The beer follows their previous collaboration beer released earlier in the spring of this year – Clean Spin Triple IPA, a super smooth, citrusy Triple IPA coming in at 9.5% ABV.
About the new collaborative beer, Palo Alto Brewing brewer Kasim Sayed says:
My Name is Mud is an ‘East Coast IPA.’ Where clarity – or lack-thereof – is a hallmark for a beer, we collaborated to create a cloudy, juicy and satisfying IPA.
“Entirely unfiltered and ‘muddy,’ rolled oats and English yeast contribute to the haze as well as the malty complexity and velvety mouthfeel. Late hopping with Centennial, Cascade and Citra hops in the kettle supply hop flavor. Dry hopping with Galaxy, Mosaic and more Citra to make this one a juicy treat.”
Hermitage Brewing head brewer Greg Filippi recently posted a photo of the beer on social media:
Greg added, “Sneak peek of our latest collaboration with our good friends at Palo Alto Brewing: ‘My Name is Mud’ is a big, fruity IPA that borders on ridiculously cloudy. Sweet and juicy like they do back East. Look for it in Palo Alto Thursday and at the Hermitage Tap Room Friday.”
The brewing teams from both Palo Alto Brewing and Hermitage Brewing will be at the Tap Room in Palo Alto at 2pm on Thursday for the new release.
Look for more collaborations down the road. Kasim shares, “After we brewed the delicious Clean Spin Triple IPA in the spring, we decided that we had to keep this collaborative effort to make the fun beers going. This is just the latest of beers that we will be creating together.”
Kasim and Freewheel Brewing’s Alisha Blue were recently enjoying a pint and reminiscing about their previous collaboration beer which was brewed some time ago. Alisha mentioned how at the time, it had been one of the first beers she helped brew at Freewheel. Kasim, in turn, suggested that it was time to collaborate on another, and the wheels <ahem> began to turn quickly on what beer style to brew.
Both Kasim and Alisha wanted to brew a beer that was different than the usual West Coast style, so they decided to brew a Belgian-inspired beer.
Kasim shares, “We did a bit of a tie-in with our own styles, but the beer is quite unique. We used all English malts and English and Pacific Northwest hops, but the interesting part is that we blended the Duvel yeast strain with the Freewheel house strain.
“The beer is called Eye of the Storm for the way the boil looked – whole leaf hops twisting around a pocket of wort. It was a cool sight.”
Though the collaboration is expected to be available in time for the upcoming Silicon Valley Beer Week (which begins Friday, July 22), distribution will be limited to a small number of establishments, including Freewheel Brewing, The Rose & Crown and Palo Alto Tap Room.
Home to a bevy of restaurants, shops and cafés, University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto is now home to Palo Alto Tap Room (233 University Ave.), founded by husband-and-wife Kasim and Guldem Tanyeri Syed – owners of The Rose & Crown – and brothers Andrew and Lars Smith.
The Tap Room, which opened in early February, has 16 taps plus a cider tap and features a creative menu of items made from scratch.
The menu – overseen by Lars – consists of a tidy set of appetizers (Deviled Eggs, Poutine, Buttermilk Fried Pickles, among others), wings, salads, sandwiches (Grilled Cheese, Grilled Veggies, Fried Chicken, Beer-Braised Beef) and a Beer Float dessert.
Look for weekly specials, including the currently ongoing special Fried Chicken and Waffles on Sundays. Ingredients are locally sourced to the extent possible and include free-range chicken and hormone-free meat.
Upon entering the Tap Room, there is a sleek, open bar on the right side and big communal tables on the left. Towards the back area are two pinball machines and a jukebox. Board games are available as well. The space is bright, inviting and clean, and the atmosphere is friendly thanks to the efforts of Andrew, who manages the front of the house, and the staff.
Most of the beers on tap are from Palo Alto Brewing Company; Kasim started Palo Alto Brewing back in 2008 and has been at the forefront of the local craft beer scene. When he and his wife took over The Rose & Crown in 2006, he spent the initial years diligently seeking out the different beers that other places did not carry and challenged his customers to try out new, diverse beers, converting many along to way to becoming beer enthusiasts.
