Tag Archives: Restaurant James Randall

San Jose Area Beer News and Events: Sep. 10-16, 2012

Good beer enjoyed at San Jose's Original Gravity Public House. They celebrate their official grand opening Sat., Sep. 15, 2012
Good beer enjoyed at San Jose’s Original Gravity Public House. They celebrate their official grand opening Sat., Sep. 15, 2012

The following is a collection of craft beer news and events in San Jose and the greater South Bay for the upcoming week and beyond. As events may change from time to time, please do check with the establishment directly, especially if you are extra excited about a particular event.

Recent beer news

Check out the recent video review of Hermitage Brewing Company’s Single Hop IPA: Sorachi Ace by South Bay beertubers The Beer Heads.

Speaking of Hermitage Brewing Company, premier South Bay beer blogger Peter Estaniel of BetterBeerBlog has joined the team at Hermitage Brewing Company as brand manager. Check out his recent post where he shares this exciting news.

Beer events this upcoming week

Mon., Sep. 10, 2012: San Jose’s Wine Affairs hosts a Firestone Walker event. 1435 The Alameda, 408-977-0111. “If you make it to ONE beer tasting this year – let it be this one! FIRESTONE WALKER will be here THIS MONDAY, Sept 10th with a crazy “Double Double” takeover. Featuring their flagship Double Barrel Ale, our first ever CASK with unfiltered DBA, and a keg of Limited Release Double DBA. And yes, Double Jack Double IPA will be here too. Kegs will be tapped at 5pm so hurry in! (Note: Have no fear – Football games WILL be on our tvs!).”

Tuesday, Sep. 11, 2012, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.: There is a Festbier (amber ale) wooden barrel tapping event at Gordon Biersch San Jose. 33 East San Fernando St., 408-294-6785.

Tues., Sep. 11, 2012, 4 p.m. – closing: The Counter Santana Row, offers a “Mix-It-Up” 4 mini burger & beer pairings, including Devil’s Canyon Full Boar Scotch Ale and Lagunitas IPA. 3055 Olin Ave., 408-423-9200.

Wed., Sep. 12, 2012, starting at 7 p.m.: Restaurant James Randall in Los Gatos hosts a beer dinner event featuring Firestone Walker Brewing Company. To read yesterday’s article about this beer pairing dinner, click here.

Wed., Sep 12, 2012, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.: Catch live music and good beer at Poor House Bistro with “Blues & $2 Brews” featuring Ninkasi Brewing Co. 91 South Autumn Street, 408-292-5837.

Thurs., Sep. 13, 2012, starting at 6:00 p.m.: Harry’s Hofbrau in San Jose hosts their weekly Pint Night. Check the Harry’s Hofbrau Facebook page for updates. 390 Saratoga Ave., 408-243-0434.

Thurs., Sep. 13, 2012, starting at 6 p.m.: Jack’s Bar & Lounge in Japantown offers up their weekly $2 Pint Night. Check the Jack’s Bar & Lounge Facebook page for updates. 167 East Taylor St., 408-287-5225.

Fri., Sep. 14, 2012: BevMo! stores host weekly Beer Tasting events on Fridays. Check your local BevMo! store for details.

Fri., Sep. 14, 2012, starting at 7 p.m.: Palace Cafe in Sunnyvale hosts a 5-course beer pairing dinner featuring beers from Strike Brewing Company. 139 South Murphy Ave., 408-774-6111. The current cover photo of the Strike Brewing Facebook page lists the 5-course menu and beers. RSVP to (408) 774-6111; only 30 tickets available.

Sat., Sep. 15, 2012, starting at 11 a.m.: Original Gravity Public House in downtown San Jose celebrates their official grand opening. Check out the Original Gravity Grand Opening event page on Facebook for the stellar details. 66 South 1st St. From bar manager and event coordinator Rob Monroe: “Original Gravity is having it’s official grand opening and we will be going off all day and night with brewery reps in the house and some insanely cool kegs to make you giddy with joy. Lagunitas and Firestone Walker will also be repping hard pouring 2 of their beers from jockey box taps on our back patio and we will be doing an hourly tapping of some seriously specialty and limited kegs. In addition to all of that, we will also be rolling out our full food menu including our gourmet grilled cheeses, poutine and other surprises as well. There will have OG and Brewery swag handouts all day long as well. You literally have zero excuses to not be in attendance with all of your friends and in fact after reading this lineup, you may need to excuse yourself from any previously made plans.”

