Saturday, November 29, 2008

The 21st Amendment Story

Part 1: What's in a Name?

This coming Friday, December 5th, marks the anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition (with the passage of the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution). Here at the 21st Amendment Brewery, this is our “national holiday.” This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Repeal of Prohibition, and we have a whole week of Repeal Prohibition events to help us celebrate.

So what is it about the 21st Amendment that makes it so special for us that we took the name? Of course there is the obvious: the 21st Amendment made brewing beer legal again, and we really like to brew beer. But there is a more important philosophy behind the name. A philosophy about how good, hand-crafted beer plus fresh, quality food and a welcoming atmosphere bring people together and make a neighborhood great.

You see, around the turn of the 20th century, in the year 1900, there were thousands of small breweries operating across America. When we were researching old San Francisco breweries (trying to find a cool name for our new brewery), we found some good ones, like the Phoenix Brewery, the United States Brewery, the North Star Brewery and the Blue and Gold Brewery. In fact we ended up naming a lot of our beers for these great old breweries - try our North Star Red, for instance. But what really made an impact was the discovery that there were about 40 breweries operating just within the city limits of San Francisco in 1900. By comparison, though the city's population is more than double what it was in 1900, today there are eight local breweries.  We realized that the brewery captured the essence of the neighborhoods of San Francisco. They were the local gathering places. Places to exchange ideas, debate politics and philosophy. Places for families to come together on weekends. Places that provided something unique: hand crafted beer that was different at every brewery and that defined the taste of a neighborhood.

In 1920, Prohibition wiped out this culture and put the “local” out of business. For 13 years, social interaction was largely driven underground, to the speakeasies, where regular citizens became a nation of outlaws.

But with the passage of the 21st Amendment, repealing Prohibition, we, as a society, were able to begin the slow climb back to reclaiming the essence of the neighborhood gathering place. At the 21st Amendment, we celebrate the culture of the great breweries of old, making unique, hand crafted beers, great food, and providing a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere that invites conversation, interaction and a sense of community.

Coming soon:

Part 2: Prohibition, the Great Experiment. How could this happen? 

Thursday, November 13, 2008

REPEAL WEEK Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Repeal of Prohibition

Mark your calendar for December 5, the 75th anniversary of the Repeal of Prohibition. On Dec. 5, 1933, after 13 long years of bad homebrew and bathtub gin, the states ratified the 21st Amendment, which abolished the 18th Amendment, ending prohibition in America. To celebrate this momentous day, we're hosting Repeal Prohibition Week at 21st Amendment Brewery.

Monday, December 1, 5:00 p.m.

TAP THAT KEG of “Beerly Legal Lager” at 21st Amendment Brewery, 563 2nd Street, San Francisco. Brewed specifically for the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the 21st Amendment, which repealed prohibition in America. Admission is free. 415-369-0900

Wednesday, December 3, 6:00 p.m.

EAT, DRINK, BEER MERRY at 21st Amendment Brewery, 563 2nd Street, San Francisco. Features rare seasonal beers, guest brewers and a five-course meal. $75/person, includes tax and tip; cash only. Reservations required: 415-369-0900


Friday, December 5, 4:00 p.m.

REPEALEBRATION CELEBRATION (aka We Want Beer! March) begins at Justin Herman Plaza (1 Market Street) with a full marching band and a coterie of revelers in 1930’s garb. Parade ends at 21st Amendment Brewery (563 2nd Street, San Francisco - see parade route) with a Repeal Prohibition celebration featuring a three-piece jazz band, special menu items, and a password-only speakeasy. Password retrieval instructions will be twittered on December 1. Admission is free: 415-369-0900 

Note: We're offering a $100 birthday bounty for people turning 21 or 75 on December 5, 2008.


Friday, November 7, 2008

WANTED: Dec. 5 Birthdays

Update: We've increased the prohibition birthday bounties to $100 each!!! 

We're offering a $100 bounty for a Bay Area resident turning 75 on Dec. 5, 2008, and a $100 bounty for a local turning 21 on the same day. You see, Dec. 5 is the 75th Anniversary of the Repeal of Prohibition.  Yes, it was the 21st Amendment that gave Americans the right to drink again, and we're planning to celebrate with a Repeal Prohibition Parade for beer, as part of our Repeal Prohibition Week celebration. We need a couple of Grand Marshals to lead the parade, so we're looking for someone turning 21 and someone turning 75. 

If you know someone (including yourself) who is turning 21 or 75 on Dec. 5 and wants to lead the march for beer on December 5, email us the following information:

1) Name, age and contact info for the birthday boy or girl

2) Reason(s) this person should be chosen as Grand Marshal.

3) Your name and contact info.

We will choose the Grand Marshals based on personality, availability and whatever else we think of after we've had a few beers. If you are the first person to introduce us to a Grand Marshal by email, you will win $100. Grand Marshals are also eligible for the bounty if they introduce themselves to us first. Proof of birthdate is, of course, required.

The Grand Marshals will lead the Repeal Prohibition Parade (aka We Want Beer! March), which will begin at 4:00 p.m. at Justin Herman Plaza and end at the 21st Amendment Brewery. You can't miss us - we'll be the ones with the marching band and a coterie of revelers in 1930's garb carrying We Want Beer! signs. 

Post-parade, the Grand Marshals (and a guest) will get the royal treatment at the Repeal Prohibition Celebration at the 21st Amendment Brewery. We'll have a three-piece jazz band, special food and drinks, and a private party in the Mezzanine that requires a password to enter. We'll share the password with the Grand Marshals, but everyone else will have to find it themselves. We'll twitter password retrieval instructions on December 1.

