Northern California Craft Beer Guide

Review posted on Amazon on 02/15/13

Ken Weaver may become to the Northern California Craft Beer Scene what Tim Zagat started out to be to the New York restaurant industry. 

Although there isn't a rating system yet (there never may be), Northern California Craft Beer Guide is hands down the best resource in print for the consumer who is looking for a great place to get a great beer.

The book's interest is elevated by the loads of attractive photos taken by Anneliese Schmidt. Her photographs tell a story that make this book colorful and appealing. Ken Weaver's descriptors for beer and attention to style are spot on.

Ken not only includes breweries in the Craft Beer Guide but other venues as well. Local bottle shops and liquor stores are catering to the aficionado by carrying quality and variety of beers. Restaurants that are in tune with the quality of beer in California and offer these spectacular beers to enjoy are also listed. 

Hopefully we will see more in the way of a beer list with the marketing of beers towards the restaurant industry. Markets and homebrew shops are also included in the contribution of places to purchase or brew your own. After all, if you pay attention to some of the profiles of the brewers many got their start as home brewers. Including oh yea, Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.

The Guide breaks the Northern California area into regions and puts each region on a very easy to view map. Breweries are listed and numbered for easy reference. Great for pub crawl organizing or just your weekend "Iron Liver Tour".

Weaver recommends five to try and includes under "uncharted territory" breweries that were not open at the time of printing. This may be a good opportunity to check it out and give your feedback.
Place listings includes the web address, physical address, telephone number and hours of operation.

Icons are placed over the top section of each entry to cue the user to breweries that are organic, eco-friendly. Other icons let one know if they can expect to enjoy a nice sit down dinner or just snacks.

Don't' confuse the cask-conditioned icon with the keg icon. They don't mean the same thing. Most breweries have samplers for you to try and some have growlers on hand for you to take your favorite home.

Throughout the book some beer styles are addressed along with some sterling examples. There are also sidebars which discuss beer related topics indigenous to the region. Some nice nods are attributed to the movers and the shakers of Northern California beer culture as well to the up and coming.

In case you have visited all the breweries, restaurants, bottle shops liquor stores and grocery outlets there are more venues to enjoy California beer. Northern California brewers rock when it comes to making contributions to community and fundraising. Festivals and events are listed by the month toward the end of the book.

So whether you planning a trip to the market and want to pair a beer with your dinner, or are going out to a restaurant and are looking for a nice place to eat that doesn't offer the same beer three or four times, or if your planning to impress your buddies with the best local drinking spots, or want to drink the beer where it is always the best ( at the source) this book is the book to have in hand. Salute.

Arouse your taste buds this Valentine's Day with a quiet storm of sour beer

Photo courtesy of Sante Adairius Rustic Ales

If you're looking for something truly different in the world of beer you're in the right spot.  This category of beers includes German and Belgian beers.  Sub categories of this style include but are not limited to Berliner Weisse, Flanders Red, Flanders Brown, and while Lambic is a sub style of this category it is seldom produced for sale but rather blended.  In this case you are more likely to come across blended versions: Krieks, Pommes, Peches, and Framboise which are all variations of Gueze.  For the purpose of this guide I will include barrel aged sour beers.

The charm of these beers is that they may be the only beers to reflect the true style of beers produced in Egypt and Mesopotamia over 8,000 years ago.  No effort is spared to isolate these beers from the natural flora of the brew house during the period.  

Beers were cooled in open vats exposed to soft breezes which carry indigenous forms of yeast which allowed the beer to spontaneously ferment.  Oak barrels were the popular vessel to store beers after cooling.  The porous wood harbored their own contributions which imparted complexities to the beer. 

Today we have names for these microorganisms which have become the punk rock stars of the sour beer brewing industry.  I will say the same thing for this genre of music that I tell people about beer.  You may not like all of it but you will find one that you do.  

Lactobacillus, acetobacter are the lead guitarists.  They are the ones that get the crowd started.  Brettanomyces is the drummer and the main beat for most of these styles.  In some cases pediococcus provides the smooth stylings which are the underpinnings of other sour beers. 

