Darkstar Dinner Done Right

gnag3876It’s tough to write about beer dinners as the numbers show: people don’t like to read about them. As you’ve probably already nodded off to sleep, I’ll get to the nitty-gritty. The 2016 Darkstar November beer dinner was probably one of the best beer dinners I’ve been to. Why? It was relaxed. It was paced. It had hospitality. It didn’t have a billion calories. There wasn’t a nasty slab of pork belly. The dishes were portioned well. The beer pairings actually worked. It wasn’t overly gluttonous. It seems like Bottle Logic is getting incredibly comfortable pulling these dinners off. Crazy, huh?

The plates, for your scrolling pleasure…

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Course one: Foie Gras, pickled mustard seeds, rhubarb, strawberry paired with Berlinier Equation with strawberry and rhubarb. Although pretty, mustard and foie was pretty funky, but a great place to start.

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Course two: Autumn Salad – seasonal veggies, ricotta solata, brown butter vinaigrette paired with Dark Harvest. The beer had a nice vintage root beer vibe that filled in the flavor gaps of the seasonal salad. Quite beautiful and a nice step in the dinner progression. Lovely fall colors as well.

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The best thing ever plated in an Anaheim alley, course three.

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Course three is when the tables got loud cutting into little Gnudi balls. Butternut squash puree was licked out of bowls. Sour Prince, the two-year-old experiment finally paid off. It tasted vinous, woody, tart, finished, polished. I’m really looking forward to A) more sour beer from Bottle Logic and B) more food from chef Patrick. This pairing was incredible.

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Course four - light and fluffy red snapper plopped on squash with a groovy onion, potato and asparagus to floss with. Love this almost intermezzo main before the main. Although Tattered Prince paired well, we all yearned for something hoppy.

Course four – light and fluffy red snapper plopped on squash with a groovy onion, potato, and asparagus to floss with. Love this almost intermezzo main before the main. Although Tattered Prince paired well, we all yearned for something hoppy. IPA intermezzo?

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Five: The best thing I’ve ever had at a beer dinner. Braised lamb belly that had a mutton jerky vibe on a grits-based tamal and mole drizzle…holy hell. Inventive, layered, textured, colorful, and, oh yeah, paired well with Darkstar November 2016 that is easily the best year yet. Blown. Away.

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Cheers to the team!

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Dessert: Textures of Chocolate. Who knew persimmon would go well with chocolate and BBA stout?

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Jam the Radar, Mostra Darkstar, and Darkstar November 2016. Incredible! Jam the Radar should be called Pornstar November. Sees candies, booze, decadent.

Cismontane RSM Location Set to Become “Laguna Beach Beer Co. @RSM”

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img via facebook

I don’t normally copy/paste press releases, but this is a lot to take in. Basically, Cismontane is moving all production to Santa Ana. Cismontane’s RSM location will now be Laguna Beach Beer Company, with a kitchen.

November 2, 2016
PRESS RELEASE – For Immediate Distribution
Laguna Beach Beer Company to acquire Cismontane Brewing Company’s RSM Brewery! Orange County, CA

Laguna Beach Beer Company today announced an agreement to acquire Cismontane Brewing Company’s production facility and tasting room in Ranch Santa Margarita, CA. Laguna Beach Beer Company plans to expand the existing location to include a kitchen, additional seating and to rebrand the space as “Laguna Beach Beer Company @RSM ”, which will offer the Rancho Santa Margarita and surrounding Orange County communities a new destination to celebrate the joy of craft beer and great food.

Cismontane retains its brand name and trademark and will continue its planned growth at its own new brewing facility and tasting room in Santa Ana, CA. The transition to Laguna Beach Beer Company @RSM is expected over the next few months, following the transfer of applicable permits and licenses. The two companies will continue to cooperate in the coming months as Laguna Beach Beer Company ramps up its production in the RSM brewery. This agreement benefits both companies. The facility will provide Laguna Beach Beer Company with additional production capacity to support its planned brew pub in Laguna Beach (which is under development and scheduled to open in the spring of 2017). It will also provide a chance to introduce the brand and taste of Laguna Beach Beer Company to other communities in Orange County.

