Monthly Archives: February 2009

SF Beer Week Recap: Jug Shop Canned Craft Brews

Wall of Craft Beer Cans at the Jug ShopThe second event that I attended during SF Beer Week was the “Kick Ass Canned Craft Brews” event at the Jug Shop on February 7, 2009. Although I was excited to attend the AleSmith tasting at City Beer Store earlier that day, this was the event I was looking forward to. There seems to be more and more craft breweries releasing their beer in canned form yet I had only previously tried one can of Dale’s Pale Ale from Oskar Blues about a year ago.

According to these, and other brewers, beer from a can has advantages. First, the beer cans are lined so the beer never comes in contact with metal. Next, the beer is never exposed to the harmful effects of light. The beer can is supposedly a more airtight container preventing exposure to oxygen. Finally, the cans are lighter and you can take them where you cannot take bottles such as camping and golfing.

This event was a great opportunity to try canned beer from Oskar Blues from Colorado, 21st Amendment from San Francisco, and Uncommon Brewers from Santa Cruz. I tried a little bit of everything (except Dale’s and Brew Free or Die) and the beer was excellent. For all I knew, the beer could have been poured from a can or poured from draft. The following is a list of beer that was available in cans at this event:

  • 21st Amendment
    • Watermelon Wheat
    • Brew Free or Die IPA
  • Oskar Blues
    • Dale’s Pale Ale
    • Old Chub Scottish
    • Gordon Strong Ale
    • Ten Fidy Stout
  • Uncommon Brewers
    • Siamese Twin

Cans of Uncommon Brewers' Siamese Twin AleSiamese Twin is a wonderful Belgian-style double brewed with “exotic spices to enhance beer flavors,” which, according to the brewery, is a long tradition in Belgian brewing. A good example is Belgian witbier which includes coriander and orange peel. This beer, however, is brewed with Thai spices such as kaffir lime and lemongrass in addition to coriander. Being a double it had a high alcohol content by volume at 8.5%. I thought this beer was both interesting and delicious and lives up to the name “Uncommon.” Since I had some very hoppy and malty brews before this one, I had trouble finding the Thai spices but they are definitely there. I can’t wait to get some more cans so I can enjoy it with some home made Thai food and also write up a full review.

The Watermelon Wheat beer is interesting in that it smells a little bit like a vegetable but when you taste it the flavor is distinctly and deliciously watermelon. I always prefer to be able to taste the special ingredient than have it be so subtle you’re not sure it is there. This beer is made with 400 lbs. of watermelon per batch.

Craft Beer in CansOld Chub, by Oskar Blues, is an acclaimed and award winning Scottish Ale having won a Gold Medal at the 2008 World Beer Championships. It is a deeply malty ale that is a wonderful representation of the Scottish ale style. It is roasty, sweet, hints of bittersweet chocolate, and slightly smoky from the beechwood-smoked grains. Old Chub also has a nice warming feeling from the 8% alcohol by volume. This beer definitely ranks among some of the best Scottish ales that I have tried.

Oskar Blues Gordon Beer is, according to the brewery, “a hybrid version of strong ale, somewhere between an Imperial Red and a Double IPA.” It is a great beer with an incredible citrus and fresh hop smell yet warms you up with 8.7% alcohol by volume. After the event I picked up a 4-pack of this beer so that I can review it in a later blog posting.

More Craft Beer in CansFinally, I tried my new favorite imperial stout, Ten Fidy also by Oskar Blues. What makes this beer imperial? The huge amount of flavor, malt, hops, and alcohol is what makes this an imperial beer. The alcohol content is 10% alcohol by volume but the malty sweetness both overshadows the alcohol flavor as well at the 98 IBUs of hops. The beer both smells and tastes like bittersweet chocolate cake and artisan roasted coffee. It is extraordinarily drinkable for being such a big beer. I purchased a 4-pack at the end of the event and will be doing a full review later. I also used a can of this wonderful beer to cook up a batch of beer brittle, which I will also blog about.

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SF Beer Week Recap: City Beer Store Tasting with AleSmith

SF Beer Week was a 10 day celebration of craft beer that took place from February 6-16, 2009. The events were not only held in the original craft beer city of San Francisco but also throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, from Santa Rosa to Santa Cruz and everything in between. This year, 2009, was the first year in which this celebration was held. Judging by this and the three others events that I attended, SF Beer Week seemed like a success.

I kicked off my participation in SF Beer Week by attending the City Beer Store Bottle Tasting with AleSmith Brewing Company. City Beer Store is a great beer store and bar in San Francisco where you can buy beer to take home or you can drink it right there in the store. AleSmith Brewing Company was started in 1995 by Peter Zien, a hombrewer who “always wanted to own a brewery.” According to the website, AleSmith beers have won over 400 medals and honors. It also appears that most of the AleSmith employees are also homebrewers.