While a simple sour beer may be available in a matter of weeks, the more complex beers require several years of compilation before all the notes are worked out. For this reason it is not uncommon to find Lambic blends that are several years old and worthy of a special occasion.  

Both German and Belgian styles of sour beers have such an obscure history.  There are very little specific facts available to contribute intelligently about these beers other than the fact that they have been highly regarded in the close confines of their culture.  These styles lack the conformity to commercially market in the volumes that would compete with a pilsner or a lager but you can rest assure that when you are getting a style that it reflects individuality rather than conformity. 


Any brewer who ventures to produce any of these beers does so with great pride.  Most are served in house and in limited quantities.  Often times the sour beer is a one-time venture even though it is of the highest quality simply because of the investment and the risk behind brewing this style of beer.  Staying in close communication with your local brewers is often the only way to be in the know of such beers.  

Sour beers are best served at cool or cellar temperatures (55-65 degrees F) These beers are often bottle conditioned.  Gently invert the bottle before opening to serve with the yeast. Tulip glasses are a beautiful complement for these beers.

Good ones to try:

Red Poppy, Lost Abbey B.C.
Sante Adairius West Ashley, Sante Adairius Rustic Ales
Tiny Bubbles, Hollister B.C.
La Petit Diablotin, High Water B.C.
Temptation, Russian River B.C.
Coton, The Bruery
Grand Cru, Ale Industries


The artistry of beer breathes on


We may tip our hats to the English for adhering to the principle that beer is a living, breathing product.  We may nod our heads to the stringency of German standards I producing and endearing beverage.  We owe it the Belgians in raising the bar in beer service and artistry.  Belgium is the smallest European country responsible for the largest trend over the past decade in beer brewing and serving beer in appropriate glassware.

It is ironic that the English and German prior to and during the industrial revolution where looking to industry to compete in the commercialism of their beers which brings them great distinction while the Belgian made do with what they had and maintaining a small tradition of monks and countryside are what bring distinction to their beers.

In 1962 an important legal injunction was granted to beers brewed by Monks in monasteries.  This would prevent commercial brewers from false misrepresentation and taking advantage of the growing appeal of Trappist beer.  Nothing prevents marketing beers as Abbey beers. 

Some style guidelines for these beers are so broad as to leave only good taste and personal preference to interpret the style.  Others are so complex that they can only be mastered through a great deal of time and patience not just by the brewer by opportunistic organisms that quite frankly would otherwise have no business (figuratively and literally) in the beer.  One thing is for sure the styles have converted many a brewer and drinker to appreciate the complexities of these beers.

Belgian style beers are also unique in that they are some of the oldest styles of fruit based beers.  While this style is now relegated to just a few breweries it is noteworthy that the practice of using whole fruit or fruit pulp is an old tradition that many brewers find worthwhile in producing with very popular results.  Wheat is a common grain in many Belgian styles and lends itself quite well the addition of fruit.

With each brewery proudly serving its own beer in a chalice, tulip or goblet it would be impractical to keep glassware for each beer in a household.  A footed glass with a large bowl to give ample room to develop the head or admire the legs would be sufficient.  The advantage of a large bowl with a smaller rim is that when tipping the glass to drink the head of the beer moves to the back of the glass thereby keeping the drinker free of a” beer-stache”.


When looking for Belgian beers styles look for labels such as Wit, Saison, Biere de Garde.  When looking for French style beers look for labels such as Farmhouse, Alsace, and Lille.  Many can be distinguished by the name of the Brewery.  Other labels have religious connotations.  Not only are the beers worthy of drinking on their own, Belgian and French beers of any style offering more when paired with food. For this reason you make an extra special dinner even more creative when served with one of these beers.  Whatever you decide to get remember that these beers have much to offer and are best appreciated cool not cold.

  It is noteworthy that France continues to be the largest producer of barley in the world.  Both France and Belgium (not combined) consume more alcoholic beverages per capita than the U.S. 

