Beer Review with a Homeless Person | Bruery Autumn Maple with 100% Brett

"It tastes like Chuck Wagon Dog food, the kind where you put water in it to make gravy" (note, the use of Thom Yorke was used as dramatization, not an actual homeless person)

Homeless people like beer right? I’ve seen a few signs where those less fortunate come right out and ask for beer. Times are tough! I sat down with a few homeless people near the freeway offramp at the 91 and Harbor in Fullerton. I brought a cold bottle of The Bruery Autumn Maple made with 100% Brett, a few tasting glasses, and a notebook. The first guy I ran into thought I was full of shit and screamed obscenities at me. Whatever…no free beer for you sucker! I found a dude named Donald, a 45 year old guy holding a Vietnam Vet sign…Apparently this guy is really bad at math. He agreed to drink some beer with me over by a bush that had a stack of pre-written homelessy God Bless you signs. Wow. I poured the beer and I and took some notes.

It was a fun experiment, not sure if I’ll try it again. Cheers!

Barkenhagen's Speakeasy (aka Bootleggers Brewery)

The year is 1921. I’m thirsty for a goddamn beer. Damn prohibition. I tip a paperboy on the corner of Harbor and Commonwealth in Fullerton and ask what’s the scuttlebutt on some blind pig action. He says “I don’t know from nothin’ mistuh” and points down Valencia, the bad part of town. I tilt my seat back in my hayburner as the local residents watch us roll under the canopy of elm trees. My bearcat lights a ciggy as we pull into the orange shipping area of town. The other cars around tell us we struck gold. (20’s slang guide here)

Fast forward 90 years, Bootleggers gives a nod to that era. Sitting down in their tasting room in Fullerton, I get the sense they were going for either a 1920’s speakeasy, or they just don’t give a crap about the decor. The brewery and tasting room sit with eight fermenters bubbling blowoff tubes around various unmatching tables and chairs. The room smells like spilled beer, sanitizer, and yeast farts; which is precisely what a brewery should smell like. As I walk around, my shoes make a tacky noise similar to walking around a budget movie theater with spilled soda on the ground. As I park my ass in a circa 2003 Home Depot Resin chair, I clean the remnants of the last satisfied customer’s beer rings off the wobbly table with conveniently abandoned food truck napkins. Music pumps out of a muddled speaker above the restrooms, making familiar music seem dreamy and distant.The Amtrak Surfliner Train flies by outside and rattles the walls at regular intervals, perhaps re-agitating the beer aging in wooden barrels a few feet away. I contemplate running outside real quick and flashing my dick at unsuspecting train travelers, but the beer I’m drinking gets the best of me. I firmly place a foot on a table leg to prevent my beer from moving around the table top like air hockey, and take a sip.

Having just hit Bootleggers two days earlier I was really looking forward to sucking down the best beer ever; Bourbon Barrel Imperial Black Phoenix from my first official beer review. Black Phoenix is a year round offering at Bootleggers and the slight modifications they concoct keep this cowboy returning. The chipotle stout is easily one of Orange County’s greatest dark beer offerings (Cismontane’s Blacks Dawn and the Bruery’s Black Tuesday among others).  On Thursday, they had the barrel aged Imperial version, the regular version on CO2, and a version on Nitro. As the tap was blown on my fave, I went for something I’ve never tried before, Plum Riot.

Along with 18 taps, Bootleggers offers bottles, kegs, and growler fills for take away.

I was saving Plum Riot for just this occasion; when all my favorites were out. I wasn’t disappointed either! Call the Fullerton Plum Riot Police, this is one tasty Belgian Dubbel! Aroma, I get freshly toasted bread with sour plum jam…YUM! Color is a hazy blushing pale plum with a pinky finger head that fizzed away quickly. Tasted some plum hard candy and some subtle spices that didn’t stick around. This isn’t a very complex beer but would be great paired with BBQ or Teriyaki as it would draw some sweetness from the sauce. For a 7.8% ABV beer, I didn’t get the slightest hint of boozyness and was quite drinkable and refreshing.

The head cheese and his bearcat; Aaron and Patricia Barkenhagen run the joint. (credit Derek Bougie)

Bootleggers draws in all walks of life. One table was filled with some dolled up gals stopping in for a beer before going out on the town. Another table had an older couple chatting about a recent Fullerton Police beating.  Near the door is a gaggle of hipster looking types drinking non-PBR product. As the night wears on, the tasting room line is almost out the door. The music is completely drowned out by the crowd, until 9PM, when the death metal kicks in. Last minute growlers are filled and the place empties out.

9PM Leave or Death (metal)

With eighteen taps, Bootleggers has something for everyone. I highly recommend stopping in and doing a tasting flight for $4.50 with some friends. Whichever beer is your favorite, grab a pint, a growler fill, or a keg for your next party. I was shocked a 5 gallon keg of IPA was around $65! Compare that to any craft beer keg at Bevmo (over $100) and you’ll never do that again! Also keep in mind you’re supporting local business and drinking super-fresh beer! Applesauce!

