The Art of Going Big | Grits Fullerton + The Bruery Beer Dinner

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Grits is for lovers.

“Tonight is going to be like a race,” says the gruff and unshaven executive chef Cody Storts in his home away from home, Grits Fullerton. Six courses set out before us: pork, seafood, game, seafood, beef, then dessert. Having been to four of chef’s beer dinners, I mentally prepare myself to form my lips into the shape of Noah’s arc, and eat all the tasty animals.

Being Grits’ third beer dinner, this is the first with hyper-local O.C. beer: The Bruery, and as far as I know, the first beer dinner led by a Master Cicerone, Patrick Rue. Having had most of the beers, the mere thought of the pairings has me salivating. If I had a tail, it would surely be wagging wildly, enough to knock various glassware off the tables, Pavlov-style.

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COURSE 1, The Pork Confessional – A variation of the Bruery’s Sour Blonde Ale was blended and fermented with juice pressed from Fess Parker’s Riesling grapes. Juniper cured pork belly, cilantro and celery root puree.

Not being the biggest pork belly fan, I will say Grits preparation I actually enjoy. There’s something about how they get a perfect crust, bursting with umami, to play with the fat inside. It all comes down to balance, and chef totally nails it. Confession, one of my fave wine-blended beers, matches the dish with carbonation and acidity. The tone set, we move on.

GNAG0042Course 2: Sourrento Mussels – A beer that debuted at the second Firkfest, Sourrento is a sour ale inspired by the lemon flavored spirit, Limoncello. The broth on this dish has a nice rauchy-bacon quality, “I want a glass of it,” says my table-mate Anne Marie of OCWeekly fame. The black mussel is plump and ready, topped with 70’s chili-thread bush. Backed by the beer, this course made a nice intermezzo. 

Course 3: Bambi with Duck-Roids.

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Venison injected with duck-roids and the best bread pudding ever.

(Paired with Batch #1731, a homebrew competition winner is a 100% brettanomyces-fermented hoppy session ale at 5%.) “If rare venison doesn’t sound good, go over to Philly’s Best next door,” quips chef. It was indeed rare, but the duck fat seemed to tame the game, so to speak. The real winner of the night is the rye bread pudding topped on apricot key lime bourbon glaze. Nice rye-spicey take on a classic.

GNAG0060COURSE 4: Oh SHIT.
So Happens It’s Tuesday – A slightly-less intense incarnation of Black Tuesday paired with Escolar almandine, a fish that can have laxative qualities if eaten in excess. I eat half, just to make sure we don’t have any accidents.

COURSE 5 – The Meat Statue – I’m not sure where one gets a steamship round cut of beef these days, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t look like a statue. “Nobody does this shit,” I say out loud while snapping a photo. Coming back to my seat and finding a full ‘fuck off’ pour of 19.5% beer had me instagramming like a school girl. Sadly, I was full, but managed to eat a few fork-loads of the beef and root veggies. Wineification III, a blend of grenache grapes from Rodney’s Vineyard and Black Tuesday. Matured in a combination of bourbon and French Oak barrels, this beer is liquid dessert.

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Steamship Round, aka “the Meat Statue

GNAG0085Dessert Means You Survived: Blackberry cheesecake, Thai basil, bourbon sweetened currants and sweetened cream sauce paired with Cinnamonk was actually the best pairing of the night. But, wow. Full.

A shot of Bourbon is dealt in coffee mugs, we toast, inhale and hold our bellies. Cheers to another great party atmosphere, great hosts and solid, smiley service. Grits is located in downtown Fullerton and is open for brunch, pub dinner service on the weekends, and don’t miss their half-off draft beer on Thursdays!

