A Juicy Session: Announcing #126

Announcing The Session #126

Hazy, Cloudy, Juicy: IPA’s strange twist

Ready for the next installment of The Sessions, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday?  On August 4th, 2017, the topic will be a still-emerging – though no longer new – unofficial beer style. This kind of beer has gotten so much buzz (and some mocking) in the last decade and a half that it’s surprising it has not come up on The Session yet.  New England, Vermont-inspired, Northeastern, Hazy, Juicy or whatever you like to call these low-bitterness, hop flavorful beers, they are being made everywhere now and people are definitely buying them. 

So fire up your keyboard – let’s hear about your own encounters with these strange IPAs.

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Any approach is welcome. Choose an idea or find your own:  

  • The encounter:  Do you remember your first NEIPA – if so, what was that like?  Details, please.  And how has your perception of the style changed over time? 
  • Or the name game: What style name do you prefer to describe the trend … why choose that one, and why are the other names unworthy or short-sighted? Does “IPA” still apply in a way that’s helpful to drinkers?
  • Or the crusade:  Testify!  Exactly why do you love or hate these beers?  How you could explain your stance to somebody who disagrees with you.  Could you/ how would you convert them to your point of view?
  • Or setting standards and defining flaws: What makes a classic example of the style?   What makes an IPA simply an unfiltered dry-hopped American IPA without much clarity instead of part of this style?  What about the sweeter “milkshake” IPAs – part of this style definition or something else?   What flaws make for weak examples of the style? Or maybe, where should the numbers be for this style – abv, ibu, color and clarity, etc.? What tasting instructions would you give to judges of these beers?
  • Or take another angle, tell another tale!  Have you been writing about these beers for several years now and watched them evolve?  Know something cool about the making of these beers, the people behind them, their spread to the UK and Europe?

Choose any angle and make it yours – they’re just ideas to get us thinking, not a questionnaire.  And if you have zero interest in such a beer, just say why in the fullest detail. Have fun with it!    

A few resources

The Brewers Association and the related Homebrewers Association both started out skeptical. This discussion (including comments) shows a step towards recognition: https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/news/new-england-ipa-haze-craze/  Check out the April Fools style announcement complete with gravy boat snark from 2016: https://www.craftbeer.com/craft-beer-muses/ne-ipa-recognized-official-beer-style

How to Participate in August’s The Session

On August 4, after you post to your blog, come on back here to add the URL pointing to your brand new post. Put it in your comment below on this page, or to get a little more buzz going, tweet your link with the hashtag #thesession or alert us directly @beerbybart on Twitter.  

I then follow up soon thereafter with a full round-up of all of the submissions with links back to your work and we all soak in the breadth of opinion and information of the beer blogging community.  Cheers to August’s Beer Blogging Friday, aka The Session!

Enjoy!

-Gail Ann Williams

Explore Beer By BART: Use our list of some of the San Francisco Bay Area’s best beer places with detailed transit info, so you can get out there to enjoy without driving.

Celebrator Beer News covers SF doings

The Travel Issue of the Celebrator Beer News, (August and September 2015), is now available free at many brewpubs, breweries and home-brew shops.  Look for our stories and photos. On page 5, Steve tells of his trip to Victoria Beer Week, on page 3 find a Thirsty Bear photo, and on page 12, enjoy our regular San Francisco column, featuring the opening of Local Brewing Company and the expansion of Speakeasy.

Plus, you’ll find intriguing articles by our colleagues about interesting beer destinations around the world. The Celebrator can also be read online at http://www.fricke-parks.com/CBN_Aug_sept_15/

Some of our favorite photos that didn’t run this time:

photo Co-founder Regan Long and head brewer Patrick Murphy at Local Brewing Co.
Co-founder Regan Long and head brewer Patrick Murphy at Local Brewing Co., San Francisco, just before opening in early Summer.
Shaun O Sullivan shows off his wandering barrel, filled and then left to age at the new 21A Facilities in San Leandro during the entire construction.  A liquid time capsule
Shaun O Sullivan shows off his wandering barrel, filled and then left to age at the new 21A San Leandro during the entire construction.
San Leandro brewers
A San Leandro collaboration brew is plotted by Drakes, 21A, and Cleophus-Quealy

Kushel Hall
Brewmaster Bushel shows off the new controls in his upgraded brewhouse
Speakeasy
Expansion at Speakeasy — these barrels are getting evicted — Brian Stechschulte, Forest Gray, and Kushel Hall.

