7 Stages of Grief – Bruery Provisions Closes

Blankly staring at my twitter feed, it popped up. “Bruery Provisions is closing”. My early morning pre-coffee brain repeated the phrase several times as if it were abstract poetry.  Provisions for me is why I’m typing this shit right now. I’ve always loved beer, but when I stumbled in Provisions for the first time, I knew beer was finally winning. A flight of beers and wedge of cheese is all it took for me to register this site. Hearing the news, I sat in shock and clicked the link. Then it hit me, I’m on stage one of the seven stages of grief.
My second visit years ago. Two flights and some notebook paper for notes.

My second visit years ago. Two flights and a paper scrap for notes.

Stage 1: Shock and Denial

My initial reaction? I thought the The Bruery’s site was hacked and this was some sort of sick joke. Not funny assholes! I was about to email Ben Weiss, the Bruery’s director of Marketing, then his press release hit my inbox:

We at The Bruery regret to announce that we will be closing our retail shop & tasting area in Old Towne Orange, The Bruery Provisions, on Sunday, January 13th.  Provisions has been an important part of our company, spawned by our passion for craft beer and the opportunity to introduce others to it. Our decision to shut the doors did not come easy…

Thinking I was obviously on the show Punk’d, I got excited that I might get the chance to kick Ashton Kutcher square in the crotch. Wouldn’t that be nice to strap on a pair of those creepy Vibram shoes with the finger-toes and do some Kutcher ball damage?

Stage 2: Pain and Guilt

patrick and greg koch

Future owner on the left? The pre-crazy beard man Greg Koch visits Provisions Nov 2011.

Realizing it’s not a joke, I looked back to some of my old posts and photographs at Provisions while drinking an old Provisions Series beer. “No more Provisions Series beers” I mumbled softly. Is there anything I could have done to keep them open? Could I have shopped there more? What if I did just one more blog post? It’s all my fault dammit! I’m a horrible monster and pray for death!

Stage 3: Anger and Bargaining

I hit rock bottom seeing Instagrams of the 30% liquidation Provisions beer hauls.  #bruery #provisions  #whalesbro #haul #sadface #curbstomp #face #candyfromababy #craftbeer #beer #sours #upshitkriek #beerporn #instadrunk #beerninja #neverforget #BP4eva #poursomebeerout #deadhomey #birdwell #stpaul #yams #10000IBU

Cindy Santoyo's haul pic.

If your Provisions haul pic needs iPhone Panoramic, you done good. Craft beer geek/hoarder Jason Moore’s haul pic of deliciousness.

Did Patrick Rue lose a poker bet? Did the mob force him out of Orange? Did Ken Hollingshead Sr. visit Patrick in a dream? Were sales that bad?

“But they added a patio last year!”, “But they added full pints!”, “But the classes were always sold out!”, “But their grilled cheese sandwiches were awesome” But, but but…Damn.

Stage 4: Depression, Reflection and Lonliness

pic courtesy Cambria Griffith @goldenroadbrew

Sad Kendra hates GABF head. (pic courtesy Cambria Griffith @goldenroadbrew)

I thought about lighting candles. I thought about listening to The Cure Disintegration.  No more sneaking in for a quick flight while my wife antique shops. No more fun beer/cheese classes. No more La Tur cheese and a pint for dinner. No more Old Town Orange beer crawls. No more chatting with GM Kendra, Asst. Man. Lauren and the rest of their talented staff. No more meeting random craft beer curious old people that stumble in for beers. No more guest flight nights. Provisions did everything right…maybe too right. Sure their tasting room at the brewery is ‘enhanced’, but it’s nowhere near what Provisions was. It was a magical place full of talented people where beer was handled with respect.

Stage 5: The Upward Turn

Re-reading the farewell email, something struck me:

…increased our production capacity by 130% in the last few months.  About 40% of our beer is aged in barrels for a year or longer, and we’ve amassed a collection of over 3,000 barrels to achieve this.  In evaluating how The Bruery should operate in order to achieve its goals, it became apparent Provisions is not the best use of our limited resources.

So, if the awesomeness that is the Provisions is gone, I would expect to see The Bruery’s beer production unfold in an equal and opposite reaction. I want to be dazzled by their beers more than now. Simply bretting/bourbon barrel/or tossing fruit on a base beer? That’s not good enough. Is adding new branches to their huge family tree of award winning beers the way to go? Maybe revisiting successful beers another option? We shall see. Losing the Provisions is a huge loss for craft beer, and I expect to see dividends. Given The Bruery’s track record, I have full faith they can pull it off.

The Provisions staff preps for the Black Tuesday party.

The Provisions staff preps for the first and last Black Tuesday party.

Stage 6: Reconstruction and Working Through

Provisions had it all: people, place, and product. Can someone else step in and do a great job? Sure, but they’ve got some very big shoes to fill. Why did the previous tenant ‘Frog’s Breath’ fail? With huge regional craft brewers like Stone Brewing setting up stores throughout SoCal, or with successful local entrepreneurs like Julie Lim at OC Wine Mart as possible interested parties, the future looks bright. Different, but bright. (Note that I have no knowledge who is interested in the spot, I’m merely speculating.)

Stage 7: Acceptance and Hope

help-me-obi-wanBruery Provisions was such a bright spot on the craft beer map. Not just for OC…it was a destination. For out of towners, it was a one-stop shop. Sure you can visit Hacienda Beverage, Vendome Liquor or HI-Time Wine Cellar for bottles. Sure you can get great beer and slow-food at The Playground, Hopscotch, Carolina’s Italian, The Globe, Selmas and Beachwood BBQ. Sure we can visit the many great Breweries and Brewpubs in OC. As craft beer continues to grow, I’m sure we will see other boutique style shops open. The up and coming Packing District in Anaheim is ripe for a small cheese/beer shop.

