About Gregory Nagel

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

The Little Things | Firkfest 15 Recap/Braindump

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photo John Holzer, @fourbrewersshow

 

Theres a million people to thank after hosting a sold out beer festival. The obvious ones: Brewers who slave over mash tuns; using artistry to concoct flavors for a cask that may or may not work out. Restaurants, who took the time to do something different, wake up early on a Saturday and make some really tasty chili. All of that stuff…is donated, which is crazy if you think about it.

Then there’s the little things.

Bloggers, who typically cover the event with photos and brief recap, also chipped in by volunteering to help pour for the first two hours. BeerPaperLA (Guillermo & gal), Beers in Paradise (Japeth), Stick a Fork in It OCWeekly, Beer Guy LA, Worst Beer Blog, JanteZiarra, Brew Beer Blog, BeerQwest, LABeerBlog. I hope being on the other side of the table was a fun experience! I love pouring.

Some bloggers, brewery reps and volunteers loaned their homebrew stands for the restaurants to use during the event. Japeth from Beers in Paradise, Dallas from Ballast Point, Kevin Margulieux and John Ryti. Thanks Iron Fire Brewing for loaning us the canopy John Ryti brought. We’ll invite you next year!

Brewers showed up as early as 8 AM to let their beer settle while we set up the park for the event. Brandon Fender from the Good Beer Company helped put the arrows on the signage.

One of Orange County’s Gayot food critics was on water duty all day. With my idea of using a homebrew filter to refill the water instead of using a billion water bottles, he was critical at keeping everything full. Thanks Rich Manning!

Speaking of water, brewers donated kegs of water as well! Barley Forge brought their rad military looking water jugs, Noble Ale Works, Bottle Logic with a half-barrel…and others I may have missed. The H2OPS guy donated water bottles as well. I was skeptical about having him as a vendor before trying his product, but damn…it was delicious.

David Walker of Firestone Walker hand-delivered some 2015 Parabola which was released that day. I gave him the most awkward bro-hug ever! He then drove to LAX to catch a flight to the UK, because he’s cool like that. How funny to go from a cask beer fest in sunny California to the UK. I take great inspiration from his team’s beer festival, Firestone Walker Invitational which happens in May and sells out instantly because it’s the best fest in the west.

Brewers brought extra canopies for the restaurants to use. I realize this caused confusion for the guests, as many people were trying to vote for Ballast Point, which I believe was Pie Dog (we had them drop tokens correctly). Matt Olesh of the Bruery was kind enough to drive back to work to grab two more, which turned out to be just enough.

Dave Lieberman, from OCWeekly, bought me a sandwich because my nervous gut couldn’t handle chili. He also did the same at Noble’s 4th anniversary party while my wife and I poured the cask beers inside.

The volunteers themselves were comprised of friends, family, neighbors, ex-girlfriends I’m still friends with, my best man, high school friends, some of which drove down from Sacramento and flew in from Chicago to pour. I get a little misty-eyed thinking about how rad that support is. We did have quite a bit of no-shows on the volunteers, and those that showed really stepped it up to hold their pee until it hurt, skipped eating until they almost dropped and stood in wet beer to get the job done. Next year I think I’ll make random people on the internet pay a deposit if they want to volunteer because they’re flaky as fuck. Why would someone take the time to offer to volunteer and not show? That’s just silly. The volunteers worked extra hard to cover pouring and they don’t get to drink. Thanks volunteers! You guys are rad. Truly unsung.

My neighbor helped bring a load of stuff with his truck and stayed to help set up the fence with Brad Daniels, Jon Mabe and Ron Nelson. Ron picked up extra zip ties at 8am to finish the job. Who knew 100 zip ties would not be enough?

The signs were all donated by Victor LaFontaine. You probably know him as an epic beer trader that shows up with random bottles of awesomeness wherever he goes.

My wife Erin handled all the vendor check-in and volunteers simultaneously. She is insanely such a huge support in my life and a battle axe at this event. She also took time to go to Main Place Mall to get the Chili Cook Off glasses etched.

