Missing My Articles? Check Out the BoozeBlog O.C.

IMG_9159For 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!

Cheers,

Greg

Ten Reasons to Attend the CA Craft Beer Summit ’16 in Sacto

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. 

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#1: Inexpensive beer travel is the best beer travel. Residence Inn Marriott for $139/night!

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.

#2: David Walker and Natalie Cilurzo address the media with concerns about CA’s drought in the state of beer. These guys were everywhere during the event for questions, selfies, and hugs. 

Educational sessions where you actually learn things. Here’s a bunch:

Don Barkley

#3: This is Don Barkley. His Q&A taught me about CA Beer history. He made beer at New Albion, America’s first craft brewery since prohibition in the 70’s. He is now the brewmaster of Napa Smith and has a big bellowing voice, and told great stories.

Vinnie Cilurzo and Ken Grossman

#4: Vinnie Cilurzo and Ken Grossman. They spoke about inspiration from Don Barkley (above) and Jack McAuliffe of New Albion. 

Tony Magee

#5: Speaking of tap talks, Tony Magee of Lagunitas gave a great one just days after announcing the sale of 50% of his brand to Heineken.

Julian Shrago and Tony Magee

#6: If one wanted to get pointers on buying/selling breweries, one could simply go up and ask. Julian Shrago of Beachwood BBQ & Brewing was probably doing just that, as they recently took over Beach City Brewing in HB this summer.

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#7: Hop sniffing at the expo. People walked away with hops on their noses like deranged hop heads. 

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#8: The guilds pouring beer at the expo. LA, SD, SF…pretty much the best of the best! The expo was also like a mini-CBC with vendors of all sorts. 

#9: The Fest to close things out. 150 CA breweries pour on the State Capitol mall.75 on this side, 75 on that side. No huge lines!

#9: The Fest to close things out. 150 CA breweries pour on the State Capitol mall.75 on this side, 75 on that side. No huge lines!

Actual brewers and brewery owners poured their beer, which was rad to ask questions and snap photos!

#10: Actual brewers and brewery owners poured their beer, which was rad to ask questions and snap photos!

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!

Check out the site for full schedule, tickets, speakers, and travel info!

 

Anaheim’s Newest Fortress of Solitude: UNSUNG BREWING

 

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Buzzman, in a slightly tapered becker glass during the soft opening.

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.

GNAG2725Shortly 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.

GNAG2724Fast 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!

GNAG2712Parking tip from a local: Set your GPS to 42nd Street, Anaheim 92805 and park across Broadway from Umami Burger.

Grand Opening is Friday, August 5! See you there! 

Address: 500 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim 92805

www.unsungbrewing.com

“You Just Got DoorDashed…With Beer!” (+promo code)

Surely I’m not the only beer geek that gets anxiety about what to bring to a party. Bring something old school and there’s a chance it’ll be a cooler-turd. Bring something too fancy? There’s a chance it will be handed off as a hostess gift and not cracked at all. This all changed when I saw Doordash now delivers beer.

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One minute I’m using an app, 39 minutes later this arrives.

Now, I can show up empty handed, do some recon, then phone-ninja some sweet-sweaty goods, rip my shirt off, flick my hair back, then jump into a karate stance, yelling “you all just got Door Dashed by the Nagel!” Then I might crack a brewery-fresh hand-delivered growler and chug a few gulps, then pour some out on the lawn for my pep-pep, then pour some for your lady, because she probably can’t one-hand pour a growler. She’ll wink, and I’ll…OMG what? I was totally daydreaming there for a bit. Sorry about that.

But yeah, this Door Dash beer delivery thing is totally real, I just pinched myself, and yes, the app is still on my phone, I click on ‘alcohol’, chose one of four breweries in my local area, chose what you want to drink, agreed that I’m over 21, then paid. OMG whoops, I just ordered some beer!

My first order I was totally skeptical. I thought the beer is going to arrive warm, out of date, and just a tad bit spendy. But listen up, I spent about the same as I would with gas, time, and actual beer cost! Note that some breweries don’t charge for growler glass, which washes out the delivery fee. You also must tip, which adds a few bucks, but hell, I’d kick down a few bills to have someone show up poolside with 64oz of fresh local beer.