“The opportunity for Laguna Beach Beer Company to partner with Cismontane and to acquire a turnkey brewing facility that has room for expansion and is strategically located near our Laguna Beach brew pub location is rare and unique. We could not be happier about this transaction and partnering with Evan and Ross at Cismontane. We also look forward to becoming a part of, sharing our beers with, and serving the RSM community” stated Brent Reynard, Laguna Beach Beer Company’s co-founder and CEO.

As part of the transition Cismontane has started brewing Laguna Beach Beer Company’s beers in the RSM facility to enable them to open with a full-line up of their core beers as soon as the ABC license changes hands. “This transaction and transition is mutually beneficial and a good fit for both companies and we are fortunate to have found a flexible partner in Laguna Beach Beer Company, because once the brewery is taken over by Laguna Beach Beer Company, Cismontane will continue to brew its beers at the RSM brewery while we transition our operations to our new Santa Ana brewing facility” said Evan Weinberg, co-founder and CEO of Cismontane.

Patrons and beer enthusiasts will be able to sample beers from both Laguna Beach Beer Company and Cismontane at the RSM location. Even after Cismontane fully transfers its operations to its new Santa Ana facility, Laguna Beach Beer Company has indicated that it plans to continue offering some of the Cismontane beers on tap as it plans to offer select guest beers in the RSM tasting room. The terms of the transaction are confidential and will not be publicly disclosed. This is a mutually beneficial transaction and relationship and will foster a more robust and collaborative brewing culture in Orange County.

Provst! Cismontane Brewing Company and Laguna Beach Beer Company

About Laguna Beach Beer Company: Founded by homebrew enthusiasts and surfing buddies Brent Reynard and Michael Lombardo, Laguna Beach Beer Company began distributing its beers in 2014 to accounts throughout Orange County. The company is currently constructing a brew pub in Laguna Canyon, approximately a half mile from Laguna’s Main Beach. The Laguna Beach brew pub is targeted to open to in the spring of 2017 and will
produce specialty beers that evoke the Laguna Beach images of surf, sand, art and coastal landscape. Together the Laguna Canyon and RSM locations will provide Laguna Beach Beer Company with production capacity of over 6,000 barrels.
About Cismontane Brewing Company: Cismontane was founded in 2009 by longtime friends Evan Weinberg and Ross Stewart. Since the opening they have brewed over 150 styles of beers including pilsners, sours, ales of all kinds and barrel aged blends and boozy monsters. They have had the great fortune of getting their start in the beautiful mountain side town of Rancho Santa Margarita, CA. The natural wonders and unique culture of southern California have inspired many of the beers and events they have done. They are very much looking forward to continuing that path and expanding by adding a still into the production line in the next year!

New Brewery Alert: Stereo Brewing in Placentia

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As a writer, I draw a lot of parallels with beer and music. They’re both man-made art, analog, and evocative. Just as I can remember songs I listened to with friends twenty years ago; their beats, lyrics, and bass lines…I can remember beers I’ve had on camping trips decades ago. Tying these two brain-banks together is Stereo Brewing in Placentia.

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Opened by Rick Smets and Amanda Pearce, the couple met at a Dylan concert, freaked out over beers, now are knee deep in a Premier stainless steel jug band brewhouse that makes hop beats over malt basslines.

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The tasting room is an aquarium of music with spinning vinyl and music posters throughout. The beer, on soft opening, was clean and full of personality. Coming from Firestone and Left Coast, Rick has his eye on quality first, opting to dump the first batch of IPA. Instead, hop heads will swoon over the Robot hoppy red. Dancing like a robot listening to Kraftwerk, I thought Stereo’s Blonde on Blonde Kolsch was the best beer on the playlist. So much so, I took a crowler of it home, just to be sure.

