Calendar of Events

Store shelves are starting to fill up with fall and winter beer releases, while festivals are starting to move indoors. The first half of October will continue to revolve around Oktoberfest celebrations that give way to a series of Meet the Brewer nights, the Lupilin for Lupus Fundraiser and Schmaltz Brewing’s Freaktoberfest just in time for Halloween.  Keep in touch with us throughout the month as breweries, restaurants and bottle shops announce last minute events that you can find over on our main calendar.

October 1, Saturday

Nor Cal GABF Brew Tour 
9:30am – 5:00pm, San Francisco.

“All-inclusive Northern California brewery tour. Tour lasts seven hours and includes beer samples from three breweries, round-trip transportation, lunch, two tour guides, and a handy souvenir. Great American Beer Festival (GABF – It’s the SuperBowl of beers!) is going on at this time, so we want to celebrate. We’ll be theming our tour to make sure that we taste many of the entries this year from Nor Cal and you’ll also have an opportunity to be the judge of the best beer!
Note: this tour’s price is a bit more — we’ll be bringing in more craft beers to sample from SF breweries as well. Cost is $104.99. Pickup location will be at the Civic Center in San Francisco.”

Oaktoberfest Beer Festival
11:00am – 6:00pm, Diamond District Neighborhood, Oakland. (map)

“Oakland’s family friendly craft beer festival. Rootbier garden, great food, live music and dancing. See link for participating breweries.”

1:00pm – 5:00pm, Lafayette Park Hotel, 3287 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette. (map)

“When fall leaves are ablaze and the air is rich as amber ale, it’s time for “Parktoberfest” at the LafayettePark Hotel & Spa. Just as is celebrated in cities and towns across the country in America and in Germany, our own “Parktoberfest” will bring together the best of Bavaria and California… beers, brats and entertainment!
Join us as we feature local craft breweries such as EJ Phair, Ale Industries, Heretic Brewing, Speakeasy, Drake’s and Triple Rock, plus the home brewing organization DOZE (The Diablo Order of Zymiracle Enthusiasts) for this extraordinary event! “

October 3, Monday

Beer Tasting: Firestone Walker
6:00pm – 8:00pm, Wine Affairs, 1435 The Alameda, San Jose. (map)

“$12/person or FREE for all members”

October 5, Wednesday

Meet the Brewer: Bison Brewing Belgian Night
6:00pm – 10:00pm, Beer Revolution, 464 3rd Street, Oakland. (map)

“It’s been many a year since Bison has had 3 different belgian style ales on at once! so come on down, hang out with Daniel Del Grande and the folks from Bison, and enjoy some of his fine beverages. More details TBA”

October 7, Friday

First Friday
4:00pm – 8:00pm, Drake’s Barrel House, 1933 Davis Street, San Leandro. (map)

“On the First Friday of every month, we here at Drake’s open our doors to friends, family and our local community to benefit a worthy local cause. This month’s edition will benefit the Assumption School in San Leandro.$5 per person voluntary donation, to the non-profit organization we are supporting, at the gate. (Children with their parents free) $15 for a Drake’s tasting glass and 3 tokens for 3 full pours. Additional tokens can be purchased separately ($3.50 each, with net proceeds going to the non-profit). Great food from local food trucks (or our fundraiser group) available for purchase. From BBQ to Korean to Paella, there’s something different (and delicious) every month.”

Lupulin for Lupus Fundraiser
5:00pm, Tied House Brewing Company, 954 Villa Street, Mountan View. (map)

“The fundraiser is incredibly simple: buy a beer and help the cause. Tied House holds a regular “First Friday Firkin” in which they tap a cask of real ale on the first Friday of every month. Just buy a pint of the beer from any of the donated firkins and you’ll be doing your part to help find a cure for lupus. All proceeds will benefit the Lupus Foundation of America.”

October 15, Saturday

Wet Hop Festival
The Bistro, 1001 B Street, Hayward. (map)

Peninsula Oktoberfest
10:00am – 8:00pm, Courthouse Square,2200 Broadway St., Redwood City. (map)

“This second annual Peninsula Oktoberfest is a one-day community event of beer, food and music. We invite you to join beer lovers from around the SF Bay Area. Centrally located in City of Redwood City, and
adjacent to public transportation, Courthouse Square is easily accessible to everyone from San Francisco, San Jose, the East Bay area and everywhere in between.
Peninsula Oktoberfest is a community event hosted by Bullfrog Media. We have chosen to donate a portion of the proceeds from this event to a local charitable organization.

The Redwood City Education Foundation (RCEF) is an all volunteer, community-based foundation. They are the only organization raising funds district-wide to support education programs for the students in the Redwood City School District. They work closely with the district to ensure that the programs they support meet the needs of the children and will better prepare them for high school, college, the work force and life. The RCEF is a 501(c) nonprofit organization (Tax ID# 94-2903141).”