The delivery time said 51 minutes. My order: two growlers and a six pack from Bootlegger’s Brewery, a scant 2.5 miles away, on the Sunday before July 4. Thirty-nine minutes later, the doorbell rang. The dogs barked. and a smiley delivery dude was at the door wielding a box, full of sweaty brown glass. The six-pack date: 12 days old. The growlers, poured fresh and tags filled out by hand.

Color me impressed. Now I keep thinking of ways to save time by using Door Dash. Hit the gym and order beer on my way home? Sit in the jacuzzi and order more beer while I’m on my last? Doing it. Ordering brewery-fresh beer while eyeballing my grocery store’s abysmal selection? Yep.

For a limited time, use doordash.com or the app and use promotional code “OCBEER” to take $7 off of orders $20 or more for a limited time. Get a burger, pizza, or even Indian food while you’re at it, when it arrives, be sure and pop in the karate stance and say, “you just got doordashed!” to your baby’s mama, or beer-bellied friends.

Sponsored post. Thanks Door Dash for including local beer in OC!  

 

Logical Menu Programming | FO Beer Dinner 2016

Tripping over my cat at 12:05 A.M. with two bags of glassware and four bottles of Fundamental Observation wasn’t the burglar-like entrance I had hoped, especially with a belly full of six courses of food and all the beers. The dogs came out to investigate the situation, one growling and kicking her back legs like a bull. The other, sniffs my leg and wags, obviously knowing what kind of shenanigans I had just endured. If this dog were human, she would be a foodie.

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Cooking in an alley, alley, alley – Patrick Whittaker, our chef of the evening.

Three hours prior, we were ushered into the back brewery of Bottle Logic Brewing. Big ass fan blowing DDB’s man-musk out of the room from the first seating, I’m guided to my table, delighted to see who I’m sitting next to: chef Cody Storts, Brandon Buckner (of Bottle Logic), main squeeze Christina, and Sean and Jessica McNew. A rowdy table, no doubt. I can ask chef questions about the food, and hit Brandon up about the beers.

You, light up my life, you give me hope...

You, light up my life, you give me hope… Haze Flux Vermont Style DIPA

Having been to the Darkstar November beer dinner earlier this year, I knew what chef Patrick Whittaker and the Bottle Logic team were capable of. What’s truly impressive is a brewery that has skilled staff to pull this thing off. There’s a million ways a dinner like this could go awry, especially if not done with regularity. The first improvement is Bottle Logic borrowed a food truck to use as a kitchen instead of cooking in the cramped brewery.

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Course one: Hamachi

My favorite moments of the night were many, but to name a few, the stone fruit salad paired with Berlinear Equation w/apricot & peaches was stellar. Refreshing on the warm night, the bready/stonefruity beer finishes clean and tart. The stonefruit vs. stonefruit beer seemed a bit obvious, but the real star of the show was a nip of basil that was like a ten-pin kicker when bowling a strike. Fantastic pairing.

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Getting stoned on stonefruit and Berlinear Observation with apricot and peach

One lobster tail and beef cheek later, the buzz hits. Haze Flux, Bottle Logic’s hazy Vermont style IPA was bursting with mango and pineapple notes. It didn’t take me long to blend the Bourbon Barrel aged and plain Cobaltic Porter pours into a cuvee to soften the blow of what was to come: Three versions of Fundamental Observation…holy shit, you guys!

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Fundamental Observation, sweating like me.

The first version, FO 2016 with Mostra Coffee gave the beer an ice cream-like smoothness. I pinched myself to stop myself from incessantly huffing the beer, like a man possessed. I saved the last half of the glass for my buddy Natalie DeNicholas, who helped the chef team prep and plate the dinner. She blew me a kiss. This beer is what makes me fall in love with beer all over again. Putting lipstick on a whale. Still a whale, but more attractive, for sure.

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Hospitality (and grammar) maestro, Lindsay Langton, w/ Patrick

Vanilla-vanilla Fundamental Observation is as good as 2015, albeit slightly different. It’s not as sweet, seems a tad lighter in body, and is backed with a poof of heat. The vanilla is way more punchy in the profile, which may fade with age. It’s a world class beer, I think the changes are more to my liking.