Good ones to try:

Le Freak, Green Flash
Le Merle, North Coast 
Carnevale, Lost Abbey
White Orchid, The Bruery
Redemption, Russian River
El Verano, Beachwood BBQ and Brewery


Here is a fun site with some serious facts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUNHbU7LnM4&feature=youtube_gdata_player

The 6th sense to beer evaluation


We have five senses: feel, hear, see, smell, and taste.  We use all five senses when evaluating beer.  One of the first things a beer judge is taught is to swallow the beer.  A judge is taught that there are hundreds of additional receptors at the back of the tongue as well as the throat.  As we swallow we experience a broad range of flavors and mouthfeel that are not appreciated just by taking something into our mouth and spitting as is done with wine.  We know it as gustatory reception where flavors are taken in through the mouth in an orthonasal manner.

  We swirl a beer and inhale the aromas through our nasal passages.  We take care to draw in the layers of aromas in short sniffs and long sniffs.   This is referred to as olfactory process.  Traditionally we address these two forms of sensory experience to evaluate our beer.  There is a third exciting technique which gives us another way to smell.  I am going to refer to this as our 6th sense. 

There have been many good pages written about the thousands of taste buds we have.  There are discussions on the hundreds of papillae on our tongue.  There are illustrations of the oral cavity and references to the old tongue map and the new tongue map in relation to where we experience taste but none have addressed this technique or 6th sense.

First of all, I want to make several things perfectly clear on the subject of smelling and tasting.  There are external factors which can impair our ability to evaluate a beer.  These can be other strong aromas such as smoke and personal fragrance.  The beer that is too cold can limit our ability to pick up aromas and flavors.  Internal factors which will affect our ability to evaluate a beer may be that on coming cold or allergies.  Age and diminishing receptors as well as gender (hormones give women that extra edge) may be contributors to limited feedback when evaluating a beer.  There have been discussions about “super tasters” that have an inordinate number of taste buds.  Remember this, you may have only 10,000 receptors and your buddy may have 15,000 but the two of you will only ever be able to “taste” five things: sweet, salty, bitter, savory (unami).  So don’t be worried about the super taster you might be next to.  I will tell you more about this later.

The 6th sense, the third way to smell and pick up flavors besides what was previously mentioned is a technique called “retrohaling”.  I am not a scientist and by no means did I come up with this by myself.  I stumbled upon it and after reading the article I became firmly convinced that the technique of retrohaling needed to be brought to the audience of beer aficionados and not be kept entirely in the realm of cigar aficionados.  According to “Doc” Diaz, the expression came about in 2007.  http://www.stogiefresh.info/edu-cigars/articles/retrospect.html accessed 11/19/2013.

Curiously, retrohaling does not take air into our lungs. We don’t breathe in through our noses.  In fact we do just the opposite.  Here is a brief explanation of the technique.  Put a piece of savory food in your mouth, something like a good piece of Talaggio.  Use your tongue and teeth to get all of that Talaggio all over your mouth.  Savor, savor, and savor.  Now before swallowing open your mouth slightly to" draw" in some air.  Hold it.  Close your mouth, relax your throat and use your diaphragm to push that air that is now all mixed up with all the aromatics of the cheese up and through your nostrils.  You have just given your senses another opportunity to capture and experience the Talaggio in a new dimension. 

Will this give you the super power to give poetic descriptors to your next beer?  No, not really.  Regardless of how well you develop the skill of retrohaling there are two very important skills that you need to describe the flavors and aromas that come across your lips: experience and vocabulary.
  The art of smelling and coming up with flavor descriptors is a cognitive one.  Perfumers refer to this as smell scaping.  Articulating layers and nuances is an active exercise.  With enough training our sense of smell can be as acute as a drug sniffing German shepherd. 
 Consider how much training dogs get to sniff out marijuana.  Does the dog differentiate between the varieties of the plant the way many judges and brewers have trained themselves to do so with hops?  If you want to read a laugh out loud book on the science of scent I recommend Avery Gilbert, “What the nose knows”.  It doesn’t have a thing to do with beer judging but it is a very candid book on the subject of smell.

