It’s tough to write about beer dinners as the numbers show: people don’t like to read about them. As you’ve probably already nodded off to sleep, I’ll get to the nitty-gritty. The 2016 Darkstar November beer dinner was probably one of the best beer dinners I’ve been to. Why? It was relaxed. It was paced. It had hospitality. It didn’t have a billion calories. There wasn’t a nasty slab of pork belly. The dishes were portioned well. The beer pairings actually worked. It wasn’t overly gluttonous. It seems like Bottle Logic is getting incredibly comfortable pulling these dinners off. Crazy, huh?
The plates, for your scrolling pleasure…
As a beer, spirits, and cocktail writer, people often say to me, “that must be rough” and “sounds like a dream job!” Well, it is fun, but it’s a struggle to tell people the other side that is actually work. Besides editing photos and writing about something I’m proud of at the end of the night, work also includes safety. It takes a crazy amount of will power to carefully manage food intake, time, and alcohol consumption to safely drive home to my family at the end of the night.
When Alcomate asked me to review their AlcoMate Revo (model TS200), I gladly accepted, more of a way to get a (hopefully) good breathalyzer in exchange for writing and sharing this review. After using it for a few weeks, I feel like I’ve learned a lot. I’ve tried other breathalyzers and never really found that sweet spot of trust, where one blow would be well over the limit, the next well under. What a waste of time and money!
When I first found the AlcoMate on my doorstep, I was just coming home from shooting a video on Naughty Sauce with Foodbeast. After a couple pints on an empty stomach at noon, I eagerly cracked open the case, installed the included batteries and gave a long-steady blow.
I blew it again. 0.044. I blew a third time… same. I then ate lunch, drank a bunch of water and blew one more time: 0.032. This thing is crazy accurate! I let my kid use it to make sure it would register a zero, and sure as hell it did.
The design is thin and solid like a cell phone. With its LED screen, blowing in your dark car before leaving an event is nice and discreet. Nothing says “boozehound” quite like blowing a breathalyzer with the car dome light on! With one button, you simply turn it on, blow steadily when it says blow, and wait for the calculation. It takes ten seconds at the most.
Here’re some events I went to over the last few weeks and what I blew before leaving (note that .08 is the legal limit in California):
- After a fun Halloween Party: Three hours, four beers: .045
- After recording Four Brewers Podcast: Three shows in five hours with lots of beer and pizza: .024 (was .089 in the middle of recording!)
- Porktoberfest at Five Crowns: one cocktail, five 4oz beers including a bourbon barrel aged Helldorado: .026
- Checking out cocktails at Puzzle Bar for a blog post: .078!
- Private BBQ event at Windsor Homebrew Supply with a bunch of bottle share stuff: .023
- Touring San Diego breweries with Travelocity. Alesmith, Ballast Point, Mission and Stone Liberty Station: .121 (I didn’t drive, thankfully)
What did I learn? One of my biggest takeaways being a professional booze writer is to drink in moderation. Having an accurate breathalyzer like the Alcomate Revo is a great tool to not only stay safe, but eliminate the guess work. As I dive deeper into spirits/cocktail writing, I’m finding it harder to guess where I’m at and this is the perfect solution.
AlcoMate Revo TS200 is available for $219 (plus tax and shipping), and makes the perfect gift for the boozehound in your life, not to mention keeping your holiday party guests safe when leaving your house!
I don’t normally copy/paste press releases, but this is a lot to take in. Basically, Cismontane is moving all production to Santa Ana. Cismontane’s RSM location will now be Laguna Beach Beer Company, with a kitchen.
November 2, 2016
PRESS RELEASE – For Immediate Distribution
Laguna Beach Beer Company to acquire Cismontane Brewing Company’s RSM Brewery! Orange County, CA
Laguna Beach Beer Company today announced an agreement to acquire Cismontane Brewing Company’s production facility and tasting room in Ranch Santa Margarita, CA. Laguna Beach Beer Company plans to expand the existing location to include a kitchen, additional seating and to rebrand the space as “Laguna Beach Beer Company @RSM ”, which will offer the Rancho Santa Margarita and surrounding Orange County communities a new destination to celebrate the joy of craft beer and great food.
Cismontane retains its brand name and trademark and will continue its planned growth at its own new brewing facility and tasting room in Santa Ana, CA. The transition to Laguna Beach Beer Company @RSM is expected over the next few months, following the transfer of applicable permits and licenses. The two companies will continue to cooperate in the coming months as Laguna Beach Beer Company ramps up its production in the RSM brewery. This agreement benefits both companies. The facility will provide Laguna Beach Beer Company with additional production capacity to support its planned brew pub in Laguna Beach (which is under development and scheduled to open in the spring of 2017). It will also provide a chance to introduce the brand and taste of Laguna Beach Beer Company to other communities in Orange County.
