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Scott Mansfield

Save the Ales at the Monterey Beer Festival

“The Monterey Bay has always been a great place to visit for its beautiful scenery. Now you can come for the beer!" Jeff Moses, owner of Night That Never Ends Productions, is hosting the 2011 Monterey Beer Festival, which is being billed as “the greatest assortment of beer ever assembled on the Central Coast.” On Saturday afternoon, June 11, more than 80  brewers will be pouring hundreds of the best beers from around the world. Monterey area chefs will make a wide variety of food available and live music will play throughout the day.

Caffeinated Beer: The Four Best Local Offerings

Coffee stouts and porters have been made for ages: Roasted and ground beans are steeped in the wort; the rich nuttiness of the coffee offsets the bitterness of the beers’ black patent malt. Sometimes milk sugar is added to a stout to make a coffee cream version. Finally and incidentally, the coffee beans add a little caffeine to the brews.

But earlier in this decade, American entrepreneurs on the lookout for something new noticed clubbers switching from drinking traditional beer or mixed drinks to Red Bull with vodka, and so it was only a matter of time before someone made a run at combining high alcohol malt beverages with caffeine, fruit flavors, and sugar. The logical extreme for this genre were products such as Four Loko, Joose, Max, and Core High Gravity HG.

Local Beers to Pair With Your Memorial Day BBQ Feasts

In addition lacing up your White Buck Oxfords, Memorial Day weekend is also the time to officially scrub down and fire up the grill. And while there is season enough to put a flame under eggplant slices, skewered tofu, marinated portabellas, and the like, for this weekend I want a slab of something substantial, sentient even. But what brew to serve? I went deep to some local experts and got the following beer pairing recommendations for 2011’s opening salvo in the war on underindulgence: 

If You're Grilling: Beef, Sausages, Ribs

Pair it With: 21st Amendment's North Star Red (an American Amber Ale) or Back in Black (a black IPA) or Magnolia Pub & Brewery's Spud Boy IPA

Checking In On City Beer Store's Expansion

A crisp spring wind was blowing down Folsom at 5:30 last Sunday afternoon. The mid-May weekend was winding down and the street was so empty of pedestrians, parked cars and even traffic that I began to wonder if I'd missed Saturday's scheduled Rapture.  The quiet of the street changed at the doorway to City Beer though; all the tables and stools were occupied and there was a steady but manageable stream of patrons with their personal selections of bottled craft brews waiting to be checked out. Splitting his time between the half dozen beer taps and the cash register, Craig Wathen quietly let each customer know that since they close at 6:00 on Sundays, this was last call. 

Move Over Wine, The Beer Bomber Is Here

If you’re looking for something to have with a tri tip, you might want to try this,” suggested Craig Wathen, the owner of City Beer Store in SoMa, as he handed me a .75-liter bottle of Sierra Nevada’s Ovila Abbey Dubbel off the shelf—a specimen big enough to contend with a bottle of wine. “It’s a hearty dubbel, almost chewy, but it’s got enough tartness from the hops to cut through the juice of a steak.”

Dogfish Head Brewery Tasting This Friday at Urban Tavern

Eric Clapton called Robert Johnson the “the most important blues singer that ever lived,” and to help celebrate his 100th birthday, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery will be releasing their tribute beer Hellhound on My Ale, early this May. The beer’s name is a play on words from one of Johnson's songs, Hellhound on My Trail; the beer marks another in Dogfish’s riotous lineup of “offscentered ales for offcentered people.”

White Dog: Making Real Moonshine Locally (And Illegally)


It's a breezy midwinter evening in the Mission District and half a dozen people are huddled around a stainless steel contraption in a small backyard watching intently as a clear liquid drips out of a spigot. "We're distilling an all malt beer, without the hops, to make this whiskey," notes our host, who asked to remain anonymous due to the legal ramifications of his work. Unlike commercial whiskey, though, this newly distilled batch of "White Dog"—the unaged distillate that eventually becomes bourbon—will be cut with cold water and consumed fresh. No months resting in an oak barrel to add color, hints of vanilla, and the mysterious smoothness that comes with time.

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