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)

Brewer Rodger Davis Leaving Triple Rock to Start Faction Brewing

Rodger with his wife Claudia, who provided the photo

Leaving any job for another opportunity is stressful. Leaving a job to start your own business can be downright scary. The latter is what brewer Rodger Davis has decided to do. He’ll be leaving Triple Rock Brewery tomorrow and taking the leap with his wife Claudia to open Faction Brewing somewhere in the East Bay. The plan started off as a dream when they got married five years ago and it’s taken that long to get the ball rolling. Opening the doors takes a huge amount of determination and cash, which they’ve managed to muster.

With investors behind them they’re currently scouting locations in the East Bay to setup shop. The city of Richmond was an early contender, but their first option in the I-580 corridor off Harbor Way didn’t pan out. According to Davis “The building was perfect. It already had drains cut into the floor, but an oil blending facility was located right across the street. The odor was strong, I was worried about how it might effect the product and it wasn’t conducive for a nice public atmosphere.” That last bit is important because the facility will not only contain a production brewery, but also a taproom for tasting and on-site sales.

As the search goes on they want to avoid close proximity to other established breweries out of respect. That attitude also extends to their business model, which Davis explained doesn’t strictly focus on the Bay Area. “We’re going to sell as much beer as we can around here, but we aren’t going to knock on doors and take other people off taps.” Right now the vision for distribution extends to Southern California, where they’ve already signed on with a couple distributors who might be able to push the product into other states quickly after opening.

That may seem like a huge jump for a brewery that doesn’t even have a roof over it’s head, but Davis plans on producing 8,000 barrels on his 20 barrel system per year. For some perspective, that’s 248,000 gallons of beer produced on a system that’s making 620 gallons per brew session.

Davis already owns the brewing equipment, but he needs to ship it all the way from New York. He explained, “A buddy of mine at Captain Lawrence Brewing made enough money in the last five years to lease a new facility and buy all new equipment. All the stuff he’s leaving behind is now ours.” Davis sealed the deal last October at the Great American Beer Festival and has one more payment to make before shipping by the end of February.

When asked what the craft beer drinker can expect from his new beer, Davis said “You can take the chef out of the kitchen, but you can’t take the kitchen out of the chef. There’s only one way I really know how to brew beer and it’s my way or the highway. At the end of the day I don’t want to make the same kind of beer. I want to use new hops and change things up, but people can expect a simple malt bill and a lot of hops.”

Right now Davis is planning on producing five different beer lineups or series. The first will include flagship styles on a seasonal rotation, such as Pale Ale, IPA, Red, Pilsner, and Stout. Then you can expect big beers in twenty-two ounce bottles. A Rye Wine, Wheat Wine, Barleywine, Double IPA, and Imperial Stout fit this category. The remaining three beer lineups will include a Belgian, Barrel Aged and Sour series. Don’t expect all of this beer right out of the gate. This is a long-range vision. Davis also mentioned that he’d be producing far more barrel-aged beer then what he could manage at Triple Rock, which didn’t have much storage space.

So what’s in the name Faction Brewing? It turns out that Faction was the name of a band he admired during his old skateboarding days. He looked it up in the dictionary while pondering company names. Although the definition is strongly associated with politics and dissension, that’s not what appealed to Davis. He found a more personal meaning and sees the new brewery fitting inside “a niche, within a niche, within a niche” of the craft brewing industry. It’s that simple.

At the moment Faction Brewing doesn’t have a website or any social media accounts to follow, so if you would like more information contact Davis or his wife Claudia at info@factionbrewing.com. He’ll have time to respond, because according to him, “Come Monday, I can just focus on Faction Brewing.”

Update (1/27/12): You can find Faction Brewing on Twitter

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.

The Berkeley Bar Guide

Photos by Jen Muehlbauer

Berkeley. For some, it conjures up visions of hippies, college kids, or suburban 4th Street shoppers. For others, it’s a place with more good beer than seems reasonable for a town of 100,000.

Bars downtown are a bit more hoppin’ due to their proximity to Cal, while the bars on San Pablo provide more elbow room and a higher median crowd age. None are food destinations per se, but if you like pizza you’ll be in good shape. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a beer costing $6, let alone more, at most of these locations.

The bars below are reachable by BART and focus on local beer, but they’re far from the only watering holes in town. You could also go Irish at the Starry Plough, have a fancy cocktail at Revival Bar+Kitchen, or choose from a giant whiskey menu at Acme. There are also plenty of non-bar salutes to good brews, like the fantastic selection at Ledger’s Liquors, the daily brewery tour at Trumer, and Oak Barrel, one of the oldest homebrew shops in the country.

To make a day of Berkeley without just going to bars all day, add some hiking in Tilden Park, a visit to the UC Botanical Garden, or browsing at Rasputin and Amoeba. Or, from our stops on San Pablo, it’s not too far to the Berkeley Marina. Beer lovers with families should note that all the bars below except The Albatross are also restaurants, so kids are allowed.

