Tag Archives: Bay Brewers Guild

Tickets to Upcoming Beerwalks Currently Selling at Discounted Prices

Beerwalk in Downtown Burlingame

Tickets to the first four Beerwalks of 2015 are currently available online for $30. You can receive a $5 discount on tickets purchased now until Christmas by using discount code “beermas” (without the quotation marks) after visiting thebeerwalk.com and making your Beerwalk selection, which include:

  • Japantown San Jose, Sat., Feb. 7, 2-6pm
  • Downtown Burlingame, Wed., Feb. 11, 6-9pm
  • Downtown Mountain View, Sat., March 14, 2-6pm
  • Downtown Campbell, Wed., April 22, 6-9pm

Look for tickets to be available soon for:

  • Santana Row, Wed., July 29, 6-9pm
  • Willow Glen, Sat., Oct. 24, 2-9pm

About Beerwalks

Founded by long-time friends and business partners Jordan Trigg and Charlie Mann, Beerwalks provide opportunities for “beerwalkers” to stroll through a city’s business district, visiting local shops and businesses while sampling craft beers at each location. Beerwalks routinely feature mostly Bay Area breweries, including many from the South Bay and the Bay Brewers Guild. Previous participants have included, in part:

  • Campbell Brewing Company
  • Faultline Brewing Company
  • FireHouse Grill & Brewery
  • Gordon Biersch Brewing Company
  • Hermitage Brewing Company
  • Los Gatos Brewing Company
  • Rabbit’s Foot Meadery / Red Branch Cider Company
  • Rock Bottom Brewery Campbell
  • Santa Clara Valley Brewing Company
  • Strike Brewing Company
  • Tied House Cafe & Brewery
  • Firestone Walker Brewing Company
  • Lagunitas Brewing Company
  • Drake’s Brewing Company
  • Almanac Beer Company
  • 21 Amendment Brewery
  • Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
  • Anchor Brewing
  • Santa Cruz Ale Works
  • Uncommon Brewers
  • Hangar 24 Craft Brewery
  • Stone Brewing Company
  • Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

The first Beerwalk took place in Feb. 2012 in Japantown San Jose. Since then, the Beerwalks have continued to expand and grow in popularity. Case in point, the Burlingame Beerwalk on Feb. 11 marks the first Beerwalk to take place outside the immediate South Bay region.

According to an update this past spring, 10 Beerwalks had taken place with a total of over 7,000 attendees, over 500 volunteers, over 200 different beers and, perhaps most importantly, over $30,000 raised for local non-profit organizations. Experiencing early success, Metro Silicon Valley newspaper singled out the Beerwalks as the “Best Community Showcase” in the 2013 “The Best of Silicon Valley” issue.

“Things are going full speed ahead here,” Trigg recently told me. “We had great success with the four Beerwalks last year; we had a few more we wanted to do, but they were pushed back to 2015. We are hoping to have six to eight this coming year. We have had numerous downtown business districts reach out to us over the past year. We would love to accommodate everyone, but we’ve had to stick with our already established districts and add only a few new ones.

Trigg adds, “Now with official non-profit status, our goal for 2015 is to double the amount of money raised for local non-profits. It is definitely a labor of love, but we believe the Bay Area is an extremely diverse and amazing place. Each downtown district we visit offers something different and unique. The Beerwalk is a great way to introduce the Bay Area downtowns and their small businesses to their local community, all while introducing them to local and national craft beers. It is really about creating stronger communities through beer and for good causes.”

Discount Code

Receive $5 off tickets at thebeerwalk.com by entering discount code: beermas.

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

Bay Brewers Guild Supports Silicon Valley Brewing Community

Bay Brewers Guild Banner

Back in 2011, soon after the Craft Brewers Conference took place in San Francisco, a group of brewers from the South Bay and nearby areas started getting together regularly to talk shop and share beers. They recognized the advantages of working together to introduce more locals and visitors alike to their hand-crafted, locally made offerings and proceeded to establish the Bay Brewers Guild, attaining tax-exempt nonprofit status in late 2012.

Their mission?

  • To bring together, promote and raise the profile of the brewing community that exists throughout the greater Silicon Valley
  • Raise awareness of craft beer culture while celebrating its rich history
  • Support other local non-profit causes
  • Act as a resource for fellow brewers
  • Brew great beer

Since then, the Guild has enlisted breweries – about 32 at last count – from across the region, including Monterey, Santa Cruz, South Bay, Peninsula and the East Bay.