A Peek at Some New Good Beers

They say that your sense of taste and smell is heightened in the morning, which is exactly whey I opted to taste a flight of The Good Beer Company’s offerings Monday at 10am.

goodbeer georgeGeorge – 4.1% abv. There’s no better way to celebrate presidents day than to put a beer called George in my mouth. Shouldn’t this beer be cherries in honor of the cherry tree George Washington allegedly chopped down? Oh, it’s not about the 1st president? Damn. Turns out George honors owner Brandon Fender’s grandpa, who made killer peach dumplings every summer. But is it fruity? George bursts of peach preserves. French oak takes a back seat in the flavor, but does offer up some tannin in the mouthfeels. Lactic acid sourness also adds to the drink, hitting the brakes on any potential chugging. I’ve heard complaints about some of their low abv beers being thin, but George is not. He’s fit, full of peaches, and ready to party.

goodbeer nectarine oroNectarine Oro – 4.2% abv. Much like George, this Oro variant is so jam-packed with fruit, you’ll actually start to think the beer is part of a balanced breakfast. It’s so fruity, I swear juice ran down my arm on the first drink. As it warms, I could envision the fuzz from the fruit, the pithy flesh, and even the sense of nibbling nectarine off of the seed. The tart bite is there as well, if you follow my titratable acidity scale, I’d place both in the 5-7 range (mid).

If you’re not in The Good Beer Company’s ‘The Stable’ beer club, both beers (and others) will be available Friday, Feb 19th. Check out their facebooks. Go early, grab a sandwich from C4 Deli to keep you company in the crazy long line.

The Good Beer Company, 4th Street, DTSA

3 Floyds Brewing – Beer Travels with Three Frenchs

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Robert French is our beer travel corespondent

Here’s what I knew before my visit to 3 Floyds Brewing:

  1. Intimidation factor: Metal themed, aggressive hop forward brewery.
  2. Dark Lord, people go crazy for the Dark Lord: Had it, did not go crazy.
  3. Lines: We are getting there early, but how early?
  4. Limited distribution: Finding a 3 Floyds beer in Chicago is not that easy.

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Located in Munster. Indiana. 3 Floyds (or is it Three Floyds?) is about 45 minutes (no traffic) from O’Hare Airport, at least with my wife’s lead foot at the wheel.  The brewery is in a warehouse flanked by a large water tower with the word MUNSTER boldly emblazoned on it. The brewery, restaurant and retail space are basic, no frills. However the distillery and expansion they are building (not open) looks to be a really cool space.

We got there 30-minutes before they opened and found both a line for the restaurant and retail store.  Both lines were about twenty people deep and both at least tripled in size before the doors opened. While in line for the restaurant, I asked everyone close the same question “is there a special release today?”. There was no special release, this was a normal Saturday. Regardless of what you think about the beer, that is impressive following.

The restaurant is a cross between a dive bar and a coffee shop…a really cool coffee shop with metal music as it’s soundtrack. The menu is diverse, from duck fat popcorn to burgers to sweetbreads.  We stuck with a burger, I would highly recommend it. They offered a beer flight of the day which included:

  • Robert the Bruce  a 7% Wee Heavy
  • War Mullet 8% Double IPA
  • Moloko 8% Milk Stout
  • Alpha King  6.66% Pale Ale

23776977650_122e8683e4_oNot sure if they stick with the same beers, or just these were just the beer choices of the day. They were however, a nice sampling of what they had to offer.  Even though they only offer one set sampling flight, they do offer small tastes of other beers at no charge.

Besides the flight, I did sample Wigsplitter, 7.7% Coffee Oatmeal Stout infused with espresso. This is a dark roast coffee beer that is not shy on coffee. This is one of the best pure coffee beers I have had.  The next sample was Amber Smashed Face 6.66% Red Ale (a collaboration with the band Cannibal Corpse). This was an in your face beer with massive bitterness. These two beers were the highlights for me and even brought bottles home.

I also brought home a bottle of Deesko!, an 6.5% Berliner style weiss beer (their words) that had a great funky aroma with hints of stone fruit and sour tarts. A fairly clear beer with the color of hay. The initial taste had jaw clenching tartness that hit you right on the sides of your tongue. Not overly sour, but more tart and funky.

If you’re a beer lover or nerd, 3 Floyds is a must stop. Regardless about what you think about the hype (Dark Lord), the image or the over the top artwork…they brew quality beers with upfront flavors. Truly unique beers.

