Tag Archives: SoFA District

Scenes from Soon-to-Open Uproar Brewing Company

Uproar Brewing

Look for an announcement soon on the exact opening date for the much-anticipated Uproar Brewing Company in downtown San Jose’s SoFA district, located at 439 S. 1st St.

I got a sneak peek a couple weeks ago of Uproar Brewing’s first official beer. Grant Kjos, taproom manager and one of Uproar’s founding members, poured me a glass of Uproar Saison. The Saison was tasty, refreshing, clean and easy drinking.

Uproar 2017-03-19 01

Uproar 2017-03-19 02

And earlier this week, I returned to Uproar for a preview of what was in store for the opening.

The view upon entering the restaurant and brewery.

Uproar 2017-03-29 01

The kitchen is to the right.

Uproar 2017-03-29 02

The bar.

Uproar 2017-03-29 03

Beer list.

Uproar 2017-03-29 04

Steve Vandewater, who is the co-partner of Uproar Brewing along with his wife Christina, stands next to the six barrels that were recently filled with Uproar Saison.

Uproar 2017-03-29 05

Jim Turturici, Uproar’s brewmaster, strikes a pose.

Uproar 2017-03-29 06

Uproar Saison was brewed by Jim at Uncommon Brewers in Santa Cruz. Uproar awaits final approvals to be able to start brewing on their own equipment.

Uproar Saison on a beautiful copper countertop with a view to the brewery.

Uproar 2017-03-29 07

Wifey, the kid and Steve.

Uproar 2017-03-29 08

Jim was busy showing folks around the brewery, including Dan Satterthwaite of New Bohemia Brewing Company.

Uproar 2017-03-29 09

The view of the restaurant and bar from the brewery side.

Uproar 2017-03-29 10

The menu.

Uproar 2017-03-29 11

Uproar 2017-03-29 12

Uproar 2017-03-29 13

Uproar 2017-03-29 14

Stuffed Figs & Demi-Glace: Figs, walnuts, thyme, goat cheese, wrapped in pan-seared prosciutto and demi-glace drizzle.

Uproar 2017-03-29 16

Lamb Lollipops: Brazilian-inspired rack of lamb sous vide and grilled to temp, red wine and blackberry reduction mint jam, goat cheese wonton crust, micro greens and basil.

Uproar 2017-03-29 15

Barbeque Pork Belly Sliders and Fries: BBQ broiled pork belly, creamy garlic slaw made with sliced fennel, frisee, carrot, shallot and alfalfa sprouts.

Uproar 2017-03-29 17

Classic Sliders and Fries: 3-oz. Angus beef patty, American cheese, butter, lettuce, tomato, house pickles, red onion and house tomato chutney.

Uproar 2017-03-29 18

The kitchen staff.

Uproar 2017-03-29 19

The kitchen is headed by James Thornton, who previously worked at Paper Plane.

Uproar 2017-03-29 20

Great service throughout the evening.

Uproar 2017-03-29 21

Beer tasting: Elkhorn Slough Hoppy Jewel American Wild Ale, Uproar Saison, Alvarado St. The Revolution Will Not Be Clarified Double IPA and Uproar Porter, which was brewed at Santa Clara Valley Brewing.

Uproar 2017-03-29 22

Uproar 2017-03-29 23

Catching up with Derek Stanfill of Oskar Blues Brewery.

Uproar 2017-03-29 24

Christina and Steve Vandewater.

Uproar 2017-03-29 26

Uproar 2017-03-29 25

The space is big and great, and to put it simply, the beers were tasty, the food was delicious, the service was excellent and the vibe was warm, lively and friendly. We can’t wait for Uproar to open.

If the preview is any indication, I predict that there’ll be many other satisfied guests when Uproar Brewing Company opens.

Cheers! Prost! Gunbae!

~Andy



Forager Tasting Room & Eatery Grand Opening Celebration

Forager Now Open
Credit: Forager Tasting Room & Eatery

Renovations began last July at Forager Tasting Room & Eatery located in downtown San Jose’s SoFA District.

A note on their website at the time indicated that the 14,400 sq. ft. space at 420 South First St. (former home of South First Billiards) would comprise of a coffee bar, a main bar, 2 beer walls, 6 micro-restaurants, a stage, a corner art gallery and plenty of seating arrangements.

In the ensuing months, as renovation and construction continued, Forager utilized available space to host a “pop-up” series to showcase local artists and musicians: “We witnessed the potential for what Forager will soon become – an inviting and creative space where culture thrives and guests enjoy food, the arts, and community.”

