My (Beerish) Golden Foodie Award Picks (Week 1)


A place is only as good as its beer list right? Show your favorite beer-friendly eatery some love at this year’s Golden Foodie Awards! Here’s my picks for week one! Vote here! 

  1. Best Mexican Food – Anepalco’s Cafe, Orange. Anepalco’s French-prepared Mexican cuisine is as tasty as it is beautiful to look at. Paired with local beer on tap? Total win. (C’mon Taco Maria, go local. Nobody should have Shipyard IPA in SoCal. Do you get your masa from Maine too?)
  2. Best Vegetarian FoodAvanti Cafe, Costa Mesa. Last year I went vegan for three months. Avanti’s food tastes like actual food, not a science experiment meat clone. Housed walking distance from Hi-Time Wine Cellar, you can guarantee their four taps rotate with quality product. Runner ups: Seabirds Kitchen, Tender Greens, Healthy Junk (and Junk Bar). Their beer is vegan too, which is why Bison and Uinta are on tap.
  3. Pizza – uh, Pizza Port in San Clemente is the obvious choice, but places like Pizzeria Ortica in Costa Mesa, Rances and Pitfire Pizza are taking beer seriously. I’d give the nod to Ortica because the chef’s homebrew saison is better than mine. His pies are legit as well! Out of the Park Pizza is a local favorite of beer geeks with one of the best tap lists in the county. Nod to Fuoco in Fullerton for making a serious delicious pie and good beer options.
  4. Beer – Now, this is sort of like picking the OCBeerBlog best beer bar in Orange County, which is true. This place must have taps that are rare, fresh and served at proper temp in clean/proper glassware. The beer menu must be meticulously planned (not 80% IPA’s, for instance). The servers must be smiley and knowledgeable about beer without being snobbish like a 1995 Tower Records employee. The servers should know the menu and what’s on tap and be willing to offer up pairing suggestions. Prices must be in line with other places (no $8 pale ales, for instance). For me it’s a tossup between Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach or The Playground DTSA. Not only is their beer list well planned, the food is also killer!
  5. American Cuisine – See #4. Add in Chapter One: The Modern Local if you like Ketchup.
  6. Burger – This is tough as I’m very particular with my burgers. I like them no bigger than my fist so I can easily fit a beer and some fries in my belly without exploding. Haven Gastropub’s Lamb Burger is one I always go back to. Nods to Fireside Tavern’s burger/beer Thursday where the chef recreates fast food burger masterpieces.
  7. Best Cocktail320 Main in Seal Beach makes the only beer cocktail I’ve ever liked, so nods go to them. The Detroiter has notes of bit-o-honey balanced with the hoppy bite of beer. Joe over at The Playground also shakes and stirs nicely.
  8. Best Food Talk Radio Show? I only listen to podcasts and I hear Four Brewers is great. Beer is food right?

Get over there and vote before the week is up! 

APRIL FOOLS: Disneyland to Open Brewery in California Adventure


Originally posted satire on April 1st.

Disneyland California Adventure has featured local craft beer for some time. When news broke this morning about the new brewhouse, I strapped on my mouse ears and screamed the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme! M I C…K E Y, WHY? Because you love Craft beer!

The brewhouse is scheduled to be complete by April 2014 in time for the Beer-Wine-Food Festival. The brewhouse will sit next to the new Ghirardelli in the Pacific Wharf area.

Disney PR listed some potential beers that will be available:

  • Bippity Boppity Brown
  • Snow Wit
  • Jane Porter
  • To Infinity and Beyond Pale Ale
  • Peoplemover Pils
  • The Abbomidable Hefeweizen
  • Jack’s Big Pumpkin Beer
  • Gipettos Barrel Aged Barley Wine
  • Merida’s Irish Red
  • Pooh’s Honey Blonde
  • John Smith’s ESB
  • Dumbo DIPA

The Initiation Situation – The Bruery’s Reserve Society Party 2013

P1050126Thanks to craft beer, the smell of nearby horse stables makes me salivate. “Smells like a brett beer out here!” I say to the guy behind me. “Nowhere else in the world would that make sense” he says with his hands folded in his armpits. I snicker nervously wiping sweat from my brow and move up two steps. The long line to get in Patrick Rue’s Big Top Cirque du Biere are barking like blood-hounds in search of a killer. Today, they’re anxious to sniff out some serious boozy barrel, funk, horse blanket, and other sour beverages on this warm afternoon.

