Beer for Boobs Event at the Globe 3/26

b4b banner

Tuesday March 26 at 6:30, the Globe in Garden Grove is hosting a YUGE Beer for Boobs event! If you haven’t been to the Globe, they’re a Belgian expatriate-ran pan-euro gastropub with more Belgian beer taps than you can shake a trappist monk at.

The event will host:

  • Four course prix fixe Belgian beer paired dinner! – $40 online, $45 at door. If you have issues ordering online, call direct at 714-537-7471 from 4pm (M-S)
  • Bottle share with purchase of a Beer for Boobs glass (bring a bottle)!
  • Silent Auction benefiting Beer for Boobs!

Dinner includes:

• Blanche De Bruxelles with Baby Endive, shaved fennel, lemon and white pepper dressing, and crumbled Feta.
• Leffe Brune with Prosciutto wrapped scampi shrimp, skewered with rosemary sprigs.
• Chimay Tripel with Skirt steak florets.
• Straffe Hendrik Quad with Crème brûlée with a few spicy candied pecans.

Silent Auction!

I'd give my left teste for this box of westy

I’d give my left teste for this box of westy

A hand-carried from the mother land super rare box  of Wesvleteren
Degustatiebox Trappist Westvleteren!

  • 1 Authentic Trappist Westvleteren Chalice
  • 1 Bottle Trappist Westvleteren b4b donated 212 (Quad)
  • 1 Bottle Trappist Westvleteren 8 (Dubbel)
  • 2 Bottle Trappist Westvleteren Blond (Pale)
  • Other rare donated bottles and memorabeeria from the restaurant owners, distributors and superfans, like this bottle of St. Martin’s Cloak from Brasserie De Brunehaut (Only 7,500 bottles produced and released in late 2012 – thanks to Mario Valle of Liguor Mart Whittier) and others from Julie Lim of OC Wine Mart in Irvine.

Bottle Share!

Buy a Beer for Boobs glass and bring a tasty bottle of beer to share! The B4B team will be on hand as well with tshirts, coozies and other goodies.

On tap at the Globe:

b4b taplist b4b bottles

About Beer for Boobs:

Beer for Boobs is a super walking, super cancer fighting walking crew. The idea for this fabulous team was born at White Labs in 2008. We wanted to raise yeast by day, and stomp out breast cancer by the mile. Our fearless leader & Vice President of White Labs, Lisa White, collected her superhuman yeast ranchers & friends to create our breast cancer fighting crew. Our crew walks 60 miles in 3 days this November to fight against breast cancer. 


Farmhouse Lunch with Firestone Walker Brewing Co. (Beercation pt 1)

union-station-front7:30 A.M. LA Union Station: “I’m pretty sure the guy next to me at the urinal was jacking off” claims Kip of Bierkast/LA Aleworks. I once wrote about this building’s romantic nature, but the thought of decorating a urinal cake in front of company is somewhat impressive yet depressing at the same time.

andersSeated in the center of a bus full of the absolute cream of LA beer media, I can’t help but smile. Batteries are fully charged, bagels are schmeered and bottles of craft beer are flowing wildly. We’re headed north to Paso Robles on a ‘Journey to the Center of a Barrel’  hosted by Firestone Walker. Anders, the LA area Firestone rep (looking strikingly like Mike Myers, but with a German accent) passes bottles of Double Jack, Double Barrel Ale and Pale 31 like communion. Our livers (and cell phone batteries) are in for a slow and painful death this weekend.

11:30 A.M. Slowly sipping a Bruery Rugbrod makes the time and trees melt by the bus windows ever so fluidly. The business cards have all been passed out, Twitters have all been followed and the bus vegans have all outed themselves. Somewhere off of James Dean Highway, the bus creeps onto a thin dirt road and squeeks to a stop. Bones crack as we emerge through the dust cloud. “Where the hell are we?” Anders trots to the top of the nearest hill and makes a call. I check the itinerary: “noon – Lunch – Think Fresh”. Then it happened, a sunbeat tractor rolls over the hill to save us. “Is that David Walker on the back? Holy fucking shit!”

walker on tractor

Ridin’ dirty.


“Hop on” David says in his Mozy ‘charming man’ accent. Musical chairs ensue. Being lunchtime, the thought of dining on a farm seems like a fucking fairy tale. I snap a photo of David Walker with the sole purpose of showing my barber. “He’s one cool son of a bitch.” I tell the Beer Goddess next to me. Picking up a bunch of media people on a tractor is beyond pimp-like. I need to be pinched.


We end up at Farmers Bill and Barbara Spencer’s Windrose Farm just outside Paso Robles. Firestone Walker and many other restaurants get their truly organic/biodynamically produced goods from this wildly manicured plantation. Envision rolling hills littered with trees, 70’s porn rosemary bushes, sheep grazing and shitting like natural fertilizer factories…acres upon acres of apples and beyond. If you’re looking for a spot to camp for Firestone Walker’s Invitational Beer Fest, this is the spot. They even offer a cozy pink trailer ‘farmhand for a night’ stay that includes fresh food and beer! (Call for details)


Gathering around the farmhouse, pitchers of Firestone Barrelworks BrettaWeiss are served. As farmer Bill speaks to us on the crappy state of “organics”, a rooster tro-lo-los along to a quartet of wind chimes jingling in the warm breeze. Closing my eyes while taking a sip, I feel dreamy and hypnotic. This beer is bright, tart and is farming with character from the wild yeast, yet remains approachable and refreshing. If this is any indication of what Barrelworks in Buellton is capable of, I’m 100% on board.