Other great ways to develop great powers of sensory discernment is to become familiar with the ingredients and the process of beer.  Don’t let this intimidate you.  The process is a labor of love and a lifelong pursuit of happiness.  Remember; swirl, sniff, sip, retrohale and swallow your way through all your beers.  Develop your flavor memory and vocabulary skills and you will be on a personally satisfying road becoming a true beer aficionado. 

The New White Beer

Sudwerk Brewing Company releases several sour wheat beers.
German wheat beers defy an almost 500 year old law of German brewing tradition.  Brewers can incorporate as much as 50 percent of the grain bill with wheat malt in the recipe.  So how did this beer escape a rigid Bavarian Law? 

Ironically the same Duke, Wilhelm IV, which imposed the standard of using only water, hops, and barley, is responsible for sanctioning the wheat beer.  The wheat beer has a distinctly different appearance, aroma, flavor and mouth feel.  It was no doubt these qualities which found enough appeal among the upper class that a royal family took it upon themselves to be the exclusive brewers of the Weiss beer and the received authority to do so by the house of Dukes. 

Wheat is not the only ingredient which does not follow the convention of the German Lagers that we have grown accustomed to.  What makes these German wheat beers deviate from the ever popular lagers is the yeast.  Classic German lagers are fermented with lager yeast.  These require cool long fermenting conditions.  Brewers jump the fence when producing a Weiss beer which calls for a specialty ale yeast.  On this side of the fence the opposite is true, simplistically speaking.  What do we get out of it? A contradiction in every sense.  Wonderful aromas and flavors of banana and clove with slight tartness in the finish and a full mouth feel with lots of effervescence. 
 
Leave it to the Californians to leave no stone unturned.  Practically the archaeologists of brewing traditions our brewers are looking for old twists and turning out new to us beers.  Among these beers are the Sour German beers.  While American examples are difficult ( if not impossible )  to find there are some breweries in California which are reviving a new found rebel in themselves, going out on a limb and concocting this challenging beer.  It is being said that the sour beers are becoming the new I.P.A’s when it comes to innovation and creativity.  So when you come across a sour German style wheat beer, and you will, embrace the rebel in you and enjoy the revival of breaking custom and tradition. 




What will you serve your beer in this holiday season?




There is a chill in the air that is an early reminder for me that the holiday season is upon us.  In the past, this time of year would have been practically gone before I could take an opportunity to even begin to give any thought to the festivities and the gathering of friends and family. 
 It’s time to pull out the silver and get it polished for those pretty table settings.  Inspecting and doing inventory on glassware is another detail that shouldn’t be overlooked.  This year I came across a very nice find in glassware: Footed goblets from World Market. 
The goblet sits low on the stem so it’s not top heavy and subject to being accidently knocked over.  It holds 16 oz. of fluid so you can pour just a small amount in the bowl and have plenty of air space for swirling an old scotch ale or barley wine.  It is sufficient in size to hold a 12oz bottle of nice wheat ale with plenty of space for the head of the beer to show off. 
Nothing delights the senses more than having a beer properly served in a glass that show off the color of the beer as well as captures the elegance of the head and the wonderful aromas which deserve of the seasonable beers that will soon be available.
Whatever beer you decide to serve for dinner, let me assure you that this glassware will more that cover you for all your holiday gatherings and impress your guests.  The glassware comes in a set of 12 and is reasonably priced so that you can have several sets on hand and never worry about not having matching glassware.
 
 

I.P.A It;s not bitter, it's hoppy


Those were my first "beer aficionado" words over ten years ago to defend the style to a friend as I attempted to share my excitement for this wonderful beer.
If California could lay claim to the revitalizing of a style it could well be the I.P.A. (India Pale Ale).  If some beers are referred to as alcohol delivery devices, this beer style is the 4 wheel drive vehicle for hops with I.B.U.’s picking up where others drop off.

Originally hops were added to beers to provide a balance to the sweet, malty wort of barley.  Hop additions would also provide a preservative quality allowing beers to retain its “freshness” before the invention of refrigeration.  Eventually the addition of hops for the aroma and flavor qualities became popularized.