Sat., Sep. 15, 2012, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.: The Los Gatos Brewing Company 20th Anniversary/Oktoberfest celebration takes place. 130G North Santa Cruz Ave., 408-395-9929. “Los Gatos Brewing Company is having a 20th Anniversary/Oktoberfest celebration!!! Join us for tasty German food, cold beer, live music and tons of fun!!! This is an outdoor event. Our restaurant will also be open with a special Oktoberfest menu!” For complete details, visit their Facebook public event page.

Sat.-Sun., Sep. 15-16, 2012: Left Bank Brasserie Santana Row hosts a prix fixe meal paired with beers from Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company as part of their Left Bank Santana Row Summer Beer Pairing Series, La Fête de la Bière. 377 Santana Row, Suite 1100, 408-984-3500.

Looking ahead: Save the date

Sat., Sep. 22, 2012, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.: Peter B’s Brewpub hosts the 2nd Annual Monterey Beer Garden, which will feature a number of South Bay breweries.

Thurs., Sep. 27, 2012: California Cafe in Palo Alto hosts a Strike Brewing Co. brewmasters dinner.

Sat.-Sun., Oct. 20-21, 2012: Left Bank Brasserie Santana Row hosts a prix fixe meal paired with beers from Gordon Biersch Brewing Company as part of their Left Bank Santana Row Summer Beer Pairing Series, La Fête de la Bière. 377 Santana Row, Suite 1100, 408-984-3500.

Sun., Oct. 21, 2012: Morocco’s Restaurant in Mountain View hosts a beer dinner featuring Strike Brewing Company.

Thurs., Oct. 25, 2012: California Cafe in Palo Alto hosts a Lost Coast Brewery brewmasters dinner.

Sat., Nov. 17, 2012: Save the date – the next SJ Beerwalk takes place in downtown Willow Glen.

Sat.-Sun., Nov. 17-18, 2012: Left Bank Brasserie Santana Row hosts a prix fixe meal paired with beers from Drake’s Brewing Company as part of their Left Bank Santana Row Summer Beer Pairing Series, La Fête de la Bière. 377 Santana Row, Suite 1100, 408-984-3500.

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

Restaurant James Randall Hosts Monthly Beer Pairing Dinners

Restaurant James Randall in Los Gatos hosts monthly beer pairing dinners
Restaurant James Randall in Los Gatos hosts monthly beer pairing dinners

Food and beer pairing events are a growing trend in the beer scene, and the South Bay has recently seen a number of restaurants host such events on an ongoing basis.

One of the restaurants to make its presence felt in the South Bay beer scene is Restaurant James Randall in Los Gatos.

This past June, Restaurant James Randall hosted a stellar four-course beer pairing dinner featuring Stone Brewing Co.’s Levitation Ale (amber ale) with grilled cheese, Sublimely Self Righteous (black ale) with pork tenderloin, Ruination IPA with venison loin, and Imperial Russian Stout with cinnamon beignets.

The menu from the Stone Brewing Co. beer pairing dinner at Restaurant James Randall this past June
The menu from the Stone Brewing Co. beer pairing dinner at Restaurant James Randall this past June

Executive chef Ross Hanson and his team at Restaurant James Randall executed creative and delicious dishes that paired well with their respective Stone Brewing beers.

DBI Beverage’s Greg Sonick (San Jose craft/specialty brand manager) and Randy Griggs (San Francisco coastal region specialty brands manager) were on hand with Randy stepping in as host throughout the dinner as he welcomed diners, introduced the beers, and ushered in chef Ross at the conclusion of this resoundingly successful dinner.

Fortunately, South Bay folks do not have to wait long for the next beer pairing dinner at Restaurant James Randall.

This Wednesday, September 12, 2012, a five-course beer pairing dinner featuring Firestone Walker Brewing Co. takes place at 7 p.m.

The currently available menu lists the following courses:

First course: Solace (American pale wheat ale) paired with ling cod fish sticks, lemon garlic fries, spicy aioli

Second course: Pale 31 (American pale ale) paired with al pastor taco, guacamole, heirloom tomato salsa, micro cilantro

Third course: DBA (English pale ale) paired with stilton blue cheese agnolotti, caramelized onion cream

Fourth course: Double Jack Imperial IPA paired with smoked lamb chop, grilled frisee and peach salad, BBQ sauce

Fifth course: DDBA (DBA brewed at double strength) paired with parmesan tartlets

For the event page, which includes beer tasting notes and a link to purchase tickets online ($55.00 per person), click here.