Heinz Jones and Andrea
Heinz Jones and Andrea at last year’s Mountain View Oktoberfest.

When I caught up with Forager founder Heinz Jones this past October during the Mountain View Oktoberfest – where he serves as the emcee at the annual event – he was his usual enthusiastic self when talking about Forager.

He was eager to get Forager going as a business incubator for local entrepreneurs in the food, beverage and arts industries who are passionate about launching their respective enterprises.

He confirmed his wanting to play a part in bolstering the downtown San Jose business landscape by cultivating a community through good food, beverages, music and art.

As a beer enthusiast – Heinz had been working weekly at Market Beer Company – he was excited about opening his own tasting room at Forager.

Fast forward to earlier this month. Forager announced that they would be open daily from 7am to 7pm. Their coffee bar would serve offerings from Devout Coffee, and beer would be served from among their 16 taps.

Grand Opening Celebration

Forager will celebrate their official “hard” opening Friday, March 3, as part of the monthly South First Fridays Art Walk. Forager will host the photo exhibit “Picture This” featuring local San Jose photographers.

A ribbon cutting ceremony will take place at 5:30pm, and all beers will be $5 and coffee drinks $2 from 5:30pm to 7pm. There’ll be small bites available as well.

Forager will also be open longer starting March 3, from 7am to 11pm daily.

Scenes from the Neighborhood Bottle Share

Look for Forager to continue hosting a variety of creative events. For instance, Forager hosted a “Bottles of the Bay: Neighborhood Bottle Share” event back in October that focused on beers from the local brewing community.

Forager’s Bryan Chen.

Forager Bottle Share 01

Billy and Hermitage Brewing Company’s Nicole Marquez.

Forager Bottle Share 02

Peter Estaniel of Santa Clara Valley Brewing.

Forager Bottle Share 05

Bellpenny Brewing Company’s Jim Turturici in conversation with brewer Dave Roberts and Stacey.

Forager Bottle Share 06

Stacey pouring Dave’s homebrewed porter – very enjoyable.

Forager Bottle Share 03

Forager Bottle Share 07

Uproar Brewing Company’s Steve Vandewater, Nicole and Billy.

Forager Bottle Share 08

Steve and Jim.

Forager Bottle Share 09

Forager Bottle Share 04

Forager Bottle Share 10

Forager Bottle Share 11

Forager Bottle Share 12

Forager Bottle Share 13

Forager Bottle Share 14

Heinz about to pour local beers Santa Clara Valley Brewing Valley Surprise DIPA and Hermitage Brewing Company Citra Single Hop IPA.

Forager Bottle Share 15

Forager Bottle Share 16

Forager Bottle Share 17

Forager Bottle Share 18

Forager Bottle Share 19

Forager Bottle Share 20

Forager Bottle Share 21

Forager Bottle Share 22

Forager Bottle Share 23

Peter and brewer Ryan Campagna of Touchstone Brewing Company in Sacramento. Ryan previously worked at Strike Brewing Company.

Forager Bottle Share 24

Ryan and Calicraft Brewing Company’s Zac Taylor.

Forager Bottle Share 25

Peter, Billy, Nicole and Hermitage Brewing Company’s Joel Wind.

Forager Bottle Share 26

Forager Bottle Share 27

Forager Bottle Share 28

Bryan and Heinz.

Forager Bottle Share 29

Forager Bottle Share 30

Forager Bottle Share 31

The Neighborhood Bottle Share was the first time I visited the space, and I was struck by how big the space was and how much warmth seemed to radiate throughout.

I look forward to returning to Forager and checking out the changes and enjoying the ambience, some coffee goodness and a beer or two.

Cheers! Prost! Gunbae!



Scenes from a Recent Visit to Uproar Brewing Company, Buildout Progressing Steadily

Uproar 01 IMG_2027

[Update 6/1/16: Co-founder Steve Vandewater has confirmed with me that local brewmaster Jim Turturici is the new head brewer for Uproar Brewing Company.]

I first visited Uproar Brewing Company – located in downtown San Jose’s SoFA District at 439 S. 1st St. (previously occupied by the ZERO1 Garage) – late last summer. The building was empty then, but Mike and Michele Willaford (Brewmaster and Lead Brewer, respectively) and partner Steve Vandewater showed me around and shared the plans that they had for the space.

Fast forward to earlier this month: I had the chance to check out the progress of the buildout and to get a sneak peek – and taste – of some beers.

It was great to see the progress and to catch up again with Mike, Michele, Steve and Steve’s wife Christina; we had seen them at the Meet the Brewers festival a couple months prior. We also met Dietrich Wahlstrand, his wife Emily and their toddler, and contractor Mike. All genuinely fine, down-to-earth folks.

