Tag Archives: Russian River Brewing Company

Good Karma Hosts Russian River Brewing Beer Dinner, Plus Q & A with Owner Ryan Summers

Good Karma's Ryan Summers pours Sante Adairius West Ashley during Silicon Valley Beer Week held earlier this year.
Good Karma’s Ryan Summers pours Sante Adairius West Ashley during Silicon Valley Beer Week held earlier this year.

Good Karma Artisan Ales & Cafe in downtown San Jose (37 S. 1st St.) is hosting a special 5-course vegan food-and-beer pairing dinner on Thurs., Dec. 3, 2015 from 5pm-8pm, featuring offerings from well-regarded Russian River Brewing Company.

Carefully crafted vegan dishes will be paired with the following ales – all on tap – from Russian River Brewing: STS Pils (Czech Pilsener), Blind Pig IPA, Pliny the Elder (Double IPA), Temptation (Wild Ale) and Consecration (Wild Ale). While Russian River Brewing IPAs and wild ales continue to be the standards for their respective beer styles among many beer enthusiasts, having these five beers all on tap in the South Bay is a rarity.

Tickets are $55 per person, and reservations can be made via the dinner’s EventBrite page. Payment for the dinner will be collected at the event. Good Karma will be open back to the public at 8pm.

Founded by San Jose native Ryan Summers, Good Karma is arguably the birthplace of the burgeoning craft beer wave in San Jose and for that matter, the South Bay. He recently took the time to answer a few questions regarding the upcoming beer dinner.

How did the idea for this dinner come about?

Natalie and Michael Benz from Russian River Brewing Company had been in town a few months back for business, and they were kind enough to stop by for dinner and a beer. At some point in the conversation, we threw around the idea of hosting a beer pairing and dinner. A few weeks and multiple emails later, the plan was in motion.

Can you please confirm that the five featured RRBC beers will all be on tap?

The lineup is all draught… Pliny the Elder, STS Pils, Blind Pig, Temptation and Consecration. We’re lucky that we get Pliny on the regular in Santa Clara County. Blind Pig hasn’t been down this way in 6 plus years. And STS Pils barely makes it out of the brewery, if at all. Temptation and Consecration – the sour, mixed fermentation barrel-aged beer components for the dinner – are such a treat.

The love, talent and care it takes to produce beers of this caliber is high art to say the least. We are beyond honored, and needless to say excited, to work with this great list of beers.

Can you provide a sneak peek of any of the vegan dish pairings?

There’s a lot to play with when it comes to food and beer. We’re excited to rehydrate Guajillo and California Chilis with Blind Pig for the Chili Colorado with young Jack Fruit. We’ll be incorporating Temptation with an Exotic Mushroom Ceviche… That’s too many spoilers already!

Anything else to add?

I’ve run Good Karma for almost ten years now. The relationships we’ve built, the experiences we’ve shared, the smiles we’ve inspired continue to inspire and us… day in, day out. The beer community continues to be some of the warmest, friendliest bunch of people I’ve ever encountered. Pair that with music, food, thought and reflection… the whole world just makes more sense.

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

Roundup of Top South Bay Beer Events for SF Beer Week 2015, Part 2

South Bay banners at SF Beer Week 2015 Opening Gala
South Bay banners at SF Beer Week 2015 Opening Gala

Let us get right to it. SF Beer Week runs through Sun., Feb. 15, and as the opening weekend comes to a close, below is a list of some of the standout, predominantly South Bay-centric events scheduled from Monday through Wednesday.

Note: Some of the events will likely be crowded and have long lines. Some of them will require tickets to be purchased ahead of time. Visit the SF Beer Week website for the complete schedule of events.


Mission Creek Brewing Company, 777 The Alameda, San Jose: Lagunitas Huge Tap Takeover and SF Beer Week Fusion Beer Release Party, 4:20-11pm. It is a CouchTrippin’ party as Lagunitas takes over all 19 taps with a special cask release of SF Beer Week Fusion. Replete with food pop-ups.

