Sonoma County Gets Crafty With Beer

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Today’s infographic is local to me, and concerns my home county of Sonoma. Entitled Sonoma County Gets Crafty With Beer, it shows how Sonoma has been growing lately in terms of the number of breweries and their overall production. Even though the infographic was created in 2013, two more have actually opened and we now have 20 breweries within our borders. I recently sat on a panel discussion at the Sonoma County Beer, Cider & Spirits Conference, which was put on by the county’s economic development board. We certainly live in a great place for beer.

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Click here to see the infographic full size.

Sierra Nevada’s Berkeley Torpedo Room Opens Today

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The new Torpedo Room that Sierra Nevada Brewing created is officially open to the public today, beginning at 11:00 a.m.

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Located at 2031 4th Street in Berkeley, just behind the Grocery Outlet almost underneath the University Avenue off-ramp.

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The interior was created using mostly recycled materials, and there’s even two hop torpedoes behind the bar.

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Hop torpedoes, of course, are what the Torpedo Room was named for. I love the beaker display and the painting hanging on the wall above it.

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The Torpedo Room will feature 16 rotating taps, including some rare ones that used to be available only in the tap room at Chico.

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They won’t serve pints, only tasting flights, although they sell a full complement of Sierra Nevada packaged beer.

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The hours for the Torpedo Room Tuesday through Thursday, from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and on Friday and Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.. They’ll be closed on Sundays and Mondays. It’s a cool, comfortable, intimate space. Check it out when you’re in Berkeley.

Beer Birthday: Craig Cauwels

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Today is the 47th birthday of Craig Cauwels, who started brewing at Schooner’s in 2003, when his longtime friend Shawn Burns needed his help, and he continuing brewing there until after Burns sold the brewpub to a new owner. He’s currently brewing at E.J. Phair brewing, and recently went back to brewing at Schooner’s part-time, splitting his time between the two East Bay breweries. Originally a molecular biologist, Craig was running the core lab facility at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard University when he gave it all up to become a professional brewer. And that’s certainly been good news for people who love great beer, because he’s a very talented brewer. Join me in wishing Craig a very happy birthday.

Craig Cauwels, from Schooner's, with Vic Krajl
Craig with Vic Krajl at the 2009 Bistro Barrel Aged Fest.

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Craig with Sam Calagione (from Dogfish Head) and Dave McLean (from Magnolia’s) at the Double IPA Festival at the Bistro a couple of years ago.

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Craig with Steve Altimari, from High Water Brewing at the Celebrator’s 18th anniversary party in 2007.

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Craig with Brian Yaeger, the Beer Chef Bruce Paton and me at a Schooner’s beer dinner at Cathedral Hotel in 2008.

Cerveceria MateVeza to Open Restaurant & Small Brewery in Oakland

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MateVeza announced today that they’ll be opening a new restaurant and brewery in Oakland next June, assuming approvals from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and the City of Oakland come in a timely fashion. This will be the second Cerveceria MateVeza location, after their 18th Street location in San Francisco. The Oakland location “will feature Argentinian cuisine” and will also house a small brewery. It will be located at 1701 Telegraph Avenue in Oakland, which is approximately one block from the Fox Theatre, and about a block and a half from Broadway. You can see it’s position on the map below.

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And here you can see the location on the far left, with the Fox Theatre on the right, down the street about a block. Some nuts and bolts released by the brewery: the new location will be “approximately 2,300 square feet,” and they’ll be “brewing on a 1 BBL (31-gallon system), ” with “15 beers on tap with the majority brewed in house. MateVeza bottles and growlers of the beers brewed in house will be available for purchase to go.” They will also “feature El Porteño empanadas and other local” food. Apparently, the building is currently occupied by Fred Brown, who owns and runs Rocsil’s Shoes at 1701 Telegraph Avenue. When he retires, MateVeza will take over the lease. “MateVeza founder and brewer Jim Woods plans to brew ‘Fred Brown Ale’ as the inaugural batch of beer at their new location.”