Restaurant James Randall hosts monthly beer pairing dinners
Restaurant James Randall hosts monthly beer pairing dinners
Restaurant James Randall owner Brenda Hammond and DBI San Francisco's Randy Griggs at the Stone Brewing Co. beer pairing dinner this past June
Restaurant James Randall owner Brenda Hammond and DBI San Francisco’s Randy Griggs at the Stone Brewing Co. beer pairing dinner this past June
The draft and bottled beer selections at the Stone Brewing Co. beer pairing dinner at Restaurant James Randall this past June
The draft and bottled beer selections at the Stone Brewing Co. beer pairing dinner at Restaurant James Randall this past June
First course - Levitation Ale (amber ale) with grilled cheese (goat cheese, apricot jam on rye bread)
First course – Levitation Ale (amber ale) with grilled cheese (goat cheese, apricot jam on rye bread)
Second course - Sublimely Self Righteous black ale with pork tenderloin (wrapped in bacon, porcini cognac sauce)
Second course – Sublimely Self Righteous black ale with pork tenderloin (wrapped in bacon, porcini cognac sauce)
Third course - Ruination IPA with venison loin (house smoked with lavender jus, mashed potatoes, hericot vert)
Third course – Ruination IPA with venison loin (house smoked with lavender jus, mashed potatoes, hericot vert)
Fourth course - Imperial Russian Stout with cinnamon beignets (Mexican chocolate creme anglaise)
Fourth course – Imperial Russian Stout with cinnamon beignets (Mexican chocolate creme anglaise)
Restaurant James Randall Executive Chef Ross Hanson visiting with guests during the Stone Brewing Co. beer pairing dinner this past June
Restaurant James Randall Executive Chef Ross Hanson visiting with guests during the Stone Brewing Co. beer pairing dinner this past June

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

San Jose Area Beer Events: Sep. 3-9, 2012

Recent tap takeover event at Harry's Hofbrau in San Jose
Recent tap takeover event at Harry’s Hofbrau in San Jose

The following is a collection of craft beer events in San Jose and the greater South Bay for the upcoming week and beyond. As events may change from time to time, please do check with the establishment directly, especially if you are extra excited about a particular event.

Beer events this upcoming week

Mon., Sep. 3, 2012, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.: San Jose’s Wine Affairs hosts an “End o’ Summer Beers” beer tasting event. 1435 The Alameda, 408-977-0111. “Celebrate Labor Day and the end of summer! Featuring fresh hop ales, summer wheats, and refreshing saisons. $10/person or FREE for Members!”

Tues., Sep. 4, 2012, 4 p.m. – closing: The Counter Santana Row, offers a “Mix-It-Up” 4 mini burger & beer pairings, including Devil’s Canyon Full Boar Scotch Ale and Lagunitas IPA. 3055 Olin Ave., 408-423-9200.

Wed., Sep 5, 2012, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.: Catch live music and good beer at Poor House Bistro with “Blues & $2 Brews” featuring Karl Strauss Brewing Company. 91 South Autumn Street, 408-292-5837.

Thurs., Sep. 6, 2012, starting at 6:00 p.m.: Harry’s Hofbrau in San Jose hosts their weekly Pint Night. Check the Harry’s Hofbrau Facebook page for updates. 390 Saratoga Ave., 408-243-0434.

Thurs., Sep. 6, 2012, starting at 6 p.m.: Jack’s Bar & Lounge in Japantown offers up their weekly $2 Pint Night. Check the Jack’s Bar & Lounge Facebook page for updates. 167 East Taylor St., 408-287-5225.

Fri., Sep. 7, 2012: Tied House Brewery & Cafe in Mountain View hosts September’s First Firkin Friday. 954 Villa Street. 650-965-2739. “A firkin is a cask filled with real ale. (Firkin refers to the size of the cask as well.) A different cask ale is concocted and tapped at 5 p.m. every first Friday of every month. Join us to try real ale and taste the difference. We donate the profits from the sales of firkin pints to local non-profits because we are dedicated to our community.”

Fri., Sep. 7, 2012: BevMo! stores host weekly Beer Tasting events on Fridays. Check your local BevMo! store for details.

Looking ahead: Save the date

Mon., Sep. 10, 2012: San Jose’s Wine Affairs hosts a Firestone Walker event. 1435 The Alameda, 408-977-0111. “Mark your calendar: If you love beer, make sure to be here on Monday, Sept 10th for a Firestone Walker Event that is sure to be EPIC. Details to follow…”

Wed., Sep. 12, 2012, starting at 7 p.m.: Restaurant James Randall in Los Gatos hosts a beer dinner event featuring Firestone Walker Brewing Company.