“The opportunity for Laguna Beach Beer Company to partner with Cismontane and to acquire a turnkey brewing facility that has room for expansion and is strategically located near our Laguna Beach brew pub location is rare and unique. We could not be happier about this transaction and partnering with Evan and Ross at Cismontane. We also look forward to becoming a part of, sharing our beers with, and serving the RSM community” stated Brent Reynard, Laguna Beach Beer Company’s co-founder and CEO.
As part of the transition Cismontane has started brewing Laguna Beach Beer Company’s beers in the RSM facility to enable them to open with a full-line up of their core beers as soon as the ABC license changes hands. “This transaction and transition is mutually beneficial and a good fit for both companies and we are fortunate to have found a flexible partner in Laguna Beach Beer Company, because once the brewery is taken over by Laguna Beach Beer Company, Cismontane will continue to brew its beers at the RSM brewery while we transition our operations to our new Santa Ana brewing facility” said Evan Weinberg, co-founder and CEO of Cismontane.
Patrons and beer enthusiasts will be able to sample beers from both Laguna Beach Beer Company and Cismontane at the RSM location. Even after Cismontane fully transfers its operations to its new Santa Ana facility, Laguna Beach Beer Company has indicated that it plans to continue offering some of the Cismontane beers on tap as it plans to offer select guest beers in the RSM tasting room. The terms of the transaction are confidential and will not be publicly disclosed. This is a mutually beneficial transaction and relationship and will foster a more robust and collaborative brewing culture in Orange County.
Provst! Cismontane Brewing Company and Laguna Beach Beer Company
About Laguna Beach Beer Company: Founded by homebrew enthusiasts and surfing buddies Brent Reynard and Michael Lombardo, Laguna Beach Beer Company began distributing its beers in 2014 to accounts throughout Orange County. The company is currently constructing a brew pub in Laguna Canyon, approximately a half mile from Laguna’s Main Beach. The Laguna Beach brew pub is targeted to open to in the spring of 2017 and will
produce specialty beers that evoke the Laguna Beach images of surf, sand, art and coastal landscape. Together the Laguna Canyon and RSM locations will provide Laguna Beach Beer Company with production capacity of over 6,000 barrels.
About Cismontane Brewing Company: Cismontane was founded in 2009 by longtime friends Evan Weinberg and Ross Stewart. Since the opening they have brewed over 150 styles of beers including pilsners, sours, ales of all kinds and barrel aged blends and boozy monsters. They have had the great fortune of getting their start in the beautiful mountain side town of Rancho Santa Margarita, CA. The natural wonders and unique culture of southern California have inspired many of the beers and events they have done. They are very much looking forward to continuing that path and expanding by adding a still into the production line in the next year!
As a writer, I draw a lot of parallels with beer and music. They’re both man-made art, analog, and evocative. Just as I can remember songs I listened to with friends twenty years ago; their beats, lyrics, and bass lines…I can remember beers I’ve had on camping trips decades ago. Tying these two brain-banks together is Stereo Brewing in Placentia.
Opened by Rick Smets and Amanda Pearce, the couple met at a Dylan concert, freaked out over beers, now are knee deep in a Premier stainless steel jug band brewhouse that makes hop beats over malt basslines.
The tasting room is an aquarium of music with spinning vinyl and music posters throughout. The beer, on soft opening, was clean and full of personality. Coming from Firestone and Left Coast, Rick has his eye on quality first, opting to dump the first batch of IPA. Instead, hop heads will swoon over the Robot hoppy red. Dancing like a robot listening to Kraftwerk, I thought Stereo’s Blonde on Blonde Kolsch was the best beer on the playlist. So much so, I took a crowler of it home, just to be sure.
Stereo Brewing opens Saturday 10/15/16, check them out! www.stereobrewing.com
Small Beers Brewing from Cismontane
By Evan Weinberg
It’s not often we do something different as brewers these days. With so many brands and everyone trying to push the envelope of sour, hoppy, high gravity, barrel aged, cloudy and whatever else captures the attention of the consumer, it’s hard to keep up. Shit, it’s hard to care. This may be an artifact of us being a “transitional” brewery in size and tenure.
