Brewing

Headlands Brewing Company

Headlands Brewing Company

Endurance athlete Phil Cutti tinkers his way to top brew By Derrick Peterman Phil Cutti (left) with Headlands co-founder Patrick Horn (Derrick Peterman). Have you heard the saying “Never trust a skinny brewer”? Whoever said that never tasted Phil Cutti’s beer. When Phil Cutti wasn’t running, cycling, or swimming, he worked as an exercise physiologist in the Bay Area. He entered triathlons, biked all over California, and did open water swims like the Seal Beach Rough Water Swim, covering ten miles from Huntington Beach to Seal Beach in Southern California. But there was something else Phil loved to do outdoors besides test his endurance: brew beer. For eighteen years, he tweaked and tinkered with home brewing recipes in his backyard. Once he figured out the different recipes for his beers, he then focused on making each batch taste the same as before. One day, there came a moment where...
The Rise of Craft Hard Cider

The Rise of Craft Hard Cider

Small batch breweries focus on quality ingredients By Derrick Peterman Photo: Caitlyn Pura Hard cider is hot. Virtually non-existent in the United States just five years ago, cider consumption has more than tripled between 2011 and 2013, from 9.4 to 32 million gallons according to the Beer Institute. In 2014, Nielsen reported off-premise cider sales grew by 71%. There’s plenty of excitement surrounding this beverage made by fermenting the sugars in apple juice. Look around and you’ll see billboards and advertisements touting all sorts of new cider drinks and brands. Behind these mass-market ciders you’ll find mass market breweries. Both Smith & Forge and Crispin Cider are owned by MillerCoors, Strongbow Cider is owned by Heineken, and  Johnny Appleseed Cider is part of  Anheuser-Busch. Then there’s Redd’s Apple Ale owned by SABMiller, which isn’t actually a cider but a beer blended with apple juice and other flavors. The market...
California Brewing: Anheuser-Busch

California Brewing: Anheuser-Busch

Something more than beer is brewing in Fairfield By Derrick Peterman I recently visited a brewery that’s one of the most aggressive in California at reducing its environmental footprint. Since 2007, it reduced its water usage by 47%. It installed its first wind turbine in 2011 and its second one in 2014. Combined with a 7-acre solar array, 30% of its power is generated by renewable energy. It initiated a number of bio-energy recovery systems and recycles 99% of its solid waste. What brewery is this? It’s the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Fairfield. Does that surprise you? Craft breweries like Sierra Nevada, New Belgium and Anderson Valley have long been examples of how beer can be brewed with less water and energy, while using fewer materials and releasing less carbon into the air. Plenty of other smaller, local breweries followed suit. Say what you want about Anheuser-Busch being one of those...
California Brewing: Session Beers

California Brewing: Session Beers

Three session beers worth earning and the stories behind them By Derrick Peterman Strike Brewing. Just what is a “session beer” anyway?  Terms like Saison, Hefeweizen, IPA and now session beer entering our beer vocabulary can be confusing to those just looking for something good to drink. Session beer makes things even worse because the term is rather vague and subjective. Session beer loosely describes beers low in alcohol and easy to drink yet flavorful such that they can be effortlessly enjoyed in a casual setting. Beer writer Lew Bryson, considered an authority on session beers, has tried to capture their essence, describing them as: containing 4.5% alcohol by volume or less; flavorful enough to be interesting; balanced enough for multiple pints; conducive to conversation; and reasonably priced. While beer geeks continue to passionately debate these gray areas, plenty of session beers are enjoyed around the campfire, on the...
California Brewing: Mavericks Brewing

California Brewing: Mavericks Brewing

Big taste that won’t slow you down Mavericks Rye Pale Ale, Tunnel Vision IPA and Belgian Style Wit (Paul Kirchner). Some breweries are launched in corporate boardrooms. Others originate from the backyards of home brewers. Mavericks Brewing in Half Moon Bay started after a bike ride. Mavericks is the brain child of Pete Slosberg, best known as the Pete of Pete’s Wicked Ale. An avid cyclist, he often went on long journeys starting from his home in San Francisco. “I would go on 25-40 mile bike trips, across the Golden Gate Bridge, and eventually stop at the Marin Brewing Company taproom in Larkspur. Problem was, after stopping there for a beer or two, I didn’t feel steady enough to get back on my bike and head home. Instead, I’d take the ferry.” Loving the reward of a good tasting beer but not enjoying the effects of too much alcohol, he...
Winter Brews

