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.

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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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.

x

 

Valiant Goes Big With California Quad IPA

Upon one sip of Valiant Brewing’s Quad IPA Alpha Overdrive, I’m pretty sure I reached a higher level of cosmic consciousness. Incense quickly filled the room, a third eye opened up inside my glass and I’m pretty sure brewer/owner Brian Schroepfer started to charm a cobra out of a mash tun with a pungi flute.

A few more sips and it hits me…this beer is an opium den in a glass.

Alpha Overdrive in the middle compared to the second runnings SIPA on the left and Alpha Drive on the right.

Alpha Overdrive in the middle compared to the second runnings SIPA on the left and Alpha Drive DIPA on the right.

Hovering in the lotus pose at least two inches over a dusty rug, my glass is filled with the potent 14.2% ABV beer. My first thought with such a beverage is disproving it instead of enjoying it. Is it a gimmick? After a few more sips of this chest-warming beer, I keep going back for more.

IMG_6084The first shock is the mouthfeel. It’s full, yet dry. Finishing at a low 1.015 FG, the beastly yeast had to travel through the valley of darkness from 1.137 to reach pure zen. Sure the alcohol is there, but it’s not fusel. Each addictive sip my chakras glowing wildly; Alpha Overdrive is a heating pad for my soul.

It’s not a hop bomb either. Balanced nicely, most of my nose is filled with caramelized malts from a five-hour boil. Some peach, melon, citrus zest and a bit of freshly-licked cherry Tootsie Pop make up its complex flavors. As it warms, layers unfold. The only question my mind after drinking this big beer: how many licks does it take to get to the center of this Tootsie Pop? Stop in to find out!

Official release of Alpha Overdrive is Friday 6/27 at Valiant Brewing’s brewery and taproom. First 30 guests get to fill a 32oz growler! Draft only release. / www.valiantbrewing.com 

Pub Night at the Clay Oven

Duck Samosas

Duck Samosas/Uinta Hop Nosh IPA

I can’t say that I’ve ever seen an IPA at any Indian restaurant until tonight. The name aside, a nice fresh India Pale Ale works wonders with the cuisine; opening one’s palate, complimenting the creamy spiced food, and accentuating the heat. Vice versa, the food elevates the style by drawing some tropical-piney notes from the hops and some of the sweetness of the malt.

Behind the creaking door at Irvine’s Clay Oven Indian Cuisine, beer is winning. One of my predictions of 2014 was that local craft beer would soon start appearing in high end restaurants to compliment their line up of chef driven menus. Tonight? IPA’s, Belgian, German and local beers are being poured next to a custom menu.

Allagash's Hallie Beaune gets involved with a beer

Beer Chick and Allagash’s Hallie Beaune gets involved with a beer description

The Clay Oven is hosting ‘Pub Night’, which consists of small plate Bombay-style street food paired with five beer distributor reps pouring their best. I snap a few shots and dig into my first bite: duck samosas (above) topped with a fruity/earthy tamarind mole. Uinta’s Hop Nosh IPA gets the nod to wash down the mellow cumin flecked bite, stoking the tamarind sauce’s sweetness.

Chef Geeta Bansal

Chef Geeta Bansal

For over 25 years, Chef Geeta, Husband Praveen (and son Tarun) have been running around the matchbox-sized restaurant with warm smiles, keeping guests happy. I get the sense they love what they do and it shows through with not only the longevity of the eatery, but in the high quality of the food.

Being familiar with the beer offerings, I’m more excited to adventure into the heart of Tandoori cooking. Some menu items unfamiliar, yet approachable. Ordering the ‘Airbags’ dish, for example…I can’t say I’ve ever seen one much less eaten it. “Try it with the sour beer and pour it inside before you bite” says Chef Geeta. I feel like a kid again, scooping in the spiced veggie puree into a pinkie-punched hole, then pouring in some Petrus Aged Red into the thin crispy sack of deliciousness. “I can see why it’s called an airbag” I say as the flavors punch me in the face, saving me from certain hunger death.

Filling the Airbag with sour beer

Filling the Airbag with sour beer

Other wild dishes like Tandoor roasted bone marrow have us drooling for more. Intense garlic and fatty marrow melts like butter. Beers like Piraat Pale Ale and Allagash Tripel do their best to clean up the rich bite and have me licking the bone clean.I can’t say I’ve ever eaten goat, but it ended being my favorite of the night. Chucky bites sitting on a yogurt salad topped puffy pita? So perfectly foreign yet familiar, tasting somewhat like a beefy lamb, moderately spiced and delicious.