They’re open Thurs-Sun and have food trucks on most nights. The location makes a great jumping off point for a night out in Downtown Fullerton. Check their website for details!

My First Official Beer Review | Bootleggers Barrel Aged Imperial Black Phoenix

The internet is full of beer reviews. Boring, boring, beer reviews. Beer Advocate and Ratebeer are informative for finding styles, serving temps, cellaring info…but the reviews rival the average repetative yelp crap.

Here at OC Beerblog, we review beers a little different. And when I say we, I mean me.

  1. I will write a haiku for the beer.
  2. If the beer were a person, it would be  _____________ and why.
  3. Instead of a formal rating, I will award it X amount of manbabies. A manbaby is an edited image where a kid and adult’s head is swapped via Photoshop. The rating is a variable amount and has no scale at which to judge it by. Much like beer, some days it’s good. Some days it’s better. Some beer goes better with food. Pallets are different as well. What might be a good beer to me, might be horrible to you.

So here it is: My first review. Bootleggers Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Black Phoenix!

Haiku:

dark fruits aroma

black as Patricia B’s hair

whiskey, peppers, sex!

(note, Patricia B. is the Owner/brewer’s wife that often works pouring beer there. I could have easily put her sister but I don’t know her name…shame on me!)

If this beer were a person:

Princess Tiana from Disney’s “Princess and the Frog”. Yes folks, your blogger has officially lost it! Imperial = Princess. Dark skin = dark beer. Loves to add hot sauce = roasted chili heat in the beer. Bourbon barrel aged = I drink bourbon while my daughter watches that movie fucking 400 times. It’s a damn fine beverage! I always thought Knuckle Sandwich would be the pinnacle of beers at Bootleggers; this easily tops it in complexity alone.

"Wiggle your middle finger on my froggy balls". Do frogs even have balls? I need to google that.

Overall I give this beer 400 drooling manbabies! I hope this beer catches on and is produced at regular intervals and not a one-off. I’ll be back until it runs out.

400 of these manbabies okay

Cheers! See you at Bootleggers!

Arthur Guinness Day Today!

Surely everyone knows who Sir Arthur Guinness is. He’s not only the creator of Guinness, he also had quite a bit to do with Irish history. Touring Ireland last year there were many castles, churches and other landmarks that were saved by the man personally donating money for upkeep. Most of Ireland’s treasures would probably not be standing if it weren’t for him!

The marketing geniuses behind Ireland’s finest export came up with another day in the year everyone should consume some brown stuff, besides, you know, Saint Patrick’s Day. The date and time are significant as 17:59 is the year Guinness was founded (translates to 5:59PM our time).

Get ready to celebrate with fellow Guinness fans around the world as we raise our glasses for the third annual Arthur Guinness Day. Kicking off at 17:59 GMT on 22nd September 2011, we’ll join together to toast the legendary Arthur Guinness, the man who created our beloved beer. From Ireland and Europe across to the USA, Caribbean and ending in Asia, 24 hours of global celebrations and live music events will mark another year of Guinness goodness.

So what does this mean if you’re in Orange County? Well, there’s a few Irish pubs you could check into for a decent pour. I’m particularly fond of The Auld Dubliner, which has two locations in OC: The District in Tustin and Anaheim on Katella. Sure other pubs have Guinness, but I’ve found freshness is key to a great pour, and those two places have enough turnaround to make it a smooth fluffy pint.  The bartenders are actually trained on how to properly pour a pint as well, which is somewhat of an art form. Speaking of which, while in Ireland last year I took a class on how to properly pour a pint of Guinness at the Storehouse at St. James Gate. Please to enjoy!

Here’s some other pics from the Guinness Storehouse I took with my beloved Lomo LCA camera.

MMM, Guinness from the source with real Irish water from the Wicklow mountains! Shot in their restaurant. Most of the food was cooked with Guinness as well. Sadly, no Irish Carbombs!

In the photo of me above, if I looked out the window this was my view of Dublin and the old brewery.

Shot out of a window on the Guinness Storehouse tour.

Cismontane Oktoberfest Beer Release and Chicken Dance

I’m a huge fan of new beer releases. Especially when they’re seasonal, interesting and born from a brewery I’ve never been to. Cismontane brewery down in Rancho Santa Margarita has the goods! I stopped in with my Phoenix Club Oktoberfest Stein ($2 for the first fill) and unterhosen to see what was cooking in South County.

Cultivation on the outside, inebriation on the inside!

Cismontane Brewing is situated in an outdoor shopping plaza near the 241 toll road and RSM Parkway. I found the landmark KFC, followed the steeping barley smell, and looked for the live hops plants growing up the building. Colonel Sanders would lick your fingers for a taste of some good local beers for sure…”Finger lickin’ good”! Being a packed joint I joined a booth with none other than Jessica Rice from beerandbaking.com and her crew. Dave, the dude with the stache, Michael, the dude with the shutter snappin’. I love randomly meeting people in my Untappd friends list. I’ve long admired Miss Rice and her extensive  list of rare beers she imbibes. Unfortunately I didn’t realize it was her until they all left. Oh well. I’m sure our paths will cross again.