Two New San Francisco Breweries-Opposites In Many Ways

The brick and mortar brewing scene in San Francisco is starting to gather steam (actually, brewing in SF started with Steam, but you already knew that). Below is the story we wrote for the current issue of the Celebrator Beer News about the new Magnolia brewery and restaurant and Fort Point Brewing. What they have in common is that they make good beer.

 

Celebrator Beer News, Oct-Nov 2014, page 12

 

Explore Beer By BART; use our list of some of the San Francisco Bay Area’s best beer places with detailed transit info, so you can get out there to enjoy without driving.

Dave McLean opens Magnolia Smokestack in the Dogpatch neighborhood

Several years ago, Dave McLean, founder of Magnolia Gastropub in the heart of the Haight Ashbury District, began to look for a place to brew more beer. The tiny brewery in the low ceiling basement under his pub was no longer meeting all the demand for Magnolia’s variety of English-inspired pints.

The next place would be a larger brewery and a serious sit-down BBQ joint in the Dogpatch neighborhood, that old industrial section of the city between China and India Basins, on the Bay side of Potrero Hill. The process of finding a group of investors to go in on building a modern brewery, then actually getting the place, designing both a production brewery and an eatery, and finally getting design and licensing approvals after many rounds of federal, state and local inspections, took nearly five years.

Since beer was urgently needed, the brewery was finished first, and Magnolia finally began brewing bigger batches in Dogpatch a few months ago. Finally, the restaurant construction site is no more. Smokestack has landed at 2505 Third Street at 22nd Street.

Cocktails and BBQ take their place beside the craft brews at Smokestack
Cocktails and BBQ take their place beside the craft brews at Smokestack

You’ll be delighted by the retro charm of the space. Library ladders for the spirits on the shelves behind the bar glide across. A tuba showing its aged curves peeks through an interior window above. Fresh Magnolia beer — with plenty of choices on tap and on cask — shares the stage with inventive cocktails and the eclectic menu of select BBQ meats and sides from a variety of culinary traditions. Long common tables fill an area in front of a kitchen area that looks like an antique deli or butcher counter.

We’re not even sure how to list this place yet. Magnolia Dogpatch? Magnolia’s Smokestack? What will we all be calling it?

Long common tables and a retro kitchen behind
Long common tables and a retro kitchen behind

The neighborhood now has two breweries within one long block of Third Street, at 20th and at 22nd Streets. (There is no 21st Street at Third, just to make the street naming in this section even more unpredictable.) It’s easy to drop in at Triple Voodoo, while out for a spin on the T streetcar line. Speakeasy is just south a few stops further south on MUNI, off of Evans Avenue in the Bayview District. Beer-hopping is now clearly possible on the east side, on the old industrial Smokestack side of SF. Check it out.
Dave McLean (center) at Smokestack
Dave McLean (center) at Smokestack

Explore Beer By BART; use our list of some of the San Francisco Bay Area’s best beer places with detailed transit info, so you can get out there to enjoy without driving.

Embedded in Beer Week: our collaboration brew due

This evening we’ll get to try the finished beer Steve and I made with Cerveceria de Mateveza, the tiny commercial brewery with the long brewery name.

We’re calling the beer Carob Calloway, an inspired suggestion by one of the talented beertender-brewers at Cerveceria. That’s right. Carob. You may think that will translate to chocolate, but in this case I think other flavors will be as interesting.

The beer was inspired by my home brewing experiment with a lovely ingredient I discovered in the first days of my home brewing hobby, when I imagined that I’d have plenty of time to try making every possible style. I would go into ethnic groceries, walk around, and ask myself, “will it ferment?” Meanwhile, I quickly got interested in making sour beers, and I just let all the other styles be. So I had shelf full of unused jars that I felt belonged in a dark beer. I made a dark mild and split it into five one-gallon batches. Among the additions I checked out was Carob Molasses from Lebanon. Yep, Lebanon. Curiously enough, there is a similar product from Chile that is used in some South American cooking, but this was the one I found, and it’s wonderful in a beer.