Hop aromas and flavors in an I.P.A. will vary depending on the category: English or American with a no holds barred on the Imperial version which is a version popularized by many California breweries.  The quest to impart as much bittering to the beer fed developing hop strains with as much as 10-15 I.B.U’s in American varieties.  Techniques such as randalling* and hopback would become popular among craft brewers.

Expressions such as Pliny, Ruination, Hopsickle, Crisis, and Palate Wrecker are just a handful of titles adorning labels to give the consumer fair warning to the timid palate or “pick me- pick me” titles.  Is there such a thing as too much?  It all depends on the palate and these beers certainly have a strong following.

So how in the world did India Pale Ale which is of English origin get its name?  By the 1600’s England was already brewing commercially for domestic and export purposes.  Queen Elizabeth 1, granted a charter for India with the intent of developing trade.  In 1722 Britain colonized India.  Beer was a cultural necessity for the British Colonists.  Pale Ales were being produced by most brewers so any brewer shipping Pale Ale to India could call the beer India Ale, but not all brewers were as far sighted and logistically well positioned as George Hodgson.  Mr. Hodgson held major exporting of the beer till 1821. 

But it wasn’t George’s India Ale that enamored the public.  According to Ian S. Hornsey the beer was not as “pale” as it could be.  Burton’s versions of the ale arrived in “pale, clear and sparkling condition”.  Burton brewers would receive a higher reputation and would soon out ship Hodgson.  Roger Prost also makes reference to a ship carrying 300 hogsheads of the beer would wreck in the Irish Sea and would be sold in and around Liverpool.  This exported version of the pale ale would receive great popularity.
I am often asked what is my favorite style.  While in true connoisseur fashion I still say, "It depends on what I am doing",  The India Pale Ale is my favorite and by looking at the list of good ones to try, its a big favorite among Californians. 
Some good ones to try are:
English IPA
English IPA, Eel River Brewing Co., Fortuna
Old Pacific IPA, Anaheim Brewery, Anaheim
Sunrise IPA, American River Brewing Co., Rancho Cordova
Fair Weather Pale Ale, Lightning Brewery, Poway
Organic IPA, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, Santa Cruz
Tasty Greens, Seabright Brewery, Santa Cruz
Blood Sweat & Tears, Dunsmuir Brewery Works, Dunsmuior
Mt. High IPA, Mt. Shasta Brewing Co., Weed
 
American IPA
Racer 5, Bear Republic Brewing Co., Cloverdale
Bluiz IPA, Seabright Brewery, Santa Cruz
Prescription Pale, Magnolia Brewery, SF
Big Daddy IPA, Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, SF
Cap City IPA, River City Brewing Co., Sacramento
India Pale Ale, Bayhawk Ales Inc, Irvine
Drakes IPA, Drakes brewing co. san leandro
Jack’s IPA, Jack’s Brewing Co. Fremont
Arognaut IPA, Old Hangtown Beerworks, Placerville
Gen, Sherman IPA, Central Valley Craft Beer/ Tioga -Seuioia Brewing ,Fresno
SPBC IPA, San Pedro Brewing Co., San Pedro
Indica IPA, Lost Coast Brewing Co. Eureka
Jamaica Sunset IPA, Mad River Brewing Co., Blue Lake
Marin IPA, Marin Brewing Co., Larkspur
NDR Cal IPA, Moylan’s Brewing Co., Novato
Orgasmica IPA, Orgasmica & Brewing Co., San Rafael
Epic IPA, Mammoth Brewing Co., Mammoth Lake
Devil Post Pale Ale, Mammoth Brewing Co., Mammoth Lake
Gold Digger, Auburn Alehouse, Auburn
Knee Deep IPA, Knee Deep Brewing Co., Linclon
Vindicator, Loomis Brewing Co., Loomis
Runway IPA, Dale Bros. Brewery, Upland
Hop Daddy IPA, Main Street Brewery, Corona
Columbus IPA, Hangar 24 Craft Brewery, Redlands
Gigantes IPA, 21st Amendment, SF
Nectar IPA, Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles
Union Jack, Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles
Pismo Beach Double IPA, Pismo Brewing Co LLC Pismo Beach
California Sunshine Rye IPA, Devil’s Canyon Brewing Co., Belont
El Toro India Pale Ale, El Toro Brewing Co., Morgan Hill
India Pale Ale, Faultline Brewing Co., Sunnyvale
Citra Single Hop IPA, Hermitage Brewing Co., San Jose
Ahtanum Single Hop IPA, Hermitage Brewing Co., San Jose
Coastal Fog IPA, Hermitage Brewing Co., San Jose
S.C. Aleworks IPA, Santa Cruz Aleworks, Santa Cruz
IPA, Blue Frog, Fairfield
Floyd IPA, Ruth McGowan, Cloverdale
Pierpont IPA, Anacapa Brewing Co., Ventura
 
