The Bruery Plants Roots With New Beer

IMG_8403When sampling beer, the power of suggestion is infinite. Pour a black beer and your brain gets ready for chocolate, coffee or roast. With a steaming hot burrito from a taco truck wrapped in foil, your brain tells the senses to expect a pillowy hot tortilla, juicy meats, and creamy guacamole to balance things out. “Get that mouth watering”, you brain tells your glands, counting on that luscious first bite.

When news of the Bruery’s new Belgian pale ale, Jardinier (French for Gardener) hit, my brain quickly put together the flavor profile notes I should expect in a precise, beer advocate-ish annoying way.

“It should taste like a Belgian-style pilsner-malted ale”, my brain told my senses. “It should smell fruity and spicy with some wet hay notes; because I clearly know Bruery beer aroma profiles,” my brain continued in its best drunken Todd Alstöm Boston accent.

Then my arms and hands poured it. My brain shut off and let my senses take over as I smelled it.  Nose in the glass like a bee in a bush, my nose reports back confidently, “musty rose petals, peach nectar and over ripe mango.” My simple brain forces my face to make a knowing look, nodding dorkishly with my bottom lip sticking out as if to say, “I fucking knew it,” even though I was completely wrong.

The honey-hazed beer looking back at me, I take a few sips and wait for what my palate reports back. Perplexed, it repeats the sip several times. “Is the name of the beer literal?” my brain nags. My tongue reports confidently “cherry tomatoes” to my brain and my brain is saying, “you have the worst palate on the face of the fucking planet.”

“It’s like the acidity of a ripe juicy cherry tomato, with a retro-nasal aroma-flavor of a garden-fresh tomato, you asshole!” my tongue and nose report back. My emotions tell everyone to chill the fuck out at this point. “It’s a thinking beer that tastes good,” my emotions say, trying to chill the situation like a mental fire extinguisher.

Wrapping it up, my brain causes my shoulders to shrug and lungs to sigh as the beer is now sadly empty. It commands the laptop to be opened and type these words.

Jardinier is a fascinating beer for 4.9% ABV. At first I wondered why the Bruery would make a gardeners lawnmower beer (based on the name). After sipping, that’s not the intention at all. it lends itself toward a table beer pairing excellently with fresh vegetables, salad, bruschetta and other delicate tapas. It’s refreshing, palate cleansing and most of all…interesting.

Thanks to the Bruery for a preview bottle. This beer will probably be in your hand and brain soon. 

Best Place to Drink a Beer, Eat a Sandwich and Watch a Sunset | Dory Deli – Newport Beach

IMG_8142A wise man once said, a deli isn’t something one is willing to drive out of their way for in Orange County, much less wait in line. A workman’s lunch should be close, easily accessible, affordable, predictable and tasty. That wise man was me…until a recent visit to a deli afoot the Newport Beach pier, Dory Deli.

P1080877With the sunset backdrop to a thousand selfies, a rare winters wind blew me towards this potential sandwich hot spot. Their bright cobalt lit sign juxtaposed over horizontal wooden planks and a weathervane pointing toward the waves draws me in. Friendly faces smile and welcome me into their warm brick interior filled with family photos and knick knacks.

P1080881Expecting ‘Newport Beach’ beer selections, seeing familiar Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Ballast Point Sculpin and Pizza Port Brewing The Chronic, I exhale a sigh of relief scanning their case. Eight taps sit behind the counter with various lagers and local craft beer, some of which is brewed a few miles away.

P1080885Food-wise, Dory Deli doesn’t just have personality, it has full-fledged multiple personality disorder. I can’t think of anywhere else in the world where an old Jewish mother, a vegan surfer, a south-Philadelphian and a picky kid can sit down over a proper sangwich, a knish and perhaps a fun craft soda for the kid.

