Taking Stock of Beer Lands at Outside Lands

Craft beer milestones are usually marked with dollar signs, percentages and the number of new breweries. We have the Brewers Association to thank for collecting and dispersing this data in shiny pie charts and graphs. They illustrate a great story in simple, straightforward terms, but they don’t tell you where craft beer is finding new niches, broad exposure and courting new fans.

In San Francisco last weekend, while serious beer fans were toasting Toronado’s 25th Anniversary, an even bigger event for local craft beer, in the grander scheme of growth, was taking place in Golden Gate Park. Organizers of the Outside Lands music festival finally carved out a place for craft beer at the event. Heineken’s exclusive contract was over and Beer Lands was born. It was the last piece in a puzzle of San Francisco centric gourmet food and beverage options for thousands of attendees, and by the end of the three day festival, it was clear that demand wildly exceeded expectations.

Dave McLean, brewmaster and owner of Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery, was tasked with organizing the details of Beer Lands in partnership with festival organizers and Best Beverage Catering. In addition to the main beer sponsors, Heineken and Sierra Nevada Brewing, McLean invited 13 other breweries to pour alongside his own: 21st Amendment, Anchor Brewing, Bear Republic Brewery, Drake’s Brewing, Firestone Walker, Iron Springs Brewery, Linden Street Brewery, Lost Coast Brewery, Mad River Brewing Company, North Coast Brewing Company, Pacific Brewing Laboratory, Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, and The Bruery.

Beer Lands was located at Lindley Meadow, right next to the festival’s entrance, near three food trucks, the Sutro Stage, and The Barbary, which featured comedy and variety acts. Overall it was a good spot for festivalgoers to grab a beer upon entrance, or to hang out during lunch or a dinner break, but if you needed a quick beer during a big show, it was a hike to get there. Heineken and Sierra Nevada occupied key locations near the big stages. That’s what you get for six figure sponsorship deals.

The Beer Lands t-shirt made for servers. Brewers couldn’t serve the beer due to CA ABC regulations. Once it’s sold to a distributor it can’t touched by the manufacturer, but a few brewers and representatives were in attendance talking to customers.

If you’ve never been to Outside Lands, then you should know that the main organizers place a high priority on event staging (making the whole place look cool), and the Beer Lands tent was no exception. Reclaimed barn wood and sheets of polished copper trumped ugly jockey boxes, typically used for serving beer at festivals. Signage was also carefully crafted to look sharp and professional, which displayed the brewery names and festival prices.

Dave McLean standing in a sea of kegs. A large trailer was set on the ground and covered in reclaimed wood. Holes were made for tap lines.

The beer wasn’t cheap, think baseball park prices, but that’s to be expected at a major festival serving above average beer. One-dollar tickets had to be purchased first, then exchanged for beer. Attendees could buy one ticket, or packs of ten, which they used to get a 4 oz taste or a full pint. Most of the beers were priced at $3 for 4 oz pours and $9 for a pint. The Bruery’s Mischief and North Coast Brewing’s Pranqster were the only exception. Mischief was priced at $6 for 4 oz and $15 for a pint, while Pranqster was $6 for 4 oz and $12 for a pint. The two-tier pricing structure allowed people to try new beer without the burden of high cost.

Here’s what the breweries offered:

Sierra Nevada Brewing

Outside Lands Saison
Kellerweis

Heineken

Newcastle Summer
Amstel Wheat

Pacific Brewing Laboratory

Squid Ink
Nautilus

Drake’s Brewing

1500 Pale
Amber

21st Amendment

Hell or High Watermelon
Back in Black

Linden Street Brewery

Urban Peoples’ Common
Burning Oak

Mad River Brewing

Extra Pale
Jamaica Red

Lost Coast Brewery

Great White
Downtown Brown

Anchor Brewing

Steam
Summer

Bear Republic

Racer 5
El Oso

North Coast Brewing

Scrimshaw Pilsner
Pranqster

Firestone Walker 

Pivo
Double Barrel Ale

Magnolia Brewery

Proving Ground IPA
Kalifornia Kolsch

Iron Springs Brewery

Chazz Cat Rye
JC Flyer

Speakeasy Ales & Lagers

Big Daddy
Payback Porter

The Bruery

Mischief
Humulus APA

Although the prices may have turned some people away, consumption was off the charts compared to what organizers expected. At the start of day two, Dave McLean said they already poured 75% of the beer they expected to serve during the entire three-day festival. A massive pile of empty kegs was waiting to get picked up and a few breweries were rushing to supply more. By Sunday afternoon, most of the beers mentioned above were gone or replaced by others. A few breweries were completely wiped out, including Pacific Brewing Laboratories and Anchor Brewing.

