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

Give Some Beer Money to Charity During SF Beer Week

We’re one day away from SF Beer Week and right about now your itinerary is probably packed. Dinners, rare beer tastings and many other tempting festivities will have you zig-zaging across the Bay. The ten day marathon can be taxing on your body and bank account. Your hard earned money supports the growing craft beer movement, but could also help a local charity or non-profit during SF Beer Week thanks to the generosity of a few brewers and event organizers.

Here’s some events you should consider that are giving back to the community. You can have fun, try the latest and greatest beer, and feel like your making a difference at the same time.

2nd Annual Small Batch Big Thirst Beer Tasting Fundraiser 

A posse of brewers and food trucks will gather together to form a beer garden on February 11 from 12-4pm. All proceeds will benefit charities supported by the Night Train Swimmers.

3rd Annual Chocolate & Beer Festival

Chocolate and beer is a fantastic combination. Expect to find a few Imperial Stouts on hand at this event taking place on February 11 from 2-6pm at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, CA. Proceeds will benefit the Children’s Learning Center, which is a “comprehensive alternative educational program for exceptional children, who, because of their intense behavioral, social, emotional and educational needs are temporarily unable to succeed in the public school system.” Breweries on hand will include the Elevation 66 Brewing Company, Drake’s Brewing, Anchor Steam, Moylan’s Brewing Company, Lost Coast, Trumer, Marin Brewing Company, Triple Rock, Linden Street, and more.

3rd Annual SF Beer Week Beer Run

Burn some calories before slugging back some beer at Social Kitchen & Brewery on February 12th at 11:00am. It’s a friendly, non-competitive affair, that stretches for 5 miles through Golden Gate Park and returns to the brewery where you’ll get a $1 off beers. It should be noted that there’s an “optional” beer stop at Magnolia Pub & Brewery for those who wish to rehydrate. Post run prizes will be doled out and a raffle will benefit the Contra Costa Food Bank and Ales for Autism in memory of the great beer writer Bill Brand.

Chocolate Making Contest and Benefit with Pete Slosberg

Legendary craft brewer and chocolate maker Pete Slosberg, former owner of Pete’s Wicked Ales, will be turning 21st Amendment Brewery into a candy factory on February 13 from 6-8pm. Bring a “random ingredient” from home and the get your hands sweet and sticky in a fun-filled competition that could garner you a $100 gift certificate to the host brewpub. A special cask beer has been designed for the event and proceeds will benefit cancer research. (SOLD OUT)

East Bay Brew Fest

The Pyramid Alehouse is hosting the first edition of the East Bay Brew Fest on February 16th from 5-9pm. For an affordable price of $20, guests will receive a glass and unlimited beer tastings from Ale Industries, Bison Brewing, Black Diamond Brewing, Buffalo Bill’s Brewery, Drake’s Brewing, E.J. Phair Brewing Co., High Water Brewing, Jupiter, Linden Street Brewery, Pacific Coast Brewing, Pyramid Brewing, Triple Rock Brewery and Trumer Brauerei. All the proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Berkeley Food & Housing Project.

Ales for Autism Presents the Black & White Beer Ball

Drink beer and help raise money for autism care in Windsor at the Mary Agatha Furth Center on February 17 from 6-9pm. For $35 per person, Ales for Autism will be offering up “endless pours” of black and white beers from Third Street Aleworks, Russian River Brewing Co., Firestone Walker, Widmer Brothers, Lost Coast, Speakeasy, and Hoegarrden in a complimentary tasting glass. Food will also be available from Santa Rosa’s BBQ spot while live music from the Nate Lopez Trio fills the air.

Head Brewer for a Day Dodgeball (S)Mashdown

Stretch your arm and prepare for battle if you want to be head brewer for a day at Pyramid Alehouse in Berkeley. The showdown begins on February 18 at high noon and goes till 4:00pm. All you have to do to enter is bring some items on the Berkeley Food & Housing Project’s wish list, which can be found on the Facebook event page (click “see more”). We expect this to be a highly popular event.