Locals wetting their whistles. Einz, Zwei, Gsuffah!

Midway through my stein, I must say, is a thoroughly enjoyable Oktoberfest beer. It’s dry, deep copper, wild honeysuckle on a biscuit native Southern California lager. Sitting down with head brewer Evan Weinberg on a brewday of all days is a hoot. I caught him Mid-boil pre-hops pitch, sweat dripping on his black rubber boots.  He’s holding a 1 liter dimpled traditional Oktoberfest Stein filled halfway, shaking it buzzingly side to side as we chat. Evan fills me in on the specifics of this brew. The beer is a collab with Newport Beach Brewing Co. Derek Bougie made with locally sourced wild Buckwheat from the area. This is the first in a series utilizing local natural ingredients. Taps’ Victor Novak provided the proprietary yeast to eat the sugars on this seasonal brew. It doesn’t necessarily have the tell tale noble hop style of an Oktoberfest, but it does have the crisp yet lingering after-finish of the German counterpart. Sometimes when drinking an Oktoberest beer such as a de facto Spaten Oktoberfest, the beer sets up shop in your mouth well after drinking. Subsequent beerless swallows continue to engulf your pallet with sugary malty flavors. Your saliva thickens and pallet aches for German food…a Wurst, a potato pancake, sauerkraut or a pretzel act as an agent to reset your mouth’s atmosphere to zero.

Next I ordered a flight of the other four beers offered: Hafer Weizen (Maybe Nelson hopped wheat beer), The Citizen (California Common/Steam), Casked Oktoberfest (same as above, but dry hopped in cask), and Blacks Dawn (Imperial Stout). All of them were spectacular! I’m a huge fan of hopped wheat beers and the Hafer doesn’t disappoint.  The Citizen had some nice roasted sweet malts that turn nutty/coffee bitter as it warmed up. The casked Oktoberfest was earthier than the keg but had a slight dank hoppy aroma. Blacks Dawn is big time coffee, chocolate, molasses; it’s smooth and very enjoyable. I picked up a growler of The Citizen to enjoy at a BBQ the following day.

On Deck – What to look forward to before years end: 

Future plans: Expansion!

  • CUP: RSM city council approved a conditional use permit to expand into the unit next door. They still need the plans to be approved, but more space for tanks and more space for tasting = good!
  • Bottles, although limited, will be available soonish!

Food: Rancho A Go Go Truck served up brats while I was there. I ordered in German! It’s funny how much German I recall from High School German class over twenty years ago. The Oktoberfest beer worked well drawing some sweetness from the sausage. A couple doors down is a Thai restaurant, and there’s also nasty ass KFC if you want to feel like a greasy shitball.

CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP

Overall I think Cismontane’s creativity will keep people interested. The quality is high, the beer is fresh, and the crew running the place bring a chill perverted surfer type vibe. Being a photographer and art hobbyist I love that they showcase artists in the tasting room. There’s also books, magazines, games to mess with if you get bored. Me, being the socialite (haha) shared my table with three groups during my stay and met some interesting and diverse people. Aside from the beerandbanking.com gal above, I met a dude that puts shoes on horses with his gal that tends bar at PF Changs at night and works for lawyers during the day. A dirt bike rider gal with a Kawasaki shirt and her dude, then there was an older lesbian couple, then a phone zombie. Seriously, this dude didn’t stop looking at his phone the entire time. Crazy.

Video of the buckwheat harvest, o’tay?:

Tasting room is open Thur-Sun, check their website for details! www.cismontanebrewing.com

Pump up the Volume | Bayhawk Ales

Pump up the Volume, Pump up the Volume, Pump up the Volume, Dance, Dance! The song bellowed out of my roommate Rob’s stereo in his restored black ’64 Pontiac GTO. His out-of-style Z Cavaricci pants squeek-farting across the leather seats, the smell of Drakkar Noir and cigarette butts wafting through the air. Yes, Rob was a little out of date with style. The year? 1995. The place? Goat Hill Tavern in Newport/Costa Mesa. I ask for a local Ale, barkeep pours me a Bayhawk. I drank it, burped, then probably peed sometime later. Beer in the 90’s was different. It seemed a lot simpler than it is now. Styles were stuck to for the most part. I don’t recall much about that beer, other than it was my first Bayhawk, and it felt cool to drink a locally produced beer.

Fast Forward until now, Bayhawk is pumping up the volume. At capacity to crank out 10K barrels, they managed to squeeze over 8,000 in 2010. To put that into perspective, newer breweries in OC do around 1000, if that. Chances are, many of you have had a beer brewed by Bayhawk without realizing it. Ever order a house beer at Lucilles Smokehouse or Outback Steakhouse? If so, Bayhawk made it. I’ve enjoyed the house Heffe at Lucilles. That beer makes up around 50% of their production. They also contract brew for a few local breweries.