To me it seems more figgy and dark-fruit than chocolate. Yum! Several brands are available — I chose the one that smelled best and had less iron, perhaps from the water used in preparing it.

We learned that this “molasses” is more like pomegranate molasses than it is like the classic byproduct of sugar refinement. It’s called “dibs” in Arabic, and is often mixed with tahini to make something slightly akin to a peanut butter and jelly spread. But more exotic, and slightly earthy in its sweetness.

I also read that it may be that such syrups reduced from carob pods or dates in water were called “honey” in early translations from bible texts. See if visions of the “land of milk and honey” comes to mind when you sip this special release beer from our friends, the brewing adventurers at Cerveceria de Mateveza.

It’s a big beer, a tasty brown ale designed to showcase this special ingredient. Stop by tonight for a sample of this beer and a slate of other adventurous and delicious 20-gallon batch brews. We’ll be there from 5 to 7, and the festivities will continue until at least 9, so put this onto the early side of your SF Beer Week Thursday rounds.

The nano brewpub is right on the J Church line at the corner of Dolores Park, an easy walk from BART at 16th and Mission, and can easily be combined with visits to destinations on the Haight Street corridor, too.

Meanwhile, SF Beer Week continues with many great memorable events ahead. How lucky we are to be here! -Gail

We make a Carob Molasses ale with Cerveceria de Mateveza

Here’s the video of our brew day adventure for SF Beer Week:

Please join us on Thursday for the SF Beer Week premier of Carob Calloway, an ale brewed with the luscious dark fruity flavors of Lebanese Carob Molasses. We’ll be there from five to seven, and the cosy Mission District pub will be open until nine for delicious empañadas, our beer, and other treats.
An easy walk from 16th Street Station!
– Gail and Steve

Cellarmaker Brewery brings a new blast of flavor to SF

The latest San Francisco brewery and tasting room is up and brewing — and now softly open for business a few blocks from Civic Center BART Station.

before it was a brewery
Connor Casey eyes the future site

Cellarmaker Brewery, which promises to someday offer barrel-aged bottled beers worthy of laying down in your cellar, has got four beers available right now: A fresh wet hop Mosaic pale ale, a chocolatey porter, a refreshing lightly kettle-soured Petit Sour, and a tasty IPA with Nelson Sauvin, Galaxy, Simcoe and Columbus hops. We previewed most of the beers before they were carbonated and thoroughly enjoyed each one of them.

Cellarmaker’s Grand Opening will be Saturday, October 12, from noon on. An additional beer, Peach Nightmare, will debut, along with cask preparations including Batch #1 Porter on Kenyan Kaiguri coffee beans from a nearby roastery, and the Sour, sitting on fresh raspberries.

It’s been fun seeing this place evolve, and taking some pictures along the way.

Conner Casey and Tim Sciascia
Conner Casey and Tim Sciascia
Unwrapping the tanks
Unwrapping the tanks
cellarmaker sign
Sign ready to go up
new tanks
Love that stainless steel fermenter

taproom build out
Taproom emerges in the garage

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We’re happy to welcome Cellarmaker to our BARTing and walking guide.

The tasting room is about a block away from City Beer Store, making this one of the most interesting two-stop mini-pub-crawls in town. Cheers to new beer, and to Connor and Tim!

Explore Beer By BART; use our list of some of the San Francisco Bay Area’s best beer places with detailed transit info, so you can get out there to enjoy without driving.

Mikkeller Bar San Francisco Opens…Again

Waiting For Noon
Waiting For Noon

After four weeks of soft openings, the much anticipated San Francisco Mikkeller Bar opened for real on Friday August 9th. A block-long queue of beer lovers began forming at 7:00am for the noon opening. When the doors finally opened, groups of thirty or so were admitted at a time so the bar and kitchen could take their orders  efficiently.

Greeting friends
Greeting Friends

By one o’clock, the line was gone and the bar had reached its capacity of 175 or so patrons.  Even at capacity, it did not feel excessively crowded. The 40 taps plus two casks were flowing with Mikkeller brews and collaborations, plus a selection of other beers from around the country and world that are rarely seen in San Francisco.  The sophisticated draft system was dispensing beer at three different temperatures depending on the particular style. Further, each line has its own control of the carbon dioxide and nitrogen mix, which can be tuned to taste.