farmlunch tableOnward to lunch! We’re seated at a thirty-person communal table set in the sun, four courses of farm-fresh food are served:

  1. Farmstyle salad; fresh picked greens, vegetables, Union Jack vinaigrette; w/Double Jack IPA (bottled yesterday)
  2. Braised bitter greens; Windrose Farm smoked tomatoes; w/ Wookey Jack Black Rye IPA (bottled two weeks ago)
  3. Walker’s Reserve Braised Lamb; roasted root vegetables; w/Parabola Russian Imperial Stout (2011)
  4. DBA caramelized apples, vanilla ice cream; w/ Double DBA Imperial ESB

Enjoying such beautiful food at its peak of flavor and nutrition next to shockingly perfect beer sets a perfect foundation for the rest of the day. I’m ready for anything.  I could box a lion and wrestle a bear after this. This lunch is world class and faultless. This is my Jonestown moment for fresh food and craft beer!

Stay tuned for more on this journey! Windrose Farm produce is available at the LA Farmer’s Market as well as many fine restaurants in LA! Check their site for details. (map)


Beachwood BBQ & Brewing / OMGWTFBBQ!

Beachwood BBQ & Brewing. If those words aren’t part of your craft beer vocabulary, I’m going to send you a free copy of Rosetta Stone’s craft beer language edition* and whip a piece of pulled pork at your eyes, you filthy swine.  Not only does Beachwood ‘que up some world class BBQ and sinful Americana style dishes, the house beers brought home some serious hardware at the Great American Beer Festival 2012. Co-owners Gabe Gordon (chef), wife Lena and Brewer Julian Shrago’s food and beer recipes are a match made in heaven; and worthy of a solid write-up, Gonzo style.

Thurs. Nov 15, 5:45 P.M.

If I told you that I received a full frontal body massage while standing on a street corner, you’d probably ask, “Long Beach, right?” and I would say, “yep, but it’s not what it sounds like.” See, I was in fact on a street corner, in Long Beach, punching a crosswalk button like Bruce Lee as two vintage lowriders roll up. Each car’s stereo is easily bending the space-time continuum with bass so loud it feels like I’m being attacked by a swarm of french ticklers. A young lady passes me by mid-crosswalk pulling pomeranians like she’s flying a kite. “Where’s…..Beachwood……BBQ?” I ask in-between bass thumps. She points ahead and rushes off.

The dark drizzly night puts me in the mood for comfort food and a nice roasty stout. Ashley (hostess), welcomes me like I’m family. “Sir, the Zymatore Project is in-house tonight, there’s special beers paired small plate dishes”, she says while handing me a page that reads like a menu at a French brothel. I stutter like a drunken Texan trying to say “BFM Abbaye De St. Bon Chien Aged in Pommeau Barrels from Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes from Jura, Switzerland. (view the evening’s menu here: 1 2 3 4 + food) “Wait, wait, wait a fucking minute. I pick a random night to come to Beachwood and and I’m here with some of the rarest barrel aged beers in America?” Indeed.

Ignoring the details of each beer, I roll up my sleeves and start with the lowest ABV; a 5% Italian Wit beer aged in “Orange” Wine barrels; Birrificio Barley’s Friska. I play coy as she gently touches my lips. She’s tart, provocatively dressed to style and teases my tongue. Friska is flogged with natural orange zest while her friend Coriander bats her lashes from afar. “Respecte le donne!” I yell, getting strange looks from the bartender. “It’s an Italian Spiderman joke, google it.”

Striped shirt wearers Justin of Beachwood and Mike Harman of B.United

Briefly, the Zymatore Project is kind of like an art museum getting the Mona Lisa, touching her up with some eyebrows and cleavage, then loaning her out for parties. Not only does B.United import rare beers from around the globe, they go another step creatively and re-age beers (also meads and ciders) in specialty barrels for this project.  Some beers they evoke a secondary fermentation with fruit, adjuncts and wild yeast, boosting the character and alcohol. Michael Harman, B.United’s West Coast Division Manager says “We will only do a secondary fermentation if the brewer is okay with it.” Just when I’m comfortable with American craft beer, discovering the Zymatore Project quickly makes me feel lost in a vast landscape of ever-evolving beers.

Aside: Just as Beachwood is collaborating with B.United for the night, I’ve joined forces with Orange County Gayot food critic and OC Executive Magazine mogul Richard Manning as well as the highly acclaimed food photographer Anne Watson. Any time I can get a solid opinion on food and professional photography on the blog, I’ll take it! I highly suggest browsing their work as they’re both huge parts of the Orange County food scene. I love and respect both immensely!

On to tasting… Of the five Special Appetizers offered for the Zymatore event, each has a suggested beer pairing with prices ranging from $7-$12 for each. (click to view). The Grilled Chicken Breast on wilted greens appetizer, for example, is cooked with with orange and coriander; the same ingredients brewed in the Friska Wit Bier described above. Each dish is well thought out and crafted around the special beer selection for the evening.