The Session #21 Favorite Beer(s)

The Session #21: Favorite Beer(s)

A World of Brews hosts the 21st installment of The Session. The topic “What is your favorite Beer and Why?” was chosen by Matt C. This being my first post on the Session I thought it very appropriate, as this topic comes up a lot. I didn’t realize to the extent that I am asked that very question: “Shaun, what is your favorite Beer?” In fact it just happened yesterday. 

I was at Lucky Baldwin’s in Pasadena, California and one of the good beer people at that establishment asked me that question. My typical response is one that I have been uttering for years, “Well, my favorite Beer is the one that happens to be in front of me at that time.” A fairly non-committal response that gets me out of digging deep and coming up with something profound.  A safe response most likely rooted in shear laziness.

The real response requires some heavy lifting and I have skated at times with another go to answer, “there is a time and a place for every beer,” which is really what it is all about for me. Begin.

One of the first Craft Beers that I tasted long ago, as many other brewers, was San Francisco’s own Anchor Brewing Company’s Steam Beer. I was working in the legal world in downtown Los Angeles in the late 80s and the Craft Beer offerings were slim to none. Other Craft Beers available were Pete’s Wicked Ale and Redhook ESB, all great beers served at Steps restaurant on Bunker Hill across from the law firm where I worked. We were young and thought we were cool wearing our ‘greed-is-good’ suits and ties sipping these new Craft Beers. Hot stuff. There was something about Steam Beer. It came from a historically rich and diverse part of the State that was exotic and a world away from the craft beer desert of Los Angeles. Rich malty aroma and flavor with a distinct bitterness. The color is what really grabbed me about this beer. That copper color got me. It looks like no other beer at that time we were spoon fed from the big brewers.  It was also the beer that got me into home brewing which propelled me into professional brewing. I think Anchor Steam is best consumed at the brewery. There is something about that brewery on Potrero Hill with the copper kettles and the beautiful tasting room. A must.

Every year the Great American Beer Festival, in Denver Colorado, I drink a pint or two of New Glarus Brewing Company’s Wisconsin Cherry Red one ounce at a time as that is the legal festival pour. A delicious beer with intense cherry flavor and aroma, but not as overbearing as Lindemans Kriek. Which is a lot like Kool-aid. Soft Belgian flavors accompany the complex malt flavor. It's unlike any other beer I have experienced. I have never been to the brewery but there was a time not long ago that I made a deal with one of the servers at the 21st Amendment Brewery. Jasmine was going back to Wisconsin to visit family with her Mother. I made a deal with her that I would pick both she and her Mother up at the airport late at night, take them back to their home in Berkeley if she would bring me back two cases of the Wisconsin Cherry Red and the other phenomenal beer from New Glarus, Raspberry Tart. Well, needless to say it was the best airport pickup I have ever done. I still have some of those bottles stored in my cellar. Good stuff.

The dirty little secret of many brewers, the thing you will not hear uttered or written about in a blog or an article. The hidden secret that some of us hold in the back of our refrigerators while we are out front swirling and waxing poetically about the merits of this beer and that beer; I'm talking about Coors Light in a Can. This light, shamelessly benign beer that is about has far away on a distant galaxy from the Craft Beer universe - the redheaded stepchild of the craft beer world and I love it! This really falls into the category of “there is a time and a place for every beer.” Coors Light is a beer that I want to have when I don’t want a big beer with copious amounts of flavor or when I don’t want a sweet soda or ice tea. On the spectrum of flavor for me it lays a hair away from water and that is exactly why I like it and drink it. And in a Can of course. Unapologetic!

West Coast Style India Pale Ale or for lack of a better term, Robust IPAs. I am talking about those IPAs that are big, hoppy, bitter, malty and rich. Not the East Coast IPAs that you’ve had that must be run through a Randall to eek out any semblance of hop aroma or flavor. I'm talking about beers that are brewed with low to no crystal malt that can give you that cloying sweetness that lays on your tongue like an uninvited guest. Don’t get me wrong, malt flavor is important, but the lack of sweetness is imperative. These IPAs need to be well attenuated, but still have a firm malt backbone that may of been achieved with the addition of Munich and Pilsner malt or a slightly higher mash temperature in order to get some dextrin sugar into the beer - body builders. I think of these IPAs as three-dimensional and that is exactly how I go about constructing our Brew Free! or Die IPA in a Can. Your first impression aside from the color of the beer is the aroma and it should hit you square in the nose. The aroma gives your body the queue that you are tasting an IPA and you should be prepared for the next impression –Taste. These beers should be bitter, but not overwhelming, there is no need to be and this is why many IPAs fail for me, they are profoundly bitter, hop tea, astringent, tongue scrapers. That malt backbone needs to be present but you also need hop flavor. I’m not referring to hop bitterness; I’m talking about the green flavor that comes from adding an immature green flower to the brew kettle giving the beer a fuller hop flavor. My favorite West Coast Style IPAs are Bear Republic’s Racer 5, Russian River IPA, Drakes Brewing IPA and Triple Rock Brewery’s IPAX.

Those are my favorites, sure there are more, but many of you that know me already understand that I have a tendency to wax on. Also, this being the first time I have put my big toe into the Session pond, maybe brevity is advisable. ha! Here’s to brevity, cheers.   -Shaun O'Sullivan