Mike and Michele have been busy crafting batches of beer at home. Four beers – so far – have received hearty approvals from the team:

  • Blonde Ale, 4.5% ABV, 15 IBUs
  • Galactic Pegasus IPA, 8.1% ABV, 87 IBUs
  • Honey Oat Pale, 5.8% ABV, 38 IBUs
  • Everblack Oatmeal Stout, 6.0% ABV, 35 IBUs

Simply put, these beers were tasty, well balanced and left me wanting several glasses more of each.

According to Brewmaster Mike, the brewhouse is set to arrive in May, and guests can expect about a dozen of their beers on tap – possibly more – when Uproar opens later this year.

On to more pics below:

Uproar 02 IMG_2026

Uproar 03 IMG_1922
Standing where the kitchen area will be.

Uproar 04 IMG_1919

Uproar 05 IMG_1912
Artwork by Christina Vandewater.

Uproar 06 IMG_1925

Uproar 07 IMG_1924
The bar area.
Uproar 08 IMG_1906
There’ll be up to 16 beers on tap at Uproar.

Uproar 09 IMG_1923

Uproar 10 IMG_1928
Wraps by Dietrich Wahlstrand.

Uproar 11 IMG_1901

Where the brewery will be.
Where the brewery will be.

Uproar 13 IMG_1945

Uproar 14 IMG_1947
Uproar Brewing Galactic Pegasus IPA
Uproar 15 IMG_1953
Andrea and I enjoying Galactic Pegasus IPA.
Uproar 16 IMG_1954
Uproar Brewmaster Mike Willaford and Lead Brewer Michele Willaford connecting a keg.
Uproar 17 IMG_1965
Uproar Brewing Everblack Oatmeal Stout

Uproar 18 IMG_1968

Uproar 19 IMG_1971
Michele, Mike, Emily and Steve.
Uproar 20 IMG_1976
Mike and Christina.
Uproar 22 IMG_1981
Michelle, Steve, Mike, Dietrich and Christina.

Uproar 23 IMG_1985

Uproar 24 IMG_1996
Uproar Brewing Honey Oat Pale.
Uproar 25 IMG_1998
Uproar Brewing Blonde Ale.

Uproar 26 IMG_2002

Uproar 27 IMG_2012

Uproar 28 IMG_2018

The opening of Uproar Brewing Company cannot come soon enough.

Can’t wait!

Prost! Gunbae! Cheers!

~Andy

Introducing Uproar Brewing Company, Plus Q & A with Uproar Brewmaster Mike Willaford

Uproar Brewing Company set to open in SoFA district in downtown San Jose in late winter
Uproar Brewing Company set to open in SoFA district in downtown San Jose in late winter

[Update 6/1/16: Co-founder Steve Vandewater has confirmed with me that local brewmaster Jim Turturici is the new head brewer for Uproar Brewing Company.]

Uproar Brewing Co. announced on Twitter early last month that construction of their brewery and taproom would start in several weeks in the SoFA District of downtown San Jose (439 S. 1st St.) to open in late winter. Since the initial announcement, Uproar has tweeted additional tidbits.

“A little fact about us: Our brewers are from Minnesota. Our Brewmaster worked at Surly Brewing, and his wife is also a professional brewer.”

I was excited to see these tweets. A San Jose beer corridor has taken shape just outside of downtown San Jose with the likes of Santa Clara Valley Brewing, Hermitage Brewing Company and Strike Brewing Co. – and previously Clandestine Brewing. But I wondered, along with others, if there would ever be a new brewery in downtown San Jose. Thanks to Uproar Brewing, the time for a downtown brewery is upon us.

Mike Willaford, Uproar’s brewmaster, and his wife Michele have been busy preparing their move from Minneapolis, Minnesota to San Jose. Mike generously took time out of his hectic schedule to answer questions about Uproar Brewing Co., including how Uproar came about, who the partners are, what his favorite beers were to make at well-regarded Surly Brewing, and more. I wrote a short piece on Uproar for SanJose.com last week, but the full interview is below. Note that Mike was quick to point out that his answers represented a collaborative effort from the members of Uproar, all of whom have been busy in helping to start the brewery.

Who are the folks behind Uproar Brewing Co.? Briefly share your backgrounds.

Steve Vandewater (not-so-silent partner and long-term member of the IT community): After a lifetime in information technology, Steve has finally seen the light. He grew up and went to school on the smallest of the Great Lakes. He says he has a couple of degrees but since they are from Canada, he’s not certain they count. This does explain his ardent belief that hockey is the best sport in the world. He brings a long-time wine fanatics approach to beer which explains his devotion to “the nose.” Moved around several states “whenever his picture showed up in the post office” but has found a home in the South Bay.

