Happy 2014 to all of you!
We are pleased to say that with your love and dedicated support we have made it through our first three months and are feeling pretty darn good about it. Many of you know well all that it took to get our doors open and now we are finally beginning to see our vision take shape. Back in November we were thrilled to read this very kind review by Luke Tsai in East Bay Express, and just last week we were listed amongst both the "Hot New East Bay Restaurants" by Berkeleyside, and on Inside Scoop's list of "The Biggest Bay Area Restaurant and Bar Openings of 2013." It has been so exciting to watch Hog's take-off and start to become a positive and fun addition to this community. Thank you all so much!
Today we are expanding our hours as well as adding a sixth night of service. We are now officially serving food until 11pm and drink until 12am Wed-Mon every week. We hope these new hours will allow some of our fellow service industry folks to join us more frequently. We are a collection of veteran restaurant and bar workers who know how hard it can be to find real food after work and how frustrating it is when the new place you want to check out happens to be closed on your only free nights. So, come on through, we will be here with a bunch of delicious beers and sausages.
(REAL) REAL ALE MONDAYS WITH FREE WHEEL BREWING:
Speaking of Mondays, we have just finalized plans for a collaborative "Real Ale" program with Free Wheel Brewing in Redwood City. Many of you may have come across "Cask-Conditioned" or "Cask" beers before. Sadly in this country these beers are almost always improperly presented. More often than not what you end up with in the glass is simply a flatter, warmer version of the beer you likely already knew. To properly present real ale each cask of beer should actually be "finished" on the same premises where it is to be dispensed. This requires an intimate collaboration between the brewer and the publican, and takes our dedication to serving only "Brewery-Fresh" beers here at Hog's even one step further.
Enter scientist-turned-brewer Malcolm McGinnis and the rest of our new friends at Free Wheel. Free Wheel was established in 2012 with the mission of brewing and serving true English-style "Session Beer" here in the US. By partnering with legendary UK breweries, Green Jack and Ironbridge as well as strictly adhering to the guidelines set-forth by Great Britain's uncompromising Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA) Free Wheel has been able to offer visitors to their pub an experience rarely replicated outside of the United Kingdom.
At Hog's It has always been part of the expressed mission of our beer program to demonstrate that by-in-large beer is not a slave to geography. For the most part any style of beer should be able to be produced most anywhere on the planet. Thusly, it should not be necessary to ship kegs, bottles and cans all over the world to supply beer drinker's with the full spectrum of potential beer character. That said, many of the great English styles of beer are not flattered by the colder temperature and higher Co2 pressures associated with an American draft beer dispense system. As a result these styles are seldom seem on tap in the US.
We'd be derelict in our mission to showcase all that local beer can be if we did not get our act together and attempt do this "real ale" thing properly. Later today a cask of Free Wheel's still fermenting "Hybrid IPA," complete with a fresh charge of hops, will travel from the Free Wheel Brewery in Redwood City to our pub here in Oakland where it will finish conditioning. At 5pm sharp next Monday the 13th, we will be joined by Malcolm and some more of his crew and the cask will be tapped. The goal will be to drink the entire cask's worth of brew that night so will be holding a late night happy-hour of sorts. Starting at 10pm any remaining pints of "Hybrid IPA" will be just $4!
We are very excited about this relationship and sincerely hope that we are able to demonstrate what a unique and satisfying treat "real-ale" can be.
OUR FIRST SF BEER WEEK!
San Francisco beer week is just over a month away and if the past years have been any indication it is going to be freaking bonkers. It wouldn't be in the spirit of the week for us not to jump in whole-hog. Here is a preview of what we have planned:
Sunday, February 9th - “The So-Cal You Should Know” - 5pm-12am - no pre-sale, a la carte -
It is a widely held fact that Southern California, specifically San Diego County is one of, if not the, craft beer mecca in the United States. Names like Stone, Ballast Point, Lost Abbey, and Green Flash are just a few of the breweries that spring to mind when one mentions beer in California’s southland. While these brewers make some wonderful beers, you certainly don't need us to introduce them to you. At Hog’s it has always been part of our mission to provide you with something that you might not have tasted before and we love doing our part to help establish worthy brewers who might be new to the market here in the Bay. With that in mind we thought we'd take advantage of SFBW’s magnetic power to provide a showcase for four of our favorite So-Cal producers:
This will be a simple "meet-the-brewery" style of event. Entry will be first-come, first-served. There will be some curated flights from the breweries listed above but everything will also be available a la carte. More info on exactly which beers will be featured will be released as the event approaches.
