About Gregory Nagel

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

7.4 Things To Order At PUBlic 74

Highway 74, aka “Ortega Highway” is a squiggly road that looks somewhat like Charlie Brown’s shirt stripe. At either end of the scenic, twisty road lies PUBlic 74; one in San Juan Capistrano, one in Murrieta and yet another in Temecula. O.C.’s locale sits atop tiled stairs, a bit to the side, and a creep around back, just a light or two from the 5 freeway.

GNAG1645As we’re seated, I scan the twenty taps set out front and center, ready to be knocked down like bowling pins. Like a dazed robot, I glance at the lone TV; playoff hockey… the Sharks firmly chomping the Blues with a 4-0 shutout. I must be hungry, because the score makes me crave St. Louis ribs.

The beer menu is accurate, priced mostly at $4 for a 9 oz snifter, or $8 for an imperial pint. Draft beer is pulled 30 feet, lines and glassware notably clean. I opt for a Union Jack first, a beer I deemed as “a textbook IPA” on a recent podcast blind IPA showdown, and note its freshness, then dive into some food like a shark possessed.

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GNAG1615Starter: Callin Flower (left): Grilled roasted Cauliflower with spicy chimichurri and a serious dose of Pecorino Romano cheese. I asked chef Gerry (who looks somewhat like Sammy Hagar), “Is colly the new Brussels?” he replies, “actually it’s broccoli.” Great start and IPA pairs well with the layered cheesy lemon squeezy.

2) Fun fact: I like goats. If you do too, The Now Infamous Goat Toast is worth a stop alone. The bread crunch sounds somewhat like walking through freshly-fallen snow, only the snow is herbed goat cheese, and those aren’t uninflated red beach balls, those are in fact the sweetest, ripest, juiciest roasted tomatoes next to a leaf pile drizzled in motor oil. Oh, it’s not? It’s balsamic reduction on top of arugula? You are so right. I just verbally played with my food.I like to verb my nouns from time to time.
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3) Macc’n Frenchy (below) may sound like something I did in Europe atop the Eiffel Tower, but rest assured, it’s a French Onion Soup inspired Mac & Cheese, and it’s DANK, smokey, herbaceous, and holy hell I want to mac on a Frenchy now.

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DANK.

4) Let’s talk about the Kobe Goes Animal Burger for a minute. It actually doesn’t look like much, but I will make a bold statement and say this my new favorite burger. The flavors burst in waves, everything down to the sturdy bun, ripe tomato, beef that melts like buttuh and is seasoned ever so perfectly with salt and spread. Protip: don’t quarter this burger, halfsies will do. Fries? Oh yeah, the fries were also good. Splittable, for sure.

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5) What you Smokin Reuben? “Nothin, just some hickory roasted corn beef piled on rye, Emmenthaler Swiss and krunchy kraut.” Okay. This was my panty dropper. If I had panties, they would be on the ground. A bit on the salty side, so make sure and have a sturdy beer to back things up. Barley Forge IPA was my copilot.

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Like this photo on Instagram, okay? It needs more love. Click it! 

6) Despite much table controversy, the Grandson Meatloaf doesn’t contain any children. It’s basically poutine minus the curds. The fries hiding underneath the hefty slab of durok pork & chicken are the real treat. Kind of like the time I saw a dollar bill stuck to a stripper’s butt after she walked off stage. Yeah, sort of like that. Gravy soaked fries are just like that.

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7) Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding, that is served hot, steamy and scrumtrulescent. Pair it with a stout, or Hefeweizen!

GNAG1653Here’s a tap takeover you should check out for American Craft Beer Week! GNAG1644

Here’s some decor shots.

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If you see this guy, say Hi! He runs the place.

 

Sabroso: It’s all Pork & Stout, Baby!

by Errica Lane 5/4/2016, photos John Holzer @fourbrewers

This was my first time at Sabroso and I can sum up my experience in two words: Pork & Stout.  

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It seemed like big beers and pork tacos were on everyone’s agenda at Lakeview Park in Silverado last Saturday.  Fortunately the weather was mild, which paired well with the big booziness that wrestled our palates throughout the day. 

