About Gregory Nagel

Greg Nagel is a beer, food and travel writer based in North Orange County, California.

Noble Revs Up Beer Engine For Real British-Style Ale

2014 has been the year of the cask in Orange County. With events like Firkfest (held by yours truly), many local breweries bought cask hardware to participate. Noble Ale Works is taking it a step further by taking the party back to its pale British nubs: nerdy British-style real ale served at proper cellar temp in the Anaheim tasting room. A refresher:

  • Real Ale = Beer served from the vessel it finished fermenting in. Carbonation is provided naturally from the yeast (bottle, can, keg or cask conditioned).
  • Not Real Ale = Force carbonated beer in a brite tank with carbon dioxide gas, then packaged fully carbonated.
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Brewery Brad Kominek pouring The River Thames at 52F through an Ingram Beer Engine gooseneck with sparkler attachment. He is happy.

Several local beer festivals in 2014 (including Firkfest and Nobles 3rd anniversary party) partnered with Inspire Artistic Minds; a non-profit aimed at helping professionals grow in the culinary world. Brewers Evan Price and Brad Kominek applied for scholarships with IAM and got their artistic minds INSPIRED, like SO HARD. They travelled all over England and Belgium and all bloody hell broke loose – they brewed pub ales that don’t make it across the pond; using UK ingredients and serving techniques.

Our efforts to make the perfect English pint go a step further with this set of three beers. We brewed a Strong British Pale Ale utilizing Simpsons Golden Promise Barley, added UK East Kent Golding Hops and split the batch between three small tanks. Each batch was fermented with a different English yeast strain and then dry hopped differently as well. All three will be served on nitro with each one spending some time on cask. – Evan Price, Head Brewer

The beers are closely related, but totally different: 

  • The Knowle Spring – Fermented with the Timothy Taylor house yeast and given a medium dry hop with UK EKG.
  • The River Thames – Fullers yeast and a light Fuggles dry hop.
  • The South Down Wells – Gales Brewery yeast and heavy UK Progress hops.
  • English 201British Mild and Irish Red are on top and on deck.

IMG_7624Simpsons Golden Promise malt lays the groundwork for these three strong pale ales. Lemon zest and crackers dominate these dangerously gulpable beers, as do the yeast and hop nuances of each. I had the pleasure of comparing The River Thames cask and nitrogen versions side-by-side, the latter being a relaxed memory-foam mattress version of the cask pull. The cask version is notably brighter and layered with yeast, malt and hops like neapolitan ice cream. On nitro the experience seems a bit squished together, but is still very satisfying if not compared.

IMG_7626Drinking pint over pint of each, The South Down Wells wins my vote with a balanced fruity hop flavor and aroma I expect from a traditional pint in England. At 4.6%, these are notably stronger than the average British Bitter Ales. Will American tastes know the difference? Probably not. A true British pub ale is in the 3.2-3.8% range, but as Evan noted, “people don’t buy the low alcohol versions,” hence the bump with these.

These beers are sessionable, authentic and served at proper cellar temp. Every so often, you’ll see a bartender measure the temp coming from the cask to ensure its drinkability.

Soon, Noble will unleash a Mild and an Irish-style Red. Stop in and check out a few pints!

The Geeks Flock to Shelton Brothers ‘The Festival’

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super normal photobomb by average beer drinker

Out of all the beer fests I’ve attended throughout my life, I thought I’d seen it all. I’ve witnessed  a bj in the bushes at a fest in Irvine, mouth pours of rare beer in Paso Robles and even watched a guy projectile barf on his girlfriend while sharing a moment on a kid’s teeter-totter in Indianapolis…seriously. At The Festival hosted by the Shelton Brothers in Los Angeles, I’m seeing something I hope to see more of: an extraordinarily normal crowd of festival goers among the best line up of beer, really…ever.

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Nicole Dreier, in rare form, does the booty bump in the blinding light.

At The Festival, there are no pretzel necklaces, dirndl-hos or Where’s Waldos. The only German fashion to be seen are lederhosen worn by a guy pouring funky beers from Cologne, Germany. The closest thing to a ‘Where’s Waldo’ is the lovely Nicole Dreier from Mission Viejo, complete with a stand-out red-striped dress and tan ankle boots. This a different set of fest goers amongst a wild set of beers.

