Fall Seasonals

Ah, Fall is here. As the weather cools and the leaves begin to change…WAIT, WHAT? The leaves stay green and it’s hotter than Anne Hathaway in a cat suit! That doesn’t seem to stop local brewers from putting out Autumn seasonals. Nothing satiates on a hot day like a thick frosty nut brown ale in your mouth! GULP.

Thankfully we have Oktoberfest Märzen beer within the season which has natural drinkability™. Crisp German-style Lagers are great lawnmower beers on a hot day or if Anne Hathaway were to make a surprise visit.

"Look at the beer Miss Hathaway, you're a tiger, rowr!"

Note: If you are Anne reading this: I’ll keep some Vegan Kielbasa in the freezer if you decide to swing by as I heard you like polish-style things in your mouth. Wow that sounded creepy! I’m really not that creepy Anne! They don’t call me “King Kielbasa” for nothing! Okay I made that up, nobody has ever called me that. Just the voices in my head! HAHAHA!!! I’m totally joking of course. I’ve never been arrested like that Follieri jerk you were dating. We can unleash your inner-nerd and play some scrabble! I can even show you my home-made Anne Hathaway inspired doll collection I made entirely out of maple bar donuts and bacon strips!

Speaking of maple bar donuts with bacon strips, did you hear Deschuttes Brewery might be doing a collaboration beer with Portland based Voodoo Doughnuts? Yep, a beer that will have notes of their famous maple bacon doughnut. A rauch maple porter sure sounds delicious “donut”? I also love Voodoo’s “Gay Bar” doughnut; seriously. “Donuts are gay bagels” – Rob Delaney

Voodoo's Gay Bar. So yum.

Also, dumb gripe: Why is Oktoberfest beer Märzen style? Märzen translates to March in German. Why not name the beer for when it is ready to drink instead of when it is brewed? Crazy Germans, putting beer in caves with huge ice blocks.

Orange County Breweries with Fall Seasonals:

*contains Yams

Other CA breweries

  • Sierra Nevada Tumbler: Autumn Brown
  • Hangar 24, Redlands, Oktoberfest
  • Alpine, Alpine SD, Ichabod: Pumpkin Ale
  • Alesmith, Mira Mesa SD Evil Dead Red. I love the ABV is 6.66% (tap only)
  • Russian River Hoptime Harvest – October
  • Lagunitas Brown Shugga’
  • If I left out one, let me know in the comments with a link!

Tales from Oktoberfest Past

I’m a huge Oktoberfest fan. Great German Lagers, Dirndl’s that proudly showcase a woman’s chest, green plastic Alpine feathered pimp hats and the always fashionable Lederhosen printed T-shirts. With Oktoberfest starting in a couple weeks I wanted to reflect on its awesomeness.

Katy Perry, Kim Kardashian and Salma Hayeck in Dirndls really stuffs my brat casing.

OC has a few great options for Oktoberfest:

First Story: the Jägermeister tour bus – With a seven month pregnant wife, I hit the Phoenix Club. A few beers in I was talking to the Jaeger girls and tried to get an impromptu tour of their bus. From what I recall, they declined. We did a shot, high fived and and took this photo. I don’t recall much after that.

my pregnant wife kicked me in the balls five seconds after this photo.

Second: Shooting range winnings! The Phoenix club has an Olympic air rifle shooting range that they turn into an arcade through Oktoberfest. My friend and I combined our winnings and picked up a sweet Celine Dion mousepad. If you’re ever done it, you’ll know how incredibly hard it is to hit the small 1″ target bullseye three times at 50 feet while drunk.

I won it for you, René!

3 – Dancing 70 year old lady with a panda head. That is all.

do not sexually harass her.

4 – Going to the grocery store on the way home from Oktoberfest someone had the bright idea of buying more beer. German Lager must be a creeper buzz as the drunkeness hit so hard I had to hold on to endcaps in the store to get around. I scored 50 Bonus points when my wallet exploded in line attempting to pay. To this day I’m still surprised they sold to me! I had the spins something fierce that night. I haven’t been that slammed since college, and haven’t since.