26761717005_ffcbba5b48_kMy two favorite stouts of the day were Leche Borracho from Bottle Logic and Luchador en Fuego from Clown Shoes.  Both had the mole spicy feels, with Clown Shoes aging their beer in bourbon barrels and Bottle logic giving it a little twist by aging in bourbon AND tequila barrels.  That Leche Borracho is dangerously delicious.

One other beer that really stood out to was the Cru’sin Corozon  from TAPS.  They described it as “West-Coast Grand Cru infused with prickly pear, passion fruit, blood orange, and pomegranate,” which was fantastic!  The fruits played so well with the Belgian yeast that I could have drank it all day.  But I didn’t.  I had tacos (and street corn) to eat.

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26668311712_e87453d7dd_kAlmost every food vendor had at least one sizzling pork taco on the menu.  One fave was the pork belly bahn mi taco from Devilicious.  For tres dolores I got a soft corn tortilla with a generous amount of crispy, juicy pork belly cubes and a sesame slaw. After that, my crew went in search of more tasty morsels.

Sadly, but the time we made it over to Haven, they had already run out of tacos.  I guess that’s what we get for getting distracted by beer at a taco festival.  I heard the soy marinated steak tacos were killer.  We quickly turned around and tried to get tacos from Kroft, but they had run out of buns.  They did offer up a double-meat deal for $3; instead of choosing between a pork belly taco or a fried spam, we got a paper boat with a slab of each meat.  The fried spam was the winner for me; breaded and deep fried, then drizzled with a sweet sauce and seaweed.  Totally odd combo that was pretty great.

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The highlight of the day, food wise, wasn’t a taco.  It was the Mexican street corn from The Lime truck.  Cobs of sweet corn were flash fried then smothered in sriracha mayo and cheese.  Thankfully that’s a regular offering from them, because there needs to be more of that in all our lives.

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In between each brewery booth of food truck we spent some time enjoying the bands on stage and roaming mariachis.  The only bummer is that by spending most of my time in the front area of the festival, I missed the wrestling.  But I saw that there were plenty of lounge chairs spread out for folks to sit and enjoy the show.  Overall it was a great day and a well run festival.

Viva Sabroso!

follow Errica on Instagram!

 

8 Thrilling Ways to Tell if a Beer Bar is Serious

GNAG7776After peeking at this Thrillist article with the same title, I don’t think peeking in a beer bar’s cold box to inspect the lines is exactly a simple way to tell if a beer bar is serious. Here’s eight easier ways to tell if a beer bar is serious:

  1. A draft board or menu that is not current and/or has typos? Not serious.
  2. Has all shaker pint glasses? Not fucking serious.
  3. All beers from one or two distributors? Nope, not serious.
  4. Has domestic and imports? Not serious.
  5. Has a crap tap? Not at all serious.
  6. Servers that don’t speak beer? Not serious.
  7. See a keg in the dining room or back in the bathroom area? Tap it to see if it’s full or empty. Is it full? The bar isn’t serious. Beer should be kept in a cold box or cellar temp.
  8. Frosty mugs? Dirty glassware? 400 TV’s? Not serious.

That is one thrilling list.

Back To Basics: Put Some Gulden Draak In Your Belfry

(Sponsored) – In a world where we are blessed with great local beer, sometimes it’s necessary to go back into that spirit of trying something out of one’s comfort zone. Something from Belgium, and big enough to survive the spoils of travel. Enter, Gulden Draak.

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Global Beer Network Rep Natasha with a few Van Steenberge bieres at The Clay Oven

My first run-in with Gulden Draak was at a pub night at Irvine’s Indian Food stalwart, The Clay Oven. Everything from tandoor-roasted bone marrow to a lamb stuffed naan married well with the beer, and I must admit, was the first time seeing such great beer at an Indian restaurant. One beer I kept going back to was Gulden Draak, a 10.5% dark tripel with just enough going on to pair with just about everything. It was also this beer where I learned a valuable lesson in beer pairing: “sweet calms heat,” something to remember when ordering those dynamite habanero wings.