Bobby Navarro took over the non-profit side of things last year after the group I went with first pulled out. His knowledge and expertise of running events is unmatched. He’s more than a pleasure to deal with and it’s fun to see people in the culinary/brewing world get inspired artistically by travel and education. Noble’s English Pale Ale they brought is a result of the the non profit, Inspire Artistic Minds. Check out their page, donate, attend events volunteer or even apply for a grant!

Thanks to the guests who believe that groupon beer fests are the worst. You all paid full price, which was more than fair considering unlimited tastes of chili and beer. I was going to do taster tickets, but figured that is antiquated and just one more thing to deal with. I figured if anyone could get through a dozen 2oz tastes of chili, they should get an award.

The vendors don’t necessarily need to be thanked because they got paid, but I will say I got excellent service from those that I ordered from. Empire Ice forgot to include the cold box, so they threw in an extra 20 bags to our order for free. They were cheaper than everyone by 20% as well. Eagle Portables restrooms were ON POINT. Dead-on delivery, super clean set up and take down and on time (also 20% cheaper than other bids). James Event Services which is ran by Cameron Collins (OC Brew HaHa) father in-law gave an unbeatable bid on table rentals. Their delivery and pick up was timely, fast and had great tables. The Packing House site reps were rock solid from set up to take down. The security team was also insanely professional.

The press, thanks for helping sell the event out. John Verive of BeerPaperLA and LA Times was the driving force behind my marketing. There was a LOT of LA people that did in fact drive (or train) down for the event. Erika Bolden of LA Weekly, Vivian from OCRegister and of course Cleo from OC Weekly. Hell, even YelpOC promoted the event, which was hella rad. I spent $300 on marketing, that’s insane!

The Four Brewers Show went into new territory again; doing a show from the event with Tomm Carroll of Celebrator Beer News.

I’m looking for a nice outdoor spot for next year that can hold 1000. If you have a location that you think would be rad, let me know! See you next year!

 

The Bruery Plants Roots With New Beer

IMG_8403When sampling beer, the power of suggestion is infinite. Pour a black beer and your brain gets ready for chocolate, coffee or roast. With a steaming hot burrito from a taco truck wrapped in foil, your brain tells the senses to expect a pillowy hot tortilla, juicy meats, and creamy guacamole to balance things out. “Get that mouth watering”, you brain tells your glands, counting on that luscious first bite.

When news of the Bruery’s new Belgian pale ale, Jardinier (French for Gardener) hit, my brain quickly put together the flavor profile notes I should expect in a precise, beer advocate-ish annoying way.

“It should taste like a Belgian-style pilsner-malted ale”, my brain told my senses. “It should smell fruity and spicy with some wet hay notes; because I clearly know Bruery beer aroma profiles,” my brain continued in its best drunken Todd Alstöm Boston accent.

Then my arms and hands poured it. My brain shut off and let my senses take over as I smelled it.  Nose in the glass like a bee in a bush, my nose reports back confidently, “musty rose petals, peach nectar and over ripe mango.” My simple brain forces my face to make a knowing look, nodding dorkishly with my bottom lip sticking out as if to say, “I fucking knew it,” even though I was completely wrong.

The honey-hazed beer looking back at me, I take a few sips and wait for what my palate reports back. Perplexed, it repeats the sip several times. “Is the name of the beer literal?” my brain nags. My tongue reports confidently “cherry tomatoes” to my brain and my brain is saying, “you have the worst palate on the face of the fucking planet.”

“It’s like the acidity of a ripe juicy cherry tomato, with a retro-nasal aroma-flavor of a garden-fresh tomato, you asshole!” my tongue and nose report back. My emotions tell everyone to chill the fuck out at this point. “It’s a thinking beer that tastes good,” my emotions say, trying to chill the situation like a mental fire extinguisher.

Wrapping it up, my brain causes my shoulders to shrug and lungs to sigh as the beer is now sadly empty. It commands the laptop to be opened and type these words.

Jardinier is a fascinating beer for 4.9% ABV. At first I wondered why the Bruery would make a gardeners lawnmower beer (based on the name). After sipping, that’s not the intention at all. it lends itself toward a table beer pairing excellently with fresh vegetables, salad, bruschetta and other delicate tapas. It’s refreshing, palate cleansing and most of all…interesting.

Thanks to the Bruery for a preview bottle. This beer will probably be in your hand and brain soon. 