Follow Robert French on Twitter @ThreeFrenchs

Grits Fullerton Changes the Beer Dinner Game

A grit can be described as a small stone, just big enough to count with the naked eye. It can also be used to describe backbone, big enough to pull off a packed $135 per sitting beer dinner in downtown Fullerton…at a brunch spot…a few days before Christmas. Stone? Yeah, there was Stone, eight of them to be exact.

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For the price tag, Grits Fullerton had a lot to live up to. I went in thinking it needed flow, cloth napkins, and extended pinkies. I thought, we would all get to dive into Stone’s cellar and come out like masked robbers. Having been to two chef Cody Storts beer dinners and two “Dr.” Bill Sysak pairing events, I know the madness both are capable of.

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When the first beer is 2008 Stone Brewing Old Guardian Barleywine at 11%, the tone has been set. This isn’t going to be a hoity-toity affair. This is going to be a feast.

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Stone’s brand ambassador, “Dr.” Bill Sysak, ruled the beer side. Chef Cody mans the Christmas bush.

Various animals, grains and vegetables are shuffled and hit the table like a no-limit poker game. Plates like cards, beer glasses like poker chips. Do I go all-in or fold?

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Course 2 – cajun octopus with a dazzling candied citrus. tequila barrel aged cali-belgique IPA played off the citrus like a margie.

Amuse #1 and #2 down the hatch, “now the fun begins,” yells chef to applause. Smoked trout rillettes paired with Matt’s Burning Rosids, an imperial smoked saison, is served. I’ve seen this beer pulled out for a few events over the years and is drinking beautifully. RIP Matt, always glad to remember a comrade, your burning rosids beer and rillettes didn’t leave much for the dish cleaning crew…it was my fave of the night!

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Stars Align for 2015 Darkstar November

Sometime around 11:30 P.M, two days before Thanksgiving:

“You smell like a brewery,” whines my thirty-something stocking cap wearing uber driver. “Your car smells like Old Spice Bearglove.” I reply, rushing to twitter to check @ubersmellslike on my bumpy ride home from the Darkstar November beer dinner.

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Darkstar Glassporn

How is this year’s Darkstar, you ask? Comparing it to last year, I got a chance to blind taste 2014 among some strong competition on the Four Brewers show. 2014’s Darkstar seemed thin, hot and disjointed (it did outrank the Goose!). Bottle Logic must have heard the show and worked out the kinks, because 2015 Darkstar November is rich, spicy, full bodied, and super delicious. The rye barrel places a large part in the flavor profile, offering up big cinnamon notes that compliment the big chocolaty stout. If you can grab a bottle or two, I highly recommend it.

The beer dinner? Chef Patrick Whittaker looked calm and collected, whipping up six magical courses. My favorite pairing of the night was rabbit, ironically prepped with carrot puree next to Tripel Point, the OC Fest of Ales winning homebrew that was re-brewed with Bottle Logic. Other dishes included scallops, pork belly, New York strip, and panna cotta paired with Darkstar November. The absolute winner of the evening was Darkstar November with Coldbot coffee. I hope this gets packaged!

Golden Road Relationship Status: It’s Complicated (If you care)

novakI hope you read my break up letter to Golden Road a while ago, and although the facts still remain (AB Inbev does bad things to small craft breweries), things are complicated.

