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

 

OCBeerBlog Tips for Surviving the OC Brew Ha Ha (Just the tip)

Bootleggers Brewery

Beer poured passionately from Bootleggers at a beer festival somewhere.

After attending hundreds of beer festivals all around the country, I can safely say I have some good tips on how to survive a craft beer festival. Now, these are not your average “wear comfy shoes” type of suggestions. This is some serious punk rock boy scout shit right here. Pay attention, folks.

wahlStep one: Manscape (or get your Wax on). You’re at a festival with buzzed people who like beer. The odds of you having something in common with the opposite/preferred sex is HUGE. Don’t just get the digits, seal the deal with an after plan and make some craft beer babies. Hook it up, people. It’s a fact that beer tastes better with a properly trimmed situation and a mound just ain’t cool. Don’t forget your nose, ears, eyebrows and pits as well. (If you need some work: My haircut guy, my lady’s wax lady).

New-Logo-Vertical-DarkStep two: (Pre-fest) Drive to a closeby restaurant and Uber/Cab it to the festival from there. Around the Brew Ha Ha, I’d suggest Tustin Marketplace on Jamboree/Irvine Blvd. We all know drinking and driving is horrible, but doing so on Santiago Canyon Road is even worse. There’s only one way in and one way out. After the fest, cab/uber it back to your ride and catch a movie, grab a burger or snooze in your car. Bonus points if you hit Totes Wine for some continued debauch with your Step 1 friend. Extra bonus points if you leave yourself a pack of gum and a water in your car!

8layerveggieburritoStep three: and this is a OCBeerBlog exclusive: Eat a Del Taco 8-Layer Veggie burrito before any beer festival. No fries, no extra taco…just the burrito. This fest has some whalez this year. If you get in the VIP session and have to eat first, I bet you’ll miss all the delicious Cascade beers. The Veggie Works burrito has just enough beans, rice and deliciousness to provide you with a layer of nutrition that will last until the cheap-ass non VIP hoard comes in. Once they get in, grab some actual festival food.

Anne Hathaway getting hydrated

Anne Hathaway getting hydrated

Step four: Do the ALS Ice bucket challenge down your throat (hydrate like a bowse). See your festival glass? Isn’t it cute? How many ounces is it? A few? Yay. Every hour, find a water source and drink at least twenty ounces. “You mean I have to fill the tiny fucker up seven times?” Yes, mister math wizard.

Step five: Bring a portable phone charger. There is nothing worse than a drunk slut with a dead phone. Between Untappd check-ins, snapchat (manscaped) dick picks, Instagrams, texts, sexts, facebooks, Tinders, Vines, Tweets, LinkedIn’s, TasteMade’s, Swarms or whatever battery sucking app it is you use, your shit will be dead as fuck after a beer fest. I bought a charger thing for twelve bucks that fully charges my dead iPhone in 30 minutes! $12!!! Damn suckas. Get two, one for you and one for your slutty step 1 friend.

Also: Sunscreen, condoms, cash, comfy shoes, sunglasses, dirndl, pretzel necklace, etc.

I hope this helps. See you at the Fifth OC Brew Ha Ha! Use our Four Brewers Show Discount code that knocks $10 off VIP before it sells out. 

 

Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival – In Romance Novel Form

Every year, I strive to up my game covering events that I love. Last year I did the “Beer and Loathing in Paso Robles” piece which was a lot of fun. I recently hung out with New York Times best selling historical romance Author Tessa Dare and was inspired to write a short-form romance novella surrounding the 2014 FWIBF. Why not? 

I will warn you, the story is trashy with flashes of BDSM. It’s harmless though, if anything goes past your threshhold, just yell “PANCAKES” and I’ll stop. I promise. The story is fictional, but the beer and festival info is non-fiction. enjoy!

 

What to Expect When You’re Expecting (at GABF)

Article originally published Winter 2013 West Coaster Socal – changed slightly

Congratulations! You’re giving birth to your first GABF! What’s that? You’re not pregnant? That’s just your natural beer belly? Ermagerd…so embersed. . Here’s a look at what to expect in the delivery room, as you will surely look pregnant after a week in Denver.