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Hazy Jane Ginger Wheat

Stereo Brewing opens Saturday 10/15/16, check them out! www.stereobrewing.com

Evan Weinberg of Cismontane Back in the Brew Saddle, Writes Guest Post, Releases Small Beers

Small Beers Brewing from Cismontane

By Evan Weinberg

View More: http://beerandbaking.pass.us/bottlelogic

Co-Owners of Cismontane, Ross Stewart and Evan Weinberg (photo – Nagel)

It’s not often we do something different as brewers these days. With so many brands and everyone trying to push the envelope of sour, hoppy, high gravity, barrel aged, cloudy and whatever else captures the attention of the consumer, it’s hard to keep up. Shit, it’s hard to care. This may be an artifact of us being a “transitional” brewery in size and tenure.  

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We aren’t the new kid on the block, we aren’t rich, we don’t have branding, a beer or a tasting room that blown up on the beer scene. This makes us both vulnerable and a bit more stable at the same time. Strange but true. For instance: All the new brands will chip away at our handles because everyone always wants the shiny new toy on tap. We aren’t quite big enough to enjoy volume insulation by having permanent handles, inexpensive packaged beer to keep volume, and multiple sales reps on the ground to keep our foot in the door of accounts with constantly changing lineups. On the other hand we aren’t doing this from scratch, we have accounts that do support us no matter what, and have since the beginning, some chain account merchandised through our distribution partners, and enough volume to keep the lights on. This along with a host of other issues like lacking economies of scale and having a wholesale to retail ratio that is skewed to the much lower margin is what makes us what I like to think of as “transitional” small brewery. We are on the larger end of the “long tail” of the beer world. This is the plight of the small brewer. We know it better than most.

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This is part of what inspired this brewing project. The other part of that was having to brew again, A LOT. One of our brewers was hired away from the company so I had to step into the brew house again. It wasn’t a ton of brewing but, I had the mash paddle back in hand. It felt good. Nothing like climbing in a Mash Tun at 120 degrees and 100% humidity to remind you what you like about this job. We were cranking our core beers, some seasonal, and a few specialties here and there. Then came the next phase in my brewing schedule. It was brewing D-day. By that I mean “Dad day”, our head brewer, Scott Holden, had a new baby. This is the point when I embarked on a three week brewing marathon that resulted in creating what I like to call Small Beers Brewing.

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A bit on Small Beers: Small beers are a style that most people don’t know about. This is because most brewers just don’t make them. It can be a fair amount of extra work and unfamiliar territory. Generally, made from the second runnings of a very strong beer’s mash. Small beers typically end up lower alcohol and are traditionally simple flavor-wise. To clarify, the runnings are the liquid that comes off the grain (or grist or mash – depending what term makes sense to you) into the kettle that will be boiled to make a beer. The second runnings are the liquid leftover in the mash once you get what’s needed for the beer you were intending to brew. If that beer is very strong the second running can be strong enough to make a beer with an ABV anywhere between 3% – 5% pretty easily. I find that we get about 2/3 of the total volume of the primary with the seconds. I know what you are thinking, “No one wants to drink a 3% beer in this market. Didn’t you read your first paragraph?” Yes, your average consumer wants bigger, badder and funkier but, I (and many beer vets I know) want to drink 3% and 4% beers! We are burned out on over hyped and pallet smashing whatever’s. This doesn’t mean we aren’t thirsty as the next guy! When I have a beer after a hot and exhausting brew shift, I drink that fist beer in about 30 seconds!

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Speaking of hot and exhausting, let’s get back to the brewing marathon… our brewery is set up as a manual brewing beast. Every bag of grain is lifted multiple times on a brew day. When you brew a beer that has 1,000 pounds of grain you lift it at least 2 times not including taking it out of the mash tun. If you brew a double shift it turns into about 4,000 pounds of lifting, two hot-ass grain outs, 14–16 hours on your feet, a steamy sauna like kettle scrub, and ice cold beer at the finish line! Oh, and if you are doing it again the next day you have to mill all that grain so pick up every bag 2 more times! Two doubles back to back and you are lifting 8,000lbs!

