Orval Day 2016

Merchant du Vin, which was started by Charles and Rose Ann Finkel, is an importer of beer. But not just another importer, but one of the earliest in America to begin bringing in some of the world’s best beers. Like many people, one my first introductions to Belgian beer was Orval, which they started importing in 1978, along with others like Lindemans, Rochefort, Westmalle and others. This year, they’ve decided to promote Orval by creating “Orval Day” to celebrate the beer. It’s certainly one of my favorites. So it may be a marketing ploy, but so are many other holidays, and I think the beer is so good that it deserves its own day.

Here’s the info about Orval Day from Merchant du Vin’s website:

On March 26th, devotees of Orval Trappist Ale – and even some folks who haven’t tried it yet – will convene upon their favorite bar to celebrate one of the world’s most unique beers. Orval was the first Brett beer to land on US shores, and has become the favorite beer for many star American brewers. Orval sells one beer, brewed to exquisite perfection within the walls of Notre Dame d’Orval Monastery in Belgium. It’s delicious when it leaves the brewery, but also evolves in the bottle for five years or more. A portion of the proceeds from Orval Day will be donated to MAP International.

2016 will be the first year of Orval Day: visit our events page to find a great beer.

I last visited Orval in early 2014, so I thought I’d share a few of the photos I took of the brewery and abbey during that trip. Enjoy. And happy Orval Day.

Orval Day Tour

James Beard 2016 Semifinalists Announced

The 2016 semifinalist nominations for the James Beard Awards were announced Wednesday, and the good news is there are quite a few beer professionals among the nominees for “Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional.” If you’re not familiar with the prestigious food awards, here’s how the James Beard Foundation describe their annual awards. “Covering all aspects of the industry — from chefs and restaurateurs to cookbook authors and food journalists to restaurant designers and architects and more — the Beard Awards are the highest honor for food and beverage professionals working in North America.” Until very recently, the awards were almost exclusively food and wine-centric, but more recently “beverage professionals” has slowly been expanding to include craft beer and spirits, too. It’s been nice to see the prejudice against beer in the food, cooking and restaurant world finally beginning to slide away. Too slowly, perhaps, but still … it’s about time and nice to see.

The list released Wednesday is the semifinalists. On March 15, a smaller list of finalists will be announced from among the semifinalists and the award winners will be announced May 2. In the category “Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional,” six of the twenty semifinalists work in the beer world. Last year it was five and the year before there were seven beer professionals nominated. Hopefully, many of them will make the cut next month. Here’s the beer people for this year:

  • Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, DE
  • Wayne Carpenter, Skagit Valley Malting, Burlington, WA
  • Vinnie Cilurzo, Russian River Brewing Company, Santa Rosa, CA
  • Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, Evil Twin Brewing, Brooklyn, NY
  • Jim Koch, The Boston Beer Company, Boston
  • Rob Tod, Allagash Brewing Company, Portland, ME

Congratulations to all the semifinalists. It’s a great list, all deserving, though I’m especially pleased to see Vinnie Cilurzo, who’s a friend and neighbor.


Bistro Double IPA Winners 2016

Today the the 16th annual Double IPA Festival was held at the Bistro in Hayward, California. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend this year owing to my daughter having a vaulting competition today. But owner Vic Kralj was kind enough to send me a list of this year’s winners. The full list is below. Apparently in this year’s judging, it was very close, so they decided to announce 4th place for both double and triple IPA.

Double IPAs

Triple IPAs

Congratulations to all the winners.

Steve Sartori from Altamont Beer Works with The Bistro’s Vic Kralj accepting his 2nd place for his Triple IPA last year, though they won again this year, a bronze for their double.

Hoppy Christmas

From my IP address to yours. Have a very Malty Christmas and a Hoppy Holiday. Peace On Earth, Good Beer to Men (and Women).


“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”

             — Calvin Coolidge


‘Twas Christmas broach’d the mightiest ale; ’twas Christmas told the merriest tale; a Christmas gambol oft could cheer the poor man’s heart through half the year.

             — Sir Walter Scott

The original image, which I doctored, was the cover of a 1950 issue of Guinness Time, “a quarterly publication by the Guinness company [that] was distributed to all Guinness staff.” I found it at Bygone Bodiam, a very cool website covering old time Bodiam, a hop growing area in England. There are also a number of great nostalgic photographs of the local hops industry back in the day.

Back To The Future: When The Past Becomes The Present

Visions of the future are rarely what was predicted or promised. I’ve been waiting decades for my Jetsons space car that fold up into a briefcase, my Rocketeer jet-pack (I’d even settle for the one James Bond used in Thunderball) not to mention that sweet holodeck from Star Trek: Next Generation..


You’ve probably noticed that there’s been a considerable amount of hype over the fact that today — October 21, 2015 — is the date that Marty McFly heads to in the sequel Back to the Future 2, released in 1989. We’re all still waiting for those hoverboards and it’s looking increasingly like the Cubs won’t “sweep series in 5″ (wouldn’t 4 wins be all you need for a series sweep?) if they can’t beat the Mets four games in a row to even make to the World Series, much less win it.


Anyway, it seems like lots of people are celebrating the day as “Back to the Future Day,” which I think is great since I’m an unabashed lover of holidays and believe there can’t be too many reasons to celebrate life. A couple of worthwhile stories about Back to the Future Day include one from Popular Science and another from Chicago History Cop speculating why the film’s producers and writers chose October 21.