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Session 1, Thursday Evening: Like a Virgin

Nerves fire on all cylinders as bagpipers squeeze their sacks and blow. Their quack-like drone ushers in some 12,000 thirsty people checking maps and apps one last time. The piper’s six minute march around the vast hall comes to a halt under an IMAX sized Michael Jackson poster. “Let’s do it for Johnny!” I say to a chuck-taylor wearing stranger next to me with my best Matt Dillon impersonation. Muscle memory takes over and I look for my first dance partner. I nab a 1oz sample of Damn it Feels Good to Be a Gangsta, a delicious sour dark ale from Trinity Brewing in Colorado. It gets a twirl and swirl down my throat…twice.

P1060736The Thursday session is all about fresh faces; first time brewers can be seen in their natural festicular habitat anxiously wiping down tables and straightening signs one last time. I take a moment to watch GABF 1st timer Brian Schroepfer from Valiant Brewing in action wiping sweat from his brow, dealing with draft issues and delivering pitchers to his table like the 80’s arcade game ‘Tapper’. “I’m pretty proud and honored to be here” he says after describing his lineup of beers to eager fest goers.

On the other side of the table, session one is a great mix of freshly traveled bodies; 50% of which are from out of state. Myself included, nothing is better than a post flight beerfest with a bunch of silly Americans ready to party; one ounce at a time.

Go to session one if you like: Excitement of the first session of the year. Large amount of brewery representation at each booth. A fresh haul of beer and ample quantities of rarities. Not walking into the worst cropdusted gas bombs of your life. Guy/Gal ratio ~3:1. Costumed fest goer ratio ~1:100. Glass droppage level: one every 10-20 minutes.

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Session Two: It’s Friday, I’m in Love

Friday night at the GABF is electric. Brewers trust the volunteers to booth-sit for a few hours and go out for a night on the town inside the festival. The silent disco is alive with booty bumpin’, Charlie Papazian is fist bumpin’, and even two strangers in the bathroom looked at each other and smiled. Session two is all about drinking great beer and getting weird in a busy party atmosphere. Don’t be surprised if you find waldo, cross paths with an actual beer wench, or see the second coming of beer Jesus…complete with a spirit-gum beard and those creepy vibram toe shoes.

Go to session two if you like: A great beerfest party atmosphere with lots of costumed fest goers. Groups of beer savvy ladies…not just designated drivers or the dirndl hoes…actual hop loving, sour loving, funky beer loving women out in force. Weather report: mid to high levels of ass-fog moving in over the Pacific Northwest with green clouds forming above the Great Lakes. Tasting glass droppage upwards of every 5-10 minutes. Rare beers kegs running out within an hour. Plan your attack.

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Bruer Tyler King pours White Chocolate at the Farm to Table Pavillion

Session Three, Saturday Afternoon: Rocky Mountain High – Members Only, Brah.

American Homebrewers Association and Brewers Association members need only apply for the Saturday afternoon session. Aside from actual glassware, this session is great to witness the ‘parade of brewers’ flooding in after the awards ceremony. It’s sort of like the running of the bulls in Spain as some Medal winning brewers are riding the highest of highs trying to get to their booth to put up medal stickers and snap photos. The GABF mobile app updates with the winners making it easy to navigate the hall and sample America’s best beer right on the spot. Of the many benefits being a member of the AHA or BA, attending this session is one of my favorites. Seeing a local California brewer take home more medals than the state of Maine is impressive and fills my heart with pride. Protip: go get a membership now, the included subscription to Zymurgy magazine is worth the price alone.

Go to session three if you like: actual glassware instead of a plastic sampling glass. Volunteers that will go over the 1oz line if you ask nicely. Floods of beer geeks rating their beer on printed spreadsheets. Day drinking. Sampling award winning beer without travelling all over the United States. Having your Saturday night free to roam around Denver’s bustling craft beer scene.

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Special moment: Sampling my Beer Camp 94 Belgian Black IPA on the floor of GABF

Session Four, Saturday Night: Ohhhhhhhhhh Face

The final GABF session gets a bad rep among the press corps, which is probably why we weren’t invited to attend 2013’s session. Speaking only on my opinion of 2012, I witnessed human beer pong. I filmed a guy desperately trying to remain upright. I saw urinalbarf. But hey, someone has to finish the rest of the beer right? Some notable breweries ran out of beer and boarded up shop with handwritten “see you next year” signs. A buzzed sea of volunteers is left to deal with the onslaught of tipsy beer bros. My coverage focus quickly changed to capture the beer blight and anything-goes atmosphere. “The 1oz line is for the other sessions” a pourer mentioned while filling my glass to the rim.

