, really create notice or business.
The original idea of Beerhounds loosely is to refine one’s views to the period of one’s life when we knew more, between nine and eleven I think… being unencumbered by life’s drudgery and not yet driven by our loins.
It seems like the time in life when choices were the most sound. Things like a love of pranks, a disregard for spelling, the love of dogs as company and role models for etiquette, stickers, goofy images, nicknames…
I think our group is like a big bucket of that. At least I hope so.
This place is so stressful and serious. There needs to be a place where jackassery (our theme) is run up the flag pole and saluted.
Many of the people who are in Beerhounds, even some who don’t drink beer (if you can imagine such a person), are people who have some vision and have risked a lot to create something… Folks like Fouad Eilian (Bibo’s Pizza), Alex Hult (Hult’s Restaurant), Lisa Mallette (City Lights Theatre), Matt Hartenstein (Taplands), Seth and Stephanie Hendrickson (Golden State Brewery), and the women from the Silicon Valley Pet Project who from nothing started this incredible life-saving group.
They are all risking their savings to create something concrete based on their vision and incredible hard work. It’s truly a pleasure to help them, in any small way.
Any “Aha!” beer moments?
Lance: I spent much of my young life with an eccentric uncle who liked unusual beers. He was well traveled, always interested in odd libations from the far corners of the world. He was a surgeon and my aunt a nuclear chemist. We always had some experiment going on around the house, with fruits and grains. Later I had friends in the Peace Corps, who had to make their own hooch under difficult circumstances.
I’ve always loved the idea of making beer from different perspectives and wacky methods. It just happens to have become popular with others now.
Anything else to add?
Deb: Pints for Pups and its popularity and the fact that the first event was put together in less than three months and raised over $7,000 for SVPP… well, that’s all due to Lance.
He has a way with people that’s a bit like the Pied Piper (he’s also way too humble to say or think that himself), but I see it everyday – his unbridled delight that the group has become something more than an FB page where people talk about beer.
From his intros of new members, to his sticker designs that are always eagerly awaited, the local businesses he’s promoted through the page, and the fact that so many people have met through this group and become friends, he is infectious.
I often joke that he needs a bodyguard or an entourage when we go out as so many people are excited to see him. At Meet the Brewers, I can’t count how many people were awestruck and giddy at meeting THE Lance Boyle.
It’s so much fun to watch and yet it often makes him uncomfortable. I think he likes to create chaos and watch it, rather than be in the middle of it.
That may be why I’ve been married to him for 20 years. :) He’s quite a catch.
Downtown Mountain View’s Steins Beer Garden & Restaurant (895 Villa St.) will mark their three-year anniversary with an all-day celebration of good food and beer on Sat., March 19 starting at 11am.
A special BBQ plate – replete with sides – comes with three choices of meats: roast pig, ribs and beer brat sausage. Executive chef Colby M. Reade confirmed that he would be roasting two pigs to make sure that there would be enough of this popular item to last throughout the day.
The following is the specialty beer list:
AleSmith Hawaiian Speedway Stout
Allagash St Klippensteins
Almanac Peche de Brettaville
Anchor Brewing Our Barrel Ale
De Proef / Hair of the Dog Fred’s Sour Ale
Evil Twin Even More Jesus
Lagunitas High West-ified 2016
Midnight Sun Bar Fly
Tap It Cafe Noir
The Bruery White Oak
To ol F**k Art Let’s Dance with Gooseberries
Also on tap will be homebrewer Giullaume Brivet’s winning beer from last year’s 1st Annual Steins Home Brew Contest – Wild Rye’d French-style rye saison, an ale fermented with French Saison yeast and aged with Brett Bruxellensis. All proceeds from this beer will go to the charity organization San Francisco Bicycle Coalition in memory of Brivet’s good friend, Scott Smith.
Steins owner Ted Kim recently took the time to share his thoughts on reaching the three-year mark. He also shared a sneak peek of the upcoming Steins pop-up dinner on Thurs., April 7 and details about the second Steins location in Cupertino.