Fri., Sep. 14, 2012, starting at 7 p.m.: Palace Cafe in Sunnyvale hosts a 5-course beer pairing dinner featuring beers from Strike Brewing Company. 139 South Murphy Ave., 408-774-6111. The current cover photo of the Strike Brewing Facebook page lists the 5-course menu and beers. RSVP to (408) 774-6111; only 30 tickets available.

Sat., Sep. 15, 2012, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.: The Los Gatos Brewing Company 20th Anniversary/Oktoberfest celebration takes place. 130G North Santa Cruz Ave., 408-395-9929. “Los Gatos Brewing Company is having a 20th Anniversary/Oktoberfest celebration!!! Join us for tasty German food, cold beer, live music and tons of fun!!! This is an outdoor event. Our restaurant will also be open with a special Oktoberfest menu!” For complete details, visit their Facebook public event page.

Sat.-Sun., Sep. 15-16, 2012: Left Bank Brasserie Santana Row hosts a prix fixe meal paired with beers from Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company as part of their Left Bank Santana Row Summer Beer Pairing Series, La Fête de la Bière. 377 Santana Row, Suite 1100, 408-984-3500.

Sat., Sep. 22, 2012, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.: Peter B’s Brewpub hosts the 2nd Annual Monterey Beer Garden, which will feature a number of South Bay breweries.

Thurs., Sep. 27, 2012: California Cafe in Palo Alto hosts a Strike Brewing Co. brewmasters dinner.

Sat.-Sun., Oct. 20-21, 2012: Left Bank Brasserie Santana Row hosts a prix fixe meal paired with beers from Gordon Biersch Brewing Company as part of their Left Bank Santana Row Summer Beer Pairing Series, La Fête de la Bière. 377 Santana Row, Suite 1100, 408-984-3500.

Sun., Oct. 21, 2012: Morocco’s Restaurant in Mountain View hosts a beer dinner featuring Strike Brewing Company.

Thurs., Oct. 25, 2012: California Cafe in Palo Alto hosts a Lost Coast Brewery brewmasters dinner.

Sat., Nov. 17, 2012: Save the date – the next SJ Beerwalk takes place in downtown Willow Glen.

Sat.-Sun., Nov. 17-18, 2012: Left Bank Brasserie Santana Row hosts a prix fixe meal paired with beers from Drake’s Brewing Company as part of their Left Bank Santana Row Summer Beer Pairing Series, La Fête de la Bière. 377 Santana Row, Suite 1100, 408-984-3500.

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

South Bay Beer Events for Aug. 8-11, 2012

Good beer enjoyed in San Jose
Good beer enjoyed in San Jose

It is a busy four days in the South Bay for beer fans. Yours truly has just returned from an almost three-week trip to Germany, and I apologize for the short notice on this evening’s two beer events.

Wed., Aug. 8, 2012, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.: Catch live music and good beer at Poor House Bistro with “Blues & $2 Brews” featuring Gordon Biersch Brewing Co. 91 South Autumn Street, 408-292-5837. “Tonight we will be featuring Gordon Biersch Brewing Co. at our Blues and $2 Brews so come on in and say hello to the brewer, Dan Gordon. He will be drinking beer and playing trombone with the legendary Ron Thompson. The beer list includes special tapping of a 50 liter Hefeweizen uber keg, Seasonal Summerbrau on draft, Marzen on draft, 22 oz bottles of Imperial Pilsner Brau (IPB) signed by Dan Gordon, and Blonde Bock btl. ($2 Taste, $3 Bottle 12oz, $4 Pint/$15 pitcher, $8 IPB 22 oz bottle (signed by Dan Gordon).”

Wed., Aug. 8, 2012, starting at 7 p.m.: Chef’s Choice Beer and Food Pairing Dinner at Restaurant James Randall. 303 North Santa Cruz Avenue, 408-395-4441. Be sure to call for availability and reservations if you have not done so already.

Thurs., Aug. 9, 2012, starting at 6:00 p.m.: Harry’s Hofbrau in San Jose hosts their weekly Pint Night. Check the Harry’s Hofbrau Facebook page for updates. 390 Saratoga Ave., 408-243-0434. “It only comes around once a year but it is one of our favorite IPAs. Aroma Coma from Drake’s will be only $3.75 a pint this Thursday! Cheers!”