How to Spend SF Beer Week in the East Bay

It’s called “SF” Beer Week, yet the schedule is packed with happenings all over the Bay Area. If you were so inclined, you could spend the entire week ten days (another misnomer) in the East Bay. For the record, this was true even before the New York Times decided Oakland was hip.

Keep an eye on sfbeerweek.org for the most complete list of options, but the groupings of events below should help you narrow down your choices a bit if you live or work in the East Bay.

Chow Down

Drake’s Sau & Brau is probably the most talked-about SFBW beer and food event on the eastside, and I’ve heard only good things. It’s back in all its porky glory on February 16 with more Chop Bar whole pigs and a ton of Barrel House beers. Tickets are $45 and only available in advance online.

Other food fun:

  • Wine Thieves in Lafayette is repeating its successful Extreme Ale & Cheese event on February 14. (Click to read about last year’s).
  • Master Cicerone Nicole Erny is reprising last year’s Beer & Cheese of the British Isles event at the Commonwealth, with two sessions this year to accommodate more lactose lovers.
  • The Chocolate & Beer Festival is back at the Craneway Pavillion in Richmond on February 11. It’s family-friendly: kids under 9 are free and chocolate-only tickets are available.
  • Get some food in you before a long day on February 12 with the Beer Chef Brunch at Barclay’s in Oakland. Chef Bruce Paton has been throwing beer dinners since before some of you could read, so trust him.
  • Vegan-owned Beer Revolution will have non-animal-based food on certain nights, like a chocolate pairing with Stone and a sorbet pairing with Speakeasy on February 14.

Show Your East Bay Pride

You’ve got two beer week opportunities to let your local flag fly: the East Bay Brewfest at Pyramid and East vs. West night at Barclay’s. The Pyramid fest is a celebration of all breweries on this side of the Bay Bridge, with unlimited tastings for $20 per person or $35 per pair. Barclays will offer a la carte side-by-side comparisons of SF and East Bay beers.

Meet the Brewer

I’m biased (I work there), but Beer Revolution really outdid itself with brewery nights this year. Every day of beer week means meet-the-brewer events, sometimes with three or even five breweries in one night. Big names include Matt Brynildson from Firestone Walker, Fal Allen from Anderson Valley Brewing Company, and Terrence Sullivan from Sierra Nevada, but don’t overlook the fine beers and good folks of local breweries like Black Diamond, Firehouse, Marin, and Dying Vines. Some nights are still in the works, so check Beer Revolution’s events listings for the most up to date info.

More meet and greets:

  • Bobby G’s in Berkeley is another great spot to schmooze. Check their schedule for nights with Iron Springs, Ale Industries, and Auburn Alehouse.
  • On February 11, The Trappist welcomes Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø from Evil Twin Brewing, Brian Stillwater from Stillwater Artisinal Ales, and the owner/founder of 12% Imports – and they’re all collaborating on a special beer for the event. On February 17, the Trappist will host Firestone Walker’s Matt Brynildson and serve food made with his beer.
  • Get your whole family some pizza and chat with Morgan Cox from Ale Industries at Mountain Mike’s in Lafayette on February 13.

Focus, People, Focus

It’s fun to hone in on one particular style for the day. Saturday, February 11 brings us the 11th annual Double IPA Festival at The Bistro. There’s a blind judging before the fest with winners announced midway through, plus a people’s choice vote. You’ll never get to sample all of the 75+ beers on tap, but it’ll be fun to try. (Take BART!)