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Go to the final session if you like: A college beerfest atmosphere. All-you-can-drink Hefeweizen, pale ale, BMC, browns…speaking of browns, the gas being unleashed at every angle can be geeked out on. “Why, I think that gentleman had a brussels sprout and chorizo burrito for lunch!” “No no no you silly fool! It smells like a goat that ate Chicken McNuggets out of an overnight diaper!”, “Ahhh, yes yes, you are correct sir.” Go to session four if you like to watch old people nap. Go if you like to avoid brewers. Go if you like to hear a constant 300 person choir of glass dropping Ohhhhhhhhhhh’s. Did I mention the uncontrollable gas and loose pours?

Overall, the Great American Beer Festival is the best in the world. You really can’t go wrong with any session, just make sure and target the session that is best for you. Be sure to upgrade your internet connection prior to ticket sale day and work on your glass holding skills. Didn’t get tickets? I still highly recommend visiting Denver during GABF week. With overlapping events all over town from brunch to close, you really can’t go wrong. See you at 2014! If you see Old Rasputin, say hi!

Visit greatamericanbeerfestival.com for more info.

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Scenes from the Sucreverse | The Bruery’s Sixth Anniversary Celebration

Seeing Patrick Rue upon entrance to their Sucreversary, I reach in my pocket to give him a piece of candy. Being warm and a little melted, I kept it there. I shook his hand firmly and asked, “six, is it?” “Yep.” he replied, “have fun”.

You see, as traditional anniversary gifts go, candy is what one would traditionally give on year six. I recall giving my bride of six years bonbons in a heart-shaped box (or was it a Baby Ruth bar in a brown bag?). The Bruery is nicer than I…they brewed an Anniversary beer called Sucré (Sugar) and chose to celebrate with some 3000-4000 of their closest friends at the Phoenix Club in Anaheim. I skip away whistling into the Festhalle tent like a kid headed out on halloween night.

festhalle

New to this year’s celebration is a healthy list of guest breweries, which upon entrance has lines fifty deep at a few breweries. I do what most people do: grab a line-beer from Societé and stand in line for The Rare Barrel. Twice. Just like halloween, I went to each table grabbing a little bit of ‘candy’.

legs

Standouts for the day: Noble Ale Works/Tustin Brewing Co. All Night Long: A session black IPA that I could drink with Lionel Richie all day long. Sadly, (and sarcastically) there’s no Tout Mais Le Coller to be found. Can they get collab do-overs? That beer gave me a rash.

sauce

Henry Nguyen of Monkish Brewing bugs Evan Price for some Naughty Sauce.

Staying with the candy theme, Bottle Logic clearly got the memo with their watermelon jolly rancher randall and Nerds-soaked Berliner. “It’s like sucking on a nerd” says my friend/uber beer geek Anchaya. Great to see the such a long line and big smiles from the pourers. Also, Kyles beard.

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Brandon Buckner, Brewmaster Wes and Head Brewer Kyle Manns of Bottle Logic deliver a baby.

I’ve never been big on The Bruery’s anniversary beers until Sucré hits my lips. There’s more of a dark fruity component that draws me in instead of the usual toffee on wood thing from years past. Perhaps the oxidation from solera is ringing in the new fruity/cakeness?  As my last big beer of the day, I toast this sucreversary and savor, then moved on to the Hottenroth’s, Gosebusters and Golden Road Berliners available at my fingertips.

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BeerPaperLA on the left, Noble Ale Works Brad Kominek and wife Bridget with Aubrey Price. Thanks for smiling Bridget! Grumps!

Noteworthy are the abundance of cask beers: The Bruery brought six that look like a menu at 31 Flavors (Cookie Monster, Snickerdoodle Sour, Raspberry Coconut Macaroon etc). Many guest breweries had a few as well: Bottle Logic, Smog City, Monkish and a few others are spiled, tapped and pouring nicely. Monkish’s cask smells like a strawberry jelly donut.

