Beer of the Month: Summer 2010 by Almanac

This review is really a sham, because I just don’t have the guts to trash this beer. That’s because Jesse Friedman, one of the co-founders of Almanac is such a revered figure in the Bay Area Beer Blogging world. He created the highly influential Beer & Nosh, full of gorgeous photography, clever yet economical prose, and plenty of hip culinary insight before becoming an honest to goodness professional brewer by founding Alamanac Beer with Damian Fagen. I would face likely beer blogger banishment and excommunication if I even dared whisper a bad thing about Alamanac’s inaugural release, called simply Summer 2010, for the time of its inception.

It’s a citra hopped, golden ale, aged for months in oak red wine barrel with four, count ’em, four varieties of Sonoma County blackberries thrown in for good measure. To me, this all sounds dangerously like too much is going on, and I expected this either to be something really good, or turn into some horribly over done monstrosity.

And so it was an awkward moment when I first tasted Summer 2010, and was rather underwhelmed by it, as all I could really taste was a lot of toasty malt and little else. But there lies the beauty of this beer, as my first sips were of it chilled, right out of the refrigerator. As it warmed, all sorts of new flavors started to emerge. First some punchy red wine flavors, then a little bit of oak, and then some very delicate notes of blackberry could be teased out of each sip as it gradually warmed. While the conventional wisdom is that beer should be brought to temperature before serving, I found it more fun drinking it this way.

So while saying bad things about this beer could be dangerous to this blog’s survival, you’ll just have to believe me when I tell you all the layers of subtle flavors really work together to produce something unique and intriguing. Trust me on this one.

The label suggests that this beer pairs well triple-cream cheeses, roast pork, and grilled stone fruit. I guess so. Frankly, I find beer pairing to be a black art, so I’d take their word for it. Like all beer, it also goes well with pizza.

Have they inspired me to take my homebrewing professional? Uh, no. Given my rather modest and sometimes undrinkable homebrews, I’ll stick to blogging and running, and let the guys who actually know how to brew go pro. And I honestly can’t wait to see what they do next. Their first act is a tough one to follow. Whether or not they can meet or exceed the high standards they’ve set for themselves, it seems every one’s curiosity is peaked just to watch them try.

New Bay Area Brewery: Old Oak Beer

I’ve been trying to steal ideas from Jesse Friedman for quite sometime. He’d go to some brewery, take a bunch of great pictures, write no more than three descriptive but highly readable sentences about the place, post it on his site Beer & Nosh, and I’d feel like I’d been there. I tried to do posts like his, but my problem was I talked too much, nor had his eye for photography.

The good news is that I will have less opportunities to steal from him as he’s partnered with Damien Fagen to form the Bay Area’s newest brewery, Old Oak Beer. Friedman describes the new brewery as “dedicated to producing “Farm to Barrel” artisanal ales inspired by the farms of Northern California”.

Old Oak Beer’s first release will be a Belgian Golden Strong Ale, which they started with large amounts of Citra hop additions. Then, they added two hundred and fifty pounds of blackberries from a Northern California berry farm, and the mix has been aging in used wine barrels since July. Yes, this summer beer will be released this winter, but Friedman explains this beer is meant to be aged for the flavors to evolve.

The beer will initially be sold at a few San Francisco bottle shops and a restaurants, and to find out where, check out the Buy Local page on the Old Oak Beer website. Let’s all wish them luck.

Announcing Beer & Nosh’s Notoberfest

Wanted to pass along I message received from Jesse Friedman over at Beer & Nosh about the upcoming NOToberfest event he’s hosting this October 10. From the looks of things so far, looks pretty unique, interesting and of course, delicious. Here’s what’s in the works.

Beer & Nosh Notoberfest

– An epic feast prepared by Ryan Farr & the 4505 Meats Team
– Custom beer-infused ice creams & treats from Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream
– Reinheitsgebot-breaking beers from Valley Brewing Co.

Valley Brewing Tap Menu:
Luna Blanca – Central Valley Golden Ale
“Notoberfest” Bourbon Barrel Maibock Lager
Brandy Barrel Aged “Collaborative Evil” Belgian Strong Golden Ale
Olallieberry Sour
India Pale Ale
Bourbon Barrel Russian Imperial Stout
Valley Brew Skullsplitter Root Beer

Essential Details:
Saturday, October 10th 2009, 1-5pm
Mars Bar, 798 Brannan St, San Francisco, CA
$50 prepurchase / $60 at the door – All inclusive for beer, food and commemorative tasting glass.

All of the details and RSVP information can be found at

A blog post detailing visiting Valley Brew with the chefs to plan the event can be found here at