Good Karma Artisan Ales & Café, 37 S. First St., San Jose: To Feel Dank & Rustic After a Good Meal, 6-11:30pm. Good Karma is proud to showcase a number of offerings from Sante Adairius and Cellarmaker, including, among others, Saison Bernice, West Ashley, Christopher Riwaka, Bangerang and their collaboration beer I See a Dankness.

The Table, 1110 Willow St., San Jose: Brewmaster Dinner: David Walker of Firestone Walker, 6-9pm. David Walker, co-founder of Firestone Walker Brewing Company, hosts a 4-course tasting menu featuring Pivo Pilsner, Opal Dry-Hopped Saison, Wookey Jack Unfiltered Black Rye IPA, Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout and Lil’ Opal Barrel-Aged Saison. Seating is limited and by reservation only. $75 (excluding tax & gratuity).


Brew Hub (inside Whole Foods Market Cupertino), 20955 Stevens Creek Blvd.: Faction Brewing Take Over, 11am-10pm. An all-day tap event with 5 rotating taps from Alameda-based brewery Faction Brewing open to close.

Steins Beer Garden & Restaurant, 895 Villa St., Mountain View: Tap It Event, 5-9pm. Steins hosts San Luis Obispo’s Tap It Brewing Company with a lineup of their IPA, 3 on the Tree Triple IPA, Rimfire Red, a specialty cask beer plus their new pilsner.

Harry’s Hofbrau Redwood City, 1909 El Camino Real: Hangar 24 Takeover with Pugachev’s Cobra!, 5-11pm. Hangar 24 will be bring special beers, including their 19% ABV beer Pugachev’s Cobra.

Fibbar Magees, 156 S. Murphy Ave., Sunnyvale: Trivia Night with Karl Strauss. It is trivia night and Karl Strauss Day with the opportunity to meet the owner Chris Cramer! There will be special kegs as well as a Karl Strauss question round for prizes.

O’Malley’s Sports Pub & Grub, 2135 Old Middlefield Way, Mountain View: Heretic Tap Takeover Night, 5-11:30pm. O’Malley’s will present a whole roster of Heretic beers, including Evil Cousin, Evil Twin, Chocolate Porter, Petite Rouge, Tafelbully, Shallow Grave, Torment and Evil Bee. Beer flights will be available.

Good Karma Artisan Ales & Café (37 S. 1st. St., San Jose) and Original Gravity Public House (66 S. 1st. St., San Jose). Almanac Sour Pub Crawl, approx. 5-11pm. Join Good Karma, Original Gravity and ISO: Beers (75 E. Santa Clara St.) for a downtown San Jose beer crawl featuring Almanac Beer Company. Good Karma will pour Devil’s Advocate, Cerise Sour Blonde and Dogpatch Strawberry. OG is set to pour Farmer’s Reserve: Pluot, Farmer’s Reserve: Citrus and Farmer’s Reserve: Blueberry, while ISO will pour Valley of the Heart’s Delight, Farmer’s Reserve: Blackberry and Dogpatch Sour. Each stop is offering 3-oz. individual samples as well as flights of all three for $3 and $9, respectively.

Kukar’s House of Pizza, 257 S. Almaden Ave., San Jose. Tahoe Mountain Brewing Company Tap Takeover, 6-11pm. Enjoy offerings from Tahoe Mountain Brewing, including Passion Pale Ale, Hop Song IPA (Amarillo Dry-Hopped), Party Boy Farmhouse Style IPA (fermented entirely with a Brettanomyces), Viejo Rojo American Wild Ale and Ms. Coco and Delicate Oatsters Oatmeal Stout.


Wicked Chicken, 2565 The Alameda, Santa Clara: Altamont Beer Works, 11am-11pm. Wicked Chicken routinely features South Bay and nearby local breweries. Up next will be Livermore’s Altamont Beer Works.