Other places to go deep:

  • The ever-popular Sour Sunday at Triple Rock and Jupiter is a very worthwhile event for fans of the funk.
  • On the 14th, Jupiter is having an Anti-Valentine’s Cask Beer & Blues Night with live blues and casks from Jupiter (duh), Drake’s, Triple Rock, Dying Vines, Magnolia, and Moonlight Brewing.
  • On Monday February 13, The Trappist is having a Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge blending seminar, where you’ll taste a young beer, an aged beer, and different ratio mixes of the two.
  • On February 17, enjoy a blind IPA tasting at Barclay’s and see if the most hyped-up brands actually are all that. The same night, Bobby G’s is focusing on strong IPAs, including tapping a keg of Pliny the Younger at 5pm (which I expect to be gone by 5:45, but plenty of other tasty beers will remain.)

Learn Something

If you’ve ever found yourself wishing you were better at picking out unwanted flavors in your homebrew or describing the great beer you just drank, Beer Judging 101 at Pyramid on February 19 may be for you. Get an introduction to evaluating and describing beer from Grand Master beer judge David Teckham and Master beer judge Brian Cooper. Both these folks guest-lectured at a BJCP class I took last year and have forgotten more about beer than most of us will ever know.

More geek-out opportunities:

  • Another local beer expert, Nicole Erny, will put you to the test with a blind tasting session at the Trappist on February 13. You’ll learn to describe beers and identify styles, and eventually you’ll find out what the mystery beers were.
  • On February 15, Bobby G’s popular Wednesday night trivia game is all beer trivia, with questions written by the Anderson Valley Brewing Company crew.

Burn Some Beer Calories

If you have a bicycle and $25, you can visit five breweries on February 12 at the Tour de Biere. The day includes tours of Trumer, Linden Street, and Pyramid, plus discounts at Triple Rock and Elevation 66.

More vaguely healthy activities:

  • Pyramid is throwing a “Head Brewer for a Day Dodgeball (S)mashdown” in Berkeley. Those who donate wish-list items to the Berkeley Food & Housing Project can participate in a dodgeball game, and two winners and their guests will get to shadow head brewer Simon Pesch on a future brew day. (Details.)
  • Uh…does walking from BART to the bar count as exercise?

Try a Brand-New Beer

Be on the lookout for beer premiers during SFBW. For instance, Ale Industries is turning the release of its sour cherry imperial stout into an all-day shindig at the brewery with food, music, and other limited-release beers.

More new kids on the block:

  • Triple Rock always releases its imperial stout Keyser Soze during beer week, and older versions are usually available for side-by-side tastings.
  • Black Diamond chose beer week to release its first barleywine in years. It was brewed during SFBW 2011 with eight local homebrewers, is 15% rye, and portions were partially aged in rye and brandy barrels then blended back in.

The Grand Finale

If you have any stamina left on Sunday, the Celebrator anniversary fest at Trumer’s Berkeley brewery includes all the samples you can handle, a BBQ dinner buffet, music, a free shuttle from BART, and a cheerful “we survived the week” vibe. San Francisco may start SF Beer Week, but Berkeley finishes it.

Calendar of Events

February is a blur. It may be the shortest month of the year, but it’s going to require every bit of stamina to survive. A few great events get things started, but SF Beer Week, a monolithic celebration of craft beer that infiltrates every sector of the Bay Area, dominates the month. The number of beer tastings, dinners, meet the brewer nights, festivals and other wide-ranging activities is dizzying. We hope you’ve been training and saving up a few dollars, because temptation lurks around every beer filled corner. After February 19th, the whole region is going to take a big deep breathe, a few aspirin and a nap. We haven’t found any scheduled events afterwards.

February 3, Friday

Pliny the Younger Release
11:00am, Russian River Brewing Company, 725 4th St, Santa Rosa. (map)

February 4, Saturday

Hopocalypse Day at Drake’s Barrel House
10:00 am – 8:00 pm, Drake’s Brewing Barrel House, 1933 Davis Street, San Leandro. (map)

“-Hopocalypse DIPA release on draft, 22oz bomber and on Cask.
– The new Hopocalypse Black Label Triple IPA release on draft and in 22oz bomber ONLY to be had at the DBH.
– Live Music from 2 local bands
– Food from Firetrail Pizza and Bourbon Bros BBQ
– Brewery Tours All Day
– Over 22 taps flowing inc. the Hopocalypse.
– Hopocalypse Swag available to take home.
– Beer!”