Tuesday, February 11th - “From The Seed To The Kernel - A Dinner with Drake's and HenHouse” - 2 seatings - 6pm and 8:30pm - pre-sale tickets go on sale Jan. 18th - limited to 120 guests
I can't imagine that any of you reading this e-mail are unaware of San Leandro's Drake's Brewing Company. Drake’s is the East Bay’s stalwart production brewery, having opened in 1989. Among the many wonderful aspects of the Drake's legacy is that they have employed a veritable “who’s who” of Bay Area brewing talent. A number of former Drake's brewers have gone on to open their own breweries. The latest in this line of brewers is Collin McDonnel, who has joined with partner Shane Goepel to open HenHouse Brewing Company in Petaluma, CA.
- Craftsman Brewing is a small owner-operated brewery, located in Pasadena, CA. Brewer Mark Jilg demonstrates a penchant for brewing the sort of beers that you can casualy drink two or three glasses of. Because Mark produces subtle restrained beers styles that many other American craft-breweries have avoided, it is almost essential to work with Craftsman if one wants to offer the full-spectrum of potential beer character without relying on imports.
- Automatic Brewing is a 10bbl (20 large kegs at a time) brewery located in the back of Blind Lady Ale House in the Normal Heights area of San Diego. It is owned and operated by Lee Chase, the founding brewmaster who made Stone Brewing. Lee is a legend in the brewing world who is universally respected. Hog’s is the only Bay Area account with the honor of working with Automatic. We are super lucky.
- Societe Brewing is a 20bbl brewery in the Kearny Mesa area of San Diego. Owners Travis Smith and Doug Constantiner are both veteran brewers with resumes that include places like Russian River and The Bruery. At Hog's we have especially admired Societe's Belgian-style ales, so much so that we began harassing them for beer nearly a month before we opened. Today we are one of about five accounts with the privilege of pouring Societe beers in the Bay.
- Eagle Rock Brewery was the first among a burgeoning crop of young breweries now popping up all over the greater Los Angeles area. When they opened in 2009 they were the first new brewery to open within the Los Angeles city limits in over 60 years. We were honored to pour Eagle Rock's flagship Dark Mild Ale, "Solidarity" as part of our opening list. Our Cicerone, Sayre is particularly found of this brew.
HenHouse will be celebrating it’s second anniversary just a few nights after this dinner and the boys are rapidly gaining recognition for a quirky catalog that consists of things like a remarkably tasteful Saison with black pepper, an 11% ABV Belgian-style Strong Golden Ale that boasts a wine-like impact and complexity, and our favorite, a precocious Oyster Stout designed to “smell like an ocean breeze.”
Drake's and HenHouse are collaborating on a special brew for SFBW 2014, a Barrel-Aged Belgian-style Strong Dark Ale. Hog's is honored to have been chosen as one of the venues where this beer will be launched. To celebrate we will be offering a multi-course menu, prepared by Chef John and his staff, paired with beers from both breweries. We will be joined by Drake's head-brewer John Gillooly as well as Shane and Collin from HenHouse. We do expect tickets for this night to be in high-demand. There will be an early and a late seating. Menu and a ticket sales link will be posted on our facebook page and the SFBW website presently.
Wednesday, February 12th - “Beer Vs. Wine - A Dinner with Moonlight Brewing and Salinia Winery” - Doors 6pm, Dinner 7pm - pre-sale tickets go on sale Jan. 18th - limited to 60 guests
This is without question the most ambitious event we have planned for SFBW 2014. We will be presenting a five-course meal, prepared by Chef John and his crew, each course paired with both a Moonlight Brewing Company beer and a Salinia/NPA wine.
Moonlight: Brian Hunt’s Moonlight Brewing Company was essentially a one-man venture for its first decade of operation. In-spite of insatiable demand from all over the world, Moonlight remains a small, uncompromising operation to this day. All Moonlight beers fall between 4.5% and 6.2% ABV, and yet their catalog is one of the most eclectic in all of craft-brewing. Typically foregoing established beer styles Brian’s recipes are complex and carefully calibrated occasionally utilizing herbs, barks and other botanicals that he forages himself. It has been a great honor to pour Moonlight beers at Hog's, and Brian's willingness to join us in this crazy of an undertaking is even more flattering.