Though a number of Palo Alto Brewing beers can be enjoyed at The Rose & Crown – located just a couple blocks away – and are also available throughout the peninsula and the Bay Area, the Tap Room provides the opportunity to enjoy new experimental and collaboration beers.
According to Kasim, the lure of a new beer often compels customers to try an offering that is a bit different, and the subsequent feedback is consistently positive. Recent examples include Grapefruit Tart Deco Sour, Lychee Tart Deco Sour, Peanut Butter Stout, Nitro Hoppy Ending Pale Ale, Blood Orange Tart Deco Sour, Raspberry Tart Deco Sour, Triple Berry Stout and Passion Fruit Stout.
Recent collaborations have included Grapefruit Belgian Tripel with brewer Saul Reyes of Tied House and last month’s debut of Clean Spin Triple IPA with San Jose’s Hermitage Brewing Company, where the majority of Palo Alto Brewing beers are currently brewed. Before the release of Clean Spin, Kasim approached Hermitage Brewing brewmaster Peter Licht and head brewer Greg Filippi with an idea for a Triple IPA, resulting in an offering that has proven popular among many local beer fans.
During a recent visit with my family, it was readily apparent why Clean Spin Triple IPA has been so popular – smooth and well-balanced, especially for a beer at 9.5% ABV.
Customers can try a variety of beers at the Tap Room by ordering the “Flight of the Day,” a sampling of five pre-selected beers on tap. Our bartender Kristalynn Todd was knowledgeable about each of the beers and provided attentive service.
I enjoyed a beer flight that consisted of my other favorites of the day – the tasty Tart Deco Sour (brewed in partnership at Belgium’s De Proef Brouwerij) and the delicious Raspberry Tart Deco Sour, which I knew – and Kasim agreed – wouldn’t last long.
It was nice to see another local beer on one of the several guest taps – Saison brewed in collaboration by Drake’s out of San Leandro and San Jose’s Santa Clara Valley Brewing. Kasim tells me to look out for future collaboration beers with Santa Clara Valley Brewing as well.
We devoured our appetizer order of Poutine with Cool Beanz (Porter) gravy and jack cheese. My wife enjoyed the Chopped Salad with house-made Hoppy Ending (Pale Ale) mustard vinaigrette, while our boy and I thoroughly enjoyed a Grilled Cheese Sandwich and Fried Chicken Wings, respectively. The sauces for my wings included house-made traditional buffalo, jalapeno lime glaze and my favorite Atlas (DIPA) BBQ.
With its central location on University Avenue and its welcoming vibe, Palo Alto Tap Room is a great place to enjoy good beer and quality bites, either by yourself or with friends and family. We’ll certainly be back soon.
[This post was shared on Examiner.com without all the pictures.]
We missed owner Ted Kim, but we had great chats with Chef Colby M. Reade and assistant manager Lynna Nguyen.
Our tray of awesomeness – roast pig (cheek), chicken, house sausage and St. Louis style ribs with all the fixins – paired with Palo Alto Brewing Barrel Aged Cuvee (Sour) and Palo Alto Brewing Barrel Aged Sour Porter. Food was excellent. The beers were very enjoyable.
SF Beer Week kicks off this Fri., Feb. 6 with the Opening Gala at SF’s Fort Mason Center, Herbst Pavilion, where over 80 Bay Area breweries will be pouring their finest offerings. As a testament to the Opening Gala’s popularity, tickets sold out in just twelve days back in December. Participating South Bay breweries include:
Campbell Brewing Company
El Toro Brewing Company (Morgan Hill)
Gordon Biersch Brewing Company (San Jose)
Hermitage Brewing Company (San Jose)
Palo Alto Brewing Company
Santa Clara Valley Brewing Company (San Jose)
Strike Brewing Company (San Jose)
SF Beer Week runs through Sun., Feb. 15 and features hundreds of beer-related events, over 700 at last count. As in years past, there is a plethora of beer-related events taking place in the South Bay.