P1080889For the post-surf breakfast or pre-yoga sesh, a ‘Yoga Pants’ burrito (Egg whites, peppadew peppers, arugula, Parmesan cheese) would easily square off next to Keen coffee/espresso piped through their rare Slayer machine. For dinner, a Figgy Burger (Fig preserves, goat cheese crème, caramelized onions, brioche bun) would go great with Barley Forge’s The Patsy (rye coconut stout). My pick for meatless Monday would be their buffalo cauliflower (Buffalo Mary) with smoked potato salad paired with an Alesmith Nut Brown Ale. There’s so many combinations that pique my interest, Dory did what I didn’t think was possible. She got in my head. She will make my choice of beach to visit that much easier.

P1080888Nine months of the year, parking isn’t an issue with plenty of metered parking right out front. After 6 P.M, the meters are free and there was tons of parking. They’re located at the foot of Newport Beach’s pier at 2108 3/4 Oceanfront Dr. Newport Beach and open from 6 A.M til Midnight. opens 1/26/2015 at 6am. 

Super proud dad moment #452: My eight year old daughter got invited to Dory Deli’s media preview. Here is her review! We will be back to review the kids menu soon.

Dory Deli

Gallery: Bagby Beer Co. – Oceanside CA

P1080836Placed perfectly between Orange County and San Diego, Bagby Beer Company opened it’s doors 2014. Expecting a small brewpub, I was shocked to see they converted a car dealership to an expansive maze of bars, indoor/outdoor seating and open air indoor halls. A short walk from the train station and the beach, Bagby Beer Company makes a great stop for a South OC crawl around San Clemente, lunch on the way down to San Diego, or a late night stop on the way back up.

The beer? I sampled twelve house beers with a wide spectrum of west coast, Belgian and British styles. All beers presented were unique with varying yeast, body, color and bitterness profiles. One common thread was a high ester profile across the beers. Guest taps are also available with many great choices.

The food? Moderately priced, fresh and something for everyone, including the foodiest of foodies.

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OCBeerBlog Favorite Beer Moments of 2014

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GABF Media Luncheon – credit John Holzer @FourBrewers

People often ask me, “What’s your favorite beer?” My reply is usually a stupid canned answer, “The one in my hand.” It’s much deeper than that though. Beer is a moment; a snapshot in time. It’s not always about the rarest or most costly of beers. Often it’s the time, the place or the people I’m surrounded with that make a beer truly memorable. Here’s ten of those favorite beer moments and snapshots from this past year in no particular order.

Fullscreen capture 12302014 103819 AM.bmp1) Hitting my 1000’th Untappd check in at Beachwood BBQ & Brewing with the Hops of Brixton, poured by my favorite gal, the Beer Bird herself Catelyn Willig. The beer is a bold ESB shining with British cracker-like malts clashing with East Kent Golding hops. It’s one of my favorites at Beachwood and get it first. Extraordinary!

10296261_10203874627050886_7166790387008297076_o2) Camping at the Firestone Winery and drinking one-off Barrelworks beers at Firestone Walker’s original brewhouse? This totally didn’t suck! One beer that stood out was a wine/beer blend called “Zin Skin” that poured with a huge fluffy three inch head; only to watch it disappear like a big bubble being popped. Pictured is galpal beer writer Erika Bolden snapping a shot of DBA while on the back of a flat bed in a grape field.

Fullscreen capture 12302014 103421 AM.bmp3) When you get invited into the Coolship room at Allagash Brewing in Portland, Maine, you go in. When you uncork a beer that was spontaneously fermented in there, that’s pretty damn spectacular. Arguably one of the most acidic beers I’ve had in recent memory, Coolship Cerise simultaneously melted my tooth enamel and caused “instaboner”. But was there sex in the coolship room? I’ll never tell.

Fullscreen capture 12302014 103210 AM.bmp4) Flying into Denver for GABF and resetting the palate with a familiar beer is always a great idea. When the beer is Blind Pig from Russian River, it’s even better. Joined by Four Brewers compadre John Holzer, we dined at the Kitchen in downtown Denver and nearly watched a guy choke to death on water. Truly memorable!