Your reaction to reaching the three-year mark with Steins? What have you been proudest of this past year?
This past year is the year I believe we really started to find our groove. We have a much better idea of who we are, who our customers are and the direction we want to go. Needless to say, I’m excited about what lies ahead!
Chef Colby told me that he would be roasting two pigs at the anniversary celebration this year.
Yes! Last year we ran out way too early. We had no idea the response for the pig roast would be so great. This year we have two and will have offerings of a beer brat sausage, roast pig and pork ribs along with an assortment of side dishes. Guests can go directly to the roast outside and order a la carte or can choose a special pre-set roast entree if dining inside.
Like last year, the winning beer from the Steins Annual Home Brew Competition will be announced at the anniversary celebration, correct?
Yes. We’ll be announcing the winner of our 2nd Annual Home Brew Competition and serving last year’s winning beer on tap. We’ll be donating $2,500 to the charity of choice of last year’s winner. We’ll also be donating all proceeds from the beer to a charity of the winner’s choosing.
We’re looking forward to announcing this year’s winner and recreating their beer for next year’s celebration. We’d love to continue this tradition and encourage all home brewers out there to keep developing their passion for beer and creating wonderful brews that we all can enjoy.
Switching gears just a bit, can you provide any details yet about Chef Colby’s upcoming pop-up dinner on April 7?
Yes! We’ve been tasting the menu, and it’s out of this world. I’m not a big fan of foie gras, but Chef Colby’s is stellar. I couldn’t stop eating it.
I’m really excited for the beer pairings as well. Our bar manager Ryan Hummel did a fantastic job of preparing some excellent pairings!
Last year, both you and Chef Colby told me about securing a location for a second Steins in Cupertino on Wolfe Rd. at Vallco Pkwy. How did that location come about? By the way, I pass by that area every day during the week – what a transformation under way!
We started a preliminary search early on – I’d say in late 2014 – just to see what was out there. Turns out the nineteen800 development we are now located in was in the beginning stages of building out their tenant base, and there was a golden opportunity which we jumped on.
Absolutely! The entire area is set up for some serious development. With nineteen800, Main Street, and the proposed Hills project at Vallco, the new downtown Cupertino is definitely going to be a huge attraction.
When will construction start in Cupertino? When do you hope to open?
Construction hasn’t started yet but should shortly. We’re hoping to open in the early fall.
Any details you can share about the Cupertino location?
Interior is 6,400 sq. ft., and exterior is 2,500 sq. ft. Not quite as large as Mountain View, but we’ve designed a beautiful beer garden.
Steins Cupertino is also designed with events and banquets in mind. We’ll have two private rooms and the rear portion of the beer garden will serve as a private area for events.
Number of taps at the Cupertino location? Similar to Mountain View?
We’ll have 31 beers on tap, same as Mountain View. Same house staples but different rotating list.
We’ll also be featuring a rare bottle selection. We’ve already been amassing a lot of fantastic bottles that we’re excited to share with our guests.
Again, congrats on reaching the three-year mark! Anything else to share for the upcoming year?
2016 looks to be a really big year for us as we expand to two stores and grow our team. A lot of our existing staff members are moving up into key positions, and our guests will see a dramatic increase in the number and types of beer events, pop-up dinners, and new services offered at Steins.
This year we’ll be rolling out online ordering and to-go pickups which our guests have been hounding us to implement, especially for lunch.
We’ll also be partnering with a local delivery company to send our delicious food directly to your home or office.
Chef Colby will be pushing the envelope on unique and interesting weekly food specials, and we plan on continuing our pop-up dinner series with guest chefs and a wide variety of cuisine styles and beer pairings. Definitely an exciting year at Steins!
Good Karma Artisan Ales & Cafe in downtown San Jose (37 S. 1st St.) is hosting a special 5-course vegan food-and-beer pairing dinner on Thurs., Dec. 3, 2015 from 5pm-8pm, featuring offerings from well-regarded Russian River Brewing Company.