The Chicken & Duck Liver Pâté with toasted bread rounds is a perfect entry into Fall/Winter. “November is finally here!” says Rich as rain drops pelt the outside tables. He adds, “Mason jars are popular these days in fine dining.” I note that the bread rounds crunching in my mouth sounds like someone walking in freshly fallen snow . The Pâté is delicate yet full of mineral goodness. The suggested beer, Hofstetten Granit Bock aged in fortified wine barrels plays well with the Pumpernickel rounds and cleanses the rich fat as it melts across your palate. I wish I could fit my face in that mason jar, dammit. Anne quips, “doesn’t Pumpernickel literally translate to Devil’s Fart?” Yes!

My other favorite dish on the special menu is the Duo Smoked Game Sausage – Venison and Duck sausages on top of a red onion marmalade. The sausage is bundled handsomely with a mild smokey heat and rustic earthiness, sort of like Hugh Hefner in the 50’s. The filler is grainy like black pudding dotted with wild berries to twang up the sweetness. Cranberry in the filler screams “Autumn!” and I’m left screaming for more. The sweet marmalade hiding out underneath brings out the best of our beer choice: J.W. Lee’s Moonraker with Wild Yeast. When I think wild game, I think British beer to wash it down and to boost an earthy sweetness.

Other dishes you MUST try when visiting Beachwood BBQ:

  • BBQ! If you can’t decide, do the “Choose three items” option to get the best of each world. The pulled pork is a masterpiece and must be tried. Seriously, if I was a pig, I would gladly offer myself up to Gabe. “Oink Oink, Gabe! Please put me in your smoker and dry rub my butt kind sir!”
  • Baked Mac and Cheese! You’re probably like, “yeah yeah, what’s so special about it?” Rich Manning says, “It’s probably the best Mac and Cheese in the Greater Los Angeles area. It’s smoked and dense with a huge flavor depth”. “Ooooh, this is worth every calorie!” says Anne.  The Gruyere cheese beer sauce oozes, coats and stretches with each bite. The crunchy crumb topping lends it a light crunchy shell. “But is there bacon?” Yes, there is bacon, you filthy, filthy pork slut.
  • The Wild Mushroom Stew is another favorite although probably overlooked on such a deep menu. The “umami-bomb” Mushroom Stew sits on a sinful double dollop of blue cheese grits, the kind your momma used to make, if your momma is Paula Deen.

But wait, there’s beer! If you need yet another reason to visit Beachwood BBQ, the beer program is one of the best I’ve seen. Here’s why:

  • Full set of award winning house brewed beers. Each has a distinct full body and bold flavors that stand up to the rich food. Belgian style ales, Stouts, IPA, ESB, Pale’s, etc. There’s something for everyone and all brewed in house and super fresh. Do a flight, grab a growler to go.
  • Lineup of rare and classic craft beer from around the world. Whenever Pliny the Elder is ‘just another beer’ on the draft board, that’s saying something. The revolving taps alone are worthy of a trip, not to mention a full cellar of rarities. The list is thoughtfully planned with many styles covered, big beers to sessionable, low to high IBU, fruity, roasty, no ‘tap overlap’ with ten IPA’s…I could go on and on.
  • A bar packed with craft beer fans. There’s something to be said about the craft beer community. We like to talk beer with each other. Beachwood’s bar is packed solid with geeks, newbs, homebrewers, pro-brewers, and craft beer celebrities. The bartenders and wait staff are also highly knowledgeable and not snooty.
  • Multi-zone draft temps! This is seriously insane. Some draft handles are served at cellar temp, some are served at colder temps. Gabe Gordon created the “Flux Capacitor” which monitors CO2 and allows for per-line adjustments. At Beachwood, you can get a Barleywine or rich Russian Imperial Stout served at suggested cellar temps! No more coddling your beer like a baby until it warms up! It also allows for certain styles to have more or less gas, making ‘mouthfeel’ fine tunable. This is the geekiest thing I’ve ever seen at a bar.

  • Special events! The Zymatore project listed above is only a small part of what Beachwood brings to the table. I seriously couldn’t be more blown away by what the B.United guys are doing and for Beachwood to bring it to the public. Check their website or Beer Advocate for details on future events.

Beachwood BBQ has a smaller location in Seal Beach without the brewpub; same great food and superb draft list. Both are craft beer beacons of Orange County! Make sure and check out the rest of our pics! Thanks Beachwood

*Rosetta Stone doesn’t have a craft beer language edition, silly. Go buy Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher and learn super geeky stuff. 

A Perfect Storm / The Bruery Black Tuesday Release Parties (2012)

Patrick and Rachel Rue relive their Black Tuesday prom.

“I thought I had messed up raising my son” said a well-dressed older gentleman in a bow tie and extra-extra long grey suit. “Who’s your son?” I asked. “Patrick Rue”. I could tell by the gleam in his eye, Michael Rue (President of the Bruery) is proud of what his son has created. Even the lore of Black Tuesday, an epic brewday-gone-wrong, has turned into something magical. The mere fact that 3,000 bottles of the $30 beer sold out in ten minutes is proof Patrick Rue knows what to do when life hands him lemons…throw them in a bourbon barrel and hope for the best.

Peanut Panna Cotta w/Toasted Marshmallows

The 2012 Black Tuesday party and beer release is double the size of last year. The party has expanded to the Bruery Provisions and the new tasting room at two sessions a piece. With the beer, production was up and more variations are available at the parties, giving fans a chance to try special cask, randall’d and tap versions of this enigmatic Imperial Stout.  At Bruery Provisions, each variation is paired with a perfectly crafted dish! Here’s a write up of the tail end of Bruery Provision’s party, and my notebook notes verbatim of the full party at the Tasting Room. Please, enjoy.

