City Beer Store’s Expansion Revealed

The new bar. Photos © Brian Stechschulte

The long awaited City Beer Store expansion will be revealed to the public later today at 5pm after ten months of planning, bureaucracy and two weeks of brisk construction. Owners Craig and Beth Wathen finally knocked down the cement block wall that separated their popular bottle shop and bar from the adjacent storefront. It’s a project they envisioned since opening just over five years ago and the results will certainly be appreciated by the craft beer community.

The list of upgrades and new additions is lengthy, but simply put, everything has more then doubled in size from taps to shelf and elbow room. The first thing guests will notice upon entering is the wrap around bar and a clear division between the bottle shop and tasting area. According to Beth Wathen, this design will allow people to easily peruse the bottles without dodging large crowds. Customers will now be surrounded by a library of bottles sitting on shelves and in new five door cooler. If it took you a while to choose a beer in the old space, plan on spending a little more time among the dizzying array of choices.

Craig Wathen putting the final touches on the expanded bottle selection.

The view from the old space, now the bottle library, into the new tasting area.

Behind the wood and poured concrete bar you’ll find some of the most exciting additions. Guests can now choose from 15 taps or drool as they inspect the new rare beer cooler, where bottles from Cantillon and early Russian River batches have emerged from off-site storage. These bottles are available for on-premise consumption only. It’s a tactic Craig Wathen has decided to employ so more people can try the beer at market rates and deters Ebay auction gouging.

New taps drilled into the keg cooler.

Next to the bar sits a new walk-in cooler for kegs, which is no ordinary cold space. It’s outfitted with a window so customers can see the snaking tap lines and aluminum barrels when they’re not resting on the additional seating. Yes, instead of standing you’ll have more benches, high tops and bar seating to choose from.

An old barrel stand has become a table.

So what else can you expect from the new City Beer Store? Your beer will now be served in City Beer Store glassware, there’s a small private event/prep space with a one-way mirror, a new ADA lift is available in the old entrance, they’re planning to open on Mondays and might partner with nearby Citizen’s Band restaurant to do a small tasting menu. Whew!

All of the upgrades and new additions have solidified City Beer’s reputation as the premiere bottle shop and tasting room in San Francisco.

New Brewpub & Wine Tasting Room Opening in Napa

Next time you’re driving through wine country you’ll have one more location to sip a few beers. Napa Smith Brewery has opened a brewpub in the wine mecca so weary wine tasting beer aficionados can refresh their palate.

According to Brewmaster Don Barkley, “We’ve been making great beer for a while now, and I think it’s about time we have a place where you can come in and taste it fresh from the Brewery. If you want to learn more about beer or take a tour, you can do that. If you want to just relax over a cold, refreshing beer, you can do that. We just want you to have a good time, meet great people and enjoy life at its finest – that’s what Napa Smith is all about.”

The new venue will feature 8 different beers on tap with wine available from Bourassa Vineyards. Operating hours will be 10am to 5pm daily with tours available at 3pm. On Saturday, October 8, they’ll be celebrating the grand opening with $2 pints and a food truck from noon to 4pm.

Pelican Brands, which merged with Paddington Brands earlier this year, acquired Napa Smith back in December of 2010 and this development is an extension of their investment in the brands distribution and capabilities, which exceeds $1 million. Chairman & CEO of Napa Smith and Paddington Brands, J Smoke Waillin is looking to expand even more. He stated that “as our brand grows across the US, we expect to make significant additional investments in Napa,”

For more information check out the PR Newswire press release.


Lagunitas Cancels Production of Brown Shugga’

Lagunitas Brewing Logo

Craft beer’s increasing popularity has left a lot of breweries scrambling to keep up with demand and juggling production schedules. If they make high gravity beer with an intense amount of ingredients, the stress is even greater. This year we’ve scene several high profile breweries pull distribution in markets around the country, including Dogfish Head and Flying Dog. Other breweries have chosen a different strategy.

This was the case late last week when Lagunitas Brewing announced that Brown Shugga’ would get axed from this year’s holiday lineup and be replaced by a new holiday ale. In addition, Hairy Eyeball’s availability will be cut 50%. It’s certainly disappointing to fans of both beers, but brewery owner Tony Magee provided a frank assessment of the situation on Beer Advocate that may calm a few nerves.