“It’s not about the beers that you will drink, it’s about all the beers that you won’t drink at this festival,” says Jay Price of Orange County. “I feel bad about leaving without trying them all…I may come back tomorrow!” he added.

I’m giddy with my first beer of the day: 3 Fonteinen’s (pronounced dree font-an-in) Oude Gueuze (pronounced yum) sipped next to their blender Armand De Belder of Brussels. The fact that Armand is here at all is somewhat of a phenomenon. In 2002, a warehouse full of his aging beer shattered when a thermostat broke. “It was what I call ze catastroff,” Armand says in his Flemmish accent.

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Westy on ice. Isn’t it nice?

Back with a new brewery with bi-level coolships, Armand is able to create two different beers from each brewday by boiling the second batch longer before allowing to cool. “With a longer boil, I can get a more concentrated sugar for a higher alcohol lambic,” he adds. The gueuze he brought to the Festival today is 100% his creation, adding that he used to blend different lambics from the region with the old smaller brewery set up.

A few steps away from Armand is a short line for a private tasting of a beer brewed in 2004 from Brasserie Cantillon with blender Jean van Roy. I’m shocked to hear that there’s “a freshness” with a thirty-year old gueuze (see vid below). After trying the ten year version, I’m in agreement. It’s shocking that a 5% ABV beer can be this light, bright, bubbly and full of flavor.

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Barrleworks SLO-Lambic

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No mas lambic

At this point I’m a fat kid lost in an ice cream factory. Beer from Italy, Switzerland, Holland and Germany call for my attention. Even the local breweries manage to pull me in for a sample. Firestone Walker blew the lid off their table by accidentally bringing a keg of unreleased SLOambic that is due to be “liberated” on 11/15. In true festival fashion, word gets out quick and the funky plastic bladder keg is dusted. Beachwood BBQ & Brewing’s Sadie even crossed my tongue, despite self-hypnosis to not drink any Bourbon Barrel anything. It’s also great to see two Orange County breweries amongst the abundance of whales. The Bruery and Bottle Logic pouring unreleased or hoarder only beer gave a reason to visit other than to cuddle/crotch grab like other festivals.

The Festival’s location is another highlight. Situated near San Pedro’s docks at CRAFTED, some 25,000 square feet of tasting room space is bright and airy. Although hot at times, the geek sweat wasn’t too awkward.

The Gripes, there were gripes.

  • Lack of food. At 2pm, there were two food trucks with 50+ people per line and a pizza vendor that “ran out of dough”. “Can you throw toppings in my mouth?” one hangry person yelled. That person was me.
  • One water station. Look, I realize there’s a drought, but some brewers were embarrassed pouring their light beer on top of whatever beer is still lingering in your glass. Were we supposed to get a pour, sip it, run to the water thing, then run back to the next table? After tasting the water, I skipped it altogether…it tasted like it was dry hopped with sun-dried plastic shards. Clean water should be available for glass rinsing/drinking at every other table.
  • I managed to pay for parking whereas others didn’t. “Take this ticket to somewhere and spend $5 at the CRAFTED thing then give this ticket to some random drink table to get reimbursed,” I was told. I’m usually game for a fun side-quest at a festival, but I felt this was unnecessary and I felt ripped off of $5.
  • I heard major complaints on how slow the line was to get in. I’ve seen more check in booths at smaller scale beer festivals.
  • Raffle style drink tickets. I had the sudden urge to play skee ball with Taylor Hanson! I seriously haven’t seen raffle tickets at a beer fest since I was a child. Isn’t the new standard wrist bands with tickets attached? Lanyard with hole punches? Retinal scan with a database in the cloud?

Aside from the gripes, I still give this festival an A. It’s all about the beer, the brewers and a great crowd. I hope they work out the kinks to make it an A+ next year.

Note, I attended the first session.