Christina Vandewater (not-so-silent partner and long-term member of the IT community): Born and raised in Indiana. Education: Computer Science (Major) / Mathematics (Minor) from Indiana University. Brewing education: Whatever Mike and Michele teach me. Lots of experience making bottles empty, none in filling bottles … yet. Spent the last 20 years doing major business transformations involving process and technology redesign in many industries; my propeller beanie hat spins faster than the rest of the team’s. Hobbies: Harley-riding artist with a mini zoo.

Mike Willaford (Brewmaster): Mike is the brains behind the beer machine. Born in Oklahoma, he moved to Minnesota after moving on from touring and playing music. He has been in the beer business since 2006 and a brewer since 2008. In his career, has brewed for breweries like Surly Brewing Company, Lift Bridge Brewery, and most recently Sociable Cider Werks as Head Brewer. He believes metal is the best genre of music, that dogs that weigh under 130 lbs are small dogs, and bar-b-que is the best way to cook.

Michele Willaford (Lead Brewer): Michele was born in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and early in her life moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts. She began her collegiate career at Harvard University and The University of Massachusetts Boston before transferring to the University of Minnesota and finishing her bachelor in Anthropology. When she and Mike began dating she gained an interest in home brewing, which led her to a job with Northern Brewer Home Brew Supply. After years of honing her home brewing skills, she accepted a brewer position at Northbound Smokehouse and Brewpub in Minneapolis.

Dietrich Wahlstrand (Food): Dietrich, a native to San Jose, spent his youth causing a ruckus in the quiet neighborhood of Willow Glen. He attended Willow Glen High School and San Jose City College. He has spent the last 15 years pursuing his passion in catering; experimenting and creating cutting edge tasty eats. All the while tending to his two beautiful children, the teenager and toddler. You might spot the toddler at the brewery as the resident brewery baby and charmer. But don’t fret; neither toddler nor teenager are brew taste testers. Dietrich enjoys a good run, taking on crazy construction projects and being a loving daddy and husband when he is not focused on opening this awesome brewery. In the past few months Dietrich and team have been dedicating their lives to this project and are very excited about aiming to please.

Grant Kjos (Taproom): Grant grew up in a small Minnesotan town, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average. Studied American Studies at the University of Minnesota… and Latin, which was neat. Started home brewing about 8 years ago because his wife said he needed a hobby. Years of working at his LHBS (local home brew shop) has embiggened Grant with a noble spirit, and a cromulent sense of purpose. His vast knowledge of crystals and ancient aliens promises to serve Uproar with the best energies. You will find him behind the bar talking about movies and Hollywood gossip a bit too eagerly.

Everybody on the team is living, or has lived, in downtown San Jose, and almost everybody is an escapee from the lands of ice and snow.

How did the idea for Uproar Brewing Co. come about?

Actually that’s a pretty good story. Michele and I have been talking for years about starting our own brewery. It’s an expensive business to start so that made it more of a dream. That dream also involved opening a brewery someplace where snow was a rare experience.

Friends of ours, Grant and Tiffany Kjos, moved to San Jose when she was hired by Apple. They found a nice duplex to rent, and Grant asked the landlord if he minded him growing some plants in the yard. The owner, Dietrich Wahlstrand, asked him what kind of plants because you can’t be too careful. Grant’s answer was hops, which I think was about the second least likely answer Dietrich expected.

It turned out that Steve and Dietrich had been trying to put together a craft beer project for a while. They had some ideas but were missing someone to brew the beer. Grant said, “I know someone you need to talk to.”

Shortly after that Michele and I came to San Jose and spent four days getting a rough idea of what we wanted to do. With the six of us sitting around Steve and Christina’s dining room table, a plan came together. We have been working since April on the plan and the 8,000 things you have to do to start a brewery.

How did you come up with the name Uproar?

We really thought about what we wanted to achieve with our beer and who we are. Uproar fit that description. We want to cause a stir with our beers, an Uproar, if you will. Do something outside of the box.

What is the Uproar mission?

We want to create great beers and give San Jose a great place for people to enjoy themselves. Our mission for the brewery has been the same since day one: Complexity, finesse, dexterity. We also plan to be involved with the community as much as we can. One of the first things we talked about was how to set up our first charitable events.

Why select San Jose?