“This sad holiday season we didn’t have the brewing capacity to make our favorite seasonal brew, the widely feared, BrownShugga’ Ale. You see, we had a couple of really good years (thank you very much) and so heading into this season while we are awaiting the January delivery of a new 250bbl brewhouse we are jammin’ along brewing 80 barrels of IPA and PILS and Little Sumpin’ and such every 3 hours. A couple months back we realized that since we can only brew a mere 60 barrels of Shugga every 5 hours, that we were seriously screwed. For every case of Shugga’ we brewed we’d short 3 cases of our favorite daily beers. It’s a drag. This year, we brewed sumpin’ that we think is also cool and brews more like our daily brews. The new brewhouse will help insure that this kind of failure never occurs again. It’s a mess that we can not brew our Shugga’ this year and we suck for not doing it. There is nothing cool about screwing up this badly and we know it. Maybe we can sue our own sorry selves. There is no joy in our hearts this holiday and the best we can hope for is a quick and merciful end. F*@& us. This totally blows. Whatever. We freaking munch moldy donkey butt and we just want it all to be over…”

You gotta love the brutal honesty and self deprecating humor. So what’s the new holiday beer going to be called? In typical Lagunitas style it’s been dubbed “Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale.”

Bay Area Brewers Bring Home GABF Medals

The 21st Amendment Brewery won two gold medals. Photos © Brian Stechschulte

Twenty-five breweries from the Bay Area traveled to Denver this past weekend to pour their beer over three days at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF). It’s the biggest event of it’s kind in North America, featuring 466 breweries offering 2,375 beers to 49,000 attendees.

Brewers also travel to the festival in anticipation of awards. The event is one of the most important beer competitions in the world. This year 167 judges tasted their way through 3,930 different beers to award medals in 83 style categories. As you can tell the competition is fierce. GABF awards bring respect, notoriety and financial success to brewers and the breweries they represent.

The Bay Area held it’s own in the competition by capturing 11 medals in the following categories:

Rye Beer  (36 Entries)

Gold: Three Flowers IPA, Marin Brewing Co., Larkspur, CA
Silver: Bock in Bock, Tequesta Brewing Co., Tequesta, FL
Bronze: Crank Tank, SweetWater Brewing Co., Atlanta, GA

Indigenous Beer – 31 Entries

Gold: Hqt, 21st Amendment Brewery, San Francisco, CA
Silver: Monticello Reserve Ale, Starr Hill Brewery, Crozet, VA
Bronze: Hot Rocks Lager, Port Brewing Co., San Marcos, CA

Baltic-Style Porter – 19 Entries

Gold: Battle Axe Baltic Porter, Fat Head’s Brewery, North Olmsted, OH
Silver: White Eagle Baltic Porter, Montana Brewing Co., Billings, MT
Bronze: Puddy Porter, Triple Rock Brewery and Alehouse, Berkeley, CA

Golden or Blonde Ale – 56 Entries

Gold: Blonde, Ram Restaurant & Brewery – Seattle, Seattle, WA
Silver: Alaskan Pale Ale, Alaskan Brewing Co., Juneau, AK
Bronze: Kent Lake Kolsch, Iron Springs Pub & Brewery, Fairfax, CA

English-Style India Pale Ale – 46 Entries

Gold: Samuel Adams Latitude 48 Hallertau Mittelfrueh, Boston Beer Co., Boston, MA
Silver: Napa Smith Organic IPA, Napa Smith Brewery, Napa, CA
Bronze: Down ‘n’ Dirty IPA, Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR

American-Style Amber/Red Ale – 82 Entries

Gold: Amber Waves, 21st Amendment Brewery, San Francisco, CA
Silver: Jamaica Red Ale, Mad River Brewing Co., Blue Lake, CA
Bronze: Rocket Red, Big River Grille and Brewing (Chattanooga, TN), Chattanooga, TN

Ordinary or Special Bitter – 28 Entries

Gold: DBA, Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA
Silver: New Speedway Bitter, Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery, San Francisco, CA
Bronze: Bonnie Lee’s Best Bitter, Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery, San Francisco, CA

American-Style Black Ale – 74 Entries

Gold: Blacktop IPA, New Glarus Brewing Co., New Glarus, WI
Silver: Blackened CDA, Carter’s Brewing, Billings, MT
Bronze: Black Racer, Bear Republic Brewing Co., Healdsburg, CA

Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale – 59 Entries

Gold: Buffalo Slumber, Sun King Brewing Co., Indianapolis, IN
Silver: Revelations, Pizza Port Carlsbad, Carlsbad, CA
Bronze: The Twelve, Black Diamond Brewing Co., Concord, CA

Brown Porter – 32 Entries

Gold: Out of Order Porter, Wind River Brewing Co., Pinedale, WY
Silver: FireHouse Porter, FireHouse Grill & Brewery, Sunnyvale, CA
Bronze: Porter, Lexington Avenue Brewery, Asheville, NC

Dave McLean of Magnolia Pub (left) with Steve Donohue of Firehouse Brewery.

Congratulations to all our hard working Bay Area brewers who continue to make this region one of the best and most respected craft beer hubs in the country. If you would like to see more information about individual awards head over to the Brookston Beer Bulletin for the entire list and more festival facts.