Bruery Provisions Session One:

Faster than lightning strikes, tickets to the party at Provisions disappear.  I’m all about pairing beer with food and I’m quite curious how a complex 19% ABV bourbon barrel-aged beer will fair with food. What the hell would I pair? S’mores or maybe a nice Macanudo Robusto Cigar, or perhaps a nice triple-cream Brie glazed with a honey-bourbon reduction? I know, it’s not an easy beer.

Lukcy Basardts on the patio of Bruery Provisions

Arriving at Provisions as the sun sets, the squeaky back gate is all that welcomes me. The quiet crowd outside must be content as everyone is sipping gently with pinkies out. The outside air is refreshing, golden and still. Birds flutter inside the nearby hedges, snuggling in for a nap after eating artisanal crumbs all day. Going inside, I’m met with some serious 1920’s zing! The ambiance is brought to life by the smiley staff completely and not cheaply dressed to the nines. Ladies are elegantly draped with long strands of pearls, throwback hair feathers and flapper dresses. Gents are dashed in everything from bowler hats and suspenders to pinstripe three pieced suits. Tyler King, man of infinite fashion skills, even had a grey button-up short sleeve shirt (with shorts). One can always spot the artist at a show, I suppose.

Provisions kitchen coordinator Bryan Liem set out to prove his mad pairing skills with five versions of 2012 Black Tuesday.

  • Black Tuesday (straight) with Wild Mushroom Mole, Masa Cake & Sesame seeds.
  • Grey Monday (Hazelnut version of BT) with Blue Cheese cold smoked over Hazelnuts, Dried Figs, Fresh Pairs & Toasted Hazelnuts.
  • Black Tuesday Cask with Coffee & Vanilla served with Coffee & Vanilla Pulled Pork Slider w/Coffee BBQ Sauce on a pretzel bun.
  • Black Tuesday Cask ‘Banana’s Foster’ paired with Peanut Panna Cotta w/Toasted Marshmallows.
  • Black Tuesday Randall with Mint Chocolate next to Goat Cheesecake, Raspberry Coulis & micro Mint.

“I really wanted to do at least a couple of savory dishes to show Black Tuesday can be paired with a variety of dishes. I thought the vanilla brine I did for the pork added just hint of vanilla to really bring it out in the BT.” Bryan Liem, Bruery Provisions Kitchen Coordinator

courtesy Bruery Provisions facebook page.

Overheard inside, “The pulled pork dish and coffee Black Tuesday easily won best in show, best beer and best pork dish I’ve had.” Said a random lady. Kendra, Provisions GM agrees, but mentions the Smokey Blue by Rogue Creameries paired with Grey Monday was a close runner up. Anytime you can get a complex cheese that’s been smoked for three days over hazelnuts with a complex hazelnut beer, you’re in for a sure mouthgasm! Everything was delicious and perfectly paired.

Overall, session one at Provisions was super mellow. It was nice to see it wasn’t over-crowded, guests had plenty of elbow room to shmooze around and take photos. More on the beer in the next segment, but five variations of Black Tuesday with paired food is plain brilliant. Bryan Liem has some serious mad skills and I can’t wait to see what he has in store in the future!

Bruery Tasting Room Session Two

I took four pages of notes in a spiral SPAM notebook during the party; here they are verbatim.

Bruery BT 12 party

Dan from out of the park pizza is here with a Brewluminati shirt. He “probably should have been put on Ritalin, but his mom didn’t, thankfully, Fuck that shit” says Dan. Doors open, clock strikes 8 and Black Tuesday flows quick, thick and black like a 1970’s blaxploitation film. A hundred voices corrupt the fall night and are buzzing consciously with phones and beers in hand. Untappd is tappd out, thankfully. I don’t normally check in tasters, but this has more booze than a standard 12oz’er. Glasses clank unheard among Hipbone Slim & the Kneetremblers ‘Snake Dancer’. “Cheers!” screams a table with necks stuck out. Music is all encompassing and volumetric, throwback blues jam thick like a Black Keys Pandora playlist. Black Keys? Black Tuesday. Nice to meet you. Likewise. Pleasure.

Staff is sexy, dipped in classy 20’s garb. Crowd is sloppy with tshirts and tennies. Sitting by the last-call bell and firkins, wooden handle, 8” ringer. I’d ring the server’s bell like Anita Ward. Sitting by the casks, people yell drink orders without saying please and not tipping, “BANANA AND GREY MONDAY” yells a puffy guy that looks like Clint Howard. Lee Fields ‘Who do you love?’…great song…tappin my feet, sipping, scribbling, eavesdropping, heaven.

Vanilla coffee cask best I’ve had all year. On par with Smog City’s Groundwork Coffee Porter that took gold at GABF; fucking crazy good beer. After two pours I get a case of the sweats. Spoke to Jeff Duggan at Portola Coffee Lab in Costa Mesa; “the coffee is a lighter blend than Portola does normally, we ground it this morning to drop in the cask.” he says while hauling bottles to a work party. Vanilla? Not really punchy aromatically. There are GROUNDS in my beer! I repeat, there’s GROUNDS in my beer! Coffee character is perfect; it smooths out fresh BT perfectly, 19%? Nofa King way. I want this beer Ya heard.

Hitting more CASK action: Banana’s Foster. Boozy bruleed banana that bounces on the palate like a real creamy banana. Banana fumes after a sip! On the belch, more banana fumes! Michael Rue gave me his on the way out. “I barely touched it.”