5 – I went to an Oktoberfest with my father in-law and took the photo just below. A year later, the SAME lady asked me “wo ist dein Vater”? (where is your father) I was like, no way she remembers two drunks taking their pic…she said “mit dem Pferdeschwanz” (with the ponytail) pointing to her hair. I was shocked she remembered us a year later! Freaking awesome! Hopefully she will remember us this year.

Frau Lieberschatz misses you, Mike!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other photos from Oktoberfest past:

my buddy elsa from High School

the love of my life and my turtleneck phase. Very Steve Jobs of me.
Hey! 1 man 99 cups!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeffro and I looking seriously tore up at the end of the night.

Loquat Wine Recipe

It’s loquat season! I tried four different recipes last year and this is the one turned out great! The process is very similar to making wine from red grapes. Break out your food grade bucket and get picking!

Fruit Picking:

  1. Pick fruit that is past the light orange stage, the fruit will be slightly squishy firm and a darker orange and may contain some sunburn. Discard smaller, bruised fruit.
  2. Wash all fruit in a bucket of water.
  3. Cut fruit in half on the bias and squeeze out the seeds. Remove stems.
  4. Put fruit in sterilized blender.
  5. As fruit fills the blender, blend it coarsely and put in a big freezer ziplock bag. Do 6pounds per bag.
  6. Add crushed campden tablet to each bag and squeeze it around.
  7. Bags of fruit will look brownish real quick like avocados, no worries.
  8. (optional) Put bags in freezer until you are 100% ready to make wine…if you’re waiting for enough fruit, supplies, etc.

Wine making day prep. 6 Gallon Food safe bucket with spigot. Original recipe inspiration: http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/reques9.asp

  •  18Lbs Thawed Fruit (three 6 pound bags of fruit). Use at least 6lbs of fruit per gallon of water if you want to scale back.
  • 16 lbs sugar on hand (don’t dump it all in until you check hydrometer brix. You want to get to 23-25 brix)
  • 4.5 tsp acid blend (do Ph test and get to 3.4)
  • 3 gal spring (unchlorinated) water, if boiled, let cool before adding loquats… you don’t want to cook them.
  • 3 crushed campden tabs (if not already added to fruit bags) Add one more to the six gallon bucket.
  • 2.5 tsp pectic enzyme
  • yeast and nutrient. Make a yeast starter as explained on package. I used a dry white wine yeast packet.
  • 2 tsp grape tannin (optional)

    ready for bottling after 3 months.

Instuctions:

  1. Add fruit bags to the water and stir until mixed and completely thawed.
  2. Take a hydrometer reading and note the brix.
  3. Add sugar until your brix is 23-25. If over, add non-chlorinated cool water. Stir sugar until dissolved.
  4. Add 1 crushed campen tab (4 if you didn’t put it with the fruit with step six above in the fruit picking stage)
  5. Cover with cloth and a big heavy book to prevent cats from jumping in. Must be able to breath.If you brew beer with airlocks, don’t bother. The fermentation is going to go nuts…a cloth is perfect.
  6. After 12 hours, add pectic enzyme and recover. Make your yeast starter now.
  7. After another 12 hours, add wine yeast starter and re-cover.
  8. Stir twice a day, making sure fruit on top gets recycled with juice. If it dries out that’s bad.This is called “punching down the cap”.
  9. Add yeast nutrient once a day (gram/gallon)
  10. Continue stirring daily until the bubbling sound slows, take a hydrometer reading of your brix every few days.
  11. This part is up to you where to finish fermentation. If you like sweeter wine, go for 1-3 brix. If you want dry, go past zero. Google to learn how to crash fermentation on fruit wine. I preferred it dry and let it go.The fridge is a great way to crash fermentation.
  12. Strain through nylon jelly bag and squeeze well to extract as much juice as possible into another bucket or sterilized pot. I used a mesh bag and strainer into a sterilized stock pot. If you homebrew beer and have a mash-tun with a false bottom, use it.
  13. Put wine into sterilized secondary with minimal airspace.
  14. Fit sterilized airlock. Fill airlock with cheap vodka. Check airlocks weekly to ensure enough fluid is in them.
  15. Set a reminder on your phone/calendar to rack. Rack wine monthly until clear. Top off with boiled/cooled spring water. Minimal airspace!
  16. Be sure and taste a bit at each racking and take notes. It will get very smooth as it ages.
  17. If satisfied with sweetness, bottle the wine. If too dry, add stabilizer (sorpistatK) and sweeten to taste, adding up to 1/4 cup sugar dissolved in 1/4 cup water.
  18. This wine can be drank young. Mine won bronze in the 2012 OC Fair after sitting a year. After 6 months it was great.