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Back alley Fundamental Observation purchases at 11:42 P.M.

Lastly, Fundamental Forces, a straight up vanilla booze jam and cheese plate closes out the night. “We keep feeding the yeast with more and more sugar until it gives up,” says Dylan Mobley, their brewer. Is it like 20% ABV? I’d like to try this beer on its own, not after the bellygasm that just took place.

My only complaint of the evening was the heat. Drinking big beers and multiple courses requires a certain temperature as to not get a sheen of glistening meat sweats. All in all, a hell of a lot of fun, and damn if I don’t feel like a 1%’er getting a seat. Keep up the fun, awesome releases like you do, Bottle Logic!

More pics:

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Lobster and Brexity pea vichyssoise (pronounced vishy swaz), whose kumquat paired well with the hazy DIPA.

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“HHHMMMBEEF…CHEEEKS!” Is what I yelled with this landed in front of me. Paired with all the Cobaltic Porters. So meaty, Bottle Logic. So meaty.

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The richest thing I’ve ever eaten. Inside the See’s candy looking chocolate puck is foie gras, which made me sweat with the Mostra Coffee FO. Super rich. YOOJ richness. Also I love me some chantilly cream and fucking Rainier cherries.

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“this is a fundamental beer dinner!” “you hit it right on the nose, bob!”

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Chef Cody Storts of Grits Fullerton and Chef Craig Brady of Haven Gastropub, both here to check out the dinner.

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my tablemates

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7.4 Things To Order At PUBlic 74

Highway 74, aka “Ortega Highway” is a squiggly road that looks somewhat like Charlie Brown’s shirt stripe. At either end of the scenic, twisty road lies PUBlic 74; one in San Juan Capistrano, one in Murrieta and yet another in Temecula. O.C.’s locale sits atop tiled stairs, a bit to the side, and a creep around back, just a light or two from the 5 freeway.

GNAG1645As we’re seated, I scan the twenty taps set out front and center, ready to be knocked down like bowling pins. Like a dazed robot, I glance at the lone TV; playoff hockey… the Sharks firmly chomping the Blues with a 4-0 shutout. I must be hungry, because the score makes me crave St. Louis ribs.

The beer menu is accurate, priced mostly at $4 for a 9 oz snifter, or $8 for an imperial pint. Draft beer is pulled 30 feet, lines and glassware notably clean. I opt for a Union Jack first, a beer I deemed as “a textbook IPA” on a recent podcast blind IPA showdown, and note its freshness, then dive into some food like a shark possessed.

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GNAG1615Starter: Callin Flower (left): Grilled roasted Cauliflower with spicy chimichurri and a serious dose of Pecorino Romano cheese. I asked chef Gerry (who looks somewhat like Sammy Hagar), “Is colly the new Brussels?” he replies, “actually it’s broccoli.” Great start and IPA pairs well with the layered cheesy lemon squeezy.

2) Fun fact: I like goats. If you do too, The Now Infamous Goat Toast is worth a stop alone. The bread crunch sounds somewhat like walking through freshly-fallen snow, only the snow is herbed goat cheese, and those aren’t uninflated red beach balls, those are in fact the sweetest, ripest, juiciest roasted tomatoes next to a leaf pile drizzled in motor oil. Oh, it’s not? It’s balsamic reduction on top of arugula? You are so right. I just verbally played with my food.I like to verb my nouns from time to time.
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3) Macc’n Frenchy (below) may sound like something I did in Europe atop the Eiffel Tower, but rest assured, it’s a French Onion Soup inspired Mac & Cheese, and it’s DANK, smokey, herbaceous, and holy hell I want to mac on a Frenchy now.

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DANK.

4) Let’s talk about the Kobe Goes Animal Burger for a minute. It actually doesn’t look like much, but I will make a bold statement and say this my new favorite burger. The flavors burst in waves, everything down to the sturdy bun, ripe tomato, beef that melts like buttuh and is seasoned ever so perfectly with salt and spread. Protip: don’t quarter this burger, halfsies will do. Fries? Oh yeah, the fries were also good. Splittable, for sure.