MINT – was this through a randall? I didn’t see Randall anywhere. Imagine Chocolate Rain with some cooling, boozy mint. Least Fave. Not bad by any means, but the bar has been raised. Last year’s BT S’mores cask wasn’t that distinct. This year, variations are nuanced and  a force to be reckoned with.

*Show a tweet with #BlackTuesday and get a free BT ’11. Done and done. Wow so smooth compared to ’12. Def going to bury my ’12 in the backyard like a dog.

Hottenroth – Palate cleanser of the Gods.

Grey Monday – Sweet hazelnuts! Sexy decadent hazelnuts tap dance in my mouth. Time to convert BT to P.

Straight BT ’12: Graham Crackers all day long like Heather Graham in Bowfinger. Deep dark fruit vanilla followed by bourbon, oak. Boozyness clashes with hoppier finish not prevalent in BT ’11. Baby Black Tuesday needs to mature, cut teeth and get potty trained.

Dan Auerbach ‘Streetwalkin’ blastin’. Serious Portola coffee sweats going on! Buzz hit! Caffeine too. Intense. Life of a beer blogger is always intense. Bank on that.

Ashley, peacock feathers, pearl necklace and beer. Best seat in the house!

Chocolate Rain materializes in my tasting glass. Manliest goosebumps ever. This is the point where they all start to blend in. Chocolate is decadent, smoothing. Wish I had a doggie bag for this. Time for food. Lime Truck ran out of food. Bastards.

The crowd is apologetic and nice with the tight squeeze. Overheard: “scuze me, sorry, may I get through here, sorry, pardon me, whatcha drinkin there? Didn’t I see you at another event?” “Tuesday, Monday, Tuesday, bananas!”  “Coffee, Coffee, Coffee, did you hear the Coffee cask is great? Anything? Nothing.” “Damn son.”

Overall! Great party, pretty much perfection! Was a little loud, but hell, I’m old. Next year I hope do the same thing. The beer is pretty much phenomenal and this year was an improvement with the variations. Portola Coffee / Vanilla cask Black Tuesday I will pretty much swoon over for weeks to come. I hope it makes a return throughout the year!

Not Your Pep-Pep’s Historic Home Tour!

by Keith Oleson


It’s official–On May 26 and 27, the Anaheim Neighborhood Association is presenting their Historic Home, Garden, and Brewery Tour.

And this is not your grandmother’s house tour.

If there’s one thing that those of us lucky (crazy) enough to live in the historic areas of downtown Anaheim know it’s that these historic houses are more than just historic houses. They’re homes. They aren’t relics frozen in time to be looked at like artifacts in a museum. They are unique homes with unique owners, and individually and as a community they have unique stories to tell.

ANA’s Historic Home, Garden And Brewery Tour is about more than just the date a house was built, what kind of siding was used and what light fixtures are original. All that is important, but it’s also about these historic homes creating a living community, an ever-growing group of people who love these old homes and their beautiful gardens and the community they create and who want to share their homes, their gardens, and their stories. And, yes, some of those homes, gardens and stories include a love of home brewing! This tour is a chance to really explore the homes and gardens of the Anaheim Colony Historic District from a refreshing perspective.

The tour will feature homes of a variety of architectural styles scattered throughout the Colony. Trolleys will be provided if you prefer to sit back and enjoy the view while your tour the homes and the neighborhood. What a perfect opportunity to look around, see the neighborhoods, and talk to people who share an interest in historic homes and gardens, check out some home breweries, and end the tour at the Anaheim Brewery. Sounds like a perfect way to spend the day.

The tour is about historic homes, the people who love them, and the unique community that is the result.

Check it out at

More information will be posted between now and May 26, but mark the date. This is part of the history of the Anaheim Colony and promises to be a great event.

Keith Oleson is a friend, neighbor, and beer drinker of OCBeerBlog

Haven Gastropub +Brewery = Smiley Face (Closed 2014)

It’s a rare day when I find myself up in LA. When friend and food writer Richard Manning simply stated, “you’re going, that’s final”, I knew I had no choice but to hit Haven Gastropub‘s new northern spawn. I got my haircut. I manscaped. I washed my car. I even cooked pizza for the babysitter. My wife dolled herself with a mini skirt, thigh high boots and a black cardigan. Rich and wife Heather arrive at our house, punctual as ever, looking fresh-faced and ready to party. Magic is happening tonight, folks!

Order by the number if you don’t know how to pronounce Haven Brewing’s “Sosigenes!”

As we arrive, winter’s last gust blows us into Haven’s foyer and a nearby open table sweeps us off our feet. The electronic tap list of forty beers seduces me into a lengthy starting contest. “Can I get you started with a beer or wine” says our waiter, an older gentleman looking like a mix of Harvey Keitel and Wolf Blitzer, but with a German accent. A mild version of stage fright overcomes me. “I’d like a flight” I say like a kid at 31 Flavors. “Hello World, Victory At Sea, TAPS Irish Red and Humulus Lager sound good.” I scan the differences between Haven in Orange and Pasadena; most notably the “addition” of the +Brewery screams for my attention off to the side of the main dining area.

