RateBeer’s Best of 2011 Awards, Bay Area Roundup

Awards season is upon us and the beer world is no exception. The folks at RateBeer in Santa Rosa have finished crunching data from nearly 3 million beer reviews on their website and a few Bay Area breweries, bars, restaurants and stores can stand a little taller today. According to RateBeer “130,000 beers from over 10,000 brewers worldwide were tallied and the emphasis was largely placed on tasting commercial samples — not special batches prepared for festivals.”

There are some very familiar names in each category but a few surprises will leave beer geeks disillusioned, particularly in the bar category. Here’s how the Bay Area faired:

The Best Beers in the World 2011

#3 Pliny the Younger, Russian River Brewing

#8 Pliny the Elder, Russian River Brewing

#20 Supplication, Russian River Brewing

#32 Consecration, Russian River Brewing

#81 Temptation, Russian River Brewing

#83 Blind Pig IPA, Russian River Brewing

The Best Brewers in the World 2011

#8 Russian River Brewing

#30 Bear Republic Brewing Company

#68 Marin Brewing Company

#85 Shmaltz Brewing Company

The Best Breweries to Visit 2011

#12 Anchor Brewing Company

#34 Speakeasy Ales & Lagers

The Best Beer Bars 2011

#17 The Trappist, Oakland, CA.

The Best Brewpubs 2011

#5 Russian River Brewing

The Best Beer Retailers 2011

#31 City Beer Store, San Francisco.

#36 Perry’s Liquors, Livermore.

#45 Healthy Spirits, San Francisco.

The Best Restaurants for Beer 2011

#17 La Trappe Café & Trappist Lounge, San Francisco.

So what does everyone think? You can see the full results on the RateBeer website.

Congratulations to all the winners. You truly help make the Bay Area one of the best craft beer drinking regions in the country.

The Bay Area’s 1st Nanobrewing Festival

(Event Recap on BACB)

Nine homebrewing operations from across the Bay Area are converging during SF Beer Week to serve craft beer and launch small businesses during the Breweries of Tomorrow Nanobrewing Festival. It’s the first festival, co-sponsored by Social Kitchen & Brewery and BayAreaCraftBeer.com, designed to feature and support homebrewers with entrepreneurial aspirations. The event will take place on February 13, from 5-9pm at Social Kitchen & Brewery in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset neighborhood (1326 9th Avenue).

Admission to the event is $15 at the door. Attendees will receive a commemorative glass, two tickets for beer produced by Social Kitchen & Brewery, and unlimited samples from 510 Brewing, Beltane Brewing, Bosworth Brewery, Elizabeth Street Brewery, Local Brewing Company, Orange & Black, Pacific Brewing Laboratories, Petaluma Hills Brewing Company and Van Houten Brewing. Food will be available for purchase from the Social Kitchen & Brewery menu.

Breweries of Tomorrow is a unique opportunity for beer lovers to sample the work created by the Bay Area’s next generation of professional craft brewers.” – Brian Stechschulte, editor of BayAreaCraftBeer.com

About the sponsors:

Social Kitchen & Brewery is located in the heart of San Francisco’s Inner Sunset neighborhood at 1326 9th Avenue. Rich Higgins is the brewmaster and certified master cicerone who believes that beer plays a role in the kitchen and deserves a place at the table. He brews accessible beers that are food-friendly and full of flavor.

BayAreaCraftBeer.com is a guide and news source created for Bay Area citizens and visitors that was launched at the dawn of 2011. The site features maps, an event calendar, news and info about the breweries and brewpubs who make beer, the bars, stores and restaurants who lovingly serve it, and the local beer bloggers who absorb and document the foamy landscape.