Many actively participate in the annual Meet the Brewers Festival held at San Jose’s Hermitage Brewing Company and the SubZero Festival in downtown San Jose.

An upcoming event featuring Guild members is the Fourth Annual Monterey Beer Garden, hosted by Peter B’s Brewpub, taking place Sep. 27 at the Custom House Plaza behind the Portola Hotel & Spa.

The next Beerwalk, the Halloween edition, returns to Willow Glen on Oct. 25 and features mainly Guild members.

And plans are on track for the Guild to host their first ever event organized from the ground up – Winter Beer Festival. According to Bay Brewers Guild president Dan Satterthwaite (who is set to open New Bohemia Brewing Company in Santa Cruz later this year), the event will take place in the South Bay in January. Expect 10 to 15 breweries to pour their finest offerings for the winter, including strong ales and other holiday seasonals.

While a website is in the works, the Guild’s Facebook page provides the latest updates on member news and events.

The following is a list of the current Bay Brewers Guild members:

  • Altamont Beer Works, Livermore
  • Alvarado Street Brewery, Monterey
  • Black Diamond Brewing, Concord
  • Boulder Creek Brewery & Cafe
  • Brewery Twenty Five, Hollister (opening soon)
  • Corralitos Brewing, Watsonville (opening soon)
  • Discretion Brewing, Soquel
  • El Toro Brewing, Morgan Hill
  • English Ales Brewery, Marina
  • Faultline Brewing, Sunnyvale
  • FireHouse Grill & Brewery, Sunnyvale
  • Freewheel Brewing, Redwood City
  • Gordon Biersch Brewing, San Jose
  • Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, San Jose
  • Half Moon Bay Brewing
  • Hermitage Brewing, San Jose
  • Highway 1 Brewing, Pescadero
  • Los Gatos Brewing
  • New Bohemia Brewing, Santa Cruz (opening soon)
  • Palo Alto Brewing
  • Peter B’s Brewpub, Monterey
  • Rabbit’s Foot Meadery, Sunnyvale
  • Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, Campbell
  • Santa Clara Valley Brewing, San Jose
  • Santa Cruz Ale Works
  • Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing
  • Sante Adairius Rustic Ales, Capitola
  • Seabright Brewery, Santa Cruz
  • Strike Brewing, San Jose
  • Tied House Brewery & Cafe, Mountain View
  • The Rare Barrel, Berkeley
  • Uncommon Brewers, Santa Cruz

Breweries interested in the Guild can visit the Facebook page or contact Satterthwaite or any of the other brewers directly.

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

Upcoming Beerwalk Visits Santana Row

Beerwalk Santana Row

The next Beerwalk is set to take place during the middle of Silicon Valley Beer Week on Wed., July 30 from 6pm-9pm at Santana Row.

From their event page:

“Stroll the unique Santana Row strip and discover all the shops, art galleries and great restaurants, all while sipping on great beers and enjoying the enthusiasm of shopkeepers and beer lovers alike.

“The Beerwalk was created around more than the idea of sampling great beers, but rather to provide an outlet for our community to come together to explore neighborhoods and businesses, which help make the Bay Area great.”

This upcoming Beerwalk might be the perfect opportunity for those new yet curious about Beerwalks, thanks in large part to the general familiarity that most have with Santana Row and the picture perfect San Jose weather that is forecast for Wednesday evening.

The Beerwalks, which take place every three or four months throughout various South Bay locations, are extra special because the events consistently point the spotlight on the underrated local brewing community, many of whom are members of the region’s Bay Brewers Guild. Knowledgeable representatives from the local breweries in particular are often on hand to help with the pouring in order to better answer any questions about their respective brewery and beers. Participating local breweries include:

Additional offerings will come from Lagunitas, Firestone Walker, Almanac, Speakeasy, Anchor, Sierra Nevada, Hangar 24, Headlands, CaliCraft, 21st Amendment, 6 Rivers, Ballast Point, Ninkasi and Green Flash.

Tickets are $30 if purchased in advance and available at www.thebeerwalk.com. In case the event does not sell out, tickets can be purchased the day of for $35 at check-in locations. Proceeds will benefit the Alzheimer’s Association and the Bay Brewers Guild.