Haven’s stainless steel brewery sits behind sheets of glass; steam bellowing over the top into the pub. There are few aromas in life that can tap directly into my soul: freshly made tortillas, lighter fluid on a charcoal barbecue, or the smell outside after a fresh rain. To a brewer, the smell of freshly mashed grain, boiling wort, and hop additions tack on to that list. Haven’s aura is all that. I found myself inhaling deeply through my nose as if a beautiful stranger passed close by. I moan the word “GRAINS” like a creepy vegan zombie as my wife predictably rolls her eyes.

As my flight is delivered, I immediately suck down ‘Hello World’. Dubbed as an American Pale Ale, this beer quickly grabs my attention with a full body and pleasant, yet “not-quite-IPA” hop character. It’s damn close to an IPA. Hell, if this beer and an IPA walked into a bar, the barkeep would promptly ask, “Is this some kind of joke?”. Indeed. Be careful, as ‘Hello World” is also right on the cusp of IPA-land at 7%. Note that Ballast Point Sculpin IPA, arguable one of the finest IPA’s available anywhere, is also 7% ABV. $5 for a pint of Haven’s first beer makes this an easy choice.

Hello World (left) and Sosigenes.

The stars must have aligned perfectly as Wil Dee, Haven’s beverage manager, hand-delivers a flight of their second beer, ‘Sosigenes’ Double IPA (8.7%). “You’re the first customers to taste this, cheers!” Historically, Sosigenes (pronounced soh-SIJ-uh-knees) was an astronomer noted for creating the Julian calendar that incorporates a leap day. Brewed on leap year day and the fact Pliny the Elder (not the Russian River beer) actually named Sosigenes, makes this a perfect name! The beer is bright golden in color with a lively yet creamy carbonation. Boasting many of the big ‘C’ hops along with Warrior and Glacier give it a notable but pleasant earthy aroma. The maltyness is there as well, similar to Avery Majaraja; although it was tough to nail down with a 4oz taster. I grabbed my wife’s to be sure (she drove).

credit Haven's blog

I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.

Head brewer Dave Larsen stopped by table-side in a Cismontane shirt and a tell-tale brewers beard. “I was a home brewer and sous chef at Haven in Orange. They decided to promote within.” David’s new office is an ample 15bbl brew system that is sufficient for keeping up with Haven’s needs. During my tour, Dave is cleaning up after a Breakfast Stout brewday. Grains strung about with random buckets full of sanitizer. “I brewed with Evan at Cismontane, Victor Novak at TAPS, and Tyler at the Bruery to learn the ropes of a big system” says Dave. I’m curious if having Chef Greg Daniels in the kitchen is going to drive some crazy and inventive beer recipes. “We shall see, however Greg gives me full creative license”.

I see keg, people.

Furthering our tour into the depths of the kitchen and dual cold storage rooms, Wil Dee shows off one of the most revolutionary beer delivery draft systems I’ve ever seen. One keg can be delivered to multiple taps. When a keg is dusted, it flushes on the fly. Quick disconnects allow kegs to be changed in four seconds flat. Cellared beer, cask and draft wines are delivered at a different temp than the regular cold storage. Bottle list? Very similar to Haven Gastropub in Orange. One of the most impressive things to me is the well balanced and thought out tap list. Not too much style overlap with sufficient seasonals and a good representation of local breweries. This Wil guy…he’s a keeper!

I fought for foie and the foie won.

It might be a while until Haven beers make their way into Orange County. Haven has to get a special license to have their beer distributed and do growler fills. With our three tier system (brewer > distributor > consumer); brewpubs cannot simply throw a keg in a van and put it on tap wherever they want even if you own each location. I’m sure this is a priority for Wil and gang and we will start to see their beer in OC soon.

I highly recommend the drive up either way. Parking was a snap with a garage across the street. Like the Orange location, Haven Gastropub +Brewery in Pasadena has plenty of shopping and people watching in the local area. I’m jealous Pasadena has a better Haven! At least we have a Taco Asylum. Hah, LA!

If you must know, I ate a lamb burger, brussels sprouts, house olives and nibbled on a charcuterie plate. They were all great. This isn’t a food blog, ya’ know.

Large Corporate Coffee Giant in OC Getting Beer (and Wine)

When I first heard a huge coffee conglomerate is venturing into beer and wine sales, I thought, “naturally”, then proceeded to laugh hysterically until I broke out into a coughing fit so bad it made me sweat. Expanding into test markets seems like a synergized, thinking outside the box type thing to do. Will it make me go? Nah. Why not? Honestly, I really don’t care. There’s so many better places I could go and have a beer. Obviously, I’m not in their target market, demographic, or whatever marketing lingo they go by.

If they actually brewed their own beer with coffee, I’d be more inclined to check it out. A nice coffee mild ale, espresso stout, or a vanilla chocolate porter all sound interesting, but that will never happen. So I leave it up to you, gentle reader, to check it out and report back.

Here’s the first two locations in Orange County that will sell beer:

  • 7101 Yorktown,  Huntington Beach (Seacliff Village)
  • 30465 Avenida de las Flores, Rancho Santa Margarita

Escape from Alcatraz Brewing (closed 2014)

While shopping at the Block in Orange, or whatever the hell it’s called now, I checked into Alcatraz Brewing Co. for a quick flight. Not pictured was a strawberry wheat which was cloudy pink and tasted exactly as described.

The standouts for me were the Light Wry Ale and the Albino Pelican Pale Ale. The Light Wry Ale was a fairy complex Weissenbock style beer with some nice spice from the rye and banana/clove. The Albino Pelican Ale was probably the most citrus forward beer I’ve had in some time. I thought my wife squeezed lemon or lime in it! I ordered a second to be sure. Highly recommend either on a hot day!

