Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Save Second Base!

As someone who both loves beer and has breasts, this is an issue that is near and dear to my heart (and my breasts). I'm sure by now you've all seen that ubiquitous pink ribbon showing up on anything and everything. Yes, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and we all need to get on board. Save second base! One brewery that is going to extra mile is Russian River Brewery. Okay, okay, I know what you're gonna say. "Oh, them again? What a shocker." And I know I promised to keep the bragging to a minimum. But this is for a great cause ( uh, hello boobs.) and it doesn't fall under the "bragging" heading so deal with it.
Just think, breast cancer will affect 1 in 3 women in their life. This could be your wife, girlfriend, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, or favorite drinking buddy. Wanna help? Here's how.

Drink Aud Blonde. This is an excellent session beer so this shouldn't be a struggle. The brewery is donating 5% of the proceeds for pub sales of Aud Blonde. They also made these super cool commemorative “All Hopped Up For the Cure” t-shirts, you can get them at the brewery or the on-line Gift Shop! In addition, this month’s free musical acts are all women, or fronted by women, who are donating a portion or all of their pay to the cause. Also, Vinnie and Natalie will donate $50 per staff member who dyes their hair pink. In fact, I'm sporting some pink locks myself right now. Last year the staff raised $600 for their pink do's.
Also, cash or check donations are being accepted all month long. If you can't make it to the brewery and still wanna help, send a check made out to the “Breast Care Center” to Natalie at the brewery. The address is:
Russian River Brewery
c.o. Natalie Cilurzo
725 4th St.
Santa Rosa, CA 95404.
I'm also currently loving the "Save Second Base" shirt pictured above! You can order that one by clicking here.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

West Side Story

Well, ladies and gents, the votes are in, the ballots counted, the hangovers begun, and can I just say, ..."Hell, yeah"!!

The 26th Great American Beer Festival was held this weekend in Denver, Co and it was another kick-ass time. For those of you who live under a rock, this is the mack daddy of beer festivals. If you're American and a dude, it's the Superbowl, If you're American and a chick, think Oscars. You're European? It's the World Cup. But way better. Throw in Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction, a catfight between Jessica Biel and Cameron Diaz, and Zidane's headbutt-heard-round-the-world all rolled into one and we're getting closer.
Here's a taste of what went down in the mile-high city.
"More than 100 judges labored for three days to evaluate 2,793 beers and
pick the best entries and top breweries for this year’s Great American Beer Festival. A total of 222 medals were awarded in 75 beer style categories and top breweries and brewers were designated based on the total number of medals won. This year 473 breweries entered 2,793 beers making 2007 the most competitive GABF on record. Only 8 percent of all beers entered earned a medal. Only one percent of the breweries entered were recognized with
“Brewery of the Year” awards. In total 142 breweries—30 percent of all those participating—won at least one medal this year. Only 62 breweries—13 percent of all those participating—won at least one gold medal this year.
As in recent years, American-style India Pale Ale drew the largest number of entries with 120 in total. This year the competition saw explosive growth in the Fruit and Vegetable Beer category from 46 entries in 2006 to 94 entries in 2007. The Wood- Barrel-Aged Beer category also grew, going from 58 entries in 2006 to 72 entries in 2007. The newest category of Gluten Free Beer had just 8 entries this year, and Judge Director Chris Swersey believes it will grow dramatically in the future."
Ooh, I'm getting all warm and fuzzy just thinking about it.
It was a definitely all about the West Coast this year and I'm happy to report that some very close friends were awarded medals this year. Of the the five top awards recognizing small, medium and large breweries and small and large brewpubs, here's are a few special shout-outs. Check 'em out, they brought it.

Mid-Size Brewing Company and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Sponsored by HopUnion CBS, LLC
Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Paso Robles, California
Matt Brynildson firestonewalker.com.
Congrats, boys!

Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Sponsored by Microstar Keg Management
Port Brewing & The Lost Abbey, San Marcos, California
Tomme Arthur

Other notables were Marin Brewing Company, who took home 4 Gold Medals. (Special shout out to Big Al!!! First Sanctification's on me, my tall friend!).

And, last, but most certainly not least, I'm so, so, so proud to report that here at Russian River Brewing we took home 3 medals for Supplication, Temptation, and Blind Pig.

Bronze, silver and gold medals were awarded in each of the 75 style categories. For a complete list of winners
please see www.GreatAmericanBeerFestival.com.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Are You There, Beer? It's Me, Christmas...

