Indeed, kids, it’s that time again- when the Bay area’s biggest firkin festival hit our floor to benefit the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation. Firkin Fest 2015 is Saturday, April 25 at 11:30am here at Triple Rock in downtown Berkeley. Our lineup this year is nothing short of stellar, with firkins from breweries like Freewheel, Faction, Drake’s, Cellarmaker, and Sante Adairius, just to name a couple. Here’s the FAQ:
What the hell’s a firkin? A firkin is a 10.2 gallon vessel, or “cask,” used to hold and serve “real ale.”
What the hell’s real ale? Real ale is a a traditional style of ale in which nearly finished beer is racked off into casks with a bit of yeast left in to let the beer continue to mature. The yeast will then begin a secondary fermentaion in the cask, producing a light, natural carbonation. Once matured, the beer is then served directly from the firkin at a cool (not cold) cellar temperature of 55°F. The light carbonation and the warmer serving temperature allow the subtle flavors of the malt, yeast, and hops to wash over the palate un-hindered.
Why’d you put all that other shit in there? Because we can. The smaller size of the firkin allows us more room for experimentation than a typical keg, so look for dry-hops, fruit, cacao nibs, espresso beans, spices, and all kinds of other additions finding their way into yer beer at this event. Full brewery list: Triple Rock, Jupiter, Drake’s, Cellarmaker, 21st Amendment, Moonlight, Faction, Moylan’s, Peter B’s, Henhouse, Sierra Nevada, Iron Springs, Track 7, Ballast Point, Marin, Freewheel, EJ, Phair, Berryessa, Knee Deep, Social Kitchen
We’re a little over a month out from the Legendary Boonville Beerfest- one of the highlights of the year for California brewers & drinkers alike, and that also means it’s time for our annual Longshot employee competition. The two Longshot winners get a day or two offa slinging IPAX in Berkeley to attend the fest & go sling IPAX in Mendocino.
Win? Win what? WE’RE GETTING THERE.
As we were saying… the first competition is the written test on the history of beer, how it’s tasted, how the styles are defined, and all that. Remember, kids- beer’s as old as society itself, and it took a lot of work by a lot of cultures to get to where we are today. And as a brewpub staff, we gotta know all this beer-nerd shit inside & out, and some will continue their education and get real inside baseball with it, and this is their chance & incentive to show off.
Last year’s winners, Michelle & Marc
On the flip side in the employee recipe contest- employees get to submit a recipe, and the pub (that’s you!) gets to vote on which one they’d like to try, and with a bit of tweaking, Head Brewer Jeff Kimpe & Cellarman Mike Moroney will brew it up for release exclusively at the Boonville Fest and in the pub. Here are this year’s entries, which await your vote right this second in downtown Berkeley:
Casual Blazer - Some venues disrespect a blazer at a glance, not here! Magnum and East Kent Goldings hops, and a rich dose of hemp create a spicy, smoky, nutty Porter that will prove that a casual blazer is fashionable anywhere.
Snap! IPA - This IPA will be herbaceous and resiny with an exotic spice character. Fresh ginger is added to the boil to give a unique twist. Columbus and Chinook hops will be featured prominently and a touch of rye will provide the spiciness.
Col. Mustard - This foamy and golden Belgian Strong Ale with a respectable hop bite and sweetness that is balanced by notes of spicy mustard from additions of brown mustard seeds in the kettle and Belgian rock candi sugar.
Hugh Hef - This smoked strawberry Hefeweizen is built to be smooth, easy drinking and sessionable. Smoked strawberries in the fermenter give a unique twist on the classic style.
Toikkanen Sahti - This unique Sahti starts with a base of pilsner malt and a touch of rye and then juniper berries and twigs, orange peel, and hops provide balancing bitterness.
Orangutan IPA - This hoppy West-coast IPA is brewed with dried orange peel which gives this beer a citrusy tang that compliments it’s strong hop profile. You will go bananas for this zesty primate.
