Mikkeller Meet The Brewer Event At The Trappist

Big thanks to The Trappist in Oakland and Mikkel Borg Bjergsø of Mikkeller Brewing for an excellent meet the brewer event last night. The Trappist definitely brought out the big guns on tap and in bottle including the release of an excellent new pale ale from Mikkeller called Zummer Zitra Top.

 

As you can see, Mikkel (on the right) was in high demand so we didn’t get a chance to talk too much with him. We asked if he planned on collaborating further with local breweries after his recent Invasion IPA with Drake’s Brewing Co. “I work with people that I respect” he told us and added he would definitely be working further with California brewers.  Although he was tight lipped on the specifics of his upcoming projects he did hint at a collaboration with a well known local brewer. We won’t list it here until it’s confirmed though.

 

Mikkel and his beers drew an impressive crowd
Caption: From right: Mikkel, Eddy and Chris from Bay Area on Tap, random beer lover.

 

Based in Denmark, Mikkeller is what’s referred to as a “gypsy” brewer. They craft their beer at locations around the world including Denmark, Norway, Belgium, the UK, and the US.

 

Located at 460 8th St, The Trappist is a downtown Oakland beer institution, offering one of the finest selections of Belgian, Danish, American, and other fine beers in the country.

Pliny The Younger 2012

Unapologetically high in both hop bitterness and in alcohol, the triple IPA Pliny The Younger pushes the boundaries into what many would consider the extreme beer category. Until recently this style was primarily the domain of the geekiest of beer geeks. Not anymore. For those not yet aware, for the past several years Russian River Brewing of Santa Rosa, producer of some of most highly regarded hopped up ales on the planet, has released the triple IPA once annually to ever increasing fanfare. At some point, even people normally only marginally interested in beer started to clamor for a chance to taste it. Two years ago the popularity of the beer reached a flashpoint of sorts. Demand exceeded supply by a margin no one could have predicted. The line at the brewpub snaked around the building, the bar was almost unbearably crowded, and they ran out so quickly that some people who stood in line for hours had to be turned away without their sample.

Following that release, which I attended, Russian River decided to make some changes to prevent similar issues for future releases. One significant change was to no longer allow patrons to purchase Pliny The Younger ‘to go’ in glass growlers, allowing for more to be served at the brewpub (also it turned out some that got growlers turned around and sold them for a hefty profit, something head brewer Vinnie Cilurzo didn’t seem very pleased with). Another change was to ration a certain amount of the beer to be served each day to stretch the release over two weeks. Last year, we didn’t make it up for the release, content to try Pliny The Younger closer to home at the handful of beer bars lucky enough to get a small amount of the highly coveted ale. This year, Eddy and I decided to head up to the Russian River brewpub for the release to see how the changes in the release had improved the visitor experience and as an excuse to visit one of our favorite places to have a beer.
10:30am
We arrived at the brewpub about twenty minutes ahead of the eleven AM opening on the second Saturday after the initial release and found we were a little late to the party as the line already extended to the end of the block. We’re a patient bunch here and no strangers to waiting in line for a beer release so we hunkered down and decided to stick around for the long haul. While we waited we had an opportunity to talk to some of our fellow beer enthusiasts and discovered that even without the option of bringing home a growler the release was still enough of a draw to bring in people from all over the state. The line was very slow going but everyone was in good spirits and the extreme minority that weren’t on board for the wait left as soon as they seen the line. About four hours, a food run, and several trips to feed the meter later we finally got inside to enjoy the prized beer.
Folks sampling all the goodness that Russian River has to offer.

Once we were inside we noticed it wasn’t nearly as crowded as we expected. Although this probably contributed to the length of the line it made for a very comfy visit and allowed us to walk right up to the bar to get our beer and fill our growlers with some of the many world class Russian River beers not named Pliny The Younger. It’s nice that under the current release format those who may be visiting the brewpub for the first time have the opportunity to experience the brewpub as it usually is and not overwhelmed with rare beer seekers (if they’re patient of course). The same couldn’t be said of the madhouse of two years ago. Despite the ever increasing speed of information and the exponential growth of the craft beer niche, we have to say Russian River seems to be handling the escalating demand for their product with aplomb. Yet another reason to raise a glass in salute to what we and others consider one of the finest breweries anywhere.

The brewpub should have Pliny the Younger on deck the rest of this week. Last we heard each days supply lasted until about last call so if you don’t mind the line, you should get your beer. The beer will also be making very brief appearances at a few of the better beer bars around the greater bay area over the next month or so. Good chance you’ll see us in line.