You may also recall that the film’s time machine, a modified DeLorean, had a California license plate reading “OUTATIME,” which is at least somewhat close to Lagunitas’ session IPA, DayTime, especially if you scribble “Day” on the license plate so it reads OUTA DAY TIME.”

And that’s just what Lagunitas did when they were recently paid a visit by the Northern California DeLorean Motor Club, which they documented with a photo galley, 10/21/15: GOIN’ BACK IN (DAY)TIME. By far, my favorite photo from the day was their arrival at 88 MPH into the brewery.


But check out the rest of the photos, they’re pretty sweet, too.

GABF Winners 2015

Yesterday, the winners of the 34th Great American Beer Festival were announced. A record 6,647 beers were judged in 92 categories by 242 judges, of which I was again privileged to be one. Some more factoids on the results and the festival:

  • Category with the most entries: American-style IPA: 336 entries (279 last year; #1 since 2002)
  • Top 5 Categories: IPA (336 entries); Imperial IPA (208); Wood- & Barrel-Aged Strong Beer (179); Session IPA (161); and American Pale Ale (160)
  • Average number of competition beers entered in each category: 72 (61.2 last year)
  • 1,552 breweries in the competition from all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C. (1,309 last year)
  • 38 first-time breweries won medals (52 last year)
  • 4 breweries tied for most medals won, with three apiece; Firestone Walker Brewing, Sun King Brewing, Port City Brewing, and Left Hand Brewing.
  • 750 breweries in the festival hall (710 last year)
  • Over 3,800 beers served at the festival (3,500 last year)
  • 60,000 attendees (49,000 last year)
  • New Categories This Year: Chili Pepper Beer, Session IPA and Mixed Culture Brett Beer.


Medals Won by State:

  1. California = 67 (46 last year)
  2. Colorado = 36 (39 last year)
  3. Oregon = 19 (22 last year)
  4. Texas = 15 (16 last year)
  5. Washington = 13 (9 last year)
  6. TIE:
    • Indiana = 10 (4 last year)
    • Ohio = 10 (5 last year)
  7. Virginia = 9 (7 last year)
  8. TIE:
    • North Carolina = 8 (6 last year)
    • Pennsylvania = 8 (12 last year)
    • Wisconsin = 8 (7 last year)
  9. Minnesota = 7 (6 last year)
  10. Michigan = 6 (6 last year)
  11. TIE:
    • Missouri = 5 (4 last year)
    • Nevada = 5 (3 last year)
    • New York = 5 (3 last year)
  12. TIE:
    • Arizona = 4 (1 last year)
    • Illinois = 4 (9 last year)
    • New Mexico = 4 (8 last year)


The 2015 Great American Beer Festival Winners

Category 1: American-Style Wheat Beer, 58 Entries
Gold: Super 77 Wheat, Wiley Roots Brewing Co., Greeley, CO
Silver: Whacked Out Wheat, Telluride Brewing Co., Telluride, CO
Bronze: Mogabi, Elevator Brewing Co. – Production Facility, Columbus, OH

Category 2: American-Style Wheat Beer With Yeast, 41 Entries
Gold: The Big O, O’so Brewing, Plover, WI
Silver: WeldWerks Hefeweizen, WeldWerks Brewing Co., Greeley, CO
Bronze: Boulder Bend Dunkelweizen, Fish Brewing Co., Olympia, WA

Category 3: American-Style Fruit Beer, 87 Entries
Gold: Chchchch-Cherry Bomb, Melvin Brewing, Jackson, WY
Silver: Rasplendent, Mazama Brewing Co., Corvallis, OR
Bronze: Apricot Blonde, Dry Dock Brewing Co. – Production Facility, Aurora, CO

Category 4: Fruit Wheat Beer, 69 Entries
Gold: Magnolia’s Peach, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery – Chandler, Chandler, AZ
Silver: You’re My Boy, Blue!, Brew Bus Brewing, Tampa, FL
Bronze: Purple Line, Smylie Brothers Brewing Co., Evanston, IL

Category 5: Belgian-Style Fruit Beer, 63 Entries
Gold: X-Reserve Ale 05-15 Peach and Ginger Saison, Saucony Creek Brewing, Kutztown, PA
Silver: Kumquat Saison, Smog City Brewing, Torrance, CA
Bronze: Cherry Busey, Sun King Brewing Co., Indianapolis, IN

Category 6: Pumpkin Beer, 56 Entries
Gold: No Medal
Silver: Pumpkin Grinder, Mankato Brewery, Mankato, MN
Bronze: The Great Pumpkin Ale, Great Basin Brewing Co. – Sparks, Sparks, NV

Category 7: Field Beer, 52 Entries
Gold: Beets, Rhymes and Life, Fonta Flora Brewery, Morganton, NC
Silver: Window Seat Coconut Almond Porter, Baxter Brewing Co., Auburn, ME
Bronze: Coconut Porter, Broken Compass Brewing, Breckenridge, CO

Category 8: Chili Beer, 79 Entries
Gold: Fire Tiger, Lander Brewing Co., Lander, WY
Silver: Heir Apparent, Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery, Goochland, VA
Bronze: Ballast Point Pale Ale with Serrano, Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits – Scripps Ranch,
San Diego, CA

Category 9: Herb and Spice Beer, 142 Entries
Gold: Garden Party, Free State Brewing Co., Lawrence, KS
Silver: Allergeez, Panther Island Brewing Co., Fort Worth, TX
Bronze: Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Ale, Aftershock Brewing Co., Temecula, CA