City Beer StoreI arrived at City Beer store about an hour after the start of the event and discovered that they were at capacity and there was a wait to get in. We got our numbers and waited and after about 20 minutes they stopped giving out numbers altogether. Finally, after a 30 minute wait we were in. This small store was wall to wall people enjoying some great beer. In addition to all of their regular offerings at the store, for the price of the event tasting (I think it was $15) you received 5 tasting tickets and a small tasting glass.

AleSmithThe AleSmith beers that were offered on tap were: AleSmtih X, Wee Heavy, YuleSmith, and I believe Speedway Stout but the stout was all gone by the time we got into the event. I sampled each one, except for the stout, of course.

The AleSmith X is what they call an Extra Pale Ale and it had a very nice citrus hop bouquet.

I had two samples of the Wee Heavy, a Scotch ale that was very malty, sweet, complex, wonderful, and warm with 10% alcohol by volume. It is a great beer and I felt that two samples added up to enough beer to review it so keep an eye out for a review of this beer coming soon.

Finally, I had two samples of YuleSmith and this time I had it in a larger glass. YuleSmith is AleSmith’s holiday beer of which they have two versions, one for winter and one for summer. I had the winter version and it had great hop and malt  characterists and also had a nice warming sensation with 9.5% alcohol by volume. I wrote a more extensive review of this beer as well, which I will post soon.

After sampling these great beers I was feeling a little claustrophobic and ready to move on to the next SF Beer Week event at the Jug Shop where I would sample great beers from a can.

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Flying Dog Woody Creek White Review

For Super Bowl I was looking for a refreshing beer to accompany BBQ and a beer that friends would enjoy. I noticed that Flying Dog Woody Creek White was still on the shelves at a local market so I picked up a six pack.

I was first introduced to Flying Dog Brewery, a Colorado headquartered (and now with the brewery facilities in Maryland), in the late 90s when a college roommate introduced me to Flying Dog’s Old Scratch Amber Lager. I’ve thought very highly of all of their beers that I’ve tried since, including Woody Creek White.

Woody Creek White is a Belgian Wit style beer, also called witbier or bière blanche, which is a hazy wheat ale brewed with coriander and bitter orange peel. Flying Dog releases this refreshing beer as a summer seasonal but, although it is great during warm weather, I found that this beer is just as good in the middle of winter, while eating ribs and watching a football game.

Where I Found It. I picked up a 12oz bottle 6-pack at a Draeger’s Market in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Serving Type. When I sampled this brew, I poured it from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance. Woody Creek White has a cloudy yellow-orange color that looks like lemonade with a splash of orange juice. Another possible description of the appearance is like that of a light colored honey. The head is white and doesn’t last very long.

Smell. The bouquet has citrus, lemon, with a hint of orange and spice. The aroma has a hint of sweet unroasted grains. The smell is not bread-like.

Taste. The taste is crisp with light citrus, like lemon with a hint of coriander. It is sweet and refreshing with very little bitterness. There is just a hint of banana and coves, which is found in many Belgium beers and hefeweizens.

Mouthfeel. Woody Creek White is light bodied, crisp, and has no bitter aftertaste. With an original gravity of 1.047 and an alcohol content of 4.8%, then the final gravity is around 1.0125, which is indeed a light bodied beer.

Drinkability. This is a smooth witbier and it is easy to drink more than one of these in a single session. I’ll pick up another six-pack this summer.

Rating. My ratings below are on a five point scale with five being the best score.

  • Appearance (20%): 4.0
  • Smell (20%): 4.0
  • Taste (40%): 4.5
  • Mouthfeel (10%): 4.0
  • Drinkability (10%): 4.5
  • Overall: 4.25

Caption from the Bottle

Each bottle of Woody Creek White includes the following caption:

Flying Dog Brewery founder George Stranahan is widely considered to be the unofficial mayor of Woody Creek, Colorado. George and his collection of social misfits known as “Woody Creatures” are the reason this mountain community has morphed into Gonzo Ground Zero. This unfiltered and traditionally spiced Wit Beer pays tribute to this hotbed of progressive thought.


  • Brewery: Flying Dog Brewery
  • Style: Belgian wit
  • Alcohol by volume: 4.8%
  • Original gravity: 1.047 (11.7 Plato)
  • Bitterness: 17 IBU
  • Hops: German Hallertau
  • Malts: Belgian Pilsner, wheat, oats, unmalted wheat, flaked wheat, flaked oats
  • Adjuncts: coriander and bitter orange peel
  • Beer Advocate rating: 3.77 (as of Feb. 14, 2009)
  • More information at Flying Dog

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Devil’s Canyon Lager Diabla

Devil's Canyon Lager Diabla LogoOn the same night that I tried Full Boar Scotch Ale at Devil’s Canyon during their Beer Friday event I also tried a pint of Lager Diabla. This is another award winning beer with a Gold California Golden Bear award in 2006. Devil’s Canyon describes this beer as follows:

Lager Diabla is an exceptionally easy drinking lager that is lightly bodied with a clean/crisp finish. This beer is a California Lager.