Rose & Crown Pub, 547 Emerson St., Palo Ato: Pliny the Younger/IPA Day, 11:30am-11:30pm. Rose & Crown has been celebrating SF Beer Week longer than most local establishments. They host their 6th annual Pliny the Younger event, which will also feature IPAs from Russian River, Palo Alto Brewing, Drake’s, Auburn Alehouse, Bear Republic, Faction and others. Follow them on Twitter (@PaloAloBrewing) for additional information.

O’Flaherty’s Irish Pub, 25 N. San Pedro St., San Jose: Stone Cold Trivia Night, 6-11:30pm. Trivia Night will consist of 12 Stone beers on tap and 12 beer-centric trivia questions. Beers on tap will include: Arrogant Bastard Ale, Stone IPA, Stone Pale Ale, Stone Delicious IPA, Passion Project, Baird/Ishii/Stone Japanese Green Tea IPA, Enjoy by 2.14.15, 2013 Barrel Aged Old Guardian Barley Wine, 10 Barrel/Blue Jacket/Stone Suede Imperial Porter, Bang Bang and 2016 Double Bastard Ale.

Original Gravity Public House, 66 S. 1st St. California Craft Throw Down and Blind Double IPA Contest!, 6-10:30pm. Original Gravity will host a contest to determine which of the 11 participating breweries will be voted to having the best Double IPA. Doors open at 6pm. The contest begins at 7:30pm, and results will be announced at 9pm. Tickets are $30 and available online, and include one full draft beer of your choice and bar snacks, including house-made BBQ meat balls, baked panko mac and cheese and duck fat blanched green beans with bacon and roasted garlic. Additional beers and food can be purchased at the bar.

Brewery representatives will bring brewery swag, including glassware and other beer-related packages. In addition to the Double IPAs, most breweries will bring two other offerings: one core beer and one specialty or seasonal offering.

Greg Robles (Owner), Altamont Beer Works, Livermore
– Hella Lite
– Hella Revolutionary (Beer Revolution Anniversary Collab.)

John Gillooly (BrewMaster), Drake’s, San Leandro
– Dry Stout (Nitro)
– Hopocalypse (Green Label)
– Special TBA

Steve Donohue (Owner/BrewMaster), Santa Clara Valley Brewing, San Jose
– Electric Tower
– Heart’s Delight

Antoine Riffis (Senior Sales Manager), Firestone Walker, Paso Robles
– Pivo Pils
– Double DBA (2014)

Jamil Zainasheff (Owner/BrewMaster), Heretic Brewing, Fairfield
– Evil3
– Evil Bee

Kim Lutz (BrewMaster), St. Archer, San Diego
– White Ale
– Coffee Brown

David Johnson (Director of Distribution), Port Brewing, San Diego
– Shark Attack
– Barrel Aged Santa’s Little Helper (2014)

Gordon Brown (Brewery Rep.), Coronado Brewing, Coronado,
– Orange Ave Wit
– German Chocolate Cake

Jeb Taylor (Pilot Brewer), Knee Deep, Auburn
– Citra Pale Ale
– Hella Deep (Altamont Collab)

Aaron Justus (Brewing Manager), Ballast Point, San Diego
– Grunion
– Sculpin (Nitro)

Jeremy Marshall (BrewMaster), Lagunitas, Petaluma
– Day Time
– Fusion 27
– Special TBA

Week-Long Specials

Little Wine Counter, 1875 S. Bascom Ave., Suite 560: Little Local Beer Contest. Little Wine Counter has teamed with South Bay breweries Santa Clara Valley Brewing, Strike and Hermitage to provide opportunities to win prizes by earning points. Visit the contest website for the details.

SmokeEaters Cupertino, 10650 S. De Anza Blvd.: 36 IPA Tap Takeover. On tap all week will be IPAs of the single, double, triple and quad varieties, including Altamont Scarcity (Triple), Knee Deep Hop-De-Ranged, (Quad), Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin, Ballast Point Sculpin Nitro, Drake’s Hopocalypse, Lagunitas Fusion 27, Altamont Hella Deep and Stone Delicious IPA.

