“If it rains, we will all strip down in our undies and roll around in the mud and do the happy rain dance as we drink!” – Patricia Barkenhagen
I’m sure I’m not the only guy that read that and thought, HELL TO THE YES. Throwing an anniversary party on Friday the 13th during a storm seems like a hell of gamble. Little does everyone know, ‘gamble’ is Bootleggers owner Aaron Barkenhagen’s middle name. If I told my wife I was going to max out the credit cards to start a brewery she would probably say, “I don’t think Sears and JCPenny have brewing equipment you fucking idiot.” Then I would probably make a pork chop sandwich and watch some hockey with one hand down my pants. C’est la vie.
Has the gamble paid off? From my perspective, yes. Bootleggers has a solid core of beers led by Knuckle Sandwich, Golden Chaos, Plum Riot and Black Phoenix. Their family of beers is mammoth! Bootleggers tasting room has at least 15+ beers on tap at all times. Their beers are popping up everywhere, stores, restaurants, even Angels Stadium.
Walking into the Historic Muckenthaler Mansion grounds for the party; taster glass, map and tickets in hand, I yell “Let’s get weird!” as a crowd mutters a resounding “yeah!” The map of the Muck shows the pouring stations and what’s flowing at each. “Quite a bit of sours at station four and five” yells a six foot red-head gal. I play coy with a bourbon barrel aged 78; Bootleggers 3rd Anniversary Ale, toss it down, and pretend not to see someone I just unfollowed on Twitter. White people problems. The thirty-plus fest beers are a few of the usual suspects, varied sour and brett options, bourbon barrel aged versions and some with fruit and other yummy adjuncts. Kombucha? You betcha. Olallieberry? I like it very. Bourbon Barrel Black Phoenix? Crack remix. Despite cold hands and damp feet, The beer was heart warming and a nice start to the fest. As I missed last year’s party, it was also a good book-end to get this year going proper.
Guest taps from Cismontane Brewing, Eagle Rock Brewery, Hangar 24 Craft Brewery and the Bruery were on hand to pour and celebrate with the damp fracas at the Muck. Evan Weinberg of Cismontane erps, “I’d be perfect if I had foot warmer, or a fluffer, or whatever” while he stick-handles a sesh Saison. Derek Bougie of Newport Beach brewing company strolls by like a cop patrolling a beat in his bright yellow security jacket. This is getting WEIRD and I like it. The brother from another motherfunker, Tyler King (and gal) poured their cedary milk stout Bourly Gourde and supersour MotherFunker with icy hands and wide smiles. Hangar24’s options were devoured almost instantly! Note to self, hit Hangar24 first. Eagle Rock’s Populist and Solidarity were also on hand to celebrate. I sip back-to-back Solidarity’s as the English Mild kicks out some solid roastyness with a sessionably low ABV. I love this beer.
I stop by the suspect Bud Light draft station and tip my cap at Bootleggers (and Roscoe’s Famous Deli) server Dana for my ration of Knuckle Sandwich. The Simcoe® hops in this beast have a way of sucker punching me in the nose every time! My favorite of the night is easily Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Black Phoenix. Imagine a flock of huge black birds carpet-bombing a crowd with whiskey barrels. Sorry to be so literal, but ZOMG it’s incredible. Aaron informs me they’re bottling this beer soon, along with their Galaxian Barleywine. Bet your ass I’ll be in line for them both.
Due to the rain, the live music was relegated to indoors. Sadly, my lifelong wish to see a band get struck by lightning will have to wait even longer. I pop in for a listen and scope out the exhibits, but was distracted by a full bladder. The real entertainment indoors is the long line for the restrooms. Girls line one side of the tight hallway, dudes on the other. So close you could chat about which sex pees slower. Two guys behind me are pointing out the finer notes of anal sex with a man, a fact that makes me laugh hysterically while shake-peeing. “I’m spoken for, gents” I say as they laugh nervously and unzip.
As the night nears an end, I head over to the mechanical bull to witness some robotic shenanigans. Shocked to see Mika Soriano, Aaron’s sister in-law and Bootleggers employee, waiting in line to ride the bull. Due to her petite package, she has to be ass-pushed onto the thing. It starts to buck and flail, then spins quickly as she flies off like a ragdoll. Yeehaw! She talks me into a ride as the clock strikes 9:30 and they pack it up. As I just had ball-surgery three weeks ago, I’m eternally grateful…thanks, Time.
Best Friday the 13th ever.
Photos taken with my Polaroid Mio camera on Fuji Instax Mini Film. Other shots:
Other notes: The anniversary party, held at the historic Muckenthaler Mansion in Fullerton, sits about a mile to the north of the (current) brewery and tasting room. The Muckenthaler mansion was added to the register of Historic Places in 1999. The original owners, Walter and Adella Muckenthaler commisioned the large home to be built in 1924 for $35,000, roughly a fifth of the cost Barkenhagen spent on starting Bootleggers. The home, a Spanish Colonial Revival was fairy common in that period. The Batchelder tiles surrounding the fireplace and the solarium floor shows the level of detail and craftsmanship of the foregone American Arts and Crafts movement.