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Cambria Griffith of the Bruery is enthralled with Austin of Hangar 24’s mad sunscreen skills.

FOOD: Blog favorite Beachwood BBQ brought some tasty BBQ action. The catered version is on par with the restaurant’s smokey, juicy meats. The pink potato salad and coleslaw does the job nicely, and the pretzel bun sopps up anything still clinging to the foam plate. I could have gone for seconds. Or thirds. The line was 30 minutes to get food.

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Michael Rue is in timeout for throwing dirt and not taking turns.

Overall: I’m sure some complained about lines, but I found them to be a good buffer with all the big beers and unlimited pours. Also, with basically 4.5 hours to drink, if you were smart you could have sampled all the rarer stuff. There were plenty of spots with no lines. Music would have been nice! The Phoenix club is adjacent to a horse stable and occasional wafts of warm horse shit/urine enhanced the smells of some of the bretty beers…these complaints are all micenuts. I thought this was one of the better run beer festivals I’ve been to, although you have to be or know someone in the Reserve Society to go. Really nice crowd, good glassware and a nice day. Cheers to The Bruery!

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The coolest spot at the fest was the back of this truck.

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Michael Rue and Jay Goodwin of the Rare Barrel

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His name is Jonas on the left and we all know Cambria behind the lens.

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Upon receiving his Naughty Sauce, Henry Nguyen gave thanks.

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Henry Nguyen of Monkish, Aaron Carroll of BeerPaperLA and my beer geek bud Anchaya.

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Writers opinions were discussed at this table, I hope this piece is filled with them, Evan.

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Walowski from Smog City and Jerrod from Tustin Brewing Co. #BFF

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Beer friends with OC Beer Blog facebook page contributor Chuck U. Farley!

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“Hey, Brocofly!” Dir. of Marketing and 2nd employee at the Bruery, Benjamin Weiss

 

Here are the full details:
The Boys and Girls Club!! of Santa Ana , in coordination with The Bruery, are proud to present this our 6th Anniversary celebration – Sucréversary! 

This event, which is exclusive to The Bruery’s Reserve and Hoarders Society members and their guests, will be one of the largest events of the year. Attendees will have the opportunity to taste a myriad of beer offerings from The Bruery as well as other favorite SoCal craft brewers, all while helping a great organization.// THE DETAILS \\
Date: May 10th
Time: 12-5pm
Venue: The Phoenix Club in Anaheim
Benefitting: The Boys & Girls Club of Santa Ana
Price: $60 (no discount)
Ticket Limits: Reserve Society – 2 Tickets // Hoarders Society – 4// THE BEER LIST \\ …with more to come
Cask #1 – Cookie Monster
Cask #2 – Six Forty Seven PM
Cask #3 – Snickerdoodle Sour
Cask #4 – Raspberry Coconut Macaroon
Cask #5 – Watermelon Sour
Cask #6 – Pure Oreo Black Tuesday
Sour in the Rye w/ Beach Plum
Bourbon Mrs. Stoutfire
Rum Mrs Stoutfire
Sour in the Rye w/ Nectarines
Griffon Bruxellois
Oui Oui
Premiere
Batch #50
Confession
Sucré Tawny Port
Grey Monday
Hottenroth// THE BREWERY LIST \\
Almanac Beer Co: Ichibier Batch #2, Farmer’s Reserve Blackberry Sour
Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits: Sculpin, Sea Monster
Beachwood BBQ & Brewing: Tovarish, Laurel
Bootlegger’s Brewery
Bottle Logic Brewing
Cismontane Brewing
Eagle Rock Brewery: Dairy Tank, Populist
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.: Lil Opal, Wookey Jack
Golden Road Brewing: 329 Lager, Hudson Imperial Porter
Hangar 24 Craft Brewery: Chocolate Porter, Orange Wheat
Pugachev’s Cobra with cocoa nibs & toasted Coconut
Kern River Brewing Company
King Harbor Brewing Company: The Quest: El Dorado
Port Brewing / The Lost abbey
Modern Times Beer: Fortunate Islands, Funky Lomaland
Monkish Brewing Co.
Noblealeworks
Pizza Port San Clemente
Smog City Brewing
Societe Brewing Company: The Pupil, The Harlot
Saint Archer Brewing Company
Stone Brewing Co.: Saison, Enjoy By 5.16.2014
TAPS Fish House & Brewery: Mocha Stout, Nuestra Señora, Blanche de Conundrum
The Rare Barrel: Fields Forever, Egregious, Consigliere
Tustin Brewing Company: Jacksons Double IPA
Valiant Brewing: Stout-a-mel, Jolly Kratos

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.