We aren’t the new kid on the block, we aren’t rich, we don’t have branding, a beer or a tasting room that blown up on the beer scene. This makes us both vulnerable and a bit more stable at the same time. Strange but true. For instance: All the new brands will chip away at our handles because everyone always wants the shiny new toy on tap. We aren’t quite big enough to enjoy volume insulation by having permanent handles, inexpensive packaged beer to keep volume, and multiple sales reps on the ground to keep our foot in the door of accounts with constantly changing lineups. On the other hand we aren’t doing this from scratch, we have accounts that do support us no matter what, and have since the beginning, some chain account merchandised through our distribution partners, and enough volume to keep the lights on. This along with a host of other issues like lacking economies of scale and having a wholesale to retail ratio that is skewed to the much lower margin is what makes us what I like to think of as “transitional” small brewery. We are on the larger end of the “long tail” of the beer world. This is the plight of the small brewer. We know it better than most.
This is part of what inspired this brewing project. The other part of that was having to brew again, A LOT. One of our brewers was hired away from the company so I had to step into the brew house again. It wasn’t a ton of brewing but, I had the mash paddle back in hand. It felt good. Nothing like climbing in a Mash Tun at 120 degrees and 100% humidity to remind you what you like about this job. We were cranking our core beers, some seasonal, and a few specialties here and there. Then came the next phase in my brewing schedule. It was brewing D-day. By that I mean “Dad day”, our head brewer, Scott Holden, had a new baby. This is the point when I embarked on a three week brewing marathon that resulted in creating what I like to call Small Beers Brewing.
A bit on Small Beers: Small beers are a style that most people don’t know about. This is because most brewers just don’t make them. It can be a fair amount of extra work and unfamiliar territory. Generally, made from the second runnings of a very strong beer’s mash. Small beers typically end up lower alcohol and are traditionally simple flavor-wise. To clarify, the runnings are the liquid that comes off the grain (or grist or mash – depending what term makes sense to you) into the kettle that will be boiled to make a beer. The second runnings are the liquid leftover in the mash once you get what’s needed for the beer you were intending to brew. If that beer is very strong the second running can be strong enough to make a beer with an ABV anywhere between 3% – 5% pretty easily. I find that we get about 2/3 of the total volume of the primary with the seconds. I know what you are thinking, “No one wants to drink a 3% beer in this market. Didn’t you read your first paragraph?” Yes, your average consumer wants bigger, badder and funkier but, I (and many beer vets I know) want to drink 3% and 4% beers! We are burned out on over hyped and pallet smashing whatever’s. This doesn’t mean we aren’t thirsty as the next guy! When I have a beer after a hot and exhausting brew shift, I drink that fist beer in about 30 seconds!
Speaking of hot and exhausting, let’s get back to the brewing marathon… our brewery is set up as a manual brewing beast. Every bag of grain is lifted multiple times on a brew day. When you brew a beer that has 1,000 pounds of grain you lift it at least 2 times not including taking it out of the mash tun. If you brew a double shift it turns into about 4,000 pounds of lifting, two hot-ass grain outs, 14–16 hours on your feet, a steamy sauna like kettle scrub, and ice cold beer at the finish line! Oh, and if you are doing it again the next day you have to mill all that grain so pick up every bag 2 more times! Two doubles back to back and you are lifting 8,000lbs!
To add insult to injury, when we brew Double IPA or Imperial Stout the amount of grain is the max we can use in the brewhouse and for double IPA you have to brew an extra batch to get the volume up. Not cool! That’s when I looked at the schedule and there it was, 30 barrels of Imperial Stout and 45 barrels of DIPA. Shit.
I got wise…. by brewing small a beer I could turn my 14 hour day into a 12 hour day, brew almost as much beer (Small beers have less volume) and only mash in once! Not to mention I get 2 different beers out of each mash!
Keep in mind this didn’t exactly make my work load lighter, it added 45 bbls to the production schedule and about 2 full shifts of labor. What it did was spread the heavy lifting out, add volume with no new grain or water, give me a chance to have some fun making beers other brewers pour down the drain (as do we most of the time) and use my equipment in ways I never get to use it. For me this is what it is all about! Creativity with the brewing process.
The first beer I made was Hop Dumpster. This is a 1400lbs grist monster of a brew day. The Small beer, which on the brew sheet is called “Small Dump”, is blond as can be, about 10bbls in volume was going to come in around 4.8% ABV! I decide it would be best to dry hop it to the beeeeeJesus with Mosaic and Simcoe! That would hold true to the fact that it came from a DIPA. For the final name… Hoppy Seconds. Ya, it’s crass, so what, we aren’t the first to use it. Also, that ties the name in with Hop Dumpster and the fact that it is in fact brewed from the second running, it’s perfect. So take your prissy, my turds smell like roses attitude and have a boring ass life with no sense of humor. (Thanks to Jordan Smith the originator of Hop Dumpster for being gross, and for me in allowing him to use company money to tap into his lowest self, XOXO). Boom, 3 days and 70 barrels later. I felt alive again.