My heart and cheeks warm from the afterglow of the Clay Oven, I can’t help but dream about coming back. The Clay Oven is near Irvine Valley College on Jeffrey/Irvine Center Drive.

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Duck Samosas – Tandoor-roasted Mary’s Organic Duck Breast in cumin-flecked pastry, dash of tamarind mole

Bread Pakoras – Famous Indian Snack, minced lamb sandwich, chickpea-batter fried

Lamb-Stuffed Naan – Spicy lamb baked into a fresh naan bread

Airbags – pastry cups veggie stuff paired with sour beer

Mediterranean Naan – Feta cheese baked into a fresh naan bread

Tandoor-Roasted Bone Marrow with breat and accoutrements

Eggplant Pakoras – Ma-Zu eggplant fritters, batter-fried, pomegranate emulsion

Braised Goat Bites – Puffy pita topped with slow-braised goat and yogurt salad

Blind Taste: Easside vs Wesside Saison Shakedown

P1060991When a preview bottle of Stone Brewing Co’s Saison is sitting on my porch while carrying a preview bottle of Allagash Brewing Co’s Saison from the car…I knew what I had to do: dig through my old CD pack and bump some old West Coast Gansta RAP…that’s right, SUCKAS! Ice Cube’s ‘Today Was A Good Day’ bumpin’ and the 40’s craft beers in the fridge, it’s time to do an Easside vs Wesside Saison Shakedown. BLIND STYLE.

Almost identical in name, release dates (now), ABV (~6%), IBU (~43), this Rialto born and bred beer blogger is armed and ready, beers chilled and sweaty; which Saison came to drop bombs? This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo*.

My old lady pours them into the same glassware, one with a SN logo and one with a FW logo. Both glasses freshly rinsed and beer poured at 43 degrees. My initial suspicion just on looks alone is a dead giveaway on who is who. “Would Allagash release a caramel colored Saison?” I chuckle pointing at beer #1. My wife walks away as I jot down notes on my kid’s doodle pad.

Visual/Aroma

Beer 1: Orange/caramel tint and clear as a bell. Aromas tinge on grassyness, slightly cheesy, peppery, salty, floral, herbal.

lemonheadsBeer 2: Light hay colored and cloudy, this beer smells like a fresh box of Lemonheads, citrus (lemon, orange) and a little hint of soap and cotton candy. Smells like spring.

(Calling it on the color/clearness alone, I think beer 1 is Stone.)

Taste/Mouthfeel/Finish

Beer 1: First drink is surprisingly tart, subsequent drinks not so much. Herbal notes poke through with rosemary, jasmine and wet hay. It’s a little bit on the chewy side for a Saison, then WHOA…the tip of my tongue numbs with a stripping bitterness that screams “Saisons are fizzy and yellow, that is why this beer is orange!”. The finish bites the tip of my tongue with bitterness, washing away the potential for flavors to develop. Ouch. There’s also a scoville pepper heat my wife detects, I am heat tolerant to the point of not detecting it, but it’s worth noting.

Beer 2: Flavors of fluffy light grain followed by pleasant yeast esters rule this beer. Fermentation induced fruit, pepper, citrus are blanketed with a kiss of barnyard. It’s a little bit thinner and dryer than beer 1. The finish cleans up nicely, lending itself to a nice refreshing sessionable beer. The hop is different for the style as well; Cascade, Bravo and Tettnang are actually surprisingly good in this beer and round out the bitterness/flavor nicely.

Now, before I go on, I want to state something about Saison’s in general. It’s such a broad term of a beer style that is interpreted thousands of different ways. If we were drinking real Saisons, we’d be working out in a field getting our gallon 3% beer ration to keep from getting dysentery from unpotable farm water. I’m stating the obvious based on my perceived bitterness: Beer 1 is clearly Stone’s Saison. My wife nods.

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Beer 1 = Stone, Beer 2 = Allagash. Nailed it.

I can see why arrogant bastards would prefer the Stone interpretation with its unabashed bitter bite and Stone Organic Farms picked goodies tossed in. I just think it’s a little too much for what I prefer of the style. I tend to reach for a dry, grainy, slightly funky beer. In the end, I want my Saison to compliment my food, not be decorated in it. I’d be interested in trying it next to Saison Du Buff and my other fave of 2014, Matt’s Burning Rosids Imperial Saison.

