Blog Hard – BBC14 Wrap up

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This dump bucket contains Kosmic Mother Funk.

Blogging about blogging is probably the dumbest snazziest thing I’ve ever done. Why would I attend a conference devoted to blogging about beer? Because you read this stuff, that’s why. Get up and grab a towel because a healthy dose of amaze-juice is about to be doused all over your computer/phone screen (ewww).

<cracks knuckles> Going back to 2011 when I started this dumb awesome website, I wrote silly stuff about beer with no fucks given. When I saw there was an actual conference for like-minded people, I registered and went. My mind was blown. After BBC12, I networked, set goals and promised myself to still write with no fucks given (for this site at least). I also travelled to Boston for BBC13. Since that conference a year ago, here’s some crazy shit I did that was pretty awesome:

I don’t think I would have done any of that had it not been for the Beer Blogger’s Conference. By going, it helped me understand that anything is possible. So here I am, typing on my couch with my cat curled up next to me in the wee hours of the night, thinking back on BBC14, with some fucks given. Here’s a brief look at some photos and fun stuff we did. It really was a blast and can’t wait for next year in Asheville, NC. Highlights:

Stop 1: Golden Road previewed here. 

Stop 2: Taking the freight elevator to Angel City Brewery’s roof, only to be greeted by hop vines and a spectacular LA Sunset. My beercamp 94 brew-bro Keith McEly manages the tasting room there, which is rad. Their IPA, Angelino was fun on cask (dubbed Dirty Angelino) as was their Avocado beer, which tasted like a pils with a slick mouthfeel.

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Stop 3: Bruery Terreux. Lets just say I got a mouthpour from a Sour in the Rye barrel; squirted in my mouth like a cat on a farm while the cow is getting milked. It tasted like Pinocchio’s pee; slightly woody and acidic, yet still somehow delicious. The Bruery is classy as fuck, putting out a table of all the cheeses and charcuteries with all the super rare beers. I went nuts on the Oude Tart w/ Cherries, stopping mid-sip to order my maximum allocation via the Reserve Society.

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*sound of barrel peeing*

Stop 3 and 4: Smog City and Monkish Brewing in Torrance. Arriving at 11 PM or so, someone quipped, “Smog City is like the Motel 6 of breweries, they’ll leave the light on.” Indeed. One car in the parking lot and the lights on inside, 45 bloggers were treated to Smog City’s Coffee Porter and other delicious treats. From there we walked a few minutes to Monkish Brewing and was treated to even more awesomness. If you haven’t been to these breweries, make plans to go this weekend. Both are doing some really great beer.

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Late night Trousdale chinrest action.

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Laurie Porter and Chris Walowski talk about Smog City’s history at 11PM.

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I watched Henry Nguyen of Monkish Brewing crawl in here and go to sleep. It was after midnight, after all.

Friday morning, the actual conference started with a keynote from Julia Herz of the Brewers Association. The first panel of “San Diego Craft Brewers” couldn’t have been better! From left to right is Tomme Arthur, Chuck Silva and Peter Zien, arguably three of the worlds top brewers and pioneers for craft beer.

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For dinner, we went to Karl Strauss‘ original brewery for street tacos and super fresh Tower 10, Red Trolley and Wreck Alley Stout. Every time I rediscover a Karl beer I’m more and more impressed. I think Karl Strauss is one of California’s most underrated breweries.

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Co Founder of Karl: Chris Cramer explains in detail the difficulty of opening SD’s 1st brewery.

Day two: Breakout Sessions. Shit got real when people read this quote from Modern Times’ Jacob McKean. Being in a room of pros, nobody’s feather’s got ruffled. It was an informative panel and happy to hear this blog doing things the right way: legit as fuck.