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Blizzcon Guide to Beer & Food in Anaheim | OMG ZERGRUSH KeKeKe

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credit @AnnBarwig (untappd annbarwig) at Bottle Logic Brewing in Anaheim

Before the fam and two jobs, I was an avid gamer. Some of the best times with friends online were spent in a squeaky office chair, cooler full of beer next to me followed by a headset belching contest with guild/clanmates. I miss those days!

When Blizzcon comes to town, it’s a chance for gamers to break free from their dimly-lit rooms, crack their knuckles and join like-minded people for a weekend of revelry, cosplay and maybe even a bit of loud, rough elf-sex.

As a conventioneer, leaving the compound can be daunting, here’s some ideas to get you fed, buzzed and have some bottles to take back to the hotel for further face melting shadow priest debauchery; all within a few miles via uber/taxi!

Nearby Breweries & Food

  • Noble Ale Works (2.4 miles)
    • Hoppy IPA’s, English Style Ales
    • Growler fills, 22oz bottles to go.
    • Food Truck: Hobo Pizza Co (Fri) and the Flip Truck (Sat)
    • Nearby restaurants: The Catch (seafood/chop), Calivino Wine Pub (small gastropub with good beer/food/wine), Frescas Mexican Grill (legit socal style mexican food)
  • The Bruery Tasting Room (6.7 miles)
    • Barrel aged beer, Saison, sour, wild ales
    • Growler fills, bottles to go
    • Food Truck: Bacon Mania on Sat.
    • Nearby bottle shop
    • Food Just up the 57N Meatup BBQ
  • Bottle Logic Brewing (7.4 miles)
    • IPA, Saison, Stout, Lagers
    • Growler fills, bottles to go
    • Food Trucks: Soho Taco Truck (Fri), Craftsman Pizza does BBQ (Sat) Ninjas with an Appetite (Sun)
    • Food Just up the 57N Meatup BBQ
  • Anaheim Packing District (2.4 miles)
    • One stop shop with beer and food in the Packinghouse. The Iron Press has 24 taps.
    • Umami Burger
    • Anaheim Brewery

Any other recommendations? Hit me up on Twitter. 

 

The Best Brewjob Ever (with Nøgne Ø) | Shelton Brothers ‘The Festival’ This Weekend

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(credit Shelton Brothers Website)

I’m not an ordinary beer drinker. While the vast majority of you reading this are mopping up the latest DIPA with your Gene Simmonsesque tongues, I’m dressed in black, creeping around the bushes in search of the new, old and different. See, the Shelton Brothers are beer importers. They travel, taste, buy and sell beer. Once a year, they have a Festival like no other. While the suckers will be in the Westy line, I’ll be slurping on a Freigeist Geisterzug Gose with Rhubarb. I may even try to drink a beer from every country, just to exclaim, “I’M THE KING OF DRINKING” before hopping into my Uber.

This year, The Festival is in Los Angeles and I pounced on tickets faster than laser kitty high on catnip.

The complete list of beer/cider/mead is here. Although I thought silly beer names were mainly a US thing, I can’t wait to try a Kentucky Sausage Party or perhaps a Marky Ramone’s Natural Brown (with Marky Ramone of course). I hope Allagash’s Nancy will give the Best Brewjob Ever while listening to Punkrauch. “Fuck art, this is architecture!” I’ll scream after much Liquid Confidence. Hopefully the Bruery doesn’t give us all Blue Balls with their latest creation.You get the jist, now get the tickets.

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Blog Hard – BBC14 Wrap up

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This dump bucket contains Kosmic Mother Funk.

Blogging about blogging is probably the dumbest snazziest thing I’ve ever done. Why would I attend a conference devoted to blogging about beer? Because you read this stuff, that’s why. Get up and grab a towel because a healthy dose of amaze-juice is about to be doused all over your computer/phone screen (ewww).