It has been a dream for Michele and me to start a brewery for a long time now, and when we visited the South Bay Area, we realized “This is where we want to live in and brew beer for.” The team looked for good locations throughout the South Bay. We gained an amazing response and support from the city of San Jose, the Downtown Association and the other businesses in the SoFA district. That made San Jose an easy choice.

How did you manage to secure the downtown San Jose location?

Once it was on our radar, we felt that this was the space for us, and we inquired about it. All parties involved seemed to really like the idea of a brewery in downtown San Jose, and it worked out for the best.

Regarding the site/space, how big is it? (The former ZERO1 Garage spaced looked to be quite big.)

It’s a little over 10,200 square feet with a lot of character, featuring exposed brick, industrial concrete floors, and a 24 foot high wood ceiling. We liked the kind of industrial feel that we plan to continue in our taproom.

Can you share some of the site details (size of the brewery space, size of the taproom, how many taps, etc.) and plans (space for barrel-aging programs, will the taproom offer food, etc.)?

We are going to have a very spacious taproom with a full kitchen. The brewery will take up a large portion of the building, leaving space for events. We will have twelve taps for house beers, and as we have shown via Twitter, there will be a barrel-aging program.

What are the specs. of the brewhouse?

We will open with a 10 barrel brew house from Criveller Brew Tech. It is a steam driven system. We will have six fermenters and one bright tank. I’ve worked with a Criveller brewhouse before, and I know we can make great beer with it.

What is your favorite Surly beer that you helped brew?

Blakkr. It was a collaboration brew with Three Floyds and Real Ale. It was great challenge of a beer to brew, and I was able to get to know some really awesome brewers through the process.

What beer styles do you enjoy drinking and brewing the most? What are your specialties?

I love lagers and a good Kolsch. With those styles of beer there is no place to hide. Either the brewer knows what they are doing or their mistakes will be pretty obvious. I also would say that those fall into my specialties as well.

What can we expect for the initial set of beer offerings?

Expect the unexpected. We plan to have four flagship beers and rotate different beers in and out. My wife and I will have his and hers tap lines, which showcase our individual brewing styles. I lean towards the side of creativity with my brewing while Michele gives the balance of classic styles.

Are you familiar yet with the San Jose/South Bay beer scene? (We’ve seen a lot of growth the past several years; yet many think – I agree – that there’s room yet for more growth, especially on the brewery front.)

There are some good breweries in San Jose, but there is plenty of room for more. Michele and I visited in April and checked out a few of the breweries and bars, but we are more than excited to join and help grow the San Jose craft beer scene.

You and your wife (as you shared via Twitter last month) will be moving here to San Jose in late July. Do you have any ties to San Jose/the South Bay?

We have our Uproar team members and a few friends.

What’s the best way for folks to connect with Uproar to keep tabs on construction and opening date statuses?

Twitter: @uproarbrewingco

Instagram: @uproarbrewingcompany

Facebook: uproarbrewingco

Website: www.Uproarbrewingco.com (coming soon)

Anything else to add?

Keep watching our progress. We can’t wait to bring our beers to San Jose.

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

Uproar Brewing Headed to SoFA District

Michele and Mike Willaford are moving to San Jose from Minnesota to open Uproar Brewing in the SoFA District (Photo courtesy of Mike Willaford)
Michele and Mike Willaford are moving to San Jose from Minnesota to open Uproar Brewing in the SoFA District (Photo courtesy of Mike Willaford)

[Update 6/1/16: Co-founder Steve Vandewater has confirmed with me that local brewmaster Jim Turturici is the new head brewer for Uproar Brewing Company.]

The move from Minneapolis to San Jose can’t come soon enough for husband-and-wife brewers Mike and Michele Willaford, who arrive this week with plans to open Uproar Brewing Company in the SoFA District by this winter.

Construction of the new brewery will begin this month at the 10,200-square-foot space formerly occupied by Zero1 Garage. It will be home to a spacious taproom featuring 12 taps for house beers, a full kitchen and room for a barrel-aging program and special events.

Silicon Valley’s beer scene is on an upward trajectory, with several new and established breweries that cater to a growing base of beer enthusiasts, “but there is plenty of room for more,” says Mike Willaford, who will serve as brewmaster with his wife, Michele, head brewer.

“Michele and I visited in April and checked out a few of the breweries and bars,” he says. “We are more than excited to join and help grow the San Jose craft beer scene.” Plus, the Willafords can escape Minnesota’s winter chill after years of discussing ideas for their own brewery.

Mike Willaford’s previous brewing experience includes time at venerable Surly Brewing Company in Minneapolis, Lift Bridge Brewery in Stillwater, Minn., and most recently Sociable Cider Werks, also in Minneapolis. Michele has brewed at Northbound Smokehouse and Brewpub in Minneapolis.