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To add insult to injury, when we brew Double IPA or Imperial Stout the amount of grain is the max we can use in the brewhouse and for double IPA you have to brew an extra batch to get the volume up. Not cool! That’s when I looked at the schedule and there it was, 30 barrels of Imperial Stout and 45 barrels of DIPA. Shit.

I got wise…. by brewing small a beer I could turn my 14 hour day into a 12 hour day, brew almost as much beer (Small beers have less volume) and only mash in once! Not to mention I get 2 different beers out of each mash!

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Keep in mind this didn’t exactly make my work load lighter, it added 45 bbls to the production schedule and about 2 full shifts of labor. What it did was spread the heavy lifting out, add volume with no new grain or water, give me a chance to have some fun making beers other brewers pour down the drain (as do we most of the time) and use my equipment in ways I never get to use it. For me this is what it is all about! Creativity with the brewing process.

The first beer I made was Hop Dumpster. This is a 1400lbs grist monster of a brew day. The Small beer, which on the brew sheet is called “Small Dump”, is blond as can be, about 10bbls in volume was going to come in around 4.8% ABV! I decide it would be best to dry hop it to the beeeeeJesus with Mosaic and Simcoe! That would hold true to the fact that it came from a DIPA. For the final name… Hoppy Seconds. Ya, it’s crass, so what, we aren’t the first to use it. Also, that ties the name in with Hop Dumpster and the fact that it is in fact brewed from the second running, it’s perfect. So take your prissy, my turds smell like roses attitude and have a boring ass life with no sense of humor. (Thanks to Jordan Smith the originator of Hop Dumpster for being gross, and for me in allowing him to use company money to tap into his lowest self, XOXO). Boom, 3 days and 70 barrels later. I felt alive again.

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Next beer(s). Black’s Dawn Imperial Oatmeal Stout with Coffee on Nitro. It’s a mouthful of a name and at 8.5% the same when you drink it! Love this beer. The grain bill isn’t quite as brutal as the Dumpster but still a significant deal more work that a 5%er. The second running was about 9bbls and the finished beer about 3.7% ABV. The color and aroma were the most interesting factor of this beer. Black’s is, well, black. The small beer was a dark brown, almost black but has an incredible clarity. The roasted notes on the nose are brilliant and very unique for a beer of this gravity and color. I know this will not be for everyone but I really love the complexity and depth. No point in adding anything to this puppy. Now what to call it…. No coffee, no nitro, and it’s not black… hmmmm… Side of Toast! Black’s is a coffee beer dedicated to early morning surfs at Black’s Beach in La Jolla, who does’t want a side of toast with their coffee?! 50 more barrels and done!

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By the end of week three I was pretty fried, my last brew day was a Saturday if I remember correctly. I had another event that Sunday and then Scott called, “Dude, I have to come back to work. I’m going nuts”. Thank god I thought, and proceeded to sleep for three days.

I hope you enjoyed the story. Now come one down and enjoy the beers! We will be tapping them both this weekend at both tasting rooms.

Official Release: 10/15/2016 this Saturday at opening!

http://www.cismontanebrewing.com/home/

 

Anaheim’s Newest Fortress of Solitude: UNSUNG BREWING

 

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Buzzman, in a slightly tapered becker glass during the soft opening.

January 2014 I wrote a blog on how Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait wanted to create “Brew City, USA”, a quick piece with fun facts like “San Diego has 70+ breweries.” Wow! Time has flown in just two years.

GNAG2725Shortly thereafter, a man named Michael Crea from Ohio was looking to start a brewery on the west coast. He saw the blog, then reached out to Anaheim for possible locations. Unfortunately, he quickly learned his dream name “Hero Brewing” wouldn’t be possible out here, and he had to re-design things from the ground up.

GNAG2724Fast forward two and half years, Unsung Brewing is now a thing…two short blocks from my house in the Anaheim Colony Historic District, in the heart of the city’s burgeoning foodie culture across from the Packing District.

