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A Press Democrat Blog

Beer Country

A digest about that other famous beverage

Charbay’s Bear Republic stout whiskey headed to shelves soon

  The long awaited general release of Charbay’s whiskey made with Bear Republic’s Big Bear Black Stout is just weeks away, it seems. I ran into Charbay’s general manager, Charles Henning (that’s him up there with the bottle of the “S” whiskey) at the grand reopening party for the Calistoga Inn, which was closed for almost a year by damage from a major fire. He was passing out tastes of the stuff and it is very good – rich, malty,… Read More »

Beer in the Plaza returns to Healdsburg

The annual Beer in the Plaza returns to Healdsburg on Sept. 7 for its 27th year, benefiting the Healdsburg chapter of Soroptimist International. From 2-6 p.m. in the lovely downtown plaza, there will be music, food, and beers from 25 breweries. The service club tells me they have an outstanding lineup for us, including:  Bear Republic, Russian River, Sudwerk, Healdsburg Brewing, St. Florians, Third Street Aleworks, Lagunitas, 21st Amendment, Ace Cider, Ruth McGowan, Sierra Nevada, Goose Island, 101 North, Abita,… Read More »

Growler Fill bill advances

The California State Senate unanimously passed a bill Monday allowing breweries to fill growlers that do not have their name emblazoned on them. The state Assembly has already passed the measure, but will need to vote on some changes made by the senate. It is expected to take up the measure soon and the bill seems likely to head to the governor’s desk. Traditionally, state alcohol regulators allowed breweries to fill growlers – the big jugs, usually glass and usually… Read More »

Is the Craft Beer revolution complete?

BeverageDaily.com had a report earlier this week that has sent a good-sized ripple around the great Beer Pond. Reporter Ben Boukley reports that Heineken CEO Jean-François Van Boxmeerhas thrown in the towel in the fight against American craft brewers: “Craft beers have been taking the lion’s share of beer market growth over the last decade – practically exclusively,” he told Societie Generale analyst Jamie Norman on a call this morning. “You cannot compete with Heineken or any other brand against the… Read More »

Blues, Brews & BBQ returns to Napa

Looking for some beery fun this weekend? Napa’s annual Blues, Brews & BBQ festival returns Saturday from 1-6 p.m. They close down several blocks of downtown and set up food booths and music stages here and there. The highlight, beer-ish-ly speaking, is the beer garden, a row of tents from various area breweries, along with Coors-affiliated Blue Moon, which is sponsoring the festival. Organizers haven’t posted a complete lineup, but Lagunitas, New Belgium, Newcastle, and Anchor will definitely be on… Read More »

More on Russian River supply problems

Our report earlier this week on the extreme supply crunch at Russian River Brewing provoked a lively debate in our comment section and at other sites. Some beer fans applauded the position by owners Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo that there are some things more important than expansion, things like quality of life, financial stability, and the intimacy of a small business. Other commenters, however, seemed vexed that the Cilurzos seem to have no particularly interest in expanding. “That’s cool that… Read More »

Mendocino celebrates 30th

Mendocino Brewing Company celebrates its 30th anniversary this week with a new single hop ale paying tribute to the early days of California brewing. The beer will feature exclusively Cascade hops, the hop that flavored the iconic New Albion Ale, first brewed in Sonoma in 1976, and later the backbone of early giants such as the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. The anniversary beer comes in a little stronger than those older brews – about 7 percent alcohol by volume –… Read More »

Third Street brings its best seller Bodega Head to bottles

Fans of Santa Rosa’s Third Street Aleworks will be able to enjoy the brewery’s best selling Bodega Head IPA at home now. General Manager Mike Mathot tells me that the beer should hit the shelves of area stores soon in 22 oz. bottles, known to beer geeks as bombers. It joins Puddle Jumper Pale Ale and Bombay Rouge India Red Ale as part of the brewery’s bottle line up, which debuted about 18 months ago. It should be available in… Read More »

Lagunitas founder scores spot in Chicago power list

He’s still months away from opening his new brewery in Chicago, but Lagunitas founder Tony Magee is already emerging as a power player in the Second City’s thriving food and beverage scene. The website NewCityResto acknowledged Magee’s growing significance this week by naming him to their list “The Big Heat: Chicago’s Food & Drink Fifty 2013.” That puts him in the company of some of the best chefs and hospitality pros in the city, even in the country, including the… Read More »

Do you care where your beer is made?

I once had a conversation with a senior guy in the Napa Valley Vintners about contract production, meaning small winemakers who rent equipment and space, and even staff, from larger wineries to make their product rather than building their own production facilities. There are lots of boutique and high-end producers that do  this, since the capital costs of building your own crush pad, fermentation rooms, and storage cellars is staggering. In fact, there is a whole industry of “custom crush”… Read More »

Beer Festivals everywhere…

It does seem like you can hardly turn around without bumping into a good craft brew festival these days, but what a problem to have. A couple of events are looming for Beer Country fans, starting this week with Davis Beer Week, starting on Saturday. That involves a bunch of events at individual breweries, pubs and shops, climaxing with the Bike and Brew fest on Aug. 24 in Central Park in Davis. The events in the leadup week don’t require… Read More »

World’s most refreshing can?

Last I checked, the thing in the package was the point, not the packaging itself. But of course, certain beer manufacturers disagree. Observe MillerCoors, which has been out front in creating and marketing fancy packaging: ink that changes color to tell you when your beer is cold (saving you the trouble of, say, touching it to find out), or Miller Lite’s “Vortex” bottle, which added rifle-like grooves to the neck to make sure the beer is extra swirly when it… Read More »

More “Best Of” madness for Sonoma County? Of course.

TheDailyMeal.com continues its ongoing look into the world of craft brew this week with a list of the “Top 15 craft breweries in the USA.” Anyone surprised that Sonoma County stands out? Me either. The only surprise is that the numbers aren’t a little higher. Lagunitas weighs in at #7, with the list authors saying: Founded in 1993, Lagunitas Brewing Company has a core of supportive beer lovers who want to nurture the creation of consistently good beer. The brewery… Read More »

Finding great summer brews?

Summer is waning fast, but there is still plenty of time for good summer brews, as Virginie Boone points out Friday in our entertainment section. There is so much beer in Wine Country we might almost consider changing our name to Beer Country. And this is serious stuff — seriously made, that is, not seriously intimidating. After all, beer’s enviable ability to connect with people has always been that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, though there is much to… Read More »