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.

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

Scenes from the 2013 SF Beer Week Opening Celebration

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.

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When in Rome… Excitedly headed right over to Santa Rosa’s Russian River Brewing Company for some Pliny the Younger.

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Pliny the Younger.

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Russian River Brewing co-owner and president Natalie Cilurzo holding court.

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A pic of Russian River Brewing co-owner and brewmaster Vinnie Cilurzo.

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Jack Van Stone, Eureka’s Lost Coast Brewery Northern CA sales manager.

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Time for some Drake’s Brewing Company of San Leandro.

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And their Hopocalypse Black Label.

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Who’s this funny guy?

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It’s Palo Alto Brewing Company founder and brewer Kasim Syed (middle) with siblings Sikandar (left) and Alia (right).

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San Jose’s Hermitage Brewing Company brand manager Peter Estaniel.

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South Bay’s Strike Brewing Company co-founder and brewmaster Drew Ehrlich (right).

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Morgan Hill’s El Toro Brewing Company and founders Geno and Cindy Acevedo.

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Enjoying El Toro Brewing India Pale Ale.

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Snapped a pic of Pittsburg’s Heretic Brewing Company crew with founder and brewmaster Jamil Zainasheff (second from left).

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Lincoln’s Knee Deep Brewing Company.

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Knee Deep Brewing Hoptologist on cask.

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Trumer Pils.

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Rob Monroe, bar manager and events coordinator for downtown San Jose’s Original Gravity Public House.

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Rosamunde Sausage Grill.

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Berkeley’s Bison Brewing owner and brewer Dan Del Grande.

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Rudy Kuhn, Lagunitas market manager for the Santa Clara County, Central Coast, and Central Valley areas.

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Jake McCluskey, manager of Kelly’s Liquors in San Jose.

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Antoine Riffis – Firestone Walker Silicon Valley and East Bay regional sales manager, Rudy, and Rob.

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High Water Brewing president and brewmaster Steve Altimari.

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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.

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This event marked the public debut of the beers of Mavericks Beer, created in partnership with Half Moon Bay Brewing.

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Pete Slosberg of Mavericks Beer (and of Pete’s Wicked Ales fame) drew a crowd most of the entire time we were there.

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Pete is a craft beer pioneer and Bay Area guy.

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What a “worthy” highlight from that evening!

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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.

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Always Grateful,


Highlights of the San Jose IPA Day with Pliny the Younger at Harry’s Hofbrau

Long lines at the IPA beer event at Harry's Hofbrau San Jose
Long lines at the IPA beer event at Harry’s Hofbrau San Jose

The last SF Beer Week event held by San Jose’s Harry’s Hofbrau last month on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012 was an IPA beerfest. Based on the overwhelming turnout, this capstone event certainly cemented Harry’s status as a bona fide San Jose craft beer establishment.

Lines stretching down the hallways of Harry's Hofbrau San Jose
Lines stretching down the hallways of Harry’s Hofbrau San Jose

Russian River Brewing Company’s elusively popular triple IPA, Pliny the Younger, known in some circles as the best beer in the world, was the main draw to this event. Scheduled to be tapped at 3 p.m., lines formed outside the restaurant as early as 10 a.m.

Pliny the Younger presale ticket at Harry's Hofbrau San Jose
Pliny the Younger presale ticket at Harry’s Hofbrau San Jose
Pouring the first round of Pliny the Younger at Harry's Hofbrau San Jose
Pouring the first round of Pliny the Younger at Harry’s Hofbrau San Jose
The first round of Pliny the Younger at Harry's Hofbrau San Jose
The first round of Pliny the Younger at Harry’s Hofbrau San Jose
The first round of Pliny the Younger about ready to be distributed
The first round of Pliny the Younger about ready to be distributed
Pliny the Younger at the IPA beerfest at Harry's Hofbrau in San Jose
Pliny the Younger at the IPA beerfest at Harry’s Hofbrau in San Jose