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We ate at Yard House for lunch and got a slathering of various food bites. I had to beg some guy to get a half yard of Firestone Walker Easy Jack with all of my drink tickets. Most out of towners picked The Bruery’s Oude Tart instead of the hundred taps of San Diego beer which was awesome. Their house beers were a thing as well, the Belgo Tripel being my favorite of the bunch.

beer bloggers conference bus tour through san diego

credit Cambria Griffith @thebruery

We picked up Ken Grossman along the way. He gave the keynote speech; highlighting their summer Beer Camp tour and new brewery in NC. I could listen to him speak all day. He was cool enough to sign my Beyond the Pale book and my last bottle of beercamp 94. I want to try and get all the brewers to sign it at some point.P1080490

Beer Speed Dating is a thing at the Beer Bloggers Conference. Brewers have five minutes per table to sell their wares. Highlights were Kosmic Mother Funk Grand Cru from Samuel Adams and Deliverance from the Lost Abbey. Rogue brought a Pepto Bismol Braggot, which aided everyone’s hangovers .

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I sat at the blonde table.

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I pictured Jim Koch dancing to funk while sipping this, which made me smile.

Meanwhile, at Stone Brewing World Gardens & Bistro – Liberty Station: More small bites and super delicious beer was served. I chatted with Head Brewer Mitch Steele while inhaling fried olives, ribs and various flatbreads. Not only did the BBC get treated to a special roped off area, we also had dibs on guest taps. I drank a Black Wit. I had a Board Meeting from Port Brewing. I had fresh Ruination. I also got a private tour of the “hot-chicks room” above the dining area. Wooden abbey-doors open up to this view:

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Kip Barnes, Brandon Hernandez, Jemma Wilson, me and mister Zephyr Adventures himself!

Various bottles in the ‘hot chicks room’.

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Photo roll!

Blog Hard Part 1 | Beer Bloggers Conference 2014 – Precon at Golden Road

IMG_6880Glendale, 1:02 PM in the home of Randy Clemens (blog sponsor —->)

A dripping wet Randy “Sir RachaClemens is probably the best way to kick off the 2014’s Beer Blogger’s Conference. “Here, try one of these and shoot the other”, he says handing me a small plastic foil-topped cup reading “K+ probiotic drink” and a glass of (fully legal) B-Vitamin dietary supplement. “Do I get a colonic too? You fucking LA dudes are hippies,” I reply, swinging my Pabst-glasses to the top of my head and swallowing it all down in one nervous gulp.

“I find it ironic we’re doing shots of health food made with lactobacillus and a fermentation process similar to beer.” I say, burping loudly. “Can I get you a beer Mr. Nagel?” “Nah, I’m waiting to see if these shots explode my butt.”

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first beer of BBC14: 329 Lager and a Carry On Taster

The conference pre-excursion that kicks off at Golden Road is a short walk from Casa de Clemens, but my baggage has ‘UBER’ written all over it. Just on the other side of the train tracks, we arrive at a packed ‘Pub at Golden Road’; many people dining al fresco under the blue summer sky. Beer happens quickly as two cold 329 Lagers arrive frothy, yet head-scraped. I admire its clarity, take two whiffs and get my mustache frothed. This beer is effortless to drink, lightly floral with a wisp of grass and LA sunshine.

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credit Anne Marie who texted me this pic from LAX

I order the messiest BBQ Chicken sandwich ever and a new beer called Carry On – Citrus Ale; a beer made and sold for Airport terminals. The bitterness seems surprisingly arrogant and the orange flavor brings me back to my childhood when I actually enjoyed Flintstone Vitamins. “Is this infused with Airborne®? That would actually be quite handy pre-flight,” I mutter while using every napkin on the table to clean my sauce-covered digits. I seriously look like I bathed in a vat of BBQ sauce. Thankfully LA has no bears.