I made the trek to their brewery and sat down with George Smith, their head of sales to see how the bird is doing.

It would be cool if the fountain had beer. I’d be out there with speedos and goggles frolicking in it.

Bayhawk is situated in a high end corporate business plaza on Main Street near Jamboree in the back of McCormick and Schmicks. I pulled in to the parking garage and noted a Lotus Esprit and a Maserati waiting to be valet parked a few feet from BH’s doors. Next to a red carpet and velvet ropes, a door with the BayHawk Ales logo sits off to the side like a janitor’s closet. I arrived early and settled into the Pilsner Room for happy hour, a high end bar at the back of McS’s. The bar area has a decent happy hour, an ample bottle selection and a nice view of the Bayhawk brew tanks. I ordered up a flight of Bayhawk (pun intended) which included a Chocolate Porter, Amber Ale, Hef, and a Honey Blonde. Tasters were standard 4oz on a tasting paddle. I always start dark to light by habit as IPA’s tend to kill the buds, but this isn’t necessary with BH brews. I think their avg IBU is around 25.

The Flight of Bayhawk. Kaww Kaww! Swoop, splat.

I dusted the flight and took a few notes. I tried not to let pre-conceived notions get in the way of just relaxing and enjoying some beers. Starting with the porter, I prefer a porter to be a big beer and this seemed like a session brew. Light chocolate notes as expected, thin mouthfeel, slightly metallic. The Amber Ale was my favorite of the bunch with pleasant caramel malt that reminded me of a light version of a Scotch Ale (perhaps a 60 schilling?) with some extra spicy notes. The Heffe didn’t have a lot of the traditional banana or clove yeast going on from a traditional German Hef. Perhaps a California recipe? I expect some yeasty aromas or it’s a simple unfiltered wheat beer. The taster was served with a small lemon wedge which was surprising. The Honey Blonde was possibly the lightest body beer I’ve drank in some time, which had some honey notes. Overall the flight was a good representation of what BH does. I grabbed a pint of the Amber Ale, looked at my watch and checked in with George.

Somewhere, there’s a lot of hungry yeast ready to eat this.

Sitting down with George Smith, Bayhawk’s head of sales, and he instantly answered almost every question I had for him without having to be asked. I like that in a sales person, and was mad at myself for not having better questions. He filled me in on stuff like low ratings on BA and RB and how they attempt to correct poor storage issues at stores. He also stated Bayhawk is looking at a suitable place to move. As stated above, their location limits the hours of production.

Chances are if you’re a beer geek, you’ll pass over a Bayhawk beer, which is fine. The market they go after is converting the BMC people, contract brewing, and private brewing for other breweries. The volume they put out shows there’s a market for it and the quality on tap I can vouch for. If you’re ever at Lucilles or Outback, make sure and ask for their house brews!

Fear and Loathing at the Orange County Brew Ha Ha 2011

We were somewhere around Irvine, on the edge of Wild Rivers, when the craft beer began to take hold. I remember saying something like I feel a bit lightheaded. Suddenly, there was a terrible roar all around us, and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around us, and a voice was screaming! Holy Jesus. What are these goddamn animals?

Wave my hand in front of my face, despite daylight, traces by like a strobe light in some rundown night club in bad part of Vegas. I still have three drink tickets left. It seems like I’ve been here for days. I need a shower or maybe some wet wipes. There’s a lake by the Maui Brewing Company EZ-Up. I want to dive in the lake then steal some clothes from the tent like some sort of deranged homeless man. The lake is frothy green with an Island inhabited by a secret society of rare beer hoarders.

Maui Brewing Sign and the green lake await me. Yes, that is an orange bug with a mohawk in the background.

There was a large rumble that made me drop to one knee. It happened, again, and again. It sounded like a bear attack was immanent. I peer down to my feet only to realize it’s my stomach. I hadn’t eaten since that Del Taco in Berdoo. Found a place with Duck Tacos and a Spicy Pickle; the kind of meal only a Gypsy on Mescaline might eat. The server at Stone World Bistro asked if I like spicy food as his face morphed into Gargoyle, then back to Greg Koch face. I freeze, almost drooling while gazing into his eyes and answer “Yes” as if we had some sort of brotherly bond. He held out a pickled Habanero, which I ate happily. One bite and the entire sky turned red. A large mushroom cloud clung over a nearby hill. Large white spots inhabited my field of vision. I collapsed weeping in a drunken heap with my mouth ablaze.