Rico Nolan of 21 Gigawatts. Gigga WHAAA?

Rico Nolan of 21 Gigawatts. Gigga WHAAA?

Members lay down 80 cents a day to be a member of the Bruery’s Reserve Society; a buck-ninety a day for the Hoarders Society. Each one nets the member a full list of benefits. The Initiation party is a means for members to sample aging rarities, one-time cask ales, and preview some things to come. I’m here to try things I’ve never had.


“What’s on cask Barney?”

Inside the big tent, the cask of Hottenroth with Fruity Pebbles catches my eye for beer #1. “Yabba Dabba Doo!” I yell in my best Fred Flintstone voice. For a ~3% beer, this thing freaks my tongue out with some fake funky fruit, then drowns my mouth with a dry sour bath. On a side note: If you ever get the chance to sample Leinenkugel’s Summer Wheat, it tastes EXACTLY like Fruity Pebbles!

Perhaps it’s my traditional German upbringing or the hundreds of times coming to the Phoenix Club for Oktoberfest, but this is perfect place to host a beer fest. The festhalle tent, sprawling tables and grassy area offer more than enough room for the average beer savant RS member to sauce it up comfortably…weather permitting. Last year’s party was cozy and leaky like a sorority bathroom. The playground at the club even offers recess for those members wishing to relive their drunken father childhood.


Almost as good as Brats, Kraut and Potato Pancakes at the Phoenix Club.

Needing food, I chicken dance over to the Haven EZ-UP. Scored a potato roll the size of DAS BOOT, Inglorious Basterds ale braised scalped beef, Run Lola Run beer beans and Saving Private Ryan’s cumin coleslaw. Knock knock! Who’s there? Cumin! Cumin who? Cumin Coleslaw in your mouth! The real star of the offerings are the handmade BBQ sauces and mustard. I nearly went back for seconds to get additional pump-squirts like a dirty little German boy! I chose the beer Anniversary in Rum (formerly held 5 Golden Rings) to pair and it did a nice job bringing out some bold BBQ flavors. The beer’s big time coconut boozy rich rum matched intensity, heightened the sweet meat and warmed my bitter soul. This is easily the best beer festival food I’ve had. Hopefully a sign of things to come in the now abandoned Bruery Provisions spot that Haven will take over soon.

P1050154In the end, sour beers win my best in show. Maybe it’s the nice weather that makes me swoon over the tart goodies. Maybe my palate is changing. One thing is for sure, The Wanderer, Griffon Bruxellois and Sour in the Rye with Peaches easily win my best in show. Sure the Black Tuesday’s of the world are great, but these beers offer a glimpse of what the Bruery is capable of: a family complex living beers. As Bruery Provisions closed, I hope the focus on a more robust barrel program yields many beers like these for years to come. Great party by the way! Cheers!

Beers I enjoyed:

  • Hottenroth with Fruity Pebbles
  • Anniversary in Rum (Formerly held 5 Golden Rings)
  • Food from Haven Collective
  • Imperial Loakal Red
  • Griffon Bruxellois
  • The Wanderer
  • Mocha Black Tuesday
  • Nottenroth
  • White Chocolate
  • Sour in the Rye with Peach
  • Riesling Sour Blend
  • Saison De Lente


2013 OC Beer Society Chili Cookoff in Pics

Once again, the highly acclaimed Peace Brewing makes a perfect backdrop to eat chili, share some laughs and drink some super craft beer. Here’s some photos I snapped of the OC Beer Society’s event. Over 13 delicious chilis were brought this time, and mine won! Hit me up if you want the recipe.

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Yo GABF GABF! There’s a Party in my Tummy! (so yummy, so yummy)

It’s been a long time since my last trip to Denver! 30,000 feet up I can’t help but to reminisce about my last trip to visit a college girlfriend there. Not just any girl, a college dropout turn stripper. At the time, she was working at downtown Denver’s Shotgun Willies, a place that is still there after all these years. I’m not really in to strip clubs, but I thought, what the hell, boobs are great. “Ever had a lap dance?” she asked. “Never, well, not by a pro.” She waved a friend over and whispered in her ear.