Mikkel & Chuck
Owners Mikkel Borg Bjergsø and Chuck Stilphen

The beers were complemented by specialty smoked meats, cheese plates, snacks and house-made sausages offered up by Chef Mike O’Brien’s crew.

A prime attraction of the day was the downstairs  Tivoli sour room, which featured an extensive list of rare bottles, such as vintage geueze bottles from Cantillon and Drie Fonteinen from as far back as 1998.  A group of determined enthusiasts pooled their resources and ran through an impressive array of bottles ranging from around $20 to about four times that price. The next day another wave of tempting examples appeared for new impromptu bottle-shares.

Bottle Kill
Sour Cellar Depletion

The second day of the three day extravaganza started with a brunch and flowed into a poster-signing event, celebrating the “Spontan art” graphics of the Mikkeller graphic artist, Keith Shore.  The San Francisco pub is adorned with his artwork, along with other design elements that refer to the original Mikkeller pubs in Copenhagen.

Today is the third day of the festivities, and there is a sold-out beer dinner event until 7:00pm, when the doors will again open to the public.  As with many anticipated openings, this has served as a beer community gathering place and de-facto reunion event over the weekend.

Starting Monday, the plan is to open at noon daily.   Despite the starkly down-and-out block of Mason Street where the bar is located, the proximity to BART at Powell Street makes this an easy venue to visit.  It’s also easy to jump on BART or MUNI and make this part of a beer tour of San Francisco where you can experience places that are a little less elegant and rarified, just to mix up the set of offerings, the ambiance and the price points.  You might even want to take advantage of the location by parking near another BART station if you are driving in from afar.

More logistical details and a map:  https://beerbybart.com/why/mikkeller-bar-powell/

Explore Beer By BART; use our list of some of the San Francisco Bay Area’s best beer places with detailed transit info, so you can get out there to enjoy without driving.

Mikkeller Bar Opens in San Francisco

The long-anticipated Mikkeller Bar in San Francisco is finally opening for business…sort of.

Beginning this evening, July 12th, and continuing until their official — and very grand — opening on August 9th, the bar will be open limited hours, 5:00pm-2:00am with a less than full (albeit still impressive) beer menu and kitchen service. The highly anticipated Sour Room is still under construction, and will not open until August.

For those who are not currently lined up on the sidewalk on Mason Street, the new Mikkeller Bar results from a partnership between Chuck Stilphen (The Trappist, ØL Beercafe and Trappist Provisions in the East Bay) and Danish brewer Mikkel Borg Bjergsø (Mikkeller Beer). Bjergsø is widely known as a “gypsy brewer.” He has designed and marketed hundreds of beers, all of which were made for him at breweries around the world that are owned by others. He operates two bars back home in Copenhagen.

Mikkeller Bar SF - gray bldg
Last night’s soft preview

At 34 Mason, half a block north of Market Street near Powell BART station, (yes, it’s now listed on Beer By BART!) the brand new bar stands out as the newest and sleekest facade on a gritty block.  An elegant angular hop logo etched into the glass door and a window into the working kitchen leave no doubt that you have found the place.   The ground floor bar and casual restaurant features a sleek three-sided blonde wooden bar, seating approximately 30. Tables are arrayed throughout, seating another 75-80 beer seekers.

The 1907 building has rough interior brick walls, sleek wood and old-style light fixtures, giving it a warm feeling. The bottom floor will serve as a special events room and as the “sour” room.  The goal is to provide the best sour beers from around the world, starting in August. Mikkeller Bar will feature 40 drafts and 2 casks poured from a system dubbed the “Flux Capacitor” that allows beers to be served at three different temperatures, depending on their style. The tap system is designed to allow the carbon dioxide/nitrogen ratio of each tap to be individually adjusted assuring each beer pours perfectly.

Chuck and Mikkel plot the Mikkeller bar, last November
Chuck and Mikkel plot the Mikkeller bar, last November

The restaurant will specialize in smoked meats, sausages, charcuterie platters, and small plates such as Korean-style wings. Chef Michael O’Brian will preside over the kitchen. Most recently he led the food program at one of Washington, DC’s most respected beer bars, ChurchKey.