Check-ins will take place from 5pm-7:30pm at Santana Row Park (Courtyard between Left Bank & Lark Creek Blue), and the tasting locations include:

  • Sleep
  • Beau Bijou
  • Flying Lizard
  • Orvis
  • Left Bank Brasserie
  • Hotel Valencia
  • Icebreaker Touchlab
  • The Blues Jean Bar
  • Tommy Bahama
  • El Jardin
  • Thea
  • Active Sports
  • Free People
  • Rosie McCann’s
  • Maggiano’s
  • Blowfish Sushi
  • Donald J. Pliner
  • Lark Creek Blue
  • Madewell

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

San Jose’s Meet the Brewers and The Beerwalk Events Celebrate SF Beer Week 2014

Tied House - co-host of the annual South Bay Meet the Brewers beerfest
Tied House – co-host of the annual South Bay Meet the Brewers beerfest

Recently announced was the first wave of scheduled beer events for the 2014 edition of SF Beer Week presented by the San Francisco Brewers Guild, set to take place from Fri., Feb. 7 to Sun., Feb. 16. Expect many more South Bay events to be listed in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, be sure to consider the following popular events:

San Jose Beerwalk in San Jose

[Note: Purchase tickets before midnight on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, to save $5 on the $30 tickets. Enter discount code: stockingstuffer.]

As The Beerwalk web page indicates:

The Beerwalk is hitting the streets of Japantown San Jose again for SF Beer Week on Sat., Feb. 8, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Whether you attended any Beerwalks previously, this event is a great way to kick off SF Beer Week.

Tucked away minutes from Downtown San Jose sits the charming Japantown business district. Stroll the streets and discover all the unique boutique shops, art studios, and great restaurants you cannot find anywhere else in San Jose. All while sipping on great beers and enjoying the social enthusiasm of shopkeepers and beer lovers alike.

The Beerwalk was created around more than the idea of sampling great beers, but rather to provide the outlet for our community to come together to explore the neighborhoods and small businesses which help make San Jose the great city it is today.

Tickets can be purchased in advance for $30 at Jack’s Bar & Lounge or online at www.thebeerwalk.com. In the case the event does not sell out, tickets can be purchased day of for $35. Ticket includes beer samples, custom glass, and passport. Plus, first 60 folks to check-in the day of the event receive complimentary tours at the Gordon Biersch Brewery and Bottling facility.

Check-in registration begins at noon. For more information, visit www.thebeerwalk.com or like us on Facebook at The Beerwalk. To benefit the Japantown Business Association (JBA) & The Bay Brewers Guild.

Meet the Brewers Beer Festival

[Note: Early bird tickets are currently on sale for $30 dollars (reflecting $5 off) until January 1, 2014.]

Tied House Brewing and Hermitage Brewing Company (HBC) will host the fifth annual Meet the Brewers beerfest on Sat., Feb. 15 at San Jose’s Hermitage Brewery (1627 S. 7th Street, San Jose) from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., featuring a variety of Bay Area food trucks and over fifteen breweries from the South Bay, Peninsula, and Monterey Bay Area.

Here is a current list of participating breweries:

  • Clandestine Brewing
  • Calicraft Brewing
  • Discretion Brewing
  • Uncommon Brewers
  • Strike
  • Campbell Brewing
  • Faultline
  • Rabbits Foot Meadery/ Red Branch Cider
  • Los Gatos Brewing Company
  • Santa Clara Valley Brewing
  • The Rare Barrel
  • Peter B’s
  • Seabright Brewing
  • El Toro
  • Hermitage Brewing
  • Tied House

More from a recent press release:

2014 marks the 5th Annual Meet the Brewers beer festival. Join us for the best mobile eats paired with the best local breweries from Silicon Valley and Monterey Bay. Proceeds will be donated to Can Do MS, a national non-profit who helps thousands of people living with MS.

Peter Estaniel, Brand Manager for HBC says:

“It’s hard to believe that this will be the fifth year for Meet the Brewers Craft Beer Festival! This event started humbly with a handful of local South Bay breweries, and has quickly grown to include fantastic, small batch breweries from Oakland through Monterey. This is one of the few festivals where craft beer fans will be able to actually meet, and interact, with the men and women behind their favorite craft beers.”