Fullscreen capture 12302014 103521 AM.bmp5) For some reason, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream thought, “hey, lets team up with OCBeerBlog for a special tour of OC breweries.” Challenge accepted! One highlight was having the B&J truck stop at Bottle Logic to hand out free samples of their Core Tour stuff. Bottle Logic put on a special cherry milk stout to make impromptu Cherry Garcia beer floats! Check out their blog post here. 

Fullscreen capture 12302014 103432 AM.bmp6) TØRST in Brooklyn is one bar you must visit on the east coast. It’s pretty much like one part Mikkeller Bar in San Francisco mixed with one part Beachwood BBQ; so much so that they even have a flux capacitor and dual draft temp zones. I drank some remarkable beers, but my favorite was I Love You With My Stout by Evil Twin.

temptation7) I never thought Russian River would have two spots in my top ten list as I’m not a huge fanboy. But hey, getting the second pour of Temptation from a 9 Liter bottle by Vinnie Cilurzo himself? Out-fucking-standing. Firestone Walker’s Invitational Beer Festival remains my favorite thing to do besides sex. FACT.

Fullscreen capture 12302014 103353 AM.bmp8) Taking an unreleased beer off of Golden Road’s new canning line, cracking it, snorting the can-hole, then chugging it is number eight on my list. Thanks to the Beer Blogger’s Conference for the exclusive access behind the scenes for this guy…and thanks to Meg, Tony, Laurel, Sara, Franny, Tim, Jesse and the rest of the team there I call friends. Victor? He wasn’t there yet, but thanks anyways, el hefe.

Fullscreen capture 12302014 103739 AM.bmp9) Of all the ways for a yet-to-be opened brewery to show off their skills, Three Weavers quickly won over my heart with this collaboration with Noble Ale Works. The Messenger was indeed a message in a bottle, saying “hey, I’m a citrusy IPA made with Buddha’s Hand fruit and other fun stuff.” I loved this beer, Noble, and Alex Nowell quite a bit.

1Fullscreen capture 12302014 103626 AM.bmp0) The Bruery makes some tantalizing big barrel aged beers. Their anniversary series has been one that I’ve dismissed in years past until I sipped Sucré. With any solera blended beer, there’s a sweet spot where the liquid can take on a fruity note. I guess year five was it for this beer! Layered with fruit, toffee, oak, vanilla, brown sugar and other confectionary adjectives, this beer is insane. Sampled at their anniversary event at the Phoenix Club among friends, brewers and great BBQ from Beachwood…this rounds out my list perfectly. If I had to pick another, #11 would be sipping Sour in the Rye from a barrel in the not-yet-opened Terreux. Shhhhh! Don’t tell anyone!

 

Hot ‘Buzz on Buzz’ Action – Portola Coffee Invades Iron Press Tap Takeover

6:42 PM on a Tuesday, The Iron Press, OC Mix, Costa Mesa, California, USA, Earth, Milky Way, dot on the back of a ladybug in an alternate universe.

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Much how a car runs on oil, The Iron Press runs on beer. Each tap handle a piston, each waffle sandwich an airbag punching you in the face and each beer the gasoline that pumps through our sparkplugged-veins. Tonight, we’re getting lubricated with high-octane turbo caffeinated beers; all Portola Coffee Lab infusions from (mostly) local breweries.

After a flight, I find myself clutching the bar tightly with one hand and curiously tapping the drum solo to Rush’s Tom Sawyer with the other. Curious, because DJ LexaKhan’s turntable is spinning Depeche Mode’s “Just Can’t Get it Up.” “Can I get a Heyay! Can I get a Ho-oh!” he requests waving his hand in the air. The highly java-based beer buzz yields an immediate response from the tightly packed P-shaped restaurant; some found it proper to wave their shaky beers around in the air (like they just don’t care).