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Beer Birthday: John Tucci

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Today is also the 46th birthday of John Tucci, who until it closed not too long ago, was the brewmaster for the San Francisco Gordon Biersch brewpub. John’s one of Gordon Biersch’s best and most senior brewers, especially his one-offs that he brewed at that location. He’s also a great champion for beer in San Francisco and was very active with the local brewers guild and SF Beer Week. Since the San Francisco location’s closing, he’s been brewing at their Palo Alto brewpub, while working on opening his own new brewery in San Francisco. Join me in wishing John a very happy birthday.

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John behind the bar pouring some of his beer. (Note: this photo by Winnie Hsu and purloined from Facebook.)

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At the Slow Beer Festival 2008, Ian Marks (from Hog Island Oyster Co.), Taylor Boetticher (from the Fatted Calf), Dave, John and Shaun O’Sullivan (from 21st Amendment).

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John when I visited him recently at the Palo Alto Gordon Biersch.

Anchor Brewing Announces Zymaster #5: Harvest One American Pale Ale

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Anchor Brewing announced today the 5th beer in their Zymaster series. This latest offering — Harvest One American Pale Ale — is a beer made with a new, experimental hop variety. I had a chance to try it during GABF last week, and the nose has amazing peach aromas, with soft, fruit flavors.
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Here’s the full story, from the press release:

It’s hard to imagine that the Cascade hop, today one of craft brewing’s most popular hop varieties, was ever new. Yet this distinctively aromatic hop, developed in Oregon by the USDA’s breeding program, was first released in the early 1970s. In 1975, Anchor Brewing featured Cascade hops with the debut of Liberty Ale®, America’s first craft-brewed, dry-hopped ale. Anchor Brewing has been using it in Liberty Ale® ever since.

Over the years, Anchor Brewing experimented with many different hops—both old and new—from around the world. For Zymaster Series No. 5: Harvest One American Pale Ale, Anchor Brewing decided to feature an experimental new hop variety. This yet unnamed, pre-commercial, aroma hop provides a uniquely Anchor twist to Zymaster 5.

Zymaster Series No. 5 (7.2% ABV) is made with a special blend of pale, caramel, and Munich malts, which contribute a distinctively complex maltiness and deep golden color. Nugget hops give it a tangy bitterness. But the hallmark of Zymaster 5: Harvest One American Pale Ale is the intriguingly novel aroma of an experimental new hop, which was used liberally in both the brewhouse and the cellar. A late addition to the boil plus dry hopping provides Harvest One with an incredibly lively hop aroma reminiscent of tree-ripened peaches, with just a hint of fresh melon. The result is a uniquely exciting new beer unlike anything brewed or tasted before.

“We have a fantastic and long-lasting relationship with the hop growers we work with,” said Mark Carpenter, Brewmaster at Anchor Brewing. “When we had the opportunity to sample and test a small set of experimental hops that were being grown, we were excited at the opportunity to work with something new and different. Out of about a dozen or so samples, there was one that really stood out to us. Right away, we knew this was a new hop variety we wanted to brew on a large scale. We were after something unique and aromatic, and this hop was one we hadn’t seen or smelled before and decided it would fit well in our Zymaster Series. Similar to how Anchor introduced the world to the Cascade hop in 1975 with Liberty Ale, we are proud and excited to share our take on this new, experimental hop in this beer.”

It’s being released today in California, though not all markets within the state, on draft and in 22 oz. bottles, and will be rolled out nationally in the next few months.

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Beer Birthday: Morgan Cox

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Today is the 36th birthday of Morgan Cox, founder and brewmaster of Ale Industries in Concord, California. Morgan started homebrewing at an early age, and washed kegs for Dave Heist at HopTown, before brewing at E.J. Phair. AFter eight years there, he left to open his own brewery, Ale Industries, where he’s been making inventive, tasty beers very since. Join me in wishing Morgan a very happy birthday.