Yes, there were many disappointed beer drinkers without a Pliny the Younger drink ticket, but with 27 different IPAs on tap for this event, there was plenty of opportunity to try other well regarded IPAs and DIPAs, including:

  • Pliny the Elder (Russian River Brewing)
  • Hopocalypse (Drake’s)
  • Double Jack (Firestone Walker)
  • Tricerahops DIPA (Ninkasi)
  • 90 Minute (Dogfish Head)
  • Sculpin (Ballast Point)
  • Ruination (Stone)
  • Hop Stoopid (Lagunitas)
  • Fusion 7 (Lagunitas)
  • Hops on Rye (Firehouse Grill & Brewery)
  • Atlas DIPA (Palo Alto Brewing)
  • Hop Henge Experimental (Deschutes)
  • Inversion (Deschutes)
  • Retribution (High Water Brewing)
  • Mongo DIPA (Port Brewing/Pizza Port)
  • Green Flash Imperial
  • Le Freak (Green Flash)
  • Hop Craic XXXXIPA (Moylan’s)
  • Mach 10 (Bear Republic)
  • Shipwrecked (Mission Brewery)
  • Centennial Hop (Flying Dog)
  • Raging Bitch (Flying Dog)

Just before the start of last month’s SF Beer Week, general manager Kevin Olcese had high hopes of enticing both craft beer enthusiasts as well as those new to craft beer to his carefully planned Beer Week events. To his delight, the subsequent turnout surpassed even his expectations.

Peter Estaniel of BetterBeerBlog.com enjoying Pliny the Younger at Harry's Hofbrau San Jose
Peter Estaniel of BetterBeerBlog.com enjoying Pliny the Younger at Harry’s Hofbrau San Jose
A craft beer enthusiast (yours truly) overanalyzing Pliny the Younger at Harry's Hofbrau San Jose
A craft beer enthusiast (yours truly) overanalyzing Pliny the Younger at Harry’s Hofbrau San Jose
Long lines all day at the IPA event at Harry's Hofbrau San Jose
Long lines all day at the IPA event at Harry’s Hofbrau San Jose
General manager Kevin Olcese of Harry's Hofbrau San Jose
General manager Kevin Olcese of Harry’s Hofbrau San Jose

For the latest updates on Harry’s Hofbrau Thursday pint night special, like the Harry’s Hofbrau San Jose Facebook page. Also, Harry’s Hofbrau recently created a BeerMenus.com page to update their draft and bottle lists on an ongoing basis.

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

IPA/DIPA Tasting, Plus Holiday Beer Tasting with BetterBeerBlog’s Peter Estaniel

Wifey and I really like IPAs and DIPAs. Even my brother likes them now. A couple months ago, we did a tasting of some solid if not renowned examples of both.

We took short, collective tasting notes; it appears that we all are at similar, beginning points when it comes to describing beer.

Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA (American IPA, 7% ABV):

The Sculpin IPA had a clear pour with a citrus aroma. Clean, crisp, pleasant, and balanced taste. A very good, smooth mouthfeel. A very pleasant beer to have year round.

Stone Brewing’s Ruination IPA (American Double/Imperial IPA, 7.7% ABV):

Ruination’s pour was cloudy and with more head than the Sculpin. It had a milder nose than the Sculpin. After an initial sugary taste, there was a lingering bitterness.

Firestone Walker’s Double Jack DIPA (American Double/Imperial IPA, 9.5% ABV).

Double Jack poured clearer than Sculpin with a sweet nose of ripened citrus and maple syrup. There was a bitterness but at a lesser level than Ruination. Pleasant mouthfeel.

Russian River Brewing’s Pliny the Elder (American Double/Imperial IPA, 8% ABV).

Pliny the Elder had a clear pour with a pleasant nose and a good balance of sweetness and bitterness.