So here it is. Finally! I bring you the culmination of years of study and the loss of many, many brain cells! The first ever post by um, err , well... me!! Let me first allow myself to introduce myself (or, something). My name is Christmas Collins: Beer Babe Extraordinaire and I LOVE BEER. And by that I mean I LOVE BEER! I sleep it, drink it, eat it, write it, dream it, and live it. My overly zealous publicist will probably tell you to read that lovely bio saying how qualified I am and why you should read anything I write. The Publicist likes to get paid. But I thought I should start out by saying a few words about myself and my very close, personal relationship with the muse we call Beer. Ahem, picture it. Santa Monica. 1997. I was a San Francisco girl living in L.A. and took a job at legendary beer bar Father’s Office.

Up until then I had a solid knowledge of wine, but I pictured beer as more NASCAR, beer bellies, and fizzy yellow macro-swill. Gross. I knew I liked Anchor Steam, but figured that was more Bay area loyalty than anything. Enter chef and noted beer aficionado Sang Yoon. He owns Father’s Office and personally took me under his wing. Sang became sort of my beer Jedi and I his padowan (I like Star Wars, so what?). He introduced me to in beers I never knew existed; Belgian Tripels, German Doppelbocks, French farmhouse ales, and amazing IPA’s from boutique breweries around the world. He taught me about the history of brewing, where it had been, and where it was going. I became a sponge, soaking up every bit of beer knowledge I could. From that then on, I was hooked like a crack whore. I had fallen for beer. Hard. And there was no going back. I was quickly promoted to manager of Father’s Office and I’m proud to say that, under my management, it was named Best Beer Bar in California. As one of the first female beer experts on the West Coast, I had the privilege of being featured as a beer expert in GQ and E! Entertainment’s the Modern Girl” Guide to Life. Although I have since moved on, Father’s Office is still rockin’ to this day. If you ever find yourself in Santa Monica, check it out. The staff are experts, the beers are stellar, and the food is heaven sent. But, like many beer writers, I digress (occupational hazard). Moving on. After leaving Father’s Office I was offered the job as Northern California beer expert for Unibroue from Chambley, Quebec.

They’re one of the best Belgian Style breweries in the U.S. and, that, along with the chance to come home to San Francisco, well, could you pass it up? Yeah, didn’t think so. I was able to expand my knowledge and work with such beers as La Fin du Monde, Maudite, Unibroue 10, Terrible, and the rest of the Unibroue beers. These are some bad ass brews, kiddies. Get to know ‘em. Then, my very most favorite brewery came a knockin’.

Oh yeah, baby. Russian River Brewing! Are you kidding me? These guys are the best of the best! And I get to work with them? Shut up. So these days, along with writing about all the other great beers out there as The Beer Babe, I have the great pleasure and honor of working every day with Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo at our amazing brewery, Russian River Brewing. Check us out. We f***ing rock! We've been knocking it out of the park with pretty much every beer we've ever done. Dude, I mean it. Our Belgians are the stuff of legends. And don't even get me started on Pliny the Elder. Yeah, um, double IPA, we wrote the book on that. In fact, our brewer Vinnie is credited as the inventor of the style and as such, is occasionally referred to as the Hopfather. I get to work with a brewing legend! Seriously, this guy gets recognized on the street in Belgium, rock star style. How sweet is that? Not to mention his amazing wife and Original Beer Goddess Natalie who has more beer knowledge in her little pinky than most men in their whole body. And while I love, love, love our beers; I know the world is full of amazing beer to be enjoyed. And I want to try it all, baby! So, I’ll try not to brag too much about our beers. It’ll be difficult.
So, boys and girls I'm on a mission. That mission is to champion all great beer, bringing it to the forefront of the modern dining experience; to educate the public about the fantastic worldwide culture, history and tradition the beer realm possesses; to discover unknown beer treasures from around the world and make them as accessible to everyone as Bud or Miller (ew.); and, of course, to find the cure for the common hangover. This blog isn’t just for women, it isn’t just for men, and it isn’t just for beer geeks. It’s for everyone*. Whether you and beer are lovers in a serious long-term relationship, if you’ve just met, or, even want to meet, this is for you. I’m a Beer Babe and I’m here to help. I have a 3 line tap system in my house just for research (and football Sundays).
So, Sit back, Strap up, and Lock it Down. 'Cause it's on like Donkey Kong. This blog is all about beer, beer, and more beer. Our process, culture, influences, heroes, myths, legend, mentors, hopes, dreams, and all that is the big, beautiful world of beer. You can't resist us. You want us on that wall (of taps). You need us on that wall (of taps). And we want you. Let the games begin.

*Anyone over 21, of course. I do not encourage or support underage drinking