A face appears out of a cloud like an Angel. I’ve seen this person, maybe on youtube, interviewing local breweries. Is it the Squeeze My Orange gal? She grabs me by the collar and drags me to a Belgium brewer for a pour of Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA. One sip of the beer brings me back to a semi-conscious reality. She laughs hysterically at nothing which makes me nervous. I laugh equally to not appear like some sort of beer geek asshole. I ask if I should call her “Squeeze” or “Miss Orange”. She bats her lashes and says “Cynthia” then we both burst into laughter until we were choke-cough-laughing. I offer to be her spirit guide on this vision quest and she agrees. I meet her video crew, Asha and Matthew, possibly the cutest couple ever. I’m in. “Let’s get Panda” I say, “Panda is so drunk that you’ll be sitting off in the woods eating some bamboo, perhaps my baby Panda will sneeze, scaring the shit out of us.” “Chin Chin!” Yelps Cynthia.

Over near the Bruery and Sudwerk’s tent, there’s a, uh, big machine in the sky, some kind of, I dunno, carnival ride, coming straight at us. Cynthia says “SHOOT IT!” Not yet, I want to study its habits. Look, there’s two women fucking a polar bear! “Don’t tell me these things. Not now man” says Cynthia. She opts for the Bruery Autumn Maple and I go German and grab a Sudwerk Fest Märzen. “What’s the score here” I ask, “just one ticket sir, are you okay?” There was madness in any direction, at any hour. We could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. We were, after all, the absolute cream of the Orange County beer blogger scene.

wonder bloggers unite! Form of…HOPS

As we mull about the beer fest, reality kicks in. The three wrist bands on each of our arms reminds us we are here with press passes. I stop and open up my smartphone gallery app, thankfully I’ve recorded and photographed quite a bit. That app is very handy for piecing together brownouts. Here’s what I managed to piece together with phone media of the last two hours:

Got my ass, pass, and glass without any wait, I headed to a line. Oh here we go! Previous beer fests are a virtual möbius strip of lines filled with angry drunks. Had I known the line was for a free pour of Stone’s 15th Anniversary Ale I would have chilled the fuck out. From there, folks gathered in a small amphitheater for a quick speech from Dr. Bill of Stone Brewing Company. “Welcome to the Revolution!” Nothing like a good Beer Sermon on the state of craft brewing to get me revved for the day. We raised and clanked, then headed out to the gardens.

I grabbed my second beer and walked the gardens to get the lay of the land. As there was no formal map or itinerary, I made mental notes of who I wanted to stop at and where they were.  The crowd was pleasant! A huge mix of people with one thing in common: beer. Talking to several people with basic questions like “what are you drinking?” and “where are you from?” and my favorite “what brought you here?” were pretty basic. Many of the answers were “uh, I dunno, I got it from over there” and “earth” and “beer” were basic answers. Fair enough.

Most breweries had 2-4 styles to choose from. Nice to see almost all OC represented. (Shame on you Anaheim Brewery, we missed you! 1888 and your Heffe would have been nice to see and would have been well received. If you do one festival a year, this would be it). There was such a good mix of good breweries. Two I couldn’t find: Crispin Cider and Russian River that were on the bill. All the people with Pliny the Elder shirts were probably bummed.

The Addisons Homebrew Provisions (homebrew store) tent head a steady flow of people asking questions during the brew demo. Don from Backhouse Brewing was cooking up something nice, while Mr. Burch fielded the questions out front. Great to taste some top-notch homebrew from AHP’s club; Scott’s Big IPL was on tap (Karl Strauss homebrew winner), as was Backhouse Brewing’s Hemp Ale. Great to see such an interest in homebrewing. I heard from a gal at work who’s parents were at the fest, they said they were going to start brewing!

The day before the 9/11 tenth anniversary, Firefighters pouring beer at each tent was beyond cool. This did a few things…it freed up the brewers to ask questions, which was super convenient for me. It was also nice if someone passed out or something, hell, you’re surrounded by firefighters. I only saw two cops the entire day, shockingly there were eating fried dough at the time. The biggest line I was in was around ten deep, and took less than 3 minutes to get my pour. Aces!

Food: Tons of options with no lines; only gripe, not a lot of vegetarian or vegan options, this is OC. Some people don’t dig on the meats. Seabirds Truck would have been awesome to keep everyone happy.

Restrooms: outdoor four person urinal things were awesome. Restrooms were plenty and great for dudes. Girls had some lines. The porta potty lines went pretty fast. The hand-wash station was out of water by 2:30 (event closed at 3).

I peed in one of these things. It was awesome. (pic from another site)

Music: KROQ DJ and KROQ style cover band, bagpipers were awesome. It wasn’t overwhelming or too loud.

Other: there was a crazy carnival spinny ride thingy. I didn’t see anyone riding it. I would have but didn’t want to risk spraying the Bruery with a bell full of craft beer and duck tacos.