The following is a list of some of the standout, predominantly South Bay-centric events scheduled throughout this opening weekend. These are the events that I would love to attend if I could clone myself.
Note: Some of the events will require tickets to be purchased ahead of time. Visit the SF Beer Week website for the complete schedule of events.
SATURDAY, FEB. 7
Fibbar Magees, 156 South Murphy Ave., Sunnyvale: Lagunitas Extravaganza, 11am-11:30pm. A tap takeover features 15 Lagunitas offerings, including a vintage Imperial Stout (2013) and the release of their annual special SFBW Fusion beer (Fusion 27).
Market Beer Company, 100 N. Almaden Ave., San Jose: Walker’s Wild Ride, 11:30am-1:30pm. Market Beer Company, located inside the San Pedro Square Market, is the first Bay Area stop for Firestone Walker co-proprietor David Walker and barrelmeister Jeffers Richardson. They are bringing their collection of specialty Barrelworks sour beers.
Rose & Crown, 547 Emerson St., Palo Alto: Sour Sunday in PA (Part 1), 11:30am-11:30pm. Get pucker faced with Rose & Crown yet again at their annual sour beer event, with offerings from Russian River, Bear Republic, Palo Alto Brewing, The Bruery, plus more on tap and in bottles.
Beerwalk: Japantown, Jackson St., San Jose: Japantown Beerwalk, 2-6pm. The award-winning Beerwalk series returns triumphantly to Japantown, the site of the first ever Beerwalk three years ago, and will feature offerings from a number of local breweries, including Hermitage, Santa Clara Valley Brewing, Strike, Gordon Biersch, Faultline, FireHouse and more. The first 60 to check in the day of the event will receive a complimentary tour of the nearby Gordon Biersch bottling and production facility. Tickets are $30 if purchased in advance at Jack’s Bar & Lounge or online.
Wine Affairs, 1435 The Alameda, San Jose: 6th Annual Double Blind Double IPA, 2-8pm. Always a fun event, come out and blind taste 8 Double IPAs and help determine the best in show. Admission is $15 per person.
Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company, 935 Washington St., San Carlos: Mavericks Brewing Tunnel Vision IPA Release, 2-5pm. Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company hosts the 2nd Annual West Coast Craft Can Invitational (16 confirmed breweries) which will showcase some of the Bay Area’s finest canned beers. A special beer launch features Half Moon Bay’s Mavericks Brewing and their newest canned beer Tunnel Vision IPA in 16-oz. cans. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased online.
Harry’s Hofbrau, 390 Saratoga Ave., San Jose: Annual Stone Tap Takeover with Secret Ruination Firkin! 5-11:30pm. A special tap list of Stone beers will include a cask of Ruination conditioned with secret ingredients for which you will have to come out to find out.
SUNDAY, FEB. 8
Mission Creek Brewing Company, 777 The Alameda, San Jose: Bangers and Beer: An Ode to the Perfect Pair, 12-4pm. Mission Creek Brewing, California’s first Whole Foods store with in-store brewery, looks to honor the perfect pairing that is sausage and beer by pouring their own Mission Creek beers, along with other local beers, to be paired with items from an exclusive menu highlighting their made-in-house sausages.
Oak & Rye, 303 N. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos: Pizza & Beer Pairing, 12-3pm. The popular and well-regarded restaurant Oak & Rye will be making special pies (all you can eat) to pair with offerings from Firestone Walker, Oskar Blues and Ballast Point. Tickets are $30 and gets you unlimited food and 8-oz. pours of up to 9 beers. Tickets can be purchased online.
Bierhaus, 383 Castro St., Mountain View: Meet the Brewers: Clandestine Brewing, 1-5pm. Meet the founders of Clandestine Brewing and enjoy an afternoon of their beers. Plus there will be raffle prizes.
San Pedro Square Market, 87 N. San Pedro St., San Jose: Lagunitas Beer Parade, 1-4:30pm. Enjoy offerings from Lagunitas inside the Market or out in the patio as you roll through the Market Bar (1-2pm), Garage Bar (2-3pm) and Market Beer Company (3-4:20pm) for special releases that are typically available only at the brewery. There will be live music and giveaways.