-Berkey
The Reward!

Linden Street Tasting Room Opening Night

The city of Oakland gained yet another place to socialize and enjoy great beer with the long awaited opening of a tasting room at Linden Street Brewing Co on December 2nd. When they launched a couple years ago Linden was the first production brewery to open in town since the late 50’s. With an outstanding product buoyed by the near obsessive localism of us East Bayers, the brewery has been hugely successful with area bars and restaurants often selling their old time California lagers faster than head brewer Adam Lamoreaux can brew them. While there have been events at the brewery in the past, a tasting room had to wait while they waded through the requisite red tape involved in any such undertaking. In true Linden Street fashion, they threw a party to celebrate the opening complete with food vendors and live music from Lila Nelson and The Job.

The portside brewery is located at 3rd and Linden in West Oakland in a beautiful brick building that dates back to the 1890’s. Adam and his staff were peddling their two standby beers, Urban People’s Common Lager and Burning Oak Black Lager, along with Dee’s Mild from sister brewery Dying Vines at the wallet friendly price of $4 each. We didn’t notice any growlers being filled at the event but hope they will be available sometime soon.

As with every Linden Street event we’ve attended the turnout and energy were outstanding. While Linden parties have significant overlap with other Oakland beer events and craft beer bars, they also seem to have their own unique group of enthusiasts not found at those other places. The diverse crowd on Friday included several families with young children, some pets, and an unusually high number of unusually good looking people. All in all a great time was had and the tasting room will likely be a regular stop for us at Bay Area on Tap. If events like this one are the norm going forward this will be an extremely welcome addition to the Oakland beer scene. Hope to see you there!

Tasting room hours:

Tuesday – Friday 5-8:30 PM
Saturday 12-8 PM

Best bets to find Linden Street Beer elsewhere in Oakland:

Commonwealth Café and Public House 2882 Telegraph Avenue
The Grand Tavern 3601 Grand Avenue
Beer Revolution 464 3rd Street
The Trappist 460 8th St

More at www.lindenbeer.com

6th Annual West Barrel Aged Beer Festival

I had been counting down the days until November 12th for weeks. There were so many exciting events that I’d been waiting for. Pacquiao was to fight Juan Marquez, one of the greatest Mexican boxers of our time, Cain Velasquez from the UFC was undefeated going into his fight with Junior Dos Santos, and my favorite place to go for great beer was throwing one of the best beer festivals around. Though the two fights were great, it was hard to watch both my Hispanic brethren lose the way they did. At least the amazing time I had at the 6th annual West Coast Barrel Aged Beer Festival left me feeling good enough to cope with my losses.
Located at 1001 B st, The Bistro has been among my favorite places to go for great craft beer for years. Owners Vic and Cynthia Kralj, who opened the bar in 1994, are a very festive bunch, hosting a number of awesome beer gatherings like the Wet Hop Fest, IPA Fest, and the Double IPA Fest. The Bistro is also known for having a variety of musicians and artists perform almost nightly. This past weekend I was able to attend, arguably, the best beer festival in the Bay; The Barrel Aged Beer Festival.

That day I approached the familiar corner of B Street and Main and I noticed many jolly people outside enjoying the beautiful East Bay weather, sipping on their snifter glasses, and listening to the music coming from inside the bar. I went inside and seen a man playing some uplifting guitar chords, entertaining the many beer enthusiasts who were attending. I wandered through the crowd looking for signs that would direct me to the tickets booth so that I could commence my tasting adventure. Needless to say I was eager to get my first sip. Part of Main St was closed off for the event, and as I walked out the side door of the bar, I found the tents that covered the many kegs full of artfully crafted, barrel aged goodness. I was hardly able to contain myself…but I held my composure as I had walked up to the ticket booth and loaded up on tickets. I admired for a bit the commemorative Bistro snifter I was handed, then grabbed the beer list containing all the beers available with their brief descriptions and headed toward the closest beer booth.

The first item on the list to catch my eye was the Drakes Total Recall, a blend of two beers aged in a port barrel. Never mind the fact that I’m a huge Arnold Schwarzenegger fan, but it struck me as an awesome beer name. The scent was sweet and the taste was light and round. It was an awesome first choice. Some beers that followed were Drake’s Brette Davis Eyes, Shmaltz Genesis 15:15, 21st Amendment Drunken Monk, Glacier Brewhouse Czech Imperial Stout, and many others. My taste buds were tickled. Thats right! TICKLED!!!! But in all seriousness, they were tickled.