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5) What you Smokin Reuben? “Nothin, just some hickory roasted corn beef piled on rye, Emmenthaler Swiss and krunchy kraut.” Okay. This was my panty dropper. If I had panties, they would be on the ground. A bit on the salty side, so make sure and have a sturdy beer to back things up. Barley Forge IPA was my copilot.

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Like this photo on Instagram, okay? It needs more love. Click it! 

6) Despite much table controversy, the Grandson Meatloaf doesn’t contain any children. It’s basically poutine minus the curds. The fries hiding underneath the hefty slab of durok pork & chicken are the real treat. Kind of like the time I saw a dollar bill stuck to a stripper’s butt after she walked off stage. Yeah, sort of like that. Gravy soaked fries are just like that.

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7) Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding, that is served hot, steamy and scrumtrulescent. Pair it with a stout, or Hefeweizen!

GNAG1653Here’s a tap takeover you should check out for American Craft Beer Week! GNAG1644

Here’s some decor shots.

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If you see this guy, say Hi! He runs the place.

 

Sabroso: It’s all Pork & Stout, Baby!

by Errica Lane 5/4/2016, photos John Holzer @fourbrewers

This was my first time at Sabroso and I can sum up my experience in two words: Pork & Stout.  

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It seemed like big beers and pork tacos were on everyone’s agenda at Lakeview Park in Silverado last Saturday.  Fortunately the weather was mild, which paired well with the big booziness that wrestled our palates throughout the day. 

26761717005_ffcbba5b48_kMy two favorite stouts of the day were Leche Borracho from Bottle Logic and Luchador en Fuego from Clown Shoes.  Both had the mole spicy feels, with Clown Shoes aging their beer in bourbon barrels and Bottle logic giving it a little twist by aging in bourbon AND tequila barrels.  That Leche Borracho is dangerously delicious.

One other beer that really stood out to was the Cru’sin Corozon  from TAPS.  They described it as “West-Coast Grand Cru infused with prickly pear, passion fruit, blood orange, and pomegranate,” which was fantastic!  The fruits played so well with the Belgian yeast that I could have drank it all day.  But I didn’t.  I had tacos (and street corn) to eat.

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26668311712_e87453d7dd_kAlmost every food vendor had at least one sizzling pork taco on the menu.  One fave was the pork belly bahn mi taco from Devilicious.  For tres dolores I got a soft corn tortilla with a generous amount of crispy, juicy pork belly cubes and a sesame slaw. After that, my crew went in search of more tasty morsels.

Sadly, but the time we made it over to Haven, they had already run out of tacos.  I guess that’s what we get for getting distracted by beer at a taco festival.  I heard the soy marinated steak tacos were killer.  We quickly turned around and tried to get tacos from Kroft, but they had run out of buns.  They did offer up a double-meat deal for $3; instead of choosing between a pork belly taco or a fried spam, we got a paper boat with a slab of each meat.  The fried spam was the winner for me; breaded and deep fried, then drizzled with a sweet sauce and seaweed.  Totally odd combo that was pretty great.

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The highlight of the day, food wise, wasn’t a taco.  It was the Mexican street corn from The Lime truck.  Cobs of sweet corn were flash fried then smothered in sriracha mayo and cheese.  Thankfully that’s a regular offering from them, because there needs to be more of that in all our lives.

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In between each brewery booth of food truck we spent some time enjoying the bands on stage and roaming mariachis.  The only bummer is that by spending most of my time in the front area of the festival, I missed the wrestling.  But I saw that there were plenty of lounge chairs spread out for folks to sit and enjoy the show.  Overall it was a great day and a well run festival.

Viva Sabroso!

follow Errica on Instagram!

 

8 Thrilling Ways to Tell if a Beer Bar is Serious

GNAG7776After peeking at this Thrillist article with the same title, I don’t think peeking in a beer bar’s cold box to inspect the lines is exactly a simple way to tell if a beer bar is serious. Here’s eight easier ways to tell if a beer bar is serious:

  1. A draft board or menu that is not current and/or has typos? Not serious.
  2. Has all shaker pint glasses? Not fucking serious.
  3. All beers from one or two distributors? Nope, not serious.
  4. Has domestic and imports? Not serious.
  5. Has a crap tap? Not at all serious.
  6. Servers that don’t speak beer? Not serious.
  7. See a keg in the dining room or back in the bathroom area? Tap it to see if it’s full or empty. Is it full? The bar isn’t serious. Beer should be kept in a cold box or cellar temp.
  8. Frosty mugs? Dirty glassware? 400 TV’s? Not serious.