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Near Downtown Berkeley BART Station

 

Bobby G’s

bobbygs-Interior

2072 University Avenue (map), Daily 11am-11pm, (510) 665-8866

You’d think downtown Berkeley wouldn’t need two pizza-intensive restaurants with good beer on tap, and you’d be wrong. Just a few blocks from Jupiter, Bobby G’s packs a lot of local beer, Italian food, and live music into a small space. Some of the bartenders are more knowledgeable than others, but beer guy Josh knows what’s up and keeps the beer list fresh with three rotating taps in addition to the solid regular ten-beer lineup (yes, Russian River fanatics, Pliny the Elder is always on tap). Owner Bobby G is a Yankees fan, but this is also a fine place to watch Bay Area sports games. Tuesday is open mic night, Wednesday is trivia night, and Saturday features free jazz and blues acts.

Best time to go: 4-7pm for happy hour; Wednesday for trivia; before or after a meal at the Indonesian restaurant down the block.

 

Jupiter

jupiter-patio

2181 Shattuck Avenue (map), Mon-Thu 11:30am-1am; Friday 11:30am-1:30am; Saturday 12pm-1:30am; Sunday 12pm-12am, (510) THE-TAPS

The sizable back patio is probably the nicest (legal) outdoor drinking spot in Berkeley other than my yard. Expect a range of house beers, Drake’s beers (Jupiter is a member of the Triple Rock/Drake’s family), and guest taps from the likes of Moonlight Brewing and North Coast. Add pizza and jazz shows and you’ve got a crowd-pleaser.

Best time to go: A sunny day, though heat lamps and a firepit keep the party going after dark and in the colder months.

 

Triple Rock

1920 Shattuck Avenue (map), Mon-Wed 11:30am-1am; Thur-Sat 11:30am-2am; Sunday 11:30am-12am, (510) 843-2739

Triple Rock is one of the first brewpubs in the country, going strong since 1986 (History wonks, make sure to get an eyeful of the breweriana on the walls and you can learn more about it here). Today it’s almost like three different places: the often crowded but always cordial bar area, the all-ages sit-down area, and, when open, the roof deck. All sections offer pub grub, Triple Rock’s excellent beers, and servers who actually know a thing or two about what what’s on tap. There should be a libation for everyone here, but arguably hoppy beers are where Triple Rock really shines. Try the IPAX, the seasonal imperial IIMAXX, and other lupulin-forward limited-release beers like the Single Hop Experience series. If you only make one beer stop in Berkeley, this should be it.

Best time to go: between lunch and dinner; during big sports games if you’re into that kind of thing. Thursday night, when patrons snap up servings of Monkeyhead strong golden ale by the liter bottle, is loved by some and loathed by others.


Near North Berkeley BART Station/San Pablo Buses

 

The Albatross

Albatross-Dart-Board

1822 San Pablo Avenue (map), Sun-Tue 6pm-2am; Wed-Sat 4:30pm-2am, (510) 843-2473

The oldest bar in Berkeley (founded 1964) is widely known for its borrowable board games, challenging pub quiz, pool tables, and dart boards. It’s also got a solid beer selection that, in most cities, would be the best beer list for miles around. It’s cash only, but more than makes up for it by allowing outside food — I recommend Pakistani fare from Kabana or a sandwich from The Cheese Steak Shop — and dishing up fresh, cheap popcorn. It’s more a pub than a bar, if we’re making such distinctions, and with only one TV set, it’s a cozy place to escape from the big game if you’re not into sports. There’s local art on the walls, dogs allowed inside until 8pm, old timey bluegrass every other Wednesday, and other live music twice a month or so.

Best times to go: Sunday nights to lose at trivia; late afternoon/early evening for good conversation with the bartender and old-timers.

 

Lanesplitter Pizza & Pub

lanesplitter-interior

2033 San Pablo (map), Daily 11am-11pm, (510) 845-1652

Beer and ‘za, take three. Well, it is still a college town. The little patio out back is smaller than Jupiter but still allows for drinking beer in the sunshine. The inside has local art, action figures of past bartenders, and a solid taplist of about a dozen regular and rotating taps from Iron Springs, Bear Republic, and other local favorites. As a bonus, there’s always one beer on cask, and during happy hour, the house pale (brewed by Drake’s) is the best deal in town at $2.75 per pint. If any of the babies in my social circle lived in the Berkeley, there’s no question they’d own Lanesplitter onesies by now.

Best times to go: weekday happy hour (3-6pm), weekend happy hour (11am-6pm), Monday (happy hour open to close). What can I say? This is a happy place.

 

Pyramid Alehouse

pyramid-interior

901 Gilman Street (map), Sun-Thu 11:30am-10pm; Fri-Sat 11:30am-11pm, (510) 528-9880

If your glass is half empty, most of these beers are middle-of-the-road Craft Beer 101 for new/unadventurous beer drinkers. If your glass is half full, these are solid, balanced session beers. Either way, here are some things about the Berkeley location that you might not know.
1) The brewery tour is free, and your group will probably be the only ones on it so you can ask as many geeky questions as you want.
2) Some of those limited-release/seasonal beers, like Uproar red from the Ignition series or MacTarnahan’s Lipstinger, may surprise you.
3) $8 growler refills after your first $13 fill. Bargain! And let’s say more breweries than you think will fill a Pyramid growler once they put their own logo on top.

Best times to go: weekdays at 4pm for the brewery tour; whenever you need a cheap growler fill; before a night at alcohol-free punk rock venue 924 Gilman.