Sonoma State Beer Appreciation Class Open For Fall

SSU-seal
Sonoma State University will again be offering my “Beer Appreciation” certificate course this fall. Classes start in just over two weeks, on September 9. The class is through SSU’s Extended Education school, and fueled by Lagunitas, which is where the 12-week, 36-hour course will be held.

lagunitaslogo

Classes are once a week, beginning September 9, on Wednesday nights from 6:30-9:30, and again classes won’t be in a stuffy classroom, but will be held in special lounge room at Lagunitas Brewing in Petaluma. If you’re interested in learning more about the class, I set up a page with more about my Sonoma State University Beer Appreciation Course. Or if you’re ready to go, here’s the official SSU class page and there’s information online about registration, too.

Untitled
A scene from last semester’s class, with Dan Gordon talking about lagers, while Vinnie Cilurzo waits in the wings to present to the class about sour and barrel-aged beers.

Breastfest Returns To Marin This Saturday

bteastfest
This Saturday, the Breastfest moves back to Marin, and will be held this year at the Fairground Island at the Marin Civic center in San Rafael. The fest starts at Noon tomorrow, and tickets are $55 in advance and $65 at the door. Either way, it’s supporting a great cause. Over 60 breweries and 10 wineries coming together in hopes of raising money for a cancer clinic offering alternative treatments for low-income women with cancer. The new location is awesome When I first moved to Marin, we lived near the Civic Center and spent a lot of time there. It’s a great spot for a festival.

The Breastfest is a unique fundraiser in that it is organized 100% by volunteers and 100% of the proceeds goes directly to low-income women who are battling cancer right now. These women are our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, cousins and friends and they are truly grateful for your support. This cause is particularly personal to me, as I lost my mother to breast cancer when I was only 21 years old.

For its 15th year of fundraising, The Breastfest beer festival has a new location back in beautiful Marin County at the Marin Center on the Fairground Island. The fundraiser will feature endless eats and bottomless cups at no additional charge. Sip beers from 38 of the best California Breweries while listening to live music and supporting a great charitable cause.

All the Proceeds from the popular event will benefit Oakland’s Charlotte Maxwell Clinic, an award-winning non-profit women’s health provider. A pillar of low-income medical care in the Bay Area, Charlotte Maxwell has supported and saved thousands of lives by providing complementary integrative treatments for low-income women with cancer for 25 years. To date, the Breast Fest is the largest fundraiser for the clinic, which does not receive public funds.

A free-of-charge clinic that specializes in complete care for those who need it most, the clinic’s innovative comprehensive care model supports women medically and financially during treatment, giving a safety net that allows for full recovery.

The festival has also partnered with Lyft to get you to and from the Breastest safely. Get affordable rides within minutes after downloading the mobile app.If you’re new to Lyft, sign up with the promo code BREASTFEST for a free first ride up to $20. Once you download the app, create an account and enter the code in the ‘Payment’ section.Drink responsively and designate a drive or arrange a lift with LYFT!

breastfest-2015

Odds & Ends For The Next Session

session-the
For 101st Session, our host will be Jack Perdue, who writes Deep Beer. For his topic, he’s asking us to look beyond what’s in the bottle, and to the bottle itself, along with the crown, the label, the carrier, the mother carton and all of the odds and ends, or detritus, that go into the beer’s packaging, or as he explains what he has in mind for the July Session, the “Bottles, Caps and Other Beer Detritus,” which he describes below.

There are many great creative people involved in the beer industry: the brewers designing and creating the stuff of our attention, marketers bringing the product to market, graphic artists making the products attractive and informative and writers who tell the story of beer. The list goes on. And thus, many great products, that may or may not get your attention. The focus is on the liquid inside the bottle, can or keg, and rightly so. What about all the other products necessary to bring that beer to you? What about the things that are necessary but are easily overlooked and discarded. This months theme is, “Bottles, Caps and Other Beer Detritus”.

Detritus, according to one definition in the Merriam Webster Dictionary is “miscellaneous remnants : odds and ends”. While the number and quality of our beer choices has certainly improved over the recent decade, have you paid any attention to the rest of the package. Those things we normally glance over and throw away when we have poured and finished our beer. These are sometimes works of art in themselves. Bottle caps, labels, six-pack holders, even the curvature of the bottle. For this month’s The Session theme, I’m asking contributors to share their thoughts on these things, the tangential items to our obsession. Do you have any special fetish with bottle caps, know of someone that is doing creative things with packaging, have a beer bottle or coaster collection.