Category 10: Chocolate Beer, 65 Entries
Gold: The Velvet Hog, TAPS Fish House & Brewery – Corona, Corona, CA
Silver: El Toro Coco Chocolate Stout, El Toro Brewing Co., Morgan Hill, CA
Bronze: Wonka Bar, Mispillion River Brewing, Milford, DE

Category 11: Coffee Beer, 149 Entries
Gold: Zumbar Chocolate Coffee Imperial Stout, New English Brewing Co., San Diego, CA
Silver: Mocha Machine, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing, Long Beach, CA
Bronze: Bacon and Eggs, Pizza Port Ocean Beach, San Diego, CA

Category 12: Specialty Beer, 59 Entries
Gold: Hog Cabin, Great South Bay Brewery, Bay Shore, NY
Silver: Hazelnut Brown Nectar, Rogue Ales, Newport, OR
Bronze: Pack Dog Peanut Butter Ale, Marley’s Brewery & Grille, Bloomsburg, PA

Category 13: Rye Beer, 84 Entries
Gold: Blitzkrieg Bock, Fat Head’s Brewery – Portland, Portland, OR
Silver: Concrete Dinosaur, Right Brain Brewery, Traverse City, MI
Bronze: Pt. Bonita Rustic Lager, Headlands Brewing Co., Mill Valley, CA

Category 14: Honey Beer, 52 Entries
Gold: Electric Stinger, The Tap Beer Co., Bloomington, IN
Silver: Honey Chamomile Wheat, Nexus Brewery, Albuquerque, NM
Bronze: Spring Fever, FiftyFifty Brewing Co., Truckee, CA

Category 15: Session Beer, 44 Entries
Gold: BJ’s LightSwitch Lager, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery – Temple, Temple, TX
Silver: MCA, 21st Amendment Brewery Cafe, San Francisco, CA
Bronze: Guillaume, Pizza Port Ocean Beach, San Diego, CA

Category 16: Session India Pale Ale, 161 Entries
Gold: The Coachman, Societe Brewing Co., San Diego, CA
Silver: Size 4, Steel Toe Brewing, St. Louis Park, MN
Bronze: Nose Candy, Noble Ale Works, Anaheim, CA

Category 17: Other Strong Beer, 43 Entries
Gold: Ursa Minor, McCoy’s Public House, Kansas City, MO
Silver: Humboldt Brownie, Mad River Brewing Co., Blue Lake, CA
Bronze: Take Back the Streets, Piece Brewery, Chicago, IL

Category 18: Experimental Beer, 85 Entries
Gold: Mystery Airship Imperial Chocolate Porter, New Helvetia Brewing Co., Sacramento, CA
Silver: Melt My Brain, Short’s Brewing Co., Elk Rapids, MI
Bronze: Ramjet, Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales, Denver, CO

Category 19: Fresh or Wet Hop Ale, 34 Entries
Gold: Acequia IPA, Bosque Brewing Co., Albuquerque, NM
Silver: Fresh Hop Superpower IPA, Comrade Brewing Co., Denver, CO
Bronze: Melvin IPA, Melvin Brewing, Jackson, WY

Category 20: Historical Beer, 40 Entries
Gold: Black Eagle Gratzer, Platform Beer Co., Cleveland, OH
Silver: Dortmunder Adambier, Blue Pants Brewery, Madison, AL
Bronze: Snow Drop, Grimm Brothers Brewhouse, Loveland, CO

Category 21: Gluten-Free Beer, 24 Entries
Gold: Watchstander Stout, Ghostfish Brewing Co., Seattle, WA
Silver: IPA No. 5, Ground Breaker Brewing, Portland, OR
Bronze: Ghostfish Grapefruit IPA, Ghostfish Brewing Co., Seattle, WA

Category 22: American-Belgo-Style Ale, 71 Entries
Gold: Le Freak, Green Flash Brewing Co., San Diego, CA
Silver: Summer Saison, Blackberry Farm Brewery, Walland, TN
Bronze: Salad Days American Saison, Pale Fire Brewing Co., Harrisonburg, VA

Category 23: American-Style Sour Ale, 86 Entries
Gold: Savant Blanc, Perennial Artisan Ales, Saint Louis, MO
Silver: Ensorcelled, The Rare Barrel, Berkeley, CA
Bronze: Apropos of Nothing, The Rare Barrel, Berkeley, CA

Category 24: American-Style Brett Beer, 85 Entries
Gold: (512) Wild Bear, (512) Brewing Co., Austin, TX
Silver: Red Swingline IPA Primitif, Trinity Brewing, Colorado Springs, CO
Bronze: 2015 Golden Ale, New Glarus Brewing Co. – Hilltop, New Glarus, WI

Category 25: Wood- and Barrel-Aged Beer, 69 Entries
Gold: Wild Warehouse, Wander Brewing, Bellingham, WA
Silver: Palo Santo Aged Porter, Spellbound Brewing, Mount Holly, NJ
Bronze: Barrel Aged Brown Ale, Twin Peaks Brewery, Irving, TX

Category 26: Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer, 179 Entries
Gold: Melange A Trois, Nebraska Brewing Co., La Vista, NE
Silver: Batch 666: Sympathy For The Devil, Sun King Brewing Co., Indianapolis, IN
Bronze: Ska Face, SKA Brewing, Durango, CO