<cracks knuckles> Going back to 2011 when I started this dumb awesome website, I wrote silly stuff about beer with no fucks given. When I saw there was an actual conference for like-minded people, I registered and went. My mind was blown. After BBC12, I networked, set goals and promised myself to still write with no fucks given (for this site at least). I also travelled to Boston for BBC13. Since that conference a year ago, here’s some crazy shit I did that was pretty awesome:

I don’t think I would have done any of that had it not been for the Beer Blogger’s Conference. By going, it helped me understand that anything is possible. So here I am, typing on my couch with my cat curled up next to me in the wee hours of the night, thinking back on BBC14, with some fucks given. Here’s a brief look at some photos and fun stuff we did. It really was a blast and can’t wait for next year in Asheville, NC. Highlights:

Stop 1: Golden Road previewed here. 

Stop 2: Taking the freight elevator to Angel City Brewery’s roof, only to be greeted by hop vines and a spectacular LA Sunset. My beercamp 94 brew-bro Keith McEly manages the tasting room there, which is rad. Their IPA, Angelino was fun on cask (dubbed Dirty Angelino) as was their Avocado beer, which tasted like a pils with a slick mouthfeel.

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Stop 3: Bruery Terreux. Lets just say I got a mouthpour from a Sour in the Rye barrel; squirted in my mouth like a cat on a farm while the cow is getting milked. It tasted like Pinocchio’s pee; slightly woody and acidic, yet still somehow delicious. The Bruery is classy as fuck, putting out a table of all the cheeses and charcuteries with all the super rare beers. I went nuts on the Oude Tart w/ Cherries, stopping mid-sip to order my maximum allocation via the Reserve Society.

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*sound of barrel peeing*

Stop 3 and 4: Smog City and Monkish Brewing in Torrance. Arriving at 11 PM or so, someone quipped, “Smog City is like the Motel 6 of breweries, they’ll leave the light on.” Indeed. One car in the parking lot and the lights on inside, 45 bloggers were treated to Smog City’s Coffee Porter and other delicious treats. From there we walked a few minutes to Monkish Brewing and was treated to even more awesomness. If you haven’t been to these breweries, make plans to go this weekend. Both are doing some really great beer.

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Late night Trousdale chinrest action.

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Laurie Porter and Chris Walowski talk about Smog City’s history at 11PM.

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I watched Henry Nguyen of Monkish Brewing crawl in here and go to sleep. It was after midnight, after all.

Friday morning, the actual conference started with a keynote from Julia Herz of the Brewers Association. The first panel of “San Diego Craft Brewers” couldn’t have been better! From left to right is Tomme Arthur, Chuck Silva and Peter Zien, arguably three of the worlds top brewers and pioneers for craft beer.

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For dinner, we went to Karl Strauss‘ original brewery for street tacos and super fresh Tower 10, Red Trolley and Wreck Alley Stout. Every time I rediscover a Karl beer I’m more and more impressed. I think Karl Strauss is one of California’s most underrated breweries.

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Co Founder of Karl: Chris Cramer explains in detail the difficulty of opening SD’s 1st brewery.

Day two: Breakout Sessions. Shit got real when people read this quote from Modern Times’ Jacob McKean. Being in a room of pros, nobody’s feather’s got ruffled. It was an informative panel and happy to hear this blog doing things the right way: legit as fuck.

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We ate at Yard House for lunch and got a slathering of various food bites. I had to beg some guy to get a half yard of Firestone Walker Easy Jack with all of my drink tickets. Most out of towners picked The Bruery’s Oude Tart instead of the hundred taps of San Diego beer which was awesome. Their house beers were a thing as well, the Belgo Tripel being my favorite of the bunch.

beer bloggers conference bus tour through san diego

credit Cambria Griffith @thebruery

We picked up Ken Grossman along the way. He gave the keynote speech; highlighting their summer Beer Camp tour and new brewery in NC. I could listen to him speak all day. He was cool enough to sign my Beyond the Pale book and my last bottle of beercamp 94. I want to try and get all the brewers to sign it at some point.P1080490

Beer Speed Dating is a thing at the Beer Bloggers Conference. Brewers have five minutes per table to sell their wares. Highlights were Kosmic Mother Funk Grand Cru from Samuel Adams and Deliverance from the Lost Abbey. Rogue brought a Pepto Bismol Braggot, which aided everyone’s hangovers .

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I sat at the blonde table.