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Morgan at the rainy Boonville Beer Festival in 2009.

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Morgan with Annie, or Annie N Crew, at the opening gala for SF Beer Week earlier this year.

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Morgan pouring at the Breastfest in 2012.

Note: the last two photos purloined from Facebook.

Beer Birthday: Don Gortemiller

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Today is the 61st birthday of Don Gortemiller, former brewmaster for Pacific Coast Brewing in Oakland, California. Don was making beer there since the very beginning, back in 1988, helping to put Oakland and the Bay Area on the beer map, but left recently under an odd set of circumstances, and is currently on the lookout for a new opportunity. Join me in wishing Don a very happy birthday.

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Pacific Coast founder Steve Wolfe with Don at their 2009 annual Holiday Beer Tasting.

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Don toasting with his beer.

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Bruce Joseph with Don at Anchor Brewing.

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Don rockin’ out as a young man.

Note: the last three photos purloined from Facebook.

Sierra Nevada’s Berkeley “Torpedo Room” To Open In November

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Sierra Nevada earlier this year announced they’d be opening in taproom in Berkeley. The new taproom, to be called “The Torpedo Room,” is apparently on track to open this November.

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From the press release:

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is targeting early November to open its Berkeley, Calif., space, coined the Torpedo Room. The intimate venue—whose name is inspired by the brewery’s innovative dry-hopping device, the Hop Torpedo—fits into a mixed-use building on Fourth Street between University Avenue and Addison Street. The Torpedo Room can host approximately 45 craft beer drinkers for educational tastings of unique and limited Sierra Nevada beers, as well as the occasional craft-centric event dedicated to beer science.

“Our brewers develop creative, flavorful beers at an impressive pace,” said Ken Grossman, Sierra Nevada’s founder. “They’re usually small batches, and it’s those beers folks will find in the Torpedo Room. We think it’s exciting—using rare offerings to showcase who we are and to talk about the science behind our beers. We really hope visitors take part in the dialogue.”

The Torpedo Room will feature 16 taps, and draught beer will be served in taster flights. Guests will also have the option of filling growlers to go, as well as purchasing six-packs, cases and individual specialty bottles. Light snacks will accompany beer flights, but there is not a full menu.

“West Berkeley fosters a great, progressive culture,” Grossman said, “and that includes a lot of ambitious food and drink. We’re eager to be part of the Bay Area craft scene while still staying close to our home base in Chico.”

Here’s what the building looks like now.

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And these are artist’s renderings of what it will look like when the build-out is complete, from the outside.

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And here’s what the interior is expected to look like.

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Beer Birthday: Lars Larson

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Today is the 47th birthday of Lars Larson, brewmaster of Trumer Brauerei in Berkeley, California. Larsen studied brewing in Germany and was the prefect person to recreate Trumer Pils in the United States, one of the best pilsners made in California, or indeed anywhere, foreign or domestic. I got to know Lars much better a couple of years ago, when we were both invited to judge a beer competition in Santiago, Chile, and he’s a very thoughtful brewer, and great fun to hang out with. Join me in wishing Lars a very happy birthday.

Lars Larson (Trumer), Homer Smith (Oak Barrel) & Shaun O'Sullivan (21st Amendment)
Lars, with Homer Smith of the Oak Barrel & Shaun O’Sullivan from 21st Amendment, at the Celebrator’s 22nd anniversary party in 2010.

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Lars in Chile with two of the brewers from Cerveceria Berlina in Argentina.

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Lars, again at the Celebrator’s 22nd anniversary party in 2010, with Brenden Dobel, from Thirsty Bear.

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Lars’ former brewing school classmate Asbjorn Gerlach, Matt Brynildson and Lars at Kross Cerveza Independiente in Chile, which Gerlach co-founded.