Carefully crafted vegan dishes will be paired with the following ales – all on tap – from Russian River Brewing: STS Pils (Czech Pilsener), Blind Pig IPA, Pliny the Elder (Double IPA), Temptation (Wild Ale) and Consecration (Wild Ale). While Russian River Brewing IPAs and wild ales continue to be the standards for their respective beer styles among many beer enthusiasts, having these five beers all on tap in the South Bay is a rarity.
Tickets are $55 per person, and reservations can be made via the dinner’s EventBrite page. Payment for the dinner will be collected at the event. Good Karma will be open back to the public at 8pm.
Founded by San Jose native Ryan Summers, Good Karma is arguably the birthplace of the burgeoning craft beer wave in San Jose and for that matter, the South Bay. He recently took the time to answer a few questions regarding the upcoming beer dinner.
How did the idea for this dinner come about?
Natalie and Michael Benz from Russian River Brewing Company had been in town a few months back for business, and they were kind enough to stop by for dinner and a beer. At some point in the conversation, we threw around the idea of hosting a beer pairing and dinner. A few weeks and multiple emails later, the plan was in motion.
Can you please confirm that the five featured RRBC beers will all be on tap?
The lineup is all draught… Pliny the Elder, STS Pils, Blind Pig, Temptation and Consecration. We’re lucky that we get Pliny on the regular in Santa Clara County. Blind Pig hasn’t been down this way in 6 plus years. And STS Pils barely makes it out of the brewery, if at all. Temptation and Consecration – the sour, mixed fermentation barrel-aged beer components for the dinner – are such a treat.
The love, talent and care it takes to produce beers of this caliber is high art to say the least. We are beyond honored, and needless to say excited, to work with this great list of beers.
Can you provide a sneak peek of any of the vegan dish pairings?
There’s a lot to play with when it comes to food and beer. We’re excited to rehydrate Guajillo and California Chilis with Blind Pig for the Chili Colorado with young Jack Fruit. We’ll be incorporating Temptation with an Exotic Mushroom Ceviche… That’s too many spoilers already!
Anything else to add?
I’ve run Good Karma for almost ten years now. The relationships we’ve built, the experiences we’ve shared, the smiles we’ve inspired continue to inspire and us… day in, day out. The beer community continues to be some of the warmest, friendliest bunch of people I’ve ever encountered. Pair that with music, food, thought and reflection… the whole world just makes more sense.
Having opened back in the fall of 2011, Santa Clara’s Wicked Chicken (2565 The Alameda) has become a bona fide craft beer location thanks to the efforts of founder – and South Bay resident – Matt McClean. With their 10 craft beer taps, Wicked Chicken regularly hosts beer events, often shining the spotlight on local South Bay breweries.
Wicked Chicken celebrates their four-year anniversary with a celebration this Sat., Sep. 12 from 11am-11pm featuring beer and food specials. Matt – who grew up in Chicago and moved to California in 1993 to attend Santa Clara University – recently took the time to share how he started Wicked Chicken, his thoughts on the local beer scene, more details on the beer lineup for this Saturday and how he feels about reaching the four-year mark.
Can you share how you went about starting Wicked Chicken?
To make a long story short, I went to Santa Clara University and my first job was as delivery driver and prep cook for a place some may have visited named Cluck U Chicken. This is October 1995, and I worked and ran what became University Chicken and eventually Smoke Eaters for about 13 years. When the lease on the building expired, the landlord decided to rent the space to me, and I opened Wicked Chicken on September 12, 2011.
I don’t drink anymore; In fact I reached five years of sobriety on the first of this month. But I do love chicken wings, sports and the people who have helped make this location something special.
As far as craft beer is concerned, I get a lot of information from various folks that I know. It’s funny – I remember back in the day when Lagunitas couldn’t give away the beer. Now the local beer scene is growing so fast.