Category 27: Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer, 128 Entries
Gold: Ctayt, AC Golden Brewing Co., Golden, CO
Silver: Sherry Ink, Rhinegeist Brewing, Cincinnati, OH
Bronze: Dosvidanya, DESTIHL – Champaign, Champaign, IL

Category 28: Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer, 137 Entries
Gold: Veritas 015, The Lost Abbey, San Marcos, CA
Silver: 24 Frames Per Second, Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew, Denver, CO
Bronze: Sour Opal, Firestone Walker Barrelworks, Buellton, CA

Category 29: Aged Beer, 38 Entries
Gold: Big Deluxe, Ritual Brewing Co., Redlands, CA
Silver: Sasquatch 2014, 903 Brewers, Sherman, TX
Bronze: Old Diablo, Morgan Territory Brewing, Tracy, CA

Category 30: Kellerbier or Zwickelbier, 45 Entries
Gold: STS Pils, Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa, CA
Silver: TAPS Kellerbier, TAPS Fish House & Brewery – Brea, Brea, CA
Bronze: Fargo Original, Fargo Brewing Co., Fargo, ND

Category 31: Smoke Beer, 57 Entries
Gold: Smoked Märzen, 49th State Brewing Co., Denali National Park, AK
Silver: S.S.A., Titletown Brewing Co., Green Bay, WI
Bronze: Smokie Robbins, Lager Heads Brewing Co., Medina, OH

Category 32: American-Style or International-Style Pilsener, 51 Entries
Gold: Rocket 100, The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co., Austin, TX
Silver: Mexican Logger, SKA Brewing, Durango, CO
Bronze: Amend This!, TAPS Fish House & Brewery – Brea, Brea, CA

Category 33: German-Style Pilsener, 100 Entries
Gold: Pivo, Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA
Silver: Pilsner, pFriem Family Brewers, Hood River, OR
Bronze: Pilsner, Dry Dock Brewing Co., Aurora, CO

Category 34: Bohemian-Style Pilsener, 62 Entries
Gold: Shower Beer, Champion Brewing Co., Charlottesville, VA
Silver: Bohemian Pilsner, von Trapp Brewing, Stowe, VT
Bronze: Peacemaker Pilsner, Pug Ryan’s Brewing Co., Dillon, CO

Category 35: Munich-Style Helles, 55 Entries
Gold: Bucket Seat Blonde, Garage Brewing Co. & Pizzeria, Temecula, CA
Silver: Long Goodbye, Ahnapee Brewery, Algoma, WI
Bronze: Goldencold Lager, Susquehanna Brewing Co., Pittston, PA

Category 36: Dortmunder or German-Style Oktoberfest, 48 Entries
Gold: Oktoberfest, Fort Collins Brewery & Tavern, Fort Collins, CO
Silver: Longboard Island Lager, Craft Brew Alliance – Kona Brewery, Kailua Kona, HI
Bronze: Helles Lager, Lucky Envelope Brewing, Seattle, WA

Category 37: American-Style Lager or Light Lager, 55 Entries
Gold: Coors Banquet, Coors Brewing Co., Golden, CO
Silver: Lone Tree Mexican Lager, Lone Tree Brewing Co., Lone Tree, CO
Bronze: Southern Girl Lager, Sycamore Brewing, Charlotte, NC

Category 38: American-Style Cream Ale, 56 Entries
Gold: Rainier Lager, Pabst Brewing Co., Los Angeles, CA
Silver: Olympia, Pabst Brewing Co., Los Angeles, CA
Bronze: Nuff, Dale Bros Brewery, Upland, CA

Category 39: Vienna-Style Lager, 46 Entries
Gold: Vienna Lager, Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Outpost, Lexington, VA
Silver: Oktoberfest, Stoudts Brewing Co., Adamstown, PA
Bronze: Firebrick, August Schell Brewing Co., New Ulm, MN

Category 40: German-Style Märzen, 65 Entries
Gold: Oktoberfest, Rahr & Sons Brewing Co., Fort Worth, TX
Silver: Antonius 1742 Oktoberfest, Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Co., Indianapolis, IN
Bronze: Duck-Rabbit Märzen, Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery, Farmville, NC

Category 41: American-Style Amber Lager, 48 Entries
Gold: Auburn Lager, Mad Anthony Brewing Co., Fort Wayne, IN
Silver: Karbachtoberfest, Karbach Brewing Co., Houston, TX
Bronze: St. Florian’s Brewery California Common, St. Florian’s Brewery, Windsor, CA

Category 42: European-Style Dark/Münchner Dunkel, 34 Entries
Gold: Gigi, Exile Brewing, Des Moines, IA
Silver: Fearless Youth, Grimm Brothers Brewhouse, Loveland, CO
Bronze: Chuckanut Dunkel, Chuckanut Brewery, Bellingham, WA

Category 43: American-Style Dark Lager, 21 Entries
Gold: Lagerithm, Bottle Logic Brewing, Anaheim, CA
Silver: Lighter Than I Look, Figueroa Mountain Brewing – Arroyo Grande, Arroyo Grande, CA
Bronze: Black Diamond, Bend Brewing Co., Bend, OR

Category 44: German-Style Schwarzbier, 37 Entries
Gold: Lobo Negro, Pedernales Brewing Co., Fredericksburg, TX
Silver: Black Knight, Fat Head’s Brewery – N. Olmstead, North Olmsted, OH
Bronze: Eastside, Lakefront Brewery, Milwaukee, WI

