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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Bistro Double IPA Winners 2012

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Knee Deep Brewing‘s Hopologist DIPA was chosen best in show at the 12th annual Double IPA Festival today at the Bistro in Hayward, California. The full winner’s list is below.

And for the second straight year:

And for the first time, Triple IPAs were judged this year. Since there were only fifteen, only first and second places were awarded.

Congratulations to all the winners.

Beer In Ads #540: SF Beer Week 2012


Friday’s ad couldn’t be more new, less historical, if it tried. It’s the new poster for this year’s SF Beer Week, which begins today. This year’s poster may be the best yet. Each of the objects, people, places, things represent the name of a local beer, so it’s game, as well as a piece of cool art. See how many you can find and figure out.

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Anchor Releases California Lager

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Although SF Beer Week doesn’t officially launch until later tonight, there’s already been one event that took place at Anchor Brewing on Wednesday. Three weeks ago, they announced their new Zymaster Series and later revealed that the first beer in the series would be a pre-prohibition California Lager. Wednesday night, Anchor held an event to launch the new beer.

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The new Anchor Zymaster Series No. 1: California Lager

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Anchor co-owner Keith Gregor, Barb Condie, Steve Shapiro and me at Anchor Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of Mike Condie.)

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As I wrote before, Anchor based the beer on a lager from Boca Brewing, who is believed to have made the first one in the state, around 1875. The town of Boca was located in northeast California, roughy 6.5 miles from Truckee. In 1880 it had a population of around 200 people, though today it’s literally a ghost town. The brewery was founded in 1875 and closed in 1892, four years before the Anchor Brewery opened.

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Me, Brenden Dobbel (from Thirsty Bear) and Shaun O’Sullivan (from 21st Amendment). (Photo courtesy of Mike Condie.)

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An old ad featuring the Boca Lager, the inspiration for Anchor’s California Lager.

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In addition to the California Lager, Anchor was also serving the latest batch of O.B.A. (Our Barrel Ale) which this time used a different blend and also the recent Brekle’s Brown.

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There were plenty of other local brewers in attendance to try out the new beer. Here, from the left, is John Tucci (from the San Francisco Gordon Biersch), Aron Deorsey (from Beach Chalet) and Zambo (from 21st Amendment).

So how’d the beer taste? Consensus was that it was pretty good, an interesting beer. Having had several other pre-prohibition lagers, it tasted better than most of the others. In fact, I can’t think of one I enjoyed more. A lot of the others used corn, which was common then, but I believe Anchor’s is all-malt, and the taste seems to reflect that. It’s only slightly sweet, but smooth, and the Cluster hops are fairly muted and restrained. They never overpower the flavor of the beer, they’re just there for balance. The overall flavors are similarly mild, making the beer very sessionable.

What’s SF Beer Week Like?

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John Heylin, of the Nor Cal Beer Guide, along with several other BABB members, created a little spoof or homage film for SF Beer Week entitled What’s SF Beer Week Like? Drawing on Reservoir Dogs and the cult status of Russian River’s Pliny the Elder, the minute and a half video might make you cry, especially if you can’t get Pliny in your hometown. But fear not. As is revealed in the end credits; “No Pliny the Elder was harmed in the making of this video.”

Here’s how John describes his film: “How spoiled is the Bay Area when it comes to beer? This spoiled. Come check out SF Beer Week from February 10th-19th and spoil yourself silly.” I spoke to Vinnie Cilurzo at Russian River Brewing today, and he loved the video, thought it hilarious and sent it to all his employees.

Anchor Announces New Zymaster Series

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As promised on Friday, Anchor Brewing announced today a new series of beers they’ll be debuting during SF Beer Week. The new beers will be under the series designation “Zymaster,” which Anchor describes like this:

Zymaster n [Gk zyme leaven + master – more at ZYMURGY]
1: a new word coined by Anchor Brewing to describe a brewmaster with hands-on experience throughout the a-to-z process of creating a new beer, from the research and selection of the raw materials and development of a recipe to brewing, fermentation, cellaring, and finishing
2: a unique series of beers from Anchor Brewing, rooted in its exceptional respect for the ancient art and noble traditions of brewing and featuring extraordinary ingredients, innovative techniques, and unusual flavors

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The first Zymaster Series beer will be released at select events during SF Beer Week, which this year is February 10-19. The initial offering will be “available on draught only in 13.2 gallon and 5.16 gallon kegs,” and “[i]nitial distribution will be focused in California.”

No word yet on what the first beer will taste like, whether it will hew closely to any recognizable style, what ingredients were used to brew it, or how often we can expect subsequent offerings in the Zymaster series. Updates as they emerge.