Burlyman – Burlyman is a unique take on the classic Kolsch with Saaz and Magnum hops coming together to provide bitterness and aroma.
IP on A Tree - This IPA is designed to show off the pine aroma and flavor of select hop varietals in a big way and to serve as a piney reminder to all that Stanford sucks.
Jitter Juice - A Pale Ale brewed with green tea and apricots. The perfect sunny afternoon beer to keep you motivated the rest of the day!
Mint Chocolate Sip - A dark, full bodied, mint chocolate take on the Imperial Stout. Mint extract in the boil and fresh mint leaves and cocoa nibs in the fermenter provide depth.
Hell’s Hydration - This refreshing 2xIPA will have a big citrus aroma and a punchy bitterness. Perfect for any occasion – Even in hell!
EDIT: Our SF Beer Week beers:
Nod ‘n’ Smile - Simcoe, Amarillo, Citra and a massive amount of Columbus, offset with a tiny sprinkling of Caramalt to give this Triple IPA the perfect set of shoulders to carry the ridiculous load of hops that are in this 11.2% seasonal ale. Words are not needed when ordering, just Nod & Smile.
Hop Salad - We couldn’t wait to brew up this years Hop Salad! Start with 2-row barley and a little Munich malt. Grab some Cascade, Simcoe, Citra, Amarillo and just a pinch of Columbus. Oh and one very important ingredient, Galaxy. Start Tossin! No Salad dressing needed. 9.6% 81bu’s.
That’s right, beer geeks. The grand mamma jamma of beer events descends onto our half of the state in less than a month, and being the grand mamma jamma of brewpubs, we’re pulling out whatever stops we had left to represent Berkeley as best we can for 2015. Here’s the lineup:
Friday, Feb 6 – SF Beer Week Opening Gala
Move over, Olympics, because SFBW’s opening ceremonies blow you out of the water (and contain 100% fewer hospital beds… what was that, London?). We’ll be there with return favorites Nod N Smile, Hop Salad, Dimmer Switch, and Mister Stout, as well as our Sante Adairius collaboration Cellarman Saison, and a couple new brews we can’t even tell you about yet. Because ninjas or something.
Saturday, Feb 7 – Mister Stout Flight Night
The next day, we’re curmudgeonly staying in-house, for the brewpub release of Mister Stout, alongside a barrel-aged blend of Dragonaut & Nyack barleywines, as well as a blend of both. For those of you who didn’t spend algebra class smoking by the bike parking, that’d be ((Nyack + Dragonaut) + Mister Stout).
Sunday, Feb 8 – The Sour Sunday
Sour Sunday. THE Sour Sunday. The Bay Area sour event so good that it wouldn’t get voted into the Hall Of Fame because of PED rumors. Every year, we, along with Jupiter two blocks down Shattuck, amass one of the best lineups of sour & barrel-aged beer the Bay sees all year. We’ll be hosting all of the imports from Europe (we hear they know a thing or two about sours), as well as the Cellarman Saison collab brew from us & Sante Adairius in Capitola, and a few other American-based collaboration brews. Jupiter will host the rest of the American offerings. Here’s the Facebook event, if you still do that. $40 gets you a glass and 5 tickets, and additional tickets’ll be $5 each.
Dieu du Ciel
Brasserie de Blaugies
Fermentum Birra del Carrobiolo
Wild Beer Co.
Birra del Borgo
Birrificio del Ducato
Gasthaus & Gosebrauerei
Monday, Feb 9 – Three Firkins
You may know our Firkin Fest, which occurs every April, but we’re gonna tease you a bit here during SFBW.
We are putting together a flight of three firkins- IPAX with locally-grown fatali peppers from our neighbors Heat Hot Sauce, Oatland Ace, with oat malt, flaked oats, & golden naked oats stuffed with Mosaic, and Nod n Smile with Galaxy.