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@brewdad and I are admired by the bartenders at Golden Road

After lunch, I identify the first blogger speed-walking up the ramp to the pub. A busload of beer bloggers is possibly the easiest thing in the world to observe in their natural habitat. Their plumage includes cargo shorts, brewery shirts, glowing smiles and cameras held up past their heads as they snap photos of whatever. Someone should compile all of the bloggers shots and make a David Hockney-style photo mosaic. I greet a few familiar faces and join the gang on the side patio near the defunct Aunt Sally court; taken down thanks to subsequent baby seal clubbings, or perhaps bad parenting.

P1080384P1080389Co-owner/President of Golden Road Meg Gill steps out to greet the gang with her curly blonde hair pulled back, snappy black dress and flats. “Welcome to Los Angeles! We’re really excited to have you guys come from all over the county to be here!” she says as I sip beer three: Berliner Weisse with raspberry syrup. After the speech, I chat with Meg and compliment her dress. “Thanks, it’s easy,” she says, blinking her deep grey-blue eyes grinning a surfer-girl smile. “We’ve got a new beer on the canning line right now I’m excited for you to try, it’s our new seasonal India Pale Lager called Might As Well IPL,” she says smiling bigger, batting lashes a few more times. I opt for the first tour while the other half works through a tasting flight of the core beers, 329 Lager, Hef, Get Up Offa That Brown and Point the Way IPA.

P1080394The tour starts off in Chloe’s, a clean yet divey-type speakeasy in back of the pub. “Is this where Boogie Nights was filmed?” I ask. “This is the pub, behind the pub, behind the pub,” someone replies in their best Vince Vaughn voice. Laurel Brooks, coolest chick ever (and Marketing Coordinator), smiles and takes the group through the history of how Meg met Tony Yanow, owner of several LA beer bars including Tony’s Darts Away; a pub serving only California-brewed craft beer and many vegan delights.

P1080396Golden Road has three brightly colored buildings; yellow, red and blue. Yellow is where you eat, drink and pee, red is for the office-types and cold storage, blue is where the sausage is made. I spy several interesting things in the cold box, one of which nobody can comment on, even though it’s been printed in the LA Times.

P1080397The brewery has changed vastly since my last visit only five months ago. The first thing I notice is the pilot brewhouse sitting deconstructed outside between buildings. “If anyone knows someone looking for a 15 bbl brewhouse, let us know!” says Laurel. Outside we’re greeted by brewer Tim Harbage, recent recipient of the Matt Courtright Memorial Brewing Scholarship. Pink laces flopping about on his brew-boots, Tim escorts us in past a 200 bbl fermenter named Phil as the smell of beer being brewed fills the nearly Yuma-hot air on the brewdeck.

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P1080407The new canning line is the pièce de résistance. Before: one can at a time was filled, sealed and hand-packaged. Now: a modern canning line zooms through a pallet of cans in minutes. As production is up from 15,000 to an expected 30,000 barrels this year, it’s only a matter of time until this new system will need a friend.

P1080398Taking a can of the new IPL off the line had me singing the theme to Laverne & Shirley, and the ultra bright hoppyness of the beer had me sniffing the can-hole like a weirdo. With all the beers we are about to embark on throughout the day, one more surely won’t hurt. “Should I drink the whole thing?” Might as well, motherfucker…Might as well.

Thanks for the hospitality, hugs and awesome beer, Golden Road. See you soon.

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This post is part of Greg Nagel’s Beer Blogger Conference coverage. Check back for more posts! #bbc14

Beer Bloggers Conference | Indianapolis 500 (Beers)

My red-roped Beer Bloggers Conference nametag sits backwards and twisted around my neck as I rush to visit the loo for the first of many trips. I practice saying hello to Julia Herz of the Brewers Association in the bathroom mirror. “Hi Julia, I’m with OCBeerBlog….no no no…Hi Miss Herz, I write about beer and sometimes cheese….AHHHH!! [punches head several times] She’s going to think you’re an idiot!” yelling at myself. Back at the table, crack the laptop and applaud as the conference commences. The sound of keyboard keys seem to follow every spoken word like high school typing class. I hammer my keyboard and type “the quick brown fox jumps over the flying dog raging bitch” a few times as to not look like a slacker.