  1. Victor Novak, a friend and very talented brewer, is taking over brewing ops for GR. Besides being a great guy that has made award-winning beer in OC for 15 years at TAPS, having him steer the ship at GR has changed my position. This is where it’s complicated. As long as he and the brewing team are making changes to the beer to make it better, I’m cool with it. If their sales team does shitty things, I’ll be quick to lash out. I’m not “cozy” with them and don’t get free beer or whatever. I will simply recognize them as a brewery that makes beer in OC when they do so.
  2. The breakup post was meant more of a “why AB?” type of thing and to show some facts about how AB is horrible. Sure it was knee-jerky, but it was fun to write and get off my chest.
  3. I’m old. Like, your dad old. I’ve seen craft beer from the early days and understand that beer is business, including craft beer.
  4. In the past, I have openly criticized Golden Road for having mediocre beer with the OG brewer. When Jesse came along from Drakes, the beer improved, but I also criticized that some of the hoppy beers taste the same (until the Works IPA), and other beers were just okay. If you think they suck, that’s your opinion and I’m fine with that. Drink what you like, you guys.
  5. Sure, the Brewers Association says they’re not craft beer anymore…along with Ballast Point, Lagunitas, Saint Archer, Goose Island, Elysian, 10 Barrel, and the next fifty sellouts. I’m committed to covering local beer that’s made in Orange County. If the beer GR makes in Anaheim sucks, I’ll be the first to shout it from the top of the Big A along the 57 freeway.
  6. I firmly believe the definition of craft beer needs to change. If a brewery sells a majority stake to a non-craft brewery, yet the brewers, founders and quality stay the same, I no longer have issue with buying the beer. I just won’t call it craft, I guess.
  7. Golden Road is pumping 25 million dollars into the city of Anaheim and will employ over 100 people. This is pretty cool as an Anaheim resident.
  8. They’re a charitable organization, donating to Firkfest and things like Heal the Bay.

So, what does this mean? As long as the Golden Road brewing team remains devoted to improving quality, I don’t see any hijinx on the sales/distribution side and people aren’t assholes, I’ll cover them as a brewery that makes beer in OC. I will continue to be opinionated and remain objective. If you don’t want to drink it or read about it, it’s a free country. I have promoted craft beer for almost five years on this site and my mission statement is just that. Did I flip flop? I suppose so. Sorry about that.

Beer Travels with Three Frenchs – Chicago – 5 Rabbit Cerveceria

Guest writer Robert French gives tips on beer travels and a review of a Chicago’s 5 Rabbit Cerveceria. GNAG4047

Beercations (I cringe a little at the title) don’t need to be whole vacation. Adding a day to a trip is perfect.  While at a wedding in Chicago, what’s one more day? With a rental car and an understanding wife, we had great food, met nice people, and managed to hit five breweries. Success! 

A key in my beer travels is having a partner, in my case my wife Julie.  She (who doesn’t drink beer), not only helps, but inspires much of the planning. This is a wonderful thing. Whatever you do, make sure you get to and from your stops safely. Be nice to the driver.

beercastionWhere to go? Everywhere. Having one or two “must” stops is important. Checking when they are open is critical.  Once you hit the ground, start talking to locals. This is a perfect way to find one of those new spots that has yet to make it on your radar. Plus most locals are excited to share their city.

When you set out on your travels, your expectations can play a huge part in the experience. Knowing exactly what to expect vs. being 100% surprised…what is your preference? I’ve been disappointed by some of the breweries I love the most and fell in love with breweries I had never heard of.

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5 Rabbit Cerveceria

Here’s what I knew about 5 Rabbit before my visit.

  1. Latin inspired brewery: Not quite sure what this really means to me, but hey.
  2. Not a hop forward lineup: As a fan of the hop, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.
  3. Randy Mosher has a stake in the ownership: Cool-factor 100
  4. Not a fan of Donald Trump: (Read)5rabbit2

Their brewery is located in Bedford Park, Illinois in a grass lined commercial business park. Their building is nondescript. When you walk in, you’re greeted by a large warehouse brewery with ample room to grow. High ceilings and wide open.  You are also greeted by an extremely friendly tasting room staff. The tasting “room” area is in the warehouse and is delineated with wood barriers and decorations that let you know you’re in a right spot. I was taken aback by the size of their space, knowing that they were still on the smaller side, but i think they will be growing into it just fine.

The beer line-up of that day:

  • 5 Vulture Oaxacan
  • 5 Rabbit Golden Ale
  • Gringolandia Super Pils
  • 5 Grass Hoppy Ale
  • Yodo Con Leche
  • Lulo Galactico Telefantastico DIPA

5Rabbitbarrels (1)Great names and solid beers to back them up. A beer that really impressed me was Yodo Con Leche, a coffee infused double porter. These guys actually went to Costa Rica looking for the perfect bean to blend with this beer. Yodo has great coffee flavors without beating you over the head with the roast. Drinks very smooth and creamy, almost like a dessert coffee. So good, I had to bring a bottle home.