Portola lives and breathes just a few steps from The Iron Press in the OC Mix. Jeff Duggan, the owner/roaster is at this event; smiling, intense and looking like Rick Moranis in ‘Honey I Shrunk the Kids’. “What’s your favorite so far?” he asks, sliding his glasses up his nose fastidiously. “Smog City’s Fluffy Fuzz Buzz,” I reply, noting the Kongo beans blending well with the base beer. He nods, knowingly, “Hmmm, yes”.

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Sitting in the blind spot.

The beer menu at this event is ripe with seventeen varieties, laid out with ABV’s ranging 3.8% to 13.8%. As I was expecting all stouts, I’m astonished with the variety of styles. Graetzer, Flemish Red, Cream Ale, Stout, Amber, Tripel and Porter are here presenting the range of choices that work with Portola’s beans to varying success. Some beers are production versions, such as Noble’s Naughty Sauce and the Bruery’s Mash & Grind. Others are one-offs for the event.

After sipping Epic’s Big Bad Baptist with a shot of espresso tossed in at serving, I take my light jacket off and lean back. Sweat forming on my brow, this beer is a real leg-crosser. I’m somehow channeling my inner-Italian Spiderman, sipping my beer like a freshly-fired macchiato…pinkie out and making subtle slurping noises.

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My faves: Torrance’s Smog City and Monkish

The fruitiest beer of the bunch, Monkish’s Caffè della Vita melded dark fruit coffee notes, nutty pistachio, vanilla and Belgian yeast esthers behind a very well hidden 9.8% ABV. What’s with these Torrance guys killing it? Topping things off, I even got a shoulder massage from Monkish’s Brian White, claiming “you look tense.” You bet your ass I look tense. The Iron Press is tense with uppers and downers fighting for your soul like a tug-o-war. If terrorists were to attack the OC Mix, safe to say the people inside this restaurant would fucking roll their non-caffeinated sober asses like a pissed off beehive.

010ee09f55a15b4d2e799062a203623b143e9a8612The Iron Press roped off the patio creating an outdoor space for Beer Savage swag and casks from Cismontane and Coronado Brewing. Blue Bridge Coffee Stout, one of my favorite easy to get $5/22oz coffee stouts. Sadly, it lacks any tickling of carbonation. Cismontane’s Roja I used to be a fan of, however this version has a funky acetobacter type sourness and hints of mildewy wood on the finish.

Overall, I consider Portola Coffee Labs to be among the brewing community and this evening proves it. Great beers, DJ Lex is always a pro, and the Iron Press continues to be the best place to grab a beer in Costa Mesa.

As the Brewery World Turns

OC Brewer Moves Bring Questions

astheworldturnsSurely you’ve seen recent news of brewers moving around to different breweries. While this drama is fascinating, the role of OCBeerBlog isn’t to report on this as news. While I do find it newsworthy on some level, sites like The Full Pint do a fantastic job getting scoops and reporting accurate stories within a few hours. My time is much more wisely spent sharing their stories via social media.

OCBeerBlog will only chime in if the personnel changes have an impact on beer quality. For instance, when brewer Evan Price moved from TAPS to Noble Ale Works. He left behind a talented bunch: Victor Novak, Dave Hulls and Kyle Manns. Noble’s beer quality improved greatly with the change and TAPS continued to win medals at GABF and WBC from 2012-13.

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Kyle Manns photo – @jessicajrice BeerandBaking.com

Where the story gets interesting: The rest of the tenured brewing team left TAPS throughout 2014. Kyle Manns to Bottle Logic, Dave Hulls to Barley Forge and Victor Novak to Golden Road; leaving a skeleton crew of two assistant brewers to keep TAPS’ taps flowing.

Following Victor’s departure up to L.A., Dave Hulls hopped back to TAPS having never brewed a batch of beer on the system he helped forge in the new Costa Mesa brewery. Kyle Manns, who also helped Bottle Logic build the brewery and win gold at GABF, moved back to TAPS.