Best Place to Drink a Beer, Eat a Sandwich and Watch a Sunset | Dory Deli – Newport Beach

IMG_8142A wise man once said, a deli isn’t something one is willing to drive out of their way for in Orange County, much less wait in line. A workman’s lunch should be close, easily accessible, affordable, predictable and tasty. That wise man was me…until a recent visit to a deli afoot the Newport Beach pier, Dory Deli.

P1080877With the sunset backdrop to a thousand selfies, a rare winters wind blew me towards this potential sandwich hot spot. Their bright cobalt lit sign juxtaposed over horizontal wooden planks and a weathervane pointing toward the waves draws me in. Friendly faces smile and welcome me into their warm brick interior filled with family photos and knick knacks.

P1080881Expecting ‘Newport Beach’ beer selections, seeing familiar Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Ballast Point Sculpin and Pizza Port Brewing The Chronic, I exhale a sigh of relief scanning their case. Eight taps sit behind the counter with various lagers and local craft beer, some of which is brewed a few miles away.

P1080885Food-wise, Dory Deli doesn’t just have personality, it has full-fledged multiple personality disorder. I can’t think of anywhere else in the world where an old Jewish mother, a vegan surfer, a south-Philadelphian and a picky kid can sit down over a proper sangwich, a knish and perhaps a fun craft soda for the kid.

P1080889For the post-surf breakfast or pre-yoga sesh, a ‘Yoga Pants’ burrito (Egg whites, peppadew peppers, arugula, Parmesan cheese) would easily square off next to Keen coffee/espresso piped through their rare Slayer machine. For dinner, a Figgy Burger (Fig preserves, goat cheese crème, caramelized onions, brioche bun) would go great with Barley Forge’s The Patsy (rye coconut stout). My pick for meatless Monday would be their buffalo cauliflower (Buffalo Mary) with smoked potato salad paired with an Alesmith Nut Brown Ale. There’s so many combinations that pique my interest, Dory did what I didn’t think was possible. She got in my head. She will make my choice of beach to visit that much easier.

P1080888Nine months of the year, parking isn’t an issue with plenty of metered parking right out front. After 6 P.M, the meters are free and there was tons of parking. They’re located at the foot of Newport Beach’s pier at 2108 3/4 Oceanfront Dr. Newport Beach and open from 6 A.M til Midnight. opens 1/26/2015 at 6am. 

Super proud dad moment #452: My eight year old daughter got invited to Dory Deli’s media preview. Here is her review! We will be back to review the kids menu soon.

Dory Deli

Gallery: Bagby Beer Co. – Oceanside CA

P1080836Placed perfectly between Orange County and San Diego, Bagby Beer Company opened it’s doors 2014. Expecting a small brewpub, I was shocked to see they converted a car dealership to an expansive maze of bars, indoor/outdoor seating and open air indoor halls. A short walk from the train station and the beach, Bagby Beer Company makes a great stop for a South OC crawl around San Clemente, lunch on the way down to San Diego, or a late night stop on the way back up.

The beer? I sampled twelve house beers with a wide spectrum of west coast, Belgian and British styles. All beers presented were unique with varying yeast, body, color and bitterness profiles. One common thread was a high ester profile across the beers. Guest taps are also available with many great choices.

The food? Moderately priced, fresh and something for everyone, including the foodiest of foodies.

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OCBeerBlog Favorite Beer Moments of 2014

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GABF Media Luncheon – credit John Holzer @FourBrewers

People often ask me, “What’s your favorite beer?” My reply is usually a stupid canned answer, “The one in my hand.” It’s much deeper than that though. Beer is a moment; a snapshot in time. It’s not always about the rarest or most costly of beers. Often it’s the time, the place or the people I’m surrounded with that make a beer truly memorable. Here’s ten of those favorite beer moments and snapshots from this past year in no particular order.

Fullscreen capture 12302014 103819 AM.bmp1) Hitting my 1000’th Untappd check in at Beachwood BBQ & Brewing with the Hops of Brixton, poured by my favorite gal, the Beer Bird herself Catelyn Willig. The beer is a bold ESB shining with British cracker-like malts clashing with East Kent Golding hops. It’s one of my favorites at Beachwood and get it first. Extraordinary!