Tuesday, Feb 10 – Lunch Special
A redux of last year, we’re getting together with those jerks at Faction Brewing in Alameda and Drake’s Brewing in San Leandro for a double IPA trio- Hop Soup (Faction), Hop Salad (us), and Hop Sandwich (Drake’s), paired with a soup, salad, and sandwich combo the beers take their names from. If yer smart, you knew to take SFBW off work, so now we got your lunch covered. (Yes, we’ll have veggie options, you hippies.) And afterwards, head down to see our buddies at Jupiter for their Coffee IPA flight event with Highwire.
Friday, Feb 13 – Cellarman Saison Two Ways
As in years past, we’ve hooked up with Tim Clifford, owner/brewer of Sante Adairius Rustic Ales in Capitola. This three-year-new collaboration with again feature Cellarman Saison, a tribute to the mostly-anonymous laborers who make that beer you’re drinking possible (they’re the beer equivalent of “don’t piss off the secretary”). We’ll have a fresh batch on tap here at the pub, as well as a barrel-aged version of last year’s batch, available side-by-side.
Saturday, Feb 14 – Dimmer Switch
We don’t know why Beer Week insists on encroaching on Valentine’s Day, but we here at the Rock like to embrace the chaos, or whatever. Dimmer Switch Chocolate Milk Stout drops this night, paired with a threesome of house-made desserts designed to both pair with, and include, the beer. Not only will it be tasty for the beer geek reading some brewpub’s blog, but it’ll be a great intro to pairing for that guy you’re dating who still crushes beer cans on his forehead (girl, come on with him).
Sunday, Feb 15 – Hangovers & Parties
Yeah, we may have overbooked Sunday, but… whatever. We haven’t made it 28 years by not being dumb and ambitious. We’ll open the day with your Beer Week Hangover Breakfast- Jesse’s own Monte Cristo Sandwich, handed down from generation to generation in Jesse’s hometown Johnson City, NY, renowned for its French cuisine (or at least will be as soon as we edit its Wikipedia page). Being towards the end of SF Beer Week, this sandwich will mercifully come with a side of Tums.
Later on that afternoon, we’ll be heading up the street to Cheeseboard for a guided pairing of their cheese & our beer. We’d done similar at Triple Rock as part of our Tuesday Pairings, and this one was so popular, we decided to bring it back for Beer Week, this time, over on their turf.
…the Celebrator Beer News 27th Anniversary Bash, the de facto closing ceremonies of Beer Week, hosted by our neighbors at Trumer Brauerei.
Reindeer Ale: This hearty stag gallops through a forest of pine and citrus, and at 8.7% ABV, this Imperial Red Ale will have you flying through the wintery night sky, keeping you warm and toasty.
Tinsel Tears: Your eyes are welling up, looking at the Christmas lights, thinking about the one that got away. Well… look at it this way- you have a pint of Tinsel Tears Winter Warmer to hold on to. Slight coffee roast aroma with flavors of citrus, spice and a hint of coffee malt. Somewhere around 7.1% ABV & 47 IBUs.
Sugar Spun: Dark chocolate covered fruit, cocoa, vanilla and just the right amount of Flux cold brewed coffee make this holiday seasonal dark brew a soon to be favorite. TCHO cocoa powder, whole Madagascar vanilla beans, Flux Coffee and one secret ingredient. Don’t worry if you didn’t get a stocking this year. Everything you want is in the glass. ABV TBD.
Festivus MiracAle: I believe in miracles… you sexy brew. 2015′s vintage has 2-row barley & crystal oats, spiced with East Kent Goldings and Nelson Sauvin. 5.2% ABV & 50 IBUs. The original Festivus brew. Which… hey, why didn’t Kramer ever start brewing?