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White bottle, dark tripel

Revisiting the beer today, I can see why it stood out. The husky ruby-brown beer pours with an abundance of frothy white foam, instantly sending aromas of dark fruits up the ol’ wafting tunnel. Once the quickly expanding head settles, the aromas keep rolling: caramel, clove, and banana bread burst around hints of sweet alcohol. The flavor is reminiscent of a barley wine carried by spicy Belgian yeast, but the body is light enough to fool you into thinking it’s okay to drive after a glass. It’s totally not. Gulden Draak is all about proper transportation.

gulden draak 9000 ocbeerblogGoing a few steps higher up the belfry is Gulden Draak 9000, which comes in the black bottle. 9000 is one of Belgium’s great quadruples, and is named for the zip code in Ghent, Belgium, where the actual golden dragon sits on top of the tallest belfry. It pours surprisingly lighter than the dark tripel in the white bottle, but 9000 is all about the dark fruits, which unashamedly lifts its skirt on the alcohol, despite only being .2% higher. Fermented peach, caramel, dark fruits, and booze run the flavor…which is decadent and highly quaffable despite the sheer girth of this beer.

One of the best parts of these overlooked beers is their availability, where a trip to any local big box wine or beer store has 11.2oz bottle four packs, 750ml, and in some cases, the magnum, which is super fun to crack at a party.

Visit Gulden Draak’s facebook page to #ConquertheDragon yourself and enter to win swag!

Blogunitas: When Big Gets BIGGAR

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Deetle-deetle! Ron Lindenbusch

“When people ask if we’re coming to L.A., we say no way, we’re coming to Azusa because it’s got everything from A to Z in the USA!” says Ron Lindenbusch, Lagunitas director of marketing to our group of media and city officials. And by everything, I assume he means land at the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains that spew mineral-rich brewing water. “We also want to reach out and touch the community, not like to deetle-deetle them,” he continued, making a ball-tickling hand gesture.

I was in a small group that got to “sneaky peek” the freshly-finished construction site (one day before 4/20) and holy hell, the campus is big enough to fill Seaworld’s tanks with beer on a daily basis. Shamu? More like a drunken SHAMWOW. Here’s some stats on the behemoth brewhouse:

  • Three 250 BBL Brewhouses with a Centrifuge for each
  • Ninety 55-foot Fermenters
  • Twelve Big Ass Brite Tanks
  • Community room, Amphitheater, Taproom, Rooftop Bar, etc, etc, etc
  • Cans are coming too…

Tony Magee was absent from the festivities. When asked, “he’s probably playing with his band tonight somewhere around Chicago,” said his sister and director of communications, Karen Hamilton with a smile.

GNAG0738The super-sneaky peek complete, we left the vast packaging hall and headed to the shipping and distribution warehouse to party. Apparently the industry-only event link got out, so it was a little more crowded than anticipated. What would have been a chill couch-trip over beers ended up being a revolving trip in line for beer. As the evening went on, roller derby happened next to live bluegrass. Still fun, but my goal of networking and interviewing was left (mostly) undone. At least I got pics!

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An Open Letter To Temecula (re: 45 day ban on new tasting rooms)

Temecula, I saw that your elected planners have put into motion a 45 day ban on new brewery tasting rooms and expansions while you go on a fact-finding mission. I saw that you were going to look into other cities, and I would like to invite you to Anaheim: a city that was founded by German vintners in 1857 and is now craft beer central for the county.

New breweries are sought out and welcomed by the city of Anaheim. In the last two Mayoral ‘State of the City‘ addresses, Mayor Tait has called out the “brew city” initiative to find ways to actively bring new breweries into the city and to have a well educated city staff that specializes in alcohol issues. The Planning Commission and city staff actively cut red tape to streamline requests to get these positive small businesses running.

Why do they do this? Breweries bring a sense of community, they bring a pub-like atmosphere that’s been long lost in today’s loud, sports-driven bars. Breweries bring an artistic sense of pride to the city, as any award a brewer brings home on the national or regional level shines as a potential tourist opportunity. Breweries bring new jobs, most are family businesses run by neighbors that live in your city, hiring people in the community. These jobs keep money made in Temecula, IN Temecula.

Beer also puts your city as destination, not only just wine, but also great beer. People that enjoy local craft beer spend money on good food, art, and local culture. These aren’t people tailgating with a 30 pack of light flavorless lager causing trouble. These are educated and curious people of all walks of life that want to taste what Temecula is like. Beer brings young people, families, and diversity. People want to know what the beer tastes like there. How the wine is. How the food is. They are there to spend a day in your city, drinking what the locals drink, in a positive manner, spending money in Temecula.