The Brew Hub inside Whole Foods Market Cupertino, 2099 Stevens Creek Blvd.: Sierra Nevada Off-Flavor Tasting Panel, 1:30-6pm. Expand your skills towards understanding beer flavors and aromatics by participating in this sensory training event. Registration is $35 and includes beer for the flavor tasting and two Sierra Nevada beers: barrel-aged Torpedo and barrel-aged Narwhal (6 oz.). Tickets can be purchased online.
Santa Teresa Golf Club, 260 Bernal Road, San Jose: Meet Strike Brewing – A Talk and Tasting, 3-5pm. Come learn more about Strike Brewing Company, including how they built their business and what the future holds. A $5 tasting fee includes 4-oz. samples of 5 of their beers. There will be $4 pints and bottles of their beers as well.
Several establishments are celebrating SF Beer Week with week-long specials. Highlights include:
Mixx, 420 Castro St., Mountain View: Mixxing with Firestone: 4 Course Pairing Menu. Chef Joel Whitaker will prepare four courses to pair with four of Firestone Walker beers, including Pale 31 baby crab cake with Pale 31, butter lettuce wedge with mustard vinaigrette with Double Barrel Ale, salmon with Thai curry with Union Jack IPA and a scoop of housemade Wookie Jack sorbet with spiced cake bite with Wookie Jack. $40.
Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, 390 Capistrano Rd.: Beer and Dessert Pairing. Each dessert bite created by chef Gaston Alfaro has been paired with one of brewmaster James Costa’s seasonal beers (4-oz.), including Mavericks gingersnap mascarpone tart paired with Brown Ale, mini bleu cheese cheesecake with candied bacon and a maple bourbon reduction paired with Double Bore IPA, spiced poached pears paired with PaPa Juice Barleywine and beeramisu paired with Calf-eine Coffee Milk Stout. $20.
Psycho Donuts, 2006 S. Winchester Blvd., Campbell: A Psycho Donut Walks into a Firestone… Firestone Walker, Hella Hot Hot Sauce and Psycho Donuts are teaming up to create an 805 Apricot Blonde Ghost, Union Jack Glazed and Chocolate Merkin.
As you can see, there are options galore. What SF Beer Week events do you plan to attend this weekend?
San Francisco Beer Week 2015 kicks off with the Opening Gala, the Bay Area’s premier beer event taking place Fri., Feb. 6 from 6-10pm at the spacious Fort Mason Center – Herbst Pavilion in San Francisco.
The SF Beer Week Opening Gala cannot come quickly enough for beer fans, and many have already purchased their tickets which recently became available online.
The Opening Gala welcomes over 80 Bay Area breweries and features many of their finest offerings. South Bay breweries include:
Campbell Brewing Company
El Toro Brewing Company (Morgan Hill)
Gordon Biersch Brewing Company (San Jose)
Hermitage Brewing Company (San Jose)
Palo Alto Brewing Company
Santa Clara Valley Brewing Company (San Jose)
Strike Brewing Company (San Jose)
Campbell Brewing will participate in the Opening Gala for the first time, providing those new to the brewery the opportunity to sample beers from brewmaster Jim Turturici, winner of recent, consecutive medals from the prestigious Great American Beer Festival (GABF) and the World Beer Cup.
Opening Gala tickets are $75 and include a commemorative glass with which to enjoy unlimited four-oz. samples of brewery offerings. Local food will be available for purchase from Alicia’s Tamales, Belly Burgers, Good Foods Catering, Kung Fu Tacos, Rosamunde Sausage Grill, Soul Groove and Curry Up Now.
Visit the Opening Gala Eventbrite page to purchase tickets and for event details, including ticket policies and notices and the current list of participating breweries. As in recent years, expect tickets to sell out quickly.
SF Beer Week, presented by the SF Brewers Guild, runs through Sun., Feb. 17. Visitors to the SF Beer Week website will see the just-released schedules for the first wave of beer-related events taking place throughout the Bay Area and can conduct searches for events by regions – San Francisco, East Bay, North Bay and South Bay. South Bay beer fans need not worry; many more events will show up in the coming days and weeks.