If you’re ever at the outlets in Orange (previously The Block) , stop into Alcatraz. Be sure to plan your escape!

Food Trucks ‘Luxe

By now we can all agree that breweries in Orange County have a secret tractor beam that pulls us in. Gourmet food trucks, having so much metal with pots and pans and such, are also magnetically attracted to the strong force of the brewery tractor beams. There’s no other explanation for it! I wanted to spend a little time talking about some of them as they are such a huge part of our beer culture. A food truck bite, pint, and growler fill is fast becoming an average evening for a lot us beer types.

Let me start off by reminiscing about my first gourmet food truck experience: As my work migrated to Beigeland (Irvine), I found the Teller/Michelson lunch truck meetup. The large parking lot is packed with cars, usually around ten food trucks, a parade of professionals, a herd of hipsters and a flock of foodies. My first truck? Seabirds. I figured there’s no way in hell vegan food would give me a gnoshing greasy bubble gut! The other thing that attracted me to their line? The long queue of thin swanky gals, of course. If you’re going to be stuck in a line for an unknown period; lovely young ladies make the time pass more quickly.

I asked a couple girls in front of me if they’ve eaten vegan tacos before, “all the time”, answered one of them, oblivious to my crude undertones. “I bet vegan tacos aren’t fishy in the least.” I muttered, only to be ignored as they pretended to answer phone calls. Typical Irvine response! Approaching the front, I was greeted by Stephanie Morgan, a simply attractive and not-gaunt vegan brunette with a wrist tattoo of a girl being swept away by helium balloons. “What can I getcha?” as she taps her pen on the ordering pad. I settled on a trifecta of the taco offerings, a BBQ Tofu, Jerked Jackfruit, and a beer battered avocado taco. I was enamored at the simplicity and complex array of flavors for being vegan. The hot sauce? Adequately hot and flavorful. I should have prefaced this by saying I’m not vegan, or vegetarian for that matter. All food is food; if it’s tasty, I’ll eat it.

A couple nights later I was sipping some Saison Rue at the Bruery in Placentia as Seabirds rolled up. On the menu? Bruery beer battered avocado tacos. My vibrating internal giddiness didn’t stop for at least an hour. I smiled so hard it hurt. “This, is what love must feel like” I pondered silently like a teenager in a whorehouse. Just saying the name Seabirds or Stephanie Morgan makes me swoon to this day. Sadly, the birds have avoided Breweries since being on The Great Food Truck Race on FoodTV this past year. I heard rumors that they’ll opening a brick and mortar next door to Jason Quinn’s (of the Lime Truck) The Playground in Santa Ana. Please come back birds!

What is better than the swooning puppy love over vegan food? The flavorgasm that is the Rolling Sushi Van of course! Yes, sushi from a moving vehicle. I would have been hesitant over ordering sushi from a van; but a brand new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van with a full sushi kitchen seems totally appropriate. I was at Bootleggers Brewery in Fullerton when I first tried Sushi Chef Chris’s rolls. The presentation, freshness, flavor and service are impeccable. I always thought pizza was beer’s best pairing, however this combo blows it out of the water like a Zero on a PT Boat (lol WW2 humor).

My other love comes in a bright green truck, winners of the Great Food Truck race, The Lime Truck! Whenever they’re at a brewery, it makes an easy sell for my wife to join as the Lamb Sandwich is one of her favorite things in the world. I’m privy to ordering an Ultimate Taco as 12 hour pulled pork with honey slaw, homemade guac and cotija cheese pair nicely with just about anything. It’s a steal for $3! We usually split a side and have never been disappointed. Everything from fried almond crusted goat cheese to baby bok choy are great and satisfying.

Shortstop BBQ does some interesting SoCal style BBQ and hits the perfect price point and serving size quotient. Any time you can get a grilled chicken sandwich with goat cheese and fresh greens for $5 and have it be fresh and delicious you’ve got something special. The serving size is “just right”, allowing you to easily fit in a couple beers without being over stuffed. Rancho A Go Go is another BBQ option, but they usually seem to be out of half of their menu.

Favorite Newcomer: The Viking Truck. Viking does gourmet hot dogs either fried in batter or on a bun; same price. I wish they would be true Vikings and take over Hot Dog on a Stick! My fave: The Loki Dog: Spicy Kielbasa, red peppers, jalapeno, bacon, cheddar cheese, spicy brown mustard, homemade ketchup and motherfucking SRIRACHA to top it off. The top of my head is sweating just thinking about it! Their Dragon Eggs (tater tots) are also great food for pillaging your hunger! Topped with black stout chili, cheddar cheese, ketchup and sour cream. Their brats, buns, everything are all great. My kid likes the plain hot dog and cheese tots. Bootleggers Black Phoenix and the Dragon Eggs is a great pairing.

Other Mentions!

Dos Chinos – Inventive mexi-asian fusion. $5 burritos, $2 tacos. Hollywood Chicken is a flavorgasm! Kind of like Kogi without the ridiculous line.

Home Skillet Truck – Again, love the $5 price point and smaller portions. Lamb Burger has it all!

Taco Tuesday’s at Anaheim Brewery – Until Umami Burger sets up shop, the fine folks at Lindo Michoacan #2 do $1 tacos out front. Such great tacos, nice people, and great beers to pair with it.