Within seconds I was grabbed by the collar and shoved onto a black pleather armless sofa.  “I hope you like it rough, college boy” she said while grinding my lap like a bear itching its back on a tree.  Her four inch black stiletto heels dug into my knees as she waved her shoulder-length jet black hair across my face like a pom pom. I fogged up her thick black-rimmed glasses as Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me” blasted. Her librarian/dominatrix sort of vibe was working until she stuck her tongue in my ear and moaned, “ever get fucked in the ass with a strap-on?” I choked on my spit and laughed so hard that I was completely silent and shaking. The combination of driving two days straight while being strung out on truck-stop coffee had finally paid its toll. The thought of being ass-pegged by a stripper spun me into a crazed delirium. “You think you’re a big shot with a stripper friend, but YOU AIN’T SHIT!” she yelled as I snort-laughed while staring at her bald beefwhistle.

Denver, I’m sorry this is the only story that I associate with you. I hope to change all that this weekend.


Touching down in Denver, I shoot out of the jetbridge like a late 80’s John Elway running out of the locker-room tunnel to play in the Super Bowl. Instead of riotous applause, the terminal is morbidly quiet with phone zombies floating about in their private bubbles. I could shit on the floor and nobody would notice. I’m here with a GABF media badge, in Denver, to write about Craft.Fucking.Beer. I pound my chest, take a leak, and look for the Super Shuttle.

Do it yourself, assholes!

Next stop: La Quinta Inn: A quality three star highway-side shithole with no pool and do-it-yourself waffle bar.  I am all about the fucking waffle bar! By the end of this trip I will master that damn thing like I’m Gordon Ramsay with a bullwhip. On the shuttle, every poor son of a bitch is in a crappy mood. I sit by lady dressed in a velour track suit sprinkled generously with cat fur and yellowy cigarette tar. “Is that one of those smart phones?” she asks. “I still use an old fashioned cellular” digging through her ‘hoarder on a go’ purse. I notice she’s got a dozen prescription bottles. “Good God woman, got anything good in there? She digs further, pulling out a bottle big enough to hold a roll of quarters. “Here’s a few Risoprodol with Vicodin. What a few?” I’m liking Denver already.

Being a homebrewer, I’ve been toying with a smoked IPA recipe (tentatively called “Blowing Smoke Up Your Ass IPA”) for a few weeks and I heard Golden Road Brewing in LA is releasing the same style here at GABF. Stopping into their release event at the Kitchen Community, I literally hear someone say, “the toilet is full of love.” Take that as you will, gentle readers. These Los Angeles people don’t fuck around.

My name is Любовь Ансимова. Want to see my burning bush?

The Kitchen Community is a bright and airy gastropub sitting on a nice corner spot within the 16th Street Mall downtown. Menu options are everything from fresh seafood (Oysters, Muscles, Caviar) to a nice Lamb Burger. As the whole point of this stop is to try a Burning Bush, I have a can cracked and sent my way. Initially the aroma has slight smoke aroma balanced well with some hops. The fuzzy tan head is substantial, capping off a dimly glowing orange beer. I can easily equate the beer to dating a Russian model: First impression, not that smoky, little bit of booze and sexy as all hell. As the night wears on, all those cigarettes she smokes start to intensify. As you make out with her, you think to yourself, “this is the best smoked IPA I’ve ever had.” As the beer warms, the smoke really cranks up a notch. With rauch malt only 2% of the grist, I really need to dial my recipe back! Check it out if you see it!

GABF is here! I pick up my bright orange media badge and head in. Stay tuned!

LA Beer Week Goes Out with LA BANG!

Even Emma Watson gets the beer farts in her cute British tushy.

Hopping a train for LA Beer Week’s festival makes me feel a tad “Harry Potterish”. L.A.’s Union Station is set to be full of magic potions, beer goggles, and hopefully a hundred Emma Watson lookalikes simultaneously casting the “Dongus Penetratio” spell at my crotchal region. My train is pregnant with pretzel-necklace wearing beer types, pre-lubing their gastrointestinal tracts with Gatorade.