Category 45: Bock, 38 Entries
Gold: Break Line Bock, Rip Current Brewery, San Marcos, CA
Silver: Rock Out with Maibock Out, Hailstorm Brewing Co., Tinley Park, IL
Bronze: A Cart Ride to Mexico, Red Eye Brewing Co., Wausau, WI

Category 46: German-Style Doppelbock or Eisbock, 25 Entries
Gold: The Regulator, Rahr & Sons Brewing Co., Fort Worth, TX
Silver: Procrastinator Doppelbock, Fitger’s Brewhouse, Duluth, MN
Bronze: Hot for Teacher Ms. Doppelbock, Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Co., Indianapolis, IN

Category 47: Baltic-Style Porter, 35 Entries
Gold: Cobaltic Porter, Bottle Logic Brewing, Anaheim, CA
Silver: Double Porter, Bemidji Brewing Co., Bemidji, MN
Bronze: Duck-Rabbit Baltic Porter, Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery, Farmville, NC

Category 48: Golden or Blonde Ale, 107 Entries
Gold: Sunlight Cream Ale, Sun King Brewing Co., Indianapolis, IN
Silver: Boxcar Blonde Ale, Heroes Restaurant and Brewery, Riverside, CA
Bronze: Alpine Gold, Tied House Cafe & Brewery – Mt. View, Mountain View, CA

Category 49: German-Style Kölsch, 111 Entries
Gold: Chuckanut Kolsch Style, Chuckanut Brewery, Bellingham, WA
Silver: Colorado Kölsch, Steamworks Brewing Co., Durango, CO
Bronze: Friar Chuck, Black Bottle Brewery, Fort Collins, CO

Category 50: English-Style Summer Ale, 38 Entries
Gold: Beaverton Blonde, Golden Valley Brewery and Pub, McMinnville, OR
Silver: Cream Ale, Newburgh Brewing Co., Newburgh, NY
Bronze: Lonely Blonde, Fulton Beer, Minneapolis, MN

Category 51: Classic English-Style Pale Ale, 46 Entries
Gold: Mr. Kite’s Pale Ale, Social Kitchen & Brewery, San Francisco, CA
Silver: India Pale Ale, Arcadia Brewing Co., Kalamazoo, MI
Bronze: PBW Pale Ale, Paducah Beer Werks, Paducah, KY

Category 52: English-Style India Pale Ale, 42 Entries
Gold: Shanghai’d IPA, Old Town Brewing, Portland, OR
Silver: Monumental IPA, Port City Brewing Co., Alexandria, VA
Bronze: Hammersmith IPA, Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA

Category 53: International-Style Pale Ale, 75 Entries
Gold: Mai Tai P.A., Alvarado Street Brewery & Grill, Monterey, CA
Silver: Rain Delay IPA, JAFB Wooster Brewery, Wooster, OH
Bronze: San Diego-Style IPA, Karl Strauss Brewing Co. – La Jolla, La Jolla, CA

Category 54: American-Style Pale Ale, 160 Entries
Gold: Monterey St. Pale Ale, Central Coast Brewing Co., San Luis Obispo, CA
Silver: Hoppy Palm, Track 7 Brewing Co. – Natomas, Sacramento, CA
Bronze: Featherweight Pale Ale, Cannonball Creek Brewing Co., Golden, CO

Category 55: American-Style Strong Pale Ale, 134 Entries
Gold: Ratchet Strap IPA, Barley Brown’s Beer, Baker City, OR
Silver: Via Chicago, CODA Brewing Co., Aurora, CO
Bronze: 3C India Pale Ale, Triple C Brewing, Charlotte, NC

Category 56: American-Style India Pale Ale, 336 Entries
Gold: Revolver IPA, BNS Brewing & Distilling Co., Santee, CA
Silver: Pernicious IPA, Wicked Weed Brewing – Candler, Candler, NC
Bronze: White Rajah, The Brew Kettle Taproom and Smokehouse, Strongsville, OH

Category 57: Imperial India Pale Ale, 208 Entries
Gold: Hop JuJu Imperial IPA, Fat Head’s Brewery, Middleburg Heights, OH
Silver: Eazy Duz It IIPA, Laurelwood Public House and Brewery, Portland, OR
Bronze: Teahupo’o, Breakwater Brewing Co., Oceanside, CA

Category 58: American-Style Amber/Red Ale, 94 Entries
Gold: Immersion Amber Ale, Two Beers Brewing Co., Seattle, WA
Silver: Proletariat Red, Lompoc Brewing – The 5th Quadrant, Portland, OR
Bronze: Sharkbite Red, Pizza Port Bressi Ranch, Carlsbad, CA

Category 59: Double Red Ale, 71 Entries
Gold: Bone Head Imperial Red, Fat Head’s Brewery, Middleburg Heights, OH
Silver: Toaster Pastry, 21st Amendment Brewery, San Leandro, CA
Bronze: GRAMBO, Pizza Port Solana Beach, Solana Beach, CA

Category 60: Imperial Red Ale, 35 Entries
Gold: reDANKulous, Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids, MI
Silver: Wreak Havoc, Bootstrap Brewing Co., Niwot, CO
Bronze: Imperial Red Ale, Marble Brewery, Albuquerque, NM

Category 61: English-Style Mild Ale, 40 Entries
Gold: Mild, Brothers Craft Brewing, Harrisonburg, VA
Silver: Summer Porter, Fort Point Beer Co., San Francisco, CA
Bronze: Mamoot, Logboat Brewing Co., Columbia, MO