Not impressed:

Sexy Burger – My burger was plain and fell apart. In this day and age a bun should stay together to be sexy. I don’t want my burger to look like a Kim Kardashian sat on it! Butter Face Burger, more like it.

BaconMania makes me feel like I’m going to die just reading the menu. If it’s your only option, get the BLT. The menu reminds me of the OC Fair! I love bacon, but I guess I’m not manic about it. Perhaps put an AED machine on the side of the truck and I’ll eat there more often.

Garlic Scapes – Appropriate name as garlic seemed to somehow escape from my grilled cheese. I ordered it with the intention of torturing my wife with crazy garlic breath with no such luck. “HHHHHIIIIII HHHHHHONEY!!! SMEEEELLLL MYYYYY BREAAAATH”. “Beat it cheese breath”.

Slapfish – more like bukkakefish am I right? So much sauce drowned everything into a salty oblivion. I love seafood, so much that I actually like to taste it! I hear they’re opening a restaurant as well, bring napkins or some wet wipes. If I go, I’m dressing like the Gorton’s Fisherman, don’t hate.

Brats Berlin – Any time you peak over the $5 mark for your base items, the food better be aces. The casing on my brat was so thick and intense I had to remove it. Nothing creepier than a guy removing casing from a brat, just sayin’. I’m German too. I like casing.


Five Ways to a Better Craft Beer Bar

Recently I was sipping a beer (Taps Cream Ale if you must know) at The Playground in Santa Ana and met their extremely bright and knowledgeable staff.  Something hit me: This is pretty fucking near perfect. Jarred Dooley, the Playground’s “Director of Libations”, sets out an stellar line up of draft and bottles for guests. As they’re still extremely new and obviously strive for perfection, what could I suggest to push them way ahead of everyone else? With places like The Copper Door, Beachwood BBQ, The Globe, Selmas, Pizza Port, Haven Gastropub, Chapter One and Brü all pumping out nearly 100% craft, what could set your place ahead of the pack?

Here’s five suggestions that will put your place in the Beer God level:

1) Temperature controlled draft zones. Have you ever ordered a nice Barlywine or Imperial Stout on draft, only to have it be colder than a dead Eskimo on Uranus?  I look like a severe alcoholic coddling my freezing cold beer like a baby until it warms up, “rockabye beerby, on the treetop…”. What would it take to get a smaller cooler for kegs that should be served at slightly warmer temps? Also, don’t be a hater if you see me with a laser thermometer at a bar. It makes a great pick up line as I point the beam on a shapely waitress, “this is my hotness meter baby, you’re off the charts!” <slap>

2) Carry as much signature glassware as possible. If you highlight a certain brewer or beer, why not have some of their glassware in stock? Example: The Bruery. I see a lot of crafty beer bars have them on tap; why not have some of their sexy glasses to serve their beers in? It’s super classy and it shows you care. I can understand where it might get crazy with so many offerings, so at least use proper glass styles for their beer styles. Nobody wants a stout in a pilsner glass, or a schooner full of a sour; well, maybe. I’d still drink it. <shrugs>

3) Have a daily or weekly beer menu. At the minimum, include style! Not everyone knows what a Old Orange Brewing ‘Old Dummy’ is. Bonus points awarded if you include ABV, IBU, SRM, and tap date! Inform servers when a tap is dead and what a good replacement is! Extra super manbabies if you throw in teasers for up and coming beers coming in the future: “We are tapping Angel Share next Tuesday!”. Geeks read beer menus like baseball cards.

Use the smartphone barcode scan app and keep a simple list online where guests can scan the barcode and get an updated tap list! Geek just got geekier. Go an extra step on that and make some Untappd badges for your establishment! If you earn a certain Untappd badge, give away some promo items for your place! 

3) Have a certified beer geek or Cicerone on staff. Have this person suggest a beer (or style) for each appetizer and entrée on your menu! Offer a special price if ordered together! Have the Ciserone train the wait staff what to say if someone orders a Corona; “Sorry, we’re all out of Corona right now, I heard their delivery truck went off the side of the freeway and hit a schoolbus full of children, it was horrible!! Let me suggest this Belgium Wit instead, it’s super easy drinking, let me bring you a taster.”  Changing people’s drinking habits doesn’t have to be difficult or snobby!

4) The dreaded huge bottle list. Have a huge bottle list? Yay for you! We of course love you for it! All I ask is keep it updated. If I see something I want, my heart is dead set on it. “sorry we’re out of that right now” is like breaking up with me after a ten year bromance.

Bottle conditioned beers, be sure an leave the yeast dregs in the bottle and deliver the bottle to the table. If it’s corked, be sure to uncork it at the table, and give me the cork. Some corks are dated, dry, or wet and I like to geek out on that!

5) Pliny Bait! Russian River fanboys flocking to your establishment is probably a good thing for business. Now, I’m not knocking it, all I’m saying is there are other A+ beers in the world. If you have Pliny on tap, yay for you! Keep in mind everyone else in town gets it the same time you do. Last week Tustin Brewery, Oggi’s Pizza, Beachwood BBQ, Selmas, Hollingshead and others all had fresh kegs of the greatly hyped Simcoe® nectar bomb. Can we hype something else? Please?

Now, that’s not too much to ask is it? Sure, you’re probably saying to yourself, “this guy is fucking nuts…our place is packed already.” That’s fine! 1000 status quo points for you! In the meantime I’ll keep searching for perfection! Got suggestions? I’d love to hear them here or on facebook.