Silicon Valley Beer Week (SVBW) kicks off today and runs through Sat., Aug. 2. Local restaurants and businesses will present a seemingly endless number of beer-related events and specials to celebrate good beer and to help cement the South Bay and Silicon Valley as a bona fide beer region.
Among the many terrific events throughout beer week are the ones that stand out for their all-encompassing local vibe, where local businesses feature local breweries.
For $25, watch as many movies as you can from among 12 being shown that day, and enjoy a beer-tasting event from 1pm-4pm featuring members of the Bay Brewers Guild, including Hermitage Brewing Company (San Jose), Strike Brewing (San Jose), Santa Clara Valley Brewing (San Jose), Gordon Biersch (San Jose), Campbell Brewing, Faultline (Sunnyvale), Tied House (Mountain View), Uncommon Brewers (Santa Cruz) and Santa Cruz Ale Works.
Rootstock Wine Bar in Los Gatos hosts Strike Brewing from 5pm-8pm. Strike will pour four of their offerings, and Rootstock will provide a food pairing with each beer. There will be an opportunity to meet the brewer as well. The cost of the event is $25. Rootstock requests RSVPs. Call (408) 354-7668 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Downtown Mountain View’s Tied House Brewery and Cafe celebrates SVBW with a special menu pairing new items with carefully selected beer flights. The food-pairing selections, available from July 25 to Aug. 2, include:
Mary’s Heritage Chicken: Free range, California raised chicken, brined, grilled, over cauliflower puree, green bean hash paired with Hoptopia IPA, Ironwood Dark and Villa Street Pale Ale ($14.50)
Oatmeal Stout Braised Lamb Shank: Smoked mozzarella polenta, mustard greens paired with Maltopia (Silver, Cal State Fair 2014), Ale of the 2 Tun (Gold, Cal State Fair 2014), Oatmeal Stout ($18.95)
Pan Seared Salmon (market price): Parsnip puree, French lentils, watercress salad paired with Alpine Gold, Single Hop Citra IPA, Single Hop Mosaic IPA
House Made Sausages: Smoked mozzarella polenta, braised broccoli rabe paired with Maltopia (Silver, Cal State Fair 2014), Single Hop Citra IPA, Cascade Amber ($12.25)
Faultline Brewing Company in Sunnyvale will feature a particular beer each day of the week at happy hour prices all day and provide a special appetizer and entrée pairing menu. Monday celebrates Faultline’s Hefeweizen and includes the following appetizer and entrée pairing options:
Appetizer: Smoked Salmon Sour Dough Canapés – House smoked salmon, atop sour dough toast with dill & lemon cream
Entrée: Beer battered Scallop, Shrimp & Chips – Our classic FBC beer batter with scallop and shrimp, and house-made pomme frits and jalapeno tartar sauce.
TUESDAY, JULY 29
An all-San Jose event takes place at 7 Stars Bar & Grill as they host a #DrinkLocal Tap Takeover featuring Strike, Hermitage and Santa Clara Valley Brewing. Starting at 6pm, there will be raffles throughout the evening, and representatives from each brewery will be in attendance to answer any questions about their beers.
Faultline Brewing’s focus this day is Pale Ale. Food pairing options include:
Appetizer: Shrimp Potato Latkes – Shrimp Potato Cakes with blackberry infused Pale Ale Relish atop of arugula and toasted almond salad
Entrée: Fire Braised Chicken Tostada – Tender morsels of chicken fire braised with Fresno Chilies, red onion and corn, on crispy corn tortilla topped with a tomatillo & cilantro salsa served with Spanish style basmati rice
WEDNESDAY, JULY 30
The latest edition of Beerwalk takes place in Santana Row from 6pm-9pm. Offerings from twenty or so breweries will be poured at various shops and businesses throughout the Row.
