Autumn Brew Review 2013 First Look

The old Grain Belt brewery will once again play host to one of the top annual craft beer festivals (sold out) this Saturday from 1 PM to 5 PM. There are plenty of things to be excited about including musical entertainment, food trucks, beer education, and of course beer. The Jack Brass Band will be performing as will the Southside Aces and we will again witness the Traditional Bagpipe Opener. At this point it seems to be a right of passage.  Highlighting the food trucks are Natedogs, Ngon Bistro, World Street Kitchen, Stanley’s, Foxy Falafel, Gastro Truck and more. For those of you who have not tried something from World Street Kitchen you really ought to try either the Red Curry Burrito or the Lamb Belly Tacos—both of which will be served on Saturday. Beer Education will feature an Identifying Off Flavor Beers by Michael Agnew from a Perfect Pint, From Wort to Wonder, The Magic of Homebrewing by Northern Brewer, and A Blind Tasting Sensory Experience by Better Beer Society. All of the above instructors certainly have the credentials and experience to make all of these worthwhile. The best part of course is going to be the beer. Here are just some of the many beers this writer is excited about: Lunker Barleywine 2011 from Steel Toe Brewing- This one has been aging in Templeton Rye whiskey barrels and is sure to be heavy. Ovila Abbey Saison Collaboration from Sierra Nevada Brewing- This one looks interesting, mandarin  oranges and peppercorns in a Farmhouse Ale brewed by one of the best breweries in the country. Black Forest Ale from Excelsior Brewing- A dry Black Ale infused with cherry. The interesting part is that it’s not supposed to be all that roasty. Ghostface Fatha from Bent Brewstillery- A brand new brewery/distillery from Roseville is bringing this American Emperial Stout which is light in body and infused with ghost peppers. Midwestern palates be warned! Lavender ESB from NorthGate Brewing- This Bitter style brew is apparently Continue Reading

Butte College’s free tuition offer for 2018 jump-started by Sierra Nevada founders’ donation

By Alyssa Pereira, SFGATE Published 11:16 am, Wednesday, January 31, 2018 window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-4', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 4', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); Photo: Sierra Nevada Brewing Image 1of/4 CaptionClose Image 1 of 4 Sierra Nevada Brewing offers a variety of daily themed tours at its headquarters in Chico. Sierra Nevada Brewing offers a variety of daily themed tours at its headquarters in Chico. Photo: Sierra Nevada Brewing Image 2 of 4 Drinking buddies: Sierra Nevada Brewing founder Ken Grossman (right) and son Brian, co-manager at the company’s Mills River, N.C., brewery. Drinking buddies: Sierra Nevada Brewing founder Ken Grossman (right) and son Brian, co-manager at the company’s Mills River, N.C., brewery. Photo: Courtesy Of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Image 3 of 4 Ken Grossman, founder/owner of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Ken Grossman, founder/owner of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Photo: Courtesy Image 4 of 4 Butte College's free tuition offer for 2018 jump-started by Sierra Nevada founders' donation 1 / 4 Back to Gallery Butte College in Chico has announced a new program beginning at the school in Fall 2018 allowing first-time, full-time students to go to their community college for free for two semesters. The new program, called The Butte College Promise Scholarship Program, is being funded by a mix of private and public funds, but was just "jump-started" by a substantial donation from Ken Grossman, the founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, and his wife Katie Gonser. Continue Reading

