Happy Holidays!

It’s that time of year again. Time to spend time with the family rather than staring intently at the computer screen, furiously typing away. So I’ll be checking out of this blog for a couple weeks before starting up again at the beginning of the year.

But before I go, allow me a brief reflection on the Rambling year that was. I’m glad to say I think my writing took a noticeable step forward while I posted less often than before. Intentionally striving for quality over quantity, I think it paid off with a greater depth of posts in 2015. It’s always interesting talking to brewers and others that make the beer industry the vibrant hub of activity it is today, and thankfully I got to talk to plenty of those people and tell their stories here.  And hopefully, I bored you less with posts on my running than usual.

For 2016, I’m just shooting to do that again and then some. So thanks stopping by and reading and I look forward to rambling on again next year.

Wishing you all the best for the Holidays and New Year!

Road Trip to Bend: Touring 10 Barrel Brewing

On a cool, clear Labor Day weekend, my wife and I headed up to Bend, OR.  While we looked forward to reuniting with friends who recently moved there from Cupertino in the Bay Area, it was also a chance to check out the thriving brewing community in Bend.  Just two hours after our arrival in town, we headed over to 10 Barrel Brewing’s production brewery for the week;y 3:00 pm Friday tour.

By now you know, 10 Barrel was acquired by Anheuser-Busch last November. Located on the Northeastern edge of Bend, the brewery seems both physically and spiritually disconnected from the rest of the city. Early in the tour, our guide points out the original 10 Barrel system that gave the brewery its name. Someone asks “What is malt, exactly?”. While our guide struggles to answer the question, what she lacks in beer knowledge, she easily makes up with raw genuine enthusiasm for 10 Barrel’s beer.

The brewery buzzes with activity, forklifts beeping and humming around the brewery moving around pallets seemingly at random. Even late into the afternoon on Friday, brewery bustles with energy, striving for escape velocity well beyond Bend, fueled by Anheuser-Busch money.  As our small group dodges forklifts and looks at all the shiny new brewing equipment while sipping from complimentary bottles of Apocalypse IPA, we are sufficiently primed for the long weekend.

The original 10 barrel brewing system at
10 Barrel Brewing

Friday afternoon and they’re still hard at work brewing

Why it’s unlikely the United States will use more efficient and environmentally friendly reusable beer bottles

As the world grapples with environmental problems and climate change, one way to make a difference is switching from disposable cans and bottles to reusable packaging for beer. Other parts of the world already have reusable bottle programs including Europe and Mexico. Before World War II, most beer was sold within the United States in usable bottles. Could the United States initiate a reusable bottle program?

Cheri Chastain, Sierra Nevada’s Sustainability Manager looked into this question and the answers are not encouraging. “There’s two big hurdles for this happening in the United States,” she explains. “The first is about geography. There’s over 3,000 breweries scattered over a vast area, many of them distributing over several hundreds or thousands of miles.  To collect all those bottles and ship them back to their respective brewery would take so many resources it wouldn’t make sense.”

Of course, if every brewery used the same bottle, this geographical issue could be overcome. According to Chastain, that’s unlikely to happen since most breweries have propriety bottles. “Many breweries have a proprietary mold. Breweries like Red Stripe have a distinctive bottle that’s proprietary. Sierra Nevada has a proprietary bottle. Other bottles have brewery logos etched or molded into the bottle. Considering how competitive the industry is, it’s unlikely many breweries will agree to give up their proprietary bottles and move to a interchangeable one.”

It’s looking pretty unlikely reusable bottles, once widespread in the United States, will make a comeback.

Programming Note: Those "Beer of the Month" posts are history

Back in July or 2010, it seemed like a good idea to start posting a “Beer of the Month” review of various beers discovered in my travels.  Beers that either had the “Wow!” factor or were noteworthy in some other unique way.  And it was a good idea, pushing me to find new and interesting beers and tell the stories behind them.  Problem was, the idea got a little too structured and got to be a chore. Some months, it was a struggle to find a “Beer of the Month”, other times, I had to pick between a few good candidates.  So I’ve decided to abandon this structure and just post reviews whenever.  In addition, I’ll be focusing my reviews largely on San Francisco Bay Area breweries, and South San Francisco Bay Breweries in general.

I always wanted this blog to be more than a bunch of beer reviews, but talking about different beers and sharing new finds is part of the craft beer conversation  So I’ll be doing that in a more locally focused and unstructured manner in this little corner of cyberspace.

Giving Thanks….Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

The starting line at this morning’s Applied Materials
Silicon Valley Turkey Trot

As we spend today giving thanks for all the important things in our lives, let me share a few things I’m thankful for.  I’m thankful for great moments with my kids, like last evening’s walk where I discussed plate tectonics with my 11-year old daughter who seemed genuinely interested as my autistic son gleefully swatted away flies that would have frightened him only a few months ago.  I’m thankful for Turkey Trots, like the Applied Materials Silicon Valley Turkey Trot I ran this morning.  These are always great races since everyone is in a festive holiday mood.  After a bit of a downer half-marathon in Monterey, I bounced back to run a pretty good 10k if I say so myself.  I’m also thankful for my great wife who also ran a great 10k for herself wearing a tutu, reminding me not to take life so seriously.

Here’s hoping you all have plenty to be thankful for, and I wish you all the best for Thanksgiving!

Strike Brewing Officially Opens its Tap Room

So Strike Brewing opens its tap last Saturday.  I was running a race the next day so went easy on the beer. Nice bumping into a couple friends of mine on the Wolfpack Running Club.  The tap room pours a few beers you can’t get anywhere else like a robust Oktoberfest and a Porter, both of which I enjoyed.   A lot of people showed up which was encouraging.  Not a lot to say, just some good beers and good times to spend a couple afternoon hours.  I’ll leave you with a few pictures.