10296261_10203874627050886_7166790387008297076_o2) Camping at the Firestone Winery and drinking one-off Barrelworks beers at Firestone Walker’s original brewhouse? This totally didn’t suck! One beer that stood out was a wine/beer blend called “Zin Skin” that poured with a huge fluffy three inch head; only to watch it disappear like a big bubble being popped. Pictured is galpal beer writer Erika Bolden snapping a shot of DBA while on the back of a flat bed in a grape field.

Fullscreen capture 12302014 103421 AM.bmp3) When you get invited into the Coolship room at Allagash Brewing in Portland, Maine, you go in. When you uncork a beer that was spontaneously fermented in there, that’s pretty damn spectacular. Arguably one of the most acidic beers I’ve had in recent memory, Coolship Cerise simultaneously melted my tooth enamel and caused “instaboner”. But was there sex in the coolship room? I’ll never tell.

Fullscreen capture 12302014 103210 AM.bmp4) Flying into Denver for GABF and resetting the palate with a familiar beer is always a great idea. When the beer is Blind Pig from Russian River, it’s even better. Joined by Four Brewers compadre John Holzer, we dined at the Kitchen in downtown Denver and nearly watched a guy choke to death on water. Truly memorable!

Fullscreen capture 12302014 103521 AM.bmp5) For some reason, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream thought, “hey, lets team up with OCBeerBlog for a special tour of OC breweries.” Challenge accepted! One highlight was having the B&J truck stop at Bottle Logic to hand out free samples of their Core Tour stuff. Bottle Logic put on a special cherry milk stout to make impromptu Cherry Garcia beer floats! Check out their blog post here. 

Fullscreen capture 12302014 103432 AM.bmp6) TØRST in Brooklyn is one bar you must visit on the east coast. It’s pretty much like one part Mikkeller Bar in San Francisco mixed with one part Beachwood BBQ; so much so that they even have a flux capacitor and dual draft temp zones. I drank some remarkable beers, but my favorite was I Love You With My Stout by Evil Twin.

temptation7) I never thought Russian River would have two spots in my top ten list as I’m not a huge fanboy. But hey, getting the second pour of Temptation from a 9 Liter bottle by Vinnie Cilurzo himself? Out-fucking-standing. Firestone Walker’s Invitational Beer Festival remains my favorite thing to do besides sex. FACT.

Fullscreen capture 12302014 103353 AM.bmp8) Taking an unreleased beer off of Golden Road’s new canning line, cracking it, snorting the can-hole, then chugging it is number eight on my list. Thanks to the Beer Blogger’s Conference for the exclusive access behind the scenes for this guy…and thanks to Meg, Tony, Laurel, Sara, Franny, Tim, Jesse and the rest of the team there I call friends. Victor? He wasn’t there yet, but thanks anyways, el hefe.

Fullscreen capture 12302014 103739 AM.bmp9) Of all the ways for a yet-to-be opened brewery to show off their skills, Three Weavers quickly won over my heart with this collaboration with Noble Ale Works. The Messenger was indeed a message in a bottle, saying “hey, I’m a citrusy IPA made with Buddha’s Hand fruit and other fun stuff.” I loved this beer, Noble, and Alex Nowell quite a bit.

1Fullscreen capture 12302014 103626 AM.bmp0) The Bruery makes some tantalizing big barrel aged beers. Their anniversary series has been one that I’ve dismissed in years past until I sipped Sucré. With any solera blended beer, there’s a sweet spot where the liquid can take on a fruity note. I guess year five was it for this beer! Layered with fruit, toffee, oak, vanilla, brown sugar and other confectionary adjectives, this beer is insane. Sampled at their anniversary event at the Phoenix Club among friends, brewers and great BBQ from Beachwood…this rounds out my list perfectly. If I had to pick another, #11 would be sipping Sour in the Rye from a barrel in the not-yet-opened Terreux. Shhhhh! Don’t tell anyone!

 

Hot ‘Buzz on Buzz’ Action – Portola Coffee Invades Iron Press Tap Takeover

6:42 PM on a Tuesday, The Iron Press, OC Mix, Costa Mesa, California, USA, Earth, Milky Way, dot on the back of a ladybug in an alternate universe.