Winter Brews

Three seasonal beers worth earning By Derrick Peterman California beer lovers rejoice in the numerous winter offerings from West Coast breweries. The dark, rich malts and the spices many brewers use in their winter releases create deep, complex flavors. Here are three notable winter beers and a few words from the brewmasters behind them. Gordon Biersch: WinterBock Winter beers are often associated with the modern craft brewing revolution, but they actually originated centuries ago. Gordon Biersch WinterBock was inspired by the monastery breweries in Munich that developed the beer in the 11th century as a way to stay “happy” during lent. Dan Gordon, Brewmaster at Gordon Biersch discovered this style in 1980 when he was an exchange student in Germany. A few years later, he returned to Germany to spend four years at the Technical University of Munich’s brewing program learning traditional German brewing techniques he would bring...
The Evolution of Organic Beer

The Evolution of Organic Beer

Visionary brewers make high integrity beer a reality By Derrick Peterman Organic beer is a relative newcomer to the organic food movement. The first certified organic beer was brewed in 1999 by Eel River Brewing located just south of Eureka, CA. Over the next fifteen years, organic beer transformed from a curiosity to a movement itself within the larger American craft brewing revolution. Along the way, organic beer has become a real option for beer drinkers seeking beer for both health and environmental reasons due to its improved availability, price competitiveness, and yes, flavor. Early Experiences Influence Organic Brewers For Bison Brewing’s Daniel Del Grande, observing the destruction of duck habitats in California’s Central Valley due to farming irrigation in the 1980’s motivated him to seek organic alternatives. Selenium was accumulating in the soil and food chain causing deformity in duck embryos. “Beginning with these experiences, I studied examples of...
Beyond the Pale

Beyond the Pale

The story of Sierra Nevada’s maverick founding father By Derrick Peterman When compiling a list of notable California entrepreneurs, people like David Packard, Steve Jobs, or Elon Musk usually spring to mind. Given the national obsession with Sierra Nevada Brewing’s signature pale ale, founder Ken Grossman’s name should also appear on any such list. In Grossman’s long awaited autobiography Beyond the Pale, readers learn the story of Sierra Nevada Brewing, from humble beginnings in Chico to current status as a national craft brewing institution. The book is a fascinating self-portrait of someone who over thirty years ago hand built a brewery out of little more than discarded scraps salvaged from junk yards. Back in those days, distribution meant Grossman driving his old pickup truck to the few stores that would actually sell his beer. His typical twelve-plus hour days were mainly spent returning antique bottling lines to functionality,...
Winter Brews: Our favorite seasonal ales

Winter Brews: Our favorite seasonal ales

By Derrick Peterman ANCHOR BREWING: Anchor Christmas Ale It’s a tradition that started at Anchor Brewing in 1975 when they released their Liberty Ale, which soon was named “Our Special Ale” during the winter holidays and today is sold as “Anchor Christmas Ale.” Each year, Anchor Brewing changes both the recipe and label artwork for this beer. The ingredients are a closely held company secret, but it’s usually a dark, malty, nutty tasting ale, with notes of holiday spices like ginger, nutmeg, chocolate, and cinnamon added to the mix. Anchor won’t tell you what hops they use either, but typically it’s lightly hopped to add an earthy or fruity twist to the brew. SIERRA NEVADA: Celebration Ale Sierra Nevada is a brewery that has gone the opposite flavor direction from Anchor with their Celebration Ale, meaning the hops are front and center. Sierra Nevada uses Cascade, Centennial and...
The Breweries of Santa Cruz County

The Breweries of Santa Cruz County

By Derrick Peterman Say the word “Santa Cruz” and most people think of surfing, mountain biking, or good times at the beach. Now Santa Cruz is getting a reputation for great beer as well, thanks to a small but lively brewing community. Santa Cruz County had a couple of California’s earliest craft breweries when Seabright Brewery opened in 1988, and Boulder Creek Brewery opened up a year later. Then after a relatively quiet period of fifteen years, new breweries started popping up every couple of years. In many cases the seeds of each new brewery were planted by the breweries that came before it. Seabright Brewery brewmaster Jason Chavez. Share a pint with Seabright brewmaster Jason Chavez and he’ll gladly tell plenty of stories on how the Santa Cruz brewing scene came to be. Jason started brewing at the tender age of 17 when he first tried his hand...
X
- Enter Your Location -
- or -