In addition to the Willafords, the management team at Uproar includes partners Steve and Christina Vandewater, long-time members of the tech industry; San Jose native and catering veteran Dietrich Wahlstrand; and home brewing specialist Grant Kjos.

“We plan to have four flagship beers, and rotate different beers in and out,” Mike Willaford says. “My wife and I will have his-and-hers tap lines, which will showcase our individual brewing styles. I lean toward the side of creativity with my brewing while giving a balance of classic styles.”

The team aims for a late winter opening. Meanwhile, Zero1, the arts organization that was based in the same space since 2012, is leaving its SoFA District headquarters as it continues to plan the 2016 Zero1 Biennial in San Jose and other global initiatives.

Follow Uproar Brewing’s progress on Twitter @uproarbrewingco.

[This post was shared on SanJose.com.]

Eighth Annual SubZERO Festival Features Craft Beer Garden

SubZERO Festival craft beer garden 2014
SubZERO Festival craft beer garden 2014

From the SubZERO Festival website:

“Focused on emerging and present subcultures thriving in our region, SubZERO is a DIY, artistically bent, hi/lo-techno mashup where street meets geek. Come downtown on June 5th & 6th to San Jose’s SoFA District from 6pm ’til midnight for an inspired evening of arts & culture. In addition to the South FIRST FRIDAYS monthly art walk you’ll find outdoor stages of entertainment plus artists, performers & musicians celebrating the indie creative spirit!”

Amidst the celebration of local art, music and culture at SubZERO will be more than a dozen food trucks and a craft beer garden that will open at 6pm this Friday. Hosted by the Bay Brewers Guild and presented by Lagunitas Brewing Company, the brewery lineup features the following Bay Brewers Guild members:

  • Hermitage
  • New Bohemia
  • Peter B’s
  • Santa Clara Valley Brewing
  • Strike
  • Uncommon Brewers

The participating breweries should be familiar names to local beer fans. Note that New Bohemia (NuBo) recently opened their Santa Cruz brewery and tasting room in late March and will be making their South Bay debut at the SubZero craft beer garden. It is my hope that NuBo brewmaster Dan Satterthwaite will bring his Dunkelweizen which I have yet to taste; the beer style is a particular favorite of mine.

For more information on SubZERO, visit the festival website.

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

ShakesBEERience Brings a Pint and a Play to Cafe Stritch

Long-time South Bay theater artist John McCluggage presents the next installment of ShakesBEERience San Jose with The Taming of the Shrew on June 30 at Café Stritch, where theater fans can enjoy the presentation with an equally enjoyable beverage in hand.

The ShakesBEERience model was launched in Portsmouth, N.H., three years ago by 7 Stages Shakespeare Company, to which McCluggage and his wife Alexandra have close connections. He is an associate artist and occasional director and actor, and she a member of the company’s advisory Board.

Dividing their time between New Hampshire and California and having spent many years in San Jose’s theater scene, the duo, co-founders of Buck Hill Productions, thought it would be perfect to bring west, meeting John’s personal artistic goal of producing theater in non-traditional venues and at places people naturally gather for other pursuits.

“ShakeBEERience is sort of like theater jazz—it matches perfectly with the venue,” Alexandra says. “We are thrilled to partner with Café Stritch. [Owner] Steve Borkenhagen is a long-time friend and arts supporter and we knew Stritch would be the place to launch the series.”

ShakesBEERience, Alexandra says, is a response to a contemporary audiences’ desire for engaging programming, interactive, informal experiences and opportunities to socialize. Works of Shakespeare are presented in a unique, playful and accessible way in an easy-going and entertaining environment where the audience drinks, eats and has a good time.

“We call ShakeBEERience, ‘a pub, a pint and a play,’” she says. “It’s an experience, not a performance. You don’t need to know anything about Shakespeare. You just come along for the ride and enjoy the event. Whether you come for the whole reading, or can just stay for one scene, the ShakesBEERience you have is up to you.”

Expect professional actors and local community celebrities to carry scripts and move about the bar, engaging with audience members on occasion and toasting each other when appropriate.

Admission to the staged reading is free though there is a suggested donation. Seating is first come, first serve, and there is a club membership that provides guaranteed, reserved seats. Previous presentations have been standing room only, so consider arriving early to get your seat and a pint or two.

ShakesBEERience is at Cafe Stritch on June 30. Admission is free and the show starts at 7pm.

[This post was shared on SanJose.com.]