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Much how a car runs on oil, The Iron Press runs on beer. Each tap handle a piston, each waffle sandwich an airbag punching you in the face and each beer the gasoline that pumps through our sparkplugged-veins. Tonight, we’re getting lubricated with high-octane turbo caffeinated beers; all Portola Coffee Lab infusions from (mostly) local breweries.

After a flight, I find myself clutching the bar tightly with one hand and curiously tapping the drum solo to Rush’s Tom Sawyer with the other. Curious, because DJ LexaKhan’s turntable is spinning Depeche Mode’s “Just Can’t Get it Up.” “Can I get a Heyay! Can I get a Ho-oh!” he requests waving his hand in the air. The highly java-based beer buzz yields an immediate response from the tightly packed P-shaped restaurant; some found it proper to wave their shaky beers around in the air (like they just don’t care).

Portola lives and breathes just a few steps from The Iron Press in the OC Mix. Jeff Duggan, the owner/roaster is at this event; smiling, intense and looking like Rick Moranis in ‘Honey I Shrunk the Kids’. “What’s your favorite so far?” he asks, sliding his glasses up his nose fastidiously. “Smog City’s Fluffy Fuzz Buzz,” I reply, noting the Kongo beans blending well with the base beer. He nods, knowingly, “Hmmm, yes”.

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Sitting in the blind spot.

The beer menu at this event is ripe with seventeen varieties, laid out with ABV’s ranging 3.8% to 13.8%. As I was expecting all stouts, I’m astonished with the variety of styles. Graetzer, Flemish Red, Cream Ale, Stout, Amber, Tripel and Porter are here presenting the range of choices that work with Portola’s beans to varying success. Some beers are production versions, such as Noble’s Naughty Sauce and the Bruery’s Mash & Grind. Others are one-offs for the event.

After sipping Epic’s Big Bad Baptist with a shot of espresso tossed in at serving, I take my light jacket off and lean back. Sweat forming on my brow, this beer is a real leg-crosser. I’m somehow channeling my inner-Italian Spiderman, sipping my beer like a freshly-fired macchiato…pinkie out and making subtle slurping noises.

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My faves: Torrance’s Smog City and Monkish

The fruitiest beer of the bunch, Monkish’s Caffè della Vita melded dark fruit coffee notes, nutty pistachio, vanilla and Belgian yeast esthers behind a very well hidden 9.8% ABV. What’s with these Torrance guys killing it? Topping things off, I even got a shoulder massage from Monkish’s Brian White, claiming “you look tense.” You bet your ass I look tense. The Iron Press is tense with uppers and downers fighting for your soul like a tug-o-war. If terrorists were to attack the OC Mix, safe to say the people inside this restaurant would fucking roll their non-caffeinated sober asses like a pissed off beehive.

010ee09f55a15b4d2e799062a203623b143e9a8612The Iron Press roped off the patio creating an outdoor space for Beer Savage swag and casks from Cismontane and Coronado Brewing. Blue Bridge Coffee Stout, one of my favorite easy to get $5/22oz coffee stouts. Sadly, it lacks any tickling of carbonation. Cismontane’s Roja I used to be a fan of, however this version has a funky acetobacter type sourness and hints of mildewy wood on the finish.

Overall, I consider Portola Coffee Labs to be among the brewing community and this evening proves it. Great beers, DJ Lex is always a pro, and the Iron Press continues to be the best place to grab a beer in Costa Mesa.

As the Brewery World Turns

OC Brewer Moves Bring Questions

astheworldturnsSurely you’ve seen recent news of brewers moving around to different breweries. While this drama is fascinating, the role of OCBeerBlog isn’t to report on this as news. While I do find it newsworthy on some level, sites like The Full Pint do a fantastic job getting scoops and reporting accurate stories within a few hours. My time is much more wisely spent sharing their stories via social media.

OCBeerBlog will only chime in if the personnel changes have an impact on beer quality. For instance, when brewer Evan Price moved from TAPS to Noble Ale Works. He left behind a talented bunch: Victor Novak, Dave Hulls and Kyle Manns. Noble’s beer quality improved greatly with the change and TAPS continued to win medals at GABF and WBC from 2012-13.

photo - @jessicajrice

Kyle Manns photo – @jessicajrice BeerandBaking.com

Where the story gets interesting: The rest of the tenured brewing team left TAPS throughout 2014. Kyle Manns to Bottle Logic, Dave Hulls to Barley Forge and Victor Novak to Golden Road; leaving a skeleton crew of two assistant brewers to keep TAPS’ taps flowing.