A number of the participating breweries are Bay Brewers Guild members, and in all, beerwalkers will have the chance to taste beers from Hermitage, Strike, Santa Clara Valley, Rabbit’s Foot, Faultline, Santa Cruz Ale Works, Lagunitas, Almanac, Speakeasy, Anchor, Sierra Nevada, Hangar 24, Headlands, CaliCraft, 21st Amendment, 6 Rivers, Ballast Point, Ninkasi, Green Flash and Firestone Walker.
Beerwalk tickets can be purchased in advance for $30 online at www.thebeerwalk.com. In the case the event does not sell out, tickets can be purchased day of for $35.
Santa Clara’s Wicked Chicken will have Santa Clara Valley Brewing Electric Tower IPA and a surprise offering on tap all day.
Vino Locale in Palo Alto will feature a tasting flight of Palo Alto Brewing Company beer, including Hoppy Ending Pale Ale, Atlas Double IPA, Nice Lacing Belgian Rye IPA and Cool Beanz Coffee Porter, to be paired with tapas plates.
Faultline celebrates Stout with the following pairing options:
Appetizer: Stout Beer Battered Conch Fritter – Conch marinated in ghost peppers, lime and Maui Sweets, blended into a sweet/ spicy Stout beer batter, than deep fried and served with a cilantro-Jerk pesto
Entrée: FBC Cadillac Burger: 1/2 pound burger, with caramelized onions, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles, topped with an easy over fried egg on a butter toasted egg roll.
THURSDAY, JULY 31
Downtown San Jose’s nomikai presents a “Meet the Brewer and Dinner” event at 6pm featuring Strike Brewing. In addition to their specialty pizza menu, there will be a special dinner menu – tangy BBQ ribs, summer corn on the cob with sriracha butter and nori fries along with a Strike beer flight featuring Blonde, Imperial Red, and Chin Music Extra Pale Ale for $18. This event offers one of the first opportunities to try Chin Music outside of Strike’s recently opened taproom.
Faultline focuses on Kolsch with the following pairing options:
Entrée: Pepper-Pot Stew – Mixed meat chicken stewed with a FBC Kolsch beer, black pepper, three chilies, Creole mire poix and naturally sweet yams.
FRIDAY, AUG. 1
Hermitage Brewing invites all to celebrate International IPA Day [updated 8-1-14: the official IPA Day is Aug. 7] with an IPA Day event of their own at their Tap Room from 4pm-8pm. In addition to their signature single-hop series of IPAs will be a special cask IPA. The Amazing Dr. Zarcon’s Breathing Machine and Smothered Food Truck will provide the entertainment and good eats, respectively.
The focus for Faultline on this day is IPA, with the following options:
Appetizer: Pork Belly Buns – Slow Cook “Asian Persuasion” Style pork spiced with sweet plums, ginger, cilantro and coriander rolled in a lightly steamed bun, accompanied with a spicy “IPA” peanut butter dipping sauce
Entrée: Beer Smoked Bratwursts Ragout – Smoked Bratwurst simmered with FBC IPA, sweet onions, lemon blossom, mustard powder and ghost pepper, served in a French Baguette boat atop of scallion mash potatoes and sweet and sour apple ragout
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.
The first San Francisco Beer Week took place in 2009, and was reportedly the first of its kind in the country. Now, there are well over 100 beer weeks taking place in various cities and regions throughout the world.
For this year’s Fifth Annual SF Beer Week, there were over 500 craft beer-related events taking place over ten days throughout the Bay Area, including the South Bay, East Bay, San Francisco, and North Bay regions. These 500+ events were 35% greater than last year’s record numbers.
There was only one event that I attended outside of the South Bay, and that was the amazing Opening Celebration that took place on the first day of SF Beer Week, Friday Feb. 8, 2013, at San Francisco’s Concourse Exhibition Center presented by the San Francisco Brewers Guild and their partners.
Here are some pics from the event.
When in Rome… Excitedly headed right over to Santa Rosa’s Russian River Brewing Company for some Pliny the Younger.
Pliny the Younger.
Russian River Brewing co-owner and president Natalie Cilurzo holding court.
A pic of Russian River Brewing co-owner and brewmaster Vinnie Cilurzo.
Jack Van Stone, Eureka’s Lost Coast Brewery Northern CA sales manager.