Highlights of the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden at SubZERO Festival

2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden takes place in San Jose - The Valley of the Heart's Delight
Downtown San Jose artwork at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden – The Valley of the Heart’s Delight

Amidst picture perfect weather and orchestration by South Bay craft beervangelist Peter Estaniel of BetterBeerBlog, the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden craft beer festival, took place last Friday, June 1, at the 5th Annual SubZERO Festival of arts and culture in downtown San Jose.

The 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden takes place at the 5th Annual SubZERO Festival of art and culture
The growing crowd at the 5th Annual SubZERO Festival of art and culture
The 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
The 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden

Mere steps from the beerfest were gourmet food trucks and the engaging sights and sounds of local artists and musicians. Folks who came just for the Better Brew Tasting Garden had the opportunity to see and hear great artwork and music, while people who came primarily for the art, music, and food had the chance to try out a myriad of tasty beers.

Gourmet food trucks next to the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Gourmet food trucks next to the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden

Attendees had the opportunity to taste beer from 15 breweries, ranging from an Imperial Brau Pilsner from Gordon Biersch, German-style gold ales from Rock Bottom Campbell and Hermitage Brewing, ESB styles from Campbell Brewing and Firestone Walker, a porter from Uncommon Brewers, pale ales from Cedar Street Brewing and Seven Bridges Cooperative, to IPAs from Strike Brewing, Peter B’s Brewpub, Santa Cruz Aleworks, Lagunitas, and Seabright Brewery.

An element that elevates the status of a particular beer festival is the presence of the folks who make the beers being poured. And the Better Brew Tasting Garden had its fair share of brewmasters on hand to talk about their beers, including Strike Brewing’s Drew Ehrlich, Campbell Brewing’s Jim Turturici, Peter B’s Kevin Clark, and Rock Bottom Campbell’s Russell Clements.

Drew Ehrlich and Jenny Lewis of Strike Brewing and Josh Santos of The San Jose Blog at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Drew Ehrlich and Jenny Lewis of Strike Brewing and Josh Santos of The San Jose Blog at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Peter Estaniel of BetterBeerBlog, South Bay brewmaster Steve Donohue, and Drew Ehrlich of Strike Brewing at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Peter Estaniel of BetterBeerBlog, South Bay brewmaster Steve Donohue, and Drew Ehrlich of Strike Brewing at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Peter Estaniel of BetterBeerBlog, South Bay brewmaster Steve Donohue, and Drew Ehrlich of Strike Brewing at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Peter Estaniel of BetterBeerBlog, South Bay brewmaster Steve Donohue, and Drew Ehrlich of Strike Brewing at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Russell Clements of Rock Bottom Campbell at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Russell Clements of Rock Bottom Campbell at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Kevin Clark (r) of Peter B's at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Kevin Clark (r) of Peter B’s at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Jim Turturici of Campbell Brewing at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Jim Turturici of Campbell Brewing at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden

Of note was the public debut of the Bay Brewer’s Guild, a brewery collective from the South Bay, Santa Cruz, and Monterey areas whose mission is to further promote the craft beer scenes in these regions.

The public debut of The Bay Brewers Guild at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
The public debut of The Bay Brewers Guild at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden

Despite the large number of attendees, beer tasting lines moved briskly and the filled-up space never felt too crowded. By all accounts, this beerfest was a resounding success thanks to the excellent turnout, a smoothly run operation by Peter and his team of volunteers, and the great fun that was had while enjoying good beer. Special mentions go to event sponsor Lagunitas Brewing Company and to Cherri Lakey and Brian Eder of the Anno Domini art gallery, the folks behind the SubZERO Festival.

On the heels of last year’s well-regarded, inaugural Better Brew Tasting Garden, this year’s version has raised the proverbial bar even higher, helping to provide further evidence that it is a good time to be a beer fan in the South Bay.

More pics below:

The 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden hosted by BetterBeerBlog
The 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden hosted by BetterBeerBlog
Tony Riffis of Firestone Walker at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Tony Riffis of Firestone Walker at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Great turnout at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Great turnout at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden

A great turnout at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden

South Bay beer fans Randy, Andre, and Roy at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden; their favorite beer was Seabright's Blur IPA
South Bay beer fans Randy, Andre, and Roy at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden; their favorite beer was Seabright’s Blur IPA
San Jose beer enthusiasts Billy and Nicole at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden; their favorite beer was Strike Brewing's IPA
San Jose beer enthusiasts Billy and Nicole at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden; their favorite beer was Strike Brewing’s IPA
San Jose beer fan Stef and Seven Bridges Cooperative rep. at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
San Jose beer fan Stef and Seven Bridges Cooperative rep. at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Performance art on the side of a building in view courtesy of the 5th Annual SubZERO Festival at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Performance art on the side of a building in view courtesy of the 5th Annual SubZERO Festival at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Great turnout at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Reaching peak capacity at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
View from the Seven Bridges Cooperative table at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
View from the Seven Bridges Cooperative table at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Volunteers and San Jose beer fans Kregg and Hiromi at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Volunteers and San Jose beer fans Kregg and Hiromi at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
South Bay brewmaster Steve Donohue, Larry Hoang of Rock Bottom Campbell, and Jim Turturici of Campbell Brewing at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
South Bay brewmaster Steve Donohue, Larry Hoang of Rock Bottom Campbell, and Jim Turturici of Campbell Brewing at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Yours truly and Peter Estaniel of BetterBeerBlog at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Yours truly and Peter Estaniel of BetterBeerBlog at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Yours truly and Mrs. BetterBeerBlog at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Yours truly and Mrs. BetterBeerBlog at the 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden
Good security presence at the Better Brew Tasting Garden
Good security presence at the Better Brew Tasting Garden
San Jose's SoFa district in fine form at the 5th Annual SubZERO Festival
San Jose’s SoFa district in fine form at the 5th Annual SubZERO Festival
Brian Eder and Cherri Lakey (r) of Anno Domini, organizers of the SubZERO Festival
Brian Eder and Cherri Lakey (r) of Anno Domini, organizers of the SubZERO Festival
Cherri Lakey of Anno Domini, organizer of the SubZERO Festival
Cherri Lakey of Anno Domini, organizer of the SubZERO Festival

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden Craft Beer Festival, Plus Q & A with BetterBeerBlog’s Peter Estaniel

Better Brew Tasting Garden
Better Brew Tasting Garden

This year’s 2012 Better Brew Tasting Garden craft beer festival takes place this upcoming Friday, June 1, 2012 as part of the 5th Annual SubZERO festival of arts and culture in downtown San Jose. Hosting this beer festival will once again be BetterBeerBlog, the South Bay’s premier beer blog.

Better Brew Tasting Beer Festival at the Fourth Annual SubZERO Festival

Continuing from the previous post, the third part of the SubZERO Festival this year was pretty much the main reason we attended – the Better Brew Tasting Garden presented by Lagunitas Brewing and hosted by the Better Beer Blog. I was a full-on participant. :)

The program.

Taking a pic with Peter, the person behind the Better Beer Blog; hence the organizer of the Better Brew Tasting Beerfest.

Gordon Biersch, San Jose.

Uncommon Brewers, Santa Cruz.

Tied House Brewery & Cafe/Hermitage Brewing, Mountain View/San Jose.

FireHouse Brewery & Grill, Sunnyvale.

Ale Industries, Concord.

Campbell Brewing Company, Campbell.

Lagunitas Brewing, Petaluma.

The scene shortly after the start time.

Time for some tasting.

Scottish Ale (4.5% ABV) from Campbell Brewing Company, Campbell.

Hefeweizen (5.2% ABV) from Firehouse Brewery & Grill, Sunnyvale.

New World Wheat (5.4% ABV) from Tied House Brewery & Café/Hermitage Brewing, Mountain View/San Jose.

Hall & Oatmeal Stout (7.0% ABV) from Firehouse Brewery & Grill, Sunnyvale.

Baltic Porter (7.8% ABV) from Uncommon Brewers, Santa Cruz.

110603 SubZERO 099

Siamese Twin Ale (8.5% ABV) from Uncommon Brewers, Santa Cruz.

110603 SubZERO 107

110603 SubZERO 109

India Pale Ale (6.2% ABV) from Lagunitas Brewing, Petaluma.

110603 SubZERO 123

Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale (9.75% ABV) from Lagunitas Brewing, Petaluma.

110603 SubZERO 127

What can I say? I enjoyed all the beers I tasted. And it was a treat to try many new ones.

Undoubtedly, the Better Brew Tasting Beer Festival was a success. THANKS, PETER!

What a bonus to have met up with friends.

We hung out. Talked. Laughed. Ate. Drank. Walked around.

This year’s festival was the first to incorporate gourmet food trucks as well as a beer festival. What a perfect combination! Plus, the community and fellowship elevated the experience to a whole, new level.

San Jose and the South Bay. Home to some great local craft beer. Great gourmet food trucks. A vibrant arts and culture scene. A wonderful community. Yet, I get a sense that we’re on the ground floor and that better and greater things are yet to come in these regards.

Always Grateful,

~Andy (made and raised in San Jose)