Cure for Low Voter Turnout Revealed at Half Moon Bay Brewing

Imagine this scenario on November 6th. You arrive at your polling place and head to the voting booth. Inside you find two beer bottles with Obama and Romney labels staring back at you. Your task is to pick one, open it and pour the beer in your commemorative “I Voted” glass. It’s that easy, at least in my dream.

You can find the closest thing to reality at Half Moon Bay Brewing. They’ve just released a limited edition brew called Pillar Point Pale Alection on draft and in bottles, which have Obama or Romney’s grinning headshot on the label. Faux ballots and two-sided coasters with the same image will also be available at the brewery so you can plant your glass and spill beer on either candidate.

The beer, which curiously fills both candidates bottles, is classic English Pale Ale, not an American version. It was made with Maris Otter Malt, East Kent Goldings hops and came in at 4.8% alcohol by volume. I have to assume this choice is a nod to America’s English roots? Didn’t we win the Revolutionary War?

Candidate themed beers would have been nice. Obama could have been a Socialist Lager for the masses who supports “big beer,” while Romney could have been a Venture Capital IPA, made with the least amount of ingredients and labor possible, that’s then sold at a high price. In the end, I guess Half Moon Bay believes both men are of similar substance.

You can cast your vote now at the brewery or wait till the twenty-two ounce bottles start arriving in stores throughout the Bay Area after June 22. The beer will be available until November.

By the way, Half Moon Bay Brewing is no stranger to mixing beer and politics. They regularly host an event on the first Thursday of every month called Brews & Views, which is a free public forum and moderated discussion that typically features a special guest who’s an expert in the chosen topic.

Coaster designs


Bay Area Breweries Win World Beer Cup Awards

The craft beer world converged on San Diego for the annual Craft Brewers Conference and bi-annual presentation of the World Beer Cup Awards. The awards were doled out on Saturday night and a few of your Bay Area breweries brought home some hardware. Congratulations to all the winners!

Rye Beer

GOLD: Ruthless Rye IPA , Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA
SILVER: 3 Flowers IPA, Marin Brewing Co., Larkspur, CA
BRONZE: Jopen Jacobus RPA, Jopenkerk Bierbrouwerji, Haarlem, Netherlands

Other Strong Beer

GOLD: Star Brew, Marin Brewing Co., Larkspur, CA
SILVER: Imperial Cream Ale, Nexus Brewery, Albuquerque, NM
BRONZE: Double Pilsner, Odell Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO

Indigenous Beer

GOLD: Got Beer, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery – Tacoma, Huntington Beach, CA
SILVER: Hqt, 21st Amendment Brewery, San Francisco, CA
BRONZE: Oyster Stout, Upright Brewing Co., Portland, OR

American-Style Sour Ale

GOLD: Ching, Ching, Bend Brewing Co., Bend, OR
SILVER: Mattina Rossa, Allagash Brewing Co., Portland, ME
BRONZE: Supplication, Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa, CA

Classic English-Style Pale Ale

GOLD: Annadel Pale Ale, Third Street Aleworks, Santa Rosa, CA
SILVER: Summit Extra Pale Ale, Summit Brewing Co., St. Paul, MN
BRONZE: Caldera Ashland Amber, Caldera Brewing Co., Ashland, OR

American-Style Amber Lager

GOLD: Winter Skal, Capital Brewery Co., Middleton, WI
SILVER: Colorado Native, AC Golden Brewing Co., Golden, CO
BRONZE: Cali Common, Lucky Hand Beer, Novato, CA

Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout

GOLD: Blarney Sisters Dry Irish Stout, Third Street Aleworks, Santa Rosa, CA
SILVER: Ring of Dingle, Sun King Brewing Co., Indianapolis, IN
BRONZE: Dry Stout, Breakside Brewery, Portland, OR

American-Style Amber/Red Ale

GOLD: Big Cottonwood, Utah Brewers Co-op, Salt Lake City, UT
SILVER: Swan Lake Beer Amber Swan Ale, Hyokoyashikinomori Brewery Tenchokaku Co., Agano, Japan
BRONZE: Mavericks Amber Ale, Half Moon Bay Brewing Co., Princeton-by-the-Sea, CA