Squeeking into Union Station an hour early gives me the chance to romanticize about this building’s past. The pre-WW2 architecture seduces me into absorbing the ambience and to snap a few shots. A young lady in 4″ heels walks nearby on the travertine marble floors. As her walk echos, every man and woman near me watches the show. Being inside this space feels dramatic and perhaps a bit historically glamorous.copyright 2012

Briefly continuing my self guided tour, a homeless man having a nap in the wooden throne-bench style chairs looks like a work of art. The only thing corrupting the space is the wafting aroma of Subway Sandwiches and Wetzles Pretzels bread ovens. I check my watch as hot sunlight pours through the windows and warms the station. Outside, festival goers ripen in the hot high noon sun, ready to be revived with revelry and perhaps a cold craft beer or two twenty.

The clock strikes twelve as festival goers head to the nearest jockey box. My main goal of the day is to sample as many of the LA Beer Week themed-beers as possible. I can’t say that I’ve ever had Prickly Pear in a beer, but I’m sure the odd fruit will lend some earthyness and a beautiful violet hue. With a Noble Ale Works Tall Dark & Handsome in hand, I head out for a little beer-fest cartography.

The Fest is laid out into two sections, blazing hot sun and a covered hall. Outside, most people cram into the shady area, only running out to get a beer like a Meerkat at the zoo running to fetch a peanut. Bravery Brewing, despite the name, is stationed in the cool comforts of the covered area; whereas most Orange County breweries were sentenced to the confines of the sun’s evil death rays. Anthony of Coronado Brewing Co. may break out the Geneva Convention next year if he doesn’t get an umbrella! Poor fellah!

Anthony Levas of Coronado Brewing Co. trying his best not to melt.

Among all the Prickly Pear beers offered, the festival’s flagship beer, UNITY, (Rye Berliner Weisse brewed with the cactus fruit) was one of the most interesting of the dozen or so offered. Not knowing anything about it before I took a drink, I had a full on shart face trying to figure it out. For a 3%ish beer, there’s a lot going on in terms of yeast/bready/fruityness. It’s tart, super pale and a light, yet bubbly effervescence that makes it super drinkable.

Local OC guys from Cismontane Brewing Co. brought up Nopal de Trigo (Hef brewed with hand-pressed prickly pear juice). I’m impressed how many breweries brought a theme beer! I was shocked the Bruery didn’t have something, it seems right up their alley. I was surprised there were no porters or stouts done with the pear. To test the theory, I got a 1″ pour of Deschuttes Black Butte XXIV and topped it off with Haven Brewing’s Hef with Prickly Pear. To my surprise, it tasted like a watermelon Now-N-Later!

The Weinberg Quartet. Bourbon Barrel Aged ‘Blacks Nocturne’ is Heaven in a glass.

Aside from all the Prickly Pear business, nobody held back with their standard lineup. I had beer after beer on my wish list, Untapping each on my quest for the Legendary badge. New Belgium/Alpine Beer Co’s Super IPA, Bootleggers Brewing Co. Knuckle Sandwich, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing Co’s System of a Stout with Portola Coffee, Cismontane’s Black’s Nocturne, four solid beers from Logsdon, Hangar 24’s Fresh Hop IPA, Stone Brewing Co’s Suitable for Cave Aging and many more were savored in the hot sun!

Bootleggers pouring Knuckle Sandwich, right in the kisser, you sorry son of a bitch.

Food Options are a little thin without a long wait in the hot sun. Sticking with a liquid lunch in this heat isn’t a great idea, so I insta-chug three Coconut Waters (free) and an Iced Coffee from Portola Coffee Lab’s table. Their coffee totally ruins all other coffee! I can see why many brewers prefer their beans. Revived, I stalk Hallie Beaune of the Beer Chicks to say hello. She’s the only person wise enough to bring an umbrella to this hootenanny. I also run into David Logsdon and rave in his ear for several minutes. His Saezon Bretta is hands down my favorite beer of this summer. His Wit? Yeah, he’s pretty witty.

Beachwood BBQ & Brewing’s System of a Stout is brewed with Portola Coffee Lab’s beans.

Late in the day I use my fest-cartography skills and touch upon some breweries I’ve never sampled. Ritual Brewing, Kinetic Brewing Co, Monkish Brewing Co, Smog City Brewing Co, Figueroa Brewing, and Surf Brewery all have some nice unique beers. Smog City’s Weird Beer and Quercus Circus with Citra Hops floored me…How do I get this again? I look forward to trying more from this crop of brewers!

