Tag Archives: Mike Faul

Cider Summit SF Returns to the Presidio for 4th Annual Bay Area Event

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Photo from last year’s Cider Summit SF in the Presidio

The region’s largest cider festival – Cider Summit SF – is returning to the Civil War Parade Ground in the Presidio on Saturday, April 22 from 1pm-5pm for its fourth annual Bay Area event.

The festival will feature nearly 200 ciders – plus cider cocktails and apple spirits – from local, regional and international cider companies, and opportunities to meet with many of the cidermakers.

Representing the South Bay will once again be Sunnyvale’s Red Branch Cider Company, whose sister company Rabbit’s Foot Meadery, incidentally, made for another impressive showing at the recent Mazer Cup International 2017, winning gold for their Hel (Aged Barrel Saison) and bronze for Biere de Miel (Honey Kolsch) – congrats to owner and brewmaster Mike Faul and his team!

New this year at Cider Summit SF is a collaboration cider between Cider Summit festivals and Washington’s Finnriver Farm & Cidery, resulting in a limited edition Saison/Farmhouse style cider. It’s made from a select blend of Washington-certified organic apples fermented with a Saison ale yeast at high temperatures to bring out the tropical and spice notes of the yeast.

Food will be available for purchase from Slow Hand BBQ and Whole Foods Market Truck. Whole Foods will also host a cider and food-pairing pavilion featuring Sebastopol’s Golden State Cider and local food purveyors.

Tickets are $35 for general admission and $45 for VIP tickets if purchased in advance before April 1. Beginning April 1, tickets go up by $5 ($40 and $50, respectively).

General admissions tickets get you a souvenir tasting glass and 8 tasting tickets. VIP tickets get you early access to the event from 12pm-1pm, a souvenir tasting glass and 10 tasting tickets. Additional tasting tickets will be available onsite for $2 each.

Designated driver tickets will be available for $5, and accompanied minors will be admitted at no charge. A percentage of tickets sales from the event will support charities including The Institute for Myeloma & Bone Cancer Research, Berkeley Humane and the California Association of Cidermakers.

For additional information and to purchase tickets, visit the Cider Summit SF website.

Check out some of my pictures from two of the previous Cider Summit SF festivals to get a sense of why the event is one of our favorites.




2nd Annual Cider Summit SF to Feature 45+ Cider Makers, Red Branch Cider Company to Participate

Tasting room of Rabbit's Foot Meadery and Red Branch Cider Company, a participant in the upcoming Cider Summit SF 2015
Tasting room of Rabbit’s Foot Meadery and Red Branch Cider Company, a participant in the upcoming Cider Summit SF 2015

The second annual Bay Area Cider Summit will take place on Sat., April 25 from 12-6pm at the Civil War Parade Ground in San Francisco’s Presidio. The cider festival will feature over 150 ciders from over 45 cider companies.

“Consumer interest in artisanal cider is growing at a phenomenal rate, and we look forward to providing the region’s largest-ever tasting opportunity for both cider lovers and the cider curious,” shared event co-founder Alan Shapiro of SBS Imports from an earlier media release.

Indeed, all signs point to a rapidly growing local interest in ciders. Case in point: On a recent visit to the Rabbit’s Foot Meadery tasting room in Sunnyvale (also home to sister company Red Branch Cider Company) at 1246 Birchwood Drive, a lively and friendly crowd had already formed. The service was excellent and the good vibes especially impressive given the visit occurred in the early afternoon on a weekday.

The popularity of their offerings – a variety of meads (honey wines), dessert mead, ciders (or “cysers” – cider fermented with honey – to be exact) and braggots (honey ale) – are at all-time highs, thanks in large part to the artisanship of Mike Faul, who first created commercial versions of historical mead recipes back in 1995. As well, meads and ciders are nice options for those who cannot handle gluten, as meads and ciders are naturally gluten free.

And many of the Rabbit’s Foot Meadery and Red Branch Cider offerings have garnered widespread acclaim, winning multiple awards, including four medals – one gold, one silver and two bronze – at last month’s prestigious Mazer Cup, the world’s largest mead competition held annually in Colorado. The medals represent a three-medal sweep in the Braggot style category for Honey Stout (gold), Bier de Miel Kolsch (silver) and Diabhal Belgian Style Golden Ale (bronze), and a bronze in the Varietal – Sweet style category for dessert mead Melia.

The appearances of founders Mike and Maria Faul and their daughter Siobhan on a CBS This Morning segment that focused on meads in Nov. 2013 also helped to raise their profile and increase demand for their products.

Red Branch Cider is scheduled to pour their Johnny Jump-Up Dry-Hopped Apple Cider and Black Cherry Hard Cider at the upcoming Cider Summit SF. Other highlights for this year’s cider fest include:

  • More than 20 California cideries stretching from San Luis Obispo to Eureka
  • Ciders from at least a dozen other states and seven other countries
  • Variety of fresh-pressed apple juice tastings
  • Apple bowling courtesy of presenting sponsor Whole Foods Market

Many of the owners and cider makers are scheduled to be on hand throughout the tastings, where ciders will be available in four-ounce pours. The event will also feature specially selected food pairings from Whole Foods, Slow Hand BBQ and others, and Wag Hotel/Berkeley Humane Dog Lounge.

Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 (cash only, if tickets remain) at the door and include a souvenir tasting glass and 10 tasting tickets. Additional tasting tickets will be available for sale onsite at $2 per ticket. Designated driver tickets are available for $5 and include a bottle of water. There is no charge for accompanied minors.