When did you first develop an interest in craft beer, and when did you first begin to offer craft beer at Wicked Chicken?
When I first opened in 2011, I didn’t offer any craft beer because from what I remembered, it didn’t sell. Like I said, we couldn’t even give Lagunitas away – that was back in 1997 or so. But soon I started to understand that there was definitely a change in the scene, and I started to get interested in the spring after opening. I was Drake’s Brewing Company first draft account when they joined DBI Beverage. And since then I’ve been making the right contacts, like with Jake [McCluskey], now with Santa Clara Valley Brewing, Jaye Morales from The Beer Heads and a lot of good people who like to share and help me put together a very solid lineup. The guys from Original Gravity Public House were very welcoming, too, and helped me a lot.
How many craft beer taps do you currently have? Do you also sell bottles?
I have 14 taps and most times 10 of them devoted to craft. I added a nitro tap recently. I don’t currently do bottles, though at times I receive limited bottled beers and will sell them.
What are your thoughts about the craft beer scene in the South Bay? Do you see a growing interest among your customers?
The craft beer business is huge, and the interest among my customers continues to grow. They ask me a lot of questions about the beers on tap. Craft beer definitely attracts a different type of customer. People think I drink from the amount of information I have, but I just research the beers and try to stay current with what’s in demand. I definitely think that the craft beer scene has room to grow. I know that I am always learning new things.
Any special beer offerings at the anniversary celebration that you’d like to share?
A fresh keg of Drake’s Aroma Coma (IPA) – my first craft beer. Two new beers are supposed to arrive on Friday thanks to Rudy [Kuhn] of Lagunitas – GravensTime (DayTime Fractional IPA mixed with Sonoma County Gravenstein apple juice) and DoppleSticky (Double Alt). Also something really good from Dust Bowl Brewing Company – Therapist (Imperial IPA). And I believe Dust Bowl is bringing their Hops of Wrath IPA. I’ll also have 2014 Firestone Walker Velvet Mocha Merlin.
Finally, how does it feel to reach the four-year mark and milestone?
I love what I do. I have always loved chicken wings. And I honestly love the regulars and the whole brand. I always believed if you put out a good product and charge good prices, people will come.
As I hit the four-year mark, I am so grateful, especially for the last couple years – I found and married the woman of my dreams, got the chicken place and now have a four-month old.
Uproar Brewing Co. announced on Twitter early last month that construction of their brewery and taproom would start in several weeks in the SoFA District of downtown San Jose (439 S. 1st St.) to open in late winter. Since the initial announcement, Uproar has tweeted additional tidbits.
“A little fact about us: Our brewers are from Minnesota. Our Brewmaster worked at Surly Brewing, and his wife is also a professional brewer.”
I was excited to see these tweets. A San Jose beer corridor has taken shape just outside of downtown San Jose with the likes of Santa Clara Valley Brewing, Hermitage Brewing Company and Strike Brewing Co. – and previously Clandestine Brewing. But I wondered, along with others, if there would ever be a new brewery in downtown San Jose. Thanks to Uproar Brewing, the time for a downtown brewery is upon us.
Mike Willaford, Uproar’s brewmaster, and his wife Michele have been busy preparing their move from Minneapolis, Minnesota to San Jose. Mike generously took time out of his hectic schedule to answer questions about Uproar Brewing Co., including how Uproar came about, who the partners are, what his favorite beers were to make at well-regarded Surly Brewing, and more. I wrote a short piece on Uproar for SanJose.com last week, but the full interview is below. Note that Mike was quick to point out that his answers represented a collaborative effort from the members of Uproar, all of whom have been busy in helping to start the brewery.
Who are the folks behind Uproar Brewing Co.? Briefly share your backgrounds.