Allagash on the other hand has a handful of Belgian style ales. The addition of Saison to their line up seems like a natural fit. It’s tamed, balanced and sessionable.

Sorry West Side, Biggy Smalls wins this rap battle.

*sucka mc’d some lyrics from emenem’s Lose Yourself

Firkfest 2014 Press Roundup + What’s in the Pipe

What the press is saying about Firkfest 2014

credit Erika Bolden - LA Weekly

credit Erika Bolden – LA Weekly

What’s in the pipe, Nagel? 

After I catch up on my insane backlog of stuff to write about, I’ll write about Firkfest. In the next week, look for: A Victor Novak piece on BeerPaperLA, a Hopscotch/Valiant Beer dinner and a super fun night at a Beer vs. Wine event at the Surf & Sand, Laguna Beach w/ Dr. Bill Sysak.

PROST.

No Frills Blog Post for a No Frills Beer Festival | The Bruery Barrel Aged Beer Party

Hi, I'm Greg from OCBeerBlog, can I take your photo?

Hi, I’m Greg from OCBeerBlog, can I take your photo?

Mid November 2013, The Bruery Reserve Society members were treated to a dip into fifty or so barrel aged beers on a very Simpsonesque cloudy day on Center Street Promenade in Anaheim. Kind of a no-frills tentless beer festival with simple folding tables and a map/beer list. What else does one need? The event was put on by a local non-profit that supports growing the arts, Inspire Artistic Minds (same people that brought us Nepenthia Beer Garden earlier 2013). I puckered up to sours all day with the main goal to remain upright and chat with beautiful people that love great beer.

These guys should start a band and use this for the album cover.

These guys should start a band and use this for the album cover.

Highlights for me: the four Sour in the Rye variants; kumquat, peach, SITR 2011 and beach plum being my favorite with a cosmo hue and bright fruity effervesces. The Wanderer 2011 and 2013 were also stellar, the main difference being the punch of flavor in 2013, whereas 2011’s punch was expanded into a longer attenuated flavor. Overall the event had almost 800 checkins on Untappd as most people filled in beers they’ve missed over the years. An insane amount of cask and boozy beers insured glassware was dropped and shattered at regular intervals.

Hopscotch brought sous vide tri-tip. On a street. At a beerfest.

Hopscotch brought sous vide tri-tip. On a street. At a beerfest.

Food was catered by Hopscotch consisting of sous vide tri tip that was briefly seared and allowed to cook in its own inescapable juices at perfect temp. The cauliflower side dish and vegie option rocked the house with layers of umami and sweet. With the big beers, people needed an extra bite or two of something and were even offering money for extra food. This is the first time I’ve ever seen a pizza delivery to a beer festival! As with Nepenthia, bathrooms were a concern. I love you Bobby Navarro, but people need to eat and pee inside a beer festival. Add double what you think next time 🙂 I was cool because I chowed my traditional Veggie Works burrito from Del Taco as I ceremoniously do before every beer festival.

What 5oz pours of Grey Monday will do to people

What 5oz pours of Grey Monday will do to people

Overall, I loved the no-frills atmosphere. I think in the future the standard huge beer festival idea will be widdled down into specialty festivals like this (cough cough Firkfest) catering to a tighter focus of the craft beer world. What do you think? Let me know in the comments or on social media! Not a Reserve Society member? I think a few spots are left for 2014, don’t miss out on great parties like this!

Anyone with a DEVO patch is okay in my book.

Anyone with a DEVO patch is okay in my book.

Cambria and Jenny get their grub on and sell stuff

Cambria and Jenny get their grub on and sell stuff

 

Showing people how my camera works. Yes, it's film.

Showing people how my camera works. Yes, it’s film.

 

Various pours of Coton

Various pours of Coton

 

Matt Olesh, Rob from BeerPaperLA and Katey

Matt Olesh, Rob from BeerPaperLA and Katey

 

Note to self, waste level picks are always a bad idea.

Note to self, waste level picks are always a bad idea.

 

Katelyn and Evelyn demanded a retake

Katelyn and Evelyn demanded a retake

 

Jeff Hood shows off his snappy jacket.

Jeff Hood shows off his snappy jacket.

 

Anaheim's newest brewery set to open late 2013, Bottle Logic Brewing

Anaheim’s newest brewery set to open late 2013, Bottle Logic Brewing