Though wifey and I enjoy all these beers, on this particular day, we all seemed to prefer Sculpin with Pliny the Elder a close second. I wonder what we would each prefer these days if we did a similar tasting.

Switching gears, I had the privilege of helping Peter of BetterBeerBlog taste and review some holiday beer also about two months ago. Besides Peter and me, there were Mrs. BetterBeerBlog and Jason, assistant brewer at Firehouse Brewery.

I began the evening tasting Peter’s homemade holiday apple cider, which was delicious – hard to believe the ABV on that one. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of the apple cider.

And then we got straight to the tasting and note-taking of some holiday beers.

1. 4 Calling Birds (Belgian Strong Dark Ale, 11% ABV) from The Bruery.

My notes: Pours dark brown with a thin tan head. Aroma of spices (anise, allspice) with eventual notes of roast and ginger. As beer warms, sweeter notes with coffee come through, and this is also the case with the taste. Slight, alcoholic heat. Very interesting and enjoyable.

2. Snowball Saison Ale (Saison/Farmhouse Ale, 8% ABV) from To Øl (Proef Brouweriz Lochristi-Hijfte).

My notes: Pours a golden hue with an off-white head. Aroma of happy hoppiness – orange, grapefruit, rose petals. Taste echoes the aroma with a more pronounced floral accent. Can feel a high carbonation, yet it is balanced with a refreshing taste that can certainly be greatly enjoyed year round.

For the rest of the tasting notes on the 4 Calling Birds and the Snowball Saison Ale, please check out this BetterBeerBlog post.

3. Old Stock Ale 2011 (Old Ale, 11.9%) from North Coast Brewing Company.

My notes: Pours amber/red with tan head. Aromas become stronger as beer warms: caramel, dates, butterscotch. Reminds me of notes of a Madeira wine. Initial alcohol taste, perhaps as expected, but pleasant. A very enjoyable, sipping beer.

4. St. Bernardus Christmas Ale (Belgian Strong Dark Ale, 10%) from Brouwerij St. Bernardus.

My notes: Pours amber/reddish color with an off-white head and tight bubbles. Nice lacing and long lasting head. Very pleasant, smooth, familiar Belgian ale style aroma leading to a similar taste after an initial feel of high carbonation and alcohol. Very, very nice.

For the rest of the tasting notes of the Old Stock Ale 2011 and the St. Bernardus Christmas Ale, please click on this BetterBeerBlog post.

5. Aventinus Weizen Eisbock (Eisbock, 12% ABV) from Schneider-Weisse.

Click here for Peter’s tasting notes on the Aventinus Weizen Eisbock.

Peter is the preeminent San Jose area beer blogger, having begun his BetterBeerBlog five years ago. He recently left his day job in the high-tech world to work on opening his own craft beer bar in San Jose, which I can’t wait for.

They’re admiring the appearance of their beer, using a technique named after yours truly (towards the bottom of the post) – hilarious!

Last but not least, Peter shared a Hops on Rye (American IPA, 7.5%) from Firehouse, which got me excited.

Because the Hops on Rye was tasty with a peppery/spicy note that I would soon come to thoroughly enjoy. As well, I now knew the cool brewer who assists in making this very fine beer.

Thanks, Mr. and Mrs. BetterBeerBlog for your hospitality. I really enjoyed my time hanging out and tasting beer with these folks. In addition to having just a great time, my beer knowledge increased a great deal that night.

Always Grateful,


Enjoying Good Beer with Family

With the exception of Green Flash Brewing Co.’s Imperial IPA (American Double/Imperial IPA, 9.4% ABV), wifey and I had already tried the rest of the beers in the pictures below. It is always great to be able to share good beer with others.

As was the case during this past Thanksgiving with my parents and bro’.


And with my cousin who visited from the East Coast.

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As much as I’m enjoying all the beer tasting and the ensuing learning aspects of the various beer styles and such, I’m beginning to realize that for me, these days, I enjoy the social aspect even more. Consequently, I suspect that in the near future, there’ll be an increasing number of pictures of people on this blog and not just beer and food photos.