Imperial IPA
Hoptopia, Hermitage Brewing Co., San Jose
Ale of the Imp, Hermitage Brewing Co., San Jose
Racer X, Bear Republic Brewing co., Cloverdale
South Swell IPA, Ventura’s Surf Brewery, Ventura
El Toro Deuce Imperial IPA, El Toro Brewing Co., Morgan Hill
Double Jack, Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles
Double Daddy, Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, SF
Tower 20 IPA, Karl Strauss Brewing Co., San Diego
DIPA, Blue Frog, Fairfield
Big Foot, SNBC. Chio (red iipa)
Palate Wreckers, Green Flash Brewing Co., San Diego
Poor Man’s IPA, Pizza Port Brewing Co., San Diego
Denogginizer, Drakes Brewing Co. San Leandro
Jack’s Double IPA, Jack’s Brewing Co, Fremont
Pyramid Outburst Imperial IPA, Pyramid Brewing Co, Brewkley
Evil Cousin, Heretic Brewing Co., Pittsburg
It’s a DIPA, Old Hangtown Beerworks,  Placerville
Steelhead Double IPA, Mad River Brewing Co., Blue Lake
Cheseboro IPA, Ladyface Ale Companie, Agoura Hills
Moylander XXIPA, Moylan’s Brewing Co., Novato
White Knuckle Double IPA, Marin Brewing Co., Larkspur
Hopsickle Imperial XXXIPA, Moylan’s Brewing Co., Novato
Hopcrack XXXIPA, Moylan’s Brewing Co., Novato
Orgasmica IPA, Pizza Orgasmica & Brewing Co., San Rafael
PU240 Imperial IPA , Auburn Alehouse, Auburn
Hoptologist DIPA, Knee Deep Brewing Co., Lincoln
Simtra Triple IPA, Knee Deep Brewing Co., Lincoln
Double IPA, Hangar 24 Craft Brewery, Redlands
 picture courtesy of beerpaintings.blogspot.com
 

For most beer aficionados it seems almost a cliché for me to start the topic of Stout style with the most common remark about stout.  Most everyone is familiar with Guinness.   A typical response to the beer by most is that it is “too heavy”.  However what most people may not appreciate, aficionados and not, is that stout was the “it” beer long before lagers hit the industry.

The stout families of beers are one of the top six beer styles to be replicated out of the 78 categories of beers based on the BJCP style guidelines.  The stout family of beers is also the broadest category of style.  There are six categories: dry stout, sweet stout, oatmeal stout, foreign extra stout, American stout and last but definitely not least, Russian Imperial Stout. 

The latter beer, the Russian Imperial Stout, has grown quite popular over the decade.  This beer is often the most sought after beer for savoring.  The qualities of this beer lend itself very well to aging.  It is not uncommon to for beer connoisseurs to lay these beers down for several years.  Russian Imperial Stouts are frequently paired with chocolate desserts.  The Foreign Extra Stout follows closely behind the Russian Imperial Stout when it comes to pairings. 

After these beers the Oatmeal Stout and the Sweet Stout considered seasonal beers due to their rich flavor profile.  Most commercial brewers will offer these as winter warmers although they do not have the same alcohol content they certainly provide enough residual sugars to replace the hot cup of cocoa when sitting by the fireplace warming up the toes after a good run down the slopes. 