Crazy List of what I put in my belly in chronological order:

  • Stone 15 Anniversary
  • Maui CoCoNut Porter
  • Cismontane Citizen California Common
  • Sudwerk Fest Marzen*
  • Food: Stone World Bistro duck taco, spicy pickle, pickled Habarnero
  • Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA
  • Maui Mana Wheat
  • Craft Stout/Rasp wheat blend (OMG so good)
  • Iron Fist Spice of Life (saison)
  • Scotts Big IPL – Homebrew/Karl Strauss winner
  • Food: Home Skillet Truck Lamb Burger (best looking food truck crew ever!) Lamb Burger was soooo goood.
  • Old Orange Brewing Street Fair Kolsch
  • Another Sudwerk Fest Märzen (almost a full pint!)
  • Backyard Brew Hemp Ale – Homebrew at the Addisons Homebrew Provisions Tent
  • Widmer Nelson DIPA (just a sip)
  • DFH 90 min IPA

*Favorite of the fest. Bootleggers took the fan favorite at the event. Aaron Barkenhagen was seen drinking some beer out of his trophy. Love that dude.

Fest Marzen, I love you. Not every day I come home in love with a lager!

I couldn’t focus on the numbers when they were reading them off.

Gripes: It would have been great to have a map with an itinerary of the speakers. If there was one, I didn’t see it. I could have geeked out and put numbers on it or something. I didn’t know the tickets were for a drawing, or when the drawing was. I didn’t know who was speaking when. There was an after party, but without any communication we were left standing around not knowing where it was. This is mice nuts though, I had a great time!

Overall: Orange County Brew Ha Ha promises to be the best beer fest in California, or the US, or the World for that matter. I came for craft beer and got more than I could imagine. I chatted with countless brewers and got some great stories from each. I love this job, if you can’t tell. I highly recommend this fest for anyone new to craft beer as there was something for everyone.

Large portions of this blogpost are inspired by or tweaked quotes from either the book or movie “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” by Hunter S. Thompson.

Tales from the Orange County Brew Ha Ha 2011 (pre-event)

Alarm on my phone goes off playing a random song; today it’s Frank Turner’s “I am Disappeared”. Oh the irony of waking up to that song in particular. Pop and toss my proper incognito non-beer logo clothes. Boom…what the hell? Thunder? Noooooo. It is. Crap. Where the hell is my rain jacket? Bust out the Wahl clippers for a little manscaping…gotta be sexy for all these brews.

On my drizzly drive down to the Fest, I ponder the parallels that can be drawn with beer and women. As Homer Simpson once said, “They look good, they smell good, and you’d step over your own mother just to get one!” I wonder if Homer has ever tried a Flanders Red! Shockingly a lot of the BJCP judging guidelines can apply to judging, say, a new lady or man friend. Know the guidelines by heart? Appearance, head, smell, taste, mouthfeel, and overall are the basics. How did your friend judge to style? Is she a Stout Irish lass or a bit on the Wee Heavy side? Blonde Ale? A Robust Porter? Personally I prefer cold, dark, and bubbly gals, I mean beer. Yeah.

If all this is true, one could easily apply a person equivalent to any beer out there. Here’s a few OC beers and who I think would represent them:

  • The Bruery – Orchard White Gweneth Paltrow. Pale straw yellow beer with slight hints of lavender, Apple and other fruits. Goes good with English Cheese, perhaps a Devon Blue. She has a kid named Apple, right? Holy Moses! Pictured here near an orchard, in a white top, next to Lavender. What are the odds of that? Obviously Patrick Rue’s inspiration. I wonder who the inspiration was for Orchard Black.

Bootleggers – Knuckle Sandwich, Kristina Hendricks. A 10% ABV beer goes well with a perfect 10 gal in my book. Strong, perfumy aroma, reddish hue, and handles a bunch of Mad Men drunks. This picture is from the Golden Globes. Is it just me, or is SHE the Golden Globes?

  • Anaheim Brewery – Hefeweissen = Gwen Stefani. There’s no doubt if Mrs. Stefani ever came back to her home town, she would go B-A-N-A-N-A-S for this beer. Big time banana and clove in this traditional German Heffe. No beating around the Bush here, folks, this beer rocks steady and is hella good.
  •  Old Orange Brewery – Street Fair, Heidi Klum. As an avid Project Runway fan (don’t ask), I know Heidi is from Germany. Where in Germany? Cologne. What kind of beer comes from Cologne? Kölsch! What kind of beer is Street Fair? Kolsch Style! Got milk? Heidi does! I hope so with ten kids! I hear she clubs a baby Seal from time to time.

  • Cismontane – Coulter IPA = Ann Coulter. Aside from the obvious name, it’s a conservative IPA, decent body with minimal head. This is the first and last political joke you’ll see on this blog, promise. Sorry Cismontane. If I come up with a better one I’ll edit this out. I do really love you guys.
  •  Bayhawk – Honey Blonde = Pamela Anderson. Bayhawk and Baywatch a stretch? I didn’t think so. One sip of this chick beer and you’ll know why it fits.

That’s enough for today! Have any others you’d like to send? Do so in the comments!

Just got my pass and headed in! Does my hair look okay?

Carolina's Kitchen Fire!