The featured breweries participating in Meet the Brewers 2014 are: Uncommon Brewers, Seabright Brewery, El Toro Brewing, Strike Brewing, Rabbit’s Foot Meadery, Peter B’s Brewpub and more to be announced. Gourmet food trucks will be provided by Moveable Feast.

Carolyn Hopkins-Vasquez, Director of Marketing and Events for HBC says:

“The South Bay and Monterey areas are really experiencing a brewery renaissance, and it’s exciting to be able to showcase these new and up-and-coming businesses. What’s even better is the willingness of all the brewers to put in their time and craft to help us celebrate the South Bay craft beer scene. The Bay Brewers Guild will also host a raffle to raise money for their organization. It’s the Guild’s second year participating and having a brewers’ guild dedicated to this area just proves the brewing community in our area is growing. We look forward to seeing what another five years brings for both the festival and the Guild.”

For updates and more info. about Meet The Brewers please visit www.hermitagebrewing.com, or to purchase tickets please click here.

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

Scenes from the 2013 Meet the Brewers Festival at Hermitage Brewing Company

Here are some pics from the 4th annual Meet the Brewers festival that took place this past Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013 at San Jose’s Hermitage Brewing Company.





Sunnyvale’s Faultline Brewing Company Doppel Bock and Brown Ale.




Sunnyvale’s Rabbit’s Food Meadery owner Mike Faul and his Red Branch Hard Raspberry Cider and Hard Black Cherry.


San Jose’s Hermitage Brewing Company brewmaster Peter Licht.


Los Gatos Brewing Company brewmaster Kent Wheat and assistant Kyle Wheat.


Los Gatos Brewing Company Dunkelweizen and Coquettish Blonde.


Sunnyvale’s FireHouse Grill & Brewery.


FireHouse Porter and IPA.


San Jose’s Gordon Biersch Brewery Company brewer Lars (standing directly behind Czech Style Pilsner barrel).


San Leandro’s High Water Brewing Company brewmaster Steve Altimari (center) and Morgan Hill’s El Toro Brewing Company brewmaster Geno Acevedo (right).



El Toro Brewing Company Poppy Jasper and Negro.


The South Bay’s Strike Brewing Company CEO Jenny Lewis and brewmaster Drew Ehrlich.


Strike Brewing Company Blonde and Stout.


Campbell’s Rock Bottom Brewery and Restaurant brewmaster Russell Clements (right).



Rock Bottom Brewery Raccoon Revival and Brown Bear.


Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company of Belmont.


We were able to get to the beer fest at around the starting time. Here’s what the crowds looked like less than an hour in, which was more crowded than last year’s crowd at about the same time.


The Bay Brewers Guild president Dan Satterthwaite, brewer at Gordon Biersch Brewing Company and founder of hopefully soon-to-open Cedar Street Brewing Company.




Bulgogi burrito with Rock Bottom Raccoon Revival.



Hermitage Brewing Company Special Bitter with Mandarina Bavaria and Simcoe – both on cask.


Hermitage Brewing Company lead brewer Greg Filippi (right).


Drake’s Brewing Company of San Leandro and brewer and production manager John Gillooly.


Santa Cruz’s Uncommon Brewers founder and brewermaster Alec Stefansky (right).


Uncommon Brewers Golden State Ale.


Santa Cruz’s Seabright Brewery assistant brewer Matt.


Seabright Brewery Saison Dumas and Sacrilicious.


High Water Brewing Campfire Stout.


High Water Brewing’s Steve Altimari, Drake Brewing Company’s John Martin, and Hermitage Brewing’s Peter Licht.



Monterey’s Peter B’s Brewpub Chardonnay Stout.


The folks from San Jose’s Jack’s Bar & Lounge arriving – Charlie Mann (left) and Jordan Trigg (right).


Alas, time for us to leave.



Yes, as the pictures suggest, a great time seemed to be had by all. This was the third year in a row that I attended the Meet the Brewers festival. I still remember our first one in 2011 – wifey, the toddler, and I had originally attended because we were really into food trucks at the time, but wifey and I quickly appreciated the various offerings from the local breweries, and we’ve been doing our best to buy local beers ever since then.