Not Julia Herz in the 80’s.

Julia Herz is a petite and spunky gal looking mildly like actor/comedienne Tracey Ullman in her prime. As the Brewer’s Association Craft Beer Director, she instantly captivates the room with stats and fun buzzwords like “SOS=Share of Stomach”. In the quick fifteen minutes she is given to open the conference, I get the warm fuzzy feeling that I’m doing something great. I could listen to her talk all day! “Wine? $40B a year in America. Spirits? $65B. Beer? $95.5B, with $8.7B in craft beer & growing” – Julia Herz

Julia’s intro is topped by none other than Garrett Oliver, writer and brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery. I agree with many of Garrett’s points which are employed here at this blog. “Gravity and IBU’s don’t tell stories.” and, “The more I understand about beer the more beautiful and the more mysterious it actually becomes”. Garret is such a crooner of the craft beer world! Again, his words make me feel like I’m part of a special universe, on a winning team, and we’re all going to make it. We toast, getting the perfect clank to ring in the conference.

Next up? Beer Speed Dating (aka Live Blogging). Ten breweries of varying beauty and sophistication get a few minutes of our time. Bloggers are encouraged to tweet, log the beer in untappd, and blog about the beers. Only two of the ten are available in SoCal. Here were my notes:

Karl Strauss Wreck Alley Imperial Stout, Nice summery Imperial Stout, light in body, drinks like a carbonated Iced Coffee. Cacao nibs and locally grown Ethiopian coffee beans give a chocolate covered fruit note that would pair easily with any dessert without overpowering. Nice date night beverage for an evening cruise around the harbor.

New Belgium brought cans of Shift. “I just mowed two acres of grass on a riding lawnmower and I’m enjoying a @newbelgium #shift”. There ya go. Decent beer. Shotgunable. Great lawnmower beer.

3 Floyds brought Arctic Panzer Wolf. “Hi, I’m here to wreck your palates!” Fun fact, this is the first 3Floyds beer I’ve ever had. I’m so impressed that I rip the label off our bottle and adhere it to my laptop. It’s a massive IPA, after all. Similar to Green Flash Palate Wrecker.

After an hour of Live Beer Blogging on an empty stomach, I feel a bit of the roasty roastyness. The conference takes to the streets and walks Downtown Indy to Tomlinson Tap Room for some MORE GODDAMN BEER. That’s right chuckleheads! Downtown Indy is probably the cleanest, well maintained, historically preserved, drowned in public art, and fun-packed downtowns I’ve been to. It’s quite lovely!

Arriving at Tomlinson Tap Room, I’m surprised it’s not a room. The name is kind of a misnomer as it sits on a mezzanine inside a large brick encrusted indoor city market. What’s special about it? They only pour craft beer brewed on Indiana soil, plus, the marketplace is a one-stop-shop to grab local food at the same time. TomTap, as it’s called, isn’t fully prepared for the onslaught of 150 extremely buzzed and hungry beer blogger types. The 4×6’ food kiosk is reminiscent of a group of hyenas trying to steal a lion’s kill. I manage to suck down some kielbasa and artichoke salad before heading out on the town, hooting and hollering like a hyena, of course.

The Bru Crew

The lovely gals at Girls Pint Out arranged a pub crawl map of great local craft beer joints in downtown Indy. Like a dick, I do none of this and hit Bru Burger Bar with a fun group that included the mutton-chopped Randy Clemens of Stone Brewing Co., fuzzy-headed Win Basset of All About Beer Magazine, smiley AJ from Wort & Yeast and the sultry voiced Lindsay from adventuresinbeerland. The Stone Tap takeover at Bru Burger is better than any I’ve seen. I sip a flight of Double Bastard Ale, years ’07, ’09, and ’11, Stone Mixtape, as well as Stone Brewing’s 10th Anniversary Ruination; a beer that is super easy drinking for 10+%. All paired well with spicy Ceviche and mini-Bru Burger!