So drink the beer, but then think about what’s left over when it’s gone.

bottles-colors

Let us know about the bits and pieces from your point of view. To participate in the July Session, leave a comment to the original announcement, with , on or before Friday, July 3.

beer-crown-rainbow

Senate Passes Resolution Celebrating Brewers

us-senate-3
This is kind of fun. A few years ago, the California state senate declared that February was California Beer Month using language I helped draft. Other states have followed suit, as well. But now the U.S. Senate has unanimously passed a national resolution, S. Res. 188 recognizing the efforts of small breweries nationwide and American Craft Beer Week in particular.

Here’s the BA’s press release:

The weeklong celebration honoring the country’s small and independent craft brewery renaissance during the 10th American Craft Beer Week (ACBW) continues, as Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Susan Collins (R-Me.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) introduced a resolution, S. Res. 188, expressing the Senate’s appreciation of the goals of the week and commending the craft brewers of the United States. The U.S. Senate passed S. Res. 188 by unanimous consent.

From May 11-17, all 50 states witnessed over 2,000 registered ACBW events, including exclusive brewery tours, special craft beer releases, food and beer pairings, tap takeovers and more, to honor the ever-advancing craft beer culture and unite tens of thousands of beer lovers nationwide. CraftBeer.com also created an interactive graphic featuring fun facts to commemorate each state and its respective commitment to craft brewing.

“American Craft Beer Week is about supporting and celebrating small and independent brewers,” said Julia Herz, publisher of CraftBeer.com and craft beer program director at the Brewers Association. “We are thrilled to see the U.S. Senate recognize the week and commend the accomplishments of small brewery businesses, each of whom are a driving economic force and cultural bright spot for this country.”

In addition to expressing gratitude for the goals of ACBW, the resolution recognizes the significant contributions of the craft brewers of the United States to the economy and to the communities which the craft brewers are located. The resolution also commends craft brewers for providing jobs, supporting agriculture, improving balance of trade—particularly by producing many sought-after new and unique styles ranging from smoked porters to pumpkin peach ales—and educating the country and beer lovers around the world about the history and culture of beer, while promoting legal and responsible appreciation.

acbw-resolution

Brussels Beer Challenge To Be Held In Antwerp

antwerp-a brussels-beer-challenge
2015 will mark the fourth year for the Brussels Beer Challenge. In its inaugural year it was held in Brussels, in the second year it was in Liege, and last year we were in Leuven. This year’s competition will be in Antwerp, described as a “city on the Scheldt, city of Rubens, of diamonds, of fashion, a port city… The sum of all these different aspects is what makes Antwerp into a real city: a vibrant, welcoming metropolis, which is also great fun and heart-warming, with green areas where you can relax and peaceful corners. Antwerp is a veritable cultural capital, which prides itself on its impressive architecture and splendid art. Moreover, Antwerp is a fashionista’s dream destination thanks to the stores of its world-renowned designers. The cafes only serve the best beers and foodies can enjoy the most delicious traditional and multicultural cuisine in the city’s restaurants. Antwerp: a pocket-sized metropolis which is sure to conquer anyone’s heart in no time at all.” And Antwerp also boasts two of the best frites shops anywhere.

From the press release:

During two days a tasting panel of 60 international renowned beer connoisseurs will taste 850 beers from all over the world. The participating beers are divided into categories based on origin, typicity and style and then evaluated. At the end of the two tasting days, the best beers, in each category, were awarded a gold, silver or bronze award.

This professional beer competition is a unique opportunity for all beer producers to compete with the best international and Belgian brewers.

Why organize this beer competition in Belgium?

Belgium is without a doubt the most unique beer country. Our country has a great expertise and an international reputation. It is only fitting that Belgium has his own professional beer contest. The mixed presence of both national and international specialists ensures that the awarded beers at the Brussels Beer Challenge can count on a huge media interest and international recognition. The Brussels Beer Challenge will take place from November 5-8, 2015.

I’m looking forward to going over and judging again this fall in Antwerp. Should be another great time.

Brussels-Beer-Challenge_cmyk

DSCN2175
The 2014 Brussels Beer Challenge judges in Leuven.

Our Centenary Session Searches For Lost Styles

session-the
What a long, strange trip it’s been. The upcoming Session will be our 100th monthly outing, and our host will be Reuben Grey, who writes the Tale of the Ale. For this momentous occasion he’s sending us all on a quest to find the ark of the holy grail filled with lost beer styles, or something like that. Actually, for the June Session, the topic is “Resurrecting Lost Beer Styles,” which he describes below.