Category 62: Ordinary or Special Bitter, 43 Entries
Gold: DBA (Double Barrel Ale), Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA
Silver: Spitfire Best Bitter, Flyers Restaurant and Brewery, Oak Harbor, WA
Bronze: Sawtooth Ale, Left Hand Brewing Co., Longmont, CO

Category 63: Extra Special Bitter, 67 Entries
Gold: The Guilty Party, Gibb’s Hundred Brewing Co., Greensboro, NC
Silver: 14° ESB, Bent Paddle Brewing Co., Duluth, MN
Bronze: Red Fish, Flying Fish Brewing Co., Somerdale, NJ

Category 64: Scottish-Style Ale, 52 Entries
Gold: Copper John Scotch Ale, Madison River Brewing Co., Belgrade, MT
Silver: Cold Smoke, KettleHouse Brewing Co., Missoula, MT
Bronze: Barrio Rojo, Barrio Brewing Co., Tucson, AZ

Category 65: Irish-Style Red Ale, 70 Entries
Gold: TAPS Irish Red, TAPS Fish House & Brewery – Corona, Corona, CA
Silver: Johnny Blood Red, Titletown Brewing Co., Green Bay, WI
Bronze: Hooligan’s Irish Red Ale, Montana Brewing Co., Billings, MT

Category 66: English-Style Brown Ale, 72 Entries
Gold: Red Hydrant Ale, Big Dog’s Brewing Co., Las Vegas, NV
Silver: No Name, Glenwood Canyon Brewing Co., Glenwood Springs, CO
Bronze: Rogue River Brown, Rockford Brewing Co. – Rockford, Michigan, Rockford, MI

Category 67: American-Style Brown Ale, 85 Entries
Gold: 1623 Brown Ale, 7th Settlement Brewery, Dover, NH
Silver: Rapture Fusion Brown Ale, Rabbit Hole Brewing, Justin, TX
Bronze: Restraint, Institution Ale Co., Camarillo, CA

Category 68: American-Style Black Ale, 54 Entries
Gold: Midnight Moonlight, Fat Head’s Brewery – N. Olmstead, North Olmsted, OH
Silver: Singularity, Karl Strauss Brewing Co. – Costa Mesa, Costa Mesa, CA
Bronze: King Ink, Denver Beer Co. – Canworks, Denver, CO

Category 69: German-Style Sour Ale, 111 Entries
Gold: Gose, Reuben’s Brews Taproom, Seattle, WA
Silver: Volkssekt, Bend Brewing Co., Bend, OR
Bronze: Cucumber Crush, 10 Barrel Brewing Co., Bend, OR

Category 70: German-Style Altbier, 49 Entries
Gold: Copper Alt, Zipline Brewing Co., Lincoln, NE
Silver: Generation Alt, Flix Brewhouse – Indy, Carmel, IN
Bronze: Altbier, Liquid Mechanics Brewing Co., Lafayette, CO

Category 71: South German-Style Hefeweizen, 95 Entries
Gold: Weißbier, Prost Brewing, Denver, CO
Silver: Wild Wapiti Wheat, Elk Mountain Brewing Co., Parker, CO
Bronze: Windansea Wheat, Karl Strauss Brewing Co., San Diego, CA

Category 72: German-Style Wheat Ale, 35 Entries
Gold: Saint Arnold Weedwacker, Saint Arnold Brewing Co., Houston, TX
Silver: Weizenbock, Kansas City Bier Co., Kansas City, MO
Bronze: Monkey Business, New Bohemia Brewing Co., Santa Cruz, CA

Category 73: Belgian-Style Blonde Ale or Pale Ale, 47 Entries
Gold: Bear Hair, Logboat Brewing Co., Columbia, MO
Silver: Bleek Worden, Prison City Brewing, Auburn, NY
Bronze: Belgian Style Pale Ale, Aardwolf Brewing Co., Jacksonville, FL

Category 74: Belgian-Style Witbier, 82 Entries
Gold: Allagash White, Allagash Brewing Co., Portland, ME
Silver: White Rascal, Avery Brewing Co., Boulder, CO
Bronze: Optimal Wit, Port City Brewing Co., Alexandria, VA

Category 75: French- and Belgian-Style Saison, 132 Entries
Gold: Siren’s Lure, Fair Winds Brewing Co., Lorton, VA
Silver: Daily Wages, Brasserie Saint James, Reno, NV
Bronze: Saison, URBN St. Brewing Co., El Cajon, CA

Category 76: Belgian- and French-Style Ale, 47 Entries
Gold: Vintage Monks, Adelbert’s Brewery, Austin, TX
Silver: Grisette, Sly Fox Brewing Co., Pottstown, PA
Bronze: Petite Classique, The Commons Brewery, Portland, OR

Category 77: Belgian-Style Lambic or Sour Ale, 78 Entries
Gold: Turbulent Consequence, Peche, Block 15, Corvallis, OR
Silver: Feral One, Firestone Walker Barrelworks, Buellton, CA
Bronze: Viejo Rojo, Tahoe Mountain Brewing Co. – Truckee, Truckee, CA

Category 78: Belgian-Style Dubbel or Quadruple, 60 Entries
Gold: Sanitarium, Bier Brewery and Taproom, Indianapolis, IN
Silver: Dubbel Entendre, River’s Edge Brewing Co., Milford, MI
Bronze: Qualified, Taxman Brewing Co., Bargersville, IN