American-Style Black Ale

GOLD: Black Racer, Bear Republic Brewing Co., Cloverdale, CA
SILVER: Tarantulas 2.0, Pizza Port Ocean Beach, San Diego, CA
BRONZE: Raven, Thornbridge, Bakewell, United Kingdom

Beer Review: Four Bombers from Half Moon Bay Brewing

While the surfing world patiently waits for fifty foot waves in Half Moon Bay for the Maverick’s Surf Competition, we thought the nearby brewery deserved some attention. Half Moon Bay Brewing Company opened its doors in 2000 and although they’re off the beaten beer nerd track, their beer can compete many other brews we know and love. Their hard work and effort has earned a local following and they sit on Travel + Leisure’s list of America’s Best Beach Bars.

I was recently able to try four of their beers. Two are available year-round, the Amber and IPA, while the other two are seasonal releases, a pumpkin ale and a winter warmer for the fall and winter respectively. Here’s my take on each of these beers.

Mavericks Amber Ale

This one pours a fairly clear red color with a touch of brown. A finger of frothy tan-brown head forms atop and leaves some spots of lace on the glass as it fades down. The aroma is fairly true to style with rich sweet lightly toasted caramel malts and a touch of citrus hops. There is also just a touch of bread lingering in the background. Absent here is common metallic element that sometimes comes with the style.

The beer hits the tongue in a very similar way it hit the nose. It starts off with the toasted caramel malts that are quite sweet and almost border on a bit syrupy. There are a bit of orange and grapefruit flavored hops that provide a touch of bitterness. Through the middle, the orange flavor of the hops comes through a bit more and the syrupy sweetness starts to mellow out. The finish is more of the same, but with a better balance than at the start. The beer feels just a touch thinner than medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

Though I appreciated the absence of the metallic taste that comes along with so many American Amber Ales, I felt that the malt flavor started off a bit too rich and syrupy compared to the body of the beer. A stronger hop presence could have done a lot to balance things out a bit. All in all, the beer is still an above average example of the style that would be a great entry point into craft beer.

Mavericks Princeton By-The-Sea IPA

The IPA pours a cloudy orange-red color with a finger of frothy slightly off-white head atop. The head fades down leaving behind a layer of lace all the way around the glass. The aroma is full of citrus hops that really open up as the beer warms up. There is a sweet caramel malt backbone and just a touch of grassy hop mixed in as well.

The beer starts off with some citrus hops, but not quite as strong as they were in the nose. There is a bit of bitterness and some sweet caramel malt alongside. Through the middle, some pine hop flavor joins in as the grapefruit flavored hops and bitterness grows a bit stronger. The finish is a mix of grapefruit hop flavor with some light grassy hop and bitterness. The beer feels a tad lighter than medium bodied with moderate carbonation. It has a sweet and slightly dry finish.

I really enjoyed the hop profile of this beer, with some really nice grapefruit and citrus flavors coming through. I felt that the rest of the beer did not quite hold up, as the body and malt flavor seemed just a touch light in comparison. However, this is really a light criticism and did not get in the way of my enjoying this very drinkable IPA.

Mavericks Pumpkin Harvest Ale

Half Moon Bay Brewing’s take on a pumpkin ale pours a cloudy red-orange color with a finger of frothy white head atop. The head faded down and left behind only a touch of lace on the glass. The aroma is a nice balance of pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, clove, and brown sugar) and actual pumpkin. There is also a backbone of biscuit malts present as well.

The beer hits the tongue at first with more pumpkin flavor than spices, which is the opposite of many pumpkin beers. There is also the backbone of sweet biscuit malts that was present in the nose. Through the middle, the spices begin to grow a bit with clear cinnamon and brown sugar coming through with a bit more biscuit malt flavor. The beer mellows out as it finishes with a nice balance of all of the flavors. The beer feels a bit lighter than medium bodied with moderate carbonation. It finishes sweet with the spices tickling the tongue a bit.

I found myself quite impressed with this beer. So many pumpkin ales become spice bombs that might as well be called pumpkin pie beers. However, I felt the balance here was much better, and the malt character and pumpkin flavor provides a great balance to the spices present.

Mavericks Old Soulstice Winter Ale

This winter warmer pours a dark brown-red color with a finger of frothy tan-chocolate colored head. The head hangs a round for a bit before fading down leaving behind some lace. The aroma is a mix of sweet lightly roasted caramel malts with some raisin and other dark fruit elements and a bit of earthy hop.