Noble is Nubile at Age Three

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Noble Brewer and master beer namer Brad Kominek getting proper respect

Noble Ale Works has two eras. Pre-Evonian and Evonian. In the “pre” phase, hearing people mispronounce the brewery was common. “Hey man, have you been to that No-bell beer place by the stadiums?”. “Indeed, I’ve been to noball ale works, friend.” At the Drink.Eat.Play OC Beer festival, they were listed as “Noble Brews” for crying out loud! What does a new brewery have to do to get some respect?

Since their 2nd anniversary, you could say that they’re now a ‘No Bull’ brewery; making some of the best and most unique beer in SoCal. From winning the mayors trophy for being awesome at the OC Fest of Ales and being featured on the TV show Beer Geeks, here’s a look at some of the highlights Noble Ale Works had over the last year:

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Naught Sauce credit – Aubrey Price

Naughty Sauce – a blonde coffee milk stout served on nitro made its appearance April-ish 2013. A beer best described as “The F Word in a glass”, instantly won my heart and became the West Coaster Socal’s 1st article. Since then, I’ve been to three Naughty Sauce release parties, had Don Pachi Sauce at the Playground, Naughty Sauce waffle cones, and even enjoyed smooching the roasty foam off my wife’s lips. Yum! You have no idea how tempted I am to install a nitro tap in my house for this beer.

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Nobles Milk Stout brings all the boys to the yard. (Noble’s Matt and Jenny)

Tongue Tickles Double IPAA few days before the Los Angeles IPA Fest, Noble dropped another bomb on the beer world. When beer-tender Jenny slid a glass of Tongue Tickles over the bar, I knew it was something special. Making awkward eye-contact with her while sniffing the beer, I’m pretty sure the song ‘Dream Weaver‘ played in my head. I quickly snapped back to reality after my first sip. “This is like whoa”, I quivered, taken aback by the intense juicy hopload still tickling my tongue. I blushed as she trotted off to clean glasses.

I heard people say, “Pliny killer”, “Knuckle killer” and even “Enjoy By who?”, insuring nobody would ever mutter the word “Nobility” again. I did my own blind taste test for a blog post, then two days later got a text from friend and LAIPA Fest judge Randy Clemens, stating the impact of the Tickles. “Your boy Evan is on cloud nine!”, coming in first place over some serious notable breweries is no small feat, especially for a beer that came out of nowhere.

Credit ImperialRussian on Untappd

Credit ImperialRussian on Untappd

It Burns – With Noble’s pepper beers such as Pistola (peppery pils) and Too Darn Hot (peppery IPA) a regular occurrence in the tasting room, it was only a matter of time until someone made a beer that was undrinkably hot. It Burns was born from a “friendly” pepper beer war with the Bruery just up the 57. This beer could could easily be crowned “the hottest thing in Anaheim, ever”. One sip had me gagging on hiccups while drooling over the bathroom sink. Even blending the beer was excruciating. My pee smelled like peppers for at least two days.

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solid 4’s on Untappd call for trade bait.

Single Hop Shower Series – Imagine a hopcone on a stage. Warrant ‘Cherry Pie‘ blasting, you toss your dollar bill out and the green, spiky flower lifts its skirt and exposes its lupulin glands and motorboats them on your nose. “Oh yeah girl!” You yell while taking a photo of her powdery yellow innards glistening inside. You rub your hands together, and just like that, the sticky resin is everywhere. That’s kind of what this beer is.

I’ve done a couple single hop series beers from other breweries without drawing any conclusions other than, “this beer is old”. Single hop beers need to be consumed in a timely manner and Noble’s respect in the biz allow them to get 30bbl’s of the juice out quickly to the local crowd. I can hardly wait for future Amarillo, Simcoe and whatever else their hop contract allows.