Overall, everyone I spoke with said they were loving it! LA Beer Week is on the map and should be treated seriously. The festival to cap the week off is super classy! Having a beer festival in a historic train station is even classier.

As LA Beer Week claims OC as part of it, I’d like to see way more participation from restaurants and Gastropubs in my neck of the woods. Haven Gastropub and Beachwood BBQ were on board with special nights, whereas most breweries displayed their wizardry well out of Orange County. Why not have some LA Breweries come down to OC for some special events? If we’re all in the same family, we should act like it.

Yams? Yep. Prickly Pair? Nope. – with the Bruery (but still awesome)

So, I head back home…perhaps a bit ripe from the festivities. Lady next to me offers a squirt of her body butter and gladly accept.  Now feeling a bit “Buffalo Billish” ala Silence of the Lambs, I had a great time! See you next year, LA Beer Week!

Shout outs! Great to meet ‘Social Spitfire’ Cambria Griffith at Golden Road Brewing, Anthony Levas from Coronado Brewing Co, David Logsdon from Logsdon and Kevin Kansy from Artisan Ales, Jeff Clinard and Jeff Duggan from Portola Coffee Lab, Serena Montenegro, and the always lovely Randy Clemens. Stay classy, you sexy sons of bitches.

Imagine if the airport was this classy.


Haven Brewing debuts in Orange for their 3rd Anniversary!

courtesy Anne Watson Photography www.annewatsonphoto.comIt’s 5:00 P.M. on a balmy Monday night, nerves shot from an emotional day sending my kid to Kindergarten. At Haven Gastropub in Orange, I bet brewmaster Dave Larsen is having the same feelings. Debuting his beers for the first time in his native Orange, I’m sure It feels like an artist’s first show or the first time a stripper shows her junk on stage. Making the jump from a homebrewer/sou chef at Haven to brewmaster is astonishing. Tapping ten beers in five months is equally ambitious! Although the beer isn’t brewed in OC, this event is essentially the welcoming of yet another craft brewer to our growing list in Orange County. Are the beers good? We shall see. (Pretty photos courtesy of blog collaborator Anne Watson Photography

courtesy Anne Watson Photography www.annewatsonphoto.comI pull in a bit early, drop anchor on a stool and snap a few shots. At the stroke of six, Haven’s front door looks like the tube of an arriving flight. A constant flow of people attack the tables and bar area like an army of well dressed ants. My goal for the evening? Sample every beer and have fun! Sampling every beer is not an easy task given brewmaster Dave Larsen’s average ABV with ten beers is 8%.

courtesy Anne Watson Photography www.annewatsonphoto.comAlong with ten Haven beers, the special 3rd Anniversary menu is an ode to Haven Gastropub and spinoffs.  Taco Asylum, Burger Haven and special gatropubish offerings are layed out in a proper celebratory fashion. The thing I’m most excited about are menu items in the $5-10 range for small plate foods. I would love to see more of these items in regular rotation! Thirstier than a beerblogger at a bar, I get hit with a paddle of Gross National Happyness (cream ale), Hafen Hef, upRYEsing (rye IPA) and Diana Brown with a side of Taco Asylum Wild Mushroom Taco. My flip flops rhythmically clap my heels to the beat of Fiona Apple’s ‘Fast As You Can’ playing obliviously over the heads of this full house.

courtesy Anne Watson Photography

Brewmaster Dave Larsen gingerly watches like a lifeguard at a pool. No splashing Dammit!

The last time I saw Haven this busy was a month after they opened! The tiny alcove window seats are sealed thick with bodies chomping at the bit for a beer. Jeremy the bartender scans the bar left and right like he’s watching a tennis match with two Russian gals playing. Dave Larsen stands nervously near the bar, scratching his red beard, like he’s about to be married. Lets get down to business!