The flavor starts out a bit more dark fruit forward than expected with raisin and date flavors hitting the tongue. There is some sweet caramel malt and a touch of rye spiciness that form a backbone. Through the middle, some earthy hop flavor comes through with a touch of bitterness. As the beer finishes it gains a bit more hop flavor that lingers alongside some more dark fruit sweetness. The beer feels medium bodied with moderate carbonation. It finishes sweet with a touch of earthy spiciness.

Half Moon Bay Brewing’s take on the Winter Warmer style definitely differs a bit from the common American take on the style in that it is more malt and dark fruit driven than spice driven. While I like the focus, I just found that body felt a bit light in contrast to the big malty flavor. That being said, it was still a very enjoyable beer, I just felt it had a bit more potential.

In the end

This taste of Half Moon Bay Brewing beers has definitely piqued my curiosity. They don’t seem afraid of departing from the common take on many of these styles, which in their case is a good thing. I hope I get a chance to check out their brewpub in the not too distant future. In the meantime, their beer in available in some scattered Bay Area retailers, as well as some popular beer bars.

Note: The beers included in this article were provided by Half Moon Bay Brewing Company to the author.

Freaks, Monsters & Sour Beer this Halloween Weekend

Have you spent months creating a costume, but still need a place to go this Halloween weekend? Here’s a selection of parties at Bay Area breweries and bars that include freaks, costume contests and most importantly, craft beer.

Friday, October 28

MONSTERS OF ROCK Halloween Festival
4:00pm – 9:00pm, Speakeasy Ales & Lagers,1195 Evans, San Francisco. (map)

Costume contest, food from the Fogcutter food truck, $3 beers and live music from Midnight Chaser, Hell Ship and Fear the Fiasco. Free entry.

Beer Friday Costume Contest & Kid’s Parade
6pm, Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company,111 Industrial Road #7, Belmont. (map)

Beer Friday is a Devil’s Canyon monthly event, but for Halloween they turn it up a notch. The Kid’s Parade starts at 7:15pm and includes candy stations. Costume judging for adults begins at 9:15pm. $10 entry includes a souvenir pint glass and one beer. Additional drinks are $6. Expect live music and they’re serving up the last bit of Weizenbock.

Sour Beer Tasting
6:30pm – 8:30pm, Jug Shop Wine & Spirits, 1590 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco. (map)

They may not be scary creepy crawlers, but brettanomyces yeast will be on full display at the Jug Shop. $35 gets you 20 different samples of  beer from Jolly Pumpkin, Hanssen, Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes, Russian River, Panil, Ommegang, Birra del Borgo, Strubbe and Cantillon just to name a few. This event is limited to 40 people so act fast.

Movie Night: The Shining
9:00pm, Park Chalet, 1000 Great Hwy. San Francisco. (map)

No cover, late night happy hour prices and free popcorn.

Saturday, October 29

Iron Springs 7th Anniversary Party & Halloween Costume Contest
12:00pm – 11:00pm, Iron Springs Pub & Brewery, 765 Center Blvd, Fairfax. (map)

Help Iron Springs celebrate all day with prize giveaways, free raffles and costume contest prizes. Music all day and night, which includes a rare Moonalice acoustic performance.

Half Moon Bay Brewing Halloween Party
7:00pm – 10:00pm, Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, 390 Capistrano Rd., Half Moon Bay. (map)

The 11th annual Halloween Party with rock music from the Megatones. All ages are welcome to enter the costume contest. Prizes will be awarded by the following categories: Most Scary, Most Original and Best Group Costume. Free Entry.

Sunday, October 30

2nd Annual Freaktoberfest Boutique Beer & Music Festival
12:00pm – 5:00pm, Beer Revolution, 464 3rd Street, Oakland. (map)

60 beers from 25 different breweries will accompany live music from Sex with No Hands, Pit Bull Rodeo, Deep Cover and burlesque acts. Street food will be served up by Guerilla Grub and beer will be poured using a ticketing system. No entry fee.

Monday, October 31 (Halloween)

17th Annual Halloween Costume Contest
8:00pm, Moylan’s Brewery & Restaurant , 15 Rowland Way, Novato. (map)