Next beer(s). Black’s Dawn Imperial Oatmeal Stout with Coffee on Nitro. It’s a mouthful of a name and at 8.5% the same when you drink it! Love this beer. The grain bill isn’t quite as brutal as the Dumpster but still a significant deal more work that a 5%er. The second running was about 9bbls and the finished beer about 3.7% ABV. The color and aroma were the most interesting factor of this beer. Black’s is, well, black. The small beer was a dark brown, almost black but has an incredible clarity. The roasted notes on the nose are brilliant and very unique for a beer of this gravity and color. I know this will not be for everyone but I really love the complexity and depth. No point in adding anything to this puppy. Now what to call it…. No coffee, no nitro, and it’s not black… hmmmm… Side of Toast! Black’s is a coffee beer dedicated to early morning surfs at Black’s Beach in La Jolla, who does’t want a side of toast with their coffee?! 50 more barrels and done!
By the end of week three I was pretty fried, my last brew day was a Saturday if I remember correctly. I had another event that Sunday and then Scott called, “Dude, I have to come back to work. I’m going nuts”. Thank god I thought, and proceeded to sleep for three days.
I hope you enjoyed the story. Now come one down and enjoy the beers! We will be tapping them both this weekend at both tasting rooms.
Official Release: 10/15/2016 this Saturday at opening!
I’ve been to a lot of boozefests. I’ve been to Ozzfest. I’ve been to a couple blues fests. I’ve even shot an Uzi at a dude’s chest, but I have never been to an OOZEFEST.
What is OOZEFEST? It’s a celebration of all things CHEESE. The kind of cheese that pulls into long strands, long enough to play the banjo on if you were in a cheese-inspired jug band. *CODE: ocbeerblog – Tickets can be purchased at: oozefestival.com
OOZEFEST is like breaking into a creamery, where you can milk all the goats, sheep, and cows, steal all the squeaky curds, then laugh your cheese breath at a box of hungry kittens.
Special OOZEFEST beer will be on hand from local breweries such as The Good Beer Company, Modern Times, Unsung Brewing, Four Sons, and more. You can buy an “all you can consume” VIP ticket, or buy as you go. Saturday has a slew of incredible eats, as does Sunday…seriously the hardest part about OOZEFEST is choosing which day to go, although Saturday has a smaller font, so I would choose that day. And use code OCBEERBLOG to knock $5 off.
SATURDAY OCT. 15TH & SUNDAY OCT. 16TH
For well over a year, I’ve been writing for OrangeCoast’s BoozeBlog. Beer posts go up on Tuesday, cocktail and spirits posts go up on Thursday. There’s also fantastic wine and food writing on the site! Go check it out!
Last year, I hopped in my silly Scion and drove eight hours north to sweaty Sacramento. After three big gulps, ten rest stops, and two cups of spicy Frito-Lay bean dip, I checked into my $139 Residence Inn by Marriott, not expecting much. My room was spacious and few steps away from the event in the heart of downtown. Surrounded by nightlife and eateries, reason #1 to go is easily the inexpensive beer travel.
If you come in early for the educational sessions, the next thing you can expect is a Friday morning filled with fresh faces of the industry.
Educational sessions where you actually learn things. Here’s a bunch:
Sold? I hope so. I will be there with the Four Brewer’s show from Thursday-Sunday! Come support California beer and have a hell of a road trip!
January 2014 I wrote a blog on how Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait wanted to create “Brew City, USA”, a quick piece with fun facts like “San Diego has 70+ breweries.” Wow! Time has flown in just two years.
Shortly thereafter, a man named Michael Crea from Ohio was looking to start a brewery on the west coast. He saw the blog, then reached out to Anaheim for possible locations. Unfortunately, he quickly learned his dream name “Hero Brewing” wouldn’t be possible out here, and he had to re-design things from the ground up.
Fast forward two and half years, Unsung Brewing is now a thing…two short blocks from my house in the Anaheim Colony Historic District, in the heart of the city’s burgeoning foodie culture across from the Packing District.
Unsung’s branding is centered around a made-up comic book universe, where each beer is represented by a character, and even has a great side story. Beer styles are even being mutated; Buzzman, an American Mutant Ale, for example is a crushable lawnmower beer. Anthia, their dry and hoppy IPA, has been gushed about in other blog posts. The branding is incredible, the beer, even for a new brewery, is crushably clean, well rounded, and full of flavor.
Cheers to Mayor Tait on helping to bring in great small businesses like Unsung, as they create great spaces for the community to enjoy over a delicious beer!
Grand Opening is Friday, August 5! See you there!
Address: 500 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim 92805