Regarding this year’s event, what an extra special treat for me to take the young adult (formerly known as the older kid) – I even think he’s slowly beginning to like IPAs. :)

Always Grateful,


A Brief History of Craft Beer in the South Bay

Meet the Brewers at Hermitage Brewing Company, Feb. 19, 2011
Meet the Brewers at Hermitage Brewing Company, Feb. 19, 2011

It was the second annual Meet the Brewers beer festival held in Feb. 2011 at San Jose’s Hermitage Brewing Company that provided more than just a memorable beer experience. Truth be told, my wife and I had originally gone mainly for the food trucks, but when in Rome…

I tried a refreshing Tied House Brewery wheat beer which served as a prelude to the Campbell Brewing hefeweizen with its pleasant combination of sweetness and bitterness. My wife, who is from Bavaria, heartily approved.

After talking with the pourers about their beers – many of whom were the actual brewers – I opted next for unfamiliar-to-me beer styles.

The Uncommon Brewers organic brown ale had flavors of roasted barley and pleasant, light bitterness. Seabright Brewery’s oatmeal stout poured black and smooth with flavors suggesting dark chocolate. Finally, there was the Faultine Brewery porter, a dark beer that smelled and tasted of roasted coffee beans.

The beers were tasty and paired well with our Korean tacos and burritos that we got from one of the aforementioned food trucks.

We left relatively early and did not sample any more beers from the other breweries, but thanks in large part to this beer festival, I gained a new hobby – to learn more about beer and its wide range of styles while checking out the local beer scene.

We began complementing our already existing wine rituals with beer exploration. I’d go online and learn about solid examples of various beer styles and match that information with the selections at nearby stores that sold craft beer.

I stayed up-to-date with Peter Estaniel’s BetterBeerBlog to see if there was anything new going on in the South Bay.

In April 2011, the first KraftBrew Beer Fest – organized by Naglee Park Garage – took place at the historic San Jose Woman’s Club, and we tried a larger selection of different styles of domestic and international beers.

Some beer styles we enjoyed from the first sip (IPA for my wife), while others we grew to appreciate over time (IPA for me).

Events like the Meet the Brewers beer festival and the KraftBrew Beer Fest not only provided opportunities to discover the wide variety of beer styles, but they also showed that there are plenty of folks in the area interested in good beer.

For the next year-and-a-half, our appreciation for beer and the local beer scene would continue to grow, and for me, in particular, would become a passion as I started blogging and writing about the local beer scene.

Local Craft Beer Boom

As recently as late 2008, William Brand wrote that the South Bay was a craft beer desert, but from our ventures out to local beer spots, stores and events, we learned that Brand’s observation was surely evolving.

Beer enthusiasts no longer had to routinely drive at least 45 minutes to try the latest touted, hard-to-get beer. There were establishments that made and carried great beer right here, from Morgan Hill through San Jose to Palo Alto.

We observed first hand the growing demand for – and distribution of – good beer, a relatively recent development according to a number of longer-term South Bay beer fans. The various, possible reasons for why the South Bay was such a latecomer continue to be discussed (and might perhaps be a topic in a future write-up).

Fortunately, such discussions these days often end on a positive note; many beer drinkers throughout the South Bay are enjoying the current craft beer boom and imagining the potential for the local area.

Craft Beer Movement and the South Bay

“Craft beer” – as defined by the Brewers Association – refers to beer made by a “small, independent, and traditional” brewing company. Such definitions illustrate the contrast between local and regional craft beer brewing companies and the giant, macro brewing companies that still dominate the overall beer market.

But according to recent numbers released by the Brewers Association in March, overall beer volume sales are down while the U.S. craft brewing industry continues to grow in volume and dollar sales. More beer drinkers are trying craft beer and learning about the various aspects that make craft beer more compelling compared to macro beer.

This nationwide growth within the craft beer segment reflects the growing interest and demand for craft beer here locally. A number of recent developments highlight the increasing popularity of craft beer within our region – from the popular and successful beer festivals to the growth of local brewing companies like Hermitage and Strike, as well as a new San Jose brewery that is in the works.

Greg Filippi - Lead Brewer at Hermitage Brewing Company, May 18, 2012
Greg Filippi – Lead Brewer at Hermitage Brewing Company, May 18, 2012

The Bay Brewers Guild, a collective of brewers representing the South Bay and nearby Santa Cruz and Monterey areas, continues to take shape, while the spotlight on the beers made at our local brewpubs – and the brewers who make them – grows bigger and brighter.