 

Unsung’s branding is centered around a made-up comic book universe, where each beer is represented by a character, and even has a great side story. Beer styles are even being mutated; Buzzman, an American Mutant Ale, for example is a crushable lawnmower beer. Anthia, their dry and hoppy IPA, has been gushed about in other blog posts. The branding is incredible, the beer, even for a new brewery, is crushably clean, well rounded, and full of flavor.

Cheers to Mayor Tait on helping to bring in great small businesses like Unsung, as they create great spaces for the community to enjoy over a delicious beer!

GNAG2712Parking tip from a local: Set your GPS to 42nd Street, Anaheim 92805 and park across Broadway from Umami Burger.

Grand Opening is Friday, August 5! See you there! 

Address: 500 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim 92805

www.unsungbrewing.com

“You Just Got DoorDashed…With Beer!” (+promo code)

Surely I’m not the only beer geek that gets anxiety about what to bring to a party. Bring something old school and there’s a chance it’ll be a cooler-turd. Bring something too fancy? There’s a chance it will be handed off as a hostess gift and not cracked at all. This all changed when I saw Doordash now delivers beer.

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One minute I’m using an app, 39 minutes later this arrives.

Now, I can show up empty handed, do some recon, then phone-ninja some sweet-sweaty goods, rip my shirt off, flick my hair back, then jump into a karate stance, yelling “you all just got Door Dashed by the Nagel!” Then I might crack a brewery-fresh hand-delivered growler and chug a few gulps, then pour some out on the lawn for my pep-pep, then pour some for your lady, because she probably can’t one-hand pour a growler. She’ll wink, and I’ll…OMG what? I was totally daydreaming there for a bit. Sorry about that.

But yeah, this Door Dash beer delivery thing is totally real, I just pinched myself, and yes, the app is still on my phone, I click on ‘alcohol’, chose one of four breweries in my local area, chose what you want to drink, agreed that I’m over 21, then paid. OMG whoops, I just ordered some beer!

My first order I was totally skeptical. I thought the beer is going to arrive warm, out of date, and just a tad bit spendy. But listen up, I spent about the same as I would with gas, time, and actual beer cost! Note that some breweries don’t charge for growler glass, which washes out the delivery fee. You also must tip, which adds a few bucks, but hell, I’d kick down a few bills to have someone show up poolside with 64oz of fresh local beer.

The delivery time said 51 minutes. My order: two growlers and a six pack from Bootlegger’s Brewery, a scant 2.5 miles away, on the Sunday before July 4. Thirty-nine minutes later, the doorbell rang. The dogs barked. and a smiley delivery dude was at the door wielding a box, full of sweaty brown glass. The six-pack date: 12 days old. The growlers, poured fresh and tags filled out by hand.

Color me impressed. Now I keep thinking of ways to save time by using Door Dash. Hit the gym and order beer on my way home? Sit in the jacuzzi and order more beer while I’m on my last? Doing it. Ordering brewery-fresh beer while eyeballing my grocery store’s abysmal selection? Yep.

For a limited time, use doordash.com or the app and use promotional code “OCBEER” to take $7 off of orders $20 or more for a limited time. Get a burger, pizza, or even Indian food while you’re at it, when it arrives, be sure and pop in the karate stance and say, “you just got doordashed!” to your baby’s mama, or beer-bellied friends.

Sponsored post. Thanks Door Dash for including local beer in OC!  

 

Logical Menu Programming | FO Beer Dinner 2016

Tripping over my cat at 12:05 A.M. with two bags of glassware and four bottles of Fundamental Observation wasn’t the burglar-like entrance I had hoped, especially with a belly full of six courses of food and all the beers. The dogs came out to investigate the situation, one growling and kicking her back legs like a bull. The other, sniffs my leg and wags, obviously knowing what kind of shenanigans I had just endured. If this dog were human, she would be a foodie.

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Cooking in an alley, alley, alley – Patrick Whittaker, our chef of the evening.