The Lulo Galactico Telefantastico juicy double IPA has great hop flavors without an over the top bitterness. This Galaxy hopped beer also incorporates Lulo, a fruit which I had no idea what is was. Lulo translates to “little orange”. in doing some research, people say the flavors can have elements of lime, lemon, pineapple and rhubarb. Not sure what flavors I got in the beer, but it was one of the most unique flavors I have ever had in a DIPA. I can totally see a hophead not thinking it was hoppy enough, but it crushes on overall flavor. I failed to bring on of these home. I must go back.

5rabbitbottle (1)I went on the $10 dollar tour (literally).  A pint of beer, a cool logo glass and a non-scripted tour with one of their brewers.  Well worth the time and money.   After the the tour I got a chance to speak to the Founder/CEO Andrés Araya for a few minutes. A quiet and unassuming guy that was very appreciative that I made the effort to visit his brewery.  If you want hear more from Andrés, he was on Good Beer Hunting podcast. Totally worth a listen.

courtesy 5 Rabbit facebook page

courtesy 5 Rabbit facebook page

I think you can figure out this brewery is one of my new favorites. With so many new breweries popping up, you need to ask, “what is this brewery bringing to show?” I’m very happy to say 5 Rabbit Cerveceria a unique and refreshing brewery that is not afraid to bring interesting and fascinating flavors to beer, while still not forgetting you’re drinking a beer.  Check this place out. 

Any tips for beercationing? Like 5 Rabbit Cerveceria? Any other must-try Chicaco breweries to check out? Leave a comment on facebook!

Follow Robert French on Twitter here!

Second Night Added for Epic BA Stout Beer Dinner

I once said that I would never give any love to an event that features an Anheuser Busch product. This is different as it also features TAPS Remy’s Pappy with an insane lineup of fall food prepared by five of OC’s best chefs. As the first night sold out in record speed, don’t snooze on calling in your reservation for the second night! (only $55++pp as well!)

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FIVE CHEFS, SIX COURSES, TWO RARE BEERS IN ONE NIGHT AT LILLIE’S Q

Second dinner added after immediate sell-out

 WHAT:

Join chef-founder of Lillie’s Q, Charlie McKenna, with chefs Tom Hope, Manny Gonzalez, Cory Rapp, and Kody Havener on their collaboration of a six course dinner featuring beers from TAPS and two rare offerings,Remy’s Pappy by TAPS and Gross Island Bourbon County Stout from Chicago.

WHEN:

Wednesday, October 21, 2015, 6:30 PM (Thursday 10/22 is sold out)

WHERE:

  • Lillie’s Q
  • 240 S. Brea Blvd. Brea Downtown
  • Reservations—limited space; call only:  714.482.2001

DETAILS:  

$55 per person plus tax & gratuity

MENU:

Five Chefs Fall Beer Dinner

  • Amuse Bouche
  • Cream con Chili
  • Pimiento Cheese Tasting
  • Pimiento Hush Puppies, Pimiento Cheese Biscuit & Pimiento Cheese Pork Rind
  • Chef Charlie McKenna – Founder, Lillie’s Q
  • 2nd Course
  • “Oaked” Hog Tied Ale
  • Loch Etive Scottish Steelhead Crudo
  • Collards, Field Peas, Smoked Ham Hock & Benne Seed
  • Chef Charlie McKenna – Founder, Lillie’s Q
  •  3rd Course
  • Vanilla Pumpkin Ale on Nitro
  • Southern Lyonnaise Salad
  • Smoked Tasso Ham, Roasted Pumpkin Purée, Crispy Egg,
  • Fall Spiced Mustard Caviar, Creole Sherry Vinaigrette
  • Chef Cory Rapp – The Catch Restaurant
  •  4th Course
  • Phat Albert Imperial IPA – Double Dry Hopped
  • Southern Fried Quail
  • Tupelo Honey Glaze, Smoked Blue Cambozola Dandelion Slaw, Garden Pickled Vegetables
  • Chef Manny Gonzalez – TAPS Fish House & Brewery, Brea
  •  5th Course
  • Gross Island Bourbon County Stout
  • Peach Wood Smoked Pork Osso Buco
  • Roasted Butternut Squash Grits, Crisp Root Vegetables, Stout Reduction
  • Chef Kody Havener – Lillie’s Q, Brea
  •  6th Course
  • Remy’s Pappy
  • Sticky Toffee Pudding
  • Fig Caramel, Abuelita Chocolate Mousse, Cocoa Nibs
  • Chef Tom Hope – Culinary Director, Manzella Restaurant Group