October 19, Wednesday

Meet the Brewer: Ballast Point
6:00pm – 10:00pm, Beer Revolution, 464 3rd Street, Oakland. (map)

“Ahoy! The folks from Ballast Point will be shipping in for an evening of Great Beer! The grog that’ll be a-flowin will include:

1. Sculpin IPA
2. Barrel Aged Piper Down Scottish Ale
3. Indra Kunindra Curry Lime Export Stout
4. Dorado DIPA
5. Sour Wench
6. Big Eye IPA
7. Navigator Dopplebock
8 Brother Lovonian Saison”

SF Brewer’s Guild Meet the Brewers
6:00pm – 9:00pm, Thirsty Bear Brewing Company, 661 Howard St., San Francisco. (map)

“It’s always nice to put faces to names, especially those that craft the beer you drink. Raise a pint or two with local artisan brewers and learn more about San Francisco craft beer.”

October 22, Saturday

Bay Area Craft Beer Festival
1:00pm – 5:00pm, Historic Cannery District, Martinez. (map)

“Join us in the Historic Cannery District at the picturesque Martinez Waterfront Park, located at 333 Ferry St. in beautiful Downtown Martinez. 30+ Top Microbreweries West of the Mississippi! ROCKIN’ LIVE MUSIC! FABULOUS FOOD available for purchase! NO ONE UNDER 21 ADMITTED. I.D. required. Tickets are $45 in advance online only. No door sales.”

October 26, Wednesday

Meet the Brewer: Auburn Ale House
6:00pm – 10:00pm, Beer Revolution, 464 3rd Street, Oakland. (map)

“Join us comrades as welcome the fine folks from Auburn Ale House!”

October 28, Friday

Beer Friday
6:00pm – 11:00pm, Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company, 111 Industrial Road #7, Belmont. (map)

“On the last Friday of the month we open our doors to the public at 6pm (Beer Club Members: 5:30pm) and have 2 or 3 live bands. There is no cover charge. Your first drink of the night is $10.00. You get to keep the Devil’s Canyon pint glass and bring it back to future events (Reduce, Reuse!). After that, drinks are $6.00 from 6pm-9pm, $5 from 9pm-11pm, and $6 from 11pm till close. Food, Root Beer and Water is also available.
$1.00 of every beer sale goes to our “Cheers! For Charity” program recipient for that month.”

October 30, Sunday

Freaktoberfest Boutique Beer & Music Festival
12:00pm – 5:00pm, Beer Revolution, 464 3rd Street, Oakland. (map)

A party with Schmaltz Brewing. Details TBD.

Lupulin for Lupus Fundraiser Taking Place at Tied House

The camaraderie of the brewing industry often extends to uniting around a cause. One of the latest is the Lupulin for Lupus Fundraiser organized by Peter Estaniel, author of the BetterBeerBlog. The 2nd annual event will take place at the Tied House in Mountain View on October 7 at 5pm.

All you have to do is show up for a $5 pint of beer served from donated firkins courtesy of Drake’s Brewing, Firehouse Brewery, Tied House and probably a few more. The proceeds will benefit the Lupus Foundation of America.

According to Estaniel, the fundraiser originated as a “knee-jerk reaction to a failed collaborative blog post, that slowly morphed into a crazy homebrew experiment and ended up being something very personal to my family and very real.”

The event was inspired by a close family friend who’s living with Lupus, an unpredictable and painful autoimmune disease that can attack any number of organs in the body. It’s currently estimated that five million people suffer from a form of the disease worldwide. Improvements in diagnosis and treatment methods have improved, but there’s currently no cure.

What’s Lupulin you might ask? That’s the sticky yellow powder buried at the base of hop leaves, which provide the wonderful aroma and bitterness beer lovers crave.

So if you’re free please stop in for a tremendous beer and a great cause. For more information or if you would like to make a donation, visit the event website.

Would You Drink Non-Alcoholic Craft Beer?

In our story about Uncommon Brewers we revealed that brewmaster Alen Stefansky is working on a non-alcoholic beer with a future release date. According to the story’s author John Heylin “if he hadn’t told us it was non-alcoholic, I probably wouldn’t have noticed.”

This left us wondering how many of you would willingly drink a craft beer that contains less then 0.5% alcohol? Please vote and feel free to sound off in the comment area.  We would love to know what you think.

[polldaddy poll=5517857]


Road Trip: “Uncommon” is Putting it Lightly

Photos © Brian Stechschulte

I recently visited Uncommon Brewers in Santa Cruz, CA, with some fellow beer nerds to find out what they have cooking.  What we were expecting and what we actually learned from the informal tour and tasting were drastically different.