From their facebook page:

As you may have heard, on August 31 a fire occurred in our kitchen & unfortunately caused severe damage. We therefore will be closed during the month of September and most of October. We will Post our exact opening date as we come closer. We thank you for your support and we look forward to seeing you when we reopen. The beer tasting will still be held on Thursday, September 8 at 6:30 and we invite you to join us for that event for reservations feel free to call us at (714)971 5551 and leave a message and we will return your call. We invite you to try our sister location Al’s Big Burger & Mexican Grill located next door you may contact them directly at (714) 971 3131 for deliveries or special accommodations. Thank you for your patronage and we look forward to seeing you return.

 

Check their FB page for updates, or here. Hopefully everyone was okay.

Why the hell would a beer blog care about an Italian Restaurant? Well for one, it has a ten page beer menu. Aw, how cute, nice to see your liver perk up!

Tucked away near Disneyland and the Anaheim Convention center lies Carolina’s Italian Restaurant. A cozy little Italian “gastropub” tucked away in a strip mall with some interesting neighbors. Want to get your disability check cashed? The liquor store a few doors down can help you out. Need an Up-do? Get it right next door! Care for a Vampiro drink? You’ve come to the right place my friend!

This place is next door. Vampiro eh? No Werepanther? Maybe I’ll grab the Macho Man instead.

After being seated I was handed huge plate of fresh cheese bread and a beer menu larger than a Googolplex. Carolinas easily qualifies as a must-go-to beer place in OC. Why? The large selection is served in proper glassware and can be paired on request. I asked my waiter what would pair well with an eggplant parmesan, “oh, Green Flash Double Stout, sir”. Hmmm, what would pair well with Linguini with clam sauce? “Arrogant Bastard, sir”. What about spaghetti and meatballs? “Hmmmm, Saison Du Pont”. Well what about a Chicken Marsala cooked in a wine sauce? “I’d suggest something barrel aged, perhaps a Firestone Walker Abacus”. They will also reverse-pair beer with food. What goes with Budweiser? “Steaming pile of dog shit, sir.” Nicely done, touché my good man.

I’m not sure if these dudes are Cicerone certified or anything, but my girthy waiter was happy to talk beer and knew everything about their extensive offerings.

“waiter, there’s an eye in my beer”

I like to judge a place on basics first, then go back if I like the food. For Mexican food, I generally get a Bean, Rice, Cheese and Salsa burrito as a first choice. If it’s good, I go back. For Italian, I do Spaghetti and Meatballs. It has enough raw components to decide if the place is good. Pasta? Toothy. Sauce? Tangy. Spice? Nice. Meatballs? Perfect. Beer menu? Fuck yes. As I’m not a food blog I can safely give general statements like the food was spectacular, good, not worth taking home leftovers, or I spent the night in the emergency room on IV meds from eating there. I’d put Carolina’s food in the “good” category.

  • Protip#1: If you just want a couple beers, you are served some bomb ass cheese bread when you are seated. Order a soup and a beer. Full meal for $10!
  •  Protip#2: They have beer/food pairing nights at a set price. Check their FB for info.
Friends Kristina and Dave mid backhand-slap contest.

Google Map Street View with the crew out front sorting out a catering order no doubt.

Another Google Map Street View of the back. Not sure if this dude is peeing or what. Laffo

I’ll do an update when they’re open again.

Meat, Cheese and Beer Class!

It’s no secret among my friends that I’m in love with the Bruery Provisions in Orange. I check her Facebook daily, I look at her Twitter. I stop in sometimes for a quick flight and wedge of La Tur cheese. BP totally gets me. I wish I could quit you, BP!

I signed up for the “Throwing a Party with Charcuterie and Cheese” class with my wife and some friends. Why would I want to throw a party with cheese and charcuterie you ask? What the hell is charcuterie anyway? Spell check has no clue! Charcuterie is meat that has been prepared by salting, aging, smoking, etc. Think bacon, pâté, sausage, jerky, etc. It’s what our forefathers did before refrigeration to make their meat last longer and make them delicious.

Upon arrival, the plates were already prepped with five cheese, meat, nut and dried fruit pairings. I was happy to see a provided notebook describing everything in great detail, and a pen to take notes. BP doesn’t mess around! The class was moderated by Cheesemonger and Culinary Manager Kendra Birdwell, which seriously puts the “cute” in charcuterie. Single people should be asking this gal out! Seriously…she reminded me of a mix of Amy Adams and Zooey Deschanel, but with cheese breath. That might be a deal breaker for some of you love birds.

The class began and Kendra broke out into an introduction to tasting. “Sniff, look, taste, swirl, sniff, taste, swish, eat, taste, repeat!” For some reason all this stinky cheese and cured meat got me a little frisky. Matters got worse as my wife was rubbing my leg under the tasting room table! I was totally freaking out! I even had a daydream in slow-mo where my wife pulls the barrette out of her hair and waves it from side to side, revealing her gorgeous flowing hair. As her hair flies across my nose, I inhale deeply and quickly snap back to reality when all I smell is Goat Cheese and Truffle Mousse (cue the fog horn).