Always Grateful,


Studying Craft Beer Part 1 of 2

Having worked in a quarter-system college now for over 6 years, my usual time markers throughout the year are Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer. With the busy beginning of the Winter quarter, plus several family projects and activities to participate in, it’s been a while since I’ve posted.

I still have a number of posts to catch up on, but for now, here’s a little of what I personally studied the first part of Fall 2011.

Wifey particularly enjoys these 21st Amendment Brewery beers, and I can see why. They’re very tasty.

Back in Black (American Black Ale, 6.8% ABV) and Hop Crisis (American Double/Imperial IPA, 9.7% ABV).


We also enjoyed the Lagunitas Hop Stoopid Ale (American Double/Imperial IPA, 8% ABV).

We also tried some pumpkin beers. We tried some last year and enjoyed them.

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale (Pumpkin Ale, 7% ABV) and Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin (Pumpkin Ale, 9% ABV).

But this time around, we enjoyed them less, which got us talking about the continuing changes in our beer tastes.

We liked these two beers from Pyramid Brewing.

Thunderhead IPA (American IPA, 6.7% ABV) and Snow Cap (Winter Warmer, 7% ABV).


We also liked the Hefeweizen (American Pale Wheat Ale, 5.2% ABV). But we were split on the Apricot Ale (Fruit/Vegetable Beer, 5.1% ABV) – wifey did not like the sweetness and the fruitiness, but I did.


We enjoyed Rogue’s Chocolate Stout (American Stout, 6% ABV) and Firestone Walker’s Velvet Merlin (Oatmeal Stout, 5.5% ABV).

And the following beers we also liked a lot.

Green Flash West Coast IPA (American IPA, 7.3% ABV), Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA (American Double/Imperial IPA, 9% ABV), and Russian River Pliny the Elder (American Double/Imperial IPA, 8% ABV).


Yes. All this studying is, indeed, a lot of hard work. Winking smile

Always Grateful,


Beer Affairs at Wine Affairs

Last month, wifey and I got to go on 3 separate date nights. We had quite the dry spell for a while there, but the timing seems good these days for us to continue enjoying some date nights every now and then. This post recaps the first of those date nights.

I’ve been wanting to go to Wine Affairs for some time now, ever since I got clued in to this wine and craft beer bar from the BetterBeerBlog earlier this year. And when they announced on Facebook last month that they had Pliny the Elder back on tap, wifey was on board, as we both had fallen for it at first drink at the KraftBrew Beer Fest back in April.

On to the pictures!



Our view inside.

Now, wifey and I greatly enjoy wine and sparkling wine – they are our first loves. But craft beer is our current passion, and we’ve previously tasted only 3 of the beers (Double Jack IPA, Undercover Shutdown, and Pliny the Elder) off of their draft beers list. We were eager to try some of the other ones.

And so the person assisting us (she was the best!) selected 8 beers for us to try.

The first four:

Devil’s Canyon Lager Diabla, Belmont, CA.

Newcastle Summer Ale, White Plains, NY.

Das Brew Hefeweizen.

Ballast Point Wahoo Wheat, San Diego, CA.

And the second four:

Bruery Trade Winds Tripel, Placentia, CA.

Ballast Point Sculpin IPA, San Diego, CA.

Ommegang Belgian Pale Ale, Cooperstown, NY.

Russian River Brewing Pliny the Elder, Santa Rosa, CA.

All eight mighty fine beers in a row for us to taste.

And then there were four.


And then there were none.

Oh, and their menu offered up a great selection of food and wine.

In fact, the Marinated Manchego Cheese and Roasted Peppers with Baguette Bread went quite well with our beer tasting.

Time flew by, and we had to get back to where we had to get back to. But only after having an awesome time at Wine Affairs. We’ll certainly be back!