There are many [lost or almost lost beer styles] that have started to come back in to fashion in the last 10 years due to the rise of craft beer around the world.

If you have a local beer style that died out and is starting to appear again then please let the world know. Not everyone will so just write about any that you have experienced. Some of the recent style resurrections I have come across in Ireland are Kentucky Common, Grodziskie, Gose and some others. Perhaps it’s a beer you have only come across in homebrew circles and is not even made commercially.

There are no restrictions other than the beer being an obscure style you don’t find in very many places. The format, I leave up to individuals. It could be a historical analysis or just a simple beer review.

So that’s your quest: to find the holy grail of lost beer styles.

Trujillo-Holy-Grail

So don your fedora, grab your tasting whip, and get cracking. To participate in the June Session, leave a comment to the original announcement, with whatever you’ve uncovered during your adventures, on or before Friday, June 5.

Lau-bahistory_art

Beer Birthday: Bert Grant

grants-real-ales
Today would have been Bert Grant’s 87th birthday, and he is still definitely missed. Bert opened the country’s first brewpub in 1982 in Yakima, Washington and was a fixture in the industry until his death in late July of 2001. Join me tonight in lifting a pint to Bert’s memory.

bert-grant
Bert Grant and me at OBF in the mid-1990s.

American Craft Beer Week 2015

acbw-2015
Today begins the 10th annual American Craft Beer Week, which is themed this year as Cheers to the Sweet Land of Li-beer-ty. This year it will take place May 11-17, and “all 50 states will hold events including exclusive brewery tours, special craft beer releases, food and beer pairings, tap takeovers and more to honor the ever-advancing craft beer culture and unite tens of thousands of beer lovers nationwide.”

“American Craft Beer Week has provided independent beer fans across the country a chance to support their local breweries since 2006,” said Julia Herz, publisher of CraftBeer.com and craft beer program director at the Brewers Association. “With celebrations happening in all 50 states, this is truly an annual national event that recognizes all those involved in making craft beer from small breweries in the U.S. such a success.”

You can also follow news of ACBW and see what events have been scheduled and the list can be searched by state. The BA this year has also “created an interactive graphic with fun facts to commemorate each state and their commitment to craft brewing.”

acbw-map-2015
Click here to see the ACBW poster full size.

And here’s a larger view of what they had to say about California.

acbw-map-2015-cal

Go Mild For The Next Session

session-the
For the 99th Session, our host is Alistair Reece, who writes the Fuggled blog. He’s also the founder of American Mild Month, which will take place for the first time this May. Intended as a companion to May is Mild Month, which is a month-long promotion of mild ale sponsored by CAMRA in Great Britain, there’s also a Facebook page and so far he’s gotten 45 breweries to commit offering a mild ale during the month. So for the May Session, the topic is “Localising Mild,” which he describes below.

Each May CAMRA in the UK encourages drinkers to get out and drink Mild Ales. This May is the first, as far as I am aware, American Mild Month, which has 45 breweries, so far, committed to brewing mild ales. Of those 45 breweries some are brewing the traditional English dark and pale mild styles, while a couple have said they will brew an ‘American Mild’, which American Mild Month describes as:
a restrained, darkish ale, with gentle hopping and a clean finish so that the malt and what hops are present, shine through

An essential element of the American Mild is that it uses American malts, hops, and the clean yeast strain that is commonly used over here. Like the development of many a beers style around the world, American Mild is the localisation of a beer from elsewhere, giving a nod to the original, but going its own way.

That then is the crux of the theme for The Session in May, how would you localise mild? What would an Irish, Belgian, Czech, or Australian Mild look like? Is anyone in your country making such a beer? For homebrewers, have you dabbled in cross-cultural beer making when it comes to mild?

The first Friday of May is also the first day of May. May Day, or International Workers Day, and it is apt that a beer style closely associated with the industrial regions of England should be the theme for the Session. Have at it folks!

american-mild-month

So don’t go crazy, don’t go wild, instead this May go mild. To participate in the May Session, leave a comment to the original announcement on or before Friday, May 1.

label-mild-ale-bybo

Bistro IPA Festival Winners 2015

bistro
After missing this festival for the past few years, I finally made it back to judge this year’s Bistro IPA Festival. This year’s big winner was Solana Beach IPA, from Pizza Port Solana Beach, which was chosen best in show, out of 70 IPA offerings, at the 18th annual IPA Festival today at the Bistro in Hayward, California. The full list of winners is below.