Steve Vandewater (not-so-silent partner and long-term member of the IT community): After a lifetime in information technology, Steve has finally seen the light. He grew up and went to school on the smallest of the Great Lakes. He says he has a couple of degrees but since they are from Canada, he’s not certain they count. This does explain his ardent belief that hockey is the best sport in the world. He brings a long-time wine fanatics approach to beer which explains his devotion to “the nose.” Moved around several states “whenever his picture showed up in the post office” but has found a home in the South Bay.
Christina Vandewater (not-so-silent partner and long-term member of the IT community): Born and raised in Indiana. Education: Computer Science (Major) / Mathematics (Minor) from Indiana University. Brewing education: Whatever Mike and Michele teach me. Lots of experience making bottles empty, none in filling bottles … yet. Spent the last 20 years doing major business transformations involving process and technology redesign in many industries; my propeller beanie hat spins faster than the rest of the team’s. Hobbies: Harley-riding artist with a mini zoo.
Mike Willaford (Brewmaster): Mike is the brains behind the beer machine. Born in Oklahoma, he moved to Minnesota after moving on from touring and playing music. He has been in the beer business since 2006 and a brewer since 2008. In his career, has brewed for breweries like Surly Brewing Company, Lift Bridge Brewery, and most recently Sociable Cider Werks as Head Brewer. He believes metal is the best genre of music, that dogs that weigh under 130 lbs are small dogs, and bar-b-que is the best way to cook.
Michele Willaford (Lead Brewer): Michele was born in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and early in her life moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts. She began her collegiate career at Harvard University and The University of Massachusetts Boston before transferring to the University of Minnesota and finishing her bachelor in Anthropology. When she and Mike began dating she gained an interest in home brewing, which led her to a job with Northern Brewer Home Brew Supply. After years of honing her home brewing skills, she accepted a brewer position at Northbound Smokehouse and Brewpub in Minneapolis.
Dietrich Wahlstrand (Food): Dietrich, a native to San Jose, spent his youth causing a ruckus in the quiet neighborhood of Willow Glen. He attended Willow Glen High School and San Jose City College. He has spent the last 15 years pursuing his passion in catering; experimenting and creating cutting edge tasty eats. All the while tending to his two beautiful children, the teenager and toddler. You might spot the toddler at the brewery as the resident brewery baby and charmer. But don’t fret; neither toddler nor teenager are brew taste testers. Dietrich enjoys a good run, taking on crazy construction projects and being a loving daddy and husband when he is not focused on opening this awesome brewery. In the past few months Dietrich and team have been dedicating their lives to this project and are very excited about aiming to please.
Grant Kjos (Taproom): Grant grew up in a small Minnesotan town, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average. Studied American Studies at the University of Minnesota… and Latin, which was neat. Started home brewing about 8 years ago because his wife said he needed a hobby. Years of working at his LHBS (local home brew shop) has embiggened Grant with a noble spirit, and a cromulent sense of purpose. His vast knowledge of crystals and ancient aliens promises to serve Uproar with the best energies. You will find him behind the bar talking about movies and Hollywood gossip a bit too eagerly.
Everybody on the team is living, or has lived, in downtown San Jose, and almost everybody is an escapee from the lands of ice and snow.
How did the idea for Uproar Brewing Co. come about?
Actually that’s a pretty good story. Michele and I have been talking for years about starting our own brewery. It’s an expensive business to start so that made it more of a dream. That dream also involved opening a brewery someplace where snow was a rare experience.
Friends of ours, Grant and Tiffany Kjos, moved to San Jose when she was hired by Apple. They found a nice duplex to rent, and Grant asked the landlord if he minded him growing some plants in the yard. The owner, Dietrich Wahlstrand, asked him what kind of plants because you can’t be too careful. Grant’s answer was hops, which I think was about the second least likely answer Dietrich expected.
It turned out that Steve and Dietrich had been trying to put together a craft beer project for a while. They had some ideas but were missing someone to brew the beer. Grant said, “I know someone you need to talk to.”