First off, a housekeeping note. As always, Triple Rock will be open Thanksgiving, Christmas, and every other damn day of the year, ya heard? This year, we’ll have a special firkin of “Turkeyhead“- Monkeyhead with cranberry & orange zest- and our GM Jesse will be manning the kitchen himself, whipping up a limited menu of turkey burgers and ostrich chili, along with a veggie burger & vegan chili. (The attitude, as always, is included.)
Secondly, you may have noticed a little extra kick in one of our beers lately- specifically the In-Flux Coffee Stout. That’s right, ya’ll, Flux Coffee over in the City is hooking it up for a series of coffee-infused brews you’ll be able to enjoy at the pub as the weather FINALLY starts to its damn job and rain already. In-Flux Coffee Stout, the first of our Jolt Series, clocks in at 7% ABV & 20 IBUs. This brew has three unique ingredients: Coffee malt, oat crystal malt, and- in our opinion- the best cold brewed coffee around town. Major thanks to Arsalan and his team at Flux. We are really proud of this beer, and Flux should feel the same about their own brewing. People can look forward to more Jolt Series beers featuring Flux Coffee coming up… “Sugar Spun Winter Porter” is up next.
“Man, Triple Rock blog post, that sounds like a lot of brewing on top of all that IPAX and SHE Series and everything else! How do you DO it all?” First off, don’t talk to blog posts, unless you’re just trying to get a seat on BART. Secondly, we have fresh meat in the brewhouse in the form of new assistant brewer Michael Moroney, a Michiganer like Jeff Kimpe. Mike’s last gig was at Arbor Brewing Co. in Ann Arbor Michigan, but we’re thrilled to have him on our staff here in Berkeley. Here’s the official bio:
Mike Moroney originally hails from Oberlin, Ohio. After many years of imbibing the wondrous beverage of beer, Mike attempted to brew his own in 2008. After half a year’s time of homebrewing, he started volunteering at Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti, MI (now known as ABC Microbrewery). With some dues paid and many a day catching bottles at the end of a four-headed Maheen in exchange for free beer, he was hired on part time at the production facility Corner Brewery. Shortly thereafter, the head brewer at Corner’s sister company Arbor Brewing Company was in need of an assistant, and Mike joined forces with Bill Gerds at the pub in downtown Ann Arbor. Between 2009-2011, Mike split his time between the production facility and the pub, maintaining cellarman status while learning to brew on both systems. By the end of 2011, Mike took on the role of lead brewer at Corner Brewery and was brewing 5 days a week between both Arbor and Corner breweries.
In 2012, Mike took over the headbrewing position at Arbor Brewing Company when the previous headbrewer, Logan Schaedig, departed for the opening of ABC India in Bangalore. As headbrewer for Arbor Brewing Company, Mike developed new recipes and brewed the year round offerings and seasonal releases. He also maintained a sour barrel program, keeping four sours available in bottles at all times, and pioneered a new sour draft program. Mike remained the headbrewer at Arbor until late summer of 2014 when he relocated to Berkeley, CA. Mike couldn’t be more thrilled to be working with a fellow brewer as accomplished as Jeff Kimpe and for a place as awesome as Triple Rock. The similarities between Arbor Brewing Company and Triple Rock are unreal, whether it’s the 7 bbl brewhouse and fermentation space, or the wonderful pub feel and interconnectedness of the staff and community.
And lastly, fittingly, our Tuesday Pairings series is coming to an end for the year tomorrow with Berkeley’s own Cinnaholic (get yer tickets right here). While this is a more-literally-than-most bittersweet moment, you guys seem to like the Tuesday Pairing series s’damn much, we’re planning to bring it back next year. The whole idea of these things was to celebrate the rich culinary culture we have in Berkeley & the Bay Area- we saw Alice Waters get out of a car once, you know- and it looks like you guys were down with that, as we hosted everyone from newcomer POP Mama POP to Cheeseboard Collective, and we’re looking forward to doing much more of the same in 2015. (Psst… we might even spin one of this year’s tasting into an SFBW event next year.)