Beer Revolution 2nd Anniversary Party
12:00pm, Beer Revolution, 464 3rd Street, Oakland. (map)

“Comrades! Join us as we herald the dawn of our Two Year Anniversary! To celebrate our birthday we’ll be pouring a plethora of great beers, including special anniversary ales brewed for us by our friends and fellow revolutionaries at Marin, Iron Springs, Speakeasy, Ale Industries, Drakes, HighWater & Firehouse, and more! The Glorious Revolution marches on! Thank you everyone!”

 

Hundreds of events take place during SF Beer Week and new festivities keep popping up every day. We have quite a few listed on our main calendar, but there are far too many to list here. Therefore, we selected a few you should consider below. They’re worth your time, money and energy.

February 10, Friday

SF Beer Week Opening Celebration
6:00 pm – 10:00 pm, Concourse Exhibition Center, 635 8th Street, San Francisco. (map)

“Join the San Francisco Brewers Guild in kicking off SF Beer Week with a festival to celebrate the Bay Area’s incredible beer! Over 50 breweries pouring their rarest, most interesting beers alongside the classics that brought them brewing fame. Beer, commemorative tasting glass, live music, & local food.”

February 11, Saturday

12th Annual Double IPA Festival
11:00 am – 7:00 pm, The Bistro, 1001 B Street, Hayward. (map)

“Internationally acclaimed Double IPA Fest. The original kickoff of SFBEERWEEK, street fest with over 75 beers on tap. A new yet to be recognized beer style will also be judged this year ( Triple IPA ) aka Pliny the Younger , Dogfish 120 minute to name a few. Brewers will be stepping up for this challenge. Live music, cheese tastings, BBQ and more.”

Cask and Quesos – Triple Fermented
6:00 – 9:00pmThirstyBear Brewing Company, 661 Howard St., San Francisco. (map)

“Fermentation lovers unite! Beer, cheese & bread on one table! Unlimited tastings of cask conditioned ales paired with local and Spanish artisan cheeses and local artisan breads. All 8 San Francisco Brewers Guild breweries will provide the cask ales along with several special guest cask ales. $35 for unlimited tastings and ThirstyBear logo glass.”

February 12, Sunday

3rd Annual SF Beer Week Beer Run
11:00am, Social Kitchen & Brewery, 1326 9th Ave., San Francisco. (map)

“Please join us for this unique celebration of beer and running. The course starts and ends at Social Kitchen & Brewery and runs through picturesque Golden Gate Park with an optional beer stop at Magnolia Pub and Brewery. All entrants get a dollar off their post-run beers at Social Kitchen and can win prizes in the post-run charity raffle.”

Sour Sunday
11:30am, Triple Rock Brewery & Alehouse, 1920 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley. (map)

“Sour Sunday at Triple Rock Alehouse and Brewery and Jupiter. Sunday, 12th starting at 11:30 Triple Rock and Jupiter will open there doors for you to discover the most impressive array of sour beers you may ever get the chance to try. $20 for the tasting glass and 4 pours. Additional 5 oz. pours are $5 each.”

February 13, Monday

Trappist Beer Dinner
6:00pm – 10:30pm, Monk’s Kettle, 3141 16th Street, San Francisco. (map)

“The Monk’s Kettle will host its second annual Trappist beer dinner. This will be a seven course dinner, featuring a few vintage items from our cellar like 2010 Trappist Rochefort 8, 2010 Achel Blond, and Isid’Or from 2009. The dinner will be $195/seat (not including tax and gratuity). Doors open at 6, first course at 6:30.”