Just a Fella That Builds Breweries: Jim Mellem of The Bruery

Piece originally appeared in the Sept. 2015 BeerPaperLA.

Ten weeks ago, Jim Mellem walked through The Bruery’s doors. A/C blowing his almost Lyle Lovett-like hair to the side, he punched the clock on a new job with a million things to do. Ten weeks later, the old brewhouse is out, a shiny-new GEA system is installed, and the Bruery Terreux sits a pellicle away from going full force. Leaving a 12-year position at one of America’s most-respected breweries to work in Orange County couldn’t have been easy. I got a chance to check in with him late August and chat about his transition.

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Sharing Black Tuesday 2015 out of the brite tank, Jim Mellem

Everyone always remembers their first Bruery beer, what was yours? Tradewinds Tripel. Beautiful beer.

How different are things at The Bruery compared to Sierra Nevada?

The resources here are a little bit different, in a lot of ways it’s a lot more fun. We get to roll up our sleeves. Patrick is really big on the people aspect of brewing, which is nice.  It’s a lot more manual at the Bruery. One similarity is the pilot system at Sierra Nevada is similar to our production brewhouse. At Sierra, it’s more for fun, over here, it’s what pays the bills.

How much are you going to miss dry hopping?

I was in charge of the cellar in Chico and that was like 60% of my job! I’d be organizing torpedos, dry hops, and managing the guys. I can safely move on from brewing IPA’s in my life. I love drinking them though. Now I’m getting more into ‘what kind of spices can we add to the whirlpool’. With our recent collab with Jester King, I had to organize the guys to get zest off of 400 pounds of limes; every week is something totally different.

With the unique operational requirements behind some of The Bruery’s beers, are there any techniques you’ve changed or plan on changing?

With Autumn Maple, we’ve moved to yam purée instead of hand processing them. We also bought a pump to add them directly into the kettle (ed: they previously used a forklift).  Anyway, it’s a lot easier than hand-roasting yams.  We still split vanilla beans individually and have to get the ingredients sack together for whirlpool, so it’s still a major operation in some respects.

You mentioned you came from the cellar side of things at Sierra Nevada, is there any knowledge to impart coming from years of bottle/can conditioning Pale Ale and other beers?

Sierra is probably one of the few breweries in the world that has the ability to take beer that’s 32 degrees and warm it back up to 60 at packaging/filtration. At Terreux, we’re pushing everything to be bottle conditioned as we find that it adds that je ne sais quoi. Right now, we take the bottles and stick them in a warm warehouse for a month plus, but if you can give that a bit of a jump start by getting the beer warm, then bottling, we’d be ahead of the game.  The question is how can we do that from an energy standpoint, using existing equipment and not trying to sink the Bismarck in cost.

Maybe convert the Jazzersize building a few doors down into a Bikram Yoga/Bottle Conditioning room?

I definitely have some cool ideas…it’s really interesting at Sierra though, as we will bottle condition with house yeast, with Cal Ale yeast, and we’d also do it with Brett. So there’s a lot more variation on bottle conditioning speed, what types of esters you’re producing, and what you’re trying to get in the bottle. It might be something that will help mop up the rougher flavors after barrel aging, diacetyl, making sure you’re getting a really great product out to the consumer, so we’re definitely trying to employ some of these options. Terreux is still very much a work in progress, in regards to how we’re going to finish those beers.