Following Victor’s departure up to L.A., Dave Hulls hopped back to TAPS having never brewed a batch of beer on the system he helped forge in the new Costa Mesa brewery. Kyle Manns, who also helped Bottle Logic build the brewery and win gold at GABF, moved back to TAPS.

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Dave Hulls and Victor Novak at GABF 2013 with medals for Helles and Schwarzbier.

Certainly the moves bring up many questions. While we all assume Kyle and Dave left TAPS to pursue independent careers following Evan’s success with Noble, the move back is more than baffling. Did Joe Manzella give the brewers carte blanche to brew the beers they want to make with a fat raise? Will they still craft classic lagers and Remy? Does Bottle Logic have too many cooks in the kitchen? Will Golden Road nail some GABF medals with Victors tried and true lager techniques?

I guess the point I’m trying to make is brewer moves are indeed fun gossip, but at the end of the day, it’s all about what’s in the glass that matters. Although Bottle Logic has big brew-boots to fill, I’d be shocked to see their quality dip. As for TAPS, keep an eye out for new styles. Golden Road? I hear their Schwarzbier is delish.

this is a whole different story

This is a whole different story.

Meet up at Meatup BBQ

Food Truck Stars Bring Brick and Mortar BBQ Beer Bar to Placentia – By Jante Ziarra

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When you step into Meat Up BBQ, the scent of smokehouse barbecue fills the air, you’re greeted with 25 beers on tap, and you think to yourself, this is exactly where I want to be. Look a little closer at the tap handles and you’ll find your heart racing at the anticipation you face wanting to get a pint glass to your mouth as some liquid goodness rolls down your throat. That, my friends, is Meat Up BBQ.

As a transplant living in Orange County for the past two and a half years, I quickly learned that I’ve lived in the best place in the world for food trucks and craft beer, Orange County.

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Meat-tasrophe – Chili Verdi Fries

Some of my favorite food trucks were discovered at breweries– The Viking Truck at The Bruery and GarlicScapes, at Bootleggers. These trucks have been serving Orange County before I ever got here and I suppose I’ve lived here long enough to see my two favorite food trucks get together and birth the perfect child of barbecue and beer– Meat Up BBQ. Yes, the masterminds behind my two favorite food trucks have joined forces to create all that is holy and gain control over what beers they serve with their food.

Food trucks have been popping up left and right and have taken their success to opening up a brick and mortar restaurant, complete with the same food you’d find on the truck. While noshing off a truck at a brewery is still great, Meat Up reverses the equation by picking beers to pair with a solid menu. 

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respect the beard at Meatup

Meat Up BBQ takes what we know and love here in California and adds it to some southern style barbecue to create what they call “West Coast barbecue.” They have chili verde fries that include pulled pork, featured a chicken sandwich that had pickled vegetables just as a bahn mi would, and even cornbread made with oranges that the owner, Luis, was kind enough to let me try.

Now for that tap list. I must say, that’s what drew me in more than the food when I saw they had my favorite beer, Anderson Valley’s The Kimmie, The Yink, and the Holy Gose on tap! Once I got there, Knee Deep Brewing’s Simtra and High Water Brewing’s Campfire Stout distracted me from getting the Gose. These were beers I haven’t tried and have not come across. 

The next time I went, news of a collab from Knee Deep and Kern River lured me in. Some might argue that it’s better than Pliny the Elder, but I’d have to try them side-by-side to prove that argument. 

The 25 beers on tap are always rotating, so don’t get comfortable! Luis is working on getting beers from Colorado, Oregon, and Washington next and doesn’t want to limit himself to local beers. He’s seeking brews from “whoever makes great beer!”

Check out Meat Up BBQ at the 57 Freeway/Yorba Linda Blvd near Cal State Fullerton.

OCBeerBlog is very excited to have our first blog contributor, Jante Ziarra. She’s a native Hawaiian, world traveller, journalism major, gastonerd and most importantly, a beer geek. Her stories are simple windows to the world paired with dreamy photography.

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!