Category 79: Belgian-Style Tripel, 52 Entries
Gold: Wild West Tripel, Chicago Brewing Co. – NV, Las Vegas, NV
Silver: Allagash Tripel, Allagash Brewing Co., Portland, ME
Bronze: Millennium Trippel, Church Brew Works – Lawrenceville Brewery, Pittsburgh, PA

Category 80: Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale, 65 Entries
Gold: Van Dammit, Jailbreak Brewing Co., Laurel, MD
Silver: The Cannibal, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant – Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, PA
Bronze: Quad Damn It, Chicago Brewing Co. – NV, Las Vegas, NV

Category 81: Other Belgian-Style Ale, 45 Entries
Gold: Spangalang Table Beer, Spangalang Brewery, Denver, CO
Silver: Summer Rye Ale, Mayflower Brewing Co., Plymouth, MA
Bronze: Witty Moron, Stone Brewing World Bistro, Liberty Station, San Diego, CA

Category 82: Brown Porter, 57 Entries
Gold: Disaster at Meux, Lion Bridge Brewing Co., Cedar Rapids, IA
Silver: Peter Brown Tribute Ale, Bear Republic Brewing Co. – Factory 5, Cloverdale, CA
Bronze: Black Jack Porter, Left Hand Brewing Co., Longmont, CO

Category 83: Robust Porter, 102 Entries
Gold: Recalcitrant Dockhand, Black Star Co-op, Austin, TX
Silver: Porter, Port City Brewing Co., Alexandria, VA
Bronze: Night Watchman, City Star Brewing, Berthoud, CO

Category 84: Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout, 36 Entries
Gold: Stearns Stout, Figueroa Mountain Brewing – Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA
Silver: Dragoon’s Dry Irish Stout, Moylan’s Brewery & Restaurant, Novato, CA
Bronze: Dry Stout, Reuben’s Brews, Seattle, WA

Category 85: Export Stout, 39 Entries
Gold: Fade to Black, Volume 1, Left Hand Brewing Co., Longmont, CO
Silver: Black Rock Stout, Crossroads Brewing Co., Athens, NY
Bronze: Z-man Stout, Pizza Port Carlsbad, Carlsbad, CA

Category 86: American-Style Stout, 39 Entries
Gold: Disorder Stout, Barley Brown’s Brewpub, Baker City, OR
Silver: Black Cliffs, Boise Brewing, Boise, ID
Bronze: P2P, 10 Barrel Brewing Co., Bend, OR

Category 87: Sweet Stout or Cream Stout, 75 Entries
Gold: West O CocO, West O Beer, West Okoboji, IA
Silver: Chocolate Milk Stout, Boxing Bear Brewing Co., Albuquerque, NM
Bronze: The Husstler, Huss Brewing, Tempe, AZ

Category 88: Oatmeal Stout, 73 Entries
Gold: R & R Oatmeal Stout, Beaver Street Brewery, Flagstaff, AZ
Silver: Scripps Pier Stout, South Park Brewing – CA, San Diego, CA
Bronze: Scaredy Cat, Vintage Brewing Co., Madison, WI

Category 89: Imperial Stout, 80 Entries
Gold: Double Negative, Grimm Artisanal Ales, Brooklyn, NY
Silver: Russian Imperial Stout, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant – Lancaster, Lancaster, PA
Bronze: The Miller’s Toll, Raleigh Brewing Co., Raleigh, NC

Category 90: Scotch Ale, 55 Entries
Gold: MacPelican’s Wee Heavy Ale, Pelican Pub & Brewery, Pacific City, OR
Silver: Black Lagoon Scottish Strong, Rip Current Brewery, San Marcos, CA
Bronze: Real Heavy, Real Ale Brewing Co., Blanco, TX

Category 91: Old Ale or Strong Ale, 39 Entries
Gold: Old Scrooge, Silver City Brewery, Bremerton, WA
Silver: Innsmouth Olde Ale, Narragansett Brewing Co., Providence, RI
Bronze: MASSIVE! 2013, Gigantic Brewing Co., Portland, OR

Category 92: Barley Wine-Style Ale, 56 Entries
Gold: Fat Hog, Ritual Brewing Co., Redlands, CA
Silver: Statik, Brewery Rickoli, Wheat Ridge, CO
Bronze: Old Skook, Three Magnets Brewing, Olympia, WA

2015 Great American Beer Festival Pro-Am Competition, 91 Entries
Gold: Muscat Love, Great South Bay Brewery; Bay Shore, NY
Brewmaster: Great South Bay Brewery Team, AHA Member: Brian Giebel

Silver: Atahsaisa, Odd13 Brewing; Lafayette, CO
Brewmaster: Ryan Scott and Brandon Boldt, AHA Member: Mike Froehlich

Bronze: Citra IPA, FATE Brewing; Boulder, CO
Brewmaster: FATE Brewing Company Team, AHA Member: Ryan Lotter

The 2015 Great American Beer Festival Brewery & Brewer of the Year Awards

Very Small Brewing Company of the Year
Rip Current Brewery; San Marcos, CA
Brewer: Paul Sangster and Guy Shobe

Small Brewing Company of the Year
Port City Brewing; Alexandria, VA
Brewer: Port City Brewing Team

Mid-Size Brewing Company of the Year
Firestone Walker Brewing; Paso Robles, CA
Brewer: Matt Brynildson & the Firestone Walker Brewing Team