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Great to hang out with blog fans! Thanks again Noble!

Bonus: Nagel’s Number 2 – What else can I say about letting me collaborate on a beer for this blog’s 2nd anniversary? 7th Dip with hand toasted coconut and some bitter orange peel on nitro? YES. This was my absolute favorite Noble Ale Works beer ever. I get goose bumps thinking about it.

Noble’s Third Anniversary Party is Saturday Feb 8th 2014. For $40, you can sample some odd 34 beers they have on tap, cask and such. Food trucks, bands, raffles and fun! I will see you there! Raise a glass to Jerry, Evan, Brad, Matt, Jenny and the rest of their awesome, nice, knowledgable and good looking staff. Great job guys! (Flyer says 25 but was upped to 34). Portion of the proceeds go to benefit Inspire Artistic Minds! Click the link above for details.

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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

 

Leveling the Playing Field // A Look Back at the San Diego Beer Week Guild Fests

I’m not sure why, but the first things I do after checking in a hotel:

  1. Open the Window
  2. Check the drawer for a bible
  3. Hose off
  4. Wait for my wife to get ready in the hotel bar

First off, my window view from the 11th floor of the Sheraton:

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Then, the Sheraton bar beer menu:

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deliciousJust when I thought the view couldn’t get any better, I did the Patrick Stewart triple-take on the bar menu. Expecting the standard macros (which are there), I’m happy to get the pre-game started with my first taste of a Stone Brewing Liberty Station brewed beer. Stone’s Delicious IPA is exactly what it sounds like: a busty hop delivery system. The sunset across the bay puts me at ease, only to be shaken by my wife’s hand landing on my shoulder. “Shall we get a cab?” she says as I toss back the lower third of this fresh, hoppy beer. “Heels? At a beer fest?” I think to myself, knowing full well if I say anything it will mean at least twenty more minutes before we leave. IMG_2529

Here for both San Diego Brewer’s Guild festivals and general San Diego debauchery, my only real expectation is to sample beer from fifty or so SD breweries next to the water in a really cool looking building. Instead of traversing the entire county, a proper Cliff’s Notes version should do the trick. The Friday night session is the “VIP brewer takeover” session (a term that confuses the hell out of me…are the brewers VIP’s? Do I physically get to take over a brewer?) and a bigger general admission beerfest on Saturday afternoon. Both festivals are held on the Broadway Pier which is generally purposed for cruise ship boarding.

Friday Night Brewer Take Over Session // Dia De Los Muertos Hígado

PBCupPorterInside only, breweries are ez-upped and situated alphabetically. Although odd, it does make my day fairly navigable. Skipping the initial clusterfuck near A-F, I land at Green Flash and nab a Lil’ Freak, a pleasant wild yeast beer with crisp, fluffy carbonation and notes of tropical fruit. The whole reason my wife is here is to drink Karl Strauss’ Peanut Butter Cup Porter, a beer she texted me about weeks prior to this event. We both agree this should be a regular offering from ol’ Karl.

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As this event includes food in the price, we opt to scarf next and are somewhat underwhelmed. Of the ~20 or so eateries, 75% brought sliders, 20% trays of various pasta and 5% interesting food. For out-of-towners like us, this is a missed opportunity for craft beer friendly eateries to give a reason to come back and check them out. The one stand-out for me is Stone Catering’s crispy fried risotto followed by their tropical cream cake. The problem is, we eat there regularly and discovered nothing new. Nonetheless, we eat like we are stuck on a deserted island out of necessity, knowing full well an empty stomach and the worlds best beer = chumming off the end of the pier, projectile style.

IMG_2540Beer-wise, imagine for a quick second that I’ve never been to San Diego and have never heard of any of these breweries. My overall impression walking out at the end of the night is San Diego is a “Barrel Aged Beer” city. By 8 o’clock, my tongue feels like my belt. The problem is, if you started at A and worked your way down, you started with Alesmith’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Speedway Stout and the beer only degraded from that point on. Many came close, including Ballast Point’s Rum Barrel Victory at Sea and Stone’s 2010 Double Bastard aged in bourbon barrels. Others were good, but failed to match the balance an intensity of the big guys. Perhaps blending vs. cuvee is the issue? Maybe good base beers don’t fare well in bourbon? I hate to sound like a complainer, it’s just that I expect big things if I intend to defend San Diego as a beer mecca. Thus far, I’m confused why carbonation issues are a thing at a SD beer festival. I would be embarrassed to serve undercarbed beer as a homebrewer to friends, much less a VIP session kicking of SDBW.

