Thursday, January 31, 2008

WTF - Wenches??

I'm sorry, but no. M'main man Alex done hipped me to this most egregious affront to all that is decent and pure about getting schnockered. Maybe - just maybe - after tasting 80 (!) beers in a row would I consider using the word "wenches" in a press release. But really? Seriously? Be sure not to miss the "Beautiful servers/ambassadors dressed in Specially designed sexy costumes with an around the world theme", a number of whom are depicted on the site. I can't wait to join the bros and "gauge stylistic preferences against my own personal preferences" of the exotic ales of Skankistan!

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The "lost" year, ep. 2 - the frowny face files

Following up from the other day's highlight reel of items that sat on the Pfiff! backburner last year while we attended to more pressing distractions, here's a quick hitlist of things so unfortunate they made me reach for a nice, comforting beer:

The death of Michael Jackson
This is a little bit of a cop out because I did, in fact, find the time to give a quick memorial to one of food journalism's most inimitable contributors. And there's not much to add to the eulogizing that Jackson has received: Simply an irreplaceable voice in beer (and whiskey) commentary, I was tempted to take up some of all y'alls time about how it was his humor and wit that was the reason a lot of us to decided to sit down and publish our thoughts on something as commonplace as beer, what with us all obviously having other interests or passions that we could easily voice our opinions on. But the ideas never really gelled, never became anything worth writing down, and by now there are plenty of folks who have taken the time to talk about how much of an inspiration Michael was for them.

Prices on malt and hops at an all-time high
The email from Griz opened "What hop'ned?" Flooding three years straight in Europe, farmland conversion to ethanol-producing corn in the US, 5-year hop contracts being written up by the major breweries, and replacement of flavor and aroma hops in the fields by "super alpha" varieties in the Yakima valley pretty much erased the cost benefit of homebrewing over, say, hitting the corner store for a six-pack. That and the fact that you had to scour all the online homebrew shops to find any hops that weren't five years old...

Not much to say about this, really, but the day will come when I'll get bored enough to combine Anheuser-Busch's newest "I double-dog-dare you to try it" beverage with some of this with a dash of this other monstrosity to create Cioppino beer under the project codename Cloverfield.

Arr. My beloved, ye broke.
I'll miss you, oversized Piraat tulip glass. You're irreplaceable (kinda). And yes, I recognize the irony of the situation.

When we next meet: I'll be summing up the little newsie bits that were worthy enough of getting me to copy the url into a blank new post, but failed to inspire the least bit of interesting commentary from yours truly...

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Monday, January 28, 2008

The "lost" year, ep. 1 - the highlight reel

As promised, here are some of the great things about 2007 (that I neglected to mention previously) they made me reach for a nice, celebratory beer:

The Belgians are coming! The Belgians are coming!
It was the year of the Chouffe, as three new Belgian bars - The Trappist in Oakland, La Trappe in North Beach, and The Monk's Kettle in the Mission - all introduced the masses to what has really been a tenet of beer epicurean/snob life for ages: Belgian beer is a perfect match for the Bay Area's foodie obsessives. Mussels steamed in witbier? Chimay cheese plates and frites with curry ketchup? Add these venues to the ever-expanding Frijtz franchise, and these joints'll soon be outnumbering the taquerias.

The Healthy Spirits & City Beer Store Nexus of Beerjoy
Trace circles around Healthy Spirits, the City Beer Store and Toronado on a San Francisco map, locate the point at which the circles intersect, and dig a hole at that spot, you're likely to strike a portal to Belgium, or at the very least, Valhalla. With peerless square footage dedicated to the proper storage and glorious display of some of the world's rarest malted concoctions (I write as I finish a glass of Allagash Musette), these two newcomers to the retail scene promise to be for beersnobbery what Plumpjack was to winesnobbery, which is to say, open it up to the masses for everyone to play along. Especially Healthy Spirits - located in the aptly named Eureka Valley neighborhood on the north border of the Castro, it's a true oasis behind an unassuming corner store facade. Outstanding.

Maui Brewing Company makes case for serious brewing on the islands

So what if I told you that there's a little brewery in a run-down old strip mall in the midst of the condo-mania that is the northwest coast of Maui? And that one of their specialties is a coconut porter? And that they package limited quantities of their beers in cans? And that they don't even have outdoor seating? Not interested? What if I told you that for all that is good and holy in the name of Gambrinus that you have to go? You'd think I was joking, wouldn't you. I'm not. It's actually quite phenomenal. Seriously. Some of the best brewpub beer I've ever had. Even their Belgian is extraordinary. And that coconut porter? It's amazing. And the cans? Well, read this.