Crafty Beer Hype – Cambria Griffith is Awesome Edition

  • Step 1: Make a really good beer.
  • Step 2: Make a small amount of it.
  • Step 3: Profit.

Viral Marketing with craft beer is in full swing as craft brewers don’t spend a dime traditional advertising. In the case of beer, the product must speak for itself, enough in fact, to let beer enthusiasts and social networking to do their bidding. Orange County is home to a couple cases of beer hype, with Bootleggers Knuckle Sandwich, and The Bruery’s Black Tuesday. What exactly is beer hype? Follow along with a few examples.

This man has duck lips, and bottle of Black Tuesday with a Jesus halo. (Credit Cambria Griffith)

Beer hype is a common practice with craft brewers nationwide as shown on Discovery Channel’s “Brew Masters” featuring Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA with a stalled fermentation. If you haven’t watched it, DFH’s 120 Min IPA is by far their biggest and most expensive beer to produce. They were forced to dump a whole tank. Beer nerds everywhere cried as they watched it go down the drain. The hype of the beer and it’s inability to be procured only throttled its value and made beer junkies want more. DFH recently shipped another batch, and as you can see on Twitter, it’s quite the pub draw.

Also speaking of Dogfish Head, their beer “Bitches Brew” (also featured on the Brew Masters show) instantly flew off shelves upon airing. Rancho Santa Margarita Selmas Tap Room bought a few cases, cellared them, and is currently selling bottles for $40. Fair game? Sure. Will people pay it? Yep. Will I? Hell the fuck no.

Thanks for the Bitches Brew, Wilbur.

The Bruery’s Black Tuesday got the hype engine started this past week with a super secret Reserve Society email. Beer geeks got out their super secret decoder rings and got to work. I saw the news posted on five different sites. 750ML of 19.5% ABV? Hell, I’m going to join the reserve society, buy as many bottles as I can, resell them on ebay to pay for the reserve society subscription ($195 a year for 2011). With a shortage of such a big beer, why not break tradition and use smaller bottles? (ala Avery Mephisopheles) In this case, the hype ruins my experience as I’m not willing to spend the money to be in a beer club and I’m not willing to wait in huge line for the chance to get a taste. I sure as hell am not going to drop a Benjamin on eBay. I’m sure its delicious, but there are other remarkable beers I can walk my happy ass into a store today and buy with no lines or jacked up prices.

Courtesy of Trouble Brewing, TheFullPint.com

The last example I’ll use is Russian River’s Pliny the Younger, and hell, the Elder too. I’ve had the Elder on a few occasions and marvel at its deliciousness, never tried the Younger. The Younger is driving the hype-mobile to the extreme. Last month someone told me of a spot in fucking February 2012, at 7AM where you can get a pint of 2012 Pliny the Younger. At 7AM? I’m sure there will be people camping out overnight. I’ll let you know the location for $100.

On tap “this hour” would have been more appropriate.