The people were many and at times it was a bit difficult to navigate from booth to booth but everyone was respectful and seemed willing to share their opinions and notes of what they had tasted. Some would keep it simple and mention whether it was sweet or sour, while others detailed the many subtle flavors in each sample. Many enthusiasts were repeat attenders who’ve been to many if not all of the Barrel Aged Beer festivals before. My pal and Bay Area on Tap co-conspirator Chris never misses it. After attending my first one, I can see why. The enthusiasm and appreciation for beer was definitely a feeling shared amongst everyone there, and I loved it!

The music certainly added to the complex tastes that I had been enjoying. The Blue Ribbon Healers performed quite the show for us folks. Since I am unable to describe their brand of music, I’ll steal their quote from their business card in saying that it was “Foot-Stompin swanky tonk and thrashed out old-time jazz”. With an old fashioned guitar, a mandolin, and a stand up bass, their sound seemed very fitting for the occasion.

I was able to talk briefly with Rob Pale, the guitarist, and Cindy Rose, self labeled “gypsy queen of the mandolin” about their favorite beers and where they’re from. The Blue Ribbon Healers come from the Florida Panhandle and have been on tour along the East Coast, making stops in the fall to the West Coast, specifically the Bay Area, and even more specifically The Bistro. Of course I had to ask about their favorite breweries since we were at a beer festival after all. Rob and Cindy both like beer from Lagunitas and Anderson Valley. There was one beer they mentioned that they only find out in the east that is a hands down favorite of theirs called the Highland Oatmeal Port from the Highland Brewery in Asheville, North Carolina. Check it out here

If you’re interested in hearing some of their tunes or stop by one of their shows, check out their page at: http://www.myspace.com/theblueribbonhealers

But of course for you to know how it all went down in the small town of Hayward, you would of had to been there. Make sure you don’t miss it next year. Vic and Cythina know how to host some great festivals for all types of beer lovers.

If you’re ever in downtown Hayward, make sure to stop by The Bistro and see what’s on tap! http://www.the-bistro.com/

Here’s to the next adventure in the Bay,

Cheers!

Pink Boots Saison Release Party

Alex of Drake's and April of Moylan's
Bay Area On Tap recently took a Wednesday evening to attend the release party for Pink Boots Scholarship Saison. Conceived by Alex Nowell, a brewer at Drake’s Brewing in San Leandro, CA, the beer was brewed by Alex with the assistance of a few other local members of the Pink Boots Society. The Society is essentially a group of women who work to advocate a greater female presence in the national brewing industry. Per their website (pinkbootssociety.org) their name is an acronym for Passion, Integrity & Inspiration, Networking, Knowledge, Beer & Brewing, Opportunity, Open Exchange of Ideas, and Teaching. The site itself is definitely worth a look as it has some interesting historical information on the important role women have had in brewing through the centuries. Per Alex, all of the ingredients used to produce the beer were donated. Proceeds from the sale of this beer will go to a scholarship fund to pay for education of an aspiring female brewer.

The October 12th event was hosted by Beer Revolution, a popular beer bar and bottle shop on 3rd street in Oakland where Alex tends bar. The home-y, almost familial vibe that ensues whenever Beer Revolution takes time to celebrate the local was ramped up to another level for this one since this time they were honoring the efforts of one of their own. Throughout the evening the bar was packed with people interested in trying the beer and supporting the cause, including a number of familiar faces from the local beer and brewing community.

The beer is a Saison, a traditional Belgian style of beer historically brewed in the French speaking part of the country. Interestingly, Alex’s take on the style included, among others, Citra hops. Citra is a bold and citrusy hop that has recently become popular in big hoppy ales, and isn’t commonly used for a comparatively nuanced beer like a Saison. In our experience, taking traditional styles and putting a ‘West Coast’ spin on them can be a gamble but the relatively broad and inclusive nature of the Saison style and Alex’s skillfully balanced recipe really made this one work. The restrained fruitiness and faintly spicy flavors were well contrasted by the citrus hop bite to make for a very pleasant easy drinking brew that complemented the warm Oakland evening extremely well.

Near the tail end of the release party we had a quick moment to chat with Alex, a familiar face both from her time behind the bar at Beer Revolution and from local beer events, and also had the opportunity to meet fellow brewer April of Moylan’s brewing. Alex told us that it was one of her professors in college who convinced her that her home brewing hobby could be a career. If one persons encouragement helped her launch a career working for one of the most respected (and one of our favorite) breweries in the region, we wonder how great an impact events like this one, which took direct action to get women involved in the industry, might have? If future waves of lady brewers deliver as quality a product as this we’re definitely excited at the possibilities.