Breweries also give back to the local community, donating product to local festivals that support nonprofit organizations. For example in Anaheim, the OC Fest of Ales festival gives proceeds to Cops 4 Kids; breweries and restaurants donate beer and food for this great cause.

Temecula’s beer and wine industry have a storied past with the Cilurzo family who made wine, and son Vinnie who made beer at The Blind Pig. There’s no beer geek in the country that doesn’t know who makes Blind Pig or Pliny the Elder. Vinnie Cilurzo’s experience with wine barrels helped kick-start a wild and sour beer movement that is now one of the world’s bustling beer fads, all from his experience in Temecula. You all should be proud of that; pay homage to that. OWN that. Sure their beer is now made in Santa Rosa at Russian River Brewing, but the roots are in your town. The breweries open today in Temecula will add to that.

“A 2013 survey by the Sonoma County Economic Development Board found that Pliny the Younger brought almost $2.4 million in economic activity to the area, with about $1.4 million in direct expenditures related to the event. Those figures are likely to go up this year.”*

Giving breweries what they need to responsibly and comfortably house local beer enthusiasts and beer tourists should be a priority of the city. Breweries and wineries bring people into your town that otherwise wouldn’t be there. Small business is the fabric of community, it gets people out of the house to enjoy something that tastes good, and to share ideas face to face, like old times. 

I would like to invite you on a brewery tour in Anaheim and possibly some facetime with Mayor Tait or our Planning Commision. I’m sure you will come away with sense that locally made craft beer is great for your city, and for your community, and growing it will only mean better things for Temecula. 

Regards,

Greg @OCBeerBlog

(Proud Anaheim resident, beer writer, homebrewer, winemaker, father, and husband of sixteen years.)

Updated 4/22/16: The State Board of Equalization Met with OC Brewers Guild leaders in March and had this to say:

“Business is Brewing in Anaheim – 

Scott Koehm, a representative from the City of Anaheim’s Planning and Building Department, attended the event and explained that the success of these up and coming breweries is largely due to the City’s early partnership and desire to become a destination for fresh, locally-brewed craft beers, much like in San Diego. This cooperation between the City and local small businesses in the region is promoting a unique opportunity for economic growth while simultaneously building on a current trend that is likely to become permanently adopted in our Orange County culture. The experience of meeting with friends or associates and enjoying the newest concocted brew of the week is a social one that many locals have become quite fond of.” See the rest here: http://www.boe.ca.gov/harkey/blog/2016/201604-3.htm

Quote from http://www.pressdemocrat.com/business/3478726-181/pliny-release-brings-economic-windfall?gallery=3478709&artslide=0

Hatch Pairs Tiki With Sliders and Beer

The Chan with a plan, Leonard.

The Chan with a plan, Leonard.

Scrape the barnacles off your boat and get some tiki down your throat, people…Hatch is finally open in Tustin’s labyrinth of hip, Union Market, which is in the labyrinth of parking, The District. With an Iron Press Anaheim layout, big ass mirrors akimbo, you’ll feel right at home sipping local IPA out of their hourglass pilsner glassware, just like the IP.

Reminds me of my wedding night.

Reminds me of my wedding night // The Walker ($12) 

What sets Hatch apart from everything is a slider menu worthy of many visits to try them all, samesies with the Tiki cocktail menu, muscled in by my main man, Dougie who shakes a cocktail shaker like a dashboard tiki doll. The beer list was no slouch on day one with stuff one would find at the Iron Press on a typical Tuesday.

Grab your mumu, your best Hawaiian shirt and white leather loafers, and slide into Hatch!

 

Who Do I Have to Blow?

When this tweet crossed my feed:

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I thought, this this the best way to get some media attention. The tweets continued… (full size)

until they said their account was hacked. What’s strange about the business is there is no website, the domain is registered by proxy (meaning you can’t find out the owner), there’s no ABC permit, no CUP I can find on any Hollywood planning site, and no DBA. Is this a real business or a troll account? I guess we shall see.