About the brewers:

510 Brewing was founded by three friends in Fremont, CA: Dean Hoffman, Sam Cisneros, and Travis Smith. 510 Brewing will be Fremont’s first production brewery and aims to have a production warehouse in southern Fremont’s industrial area. They have a tendency to create big beers and experiment with fruit beer, spiced beer, sour beer, and wood aged beer.  Their flagship beer will be an Imperial Red and a Porter that will be supplemented with seasonal selections throughout the year.

Beltane Brewing is based in Marin and was founded by Alan Atha, the current President of the Sonoma Beerocrats home brewing club. Beltane Brewing aims to bring old-world style into the new world via the art and science of brewing techniques learned from both. The current beer lineup: Rumplestiltskin Double IPA, Black Moria Double Black IPA, Luminesce Belgian Style Triple, Automne Eve Belgian Style Double and Ode to Oud Bruin

Bosworth Brewery is an Anglo-American craft brewery focusing on British style ales with a West Coast influence. Their beers are subtle yet complex session ales intended for the social drinking style of a traditional pub. Their team of 2 Brits and 2 Americans has been developing, learning and drinking their way towards opening a nanobrewery in the Bay Area. Antony has been a home brewer for nearly 20 years and for the last 5 has been developing and refining the recipes. In addition to lots of hands on practice they’ve all studied at the Siebel institute and Antony also completed the Brewing and Packaging course at UC Davis. They’ve been holding beer tasting &
pairing events for friends as well as collecting ribbons at state and
National homebrew competitions.

Elizabeth Street Brewery is the residence of Alyson and Richard Brewer-Hay located in the family-oriented San Francisco neighborhood of Noe Valley. The Elizabeth Street Brewery is a brewpub in planning that’s for the people and by the people. They continue to build out a business plan, determine locations and work on recipes. Their dream is to open a full-scale family brewpub/restaurant in the Noe Valley area in the near future.

Local Brewing Co. was founded by Regan and Sarah. They’ve been homebrewing for six years and are currently making the first step toward opening a small brewery and taproom in San Francisco. Local Brewing Co. specializes in session beers with character – the kind of brews you can enjoy more than one of, and won’t get bored with. Designed for drinkability, their beers are tailored to people who want something outside the norm, but not too extreme. Each recipe is an SF original, fine-tuned with feedback from SF locals. Their tanks might be small, but their passion for craft beer is huge.

Orange & Black currently brews in the Inner Richmond District of San Francisco.  James Davids is a wine maker and works at San Francisco Brewcraft and Kim Sturdavant is currently a brewer at Marin Brewing Company. Their goal is create California beer inspired by the beers of England and Belgium. They mix and match ingredients while keeping focus on traditional styles such as bitters, pale ales, porters, and Belgian singles. They see no reason to remain completely faithful to tradition, however… just to be inspired by it. They brew on a one-barrel set up and use open top fermentation.

Pacific Brewing Laboratories was founded by Bryan Hermannsson and Patrick Horn in 2010 on Clara St in San Francisco. They pursue their love of craft beer by brewing 10 gallon batches at a time, which allows for experimentation with unique and exciting ingredients, such as hibiscus flower, szechwan pepper corn, lemon grass, and chamomile. They’re currently working on plans to open a local SF brewpub.

Petaluma Hills Brewing Company was founded by JJ. He’s been homebrewing for almost 20 years, moving from extract to all-grain only 10 years ago. For the past several years he’s developed eight recipes for ales that are very drinkable, ranging from a mild Northern English Brown and ESB to a Porter and a Stout with a couple of Belgian styles thrown in. A few years ago, people started asking him when they could buy beer, so it seemed the sensible to start a brewery. When he’s not brewing he’s working on computer-animated films.

Van Houten Brewing (say “van-HOW-ten”) is a family owned and operated small artisan brewery Based in the town of San Anselmo that will soon be serving San Francisco and the greater Bay Area. Founded by a husband and wife team, Johnny is the head brewer and Creek is the CEO. Johnny started home brewing with his dad in 2001. In the process of trying to recreate some of their favorite hard-to-find English ales using clone recipes – they discovered the joy of making their own beer and drinking it fresh from the cask.  It’s their Dutch and British blood that informs their philosophy of innovation on traditional styles
and original beers brewed by simple, honest means. Their current
selection includes British and Belgian Ales, German Lagers and a
California Common.