Back at the hotel, the “Bru Crew” (minus Win B.) and 3/4 members of #teamfuckyeah invade my room with some more beers and fun stories. I’m going to need a stunt liver. Day one is in the books! Thanks for bearing with the huge post.

Up next: Day 2 BBC | I got bored of typing and never recapped it. In short, it included some conference panels, one of the biggest beer festivals I’ve ever been to, and a tour of one of the largest beer distribution centers in america. It had robots. 

Beef Bus to Indy Town

Lindsay Lohan with a hangover

Waking up with one sock on is always an adventure in confusion. Downtown Chicago Howard Johnson has treated me like a king because A) I wasn’t murdered in my sleep and B) I could sit on this 1970’s beige toilet with my laptop plugged in. I’m hungover, kids. BAD. This must be what Lindsay Lohan feels like all the time. Dragging my zombie ass down to the bus appears I’m not the only one that’s hurting. Ironically the bus is provided by Goose Island, partial creator of said hangover. Thanks again, Goose Island! I pass out instantly, missing hours of corn and soy, waking only for some Pepto. This must be what rock stars feel like.

Visit @lgraceburton by clicking here!

Arriving at our mid-stop lunch destination in quaint LaFayette Indiana, bones crack as I stretch like a stripper past her prime. Main street LaFayette has a soda fountain, knick-knacks, hipster bike shop, theatre and a local Pride community center. Being a proud supporter of all things gay (I am not, however) this is great! Researching their website, it’s heartwarming to see so much local support from the community in mid-size town Indiana.  Pulling through town, I had a whole “Twilight Zone” vibe; seeing this turned it all around.

A different kind of LBC

LaFayette Brewing Co. (LBC) resides in a gorgeous turn of the (20th) century building like something out of a movie. Recently renovated back to its historical nature thanks to a grant from the city, redwood stairs and the upper wooden floor creak with character. Ceiling fans and a fresh beer are sure to exorcize the thick humid air crabbiness from your soul. Aside from the bar upstairs, billiards, darts, foosball and a stage round out the entertainment options. Having a chance to sample all of their beers, I was impressed with their Tippecanoe Common Ale, the first hop-forward Steam beer I’ve tried. This beer inspired me to formulate a India Pale Common recipe I hope to brew soon. The food and beer at LBC are satisfying, however nothing in the world sounds better than an iced coffee!

Upstairs at LaFayette Brewing Company. Picture the people dancing, okay

What day is it? Oh yeah, still Friday the 13th. Finally arriving in Indianapolis the bus is buzzing with excitement. My ears pop in the elevator as I hit my floor, a nice corner room with a foyer and a perfect view of Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indy. Rocking a serious case of road boner, I hit the shower to squeeze one off and head down to registration.

The Bruery’s Black Tuesday and Cismontane’s The Citizen aged in Chardonnay Barrels overlook Lucas Oil Stadium.

3PM: Registration and “Tradeshow” notes:

  • Upland Brewing Their wheat beer tasted like a brett fermentation, I freaked the brewer out who cracked a bottle to be sure there wasn’t a wild yeast contamination. Nope, just me. I still say it tasted like a bretty beer. Their lambic was also stellar.
  • Samuel Adams: Got to taste my first Pumpkin beer of the year thanks to Samuel Adams. It’s a nicely balanced Imperial offering that was not too spicy and refreshing. Also tried a BOSTON ALE. Totally different from the famous Boston Lager. I didn’t jot anything down but recall it was quaffable. From their Barrel Room Collection: Tried 13th Hour. The rep told me the beer was aged in Hungarian wood. Lots of big flavors in this guy, nice to see the big guy geek out.
Next Post: Like a Peyton Manning Concussion | Friday in Indianapolis

Friday, July 13, 2012
4:30 PM            Introduction by Julia Herz of the Brewers Association
5:00 PM            Keynote Speech – Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery
5:45 PM            Live Beer Blogging
7:00 PM            Walk to dinner at the Tomlinson Tap Room
9:00 PM            Indy Pub Crawl (click here for the map, compiled by Girls Pint Out)

Next Post – http://blog.ocbeerblog.com/2012/07/26/beer-bloggers-conference-indianapolis-500-beers/

Beercation Chicago Part 2 | Party Bus Edition

Oh dear.