Most of the taps are already live, though the casks were not yet flowing last night when we got a super soft sneak preview. Expect to find a lot of Mikkeller beers, including four regulars featured at his Copenhagen Pubs —  a brown, a Pilsner, a wit and a sour beer — all re-named for the Tenderloin, the famous or infamous San Francisco neighborhood in which the new bar resides.

Last night the list was rich in imports, many from Belgium, and of course Mikkeller’s own, from all over. Others were sourced from all around the U.S., with a couple from Bay Area breweries rounding out the list.

Yes, you can go there right now.   Or you can wait for the grand opening weekend.

  • August 9, Grand Opening at 12 noon.  Expect awesome beers.
  • August 10, Beer Brunch at 11am, Spontan Art Show in the Tivoli Sour Room
  • August 11, Seven course beer dinner with Danish guest Chef Jakob Mielcke 

It appears that reservations will be taken on the bar’s web page, soon.  Keep an eye on http://www.mikkellerbar.com/events.html

Explore Beer By BART; use our list of some of the San Francisco Bay Area’s best beer places with detailed transit info, so you can get out there to enjoy without driving.

City Beer Store’s “magnificent” birthday IPA and other mid-May delights

The little shop that changed beer tasting and bottle-buying forever, City Beer Store, south of Market and not far from Civic Center BART, turns seven tomorrow, May 18th. In keeping with a tradition that founders Beth and Craig Wathen have carefully cultivated, they will release a special beer to celebrate.  This year’s craft beer field trip saw the two of them venturing to the little town of Alpine, California, out in the low desert mountains east of San Diego to create an IPA with the esteemed Alpine Beer Company.

Beginning at noon, City Beer’s Magnificent Seven, a 7.7% American IPA brewed from seven kinds of malt and infused with seven different additions of hops, will join the pantheon of Beth and Craig co-created bottle treasures.  However, unlike some of the past creations that have been collected and hoarded by beer fanciers, an IPA is not made for long cellaring, so get it fresh if you can.  
city beer store
We’re still figuring out when we can swing by there to say cheers and have a glass on draft, but we may see you there.

This is yet another big weekend in San Francisco Bay Area craft beer, as we approach summer. Spring has become a time of year where nearly every week brings a run-don’t-walk craft beer event.  The sold-out Lagunitas Beer Circus, on Sunday, May 19th, will draw a crowd of beer revelers to Petaluma, and serve as a reminder for other folks to act quickly when beer event announcements come around.

Next weekend, on Saturday, May 25th, the 1st Annual NorCal Session Fest will be hosted at Drake’s in San Leandro.  The new festival will bring together dozens of great examples of California craft Session Beers — tasty brews under 5% ABV by definition of this festival, with many promised to be under 4.5%ABV. The festival will benefit the East Bay Bike Coalition, but if you don’t want to bike, you can use the BART and free shuttle bus or BART and short cab ride tactic, or even get a little walk in.  It’s easy to get there, and at the time of writing this, tickets are still available.

A few days ago we visited one of our younger local breweries, Freewheel in Redwood City, and got to appreciate the smooth and subtle flavors of their session strength English inspired beers.  Like some of the real ales being poured in the UK these days, Freewheel ales are traditional in method and strength but not necessarily in hop varieties. Some of the cask-conditioned selections showed off this lovely experimental inclination. Freewheel has partnered with two interesting English craft breweries and is brewing several of their recipes in an ongoing transatlantic partnership. It appears that you could get to Freewheel by CalTrain, by walking about a mile and a half from the Atherton station to Florence and Marsh Road, but we have not scouted that on foot yet.  So many fine beer excursions, so little time!

Freewheel will be pouring at the Session Fest at Drakes on the 25th, along with an impressive line-up that includes newcomers like Berryessa and Mavericks,  pioneers such as Sierra Nevada and Anderson Valley, and dozens more, all showing off their latest session creations in their current line-ups.

Explore Beer By BART; use our list of some of the San Francisco Bay Area’s best beer places with detailed transit info, so you can get out there to enjoy without driving.