A Great American Chimp Joins 21st Amendment Brewery

Visit almost any craft beer store and you’ll notice the shelf is filled with double and triple IPA’s. While these big hoppy beers are a pleasure to imbibe, they’ll often leave you weak in the knees if your not careful. There’s usually a high ABV (alcohol by volume) backing up that rich flavor.

21st Amendment Brewery is releasing a new “Session IPA” called Bitter American that counters this trend with a lowly 4.4% ABV and enough hops to reach 42 IBU’s. It will be in stores soon and available until March.

Here’s some of the logic behind the beer from the press release:

Why a session IPA? Well a few years back after looking around at the trend where India Pale Ales were headed toward the bigger, bitterer hoppier, stronger end of the arc, we thought how cool would it be to make an IPA that you could drink a few more than an Imperial/Double or Triple IPA. The bigger beers are fun to enjoy, but they sometimes get you in trouble with your significant other, the floor above your bar stool, or the morning after for that matter.

The concept of the “Session IPA” or “Nor Cal Bitter” as brewer Rodger Davis from Triple Rock has coined is something that has started to gain popularity with good beer drinkers and might be an artifact of the brewer’s world as we age (gracefully of course) and require lower alcohol beers. Those big IPAs are not going anywhere nor should they we all need hops and lots of them, but the session ale is starting to make a come back.

So what does the name of the beer have to do with a chimp in a space suit? Ham the Chimp must have been bitter about being shot into space or 21st Amendment just wants to pay homage to another great American (See Fireside Chat).

The Brewing Network’s Winter Brews Festival

Are you itching for the start of SF Beer Week, but need to prepare your body for the 10-day grind? Check out the Brewing Network’s 2nd Annual Winter Brews Festival taking place in Berkeley on Saturday, January 29, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park.

The event will feature 30 different breweries from 12-4pm and a portion of the proceeds will benefit two local non-profits: the Coral Reef Alliance and BAD RAP (Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pit bulls). Buy your tickets online for $35 or pay $40 at the door, which entitles you to unlimited tastings in a commemorative glass. 21st Amendment, Gordon Biersch, Lagunitas, Magnolia, and Triple Rock Brewery will be on hand along with many others.

Bung Brewers & Bison Brewing Announce Homebrew Competitions

Attention homebrewers. Are you ready to test your finest beer against some competition?  Bison Brewing and the Bung Brewers are hosting events with wonderful prizes that will surely boost your street cred if you’re up to the task.

The Organic Brewing Challenge Pro Am Competition, hosted by Bison Brewing, is open to all members of the American Homebrewers Association (AHA). The winning entry will be commercially produced by Bison Brewing and submitted to the Great American Beer Festival. Here’s the basic info:

  • Entry Deadline April 2, 2011
  • 5 Style Categories
  • Only All-organic beers accepted
  • Winning beer will be packaged in 22 oz. bottles and commercially released
  • Winning homebrewer will receive tickets to the Great American Beer Festival
  • Contestants must be AHA Members at the time of entry
  • Entry period is March 14, 2011 to April 2, 2011

Visit the competition website for all the rules and guidelines.

The First Annual Napa Homebrew Challenge is being run by the Bung Brewers and judging will take place at the Calistoga Inn Restaurant & Brewery on February 12. You’ll need to act fast to meet the upcoming deadline.  No specific awards are mentioned. Here are a few details.

  • Entry Fee:  $8.00 Per Entry
  • Deadline: January 17 and January 29, 2011.
  • Entry Requirements:  Submit 3 twelve ounce bottles

Once again check the competition website for all the details.

Best of luck to all of you who enter!