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I pictured Jim Koch dancing to funk while sipping this, which made me smile.

Meanwhile, at Stone Brewing World Gardens & Bistro – Liberty Station: More small bites and super delicious beer was served. I chatted with Head Brewer Mitch Steele while inhaling fried olives, ribs and various flatbreads. Not only did the BBC get treated to a special roped off area, we also had dibs on guest taps. I drank a Black Wit. I had a Board Meeting from Port Brewing. I had fresh Ruination. I also got a private tour of the “hot-chicks room” above the dining area. Wooden abbey-doors open up to this view:

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Kip Barnes, Brandon Hernandez, Jemma Wilson, me and mister Zephyr Adventures himself!

Various bottles in the ‘hot chicks room’.

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Photo roll!

Preview: Stone Stochasticity Project – Hibiscusicity

There are beers in the world that can be pronounced no matter how drunk you are. “Bud”, “Coors” or even “Pabst” can be yelled at the noisiest of bars by the sloppiest of drunks and a fizzy yellow beer will slide across the bar in a frosty mug. With Stone’s Stochasticity Hibiscusicity, MIT students might even stumble. Hell, for the last project release of the Quadrotriticale I asked a bartender for a “Stone Quadruple Testicle” and she poured the right beer, smiling.

IMG_7038So anyways, my gargoyled friends in Escondido were inspired by a refreshing hibiscus beer and thought, lets take this bus to Stoke-a-stis-city Hibiscus-city. Instead of a Stone IPA, this beer comes by way of “Belgian Style”, which means it has some fruity/spicy yeast things happening. Knowing Stone and their library of beers, I can sometimes taste the beer before it’s been opened, but not with these Stochasticity Project beers.

On the pour, I’ve never seen a gargoyle blush, but this beer looks like it got caught masturbating on a pile of furbees after playing with mom’s makeup. It’s showy like a a hibiscus plant in Hawaii. If this beer were in a vase, I would probably drink it, then tend to my flower garden, with gloves for safety.

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IMG_7032IMG_7033The bouquet is like sticking one’s nose in a box of Krispy Kreme raspberry/strawberry filled donuts. Some caramel malts and a breeze of orange peel adds to the complexity. The first few sips bring out more of the jelly-filled donut notes, balanced with some bitter cranberry and yeast spice. I also caught a metallic note, no doubt part of the hibiscus flower. I seem to recall other hibiscus beers doing something similar to my palate.

Hibiscusicity is a refreshing beer and will be out 9/15, just in time for our never-ending summer. Since I don’t really do Pumpkin Pie beers, this makes a nice alternative. It’s definitely worth checking out, if you can pronounce it! Had it? Let me know what you think below or on facebook/Twitter!

 

OCBeerBlog Tips for Surviving the OC Brew Ha Ha (Just the tip)

Bootleggers Brewery

Beer poured passionately from Bootleggers at a beer festival somewhere.

After attending hundreds of beer festivals all around the country, I can safely say I have some good tips on how to survive a craft beer festival. Now, these are not your average “wear comfy shoes” type of suggestions. This is some serious punk rock boy scout shit right here. Pay attention, folks.

wahlStep one: Manscape (or get your Wax on). You’re at a festival with buzzed people who like beer. The odds of you having something in common with the opposite/preferred sex is HUGE. Don’t just get the digits, seal the deal with an after plan and make some craft beer babies. Hook it up, people. It’s a fact that beer tastes better with a properly trimmed situation and a mound just ain’t cool. Don’t forget your nose, ears, eyebrows and pits as well. (If you need some work: My haircut guy, my lady’s wax lady).

New-Logo-Vertical-DarkStep two: (Pre-fest) Drive to a closeby restaurant and Uber/Cab it to the festival from there. Around the Brew Ha Ha, I’d suggest Tustin Marketplace on Jamboree/Irvine Blvd. We all know drinking and driving is horrible, but doing so on Santiago Canyon Road is even worse. There’s only one way in and one way out. After the fest, cab/uber it back to your ride and catch a movie, grab a burger or snooze in your car. Bonus points if you hit Totes Wine for some continued debauch with your Step 1 friend. Extra bonus points if you leave yourself a pack of gum and a water in your car!