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Dave Hulls and Victor Novak at GABF 2013 with medals for Helles and Schwarzbier.

Certainly the moves bring up many questions. While we all assume Kyle and Dave left TAPS to pursue independent careers following Evan’s success with Noble, the move back is more than baffling. Did Joe Manzella give the brewers carte blanche to brew the beers they want to make with a fat raise? Will they still craft classic lagers and Remy? Does Bottle Logic have too many cooks in the kitchen? Will Golden Road nail some GABF medals with Victors tried and true lager techniques?

I guess the point I’m trying to make is brewer moves are indeed fun gossip, but at the end of the day, it’s all about what’s in the glass that matters. Although Bottle Logic has big brew-boots to fill, I’d be shocked to see their quality dip. As for TAPS, keep an eye out for new styles. Golden Road? I hear their Schwarzbier is delish.

this is a whole different story

This is a whole different story.

Meet up at Meatup BBQ

Food Truck Stars Bring Brick and Mortar BBQ Beer Bar to Placentia – By Jante Ziarra

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When you step into Meat Up BBQ, the scent of smokehouse barbecue fills the air, you’re greeted with 25 beers on tap, and you think to yourself, this is exactly where I want to be. Look a little closer at the tap handles and you’ll find your heart racing at the anticipation you face wanting to get a pint glass to your mouth as some liquid goodness rolls down your throat. That, my friends, is Meat Up BBQ.

As a transplant living in Orange County for the past two and a half years, I quickly learned that I’ve lived in the best place in the world for food trucks and craft beer, Orange County.

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Meat-tasrophe – Chili Verdi Fries

Some of my favorite food trucks were discovered at breweries– The Viking Truck at The Bruery and GarlicScapes, at Bootleggers. These trucks have been serving Orange County before I ever got here and I suppose I’ve lived here long enough to see my two favorite food trucks get together and birth the perfect child of barbecue and beer– Meat Up BBQ. Yes, the masterminds behind my two favorite food trucks have joined forces to create all that is holy and gain control over what beers they serve with their food.

Food trucks have been popping up left and right and have taken their success to opening up a brick and mortar restaurant, complete with the same food you’d find on the truck. While noshing off a truck at a brewery is still great, Meat Up reverses the equation by picking beers to pair with a solid menu. 

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respect the beard at Meatup

Meat Up BBQ takes what we know and love here in California and adds it to some southern style barbecue to create what they call “West Coast barbecue.” They have chili verde fries that include pulled pork, featured a chicken sandwich that had pickled vegetables just as a bahn mi would, and even cornbread made with oranges that the owner, Luis, was kind enough to let me try.

Now for that tap list. I must say, that’s what drew me in more than the food when I saw they had my favorite beer, Anderson Valley’s The Kimmie, The Yink, and the Holy Gose on tap! Once I got there, Knee Deep Brewing’s Simtra and High Water Brewing’s Campfire Stout distracted me from getting the Gose. These were beers I haven’t tried and have not come across. 

The next time I went, news of a collab from Knee Deep and Kern River lured me in. Some might argue that it’s better than Pliny the Elder, but I’d have to try them side-by-side to prove that argument. 

The 25 beers on tap are always rotating, so don’t get comfortable! Luis is working on getting beers from Colorado, Oregon, and Washington next and doesn’t want to limit himself to local beers. He’s seeking brews from “whoever makes great beer!”

Check out Meat Up BBQ at the 57 Freeway/Yorba Linda Blvd near Cal State Fullerton.

OCBeerBlog is very excited to have our first blog contributor, Jante Ziarra. She’s a native Hawaiian, world traveller, journalism major, gastonerd and most importantly, a beer geek. Her stories are simple windows to the world paired with dreamy photography.