Shortly after that Michele and I came to San Jose and spent four days getting a rough idea of what we wanted to do. With the six of us sitting around Steve and Christina’s dining room table, a plan came together. We have been working since April on the plan and the 8,000 things you have to do to start a brewery.
How did you come up with the name Uproar?
We really thought about what we wanted to achieve with our beer and who we are. Uproar fit that description. We want to cause a stir with our beers, an Uproar, if you will. Do something outside of the box.
What is the Uproar mission?
We want to create great beers and give San Jose a great place for people to enjoy themselves. Our mission for the brewery has been the same since day one: Complexity, finesse, dexterity. We also plan to be involved with the community as much as we can. One of the first things we talked about was how to set up our first charitable events.
Why select San Jose?
It has been a dream for Michele and me to start a brewery for a long time now, and when we visited the South Bay Area, we realized “This is where we want to live in and brew beer for.” The team looked for good locations throughout the South Bay. We gained an amazing response and support from the city of San Jose, the Downtown Association and the other businesses in the SoFA district. That made San Jose an easy choice.
How did you manage to secure the downtown San Jose location?
Once it was on our radar, we felt that this was the space for us, and we inquired about it. All parties involved seemed to really like the idea of a brewery in downtown San Jose, and it worked out for the best.
Regarding the site/space, how big is it? (The former ZERO1 Garage spaced looked to be quite big.)
It’s a little over 10,200 square feet with a lot of character, featuring exposed brick, industrial concrete floors, and a 24 foot high wood ceiling. We liked the kind of industrial feel that we plan to continue in our taproom.
Can you share some of the site details (size of the brewery space, size of the taproom, how many taps, etc.) and plans (space for barrel-aging programs, will the taproom offer food, etc.)?
We are going to have a very spacious taproom with a full kitchen. The brewery will take up a large portion of the building, leaving space for events. We will have twelve taps for house beers, and as we have shown via Twitter, there will be a barrel-aging program.
What are the specs. of the brewhouse?
We will open with a 10 barrel brew house from Criveller Brew Tech. It is a steam driven system. We will have six fermenters and one bright tank. I’ve worked with a Criveller brewhouse before, and I know we can make great beer with it.
What is your favorite Surly beer that you helped brew?
Blakkr. It was a collaboration brew with Three Floyds and Real Ale. It was great challenge of a beer to brew, and I was able to get to know some really awesome brewers through the process.
What beer styles do you enjoy drinking and brewing the most? What are your specialties?
I love lagers and a good Kolsch. With those styles of beer there is no place to hide. Either the brewer knows what they are doing or their mistakes will be pretty obvious. I also would say that those fall into my specialties as well.
What can we expect for the initial set of beer offerings?
Expect the unexpected. We plan to have four flagship beers and rotate different beers in and out. My wife and I will have his and hers tap lines, which showcase our individual brewing styles. I lean towards the side of creativity with my brewing while Michele gives the balance of classic styles.
Are you familiar yet with the San Jose/South Bay beer scene? (We’ve seen a lot of growth the past several years; yet many think – I agree – that there’s room yet for more growth, especially on the brewery front.)
There are some good breweries in San Jose, but there is plenty of room for more. Michele and I visited in April and checked out a few of the breweries and bars, but we are more than excited to join and help grow the San Jose craft beer scene.
You and your wife (as you shared via Twitter last month) will be moving here to San Jose in late July. Do you have any ties to San Jose/the South Bay?
We have our Uproar team members and a few friends.
What’s the best way for folks to connect with Uproar to keep tabs on construction and opening date statuses?
The craft beer landscape in San Jose – and throughout the region – has certainly changed for the better ever since word got out over three years ago regarding the impending opening of Original Gravity Public House in downtown San Jose.
On Sat., July 18 starting at noon, Original Gravity (66 S. 1st St.) will celebrate their third anniversary by tapping approximately 35 kegs – many from their cellar – throughout the day. Limited edition hoodies will be on sale, and DJs will be spinning vinyl on the patio into the evening. Look for food specials as well, including OG! Burger, Chorizo Black Bean Chili (add to your burger or fries) and Duck Fat Tater Tots with Truffle Salt and Rosemary.