8layerveggieburritoStep three: and this is a OCBeerBlog exclusive: Eat a Del Taco 8-Layer Veggie burrito before any beer festival. No fries, no extra taco…just the burrito. This fest has some whalez this year. If you get in the VIP session and have to eat first, I bet you’ll miss all the delicious Cascade beers. The Veggie Works burrito has just enough beans, rice and deliciousness to provide you with a layer of nutrition that will last until the cheap-ass non VIP hoard comes in. Once they get in, grab some actual festival food.

Anne Hathaway getting hydrated

Anne Hathaway getting hydrated

Step four: Do the ALS Ice bucket challenge down your throat (hydrate like a bowse). See your festival glass? Isn’t it cute? How many ounces is it? A few? Yay. Every hour, find a water source and drink at least twenty ounces. “You mean I have to fill the tiny fucker up seven times?” Yes, mister math wizard.

Step five: Bring a portable phone charger. There is nothing worse than a drunk slut with a dead phone. Between Untappd check-ins, snapchat (manscaped) dick picks, Instagrams, texts, sexts, facebooks, Tinders, Vines, Tweets, LinkedIn’s, TasteMade’s, Swarms or whatever battery sucking app it is you use, your shit will be dead as fuck after a beer fest. I bought a charger thing for twelve bucks that fully charges my dead iPhone in 30 minutes! $12!!! Damn suckas. Get two, one for you and one for your slutty step 1 friend.

Also: Sunscreen, condoms, cash, comfy shoes, sunglasses, dirndl, pretzel necklace, etc.

I hope this helps. See you at the Fifth OC Brew Ha Ha! Use our Four Brewers Show Discount code that knocks $10 off VIP before it sells out. 

 

2014 Predictions Coming True – High End Eateries Finally Add Craft Beer

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Nostradamus

New years day 2014, I sat with my laptop open pondering predictions for the year. Will this be the year of session IPA? Will Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton’s iCloud get hacked showing the world their nude bodies? I came up empty and searched the internet for “Nostradamus beer”. I was shocked to see this bold prediction in one of his secret books.

In the year of 2014, as the Blue Moon fades,

restaurants will have good beer where good food is made.

I’m pretty sure what the Nostradamus is trying to predict high-end eateries will finally get a decent beer list. By years end, a restaurant with an A+ chef and A+ wine list will no longer be in F- beer territory.

photo (2)I recently got a taste of this bold prediction in Irvine of all places at a posh place near John Wayne Airport called Bistango. Modern art fills their walls at every angle, twinkle-lights wrap the patio palm trees and relaxing jazz sets the mood. Among many happy-hour bound professionals, the thing I was most interested in was a proper beverage to accompany my food. Without taps, I thought the choices would be the usual macro lager or super-sweet Wit beer. When opening the drink menu, I was pretty shocked to see a lengthy beer list.

The menu seems to be very well thought out. Although missing are some stellar Orange County made beers, the list seems to have been formed by researching beer review websites. Going down the selections, all the beers featured are 90+ on beer advocate. IPA’s, Double IPA’s, Belgian beers, Wheat beers, Stouts and even wild/fruit beers round out the fifty or so beers included. All are priced appropriately.

photo (1)I asked my server what beer I should get with the daily special, a seafood Paella, he hesitated and said, “Porter.” Wise man! Bistango’s Paella was full of sweet clams, perfectly steamed mussels, plump scallops, snappy shrimp on top of a spicy bed of rice drowning in deliciousness. Deschutes Black Butte Porter would get the nod for the pairing as the rich roastyness of the beer calmed the heat and enhanced the delicate flavor of the seafood. Their bar/happy hour menu is tapas heavy, making a beer and bite an excellent choice pre-flight or perhaps to miss a bit of traffic. The rest of the menu is very well rounded if you’re in the mood for big bites.

One gripe: getting a frosty glass is not how one should roll with craft beer; ask your server for a room temp glass as many of the flavors and aromas of beer don’t open up until 54 degrees for some styles. I can only hope that the “frosty mug of ice cold beer” stigma will die with Nostradamus’ 2015 prediction.