Beer in the Bay: Super Bowl brews and The Rare Barrel’s new menu

By Alyssa Pereira, SFGATE Updated 11:14 am, Wednesday, January 31, 2018 Photo: Brant Ward, The Chronicle Image 1of/1 CaptionClose Image 1 of 1 Buy photo Lagunitas Brewing's Tony Magee examines a batch of IPA coming out of the bottling area in Petaluma, Calif.  Lagunitas Brewing's Tony Magee examines a batch of IPA coming out of the bottling area in Petaluma, Calif.  Photo: Brant Ward, The Chronicle Buy this photo Beer in the Bay: Super Bowl brews and The Rare Barrel's new menu 1 / 1 Back to Gallery Every Wednesday morning, SFGATE finds the biggest headlines in local (and sometimes national) beer. Check back here weekly for news, events, and information about special releases from your favorite local breweries. SFGATE has launched a beer newsletter! Called the Taploid, it will contain some key stories from this column, as well as other, more nationally-spanning industry news. To sign up, head here, enter your email at the top, and check the box marked "Taploid." Check back next week for our San Francisco Beer Week coverage! The Rare Barrel is upgrading its taproom menu offerings, from a solitary tasty but simple grilled cheese to all kinds of options from a full-on "from-scratch kitchen." The company quietly hired an executive chef, Charis Wahl, back in August to design the new food program (outlined on their site), and is finally debuting it on Thursday, February 1. The dishes will include seasonal produce, seafood, cheeses, charcuterie, and apparently, pork belly: Pork Belly - It's most definitely on menu for our kitchen Grand Opening this Thursday! Pork belly is a slam dunk pairing with sour beers because the acidity from the beer cuts through the fat in the pork belly so well. Chef brines the pork belly for 3 days, then braises the pork belly in our dark sour beer to add Continue Reading

Sierra Nevada is taking its Beer Camp global, casting a wide net for craft brew lovers

Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp series is going global. The third edition of the brewery's 12-pack of collaboration beers searched far and wide for inspiration. The result is a variety assortment of brews from six international and six stateside brewers. The range of beer styles is as diverse as the geography of the participants, reflecting a booming worldwide market for craft beer. Sierra Nevada's collaborations include Copenhagen-based Mikkeller's Thai-Style Iced Tea Ale, to an East Meets West IPA from Tree House Brewing in Massachusetts, and Raspberry Sundae Ale with California's The Bruery. "The craft beer revolution has spread from the U.S. to pretty much every country in the world, and we thought 'let's invite brewers we know and respect around the globe as a celebration of craft brewing and the spirit of collaboration,'" Ken Grossman, Sierra Nevada Brewing's founder and CEO, told CNBC recently. The task is not always easy, he told CNBC. "There a lot of very small brewers that maybe produce a few hundred kegs a year [and] are popping up around the country," said Grossman. "They're finding a few bars and restaurants who will support their branding, making it a little more challenging for more established brands to get on the shelf or get into the bar for a tap handle." Continue Reading

Sierra Nevada issues recall of select beers sold in 36 states

SAN FRANCISCO  — Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. announced a recall Sunday of certain 12-ounce bottles of its pale ales, IPA's and other beers after detecting a packaging flaw that could cause a piece of glass to break off into the bottle. In a statement Sunday, it said the recall applies to eight different types of its craft beers, including its popular Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, purchased in 36 states across the Midwest, the South and East Coast of the United States. The California-based company issued the voluntary recall after quality inspections at its Mills River, North Carolina, brewery detected a limited number of bottles made with a flaw "that may cause a small piece of glass to break off and possibly fall into the bottle, creating a risk of injury," the statement said. The affected beer has a package date that falls between Dec. 5, 2016, and Jan. 13, 2017 and a brewery code of "M'' — which stands of Mills River — printed directly on bottles and the packaging of cardboard cases. "We have decided to take this precaution to ensure the safety of our customers," Mike Bennett, chief supply chain officer, was quoted as saying. He said Sierra Nevada had not received any consumer reports of injuries, and it believed the concern could impact about 1 in every 10,000 — or .01 percent — of its bottles packaged during the five-week time period. Aside from its Pale Ale, the Sierra Nevada recall includes 12-ounce bottles of its Beer Camp Golden IPA, Sidecar Orange Pale Ale, Torpedo Extra IPA, Tropical Torpedo, Nooner, Hop Hunter and Otra Vez. The company has stopped distributing all affected beer and is working to have it removed from retails shelves, the statement said. Consumers were urged to check the company's website for details on the recall and not to drink any of the recalled beer, which would be fully refunded. The recall applies to the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, District of Continue Reading