Of the non-barrel aged goodies, Iron Fist’s Roots of Wrath and On the Tracks Real Ginger Beer blows me away. With loads of palate fatigue and a four ounce pour, I’d be lying if I tried to break them down for you. Put them in your beer spank bank and order them at once if on tap. But were there hops? Not much. A few breweries have double and triple IPA’s. St. Archer wins me over with balance and freshness. I’m shocked there is no fresh/wet hop beers being 11/1. San Diego, you’ve failed me.

Saturday Afternoon Brewer’s Guild Fest // the brewer’s gave it back for the non-VIP’s (or something)

Compare/contrast from Friday night: Same great location plus more breweries inside and out, plastic tasting glasses instead of glass, sunshine, food vendors, easier to move about, less carbonation issues, bands, not as much barrel aged goodies, more hops.

Saturday’s session is where it’s at. A bright and cheery festival with a great mix of food, friends and mix of San Diego’s best beer at a gorgeous location. Next year, I plan on skipping the Friday session and hitting a few more events around town. Until then, I’ll keep wandering around the huge county in search of the best beer.

(Friday/Saturday glassware below and random pics)

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Freshly shorn Greg Koch, me in the middle and my Beercamp brother (#94) Sean Laidlaw (brewer at Mission)

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My sleeve of craftbeer temporary tattoos

 

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Saturday session setup with the USS Midway.

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no dumping – drains to ocean

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Thanks San Diego! I’ll see you soon.

A Little Tuesday Morning Beerporn (and Beerporn Party)

With the wife at work and the kid at school, the two dogs and cat are ushered out of the office. The cat’s proclivity to cock-block the mouse and bite one’s wrist while pulling a mid-morning web sesh is astounding. The computer hums its way alive and I shamefully open an incognito internet window. With the windows drawn and the web page loading, I rifle through my jeans for that ‘special’ credit card…the one my wife knows nothing about.

Just like that, I’m drooling over one of my favorites. She’s thick, bubbly and curvaceous with a round dimply bottom. Having ‘had’ her a few times in the past, I know what she’s all about, and trust me, she’s worth the trouble. As the clock strikes 10, the show is live and I’m ready to rock out.

Feeling charged, my heart pounds with excitement in my creaky wooden office chair. Then…the screen freezes. “Sonofa…” I say while fingering my thin black refresh key over and over in frustration. “No data received” and “webpage not available” error pages fly by. I reboot…twice. Damn Black Tuesday always gotta play hard to get! Sheesh. All this for a beer! What did you think I was talking about? A few hours later I finally got it up (the website) and splurged on a few bottles (for his pleasure).

There’s no Beerporn in the Champagne Tasting Room

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Eight hours later, I’m outside The Bruery near their red grain silo for session two of the Reserve Society exclusive Black Tuesday party. Being the last Tuesday of October, the air is surprisingly still and scentless. The Lime Truck sits off to the side, sizzling seasonal fall sprouts; their smoke plume sailing cluelessly over the 57 South.

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Spinning pearls with Erin Hill

Inside, I’m always impressed with The Bruery’s Black Tuesday parties. The gals are dolled in pearls and hats; the dudes are dapper in ties and slacks. Even the tasting room is filled with festive balloons and streamers. The enigmatic 18% ABV Russian Imperial Stout sits patiently about to be sprung from bourbon barrel solitary confinement. This year, the addition of Glencairn glassware kicks this party to a whole new classy level. As if sipping plain Black Tuesday isn’t good enough, the Bruery is serving up seven different looks at the base beer like a fashion show. Notes on each:

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1) Boysenberry Black Tuesday on Cask – Poured by a lovely debutante with angled eyebrows, this beer is a throwback to post-party IHOP flapjack sessions to absorb   whiskey and beer in our aching college bellies. Boysenberry Black Tuesday should be served in IHOP’s syrup containers…the one where you pull the thumb trigger back as it oozes all over your piping hot butter melting pancakes.