More establishments are offering craft beer in the South Bay and taking care to ensure that their staff are knowledgeable enough about beer to be able to make just the right recommendation to both beer enthusiasts and newbies alike.

Restaurant James Randall in Los Gatos has joined California Café (both the Palo Alto and Los Gatos locations) in hosting a growing number of beer-and-food-pairing events.

With craft beer’s growing popularity, it’s no surprise that more folks are interested in homebrewing and joining homebrew clubs. “We receive several inquiries a month from new homebrewers… where even just a year ago inquiries were much more infrequent,” says Derek Wolfgram, president of the homebrew club Silicon Valley Sudzers.

And there is a growing list of craft beer-centric businesses that have just opened or are set to open this year.

In downtown San Jose, the list includes craft beer bars Original Gravity Public House and ISO: Beers, and restaurant Blackbird Tavern.

In Campbell, there is Liquid Bread beer bar. In Mountain View, there are Jane’s Beer Store, South Bay’s first specialty beer store, and Steins Beer Garden + Restaurant.

History and Emergence of the South Bay Beer Scene: Breweries

Even hardcore South Bay beer fans might be surprised to learn that the valley had its share of early breweries, as cited in the 1992 book The Bars of Santa Clara County: A Beer Drinker’s Guide to Silicon Valley co-written by Bay Area beer scribe Jay Brooks and Karen Knezevich.

These breweries produced predominantly German-style beers and included Eagle Brewery (San Jose, 1853), Fredericksburg Brewery (San Jose, 1856), and other San Jose breweries opening between 1875 and 1905, including San Jose Brewery, Louis Krumb’s Brewery, and the St. Claire Brewing Company. After breweries such as these closed, there were no local South Bay breweries until the mid-1980s.

Breweries like Winchester Brewery and Palo Alto Brewing Company would come and go, but not before making their impact.

In 1986, Pete Slosberg launched Pete’s Wicked Ales in Mountain View thanks to Palo Alto Brewing Company and Bob Stoddard, of whom Slosberg refers to as “one of the first, true pioneers” in craft brewing.

Stoddard would later open his eponymous Brewhouse & Eatery in Sunnyvale in 1993 (now FireHouse Grill & Brewery) and in Campbell in 2002 (now Campbell Brewing Company/Sonoma Chicken Coop).

Mountain View’s Tied House Brewery opened in 1988, and later in the same year Dan Gordon and Dean Biersch opened the first Gordon Biersch brewery restaurant in Palo Alto.

The second Gordon Biersch opened in downtown San Jose in 1990, replacing a brewpub that had closed in four months, proving in part that South Bay native Gordon – “Born in San Jose. Grew up in Los Altos,” he shares – had a strong case of South Bay pride. Gordon would go on to open a brewery and bottling facility in San Jose in 1997.

Dan Gordon, June 26, 2012
Dan Gordon, June 26, 2012

Los Gatos Brewing Company opened in 1991 with their downtown San Jose location opening in 2010.

El Toro Brewing Company started in 1992 with the opening of their Morgan Hill brewpub in 2006.

Additional breweries and restaurants would open, including Sunnyvale’s Faultline Brewing Company in 1994.

“We have breweries here in the South Bay that have been around for a while, and it’s nice to see people appreciating beer more,” states Campbell Brewing’s brewmaster Jim Turturici.

Steve Donohue, currently brewing at Hermitage while working on the initial stages of opening Santa Clara Valley Brewing Company in San Jose, asks that people give South Bay breweries a chance: “I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

Steve Donohue and Peter Licht (Brewmaster at Hermitage Brewing Company), June 22, 2012
Steve Donohue and Peter Licht (Brewmaster at Hermitage Brewing Company), June 22, 2012

Craft Beer Bars and More

Moving along the local craft beer landscape, every beer region has its share of go-to hangouts for good beer. Since last year, Harry’s Hofbrau in San Jose has become a destination for the South Bay craft beer community.

General manager Kevin Olcese has earned a solid reputation for his beer knowledge and passion, for bringing in hard-to-get beers on tap, and for informing customers via Facebook of the latest beer arrivals.