February 14, Tuesday

Oyster Extravaganza, Valentine Edition
11:00am, Magnolia GastroPub & Brewery,1398 Haight Street, San Francisco. (map)

“Oysters and beer are one of the world’s greatest pairings. So are oysters and Valentines Day. Celebrate both at Magnolia, where we’ll start shucking hundreds of oysters starting at 11 – multiple varieties to choose from – raw and cooked, all to be consumed with beer (including at least a couple of oyster stouts). Ends when the oysters run out!”

Film Screening: The Love of Beer
7:00pm – 9:00pm, 18 Reasons, 3674 18th Street, San Francisco. (map)

“Forget dinner and a movie- try beer and a movie! Don’t worry, we will be serving up some delicious local chocolate to sweeten the deal. And, in honor of Beer Week, the first beer is on us. We are screening The Love of Beer and will have the filmmaker, Alison Grayson with us to talk about her film and the challenges women face in the beer industry.”

Strong Beer School
7:00pm – 9:00pm, 21st Amendment Brewery, 563 2nd Street, San Francisco. (map)

“Our regular Beer School event goes big for Strong Beer Month! We will feature approximately 7 strong beers paired beautifully with 5 or 6 special mouth-watering dishes from our Master Chef. The event includes a unique one-off cask beer as well. This event will sell out early!”

February 15, Wednesday

Drake’s Sau & Brau
6:00pm – 9:00pm, Drake’s Barrel House, 1933 Davis Street, San Leandro. (map)

“Our Second Annual Sau and Brau is an urban pig roast to beat all. We will be flame roasting a couple whole pigs with the help of Chop Bar and serving up to 24 Drake’s beers on tap at the Drake’s Barrel House. Hot meat and cold beer, who could ask for more? Tickets are $45. Advance Sales only at http://saubrau.eventbrite.com”

February 16, Thursday

East Bay Brew Fest
5:30pm – 9:00pm, Pyramid Alehouse Berkeley, 901 Gilman St., Berkeley. (map)

“Celebrate San Francisco Beer Week East Bay-style by sipping unlimited samples from the best breweries on the east side of the bridge. Tickets are $20 or $35 for two and benefit the Berkeley Food & Housing Project. Visit: www.eastbaybrewfest.eventbrite.com”

February 17, Friday

Kaleidoscope of Craft Beer Micro-Gala
5:00 – 10:00pm, Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company, 111 Industrial Road #7, Belmont. (map)

“Join us for live music, a traditional Porchetta rotisserie & additional bites from King of Mushrooms. Pouring & showcasing their locally made craft beers will be the Brewers & Owners of Triple Voodoo, Pacific Brew Labs, High Water Brewing, Golden Mongoose, Phat Matt’s, Two Monkeys, MyBucha, ouRAGEous & Devil’s Canyon. Details at DevilsCanyon.com”

February 18, Saturday

19th Annual Barleywine Festival
Toronado, 547 Haight, San Francisco. (map)

Head Brewer for a Day Dodgeball (S)Mashdown
12:00pm, Pyramid Alehouse Berkeley, 901 Gilman St., Berkeley. (map)

Compete in an epic World Dodgeball Society last-person-standing dodgeball game for a chance to suit up in your own brewer’s uniform and add hops, boil and taste alongside Pyramid’s head brewer Simon Pesch.

Donate items from the Berkeley Food & Housing Project’s wishlist to enter the game. For more information, visit http://www.facebo Sunday ok.com/#!/events/212310935528293/

February 19, 2012

24th Anniversary Celebrator Beer News Brew-Fest Sponsored by Trumer Brauerei
4:00pm – 8:00pm, Trumer Brauerei Berkeley, 1404 4th St, Berkeley. (map)

“Join Trumer Brauerei & the CCBA in celebrating the 24th Anniversary of Celebrator Beer News magazine! Enjoy beers from 26 breweries & BBQ (included with ticket) in the warehouse of your favorite Bay Area pilsner. 4-8pm w/shuttles from North Berkeley BART. Tickets: $50 in advance & $70 cash-only at the door (if not sold out). Tix at Celebrator.com “