The location of the brewery itself is in a weird office complex that must have been designed by a person who specializes in creating rat mazes.  The entrance is awkwardly positioned near the train tracks and lacks signage, which we desperately needed to find the place.

After looking around at most of the buildings we almost gave up, but a grain silo sticking up like a lighthouse helped guide our way.  Even so, we were still unsure about where to go until brewmaster Alec Stefansky popped his head outside and welcomed us.

Alec Stefansky

Inside we were confronted by a construction war-zone.  Boards were stacked all over, tools were strewn about and sheets of plastic protected all the work site goodies. A taproom is in the works!  It’s always exciting to see a brewery building a taproom.  You can really get to know what kind of people they are simply from the type of wood they use, if they go with an industrial theme, or if it’s all DIY tables and chairs threatening to dump you on the ground.

After tip toeing through the entrance Stefansky took us into the cavernous production area. Short squat tanks with a battle-worn patina lined the walls near stacks of empty cans, a canning line that could fit in a pickup truck, and tall fermenters wrapped in plastic (they’ve been plagued by shoddy equipment and are in the process of returning an entire order of multiple 60bbl tanks, yeesh).

The brewhouse itself was tucked away in the corner like some long-forgotten broom, but man was it beautiful and high tech.  Stefansky can monitor temperatures, switch valves and pump out tanks all from his iPad at home.  Isn’t technology great?

The sheer volume of the tanks was the biggest surprise since finding Uncommon beers on tap or on shelves in the Bay Area is stupidly hard.  Before our tour I was curious about how much beer they were actually selling?  I’ve seen them at festivals handing out samples of their infamous Bacon Brown (bacon-infused brown ale), but otherwise haven’t heard a peep.  As it turns out their beer has been selling very well and not just in California, but in a few other states around the country.

The author John Heylin peeking through the Lauter Ton.

Following the brief tour we tasted a good portion of their lineup, all of which have some quirky little modification that makes the beers very, yeah okay, “uncommon.”  Their Golden State Ale has toasted California Poppy seeds in it. Siamese Twin contains coriander and kaffir lime leaves, and Bacon Brown speaks for itself. I asked Stefansky if the bacon fat reconstitutes in the beer and if its’ chilled to get the floaties out, but with a smirk he very diplomatically stated, “we’ve figured out a way of doing it.”  Their Baltic Porter, which incorporates licorice root and star anise, was my favorite.  I can’t stress enough how much you need to go out and buy a pack.

After trying Uncommon’s standard selection, Stefansky brought out a few cans of a beer he calls American Special Bitter. It’s a thick and roasty beer with a strong licorice flavor that weighs in at a whopping 14.5% ABV.  Now I know what you’re thinking, “Uhh, Uncommon cans with 16oz cans.  If I drink one of those it’ll kill me.”  You’re right. Multiple cans of this beer at that size could send you straight to the drunk tank.  That’s why Stefansky has decided to package the beer in smaller 8oz cans, just like cute little Coke products. He hopes this will minimize how hammered you get drinking just one.  Of course, with my size I’ll probably pop them like shots, but it’s the idea that counts!  I can’t wait to buy a bunch of those suckers for the beach or backpacking.

In regards to aluminum cans, Uncommon Brewers is dead set on using them.  Not only is a pallet of empties easy to move, but they also ship lighter, take up less space (they can be stored on very high shelves without fear of killing anyone in an earthquake), and are more environmentally friendly than bottles.  While I have a few reservations about aluminum due to the horrible mining process, it’s true that a large percentage of it used in the United States is recycled.  The fuel savings alone make it a no-brainer economically.

Uncommon’s desire for a smaller environmental footprint even extends to their kegs, which are made out of cardboard and contain a plastic bladder. According to Stefansky the fittings can sometimes be a pain for pubs, but real kegs are expensive, take up space, and require cleaning.

After trying what we thought were all the beers, Stefansky gave us a devilish grin and beckoned us into a large cooler where he gave us a new brew he’s working on. Gods honest truth, if he hadn’t told us it was non-alcoholic, I probably wouldn’t have noticed.

Dubbed Scotty K.N.A., in honor of an employee with 22 years of sobriety (way to go Scotty! Bill is proud of you), the beer is fermented for only 24 hours so it falls below the 0.5% ABV needed for a non-alcoholic classification.  The flavor reminds me of a table beer I had this summer that was only 3%, very malty, not much bite, the extra sugars not quite overpowering but they let you know they’re there.  I guess it never occurred to me that the designated driver might want to drink something better then the typical crappy non-alcoholic beer.  Stefansky plans on releasing this beer to the public and I’m eager to see what becomes of this experiment.

We left the brewery pumped up about the beer Uncommon is producing. The hospitality, excellent tasting and exposure to future brews all made for a great time. If you’re going to Santa Cruz, I highly recommend a tasting if arrangements can be made.