How the IPA reinvented Odell Brewing

A decade ago, Odell Brewing sent staffers to Supermarket Liquors on Mulberry Street.The request: Collect every IPA from the shelves.As the Fort Collins craft brewery was developing its own India Pale Ale, it deconstructed the hopped-up beer style that was gaining in popularity. Every Odell employee from production to sales weighed in.“We found a lot of bitter bombs out there,” Odell co-founder Doug Odell said. “We felt IPAs at the time were unbalanced on the bitterness side. We wanted to level that out.”They had no idea that 10 years after the initial release of Odell IPA, their beer would reinvent the style, as well as the brewery’s brand.The beer’s sales have grown by double digits every year, inching within 2 percent of 90 Shilling — the Scottish Ale that has been Odell’s top seller since the brewery opened in 1989 — according to 2016 data from Odell.Odell IPA is so prevalent locally that some bartenders call it “Fort Collins water.” It's on the menu at 32 of the 36 beer-serving Downtown Business Association restaurants.The beer is also now available in 14 states and its success helped launch Odell distribution east of the Mississippi River for the first time earlier this year. The Odell IPA logo of a bucking elephant — created by the now defunct TBD  ad agency of Bend, Oregon — has become an iconic image for the brewery.“We certainly didn’t think it would be what it is today,” said Odell Chief Operating Officer and longtime employee Brendan McGivney. “But we are really excited about where it has taken us.”It’s still the only American-style IPA to win gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup.The beer now goes to Great American Beer Festival every year as a measuring stick. Judges use it to compare the American-style IPA entries — the most entered category annually since 2002.“It’s Continue Reading

Who will invest in USA Pro Challenge?

The USA Pro Challenge had a plan: In five years, Colorado’s largest spectator event expected it would land a title sponsor and turn a profit.It didn’t happen.The professional cycling race, bankrolled by the Schaden family, lost $10 million in 2011 and $2 million this year. Rick and Richard Schaden announced last week they will step down from their role as race backer to allow for a new ownership group to take over.The idea, race officials say, is to create a pool of investors — instead of that one, big title sponsor — to give the race long-term viability.The search for the group of sponsors falls on race chief Shawn Hunter and Denver businessman Ken Gart, who is leading Gov. John Hickenlooper's $100 million “Pedal Colorado” plan to improve bike and pedestrian pathways across the state.The two have gathered commitments from Lexus, Pepsi, Edward Jones Investments, UnitedHealthCare, Colorado State University and a host of other mid-tier sponsors.Michael Aisner, race director of the well-loved Coors Classic from 1980 to its end in 1988, said the USA Pro Challenge won’t find a title sponsor.“Cycling is too expensive for one sponsor to bear the entire brunt of all the costs,” said Aisner, of Boulder. “It’s got to be a group. A combination of sponsors creating partnerships in the race. They’ve got to be sponsors who care more about the state than national exposure.”Aisner landed Coors as the title sponsor of his race — the first sporting event sponsored by the behemoth beer manufacturer — which distributed products (T-shirts, calendars, magazines) with Coors’ name slapped on them.The Coors Classic never turned a profit but also never lost money, Aisner said. Coors covered more than half of the $1.5 million to run the race, but once the title sponsor bolted following the 1988 race, the Coors Classic was dead.Chances are slim Coors again would sponsor a cycling event, with a core Continue Reading

Draft Picks: Tapping into Cuban beer

HAVANA - At the tables inside a warehouse that once processed and housed tobacco, men and women smoke cigars. Highball glasses, branded with the Havana Club rum logo, are filled with mojitos heavy on the ice and bursting with fresh mint sprigs. A seven-piece band plays in the middle of the room, and despite the heat and humidity, couples find the energy to dance.The centerpiece of the warehouse, known now as Cerveceria Antiguo Almacen de la Madera y El Tabaco, is a 10-hectoliter copper-clad brew house, and from his perch, Yunier Rizo Rodriguez, one of the brewmasters here, watches as crisply dressed servers in black pants and white button-down dress shirts pour his lagers into dimpled mugs and yard-sized towers, navigate the crowd and serve the beer to thirsty patrons who are visiting one of this city’s two brewpubs.Will beer ever gain the prominence and respect in his country that is currently enjoyed by rum and cigars? “Eso espero,” he says. I hope so. READ: Should you book a cruise to Cuba READ: Havana bound READ: Draft Picks: Get beer from the source through brewery visits READ: Draft Picks: Another round of tasting beerFor generations Americans have had a fascination with Cuba — especially Havana. It’s the city where Ava Gardner, Frank Sinatra and other celebrities of the 1940s and 50s would visit. Where Ernest Hemingway was inspired to write. The fascination continued, albeit on a darker path to the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 that led to the Cuban Missile Crisis the following year along with the U.S. embargo of Cuba, known here as the blockade.While it is modern in many ways, parts of Cuban life — best visually referenced by muscle cars and roadsters resplendent with tailfins and chrome — remain firmly rooted in a bygone era. Recently President Barack Obama ordered the restoration of full diplomatic relations with this island nation of 11 million people, just 90 miles from Key West, Florida. Continue Reading