Noble Revs Up Beer Engine For Real British-Style Ale

2014 has been the year of the cask in Orange County. With events like Firkfest (held by yours truly), many local breweries bought cask hardware to participate. Noble Ale Works is taking it a step further by taking the party back to its pale British nubs: nerdy British-style real ale served at proper cellar temp in the Anaheim tasting room. A refresher:

  • Real Ale = Beer served from the vessel it finished fermenting in. Carbonation is provided naturally from the yeast (bottle, can, keg or cask conditioned).
  • Not Real Ale = Force carbonated beer in a brite tank with carbon dioxide gas, then packaged fully carbonated.
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Brewery Brad Kominek pouring The River Thames at 52F through an Ingram Beer Engine gooseneck with sparkler attachment. He is happy.

Several local beer festivals in 2014 (including Firkfest and Nobles 3rd anniversary party) partnered with Inspire Artistic Minds; a non-profit aimed at helping professionals grow in the culinary world. Brewers Evan Price and Brad Kominek applied for scholarships with IAM and got their artistic minds INSPIRED, like SO HARD. They travelled all over England and Belgium and all bloody hell broke loose – they brewed pub ales that don’t make it across the pond; using UK ingredients and serving techniques.

Our efforts to make the perfect English pint go a step further with this set of three beers. We brewed a Strong British Pale Ale utilizing Simpsons Golden Promise Barley, added UK East Kent Golding Hops and split the batch between three small tanks. Each batch was fermented with a different English yeast strain and then dry hopped differently as well. All three will be served on nitro with each one spending some time on cask. – Evan Price, Head Brewer

The beers are closely related, but totally different: 

  • The Knowle Spring – Fermented with the Timothy Taylor house yeast and given a medium dry hop with UK EKG.
  • The River Thames – Fullers yeast and a light Fuggles dry hop.
  • The South Down Wells – Gales Brewery yeast and heavy UK Progress hops.
  • English 201British Mild and Irish Red are on top and on deck.

IMG_7624Simpsons Golden Promise malt lays the groundwork for these three strong pale ales. Lemon zest and crackers dominate these dangerously gulpable beers, as do the yeast and hop nuances of each. I had the pleasure of comparing The River Thames cask and nitrogen versions side-by-side, the latter being a relaxed memory-foam mattress version of the cask pull. The cask version is notably brighter and layered with yeast, malt and hops like neapolitan ice cream. On nitro the experience seems a bit squished together, but is still very satisfying if not compared.

IMG_7626Drinking pint over pint of each, The South Down Wells wins my vote with a balanced fruity hop flavor and aroma I expect from a traditional pint in England. At 4.6%, these are notably stronger than the average British Bitter Ales. Will American tastes know the difference? Probably not. A true British pub ale is in the 3.2-3.8% range, but as Evan noted, “people don’t buy the low alcohol versions,” hence the bump with these.

These beers are sessionable, authentic and served at proper cellar temp. Every so often, you’ll see a bartender measure the temp coming from the cask to ensure its drinkability.

Soon, Noble will unleash a Mild and an Irish-style Red. Stop in and check out a few pints!

The Geeks Flock to Shelton Brothers ‘The Festival’

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super normal photobomb by average beer drinker

Out of all the beer fests I’ve attended throughout my life, I thought I’d seen it all. I’ve witnessed  a bj in the bushes at a fest in Irvine, mouth pours of rare beer in Paso Robles and even watched a guy projectile barf on his girlfriend while sharing a moment on a kid’s teeter-totter in Indianapolis…seriously. At The Festival hosted by the Shelton Brothers in Los Angeles, I’m seeing something I hope to see more of: an extraordinarily normal crowd of festival goers among the best line up of beer, really…ever.

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Nicole Dreier, in rare form, does the booty bump in the blinding light.

At The Festival, there are no pretzel necklaces, dirndl-hos or Where’s Waldos. The only German fashion to be seen are lederhosen worn by a guy pouring funky beers from Cologne, Germany. The closest thing to a ‘Where’s Waldo’ is the lovely Nicole Dreier from Mission Viejo, complete with a stand-out red-striped dress and tan ankle boots. This a different set of fest goers amongst a wild set of beers.