(april fools) Adding to Anaheim: Disneyland Adds Themed Brewpub in California Adventure

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Guess which tap is Wookey Jack? Photo @deniserat

Disneyland California Adventure has featured local craft beer for some time. When news broke this morning about the new brewhouse in California Adventure, I strapped on my mouse ears and screamed the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme! M I C K E…, WHY? Because you love Craft beer!

The Tap List:

  • Elsa’s Eisbock
  • Snow Wit
  • Jane Porter
  • Tinkerbell’s Pixie Dust New England Style IPA
  • The Abominable Hefeweizen
  • Indiana Jones IPA Adventure
  • Jack’s Big Pumpkin Beer (fall seasonal)
  • Geppetto’s Nose Barrel Aged Barley Wine
  • Merida’s Irish Red
  • Pooh’s Honey Blonde
  • Bippity Boppity Brown
  • John Smith’s ESB
  • Dumbo’s Spins Triple IPA
  • Chip & Dale’s Nut Brown Ale
  • Belle’s Beastly Biere de Garde
  • Pirates Rum Barrel Aged Ginger Beer
  • Haunted Mansion Ghost Pepper Pale Ale
  • Mr. Toads Wild Rye IPA
  • Tiki Room Coconut Milk Stout
  • Little Mermaid’s Whozits’s and Whatzits Salty Gose
  • Walt’s Watermelon Wheat
  • Song of the South Stout
  • Sing Sweet Nighten’ Ale, A Cinderella Blonde (served in souvenir glass slipper with optional white glove and tiarra)
  • To Infinity and Beyond Space Pale Ale
  • Peoplemover Pilsner
  • April Fools OMG LOL.

Lost: Abbey

GNAG0255“Excuse me, you look familiar,” I say to a deadpan bald man with glasses, holding a pitcher of beer with a puffy vest jacket. He pours me three fingers of a cloudy gold beer. “I don’t think we’ve met,” he says as I squint and take whiff. Croissant and a lick of caramel on the nose, I think to myself…where have I had this beer?

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@TheTomme

“I’m Tomme Arthur, pleased to meet you.” I totally knew that. I just get bashful when meeting pioneers of the beer business. “This is Avant Garde, our farmhouse lager.”

GNAG0267On the back patio of Verdugo Bar (a Ryan Sweeney joint), picnic tables are strewn about topped with Delirium Tremens pink elephant umbrellas and beer signs from around the globe. Each table is filled with corked and caged Lost Abbey beers and lit beer label veladoras. Surprising is the total lack of petrichor despite a windy downpour that ended an hour ago.

The evening is hosted by The Lost Abbey for industry publicans and bottle shop big wigs. A few beer writers were sprinkled in for good measure; I’m glad to get the call.

GNAG0258The Lost Abbey, San Diego’s only quality volume sour/funky beer producer (in my opinion), is here to re-introduce themselves and do a tasting of rare beers. L.A. and O.C. have a wealth of quality mixed fermentation breweries, and sometimes a gentle reminder of what the pioneers can do is a breath of fresh air.

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Jon Sanchez receives holy communion

Jon Sanchez, owner of Native Son Alehouse in downtown Santa Ana, noted, “Lost Abbey kegs are reasonable compared to the competition.” From my standpoint, It seems like pints of Lost Abbey beers cost more. He went on to add that one L.A. brewery raised the price of their kegs to keep cost in line with what some establishments charge for pints. The perception that wild ales cost more isn’t always the case.

GNAG0269Over three hours, we rifled through nine beers, pouring faster than consumption. Veritas 17 with Blackberries was my absolute favorite, noting it smelled like fresh linens stained with fresh berry jam, and was super soul-refreshing. I do hope we see some of these showing up on tap handles soon, as it seems the most storied barrel programs in the U.S. needs to get back on the front page.

Beers sampled:

  • Avant Garde – farmhouse lager
  • Devotion – dry hopped Belgian blonde
  • Hop 15
  • Red Poppy – sour with cherries
  • Veritas 17 – sour with blackberries
  • Cuvee de Tomme – 15
  • Cuvee de Tomme – 09
  • C-9 – barley wine with peaches aged in conjac barrels
  • Ad Idem – sour with peaches.