Book Review: Northern California Craft Beer Guide

As mentioned in a previous post, I recently picked up The Northern California Craft Beer Guide at the book release party at Whole Foods the other day. Well, I’ve finished reading through it, so here are my thoughts.

First off, this book looks great. The pictures taken by photographer Anneliese Schmidt are beautiful, and just look great on the pages. The layout is very well done, and even the page stock is perfect. Yes, I just geeked out on page stock (a new one for me!).

Content wise, the guide is broken into 8 regions (San Francisco, North Bay/Wine Country, East Bay, the Pennisula/South Bay/Santa Cruz, North Coast/Lost Coast, Chico/Shasta/Cascade, Sacramento/Lake Tahoe and Central Valley/Yosemite), covering a vast array of locations, including breweries, brew pubs, bottle shops, restaurants, homebrew shops, and even smaller grocery stores that have craft selections. Author Ken Weaver does a great job of giving succinct, yet in-depth reviews of each location. You’ll have no doubt as to which locations you should visit after reading his reviews.

Ken’s passion for craft beer comes through in his words (as well as through Anneliese’s photos), and he does a really good job of nerding out occasionally while keeping the guide completely accessible to everyone in the craft beer spectrum.

The book is chock full of sidebars, with everything to blurbs about sustainable brewing to anecdotes from their travels. He also includes 18 beer style sidebars, with very good descriptions of the styles and a beer from the area that he feels is the best example of the style.

I really only have one complaint. After reading the guide, it rekindled my desire to hit the roads and check out some of these locations. One place I’ve been talking about going to for months is Drake’s Barrel House in San Leandro. I did some research to see if they were family friendly (I have a daughter) only to find that they are 21 and over. This information is lacking in their reviews of places, and I think it would be helpful for those of us who have families. Not a big gripe, but might be something nice to include in a future edition, and I did communicate this in an email to the author.

This is an indispensable guide to the Northern CA beer culture, both for locals and visitors (I have a list of at least 15 places to hit up, some of which I had never heard of before this book. Look out Dust Bowl Brewing, here I come!). It surprised me how many places in my (relative) backyard of San Francisco I had never heard of, Suppenkuche and Ales Unlimited being the two that really stood out to me.

Ken and Anneliese have put together a great resource for our area, and we should all be thankful for them for undertaking this project (although I’m sure they had a pretty good time with it).

Image from Facebook


Oncemade Beer: Good or Bad for Craft Beer?

If you haven’t yet heard about this, the people behind Pintley (an adaptive beer recommendation website based on your personal likes and dislikes) has launched the Oncemade Beer Project, a project in which they help two breweries collaborate on a special beer which is brewed once and only once.

Sounds like quite a good idea, no? Well, it’s actually causing a minor uproar among the craft beer crowd, with some saying that this is a terrible development for the craft beer world.

After the jump. we’ll look into the details of the project, and I’ll analyze the ramifications of this innovative idea.

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Wrap-Up: Northern California Craft Beer Guide Book Release

As mentioned yesterday, I headed to Whole Foods for the release of the above mentioned book. It’s a very nice looking book, and it’s cool to see people in the book that    I know. I also got a chance to chat with the author, Ken Weaver and the photographer, Anneliese Schmidt. Both were super nice people and were gracious in letting a nerdy beer blogger ramble. Keep an eye out for a review of the book in the next week or two.

Whole Foods also had some pretty tasty stuff on tap, so here’s a quick run down of what I had.

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Strauss to NorCal


Strauss to NorCal

Karl Strauss posted this on their website.

Funny thing is, Karl Strauss has been available at my local BevMo for at least a year, but over on Beer Pulse, they say this is the first time they’ll be available outside of SoCal. Distribution is a weird thing.

Anyway, I am excited about this, because I have wanted to try their stuff. I’ve been holding out to see them at my local bottle shop, and I guess I won’t have to wait any longer.