That is one thrilling list.

Back To Basics: Put Some Gulden Draak In Your Belfry

(Sponsored) – In a world where we are blessed with great local beer, sometimes it’s necessary to go back into that spirit of trying something out of one’s comfort zone. Something from Belgium, and big enough to survive the spoils of travel. Enter, Gulden Draak.

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Global Beer Network Rep Natasha with a few Van Steenberge bieres at The Clay Oven

My first run-in with Gulden Draak was at a pub night at Irvine’s Indian Food stalwart, The Clay Oven. Everything from tandoor-roasted bone marrow to a lamb stuffed naan married well with the beer, and I must admit, was the first time seeing such great beer at an Indian restaurant. One beer I kept going back to was Gulden Draak, a 10.5% dark tripel with just enough going on to pair with just about everything. It was also this beer where I learned a valuable lesson in beer pairing: “sweet calms heat,” something to remember when ordering those dynamite habanero wings.

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White bottle, dark tripel

Revisiting the beer today, I can see why it stood out. The husky ruby-brown beer pours with an abundance of frothy white foam, instantly sending aromas of dark fruits up the ol’ wafting tunnel. Once the quickly expanding head settles, the aromas keep rolling: caramel, clove, and banana bread burst around hints of sweet alcohol. The flavor is reminiscent of a barley wine carried by spicy Belgian yeast, but the body is light enough to fool you into thinking it’s okay to drive after a glass. It’s totally not. Gulden Draak is all about proper transportation.

gulden draak 9000 ocbeerblogGoing a few steps higher up the belfry is Gulden Draak 9000, which comes in the black bottle. 9000 is one of Belgium’s great quadruples, and is named for the zip code in Ghent, Belgium, where the actual golden dragon sits on top of the tallest belfry. It pours surprisingly lighter than the dark tripel in the white bottle, but 9000 is all about the dark fruits, which unashamedly lifts its skirt on the alcohol, despite only being .2% higher. Fermented peach, caramel, dark fruits, and booze run the flavor…which is decadent and highly quaffable despite the sheer girth of this beer.

One of the best parts of these overlooked beers is their availability, where a trip to any local big box wine or beer store has 11.2oz bottle four packs, 750ml, and in some cases, the magnum, which is super fun to crack at a party.

Visit Gulden Draak’s facebook page to #ConquertheDragon yourself and enter to win swag!

Blogunitas: When Big Gets BIGGAR

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Deetle-deetle! Ron Lindenbusch

“When people ask if we’re coming to L.A., we say no way, we’re coming to Azusa because it’s got everything from A to Z in the USA!” says Ron Lindenbusch, Lagunitas director of marketing to our group of media and city officials. And by everything, I assume he means land at the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains that spew mineral-rich brewing water. “We also want to reach out and touch the community, not like to deetle-deetle them,” he continued, making a ball-tickling hand gesture.

I was in a small group that got to “sneaky peek” the freshly-finished construction site (one day before 4/20) and holy hell, the campus is big enough to fill Seaworld’s tanks with beer on a daily basis. Shamu? More like a drunken SHAMWOW. Here’s some stats on the behemoth brewhouse:

  • Three 250 BBL Brewhouses with a Centrifuge for each
  • Ninety 55-foot Fermenters
  • Twelve Big Ass Brite Tanks
  • Community room, Amphitheater, Taproom, Rooftop Bar, etc, etc, etc
  • Cans are coming too…

Tony Magee was absent from the festivities. When asked, “he’s probably playing with his band tonight somewhere around Chicago,” said his sister and director of communications, Karen Hamilton with a smile.

GNAG0738The super-sneaky peek complete, we left the vast packaging hall and headed to the shipping and distribution warehouse to party. Apparently the industry-only event link got out, so it was a little more crowded than anticipated. What would have been a chill couch-trip over beers ended up being a revolving trip in line for beer. As the evening went on, roller derby happened next to live bluegrass. Still fun, but my goal of networking and interviewing was left (mostly) undone. At least I got pics!

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