I didn’t want to come off as if I’m whining about Beer Hype, as I’m not. I think it is good for the industry if the beers live up to it. It gets people talking. It creates a draw to the pubs that carry good beers. It helps viral marketing of the breweries. Chances are, you see other beers that these breweries put out and are sometimes more inclined to try something new that is widely available. The only real problem I have with it is I will never try these beers as I don’t have the time or money to invest getting them. Sour grapes on my part, and I’m only furthering the hype by hyping them more here.

I think Jimmy Fallon said it best (via Twitter): “Thank you, microbreweries, for making my alcoholism seem like a neat hobby.” And that is just it… baseball cards, comic books, stamps, coins, now beer. I’ll stick with the latter as it’s the most delicious. Cheers.

 

Beer for Boobs (Bootleggers Brewery Fullerton – Friday 8/12)

Okay, what does Yeast, Boobs and Beer have in common? No, it’s not my wife! It’s the Beer for Boobs charity! I first heard about these gals from White Labs yeast down in San Diego that do a monster 60 mile 3 day walk for Breast Cancer. They travel around breweries and brewpubs and offer a pint night. You buy their pint glass for ten bucks and get it filled twice with the beer of your choosing. You also get to take the glass home! If you homebrew, you’ve no doubt used White Labs yeast and know they make a quality product.

Cream Stout please! (this is not the glass btw)

I Google searched “Beer for Boobs” and came up with a Fox News link about great beers to pair with BBQ. Was Google insinuating that Fox News viewers were boobs? I don’t know. This blog is far from political, but I get a kick out of random humor like that. I also got a chuckle as I googled it again and misspelled Beers as “Beef”. Beef for Boobs absolutely makes no sense, yet I was laughing hysterically.

From the B4B website:

Beer for Boobs is a super walking, super cancer fighting walking crew. The idea for this fabulous team was born at White Labs in 2008. We wanted to raise yeast by day, and stomp out breast cancer by the mile. Our fearless leader & Vice President of White Labs, Lisa White, collected her superhuman yeast ranchers & friends to create our breast cancer fighting crew. Our crew walks 60 miles in 3 days this November to fight against breast cancer. 2010 marks our third year and we are already 10 pair of feet strong!

I’ll see you tonight! The Rolling Sushi Van will be on tap serving up some great rolls and my favorite “spicy tuna chips”. I suggest a Black Phoenix to pair with it.

Bootleggers is located just on the other side of the train tracks from Hero’s and the Fullerton SoCo District, making it a great starting off point for a night out in Downtown Fullerton. Hours are 4-9 Th-F 2-9 Sat. Phone (714) 871-BEER. They do Kegs, Growlers, tasters, pints and special “sport your stein” nights.

401 S Richman Ave Fullerton, CA 92832

Beercation: Alpine Beer Co.

While down in San Diego/Escondido I ditched my reservation at Stone World Bistro for a trip to Alpine Beer Co and pub. Before you hit the back button, Alpine Beers rival Stone on almost every level. Okay, really, please don’t click the red X button! I’m not an arrogant bastard!

Having been to Stone on several occasions, I know it’s practically Heaven. Craft Beer newbies and enthusiasts from all over the world worship at the gargoyle alter. Coors Light drinkers are routinely sacrificed on the large monolithic stone in the lobby. Greg Koch (CEO and half owner) routinely signs bottles for beer fans as if some sort of celebrity. If you haven’t been to Stone, go. Make sure to not make eye-contact with Mr. Koch or he might break out in a mirror-practiced speech several times about sustainability and profitability. I kid of course, Stone beers are a benchmark to how others are measured. I love what Stone has done for Craft Beer. Greg Koch is a business master and exhibits passion that I truly admire. I’ll get off my knees now…

I wanted to hit Alpine Beer Co ever since trying a bottle of “Pure Hoppyness” my brewer friend Scott “StarRaptor) Bennet from SNB Brewing brought to an IPA tasting. The beer really stood out with a huge hop aroma, dank oily piney hops similar to Pliney, but Socal. I found out they have a pub with really great pub food as far as yelpers were concerned. Not knowing what to expect, we hit it up. Google Maps points you to a place called Alpine Inn which is wrong. Keep going down the main drag another half mile and you can’t miss the rustic carved wooden sign. If Google maps doesn’t know where you are, you are truly off the beaten path in the beer world!