While the American Stout provides considerable more alcohol than the dry stout both of these beers are on the dry side, with the Dry stout being the most thirst quenching of the two.  The range of style means that there is a stout for every season and every occasion.

The stout family of beers has enjoyed enormous popularity over the centuries, particularly in the British Isles where it originated.  To cover the history of the stout style would be beyond the scope of the book.   The popularity of the style in the U.S. especially in California is in part to establishing a good alternative to the lighter pale ales.  Just the opposite in the 1600’s where pale ales provided the alternative to stouts. 

While there are many good examples of the style throughout California perhaps the single most consistent and awarded brewer of the style is Denise Jones.  Her dry stouts raked in awards all over the nation while she was at Third Street Ale Works.  These days most versatile brewers will have a solid stout recipe in their repertoire. 

Good ones to try:
Dry Stout
Blarney Sisters, 3rd Street Ale Works, Santa Rosa, Dry Stout, Drakes Brewing Co., San Leandro
Sweet Stout
Black Jack Sweet Stout, Feather Falls Casino Brewing Co., Oroville
Oatmeal Stout
Blarney Flats, Anderson Brewing Co., Boonville
Foreign Extra Stout
Starry Night, Island Brewing Co., Carpinteria
VooDoo, Left Coast Brewing Co., San Clemente
American Stout
Achievement Beyond Belief, Pizza Port Brewing Co., San Diego
Russian Imperial Stout
Drakonic, Drakes Brewing Co., San Leandro, Imperial Stout, Lagunitas Brewing Co., Petaluma
Oyster Stout, Henhouse Brewing Co., Petaluma

10th Anniversary of The Brewmaster's Table


Ten years ago Garrett Oliver compiled the single most comprehensive volume describing the pleasures of beer and food.  Beer and the brewing industry have come a long way since then.  But no other publication has been put to print that even comes close to the efforts of The Brewmaster’s Table.  Perhaps it is his degree in filmmaking that makes him the most eloquent writer of beer and food.

Since the book, The Brewmaster’s Table was released there have been many other publications about beer tasting, beer evaluating, beer styles, beer judging, and beer reviews.  There are prolific amount of beer focused magazines which quip tidbits of information relating to ingredients and process.  There are emerging courses offered to educate staffs on beer which are trying to gear themselves to the front and back of the house of the restaurants industry.  There are plenty of beer guide books offering short descriptives of commercial examples of beers. 

While the book may be enjoying its 10th anniversary it is hardly out of date.  At the time of its first publication Garrett was referred to at best by a member of the culinary industry as the Robert Parker of beer.  Garrett Oliver does more for beer and food than Dornenburg and Page.  Any chef worth their weight in the knife case that they carry should read The Brewmaster’s Table with the same enthusiasm as Culinary Artistry. 

In the book, The Brewmaster’s Table, Garrett’s skill brings to our brains the synaptic energy needed to visualize the experiences shared by Garrett.  After finishing his degree in filmmaking he spent a year in Europe.  We become quickly aware that life in Europe without beer is non-existent.  Every turn every move, every place demonstrates that beer is a part of European culture wherever one may be. 

Life is enjoyed with and through beer especially with food.  The greatest teachers were the average folk whom Garrett encountered during his time oversees.  The life changing trip would put Garrett on a different path.  A path which he poetically describes in the most eloquent and graceful detail that has ever been put in print about the subject of beer and food.

Most chefs may not have the privilege of traveling throughout Europe but the expressions of Garrett Oliver will certainly put you there and provide the only solid guidance of pairing and matching their craft with the craft of brewers.  The two are one in the same.  When American chefs begin to appreciate the enamore that is expressed by Europeans in their cooking with, by and for beer the same passion and gusto will be expressed for their own craft in the American culinary industry.

If you are looking for a solid book of food and beer look no further than Garrett Oliver’s, The Brewmaster’s Table.  If you are looking for culinary inspiration look no further than the groundbreaking and incomparable guide for beer and food.