Leaving Goose Island Clybourn, a party bus is waiting for the now loud and raucous beer bloggers. Chitown Party Bus, basically a converted school bus is complete with two stripper poles, ice chest, barf bucket and disco lights. I sit down near the front and wave my two index fingers around in circles near my nipples and howl. “Things are gonna get weird tonight!” someone yells as @brewdad works the stripper pole like a seasoned pro, gyrating his all-encompassing rump to the beat. The bus roars wildly. (read part 1 of 2 of the Chicago trip here)

Piece Brewery & Pizzeria

First stop of the night is Piece Brewery & Pizzeria, a pizza brewpub with a good selection of award winning beers. The interior is a vast open styled warehouse building with exposed beams similar to the inside of a big boat being built. The exterior windows are wide open, allowing the smell of fresh Chicago pizza and roasted garlic to waft through the air, slightly improving the city’s funk like a cheap perfume. Craving a load of hops in my supple, young mouth after Goose Island’s myriad of Brett/Lacto/Pedio/Oak beers I opt for Wingnut, their Double IPA.

Wingnut is a simple hop delivery system in liquid form; somewhat murky golden hay colored, not complex, kind of lip-smacking sweet. Other bloggers threw darts at the draft board and lucked out. Instead of samples, we all opted to steal  tastes from each other, which is fine, because we’re all clean and free of STD’s (I hope). I stop and play their Soprano’s Pinball machine for a bit, the only real Chicagoland gangster moment of the trip thus far. As our stop is only 45 minutes, it’s time to say “Piece out, bitches!”

Revolution Brewing

credit: heinemanbarcoAfter Peace what comes next? Revolution. Wait…what? Revolution Brewing is our next stop. I hate when I get off on the wrong foot with a bartender, which is what happened at Revolution. I order a Three Floyd’s beer, only to cancel it (pre-cap) because the house Rye Stout, Repo Man struck my fancy. She complied, only to pour me an Anti-Hero IPA, which I whiffed and sent back. I really wanted a Repo Man, dammit. I tip her an extra buck for my silly California-boy fiasco.

Remove all jewelry first

Happy as a clam with my intended beer in hand, I sip and love. There is nothing better in life than a full bodied stout that is easy to drink! I’m alarmed that the Revbrew’s tap handles look like a super kinky sex toy. NOT MY SEX TOY OKAY WISE ASS! I bet you’re thinking “MORE LIKE WIDE ASS LOL”. Whatever. I was charmed to meet and talk with local Chicago beer blogger Kristen Stroud of beerrunninghappiness.blogspot.com, so much so I was bummed she wasn’t on the bus the next day. She instantly reminded me of a good friend, Shev, who loves beer, running, and other shenanigans.  From Revbrew’s website: “Just a few years ago, we turned a dark, dusty warehouse into a welcoming destination for great craft beer. Barrel wood walls and benches made from 100-year old beams salvaged during construction make our space warm and cozy as do our two hardwood bars.” Revolution Brewing should not be missed. It has wood, beer, and good food.

Haymarket Pub & Brewery

Photo by Michael Jarecki

Pete’s wicked ale? Pete Crowley of Haymarket

Last stop: Haymarket Pub & Brewery. In my opinion these are the brightest, cleanest, balanced hop friendly beers I’ve had in a while. Rivaling many of SoCal’s West Coast IPA style, Haymarket stands tall with the big boys. Their brewer, Pete Crowley stuck around to address the crowd while standing on a bar seat. Buzzing nicely at this point but not stumbling or slurring, I order a pint of Angry Birds Belgian IPA and am not disappointed.