Empty kegs at the end of Beer Lands Day #1, estimated at over 100.

Beer Lands is a clear example of craft beer’s surging popularity and growth. It also represents a big milestone for craft beer on a local level. Dave McLean use to hang out in parking lots before Grateful Dead shows drinking craft beer served by underground merchants on skateboards. It’s where he acquired a taste for good beer and was inspired to brew. That’s when mega brewers dominated music venues. Now they’re using noisemakers to attract people to their booths (no joke), because craft beer has crashed the party and people are demanding it.

The downside of corporate sponsorship is that all beer had to be served in Heineken cups.  

12th Annual Breastfest Beer Festival Hits Fort Mason Next Week

Cancer sucks and drinking beer will make it better for thousands of Bay Area women. All you have to do is attend the 12th Annual Breastfest Beer Festival at Fort Mason on July 14th from 3-7pm. Proceeds from the event will go to the Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic, which helps low-income women get therapy that enhances their immune system and improves their quality of life.

Marin Brewing Company has hosted the festival since its inception back in 2000. Since then it’s grown from sixteen local breweries to over sixty in attendance this year, including Russian River Brewing, Moonlight Beer & Ale, North Coast Brewing, Elevation 66, 21st Amendment Brewery, and Uncommon Brewers, just to name a few. The full list can be found here. During the event you’ll also be able to sample BBQ and enjoy the 80’s cover band Metal Shop.

Tickets for the event, which include unlimited tasting and food, start at $45 for general admission, or you can pay $55 to get in early for the VIP hour from 2-3pm.

 

Fundraiser Features Homebrewers Competing with Offbeat Ingredients

Rooibos, cardamom and mole are just a few of the exotic ingredients that six homebrewing groups will be offering up in a competition during “Momentum,” a photo auction and benefit or the International Development Exchange (IDEX) on June 14th at the Mission Cultural Center. This San Francisco based nonprofit “promotes sustainable solutions to poverty by providing long-term grants and access to resources to locally run organizations in Africa, Asia and Latin America.”

Each homebrewer was asked to design a beer using ingredients from one of the assigned countries: Guatemala, Mexico, India, Nepal, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Professional judges and the public will vote on the resulting beers.  The homebrewers include Artisan Brewing, Euphemia Ales, Gone Boating, Happenstance Brewing, Poplar Brewing and Sonnenbrau.

If you’re always on the lookout for new and interesting beer flavors, check out this event and support a good cause. For more information and tickets go to: http://idexmomentum.eventbrite.com/

Here’s what you can expect from the brewers:

Euphemia Ales

Brewers: Ian Dunbar-Hall, Heather Dominey, Robert Kwan, Scott Hightower
Country: Nepal
Beer/Ingredient(s): Belgian Wit with Turmeric.

 

Poplar Brewing

Brewers: Ross Halligan and Gearoid Murphy
Country: South Africa
Beer/Ingredient(s): Nelson Sorgum and Rooibus brew.

 

Sonnenbrau

Brewers: Mike Sonn and Sarah Sonn
Country: India
Beer/Ingredient(s): Kokum Wheat using German Wheat Yeast.

 

 

 

Artisan Brewing

Brewer: Aaron Bryan
Country: Guatemala
Beer/Ingredient(s): Oak-aged Belgian Saison brewed with Guatemalan Cardamom.

 

Gone Boating Brewing

Brewers: Micaela Healy and Matt Dunne
Country: Mexico
Beer/Ingredient(s): A Chocolate Mole Ale and Golden Nopalito Ale

 

Happenstance Brewing

Brewer: Kevin Bailey
Country: Zimbabwe
Beer/Ingredient(s): Unknown

Two Events Raise a Pint for Charity in the East Bay Saturday

Spend your dollars on great beer and a pair of good causes this Saturday, April 7, at two events just miles apart in Berkeley. Triple Rock Brewery kicks off the day at 11:30am with their 10th Annual Firkin Fest benefiting the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation. Expect the bar to be littered with firkins from breweries all over the Bay Area. Then after 1:00pm, head over to the Pyramid Alehouse to taste a stellar lineup of new beers and returning seasonals. The proceeds will go to help Ales for Autism.