Got a great $$$ or $$$$ restaurant that now serves craft beer? Give me a shoutout below or on twitter at @OCBeerBlog. Cheers!

Images credit Bistango Website.

 

Blog Hard Part 1 | Beer Bloggers Conference 2014 – Precon at Golden Road

IMG_6880Glendale, 1:02 PM in the home of Randy Clemens (blog sponsor —->)

A dripping wet Randy “Sir RachaClemens is probably the best way to kick off the 2014’s Beer Blogger’s Conference. “Here, try one of these and shoot the other”, he says handing me a small plastic foil-topped cup reading “K+ probiotic drink” and a glass of (fully legal) B-Vitamin dietary supplement. “Do I get a colonic too? You fucking LA dudes are hippies,” I reply, swinging my Pabst-glasses to the top of my head and swallowing it all down in one nervous gulp.

“I find it ironic we’re doing shots of health food made with lactobacillus and a fermentation process similar to beer.” I say, burping loudly. “Can I get you a beer Mr. Nagel?” “Nah, I’m waiting to see if these shots explode my butt.”

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first beer of BBC14: 329 Lager and a Carry On Taster

The conference pre-excursion that kicks off at Golden Road is a short walk from Casa de Clemens, but my baggage has ‘UBER’ written all over it. Just on the other side of the train tracks, we arrive at a packed ‘Pub at Golden Road'; many people dining al fresco under the blue summer sky. Beer happens quickly as two cold 329 Lagers arrive frothy, yet head-scraped. I admire its clarity, take two whiffs and get my mustache frothed. This beer is effortless to drink, lightly floral with a wisp of grass and LA sunshine.

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credit Anne Marie who texted me this pic from LAX

I order the messiest BBQ Chicken sandwich ever and a new beer called Carry On – Citrus Ale; a beer made and sold for Airport terminals. The bitterness seems surprisingly arrogant and the orange flavor brings me back to my childhood when I actually enjoyed Flintstone Vitamins. “Is this infused with Airborne®? That would actually be quite handy pre-flight,” I mutter while using every napkin on the table to clean my sauce-covered digits. I seriously look like I bathed in a vat of BBQ sauce. Thankfully LA has no bears.

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@brewdad and I are admired by the bartenders at Golden Road

After lunch, I identify the first blogger speed-walking up the ramp to the pub. A busload of beer bloggers is possibly the easiest thing in the world to observe in their natural habitat. Their plumage includes cargo shorts, brewery shirts, glowing smiles and cameras held up past their heads as they snap photos of whatever. Someone should compile all of the bloggers shots and make a David Hockney-style photo mosaic. I greet a few familiar faces and join the gang on the side patio near the defunct Aunt Sally court; taken down thanks to subsequent baby seal clubbings, or perhaps bad parenting.

P1080384P1080389Co-owner/President of Golden Road Meg Gill steps out to greet the gang with her curly blonde hair pulled back, snappy black dress and flats. “Welcome to Los Angeles! We’re really excited to have you guys come from all over the county to be here!” she says as I sip beer three: Berliner Weisse with raspberry syrup. After the speech, I chat with Meg and compliment her dress. “Thanks, it’s easy,” she says, blinking her deep grey-blue eyes grinning a surfer-girl smile. “We’ve got a new beer on the canning line right now I’m excited for you to try, it’s our new seasonal India Pale Lager called Might As Well IPL,” she says smiling bigger, batting lashes a few more times. I opt for the first tour while the other half works through a tasting flight of the core beers, 329 Lager, Hef, Get Up Offa That Brown and Point the Way IPA.

P1080394The tour starts off in Chloe’s, a clean yet divey-type speakeasy in back of the pub. “Is this where Boogie Nights was filmed?” I ask. “This is the pub, behind the pub, behind the pub,” someone replies in their best Vince Vaughn voice. Laurel Brooks, coolest chick ever (and Marketing Coordinator), smiles and takes the group through the history of how Meg met Tony Yanow, owner of several LA beer bars including Tony’s Darts Away; a pub serving only California-brewed craft beer and many vegan delights.