Sierra Nevada ‘beer camp’ recruits Bayou Teche

Ask most any serious beer drinker what their dream vacation would be and they’d answer “To be given a name tag that I can hang around my neck that would allow me to drink as much free craft beer as I wanted for three days.”Bayou Teche Brewing was recently selected to collaborate with four other southern craft breweries at the brand spanking new Sierra Nevada brewery near Asheville, North Carolina. We were invited to contribute to Sierra Nevada’s project called “Beer Camp.” Inspired by rock ‘n’ roll super groups, the legendary brewery teams up with 30 other talented breweries divided into six regional super groups.Sierra Nevada, along with these bands of brewers, will create an all-new mixed pack of beers that showcases the art, spirit and attitude of American craft beer – and then release the collaborative beers in 12 packs. Besides Bayou Teche, the other southern breweries were Funky Buddha from Florida, Austin Beer Works from Texas, Creature Comforts from Georgia, and Wicked Weed from North Carolina.Those are four of the most exciting and imaginative breweries set in the South. And Sierra Nevada has long been known as crafters of some of the best beers brewed in America, and perfectionists for quality both in their ingredients and processes.I arrived at my hotel, and checked in. Along with my room key I was given a Sierra Nevada name tag and lanyard. “Don’t lose this,” said the young lady at the desk, “because while you are at the brewery you can show this at any of the bars at Sierra Nevada and you’ll get a free beer.”She was not lying – and there are a lot of beer bars in and outside of the new brewery. And Sierra Nevada brews a LOT of different beers. I, however, only have one liver.The nice folks at Sierra Nevada sent a bus to pick all of us up. It was still pretty top-secret which breweries were selected, so when I got on the bus and saw a veritable who’s Continue Reading

Yuengling is now America’s top craft brewery

An inexpensive, pale lager favored in many a blue-collar gin mill, Yuengling may not be the first name that springs to mind when one thinks of craft beer. But thanks to changes in the Brewers Association’s guidelines, the Pennsylvania brew not only falls under the craft umbrella, Yuengling has replaced Sam Adams producer Boston Beer Company as the top-selling craft brewer in the United States. Under the Brewers Association’s old rules, a craft brewery had to be independently owned, produce 6 million barrels or fewer annually, and make it made an all-malt flagship beer. Yuengling, the oldest operating brewery in the U.S., uses corn in its beer. The trade organization lifted the all-barley requirement in 2014, opening the door for Yuengling, August Schell Brewing Company and Narragansett Brewing Company to get the craft designation. It’s a distinction that some craft beer quaffers find hard to swallow. “I’ve tried most of Yuengling’s products and they’re usually anywhere from ‘meh’ to ‘okay,’ so I’m not sure I consider them to be a true craft brewery,” Chad Polenz wrote in the Albany Times Union’s “Beer Nut” blog. The guideline tweak occurred because the previous criteria excluded companies that “were clearly traditional in every sense of the word,” Bart Watson, the trade group’s chief economist, told the Daily News. It was also changed to reflect the time-honored practices of different brewers. “Many regional American styles have long incorporated ingredients like corn, and as brewers continue to innovate, we're seeing new ingredients being used by local independent brewers," Watson added. But some critics argue that Yuengling’s brews don’t measure up to true craft beers because of their ingredients. “(They) are not as flavorful as the vast majority of small batch, locally brewed craft beers, Continue Reading