Here’s all the details from the event hosts:

Triple Rock Brewery’s 10th annual tribute to real ale is back! Starting at 11:30am and going till 5pm, we will fill the pub with firkins of real ale. $20 gets you a commemorative glass and 4 pours of real ale. $4 for additional pours.

Each year, we highlight the simple joy that is real ale as well as brewers’ modern takes on these classic ales (often infused with natural flavors like fruits, cacao nibs, & spices). This year our own firkins will be joined by ales from Marin Brewing, Moylan’s Brewery, Iron Springs Brewery, Firehouse Brewery, EJ Phair Brewing, Oakland Brewing Company, Pizza Orgasmica, Beach Chalet Brewing, Speakeasy Brewing, Pyramid Brewing, Dying Vine Brewing, Black Diamond Brewing, Thirsty Bear Brewing, 21st Amendment Brewery, Drake’s Brewing and more.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation, friends of our neighbors, the Berkeley Fire Department.

The Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation (AARBF) is a California-based nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing burns and fires and providing services to those who have been affected by a burn injury. AARBF brings together health care providers, firefighters, emergency workers, burn survivors and others to enhance the quality of life for burn survivors and to make burn injuries a thing of the past.

For more information, feel free to contact GM Jesse Sarinana at 510-843-2739 or at jesse.sarinana@gmail.com.

 

Drink Beer, Cure Autism. For $20 enjoy unlimited samples of Pyramid’s new beer releases and food-pairings for each beer created by our award-winning chef from 1:00pm – 4:00pm. 100% of the proceeds benefit Ales for Autism.

This event has a limited number of tickets and is expected to sell out. Purchase tickets at: http://www.fanfueled.com/alesforautism

Exclusive Release Tasting Menu

New Beers

• Wit: A light white beer of Belgian origin brewed with chamomile, coriander, curacao (bitter orange peel) and sweet orange peel (ABV: 5.1% IBU: 13)
• Dunkel: A Pyramid twist on the German Dunkel Weisse. (ABV: 5.6% IBU: 24)
• Wheaten IPA: A boldly hopped IPA designed to provide a pleasant citrus and aromatic hop experience. (ABV: 6.5% IBU: 66)
• Pale Ale: Stylistically more in line with a traditional English pale, the sweet and malty flavor compliments its floral hop aromas. (ABV: 5.4% IBU: 38)
• Uproar Imperial Red Ale: A complex, ruby-hued ale. Punctuated with notes of citrus and herbs, Uproar has a velvet texture with pleasing hints of roasty chocolate. (ABV: 7.3% IBU: 60)

Returning Seasonals

•Curve Ball Blonde Ale: A deliciously drinkable golden summer seasonal. ABV: 5% IBU: 18
•Full Bloom, MacTarnahan’s: A notably Northwest spin on a Bohemian Pilsner with a refreshing hop aroma and a gloriously smooth bite. (ABV: 6.3% IBU: 40)
•Grifter IPA, MacTarnahan’s: A criminally delicious surprise that’ll steal your allegiance and con your thirst into leavin’ town. (ABV: 6.2% IBU: 54)

Three Ring Circus Beer Dinner & Sideshow was a SF Beer Week Highlight

A nine-course meal, twelve beers from three breweries and circus performers were on the bill for the Three Ring Circus Beer Dinner & Sideshow at the Elks Lodge in San Francisco on February 15th. The event was a collaborative effort organized by the Home Brew Chef Sean Paxton, Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, Shmaltz and Ninkasi Brewing. It was by far the most ambitious and elaborate festivity taking place during SF Beer Week and lived up to the $120 price tag.

Every detail of the event paid homage to the circus, including the food. Paxton put his spin on a variety of carnival treats using local ingredients and gave each course a playful name, such as The Mermaid, The Drumstick and The Sword Swallower. Nearly every component of the food incorporated beer from the three breweries. The most highly anticipated course was the Hopped Cotton Candy wrapped around a cube of Sonoma foie gras terrine mixed with He’Brew Geneisis from Shmaltz. The sugar laden candy instantly melted around the fatty goose liver. It was delightfully decadent.

