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A Press Democrat Blog

Beer Country

A digest about that other famous beverage

Russian River, Lagunitas retain Best Of status

Is there any craft beer list left in the universe that doesn’t rank Lagunitas and Russian River somewhere near the top? Anyone? I didn’t think so. Website The Daily Meal recently quizzed its readers on the best American craft brew outfits and, perhaps unsurprisingly, our two locals showed up on the top 25 list, with Lagunitas at #7 and Russian River at #9, one spot above that other California icon, Sierra Nevada (what? No love for Bear Republic, readers?). For… Read More »

Pot harshes on beer’s mellow

Hey, Pot People – kind of a cheap shot here, don’t you think? The Marijuana Policy Project has rolled out (rolled up?) a new ad campaign, debuting at the Brickyard 400 NASCAR event in Indianapolis last weekend touting the virtues of pot and calling for its legalization. All fine and good, except that they do it at the expense of beer. The ad, done up in the style of a traditional knuckle-headed mass market beer ad, riffs on the theme… Read More »

Homebrew pioneer speaks at Woodruff beer dinner

Homebrewing legend Byron Burch, co-founder of Santa Rosa’s The Beverage People store, will offer a lecture on the history of various beer styles and lessons on food pairings at a dinner Aug. 23 at Woodruff’s Artisan Foods & Café in Sebastopol at 7 p.m. Tickets are $50 each, plus tax and tip. But you better get on it, because there are only 38 seats available for the dinner. Ticket details and menu details are on Woodruff’s Facebook page. Byron has… Read More »

Bear Republic previews GABF offerings

Bear Republic will preview its entries for October’s Great American Beer Festival in Denver at its 5th Annual Cellar Party on Sept. 15 at the brewpub in Healdsburg. They will be tasting at least 20 beers, the same batches that have been sent off for judging at the festival, and passing food and offering general fun. The event runs from 2-5 p.m. and tickets are $65 each, including a souvenir glass. Last year, Bear Republic took silver at GABF for… Read More »

Ukiah named to Best Small Beer City list

Since everyone seems to be into ranking things on the Internet  these days, it was only a matter of time until someone went so far as to decide on the “Best Small Cities for Beer Lovers.” A website known as Credit Donkey decided to compare various factors, including population, bars per capita, walkability, and alcohol tax rates to decide which towns under 50,000 residents were the best for beer drinkers. The winner turned out to be the city of Indiana,… Read More »

Lagunitas owner confirms: no fight over 420

Last we heard, Lagunitas was rethinking their decision to give in to Atlanta brewer Sweetwater, which demanded that the Petaluma brewery drop any use of the term “420″ on their labels. But I talked to owner Tony Magee this morning and he says he will follow his first instinct and not contest Sweetwater’s trademark claim, based on their flagship “420 Pale Ale.” “It would be like arm-wrestling for the name ‘Jesus,’ ” he said this morning from Chicago, where he… Read More »

Farm to Barrel brews?

Beer is a tough thing to drag into the whole “Farm to Table” artisan food scene. It is pretty easy to grow your own hops, at least in this area, though they are finicky. And it is theoretically possible to grow your own barley and malt it yourself – the process of allowing it to germinate, then stopping and drying it at exactly the right moment to produce good beer. But it’s a lot of work. And don’t get started… Read More »

Calistoga Inn brings fresh beer back to upper Napa Valley

Good news for fresh beer fans in Napa Valley – after almost a year of repairs and upgrades following a fire last summer, the Calistoga Inn will reopen its bar and restaurant in the first week in August. That means fresh brewed beer in the area for the first time since last fall, when the area’s other brewery – St. Helena’s Silverado Brewing Company – closed. The only other breweries in Napa County are in the city of Napa, which… Read More »

Is Craft Beer light?

Beer won’t necessarily make you fat, but there is no arguing with the fact that it adds calories to your diet, from 100 or so per bottle for the lightest of beers, to 400 or more for the big thick monsters that the extreme beer craze of the late ’90s and ’00s spawned. That’s 33 percent more than a McDonald’s cheeseburger, at about 300 calories each (but beer entirely lacks the fat of a cheeseburger, so it’s not quite a… Read More »

California State Fair beer results

The California State Fair is on in Sacramento this week and one of the big features is the Craft Beer competition, a judging all the more important for the fair since the popular home winemaking competition is suspended for a second straight year because of budget cuts. About 700 beers were entered by 83 breweries large and small. Best in Show  ribbon went to Una Mas, a Vienna Lager by Left Coast Brewing of San Clemente. Best in Show for… Read More »

One man’s trash is another man’s art

  As beer drinkers, we probably don’t pay much attention to bottle caps – it’s usually nothing but the last barrier between our lips and the liquid we want. At best, the caps wind up in the trash, at worst, they tossed out on the ground to rust. Many brewers, however, spend a great deal of effort on crafting just the right cap, sometimes even tucking hidden messages on the underside (Oregon’s Deschutes Brewing congratulates drinkers on opening a bottle… Read More »

It’s just flavored water after all

For all the talk about malts and hops and yeast in beer, the truth remains that it is mostly plain old water (someone once called it “flavored water.” But what a flavor it is). So perhaps it isn’t surprising that there has been a fair bit of talk in the beer press of late about clean water issues. A number of craft brewers have joined with the Natural Resources Defense Council to lobby for strong enforcement of the federal Clean… Read More »

Russian River to join Sierra Nevada project

Russian River Brewing is among a dozen smaller craft brewers nationwide chosen by craft big-boy Sierra Nevada for a collaboration in 2014 to celebrate the Chico-based brewery’s planned opening of a new East Coast plant. The idea is that the 12 brewers will come to Chico to work with Sierra Nevada’s brewers to develop a collaborative beer that will be released as part of a commemorative 12 pack, TheBeerNews.com reports. The list isn’t complete but so far is looking like … Read More »

Wine and beer do mix after all

Wine and beer are pretty close cousins, from a production point of view, but they tend not to mix all that much in real life, either socially or physically. “Beer Bar” and “Wine Bar,” for example, tend not to conjure the same mental images. Nor do you find a lot of grape juice mixed in beer. Once in a while, someone will do something special; one of the few commercial examples is local: Napa Smith puts out a seasonal Oktoberfest-inspired… Read More »

Do not let hops go to the dogs

Here’s a weird one: Fox 31 in Denver reports that a local dog named Q died after eating spent hops from her humans’ experiment in homebrewing. Turns out that spent hops are quite toxic to dogs, causing a dangerous spike in body temperature. Poor Q’s body temperature shot up to the 108-9 range and the dog was dead in just 12 hours, despite the best efforts of a vet. The vet advises keeping spent hops in a covered trashcan or… Read More »