Always Grateful,


2011 KraftBrew Beer Fest Part 2 of 2 – The Beer Post

I’ve been ramping up my interest in all things beer, so it was great to go to the first annual KraftBrew Beer Fest with a bit more beer knowledge to better appreciate what I was tasting. And having wifey to taste with made it all the better. Let’s get to the beer-focused pics.

Really appreciated the informative program.

Nice program.

It listed the available beers as well as additional, informative notes. Very useful.

Nice program info.

We opted for the “taste” size instead of the “full serving” size.

Full serving versus taste.

I knew which beer I had to try for my first beer.

And away we go.

Pliny the Elder, Russian River Brewing, Sonoma, California – “This Imperial IPA pours a beautiful golden yellow. Brewed with 40% more malt and over twice the amount of hops of a typical IPA. 8%”

Oh. My. Goodness. Wifey and I loved it.

Pliny the Elder.

Wifey tried out this one.


Allagash Black, Allagash Brewing, Portland, Maine – “Roasted malts give this stout its classic chocolate, toast and malty taste. 7.5%”

No need to wait until the end to try out a stout. We really, really enjoyed this one.

Allagash Black.

From here on out, I did most of the drinking since wifey was going to do the driving afterwards. But she did assist in selecting which beers to taste, and sipped each beer to offer her thoughts.

Next up: a beer with a name that titillated us.


Raging Bitch, Flying Dog Brewing, Frederick, Maryland – “An American IPA augmented with Belgian yeast. This beer has a hoppy bitterness with a real bite. 8.3%”

Though the name initially caught our attention, we’re happy to report that the taste was great.

Raging Bitch

What’s next?


Scrimshaw Pilsner, North Coast Brewing, Fort Bragg, California – “A fresh tasting German style pilsner brewed using Munich malt and Hallertauer and Tettnang hops. A crisp, clean palate, and a dry finish.”

The notes say it all: very refreshingly crisp. Very good.

Scrimshaw Pilsner.

We went for a “massively hoppy” beer next.


Wipeout IPA, Port Brewing, San Marcos, California – “Massively hoppy, this beer gets its flavor from no less than five hop varieties including Amarillo, Centennial, Cascade, Simcoe and Summit. 7%”

What a fantastic beer! If this is considered a very hoppy beer, then I love very hoppy beer.

Wipeout IPA

We wanted to try a pale ale next.


Boont Amber Ale, Anderson Valley Brewing, Booneville, CA – “Medium bodied pale ale with rich flavor of caramel malt. 5.8%”

Very nice.

Boont Amber Ale

Next up: a California ale.


California Ale, Telegraph Brewing, Santa Barbara, CA – “An unfiltered medium-bodied beer with a rich amber color and white head. Telegraph’s interpretation of the ales that were brewed on the West Coast in the 19th century. 6.2%”

Very nice.

California Ale.

The alcohol level piqued our interest in the next beer.


Double Dog, Flying Dog Brewing, Frederick, Maryland – “Double IPA generously hopped ale with a deep red color and citrus aromas. 11.5%

Strikingly bitter. Just what we needed right then and there.

California Ale.

The toddler and I briefly met with Peter from BetterBeerBlog who was a speaker on home brewing.

Homebrewing 101.

The toddler’s attention was elsewhere, so I didn’t have the chance to soak in Peter’s knowledge. Still, I made up my mind to try my hand in home brewing soon.

Homebrewing 102.

Due to our schedules, it seemed like we were one of the first ones to leave. Wish we could have stayed longer.

But the slight feelings of dismay were quickly allayed by a final tasting of Russian River Brewing’s Pliny the Elder. Again. And like the first time, we couldn’t get over how memorable this beer is.

Back Full Circle.

Speaking of memorable, this whole event was excellent. Wifey and I had a great time. And the toddler did too, as he got a kick out of depositing the tickets into the ticket boxes at the pouring stations. He was a great designated ticket depositor.

Much kudos to the organizers from the Naglee Park Garage bistro – cheers to you guys!


Always Grateful,