As a homebrewer, this Belgian IPA is my default IPA style. I like some rye spice and fruity esthers to balance out the hops and base malt. This beer floored me; bubblegum and lemon zest on the nose, followed some phenolic clove. I could drink this all day. Can you shoot me one across the country with a slingshot? I’d give you 1000 points and hum the Angry Birds song! I also sample the DIPA, Simcoe IPA, and Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout. Super Win, very win, and win. Sorry for getting the Angry Birds song stuck in your head. Next time I’m in Chicago, Haymarket will be my first stop.

I feel wobbly in the knees at last call. The disco lights on the bus taunt me like a cat with a laser beam. My room back at the Howard Johnson looks so much nicer from my earlier arrival. I never thought beer goggles would improve a hotel star rating! I lift the mattress, no dead hookers. G’nite Chicago.

Next post: Beef Bus to Indy Town

Beercation Two Parter! Chicago | Goose Island Clybourne

Howard fucking Johnson, here I come!

Chicago is curiously not windy at this moment in time. Curious, because my flight was a fucking rock polisher. I’m in rush hour traffic, seatbeltless, in a shuttle van that smells vaguely like a freshly returned Wookie costume. As we bounce around side streets like a bowling ball at a four year old birthday party, the driver, a middle eastern Kenny Powers, yells questions at us, “where you stay!” without a question mark. “Howard Johnson!” I say talking out of the side of my mouth so others won’t hear.  The lady next to me raises an eyebrow and checks her google navigation; 45 minutes away from downtown. Fuck. I’m going to miss the group meetup with the Beer Bloggers Conference. “Hey driver, what all the odds I’ll make it there by five?” He shakes his greasy mullet and sighs.

Fact: Kenny Powers is great fucking driver! Shockingly, we screech in front of the circa 1959 HoJo with ten minutes to spare. I check in, freshen up the pits, chonies, and batteries and head down to meet the absolute cream of beer bloggers. As is always my policy, befriend the blonde girls first. There’s a method to this theory, which boils down to them having more fun. I like to have fun too.

Wonder Woman!

The first blonde gal I spot is Amber Jansen, a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed beer blogger out of Massachusetts. Dipped in fresh pink Chuck Tailors and matching sunglasses,  shorts and a noticeable lack of a wicked accent, she’s been to the beer blogger conference before and is super friendly. Still woozy from the flight and no food for eight hours, we chat about a nearby ‘Foot Massage’ sign. “Are they really foot massage parlors? Is “foot” slang for “penis” in Asia?” I ask. Perhaps an investigation for a different blog.  “I’m part of 2beerguys.com, but obviously I’m not a guy, my husband is”. Relieved, I chug some water, then belch apologetically.

I must break you, American Beer Blogger.

We set out for Goose Island’s Brewpub in Clybourn via Subway, a method of transportation that has eluded me until today. I thought I was being rude by pushing myself in the crowded door, only to be ass-pumped by three well-built Russian guys before the doors finally shut. I reach back to migrate my wallet to the front pocket and man-graze the teen version of Ivan Drago’s junk. The only Russian I know is “dasvidonya” (until next time), which would have been awkward, so I simply say “excusé moi” in my best French accent. I must be glazed. Food and beer has eluded me. On the walk, I befriend the other blonde girl of the group, Elle from FAME, a PR firm that handles the Leinenkugel Brewery account. Based out of Minneapolis, I ask “ever run into Prince?”, “what do you think of the Zack Parise trade?”, also “how has Leiny been affected by the big guys purchasing them?” and other gems of a tired mind. Such a nice gal, I’m really looking forward to the Leinenkugel lunch just based on chatting with her. Plus, she is wearing white pants.