Kevin Olcese, June 26, 2012
Kevin Olcese, June 26, 2012

Olcese, however, is quick to give credit to Palo Alto’s Rose & Crown Pub and San Jose’s Wine Affairs – “They’re huge,” he simply says – for helping to pave the way in the beer scene, contributing greatly to the American and micro/craft beer knowledge base among local beer drinkers.

Kasim Syed took over the Rose & Crown in 2006 with an immediate goal to bring better quality beers along with beers that other places didn’t have. His second goal was to get people to try these different beers and get his customers to change their tastes. On a moment’s notice, he would drive to Santa Rosa to pick up a single keg of the latest Russian River Brewing Company offering – all to get more people to try different styles of beer.

As for the growing number of local beer spots, Syed says, “It’s not a competition. It’s about giving people choices; there’s more fun with more choices. These are happy times right now.”

Kasim Syed, June 27, 2012
Kasim Syed, June 27, 2012

Owner Diane Chang-Laurent remembers opening Wine Affairs in November 2007 with only five Belgian beers in bottles. But the customers, including mostly homebrewers at the beginning, would constantly request various beers from particular breweries. The beer focus really took shape in 2009.

Chang-Laurent says, “All the credit goes to the customers. They pushed me, and I listened.” As for the growing number of beer spots opening up in the South Bay, she says, “The more, the better. Plus, competition is always good.”

Diane Chang-Laurent, June 28, 2012
Diane Chang-Laurent, June 28, 2012

In downtown San Jose, Ryan Summers opened Good Karma Vegan Café in 2006 and has worked quietly yet diligently on bringing and maintaining a quality rotating craft beer selection – currently 15 beers on tap – for Good Karma’s loyal following.

According to Summers, the new beer-centric establishments will “create a draw for everybody and help us take the customer experience even further as each of us continues to think about how to stand out.”

Ryan Summers, May 17, 2012
Ryan Summers, May 17, 2012

The craft beer focus began in 2008 for Bobby’s Liquors in Santa Clara thanks to Sukhjeev Singh, better known as Dee to his customers. Among the varied bottled craft beers in stock, Bobby’s offers a well-regarded collection of hard-to-get bottled sour ales.

Look for Dee and his wife to open ISO: Beers in downtown San Jose later this fall, which he says is “a beer bar and tasting lounge that will offer about 2,000 refrigerated, bottled craft beers and feature 50 to 60 craft beers on tap starting out.”

San Jose’s Naglee Park Garage and Jack’s Bar & Lounge, while providing respectable craft beer offerings, are coordinating large-scale South Bay beer events, like the Garage’s upcoming Summer KraftBrew Beer Fest (their third KraftBrew installment), taking place in downtown San Jose on Saturday, July 21. Event goers will get to enjoy a variety of beer styles along with great food and music in a festive atmosphere.

The next South Bay Beerwalk hosted by Jack’s (their third beerwalk) takes place in Campbell on Saturday, August 11, providing the opportunity to check out downtown Campbell while sampling beers from Northern California.

South Bay Craft Beer Scene Going Forward

Having been born and raised in San Jose (and still living here), I have seen various communities spring up over the years, communities bonded by a myriad of cultural facets, like art, music, food, sports and technology.

We can now include the craft beer community.

Co-owner Dan Phan of Original Gravity Public House notes, “Beer is the universal beverage that has been bringing people together on common ground for thousands of years.”

Dan Phan and Johnny Wang, April 9, 2012
Dan Phan and Johnny Wang, April 9, 2012
Dan Phan and Johnny Wang, June 28, 2012
Dan Phan and Johnny Wang, June 28, 2012

The late esteemed English writer and journalist Michael Jackson wrote in his 1997 book The New World Guide to Beer, “The world always knew that beer was a noble and complex drink, but, for a moment in history, that was forgotten. Now it is being remembered.”

Indeed, many folks, including Dan Gordon, have felt the momentum for good beer building in the South Bay ever since the 80s and 90s.

Fast forward to today, and there is no doubting the momentum.

Notable Bay Area beer editor and writer Mike Pitsker agrees that the South Bay beer scene is on the up-and-up.

And brewer Steve Donohue adds the capstone comment, “We’re just scratching the surface.”

[An abridged version of this post was shared as the cover story in the annual Metro Silicon Valley beer issue.]