First Pairing: Journey to the Center of the Earth. The Bruery Salt of the Earth Beer, Humbolt Fog Goat Cheese and Fabrique Delices Truffle Mousse. I was excited as I’ve never had this beer as it’s not available really anywhere aside from here. The beer is cloudy with minimal head, aroma consisting of some coriander and some funk. It had some earthy and grassy notes on the quaff with a chalky-wheaty mouthfeel. I’m not a big goat cheese fan, and my wife isn’t a big funky beer fan. We were both shocked that we liked what we usually don’t care for! The beer paired exceptionally well with the cheese, heightening the flavors. The pâté also has earthy notes of mushroom and truffles. The entire package when consumed simultaneously was a perfect match, each one heightening the flavors of the other. The cheese flavor quickly ramps up and the pâté smooths it out. The beer brings it to a higher level, then cleanses for the next bite so it doesn’t cloy. In the photo above, the cheese and pâté are on the left with the dried apricot resting on top. The pâté looks like a small piece of pumpernickel bread, but it’s Mousse, with the consistency of a creamy hummus.

Second Pairing: Silence of the Lambs. Pictured on the lower left corner. Bruery Snicklefritz! with P’tit Basque Sheeps milk cheese and Molinary – Finnochiona Pork fennel salami. Beer was clear bronze, notes of coriander, ginger and maple on the nose, taste was typical Belgian strong with notes of toffee, spice, and dark fruits. The strong fennel in the salami brought me back to 1978 Pizza Hut Pepperoni. It was a total Ratatouille moment where the food critic goes back to his childhood on one taste of the dish. The cheese was too subtle to stand up to the big flavors in the beer, but was a nice contrast. “toughened your nipples didn’t it?” – Dr. Hannibal Lecter. By they way, I’m naming the pairings, they weren’t named.

Third Pairing: Cheesing My F’ing Brains Out!: Pictured on the top left corner. Bruery Batch 300, Cypress Grove – Midnight Moon cheese and Molinari Hot Salami. It’s always nice to taste some Citra hops as they usually have a tropical-citrusy aroma, but in this case all I got was a slight cat pee scent. Sometimes that hop can give ‘off’ aromas at less than ideal temperatures or ages, or perhaps the remnants of my cold threw off my nose. I was glad to see I was the only one getting that aroma. The cheese really worked well bringing the heat down from the salami and it also had those little dried calcium lactate crystals that I love so much. God I love those things…and they’re good for you too! Also paired was a simple olive oil cracker which helped cleanse the pallet.

Fourth Pairing: Autumnal Flavorgasm. Pictured on the upper right. Out of the five pairings, this was all of our favorite. The Bruery Autumn Maple, Beemster – XO Gouda, Prosciutto De Parma and candied walnuts. Alone, each of these were good, but altogether worked like the cast of Friends in my mouth (without Ross of course). Beer poured a hazy auburn with hints of allspice and nutmeg on the nose. Taste is a boozy clove yam-fest. Interesting fall beverage, although it’s got nothing on my Maple Wheat! Gouda is one of my favorite styles of cheese and this was like nothing I’ve ever had. The prosciutto was aged  18 months, was floppy, fatty, salty, delicious. I made a little mini-burrito with the meat as the tortilla, two wedges of cheese and the candied walnut. Flavorgasm with the beer! So no one told you life was gonna be this way *clap*clap*clap*clap* Your job’s a joke, you’re broke, your love life’s DOA! It’s like you’re always stuck in Richard Gere….Sorry for getting that song stuck in your head.

Fifth Pairing: the Big Pickle. I say that because we were all feeling a bit pickled at this point! Pictured on the bottom right (above). Beer is Bruery 3rd anniversary Cuir (pronounced queer?), Bleu De Causses cheese and Bresaola beef charcuterie. Beer had big time dark fruits on the nose and appeared a deep murky plum juice. Taste was booze, figs, raisins, molasses. I don’t remember much of this, luckily I took notes! Don’t laugh at my ‘taste of cheese’ comment! The drawing depicts how the flavors ramp up on my tongue, the vertical line is when I take a sip. I know it’s weird! Don’t be a hater!The class as a whole was extremely informative and Kendra was great at answering questions. She walked around to talk to people to get their opinions on everything. The booklet was thorough at explaining every detail. The Bruery is such a gem to have in Orange County and I couldn’t recommend taking a class there more. I was surprised at the older crowd; maybe the younger crowd thought it was too pricey? $35 was well worth it for the supplies alone.

The thing I really learned from the class is how to break down a cheese and meat selection at the store. I’ve always found it daunting to drop some serious cash on something that might not pair well. With my knowledge of beer, I’ll start with that and work my way to a cheese and meat that might work with it. Or, I can easily go with one of the pairings above. It really made it seem easy. Thanks Bruery Provisions!

Classes are usually on Wednesdays. Contact the Bruery Provisions, or check her twitter and the facebooks.

Next class:

Belgian Cheese and Beer
with Kendra, The Bruery Cheesemonger @ The Bruery Provisions, $30

Wednesday, September 21st 2011

8pm-9:30pm