The third anniversary celebration is especially sweet for Rob Monroe, general manager and event coordinator, who has been with Original Gravity since the beginning. Rob is a passionate, multi-talented fellow and a local beer expert. I caught up with him recently, and he graciously shared his thoughts related to reaching the three-year mark.
Congrats on reaching the three-year mark! Your thoughts on reaching this milestone?
It is exciting to not only hit three years, but to have grown with a lot of the same people in that time is rewarding as well! Some days it feels as though we just started and others like we have been doing this forever; either way we are still having a lot of fun.
What have been your proudest achievements?
I would say the expansion last year is definitely up there. For me personally, I love the scope of our events program. I feel like it has helped bolster the downtown San Jose craft beer community and put some fun into it as well.
Attention to quality beer and knowledgeable beer servers were priorities from the get-go, and OG continues to help lead the way in the continuing growth of the San Jose – and South Bay – beer scene. Compare the San Jose beer scene now to three years ago. Is it exciting to see the continuing growth?
We are extremely proud to have come out of the gate with such a distinct vision and dedication to craft beer. It is pretty incredible the amount of options you have these days, especially in downtown San Jose. When we first opened there was a major void, but the initial demand has not only been met, it is still growing. There is definitely a lot of support for each other in the community and respect for everybody’s unique take on beer.
Due credit goes to Good Karma for paving the way several years before us with an exceptional artisan beer list.
What is new in the works for the coming year?
We are going to continue evolving the events program into multi-dimensional experiences, adding more brewer interaction, education and food pairings. We are also in the very beginning stages of making some of our sausages in-house as well!
We are all extremely grateful and proud to be here and thriving. It is a testament to our unique and incredibly knowledgeable staff – You are all truly the best in the business.
To all the wonderful, unique and amazing beer drinkers out there, thank you for the great three years of support; we are just getting started. Keep it OG!
Kegs to be tapped throughout the day
Allagash – James Bean (Bourbon Barrel aged Tripel with Coffee)
Allagash – Currant Affair (Dark Sour Ale with Currants)
Altamont – Maui Waui (IPA)
Avery – Mephistopheles (Imperial Stout)
Ballast Point – Grapefruit Sculpin (NITRO) (IPA with Grapefruit)
Ballast Point – Calm Before the Storm (Cream Ale with Coffee & Vanilla)
The folks of Beer Snobiety – short for Beer Snob Society – have spent the past year enthusiastically supporting the local beer scene in San Jose in the most non-snobbish way, and their branded products featuring glassware, tees and hoodies are becoming a familiar sight throughout the South Bay and beyond.
They are actively engaged on social media – Instagram in particular – and those fortunate enough to catch them at a local beer event are treated to complimentary swag, assuming they have not run out.
On Sat., June 27 from 4-8pm, Beer Snobiety will celebrate their one-year anniversary at Mission Creek Brewing Company located at the Whole Foods Market in San Jose on The Alameda (777 The Alameda, to be exact).
The celebration features:
The newest line of Beer Snobiety products and special event pricing on their most popular items
A canned food drive to benefit the nonprofit Loaves and Fishes
Craft beers, oyster bar and burgers in the breezeway underneath the brewpub
Happy hour prices on all draft beer ($1 off) at Mission Creek Brewing
Raffle prize winners announced every hour
Raffle tickets will be given out for every beer purchase and for every can or non-perishable food item brought to the event. Raffle prizes will come from local beer-centric establishments that have contributed gift certificates, bottles and other swag. For the latest updates on raffle prizes, check the Beer Snobiety Instagram account.
Q & A with Beer Snobiety co-founder
The five 30-something founders of Beer Snobiety have known each other since their high school days. All have day jobs, and each has taken on a particular role with regards to their labor of love. The founders are Joe Nguyen (social media), TJ Dinh (marketing), Jay Perera (logistics), Glen Canlas (designer) and Herb Real (photographer).