Sierra Nevada is built with efficiency and environment in mind. Will you be looking into any projects to do the same at the Bruery?

I think it’s a greater awareness, but the new brewhouse offers some benefit. The mash tun has rakes now, so we can get more water out which means we’re sparging less and using less water per barrel. We want to have a knowledge of how to count and quantify things first, then we can figure out how to improve. We’ve reset the bar with the new brewhouse. We’ll have to get smarter with transporting wort between buildings. We’ve also done some things different how we clean the bottle filler to save water. We’re doing a lot of risky beers here, and with that, there’s always going to be a lot more water use because you’re always going to have to clean, then clean again, and again.

Is manpower shared between Terreux and Bruery?

It’s really interesting. There’s two different teams within the different wort stream. Myself and Andrew Bell are the only two guys that bounce back and forth between locations. We do have pilot fermenters over there, so we’ll funk stuff up and see how it goes. It’s cool that it gives people more ownership of the projects.

The split brewhouse with The Bruery and Terreux was meant to primarily address quality concerns, is there anything else The Bruery is doing to enhance beer quality?

We have a nice quality department here. For a brewery of this size to have three people that are 100% devoted to quality is pretty damned good. Not too many breweries of this size can say that. Our next frontier will be dialing in package quality.

Were you ever part of the Ovila Belgian-style beers Sierra Nevada brewed, and if so, did it drive some of your interest down here?

It’s weird, when I interviewed, I asked, “you’re a Belgian-style brewery right?”, and they were like…nah, no not really…we sort of identify with that; but we more identify with the individuality of that. That’s ultimately what drove me to be here. I worked on the first five Ovilas; that was cool because we got to figure out what yeast strains to use and how to bottle condition. It was still very experimental at such a large phase. I think what really drove me here was that I have always been a fan of The Bruery’s beers, and being impressed that something this small can produce beers this high in quality, keep it interesting and keep it exciting. They take huge risks, which I kind of like.

Do you appreciate any other local breweries?

I go to Noble Ale Works a lot. I describe them more as my neighborhood pub. You look at the stuff they’re doing with hops with the single hop variety beers. It’s great! I can go there and get an idea of what 100% Mosaic tastes like. I’m like, thanks man, I appreciate that.

SN does two beers in open fermenters: Kellerweiss and Bigfoot. Would you ever try to convince Patrick to install something like that?

The cool thing about this place is nothing is off the table. If you look at the beers they’ve made over the years, truly nothing is off the table. We’re looking at a 2017 expansion project. I know with Wicked Weed, they’ve installed a nice 30 or 60 barrel open fermenter. The bigger question is ‘what are you getting off of it?’ You’re getting a nice non-pressurized fermentation. For the Kellerweiss yeast, I can definitely say it does make a difference. For Bigfoot, do you really pick up that up in the ester profile?  Maybe not so much. As long as I don’t have to clean it, I’d be happy installing one. I actually twisted my knee getting in and out of one, so my days getting in and out of open fermenters might be a job for the younger guys.

How is Orange County treating you thus far?

I still get lost going to the grocery store! Haha! I’m still GPS dependent getting around here.

Chico’s beer scene is run by Sierra Nevada. Asheville not so much. What was it like for SN to move into a thriving beer community?

It’s really weird, one gripe about Chico was trying to hire people, there’s no big beer culture there. Living in Asheville was that we have people making different beers down the road and so we’d be able to try new beers and be able to chat with the brewers, asking how they made it, then we’d get ideas of our own, and it would foster and grow.  And for me, seeing what Wicked Weed was doing, I was like, why don’t I go work for a brewery that does this? The cool thing is about those guys is, people see what they’re doing and think, “I should be raising the bar too.” There’s this step-ladder affect.

 

South County IPA + OC Brew Ha Ha!

Artifex Brewing Co, Pizza Port and Left Coast Brewing Co. set to release South County IPA for the Brew Ha Ha! It’ll be on at the fest lakeside and will hit store shelves soon. Tickets and event info for Brew Ha Ha are here!