Cider Summit SF will benefit The Institute for Myeloma & Bone Cancer Research, Berkeley Humane and the California Cider Association.

For more information, including the full lineup of cider makers and ciders and to purchase tickets, visit the event website cidersummit.com.

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

The Beer Lover’s Gift Guide to the South Bay

Magnum IPA and Ale of the Imp from Hermitage Brewing Company
Magnum IPA and Ale of the Imp from Hermitage Brewing Company

Good beer in the South Bay continues its ascent, with many locally made, quality offerings available in bottles to give—or to get together and share.

San Jose’s Hermitage Brewing Company opened their tap room this past July, offering visitors the chance to taste well-crafted beer while connecting with the down-to-earth Hermitage vibe. Bottles of Hermitage beers are for sale at the Tap Room and can also be found in stores throughout the area, such as Saratoga Bottle Shop and local markets. Bottles of their Single Hop IPA Series continue to be popular items. For the colder weather season, the Ale of the 2 Tun Imperial Stout is a good choice. There’s also limited release, Ryetopia, a rye barley wine aged for a year in Kentucky bourbon barrels. It’s the first product of Hermitage’s barrel-aging program. The brew sounds like its own self-contained holiday confection with notes of chocolate, caramel, toffee, licorice, vanilla oak and—of course—bourbon. Another gift possibility: make a present of tickets—and maybe even offer to drive?— to Hermitage’s fifth annual Meet the Brewers Festival, Feb. 15 at their tap room ($35 per person/$5 designated driver).

Continuing its growth since the launch of their first beer in late 2011, Strike Brewing Company recently made a huge announcement—the construction of its own brick-and-mortar facility in San Jose at 2099 S. Tenth Street. Founders Jenny Lewis, Ben Lewis and Drew Ehrlich expect to open their brewery in early 2014. In the meantime, Strike bottles, such as their Brown, along with their IPA and Imperial Red (all $4-$5 per bottle), can be found at Cask & Flask in San Jose, and local markets such as Zanotto’s and Sprouts. And their seasonal stout, a Russian Imperial style with its deep chocolate and coffee notes coming in at 9 percent ABV, is back in a limited release, due out next month.

Santa Clara Valley Brewing Company proprietors Tom Clark and Steve Donohue possess great pride for the local area, as evidenced by their namesake brewery, as well as the names of their first series of beers brewed earlier this year—Electric Tower IPA ($6-$8 per bottle) with its hoppy, citrusy flavors and the chocolaty Peralta Porter ($5.50-$7 per bottle), both available at local bottle shops, including Jane’s Beer Store in Mountain View and Market Beer Company in downtown San Jose’s San Pedro Square. The bottles have artwork and write-ups on the labels that pay homage to this region’s history. The next beer to be made available in bottles will be an Imperial Red—ready just a couple weeks into 2014. Brewmaster Donohue says, “I was just looking at the final five label mockups. We’ll be brewing the red, probably late December. It should be bottled and available in mid-January.”

Rabbit’s Foot Meadery was founded in 1995 by Mike and Maria Faul, and business has never been busier according to Mike, no doubt fueled by the growing interest in ciders in conjunction with the increased demand for locally made, artisanal products. Rabbit’s Foot offers a diverse selection of meads (wine made out of honey), ciders and honey ales. Flavors range from light and dry to the sweeter profiles. Visitors can sample Mike’s creations at the Meadery, where the tasting fee is $5.50 and no appointment is needed. Both beer and wine drinkers often appreciate and enjoy meads and ciders; plus they make for tasty gluten-free gifts. Bottles of Hard Peach and Apple Honey cider are $5.99 (500 ml.) and a 750 ml. bottle of Sweet Mead goes for $16.99. Most of the meadery’s offerings are available in bottles under the Red Branch Cider Company label and can be found, in addition to their tasting room, at many local locations that sell quality beer.

Owner and brewer Kasim Syed of Palo Alto Brewing Company has been diligently brewing well-regarded beers since 2009. Most of his ales are available in bottles, and many of them are punnily-named: including his Hoppy Ending Pale Ale and the Barley Legal Coconut Porter—with a flavor profile of roasted malt, coffee, dark chocolate and a hint of coconut milk—and Cool Beanz Coffee Porter, brewed with Philz Coffee. Kasim’s beers are available in bottles ($5-$7 per bottle)  at a growing number of locations throughout the valley, including Ava’s Downtown Market & Deli in Mountain View and Boynton Liquors in San Jose.

[This post was shared on SanJose.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.

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

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

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San Jose’s Hermitage Brewing Company brewmaster Peter Licht.

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

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Los Gatos Brewing Company Dunkelweizen and Coquettish Blonde.

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Sunnyvale’s FireHouse Grill & Brewery.

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FireHouse Porter and IPA.

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

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

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El Toro Brewing Company Poppy Jasper and Negro.

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

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Strike Brewing Company Blonde and Stout.

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

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Rock Bottom Brewery Raccoon Revival and Brown Bear.

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Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company of Belmont.

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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.

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

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Bulgogi burrito with Rock Bottom Raccoon Revival.

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

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Hermitage Brewing Company lead brewer Greg Filippi (right).

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

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

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Uncommon Brewers Golden State Ale.

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Santa Cruz’s Seabright Brewery assistant brewer Matt.

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Seabright Brewery Saison Dumas and Sacrilicious.

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High Water Brewing Campfire Stout.

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

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Monterey’s Peter B’s Brewpub Chardonnay Stout.

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

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Alas, time for us to leave.

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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,

~Andy