Sunday, November 16, 2014

A visit to E J Phair in Pittsburg

On Saturday, November 15th,  a dozen or so Club DOZE members -joined by a smattering of Mad Zymurgists and others- had the pleasure of touring the facilities of the E J Phair brewery in Pittsburg (CA), and trying their beers and the pizza that kept coming out of the newly-installed wood-fired oven.

Best beer tasted?  The Zinful Stout, a dry stout aged in zinfandel wine barrels from Viano Winery in Martinez.

E J Phair's Pittsburg taproom and restaurant, with the new woodfired pizza oven at back right.  Fermenters can be glimpsed through the windows behind the bar.

Fermenting tanks.

The brewery.   They currently produce 3-4 brews per week, mostly contract brews.

Head brewer Cortlandt Toczylowski conducting the tour.

Kegs ready for washing for Rocksteady brewing  Rocksteady, headed by brewmaster Matt Seager, is the house brewery for Creek Monkey Tap House in Martinez, andthey contract  E J Phair to clean their kegs on their keg washing machine.

The grain mill, downstairs, and the pipe which conducts the milled grain up to the mash tun on the main floor.

The cool room

The supply for the taps above.
Settling tanks in the cool room.  These have been built from re-purposed horizontal lagering tanks.  At back, just above the large tank one can barely glimpse the pipes that the brewery installed to carry beer lines under the adjoining roadway and into their old tap room and restaurant across the street.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Lima Craftbrew: Barranco Beer Company

 On a recent trip to Lima, I ventured on two occasions, accompanied by Liz and my cousins, to a spot that I had wanted checked out even before I arrived in Peru: the Barranco Beer Company.

Located in downtown Barranco, a half a block from the plaza and the "boulevard" containing the bulk of dance clubs, the Barranco Beer Company was started by the members of a family "with a passion for beer".

They raised the capital and put in a set of  stainless steel conical fermenters which are visible to visitors at the back of the establishment through  a plate glass divider.  They look to be mostly 60-bl tanks.   The brew kettles are visible behind the bar itself.

The Barranco Beer Company is, as far as I can tell, the second brew-on-premised beer pub in Lima - after the Cerverceria De Tomas (aka Mi Cebi-Chela) in San Borja.

From L to R: Fifti Lager, Bulls Ay, Weiss Presidente

Their bill does lack a heftier, toastier beer like a porter or stout, and they do do some odd stuff - like combining beer with soda- which, I guess, is somewhat traditional in Britain, where this cocktail is known as a "shandy".   Personally, I think it unfortunate because their beer is actually quite good on its own merits, with the "Weiss Presidente" and the "Bulls Ay" being perhaps their best offerings. The Weiss has a nice body and plenty of the stone fruit and banana aromas that one expects in the style.
Even with the beer being relatively expensive compared to what a similar serving of the mass-produced beers cost, the place is a hit and did not lack for business either night that we were there.

A pitcher of Weiss Presidente

Barranco Beer Company
Avenida Grau 308 Barranco - Lima - Peru

Monday, May 26, 2014

Peruvian Craft Beer Revolution

There have always remained a few local or regional breweries that clung on in the face of the market take-over by the big beer companies.   On example is Perkas Ale, which I sampled in Cusco.

There have also been some new regional breweries that have managed to get started and hang on.  I've heard, for example, of Cerveza Andes in Huaraz and Cerveza Iquitena from Iquitos.

And there is, of course, the case of Ayacucho's Añaños family, who have expanded their nationwide soft drink empire into beer production with Tres Cruces beer.

However,  with sole exception of the pioneering Cerveceria de Tomas, there seemed to be a dearth of craft beers and craft beer pubs in Lima itself.   That, fortunately, is changing.

Last year I became aware of Cerverias Aldon's beers from Pachacamac, and in the past year it appears that at least three craft breweries have opened in Lima, and that at least one has a tap room.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Heretic Brewing Company

Today, due to its hosting the AHA Members' Rally, I got to look around the new Heretic brewery in Fairfield, where Jamil Zainasheff and his partners have set up shop after moving out of E. J. Phair's brewery in Pittsburg.

The smaller tanks at back are the ones brought over from the days at E. J. Phair, and the ones in the foreground are newer 120-barrell tanks.

Evil Twin ale

The blow-off tube furiously in action from one of the 120-barrel fermenters

The fermenter from which the staff filled our carboys and buckets.

An ale with pommergranate.

120-barrel fermenter

The tap room

AHA Members' Rally

The Brewing Network kicks off its broadcast of the event
Mike McDole interviewed
Gary Glass, AHA President, addresses the attendees
Gary Glass, AHA President, conducting the raffle
Volunteers filling containers for the Wort Giveaway

Thursday, March 20, 2014


Brewing up a batch of beer for the homebrew tasting tent at the upcoming Bay Area Craft Beer Festival.

I'm really looking forward to the festival.  I've always had a good time, and the weather should be great this year!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Third Street Ale Works (Santa Rosa)

Today Liz and I headed to Petaluma to pick a half of a pastured pig carcass that we had ordered.  Before heading to the meat processor, we he drove a bit further north, to Santa Rosa, and had lunch at the Third Street Aleworks.

I started off with a pint of their dry Irish stout.  The brewery took home a gold medal with this recipe at last years Great American Brew Fest in Colorado.

It was very nice.  Smooth, dry, with a toasty, coffee note, but without being a big or heavy beer.  

I followed it with a pint of their red IPA, which garnered them a bronze at GABF.  Liz had a tasting portion of their Annadel Pale Ale, served straight from the conditioning cask.  It was smooth, malty, but not being force carbonated, came off a bit flat, specially having been kept and served at room temperature.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Lagunitas Brewing Company brewery

The Brewhouse

Lauter Tun Control Panel

The inside of an empty lauter tun

Brewhouse task chart

The fermentation tanks.  These are glycol cooled and have clean-in-place technology so no human need enter them, not even to clean them.

Casks for the barrel-aged program.  Beers aged in these include a coffe stout and imperial stout.

The kegging line.

The tap room's beer garden.