Three hours prior, we were ushered into the back brewery of Bottle Logic Brewing. Big ass fan blowing DDB’s man-musk out of the room from the first seating, I’m guided to my table, delighted to see who I’m sitting next to: chef Cody Storts, Brandon Buckner (of Bottle Logic), main squeeze Christina, and Sean and Jessica McNew. A rowdy table, no doubt. I can ask chef questions about the food, and hit Brandon up about the beers.

You, light up my life, you give me hope...

You, light up my life, you give me hope… Haze Flux Vermont Style DIPA

Having been to the Darkstar November beer dinner earlier this year, I knew what chef Patrick Whittaker and the Bottle Logic team were capable of. What’s truly impressive is a brewery that has skilled staff to pull this thing off. There’s a million ways a dinner like this could go awry, especially if not done with regularity. The first improvement is Bottle Logic borrowed a food truck to use as a kitchen instead of cooking in the cramped brewery.

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Course one: Hamachi

My favorite moments of the night were many, but to name a few, the stone fruit salad paired with Berlinear Equation w/apricot & peaches was stellar. Refreshing on the warm night, the bready/stonefruity beer finishes clean and tart. The stonefruit vs. stonefruit beer seemed a bit obvious, but the real star of the show was a nip of basil that was like a ten-pin kicker when bowling a strike. Fantastic pairing.

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Getting stoned on stonefruit and Berlinear Observation with apricot and peach

One lobster tail and beef cheek later, the buzz hits. Haze Flux, Bottle Logic’s hazy Vermont style IPA was bursting with mango and pineapple notes. It didn’t take me long to blend the Bourbon Barrel aged and plain Cobaltic Porter pours into a cuvee to soften the blow of what was to come: Three versions of Fundamental Observation…holy shit, you guys!

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Fundamental Observation, sweating like me.

The first version, FO 2016 with Mostra Coffee gave the beer an ice cream-like smoothness. I pinched myself to stop myself from incessantly huffing the beer, like a man possessed. I saved the last half of the glass for my buddy Natalie DeNicholas, who helped the chef team prep and plate the dinner. She blew me a kiss. This beer is what makes me fall in love with beer all over again. Putting lipstick on a whale. Still a whale, but more attractive, for sure.

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Hospitality (and grammar) maestro, Lindsay Langton, w/ Patrick

Vanilla-vanilla Fundamental Observation is as good as 2015, albeit slightly different. It’s not as sweet, seems a tad lighter in body, and is backed with a poof of heat. The vanilla is way more punchy in the profile, which may fade with age. It’s a world class beer, I think the changes are more to my liking.

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Back alley Fundamental Observation purchases at 11:42 P.M.

Lastly, Fundamental Forces, a straight up vanilla booze jam and cheese plate closes out the night. “We keep feeding the yeast with more and more sugar until it gives up,” says Dylan Mobley, their brewer. Is it like 20% ABV? I’d like to try this beer on its own, not after the bellygasm that just took place.

My only complaint of the evening was the heat. Drinking big beers and multiple courses requires a certain temperature as to not get a sheen of glistening meat sweats. All in all, a hell of a lot of fun, and damn if I don’t feel like a 1%’er getting a seat. Keep up the fun, awesome releases like you do, Bottle Logic!

More pics:

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Lobster and Brexity pea vichyssoise (pronounced vishy swaz), whose kumquat paired well with the hazy DIPA.

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“HHHMMMBEEF…CHEEEKS!” Is what I yelled with this landed in front of me. Paired with all the Cobaltic Porters. So meaty, Bottle Logic. So meaty.

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The richest thing I’ve ever eaten. Inside the See’s candy looking chocolate puck is foie gras, which made me sweat with the Mostra Coffee FO. Super rich. YOOJ richness. Also I love me some chantilly cream and fucking Rainier cherries.

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“this is a fundamental beer dinner!” “you hit it right on the nose, bob!”

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Chef Cody Storts of Grits Fullerton and Chef Craig Brady of Haven Gastropub, both here to check out the dinner.

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my tablemates

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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