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Beer & Ale

A Shot and a Beer for Breakfast



This photo was taken at 11 a.m. in the morning. I know that the idea of me having a shot and a beer at that early hour confirms many people’s suspicions about me, but this was a special occasion. In fact I had worked behind the bar at Cantina from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., come home and stayed up all night working on a story for Wine and Spirits magazine. Actually, I slept for two hours and got back up at 4 a.m. and kept working. I finished the story between 10 and 11 that morning, and then it was time to have a drink and go to bed.

Beer from Beyond

And then, a brand new, very exciting discovery . . . new beer, also from NZ.



It’s called Moa, and I’ve been hearing about it for a few years now. The founder and brewer is Josh Scott, the son of the famous winemaker Allan Scott from the Marlborough region. I’m sure Josh is a talented winemaker in his own right, but we should be happy he turned his attention to beer—as these are unique and exceptional.

My Summer Vacation

What did I do during my summer vacation? I looked for interesting things to drink, of course. 
For the record, it wasn’t really vacation. It was a day in NYC and a few more days visiting my wife’s family at their summer retreat in western Massachusetts. But traveling is a most exciting way to explore the world of drinking and eating, and I found a few notable things.


RIP Michael Jackson


Michael Jackson, the beer hunter—not the pop star

Having just returned from a short jaunt to the east coast, it’s necessary for me to recognize the passing of a great figure in the world of drink: Michael Jackson, the beer hunter, died on August 30. He had been coping with Parkinson’s and was 65 years old.

Belgium Meets California



I had an interesting opportunity to taste a new beer that’s made by the highly respected Belgian brewery Brasserie d’Achouffe. It’s called Houblon Dobbelen IPA Tripel. I don't know what all those words mean, but I do know that you don’t often see the term IPA (India Pale Ale) on Belgian beers. Sure enough, this is an interesting hybrid--a Belgian company making a beer for the American market. It’s in the style of a tripel, which the name for a golden-hued, complex mellow style of Belgian beer. Throw in some extra, hyper aggressive hops, and you can start calling it an IPA in hopes of appealing to American fans of beers like the IPA from Racer 5.

Church of Absinthe

I’m not a religious man, but a weekend visit to Absinthe, where I hadn’t been in a while, did feel a little like going to the Unified Church of Libation. See . . .


The light streamed in the stained glass windows.

Thirsty from a long walk from the Embarcadero, I paid tribute to a Pillar of Wisdom:


Almost Old Enough to Drink

Toronado, San Francisco's number one beer institution, celebrated its 20th anniversary on Saturday, meaning that it's only one year away from being alcohol-legal.


Revelers at Toronado.

It was a packed affair, as people spilled out into the streets, happily warmed by all sorts of great Belgian, German and, of course, local beers. Toronado's reputation as one of the best beer bars in the entire country is secured—as was proven to me a couple of years ago when I met a bartender who had traveled out all the way from Boston just to do a stint there.

Freak Out!

You never know what you’re going to find when you go through a move. I happened across this bottle that had gotten buried behind some shopping bags in the pantry. Thirsty from carrying boxes, we chilled it down and popped it.



The beer is, I think, a one-off, from one of my favorite California breweries, the Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma. Known for their quirky senses of humor and risk-taking brews, Lagunitas manages to have a lot of fun and still make great beer.

Beer of the Week: Brasserie Dupont Foret



People who read me regularly enough will know that I love Belgian beer. In its infinite complexity and variability, it’s a subject as absorbing and satisfying as any wine region.

Big Beer Phenomenon

A few months ago, I wrote “Drink Big” about the very large, German-style glasses at the beer and sausage hangout, Gestalt. And now, I’m here to tell you about another, entirely different sort of place where you can get more extra-large beers—Osha Thai.


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