The description of “crisp” fits perfectly and at 5.4% alcohol by volume it is also an easy drinking session beer.

Where I Found It. I had Lager Diabla at the Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company headquarters in Belmont, CA on Beer Friday, which happens on the last Friday of every month.

Serving Type. When I sampled this brew, it it was served from the tap into a pint glass.

Appearance. The color of Lager Diabla beer is yellow with a tint of orange and is slightly cloudy. This gives it the effect of appearing like a yellow gemstone such as a yellow sapphire. The white colored head is a little frothy but doesn’t last.

Smell. The bouquet is a wonderfully crisp and citrusy. The aroma comes through as sweet un-roasted grains. The combination of the sweet aroma and the citrus bouquet gives it an overall tangerine like quality. Hidden in there is a slight lager yeast smell.

Taste. I came to the same conclusion as the brewer that Lager Diabla is crisp and clean. This beer has a touch of sweetness and the hop bitterness is pleasantly noticeable. Together these flavors produce a very well balanced beer.

Mouthfeel. Lager Diabla is smooth and light-bodied. Although the carbonation level is about average, it wasn’t as carbonated as I expected, which, as it turns out is a good thing making it smooth and drinkable.

Drinkability. Devil’s Canyon has produce a lager that is smooth and very easy to drink. Is was surprisingly good and refreshing on a colder night but I can’t wait to try it when it is much hotter outside. It should be a perfect summertime beer.

Rating. My ratings below are on a five point scale with five being the best score.

  • Appearance (20%): 3.5
  • Smell (20%): 4.0
  • Taste (40%): 4.0
  • Mouthfeel (10%): 4.0
  • Drinkability (10%): 4.5
  • Overall: 3.95


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Devil’s Canyon Full Boar Scotch Ale

Devil's Canyon Full Boar Scotch Ale

Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company is located on the San Francisco Pennisula in Belmont, CA.  This brewery distributes their beer to numerous bars and restaurants in the Bay Area. On the last Friday of every month, Devil’s Canyon hosts the famous Beer Friday at their brewery located in Belmont. Beer Friday has food, live music, and $4 pints of their brew ($7 for the first pint and you keep the glass for next time). On January 30, 2009 I attended my first Beer Friday and had a few pints including Full Boar Scotch Ale.

Full Boar is a scotch ale or wee heavy style beer with a strong malty flavor and a high alcohol content. It is an award winning beer with 4 California Golden Bear Awards: Gold in 2003, Silver in 2004, Silver in 2005, and Bronze in 2006.

The description of Full Boar from the Devil’s Canyon website:

Full Boar Scotch Ale is deeply malted and caramel apparent with overtones of chocolate and a slight hint of a mild, smoky flavor.

Where I Found It. I had this beer at the Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company headquarters in Belmont, CA on Beer Friday, which happens on the last Friday of every month.

Serving Type. When I sampled this brew, it it was served from the tap into a pint glass.

Appearance. Full Boar has a deep dark amber color but when you hold it up to the light you can see that it is very clear. After the beer was poured into my glass only a small tan-colored head remained which didn’t last long. Tan colored head.

Smell. This beer has a very dark malty aroma with a nice strong roasty sensation. The sweetness of the beer comes through as an aroma of dark chocolate and molasses.

Taste. Full Boar has a warm roasted flavor and with a hint of toasted malts. It is very malty and slightly sweet and has that pronounced molasses-like flavor that you find in many very malty beers. The well balanced bitterness of this beer gives it a flavor like a dark artisan bittersweet chocolate. Full Boar has a great Scotch ale taste where the 7.4% alcohol comes through pleasantly.

Mouthfeel. A creamy sensation from the carbonation manifests nicely as a medium-bodied beer that is full of flavor. The alcohol seems to thin it out a bit making this beer seem medium-bodied instead of full-bodied. The aftertaste has a hint of hop bitterness, dark malt, and molasses.

Drinkability. This is a pleasant and easy to drink scotch ale that gives you a nice warm feeling on a chilly evening. It’s amazing that a 7.4% abv beer is so smooth and seemingly much lighter bodied.


  • Appearance (20%): 4.0
  • Smell (20%): 4.0
  • Taste (40%): 4.5
  • Mouthfeel (10%): 4.0
  • Drinkability (10%): 4.0
  • Overall: 4.2


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