As the dinner progressed circus acts and sideshow performers entertained the crowd.  Most of them fell into the freak show genre. Classic acts like sword swallowing, walking on glass and mind reading took the stage along with a few acrobatic performances that mesmerized the dinner party, including Spiral, the pioneer of contemporary hoop dance.

The grand finale of the dinner was the unveiling of the collaboration beer, appropriately called Three Ring Circus Ale, that was created by the evening’s organizers. Brewed at Speakeasy, the very unconventional nut-brown ale was made with dulce de leche, popped corn and peanuts. Other noteworthy beer selections included Ninkasi’s Conventionale Imperial Stout (2010), He’Brew Genesis 15:15 by Shmaltz, and Speakeasy’s Massacre Black Wheat Wine. A complete food and beer menu can be found below with photos.

Although the evening extended well into the night due to slow food service (a minor flaw) the event was a great success. The historic Elks Lodge provided a wonderful backdrop, the entertainment was exceptional and the whimsical food paired nicely with the beer in almost every instance. Hopefully the organizers will bring this event back next year. SF Beer Week needs more quality events like this one.

 

The Menu

 

Pre-Dinner Reception Nibbles: Gourmet Popcorn

Bacon fat popped organic popcorn seasoned with tomato powder, roasted garlic, hop salt and smoked in bourbon barrel wood

Black Truffle Oil Scented Popcorn with cooked in vegetable oil with roasted garlic salt flakes

Thyme Infused duck fat popcorn with Sonoma Vella Dry Jack shavings, green peppercorns

 

First Course: The Mermaid

Lobster and prawn mousse infused with Ninkasi Believer Double Red Ale, wrapped around petrale sole filets, Speakeasy White Lightning Ale “Tide Sauce”, Ninkasi Little One Beer Foam, Speakeasy Prohibition Ale quinoa “sand”

Paired with Ninkasi Sterling Pils

 

Second Course: The Drumstick

Willie Bird Smoked Turkey legs rillettes layered with He’Brew Genesis 15:15, shallots, dried figs and thyme, Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk cheese, malt pickled heirloom pumpkin, assorted crackers, breads and spiced nuts

Paired with Speakeasy Massacre Black Wheat Wine and Coney Island Geektoberfest

 

Third Course: The Sword Swallower

“Haute” Dogs infused with 4-H style Lamb, Speakeasy Scarface Imperial Stout, caramelized onions and rosemary Ninkasi Renewale Porter Beer mustard, fennel carrot slaw, sweet roll

Paired with He’Brew Bittersweet Lenny’s RIPA

 

Fourth Course: Hopped Cotton Candy

Centennial hop scented sugar, wrapped around a cube of Sonoma foie gras terrine mixed with He’Brew Genesis

Paired with Speakeasy Big Daddy IPA

 

Fifth Course: Slider

Ground elk and duck heart patty, rendered dry aged beef fat, Brioche bun, house made He’Brew Genesis 15:15 beer ketchup, baby arugula, Speak Easy Payback Porter braised red onions

Paired with Ninkasi Conventionale (2010 Imperial Stout), Speakeasy Scarface Imperial Stout and He’Brew Genesis 15:15

 

Sixth Course: Churro

Point Reyes Blue cheese mixed into a Speakeasy Double Daddy savory churro, roasted garlic powder

Paired with Ninkasi Total Domination IPA

 

Seventh Course: Three Ring Circus

Roasted red, gold and white baby beets, Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog crumbles, carbonated citrus segments, malt candied hazelnuts, micro greens drizzled with a Three Ring Circus Collaboration vinaigrette

Paired with Speakeasy Prohibition Ale

 

Eighth Course: Funnel Cake

He’Brew Bittersweet Lenny’s RIPA infused batter with bergamot zest, Three Ring Circus Wort Honey Drizzle, Malted Powdered Sugar Dust, Ninkasi Sleigh’r Beer Caramel

Paired with Coney Island Albino Python

 

Ninth Course: The Non-Fried Non-Twinkie Cupcake

Ninkasi Conventionale Imperial Stout Chocolate Cake, filled with a He’brew Jewbelation 15 mousse filling, Speak Easy Prohibition Frosting, THCO Cocoa Nibs, Caramel Malt

Paired with the Speakeasy, Ninkasi, Shmaltz, Home Brew Chef Collaboration beer: Three Ring Circus