Celebrator 25th Anniversary Party

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The closing event for SF Beer Week was again hosted by the Celebrator Beer News, who held their 25th Anniversary Party at the Oakland Marriott Convention Center on Sunday. Over 600 people attended the festival, which had a Mardi Gras theme, and 50 breweries were pouring their beer.

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The tap handle for the beer that a group of Celebrator writer’s collaborated on to celebrate our 25th anniversary at Sierra Nevada Brewing

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Some festival attendees really got into the Mardi Gras spirit.

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Though not everybody, as evidenced by the Beer Wench, Ashley Routson, and recent husband Angelo De lseo.

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Steve Altimari, from High Water Brewing, also made a special blended beer for our 25th anniversary celebration.

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The view from the Brewing Network corner.

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Midway through the festival, all of the Celebrator writers in attendance got up on stage and we drank a toast to craft beer, the brewers and our industry, and I introduced publisher Tom Dalldorf.

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Then Tom led us in a 25th anniversary toast.

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Del Grande, Bison Brewing owner, dressed as a bison, giving high fours to anyone who would lend a paw.

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Fraggle and a bemused Jen Muehlbauer.

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Rich Norgrove, from Bear Republic and Brian Ford, from Auburn Alehouse, bookending a friend who’s name I can’t remember, another brain cell casualty of getting old.

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Terence, from Sierra Nevada, with Natalie, from Russian River.

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The long and the short of it, with Sean Paxton, Nicole Erny and some friends.

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Don Gortemiller, from Pacific Coast, and Dave Heist, formerly of Hoptown, with a friend.

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More buffalo hijinks toward the end of the evening.

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Don Ericson and Tom Dalldorf raise a toast to our 25th anniversary. See you next year.

Toronado Barleywine Festival 2013

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Yesterday was the 20th annual Toronado Barleywine Festival, the original SF Beer Week event, that predates our beer week by fifteen years. I arrived a little late, sad to say, because Porter had his little league tryouts in the morning, but for at least the fourth year in a row, my luck held. When I arrived, it was already in full swing.

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Luckily, I found Sean Paxton holding down Matt Bonney‘s table near the front of the pub.

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The table already had a full compliment of all forty barley wines. Since Sean was looking to go roaming himself, I graciously agreed to take over table babysitting duties, which allowed me the opportunity to try every one of this year’s barley wines.

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There were some very good, even great, ones, of course, and a number of decent beers, and a few that weren’t as good as one might have hoped.

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But over all, I think my favorite barley wine of the day was Mad River’s John Barleycorn, which in many ways has become the epitome of an American-style barley wine for me, and seems to get better every year. Other stand-outs included Heretic’s Dead Weight, Moylan’s Old Blarney, Drake’s Jolly Roger and Anderson Valley’s Horn of the Beer. I also enjoyed Bear Republic’s Old Scoutter’s 2010, Berryessa’s Cliff’s Fiscal and Widmer’s Old Embalmer.

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The back room, which is normally only used for special events (and Washoe’s) was configured in a new way this year, which seemed to allow more people to taste, with one side having long picnic tables and the other a place to stand and try the beers with a long table running the length to hold multiple barley wines. This also made the middle wider and easier to traverse than in previous years.

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All in all, another great beer festival, with some spectacular barley wines. But if you didn’t get a chance to go on Saturday, don’t dispair, the barley wines will be there at least until Monday, and some will probably be hanging around a little longer, until they run out.

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Bistro Double IPA Winners 2013

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Societe‘s The Roustabout was chosen best in show at the 13th annual Double IPA Festival today at the Bistro in Hayward, California. The full winner’s list is below.

And for the second year, Triple IPAs were judged this year.

And for the third straight year:

Congratulations to all the winners.

SF Beer Week Opening Celebration 2013

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It’s hard to believe this is our fifth SF Beer Week. Things seemed to go off without a hitch last night at the Concourse Exhibition Center and it was another great kick-off to over 500 events that will follow this week. I spent most of my time drinking and talking to old friends and meeting new ones, but did snap a few photos along the way.

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The calm before the storm, about an hour before the SF Beer Week Opening Celebration began last night.

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Alex from Uncommon Brewers.

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Natalie Cilurzo (from Russian River) and Dave Keene (from the Toronado).

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Jay and the crew from Pine Street Brewery.

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Angelo Roselle with Geno Acevedo from El Toro Brewing. Angelo’s on a mission to drink every beer in the book I contributed to, 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die, and Geno’s Oatmeal Stout was one of the beers that I wrote up for the book.

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The Concourse Exhibition Hall with the celebration in full swing.

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John Martin, me and Peter Hoey.

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Rodger Davis (now from Faction Brewing) with Gabbi mugging for the camera in the background.

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I finally had a chance to try the beer we made at Beer Camp in December. Our Celebrator 25th Anniversary Double Pale Ale is tasting better than I ever could have hoped. It should be appearing at bars and festivals throughout the week, so keep an eye out for it.

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Tom Dalldorf (from the Celebrator) and Dave Keene (from the Toronado).

Beer Camp #93: Celebrator 25th Anniversary Double Pale Ale

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In anticipation of the 25th Anniversary of the Celebrator Beer News magazine, which takes place this year, we decided to make a special beer to commemorate our silver anniversary. So in December of last year, the largest Sierra Nevada Beer Camp took place when eighteen writers for the brewspaper assembled in Chico, along with state Assembly Member Wesley Chesbro, who leads the beer caucus in Sacramento, got together at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. to make a beer. Our intrepid chronicler, Mike Condie, put together this great little 15-minute video of our Beer Camp.