DeProef does it all

This was the year we discovered the panoply of offerings from this Belgian brouwerij (thanks, Shelton Brothers!) which could easily be called upon to introduce anyone to any style of Belgian ale. In a recent discussion with the buyer at Healthy Spirits, who denounced their version of the Flanders wild ale for not being brett-y enough, I opined that, like the rest of their selections, acted as a gateway version to the more seriously nuanced interpretations you could find. Everything from an imperial saison to a dark all-malt quadrupel to a old-style witbier, these guys can (and do) run the gamut with style.

Up next: the stuff from last year that I wanted to spend more time bitching and moaning about, but didn't...

Pfun pfacts! Hey kids, did you know that in Austria, a Pfiff is a measurement of 0.125 liters, and asking for a "Pfiff" in a restaurant will get you a teeny glass of beer? Try it!

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Three years and still pfiffin' on...

Another year, another anniversary of sorts - the leather anniversary, as it were.
According to Blogger's "born on" dating scheme, Pfiff! has surpassed the blog shelf life many times over with us entering our fourth year of half-heartedly stinking up the web with semi-factual ramblings on all this cerevisiae. (Not that you'd know it from looking - entering pfiff into google reminds one that as much as 'net loves itself some good beer, half-nekkid women's what makes the Interwebs™ really hum.) And while it hasn't been the most blogorific year for me - a newer, busier job at which I actually can't even view the site due to being so subversive and naughty naughty, and my adorable little timesink of a daughter being the biggest hurdles to high-quality alco-journalism - it has been a pretty spectacular 12 months in terms of the beverage itself.

More information on Pfiff! can be found on the internet.
So how to we plan to celebrate? Well, considering that Fairfax nearly became an island in the middle of Ross Valley last night, it seems like the perfect time to fire up the kettle and brew up a lazy partial mash Scotch Ale, whilst enjoying the snacks and beverages I plan on commandeering on my trip to Healthy Spirits this afternoon, and quite possibly returning to this here keyboard to start posting the "lost" beer files of 2007 - all the blogworthy items that got waylaid by other various distractions... Needless to say, there's a lot of them! Cheers, all, and thanks for reading these past three years.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Save your barstool!

With the snow level in the Bay Area dropping to 1,500 feet today and more dark, damp, and cold promised for the foreseeable future, one's mind naturally turns to the comforting, fortifying things in life. Like barley wine, for instance. Which, incidentally, just happens to be the focus for one of the more globally attended beer festivals outside of Munich every mid-February which means it's time - yes! - once again, to mark your calendars for the Toronado Barleywine festival. It's simple: Just pop your head in sometime next week, order a drink, put a coaster on the rim of the glass and step out like you're grabbing a smoke. I guarantee that when you come back in two week's time, your seat will still be waiting for you.

I know, I know - I mention it every time it comes around, and in a past year mostly bereft of posts, it seems like an especially lame thing to comment on. But c'mon, It's like not mentioning Kwanzaa or Sea Org Day. It would simply be duplicitous of me to call myself a beer lover and not make reference to our very own Walpurgisnacht. For old time's sake, here's a refresher on some festivals past... See you there!

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Event - The San Francisco Beer Story

For those of you who've always wanted to ask your friends if they'd like to accompany you to the Commonwealth Club for a discussion forum but were afraid they wouldn't have beer, here's your chance. And no, I'm not referring to either "Conscious Capitalism: Resolving the Conflict Between Consumerism and Progressive Innovation" or "Gratitude: The Science and Spirit of Emotional Prosperity", but rather this:

The San Francisco Beer Story: History, Culture, Taste, Cuisine
The American craft beer explosion currently enlivening the gastronomic scene has long had its epicenter in San Francisco, where brewing traditions and techniques have been thriving since before the Gold Rush. Join the San Francisco Brewers Guild and a panel of industry experts to learn about beer pairings with a variety of cuisine and explore the colorful history and culture of the area's brewing scene. The program will conclude with a tasting of exquisite artisan cheese paired with delicious beers from these brewers: 21st Amendment, Anchor Brewing Co., Beach Chalet/Park Chalet, Gordon Biersch, Magnolia, San Francisco Brewing Company, Speakeasy Ales and Lagers, ThirstyBear Restaurant and Brewery, and Wunder Brewing Co.

Friday, January 25th - 5:30 p.m., Check-in | 6:00 p.m., Program | 7:00 p.m., Tasting | Club office, 595 Market St., 2nd Floor, San Francisco | $12 for Members, $18 for Non-Member

Tickets available here.

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