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No one ever expects a local Boysenbrue collaboration.

The more you know about the Boysenberry:  The berries were developed by a local Anaheim horticulturist in the 1920’s named Rudolph Boysen. After an accident where he broke his back, he abandoned his vines. Walter Knott of Knotts Berry Farm was able to revive some of the dying vines and named them after the originator. Cheers to local collaborations!

2) Raspberry Black Tuesday on Cask – “What’s your name?” asks Sara while pouring a dose from the cask. “Greg”, I reply. “I like your feather, did you have to earn it?” “Nah” she says walking away to help someone else. Raspberry BT is very similar to Boysenberry with a Sees candy raspberry cream flavor (my favorite). After a few sips, I opt to dump the rest with a shocked “WHAT?, YOU’RE GOING TO DUMP THAT?” screech from an excited pony tailed guy named Kate here with his mom. “It’s not that I didn’t care for it, it’s just waaaay too sweet for my liking” I mention to him while he shakes his head in horror. Note that I rarely finish a >10% beer I’m not in love with. Don’t hate. There’s five more variations to get through, suckas.

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Nitro? I couldn’t tell.

3) Nitro Black Tuesday – I had high hopes for Nitro Black Tuesday, like Niagara falls high hopes. Either I got a mis-pour or this beer wasn’t ready. I wanted to watch a cascading nitro waterfall show and lick Black Tuesday froth from my stache. I got neither. If I ever see BT on Nitro again, you bet your ass I’ll stab hobos to get a pour.

P1060833The Glencairn glassware choice blew me away. It’s a standard crystal whiskey glass consisting of a simple bulb and flute. The basic idea is to fill the bulb area halfway (~2oz) allowing aromas to develop in the other half. The flute concentrates the aromas, enhancing the nosing experience. The thick heel of the glass is ideal to slam on the bar to let your server know you’re ready for another hit. The stylish barbacks did a great job rinsing and pouring samples mid-bulb allowing the aromas to parfait beautifully. Although the glass isn’t generally purposed for 38 degree cold liquid, the small girth of the glass ensures your balmy mitts will warm it up to the recommended 55 in a jiff. The waiting is the hardest part!

Re-enacting an awkward wedding moment with Cambria.

Re-enacting an awkward wedding moment with Cambria.

4) Some Mo Black Tuesday is German chocolate cake in liquid form. As my favorite cake, this beer is packed with coconut, caramel and chocolate all up in your face…just like a wedding where the bride and groom smears cake all over each others faces.

Hottenroth – Palate cleanser of the Gods!

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the paparuetzi

5) Grey Monday – Holy hell, this is nice. Not just drinking it, but inhaling it…then exhaling it after a sip. Nice Nutella note that rides over the chocolate. This beer makes me want to eat hazelnuts with chocolate and drink bourbon to wash it down. Grey Monday is a food pairing in a glass.

P10608516) Melange #1 – (Basically Black Tuesday blended with Oude Tart) As my palate is basically destroyed from the stock market crash of 1929, this beer is a time machine. Pouring cloudy dark brown with a effervescent body, the fruity tart zing gives me some much needed mouth to mouth resuscitation. I’m kicking myself for not buying a bottle of this!

P10608307) 2013 Black Tuesday – My tongue is like a piece of beef jerky at this point, but I can’t physically leave without sampling the pep pep of them all: The bubbly and curvaceous 2013 Black Tuesday. Expecting nose-hair frying booze, I’m treated with two nostrils full of my favorite things: bourbon, chocolate and some sloppy dark fruits. Black Tuesday’s flavor is decadent, sublime and surprisingly smooth. Perhaps it’s the booze talking, I think 2013 is the smoothest day zero release yet. Normally I don’t like to open Black Tuesday until it’s slept a year in the cellar, but this girl is ready to twerk her dimply round bottom all up in my face, like NOW.

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Not a reserve society member? Memberships are on sale now via their website. Know a member? Make sure and have them buy tickets to get you in to their Barrel Aged Beer Party on 11/16! Login to your Bruery account and visit this site for tickets and info: https://www.thebruerystore.com/p-121-barrel-aged-beer-party.aspx