Time for some Drake’s Brewing Company of San Leandro.
And their Hopocalypse Black Label.
Who’s this funny guy?
It’s Palo Alto Brewing Company founder and brewer Kasim Syed (middle) with assistants (and siblings) Sikandar (left) and Alia (right).
San Jose’s Hermitage Brewing Company brand manager Peter Estaniel.
South Bay’s Strike Brewing Company co-founder and brewmaster Drew Ehrlich (right).
Morgan Hill’s El Toro Brewing Company and founders Geno and Cindy Acevedo.
Enjoying El Toro Brewing India Pale Ale.
Snapped a pic of Pittsburg’s Heretic Brewing Company crew with founder and brewmaster Jamil Zainasheff (second from left).
Lincoln’s Knee Deep Brewing Company.
Knee Deep Brewing Hoptologist on cask.
Rob Monroe, bar manager and events coordinator for downtown San Jose’s Original Gravity Public House.
Rosamunde Sausage Grill.
Berkeley’s Bison Brewing owner and brewer Dan Del Grande.
Rudy Kuhn, Lagunitas market manager for the Santa Clara County, Central Coast, and Central Valley areas.
Jake McCluskey, manager of Kelly’s Liquors in San Jose.
Antoine Riffis – Firestone Walker Silicon Valley and East Bay regional sales manager, Rudy, and Rob.
High Water Brewing president and brewmaster Steve Altimari.
A pic of the entrance area with folks continuing to roll in.
Jay Brooks – veteran beer writer and Bay Area guy.
Just checking the line for Russian River Brewing. Not surprisingly, I heard that they had run out of their Pliny the Younger rather quickly.
Chico’s Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.
Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Celebrator Beer News 25th Anniversary Double Pale Ale.
San Jose’s Gordon Biersch Brewing Company.
Gordon Biersch Zwickel Bock.
Half Moon Bay Brewing Company brewmaster James Costa and San Jose’s Hermitage Brewing Company lead brewer Greg Filippi.
Palo Alto Brewing Cool Beanz Coffee Porter.
Alex Slosberg and Will Shelton of Mavericks Beer and brewmaster James of Half Moon Bay Brewing.
This event marked the public debut of the beers of Mavericks Beer, created in partnership with Half Moon Bay Brewing.
Pete Slosberg of Mavericks Beer (and of Pete’s Wicked Ales fame) drew a crowd most of the entire time we were there.
Pete is a craft beer pioneer and Bay Area guy.
What a “worthy” highlight from that evening!
There were over 65 Northern California breweries, ranging from new nanobrewers to the craft brewing pioneers. I heard that last year’s Opening Celebration was really great, but I’m sure that this year’s was even better. The dozens of folks I’ve spoken to have had nothing but praise for this year’s event.
Pliny the Younger and Hopocalypse Black Label were certainly memorable, and I had the good fortune of enjoying all the beers I tasted. Catching up with all the South Bay folks was fun as usual. Experiencing the debut of Mavericks beers and hanging a bit with the premier Bay Area beer scribes (can’t believe I forgot to take a picture with Celebrator’s Mike Pitzker – got too caught up in talking with him) were also treats. But without a doubt, the highlight of the evening was the chance to spend some quality time with wifey – a big thanks to my bro’ for childsitting that evening.
It was the Feb. 2011 second annual Meet the Brewers beer festival held at San Jose’s Hermitage Brewing Company that provided me 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 – many of whom were the actual brewers – about their beers, I opted for unfamiliar-to-me beer styles next.
The Uncommon Brewers organic brown ale had a flavor profile of roasted nuts and a slight bitterness. Seabright Brewery’s oatmeal stout poured black and smooth with hints of dark chocolate. Finally, there was the Faultine Brewery porter, a dark beer that smelled and tasted of roasted coffee beans.
The beers were tasty; they also 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 the wide range of beer 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 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.
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.
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 and says, “I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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. 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.”
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 craft beer; 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.”
Indeed, 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.”
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 doubt about that 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 – also without the pictures – was shared as the cover story in the annual beer issue for Metro Silicon Valley.]