Salinia: In the sphere of California wine, no one asks the hard questions, takes risks, and continually strives for timelessness and truth in wine like Kevin Kelley. His "Salinia" and "Natural Process Alliance" wines set a singular standard for purity and true "terroir" in California. For the team at Hog's Apothecary, there is no more compelling and reliably awe-inspiring winemaker than Kevin. He's one hell of a nice guy, too, and we're honored to collaborate with him for this special event.
This will be a ticketed-only event. There will be only one seating. Menu and a ticket sales link will be posted on our facebook page and the SFBW website presently.
Thursday, February 12th - “Collaborative Beer Launch with Cellarmaker and Berryessa” - 5pm-12am - no pre-sale, ala-carte -
Forcing ourselves to focus on local brewery's that distribute directly has had the wonderful consequence of allowing us to delve more deeply into the catalogs of the breweries we love than we might have otherwise. Sometimes this leads us to realize that a certain brewery is good at some things but not as adept at others. In the case of San Francisco's Cellarmaker and Winters, CA's Berryessa Brewing however, this has lead to precisely the opposite realization.
Whether it's a subtle lager, a malty brown-ale, a beastly DIPA, a Belgian-style ale, or a tastefully balanced session beer, literally every beer that we've poured from these two young breweries has been exemplary. In fact, I do not think there has been one-day of operation at Hog's where our list did not feature at least one offering from Berryessa or Cellarmaker on tap. Most days these two operations are responsible for four or five of our lines.
Given all this, you can imagine our excitement when we learned that Cellarmaker and Berryessa would be brewing a collaboration beer for SFBW. We all but demanded to host the release party. Both brewers will join us for the event which will feature a few flights composed of beers from both outfits. All of the featured beers will be available a la carte as well. Entry will be first-come, first-served.
Sunday, February 17th - “Luncheon and Eclipse Tasting with Fifty Fifty Brewmaster Todd Ashman” - Noon - 3:30pm - pre-sale tickets go on sale Jan. 18th - limited to 60 guests
Aging beer in barrels is becoming more commonplace each day it would seem. Todd Ashman of Truckee, CA's Fifty-Fifty Brewing is more than any other person, directly responsible for this trend. Todd was the first brewer to win a GABF award for a barrel-aged beer and is widely regarded as the un-matched authority on aging craft beer in spirit barrels. Todd's "Eclipse" Imperial Stout has become one of the most sought-after beers in the world, with particularly rare bottles frequently fetching hundreds of dollars on the secondary market.
On the final Sunday of SFBW Todd will be joining us at the pub for our first ever lunch service. Chef John will prepare a Beer-Hall style luncheon to be served family style alongside some of Todd's favorite brews. After the meal guests will be treated to a tasting of at 3 different iterations of the 2013 Eclipse Imperial:
- Four Roses Bourbon Barrel
- High West Bourbon Barrel
- Java Coffee Bourbon Barrrel Blend
Guests will also be served a pour of "Totality" the Imperial Stout that serves as the base beer for Eclipse. Todd will be guiding the tasting and we can attest that Todd's ability to speak to all of the nuances of barrel-aging beer is truly fascinating. There will be only the one afternoon seating, menu and a ticket sales link will be posted on our facebook page and the SFBW website presently.
MORE MUG CLUB!
Lastly we wanted to mention that we are offering a special expansion of our "Mug Club." You may have seen a few of our guests drinking their brews out of 22oz detailed mugs. These lucky folks are members of our "Mug Club," a benefit we offered before opening as part of our indie-go-go campaign. At that time we only offered a very small number of life-time memberships. Since our opening many of you have mentioned that you'd be interested in the Mug Club but were unsure about the life-long commitment. We get it, people move, get pregnant, swear off gluten, whatever.
Mug club benefits include things like a free extra 6oz-8oz of beer each time you order and first chance to buy tickets for all of our SFBW events. If you are interested send an e-mail with the subject line "Mug Club" to email@example.com and we will reply with the details.
Thanks again so much for your interest in what we are doing. We really like doing it.
The Hog's Apothecary,
PS - Come see us soon... like tonight soon... Late tonight, because you can now and that's awesome.