Diving into the flight:

GNH Cream Ale is a light and herbal beer with low bitterness and a dry finish. Notes of sage, honey and spearmint ring the nose. I’d recommend this for someone that doesn’t like dark beer or the bitterness of an IPA. Fun fact: It’s brewed with some special heirloom red rice. Bitches love heirloom red rice.

courtesy Anne Watson Photography www.annewatsonphoto.comHafen Hef is just that, a traditional Bafarian Hefeweizen. It has some nice bubble gum flafor up front, yet mild banana and clofe. [Geek note – Drinking a hef in a 4oz taster on draft is not ideal. Most of my excitement drinking a trad Hef is how pretty it looks when poured in proper glassware. The bright golden-orange beer topped with a frothy meringue-like head is a necessity!] Bottom line: If you like Hef’s you’ll like Hafen’s version. It is heafenly. Skip the lemon, you heathen. (v’s replaced with f’s on purpose you feluptuous fagina fulture.)

* Fave of the evening! upRYEsing – I loves me some rye malt all up in my beers! Up front this is still a hoppy IPA with some juicy grapefruit and tropical notes chased with a slick pepper spice on the finish. It goes perfectly with my Wild Mushroom Taco! Each bite and sip found heat in the taco and complements the huge umami/parsley/garbonzo flavors going on. If Taco Asylum carries upRYEsing, I highly recommend this pairing. I can only imagine how the Ghost Chili Pork taco would fare with this beer. I’m salivating and clenching thinking about it.

Diana Brown – Sadly, my flight was mis-poured and I didn’t get a chance to sample this beer.  I got two Hef’s on my paddle. Dammit.

courtesy Anne Watson Photography www.annewatsonphoto.comOn to bigger and better things, I sample the oaked and non-oaked versions of Bremasters Breakfast Oatmeal Stout. Whoa there cowboy! This is a monster! Wait… what? This is damn near Old Rasputin Imperial Stout! An Oatmeal Stout shouldn’t be this big, bold, dry and boozy. When I think Oatmeal Stout, I think smooth, creamy roasty-roastyness!. I assume this is a mis-poured 100 Rubles, Haven’s Russian Imperial Stout. The oaked version, assuming it is also the 100 Rubles on Oak, really mellows out the mouthfeel, adding in some pleasant oak tannins and booze while boosting the dark fruit notes.


Sosigenes Double IPA is a huge hit with the crowd around me. The draft board is numbered and people order fast-food style. I overhear, “I’d like a number 6” many times. Haven’s bartenders, despite standing next to the draft board force people to say the name, causing some pretty hilarious mispronunciations.  Winner of the night: “I’D LIKE A SNAUSAGES PLEASE!” Haha! I personally thought it was soh-sih-JUH-knees, but I heard Wil Dee (Haven’s Bev Mgr) say it as soh-sih-jen-nis. Potato, Potato. It’s a damn tasty DIPA with tons of hops sitting on an easy drinking malt backbone. Paired with the Taco Asylum Short Rib Taco doesn’t do the taco any favors. The ‘salsa verdi’ in the taco is reminiscent of Italian salad dressing, perhaps a mis-douse? it was weird, although I still inhaled it.

damn auto correct

Changing my luck, I grab a sure-fire pint of Hello World Pale Ale to cap off the evening. I lift anchor on my bar stool and chat with Dave for a bit. “I need a beer” he says wiping sweat off his brow. “This tastes exactly like my Organic Pale Ale homebrew, which I love” I say. We both stare awkwardly at Greer Wylder nearby. “Welp, have a good night!”. “You too”. I’m like the Ryan Seacrest of beer blog interviewers. I was going to ask about growler fills, kegs, bottles, what’s coming up through the end of the year, why rice in a cream ale, what other fun adjuncts are you brewing with, is the moon made of swiss cheese, who trims your beard, etc. I drew a blank. Sorry readers!

I’m mildly annoyed Kate Upton has a tiger.


Despite the mis-steps, Haven is still Haven. She’s like a beautiful girl that slightly annoys you from time to time, but you keep coming back because she’s super hot, ready for action and delicious. I’d like to see some more session beers to round out the beer repertoire; a 3-4% English Bitter, Porter or Mild might be pub friendly. I’m still impressed with this initial public offering after five short months. If they keep it up, they will surely increase my gross national happiness!


Hours of operation are 11 a.m. – 2 a.m. daily. Walk-ins welcome. For more information, including address and phone number, visit (on Facebook,

Haven Gastropub on Urbanspoon

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. 

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, 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