Some dude named Al makes a Pine beer? Hardy har har

The pub is about the same size as a typical 7-11. It has a ten person bar, four booths, a side bar looking out the window, and 4 four person tables. We walked in and sat at the only available table 2pm on a Sunday. We ordered up some flights and wings. Not knowing what their beers names were I asked our waiter what some of them were. Two of their beers, “Willy” and “Nelson” brews aren’t related to the singer, unfortunately. I’m sure they get that a lot.

While there I banged out almost their entire beer menu. My wife (lets call her “the HopHater”) enjoyed their Mandarin Nectar, and I started off with “Hoppy Birthday”; a big Pale Ale that is two hop cones shy of an IPA. Sister in law had a “Nelson”, being her wife’s maiden name. Nelson is a big smooth Rye IPA with huge hops and the rye makes for an incredibly smooth beer. Drinking these beers I’m picturing brew master Pat McIlhenney shoveling piles of hops into the kettles like a firebox crew in a steam locomotive.

I ordered up a tasting flight. They give you a slip to fill out and they serve it in a numbered muffin tin in order of how you wrote it on the slip. I love having tasters served all at the same time to really get down to business with comparing.  I had Duet, Pure Hoppyness, Willy Vanilly and Cap’n Stout. Duet is a 50/50 mix of my two favorite hops – Amarillo and Simcoe. Willy Vanilly is their Wheat beer with huge Vanilla notes. The HopHater really enjoyed it. The Stout was pretty dry ala Irish Stout.

I always forget to photograph it before I guzzle. Notice I always save the best for last!

The Pub has no take away beers. The brewery and pub are in the same strip mall, but not connected. They have their own hours. If the brewery is closed you have to go down the street to a liquor store to buy their brews which was the case for us. At the local liquor store I was able to grab their Red Ale which wasn’t tapped at the pub. The Red, like the Stout was done in Irish Tradition. Its aromas and flavors brought me back to my trip a year ago to Ireland; drinking copious amounts of Smithwick’s and Murphy’s Irish Red…so good!

Hoppy Birthday okay guys. Great session pale ale with huge hop notes.

The Food was BBQ style pub grub served fresh with huge spicy and sweet flavors. I loved the menu says to tell the server if you don’t like spicy food. We grabbed some smoked wings with dry rub to start then settled into some serious grilled cheese, black-n-tan onion rings, buffalo chicken sandwich with jalapeno jack cheese and their green beans…yes, their green beans were diabolical. There wasn’t a speck of food left when we ordered another round. They didn’t have dessert which is fine by me; more room for beer!

The only negative was one of the servers was a little testy (or is it “teste”?) and didn’t want to explain the beers. I asked a couple times for a flight sheet, refills, and had to go to the bar to ask the other server. He asked us how long we were going to stay as there was a wait outside. When your bill is over a hundred bucks, one shouldn’t feel rushed. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he was having a shitty day which is fine. It didn’t rub off on me! Craft beer waiters shouldn’t have attitudes like 1990 Tower Records employees. The other server on tap was awesome and joked with us. I dug his “Holiday Inn Cambodia” shirt he actually got in Vietnam at a Holiday Inn.

Sure this isn’t a place in Orange County, but it is reachable by a daytrip. There’s many quality options for great craft beer in San Diego, but consider going a bit off the path to Alpine Beer Co!

Haven Gastropub Bar (Old Town Orange)

Sitting at the bar of Haven Gastropub, 4PM on a Wednesday. I got out of jury duty early for the day. Nothing like a meth trial to make one crave a good beer or two. Haven prides itself with a dozen or so taps and a huge bottle selection of rare specialty beers. Years ago when they opened I did my first Yelp review and actually dinged them on their beer selection. It wasn’t necessarily ~bad~, it was just okay with options from Stone, New Belgium and a few others. They obviously took notice and branched out. Since that initial yelp review, I’ve been back around five times for food and drinks, each time I’m always delighted by the ambiance, service, and selection of fresh gourmet comfort food, and of course the beer selection, which has improved considerably.