“It’s not about the beers that you will drink, it’s about all the beers that you won’t drink at this festival,” says Jay Price of Orange County. “I feel bad about leaving without trying them all…I may come back tomorrow!” he added.

I’m giddy with my first beer of the day: 3 Fonteinen’s (pronounced dree font-an-in) Oude Gueuze (pronounced yum) sipped next to their blender Armand De Belder of Brussels. The fact that Armand is here at all is somewhat of a phenomenon. In 2002, a warehouse full of his aging beer shattered when a thermostat broke. “It was what I call ze catastroff,” Armand says in his Flemmish accent.

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Westy on ice. Isn’t it nice?

Back with a new brewery with bi-level coolships, Armand is able to create two different beers from each brewday by boiling the second batch longer before allowing to cool. “With a longer boil, I can get a more concentrated sugar for a higher alcohol lambic,” he adds. The gueuze he brought to the Festival today is 100% his creation, adding that he used to blend different lambics from the region with the old smaller brewery set up.

A few steps away from Armand is a short line for a private tasting of a beer brewed in 2004 from Brasserie Cantillon with blender Jean van Roy. I’m shocked to hear that there’s “a freshness” with a thirty-year old gueuze (see vid below). After trying the ten year version, I’m in agreement. It’s shocking that a 5% ABV beer can be this light, bright, bubbly and full of flavor.

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Barrleworks SLO-Lambic

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No mas lambic

At this point I’m a fat kid lost in an ice cream factory. Beer from Italy, Switzerland, Holland and Germany call for my attention. Even the local breweries manage to pull me in for a sample. Firestone Walker blew the lid off their table by accidentally bringing a keg of unreleased SLOambic that is due to be “liberated” on 11/15. In true festival fashion, word gets out quick and the funky plastic bladder keg is dusted. Beachwood BBQ & Brewing’s Sadie even crossed my tongue, despite self-hypnosis to not drink any Bourbon Barrel anything. It’s also great to see two Orange County breweries amongst the abundance of whales. The Bruery and Bottle Logic pouring unreleased or hoarder only beer gave a reason to visit other than to cuddle/crotch grab like other festivals.

The Festival’s location is another highlight. Situated near San Pedro’s docks at CRAFTED, some 25,000 square feet of tasting room space is bright and airy. Although hot at times, the geek sweat wasn’t too awkward.

The Gripes, there were gripes.

  • Lack of food. At 2pm, there were two food trucks with 50+ people per line and a pizza vendor that “ran out of dough”. “Can you throw toppings in my mouth?” one hangry person yelled. That person was me.
  • One water station. Look, I realize there’s a drought, but some brewers were embarrassed pouring their light beer on top of whatever beer is still lingering in your glass. Were we supposed to get a pour, sip it, run to the water thing, then run back to the next table? After tasting the water, I skipped it altogether…it tasted like it was dry hopped with sun-dried plastic shards. Clean water should be available for glass rinsing/drinking at every other table.
  • I managed to pay for parking whereas others didn’t. “Take this ticket to somewhere and spend $5 at the CRAFTED thing then give this ticket to some random drink table to get reimbursed,” I was told. I’m usually game for a fun side-quest at a festival, but I felt this was unnecessary and I felt ripped off of $5.
  • I heard major complaints on how slow the line was to get in. I’ve seen more check in booths at smaller scale beer festivals.
  • Raffle style drink tickets. I had the sudden urge to play skee ball with Taylor Hanson! I seriously haven’t seen raffle tickets at a beer fest since I was a child. Isn’t the new standard wrist bands with tickets attached? Lanyard with hole punches? Retinal scan with a database in the cloud?

Aside from the gripes, I still give this festival an A. It’s all about the beer, the brewers and a great crowd. I hope they work out the kinks to make it an A+ next year.

Note, I attended the first session.

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