Large Brewing Company of the Year
Pabst Brewing; Los Angeles, CA
Brewer: Gregory Deuhs

Small Brewpub of the Year
Melvin Brewing; Jackson, WY
Brewer: Kirk McHale and Jeremy Tofte

Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year
TAPS Fish House & Brewery; Corona, CA
Brewer: TAPS Fish House & Brewery Team

Large Brewpub of the Year
Titletown Brewing; Green Bay, WI
Brewer: David Oldenburg

Zwanze Day 2015

cantillon russian-river
Today was Zwanze Day, an annual holiday deliciously made up by Jean Van Roy of Brasserie Cantillon. Cantillon made the first Zwanze beer in 2008, which that year was a rhubarb beer. In subsequent years they’ve made beers with elderflowers, pineau d’aunis (a red wine grape) and a sour witbier, made with the traditional coriander and orange peel, and last year they made Cuvée Florian, essentially Iris Grand Cru blended with cherries. This year, the beer was Wild Brussels Stout


Each year, the beer is tapped at the very same time at locations around the world, regardless of times zone. Once again, this year the Zwanze Day beer was available at 56 beer bars or breweries in seventeen countries. One of those was Russian River Brewing, one of my local breweries, so I again spent the morning there with owners Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo.

But before we get to the beer, here’s a little history of Zwanze Day. Belgium has essentially two separate regions, with the northern half known as Flanders. The language spoken there is a dialect of Dutch, known by the same name as the people of Flanders: Flemish. The word “zwanze” is unique to Flemish, has its origins in Yiddish, and essentially means a self-deprecating type of humor that’s typified by sharp-edged, playful jokes, usually good-natured. It’s said that this type of humor has become “a characteristic, defining trait” of the Flemish themselves, and for some a way of life. A “zwanze” is a joke, a “zwanzer” a joker. It was with that same playful spirit that Cantillon approached the concept of making a Zwanze beer. The goal was to create a fun beer; something a little unusual, using non-traditional ingredients.

And here’s Jean Van Roy explaining this year’s Zwanze beer:

With its Zwanze 2015, in its own way Cantillon wanted to perpetuate this typically Belgian surrealist mindset. In doing so, a few changes were made to the recipe for a traditional stout. Specifically, I fermented some raw wheat to improve mellowness and enhance storage characteristics and did not use roasted barley to avoid further accentuating the dry aspect, which was already present as a result of spontaneous fermentation.

The recipe is that of a stout, the colour is that of a stout, and spontaneous fermentation followed by 28 months of maturing in a cask has given birth to a “surreal” stout.

The dry and tart notes of a spontaneous fermentation beer combine with the roasted, slightly burnt and delicate chocolate flavours sometimes found in certain stouts.

For the 28 months of maturing we used three types of casks: 50% of the casks had already contained lambic, 25% had already been used for Côtes du Rhône wine and 25% had already been used for Cognac. Beers that have matured in old Cognac casks take up the warmth of the alcohol while those from casks having contained red wine adopt winey and fruity characteristics.

This “wild” stout’s fruitiness and “cooked” side reveal rancio flavours that are characteristic of Madeira or Banyuls wines.

Having a little fun with one of Belgium’s best known artists, Rene Magritte, and one of his best known paintings, The treachery of images (a.k.a. Ceci n’est pas une pipe.)

People lined up to try the very limited release Zwanze, stretching about halfway down the block. So not as crazy as for Pliny the Younger, but a respectable number of people, and enough that not everyone in line could be guaranteed a sample by around an hour before opening time.

The doors to the brewpub opened at 11, an hour before the worldwide toast was to take place. Four other beers from Cantillon were available on draft — Gueuze, Iris, Kriek and Rose de Gambrinus — so people had something to enjoy while they waited. And Vinnie greeted people as he walked around while people were seated.

The first pour of this year’s Zwanze beer right at Noon.

Followed by the first trays of Zwanze ready to be served.

Vinnie and Natalie after giving the Zwanze Day toast.

Inaugural California Craft Beer Summit This Weekend

This weekend, beginning Friday September 11, the California Craft Beer Association is holding the first-of-its-kind Craft beer Summit, a two-day event in Sacramento celebrating the rise of beer in the Golden State. It should be an amazing event that if you’re a beer lover you won’t want to miss, and will include many different experiences, ending with the the largest Beer Festival ever held in California!

It’s being hailed as the California version of the “Great American Beer Festival,” and with 150 breweries pouring their beer — as many as 400 different beers (including several brewed just for the event) — it’s an apt description. The CCBA is describing the event as “the showcase event for craft beer – a premier California craft beer festival. People from all over the state (and country) can come to Sacramento to see (and taste) our thriving craft beer scene. Our beers are coveted across the nation, so here is your opportunity to try all of them!”

But it’s also much more than just a beer festival. The summit will bring together retailers, wholesalers, brewery owners, beer enthusiasts and home-brewers for an educational, hands-on experience where they will be able to see, touch, smell and taste beer. There will be Educational Seminars both days, beginning at 9:00 AM, cooking and homebrewing demonstrations, panel discussions, talks by industry pioneers and insiders (including yours truly), an Expo and much more. You can find out more about the event here, and tickets are also available online.

Still not convinced? Here’s 8 Things You Don’t Want to Miss at the California Craft Beer Summit and Brewers Showcase Beer Festival posted by the CCBA.


Sonoma State Beer Appreciation Class Open For Fall

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.


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.

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

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!