The current beer selection seems to nail favorites of each style. For instance on the IPA style: one visit, they had Pliny the Elder, next time, Stone Ruination, next visit, Ballast Point Sculpin, my recent visit: Avery Majaraja. They don’t overlap the styles too much and balance it out so there’s something for whatever one might be in the mood for.

Going back to my recent visit, I sat at the bar alone and ordered an Omegang BPA served in a mid-stem tulip poured to the brim, around a pinkie of pale head. Two older ladies pull up stools next to me, sighing from a day of antique shopping. “I’d like a Corona”, “me too” says the other lady. They were in town from Texas and were shocked they didn’t have Corona. As they were getting up to leave for another place I tipped my hat up and said, “no problemo, Dixie Chix, this place has really good beer.” “Fancy Shmancy Beer” said the younger one with a gruff whiskey/smoker voice. I offered to order a couple flights and said I’d pay if they didn’t like them. They were delighted and and the bartender got a kick out it as well.

the Omegang Gals. Don’t mess with em.

Haven offers a four-pour taster board with varying prices on them. Most are $2, some are upwards of $5. Considering the hot day and their preference of Mexican Lager, I ordered the Liefmans Cuvee Brut, Ballast Point Wahoo (Wheat), Omegang BPA, and a Deschuttes Black Butte. The older lady grabs the Liefmans, pops a swig and rolls her eyes while tilting her head. “WOW, this is beer?” The other lady with the thick Texas accent swishes it around her mouth a couple times and says, “holy shit I can drink this! Yee haw pardner!” then pulled out two pistols and began shooting into the ceiling. Okay I made that up, but they did freak out a little. If you ever get the chance to try the Cuvee Brut, do so. It’s a Cherry Belgium fruit beer coming in at 6%.

I admit this has nothing to do with the post, but it's nice to look at.

They both said “I don’t like dark beer at all”, so I made a point to add the Deschuttes Black Butte Porter. I instructed them to save this for last. A porter? on a hot day? I say yes. There’s something a porter does to me after a day of hard work. It seems to refill my soul and give me a second wind, even on a hot day.

As they worked their way through the BPA (weren’t crazy about) and the Wahoo Wheat (They loved) they arrived at the Black Butte. I ordered up a pint myself. “I hope it doesn’t taste like a black butt” said the older one. I immediately cracked back with, “you know what black butt tastes like?” ahaha, we were in tears. You had to be there I spose. I said “smell it, what does it smell like?”, “ooh, I smell chocolate”, “oh yes, definitely chocolate”. Upon tasting, they followed with “I taste some coffee and maybe a little vanilla”. I was shocked. Virgin tongues nailing it. We all clanked glasses, finished our beers and went on about our day. They actually paid for my beer as well as theirs which was nice.

"I like black buttes and I cannot lie"

As you can tell, this isn’t really a review of the place. It’s one of those places that simply gets it. Really good fresh gourmet comfort food, really good beers. Go there!

Located on the south side of old town Orange circle. (the Plaza for all you Orange jerks :) havengastropub.com

Many more tasting rooms to come!

California is a great state, especially for good beer! Our State Legislature unanimously passed a bill making it easier for a brewery to open a tasting room without jumping through the same hoops as a food joint. If I read it correctly, any out of state brewery can also easily set up shop here with a tasting room and distribution site.

Link to the Bill.

Link to how a Bill becomes a Law.

Link to a guy named Bill.

The bill was brought forth by State Assembly Members Chesbro and Fletcher. Fletcher is the Assemblyman from San Diego (not Stone’s district). Chesbro hails the North West tip of California (just the tip).

Chesebro likes dogs, and beer.