Joe recently took the time to share more about the creation of Beer Snobiety and the people behind this good-natured group.
What is Beer Snobiety?
Beer Snobiety has evolved from a logo on a tulip glass into a nationwide community of craft beer enthusiasts. It started as a way for a small group of friends to become involved in the local beer movement without actually brewing the beer.
And slowly over time, it has become less about the products we sell, and more about the new relationships we have built with people near and far, new and old. We have reconnected with old friends and have established new relationships with people as far away as Australia who we hope to someday share a glass with.
How did the name Beer Snobiety come about?
We wanted a name that people in the craft beer community could relate to. We value the commitment, passion, and the craftsmanship involved in the beer that we drink. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to drink great beer in the company of awesome people, because it’s the people that makes beer more than a drink, but rather an experience.
In that sense, we are glad to consider ourselves a society of beer snobs without the highbrow attitude.
Who are the folks behind Beer Snobiety? Are you all friends from back in the day? What are your ties to the South Bay?
Beer Snobiety was founded by 5 of us who have all been friends since high school, some since grade school. We are locally based in San Jose and all of us grew up in the South Bay Area. We all have day jobs with different backgrounds. We’ve always kept in touch, but as we got older life happened as it normally does.
Before Beer Snobiety was created, we would meet at each other’s houses and have bottle shares or go to local spots like Antipasto’s or Good Karma for some good brews. For us, it was a natural transition to evolve from what we enjoy as a hobby into a company.
How did you discover craft beer? How long have you been a beer fan?
Speaking for myself, I disliked beer in early adulthood. It was disgusting. It lacked flavor, and it took like 10 bottles to get a buzz. Little did I know that there was a world of great tasting craft beers out there! It wasn’t until I went to a restaurant and tried a flight of beers. My taste buds jumped for joy for an IPA we all know and love, Bear Republic’s Racer 5. For the first time, this beer had complexity, flavor and depth. After that, I would go to Whole Foods or Cask’n Flask and find the gnarliest bomber I could find and drink all the IPAs and DIPAs out there!
Like many people, easy-drinking, great-tasting gateway craft beers from the likes of Lagunitas and Bear Republic quickly got us hooked. We all kind of discovered the craft scene separately on our own over the last 4+ years, and it’s really what brought us all back together.
What do you think about the local San Jose/South Bay beer scene?
What we love most about the San Jose scene is how energetic and generous people in the craft beer community have become. There has been so much growth and enthusiasm; we simply love it. Events like SF Beer Week, BeerWalk and Silicon Valley Beer Week have made it easier for people to discover and expand their palettes for beers in ways they never could have imagined.
Congrats on the 1-year anniversary! How does it feel to reach this milestone? Any surprises or highlights?
We are truly blessed to receive such a positive welcome into the community. We are passionate about what we do and will continue to highlight and represent the local craft beer scene.
We’ll strive to continue creating new and original products and designs so that people can identify themselves and others as craft beer enthusiasts.
The biggest surprise in our first year really is the social aspect of everything. We love getting out to talk and socialize with people in the community and connecting with local business for events and collaborations. We are strong believers in supporting small, independent and local businesses.
Anything you’d like to add about the anniversary event?
We’d like to remind everyone that this is also a canned food drive. Please help give back to the community and receive a raffle ticket for each can of food brought.
We have teamed up with many local businesses that have generously donated some amazing raffle prizes! Also, Mission Creek Brewery will be offering happy hour prices during the event – $1 off all tap brews.
We would like to thank the wonderful people of SmokeEaters, Good Karma, ISO Beers, Spread, The Wine Club, AntiPasto’s, Cask’n Flask, Fermentation Solutions, Bibo’s NY Pizza, and last but not least Whole Foods Market San Jose for believing in us and supporting our cause.