P1080396Golden Road has three brightly colored buildings; yellow, red and blue. Yellow is where you eat, drink and pee, red is for the office-types and cold storage, blue is where the sausage is made. I spy several interesting things in the cold box, one of which nobody can comment on, even though it’s been printed in the LA Times.

P1080397The brewery has changed vastly since my last visit only five months ago. The first thing I notice is the pilot brewhouse sitting deconstructed outside between buildings. “If anyone knows someone looking for a 15 bbl brewhouse, let us know!” says Laurel. Outside we’re greeted by brewer Tim Harbage, recent recipient of the Matt Courtright Memorial Brewing Scholarship. Pink laces flopping about on his brew-boots, Tim escorts us in past a 200 bbl fermenter named Phil as the smell of beer being brewed fills the nearly Yuma-hot air on the brewdeck.

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P1080407The new canning line is the pièce de résistance. Before: one can at a time was filled, sealed and hand-packaged. Now: a modern canning line zooms through a pallet of cans in minutes. As production is up from 15,000 to an expected 30,000 barrels this year, it’s only a matter of time until this new system will need a friend.

P1080398Taking a can of the new IPL off the line had me singing the theme to Laverne & Shirley, and the ultra bright hoppyness of the beer had me sniffing the can-hole like a weirdo. With all the beers we are about to embark on throughout the day, one more surely won’t hurt. “Should I drink the whole thing?” Might as well, motherfucker…Might as well.

Thanks for the hospitality, hugs and awesome beer, Golden Road. See you soon.

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This post is part of Greg Nagel’s Beer Blogger Conference coverage. Check back for more posts! #bbc14

My Beerish Golden Foodie Picks for Week Two (Electric Boogaloo)

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Week two nominations are upon us (cough, cough…YOU). Your fingers actually have to go to the website and type these things in. Last week I was pretty impressed that four of my beerish nominations made it in. Is craft beer winning or are these places just that good? You be the judge! GO HERE TO VOTE YOU GUYS

  • ITALIANPizzeria Ortica, Costa Mesa. My vote for last week’s best pizza lives on! Read my beer dinner post over at Food Enthusiast Mag to find out why I pick them for Italian as well! Carolinas has a beer list of 286 beers as well, but the food at Ortica is that much better.
  • MediterraneanOlive Tree, Anaheim. This is probably the only restaurant on the planet I’ll recommend that doesn’t have beer. It’s so good I went for my birthday last year. Seriously. Is middle eastern Mediterranean? Dave Lieberman said “abtholutely” and I believe him. The Sunday leg-o-lamb is my jam. If you venture down to SD, check out California Kebab and Brewpub! 
  • Wine List – Judging by the beer tap handles at Sea Legs Wine Bar, I’m giving them the nod for having a varied array of boutique wines covering the spectrum. The beer list is local and the food is ridiculously good. Read about my St. Patrick’s day tap takeover with them and Noble Ale Works here!
  • French – Does beer exist to the French? The Globe in Garden Grove is close enough I guess. A torrent of Belgian beer on tap and their new chef is from France…close enough? The Belgian Nachos are silly, but addictive.
  • Steak – The Summit House, Fullerton. I was surprised to see a nice menu of local Bruery beers to back up my cowslab. Nice view of Fullerton and the occasional oxygen tank.
  • Sushi – Sushi Noguchi in Yorba Linda is the real deal. Ask Hiro or Jun for local craft beer every time you go and maybe they’ll add some sooner than later. Until then, a pitcher of Kirin’s (brewed in the US) beer will make do.
  • Tacos – Although Taco Asylum technically has the best beer list of any taco joint, I have to recommend Soho Taco Truck, especially when they’re parked in front of a local brewery! The shrimp taco is bursting with sweet, snappy shrimp and an array of salsas to balance things out.
  • Happy Hour – TAPS Fish House & Brewery, Brea. Hands down the best happy hour menu ever and award-winning beers to back it up. Although Victor Novak recently left, I still vouch for the beer until I hear otherwise.

GO HERE TO VOTE YOU GUYS