Thurs., Aug. 9, 2012, starting at 6 p.m.: Jack’s Bar & Lounge in Japantown offers up their weekly $2 Pint Night. Check the Jack’s Bar & Lounge Facebook page for updates. 167 East Taylor St., 408-287-5225. This week’s featured beer is the Imperial Pilsner Brau from Gordon Biersch Brewing Co.

Fri., Aug. 10, 2012, starting at 4:30 p.m.: Ninkasi Pint Night at Original Gravity Public House. 66 South First Street. “Come join us this Friday in debuting Ninkasi Brewing to the South Bay at 4:30PM for Ninkasi Pint Night! We’ll have Tricerahops and Oatis on tap and will have some folks from the Brewery to talk about the beer. Free Ninkasi Pint glasses with a purchase of a draft beer of Tricera Hops and Oatis while supplies last!”

Sat., Aug. 11, 2012, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.: SJ Beerwalk in downtown Campbell.

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

 

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 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.

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 and says, “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. 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 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.”

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

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.]



Restaurant James Randall in Los Gatos Hosts Stone Brewing Company Beer Dinner

Restaurant James Randall in Los Gatos hosts monthly beer pairing dinners
Restaurant James Randall in Los Gatos hosts monthly beer pairing dinners

[This post was shared by Andrea on Examiner.com.]

Restaurant James Randall, located at 303 N. Santa Cruz Avenue in downtown Los Gatos, is a cozy, casual restaurant that makes diners feel at home.

Brenda Hammond and her son, Ross Hanson, who is the Executive Chef, opened Restaurant James Randall in 2006. Ross graduated from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and worked for several Telluride area restaurants before opening a catering business with Brenda and subsequently Restaurant James Randall.

Chef Hanson’s focus is on fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients, and the menu changes frequently to feature what is in season and locally available.

Once a month, Restaurant James Randall puts on a beer dinner, where four mouthwatering dishes are paired with four beers from one brewery. In June 2012, four beers from North San Diego County’s Stone Brewing Company were paired with four delicious plates.

The menu from the Stone Brewing Co. beer pairing dinner at Restaurant James Randall this past June
The menu from the Stone Brewing Co. beer pairing dinner at Restaurant James Randall this past June

The meal started with an elegant version of a grilled cheese sandwich. Rye bread slices were filled with goat cheese and apricot jam. It was definitely a grown-up version of the childhood favorite. The grilled cheese sandwich was paired with Levitation Ale. The malty and hoppy beer went nicely with the grilled cheese sandwich.

Goat cheese grilled cheese sandwich with apricot jam on rye bread
Goat cheese grilled cheese sandwich with apricot jam on rye bread

The second course was a pork tenderloin stuffed with mushrooms and wrapped in bacon, served on a porcini cognac sauce. The pork itself may have been cooked just a tad too long for some, but once it was covered in just a bit of the delicious sauce, it was the perfect bite. The sauce also went very well with the beer that was served with the course – Sublimely Self Righteous.

Pork Tenderloin wrapped in bacon, porcini cognac sauce
Pork Tenderloin wrapped in bacon, porcini cognac sauce

The third course was a moist and tender house-smoked venison loin. The venison was served with lavender jus, mashed potatoes, and haricot vert. The dish stood up nicely to the very hoppy Ruination IPA.

House-smoked venison loin with lavender jus, mashed potatoes, and hericot vert
House-smoked venison loin with lavender jus, mashed potatoes, and hericot vert

Finally, the meal ended with cinnamon beignets, served with Mexican chocolate crème anglaise. The chocolate went nicely with the coffee notes in the Imperial Russian Stout that was served with the dessert.

Fourth course - Imperial Russian Stout with cinnamon beignets (Mexican chocolate creme anglaise)
Fourth course – Imperial Russian Stout with cinnamon beignets (Mexican chocolate creme anglaise)

Chef Hanson did a very nice job showcasing how well beer pairs with food. And beer lovers as well as beer novices could not only enjoy the successful pairings but also appreciate the range of beers that are brewed by Stone Brewing Company.

Restaurant James Randall will hold its next beer dinner on the second Wednesday in August. That dinner will feature the beers of Firestone Walker Brewing Company in Paso Robles.

In addition to beer dinners, Restaurant James Randall also puts on wine dinners, and the next wine dinner will be with the Steinbeck family on Wednesday, June 27, 2012, featuring Steinbeck Vineyards wines.