The beer we made will be available at locations around the country starting around now and through SF Beer Week. Each writer at Beer Camp got to find a home for his or her kegs in their hometown. For example, my kegs will be at Taps in Petaluma and as a guest tap at Russian River Brewing.

The beer we made is essentially a Double Pale Ale, based on the original Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. We then imperialized it and changed the hop bill, with an eye toward reflecting past, present and future symbolically with the hops. For past, we of course used Cascades, for the present we chose Citra and for the future an experimental hop with no name, only a number. The beer finished at 9.3% a.b.v. Look for it during SF Beer Week events. It will also be pouring at the Celebrator 25th Anniversary Party at the Oakland Marriott on Sunday, February 17, the final big event of the 2013 beer week. Perhaps I’ll see you there.

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Tasting The Bay: SF Beer Week 2012

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Here’s yet another video showcasing SF Beer Week. This one is brought to you by the Top Shelf Society. It has great production value and music, including what I can only assume is an original song, Beer by the Bay, “written and performed by Jefferson Bergey.” There’s a lot from the opening celebration and then a few other events are highlighted. Nice job.

Three Ring Circus Brewer’s Dinner & Sideshow This Wednesday

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Wow, check out the Three Ring Circus Brewer’s Dinner & Sideshow happening this Wednesday night. To me, this sounds like the most off-the-hook, amazing, one-of-a-kind beer dinner since … well, since the last one Sean Paxton, the Homebrew Chef, did. If this isn’t on your SF Beer Week itinerary, it really should be, at least in my opinion. I admit a certain bias; Sean is a friend, but honestly I’ve enjoyed every single beer dinner he’s ever done. And they just keep getting better because Sean — who I like to call “The Mad Alchemist” — is always challenging himself to do more and more amazing things with beer and food.

So instead of taking your valentine out on the 14th, or buying them some chocolates, why not treat them to something truly amazing, the Three Ring Circus Brewer’s Dinner & Sideshow. Tickets are $120 each, which might sound steep until you consider that this is a nine-course meal that includes a dozen amazing beers, 6 live circus acts, live music, an emcee and a terrific setting: the historic Elks Lodge in San Francisco. Also, the three breweries will be pouring a new beer that all three, plus Sean, collaborated on called Three Ring Circus Ale just for this event. It’s described as “an anything-but-traditional nut brown ale brewed with dulce de leche, popped corn and peanuts that pays homage to the spirit of the circus.”

Tickes can be purchased online at Eventbrite. The poster for event is here and below that is the menu. Check it out. See you there!

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Three Ring Circus Beer Dinner Menu

Pre-Dinner Reception Nibbles: Gourmet Popcorn

Bacon fat popped organic popcorn seasoned with tomato powder, roasted garlic, hop salt and smoked in bourbon barrel wood

Black Truffle Oil Scented Popcorn with cooked in vegetable oil with roasted garlic salt flakes

Thyme Infused duck fat popcorn with Sonoma Vella Dry Jack shavings, green peppercorns

First Course: The Mermaid

Lobster and prawn mousse infused with Ninkasi Believer Double Red Ale, wrapped around petrale sole filets, Speak Easy White Lightning Ale “Tide Sauce”, Ninkasi Little One Beer Foam, Speak Easy Prohibition Ale quinoa “sand”

Paired with Ninkasi Sterling Pils

Second Course: The Drumstick

Willie Bird Smoked Turkey legs rillettes layered with He’Brew Genesis 15:15, shallots, dried figs and thyme, Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk cheese, malt pickled heirloom pumpkin, assorted crackers, breads and spiced nuts

Paired with Speak Easy Massacre Black Wheat Wine and Coney Island Geektoberfest

Third Course: The Sword Swallower

“Haute” Dogs infused with 4-H style Lamb, Speak Easy Scarface Imperial Stout, caramelized onions and rosemary Ninkasi Renewale Porter Beer mustard, fennel carrot slaw, sweet roll

Paired with He’Brew Bittersweet Lenny’s RIPA

Fourth Course: Hopped Cotton Candy

Centennial hop scented sugar, wrapped around a cube of Sonoma foie gras terrine mixed with He’Brew Genesis

Paired with Speakeasy Big Daddy IPA

Fifth Course: Slider

Ground elk and duck heart patty, rendered dry aged beef fat, Brioche bun, house made He’Brew Genesis 15:15 beer ketchup, baby arugula, Speak Easy Payback Porter braised red onions

Paired with Ninkasi Conventionale (2010 Imperial Stout), Speakeasy Scarface Imperial Stout and He’Brew Genesis 15:15

Sixth Course: Churro

Point Reyes Blue cheese mixed into a Speak Easy Double Daddy savory churro, roasted garlic powder

Paired with Ninkasi Total Domination IPA

Seventh Course: Three Ring Circus

Roasted red, gold and white baby beets, Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog crumbles, carbonated citrus segments, malt candied hazelnuts, micro greens drizzled with a Three Ring Circus Collaboration vinaigrette

Paired with Speakeasy Prohibition Ale

Eighth Course: Funnel Cake

He’Brew Bittersweet Lenny’s RIPA infused batter with bergamot zest, Three Ring Circus Wort Honey Drizzle, Malted Powdered Sugar Dust, Ninkasi Sleigh’r Beer Caramel

Paired with Coney Island Albino Python

Ninth Course: The Non-Fried Non-Twinkie Cupcake

Ninkasi Conventionale Imperial Stout Chocolate Cake, filled with a He’brew Jewbelation 15 mousse filling, Speak Easy Prohibition Frosting, THCO Cocoa Nibs, Caramel Malt

Paired with Speakeasy, Ninkasi, Shmaltz, Home Brew Chef Collaboration beer: Three Ring Circus

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