Beer Pairing Dinner | Goose Island Clybourn

Goose Island’s Brewpub in Clybourn is enchanting for any beer fan. A large wood crafted island bar resembling the one on the TV show Cheers (but nicer) is surrounded with tables, booths and side bars. The 10 barrel brewhouse is camped off to the side, down a small set of brick steps and plexied safely from the pub area. There’s also an overflow area, a banquet area and a place to purchase collectibles. Brewery tours are given by a well informed and passionate bunch and are highly recommended.

Here as part of the Pre-BeerBloggers Conference 2012, we are being treated to a four course beer pairing which is totally unexpected. Brett Porter (best master brewer name ever) welcomes us as we raise a pint of slightly warm and headless Sofie, their Farmhouse Saison. Being my first beer of the day after travelling 2,000 miles, anything is welcome.

The first pairing:  Trout and Tomatoes paired with Lolita was neither complimenting or contrasting. I tried different combinations of trout/tomato/balsamic with this American Wild Ale and simply didn’t get a relation. The complexity of the beer shines a light on the balsamic reduction with the acidity, yet over powers the rest of the dish. Lolita is a pretty beer, pinkish blushing rose, perhaps blushing for not working well with the pairing. I would be curious to try this delicate dish with Pepe Nero, offering some nutty/roasty notes without overpowering.

Second pairing: Pork Belly and Pasta with Matilda. Again, a beer that doesn’t play with the dish. Both on their own are spectacular, however Matilda’s Belgian spiciness argues with the Jus (gravy).  I was able to find it compliments the Camembert foam as cheese and Belgian style beer often do. Mixing the foam and gravy to get a relation with the beer only caused the Jus to overpower the foam. I would like to try this pairing with Goose Island’s Nut Brown Ale, which may play off of the gravy and have solid enough body and bitterness to cleanse the palate from this rich dish.

Third pairing: Leg of Lamb with Juliet. This pairing again, is not heightened by consuming together. The Lamb and Juliet are easily my favorite of the night yet she fails to make me a star-crossed lover when paired. Where for art thou food pairing skills, Goose Island? I savor Juliet, sip by sip. Inhale and exhale. The tart blackberry essence followed by smooth oak seduces me as I roll my eyes until she’s gone. Luckily I got her digits! As for the pairing, Lamb usually goes great with a nice Porter, but in this case I would have liked to contrast the dish with Goose Island’s Summertime Kolsch or IPA.

Dessert: Chocolate and Cherries – Flourless chocolate cake, seedling Cherries, and Black Dog Malted Gellato paired with Madame Rose. This worked stunningly well, as the cherry in the beer really brought the chocolate and cherry in the dessert to a whole new level. Alone, they were half-chub; together, full salute chub with finish. A shower might be necessary.

Overall I’m humbled and grateful for the opportunity to try the pairing. I’ve heard so much about Goose Island from the west coast and admire their line up of award winning beers. I’m a bit confused as they said multiple times that the food is developed around the beers. I simply didn’t get it. Perhaps they are eager to show off their vintage style Sister beers to a well informed bunch. Whatever the reason, I’d be more than willing to go back the next time I’m in town and try some standard menu items with them. Sofie with a cheese and charcuterie plate? Lolita with the Black Earth Short Rib Sandwich? Matilda with the Oyster Po’ Boy? Juliet with the Duck Reuben? My mouth is watering thinking about it, and I’m sure yours is too! I can’t wait to go back!

Many thanks to Goose Island and Zephyr Adventures for organizing this pre-conference excursion! Not so fine print: Goose Island was kind enough to cover the dinner for fifty or so bloggers and give us direct access to the brewer for questions and photos. They provided swag bags that included beer samples, mugs, a hat and a bottle opener. Bloggers paid a nominal fee for the side excursion and Goose Island is a sponsor of the conference. Contrary to popular belief, the brewpub isn’t owned by the big guys. The brewpub operates independently of the big guys. Cheers!

Coming soon: Part 2, the Beer Blogger Chitown Party Bus hits Piece Brews, Revolution and Haymarket.