Overall, I’ll miss my favorite beer and cheese shop. I’m thankful that it existed to begin with as it sparked me this righteous path of deliciousness, fearless writing, and fun.

For posterity, I saved their final draft list:

On Deck at The Bruery Provisions – 8

Thrilled About Lupulin!

High on lupulin after a night out at the Bootleggers tap take over at Bruery Provisions, I was thrilled to help write some text for a beer label. Bootleggers Lupulin Thrill is a fantastic hopped up IPA with nice citrus-pine notes on top of a slightly biscuity maltyness. I suggested the pic be a hop cone riding a tongue roller coaster, but Bootleggers did a great job with an actual roller coaster. I need to buy some bottles for posterity!

Chocosauraus Rye – A Collaboration Parody

One fine morning in Fullerton, Aaron Barkenhagen of Bootleggers was surfing Craigslist for brewing equipment. The W4M topic caught his eye and he came upon the following ad:

“Hmmm, Every guy loves a spontaneous gal with a sweet tooth, gonna get some of this action!” thought Aaron.

From Mr. Wort to B. Ann O’Myces

I’m totally Mr. Wort. I want to get FUNKY with you soon girl! I’m a super sweet dude too, lets hook up for a beer, k

O’Myces replies:

 

Ooh, I love a nice sour, know where I could get one? Here’s a recent pic I took!

 

Aaron replies:


The Bruery has one, I’ll meet you there Friday night. I’ll have the “Drink Local” shirt on!

As this long (and totally believable) story goes, Aaron walks into the Bruery, Tyler King sitting off to the side waiting for Mr. Wort to walk through the double doors. “Aaron?”, “Hi Tyler!”. “Are you Mr. Wort?”, “YEAH, Are you B. Ann O’Myces? Oh shit…B. Ann O’Myces with a picture of a heart in a petri dish…How could I be so naive?!? Brettanomyces seeks wort! I get it now! hahaha!”, I figured this would be a great way to do a beer collaboration, with creepy dudes from the internet”. “Right-o!”.

Both grab a beer and decide on the collaboration over the hilarity. “Chocosaurus Rye” is born.

Beer Info: Orange County is surrounded by fantastic breweries these days and in the spirit of the growing local craft beer movement, we have decided to team up with some of our friends for a series of collaboration ales. The first beer is Chocosaurus Rye, which we brewed with the fine folks of Bootlegger’s Brewery. Located less than four miles from our own brewery and started within months of each other, Bootlegger’s have been great friends of ours since the beginning and it seemed fit to brew our first local collaboration with them. Chocosaurus Rye is an amalgamation of our two breweries styles: a dark rye lager that was finished with cacao nibs and vanilla beans. There aren’t many lagers that work well in the winter, but this one, full of rye spice and chocolate should do the trick.  7% abv.

It should hit the shelves before Feb 2012. The Bruery Reserve Society members have until 1/23 to purchase a two bottle allocation.

Here’s a video preview:


Apologies to Patricia :)

Meat, Cheese and Beer Class!

It’s no secret among my friends that I’m in love with the Bruery Provisions in Orange. I check her Facebook daily, I look at her Twitter. I stop in sometimes for a quick flight and wedge of La Tur cheese. BP totally gets me. I wish I could quit you, BP!

I signed up for the “Throwing a Party with Charcuterie and Cheese” class with my wife and some friends. Why would I want to throw a party with cheese and charcuterie you ask? What the hell is charcuterie anyway? Spell check has no clue! Charcuterie is meat that has been prepared by salting, aging, smoking, etc. Think bacon, pâté, sausage, jerky, etc. It’s what our forefathers did before refrigeration to make their meat last longer and make them delicious.

Upon arrival, the plates were already prepped with five cheese, meat, nut and dried fruit pairings. I was happy to see a provided notebook describing everything in great detail, and a pen to take notes. BP doesn’t mess around! The class was moderated by Cheesemonger and Culinary Manager Kendra Birdwell, which seriously puts the “cute” in charcuterie. Single people should be asking this gal out! Seriously…she reminded me of a mix of Amy Adams and Zooey Deschanel, but with cheese breath. That might be a deal breaker for some of you love birds.

The class began and Kendra broke out into an introduction to tasting. “Sniff, look, taste, swirl, sniff, taste, swish, eat, taste, repeat!” For some reason all this stinky cheese and cured meat got me a little frisky. Matters got worse as my wife was rubbing my leg under the tasting room table! I was totally freaking out! I even had a daydream in slow-mo where my wife pulls the barrette out of her hair and waves it from side to side, revealing her gorgeous flowing hair. As her hair flies across my nose, I inhale deeply and quickly snap back to reality when all I smell is Goat Cheese and Truffle Mousse (cue the fog horn).

First Pairing: Journey to the Center of the Earth. The Bruery Salt of the Earth Beer, Humbolt Fog Goat Cheese and Fabrique Delices Truffle Mousse. I was excited as I’ve never had this beer as it’s not available really anywhere aside from here. The beer is cloudy with minimal head, aroma consisting of some coriander and some funk. It had some earthy and grassy notes on the quaff with a chalky-wheaty mouthfeel. I’m not a big goat cheese fan, and my wife isn’t a big funky beer fan. We were both shocked that we liked what we usually don’t care for! The beer paired exceptionally well with the cheese, heightening the flavors. The pâté also has earthy notes of mushroom and truffles. The entire package when consumed simultaneously was a perfect match, each one heightening the flavors of the other. The cheese flavor quickly ramps up and the pâté smooths it out. The beer brings it to a higher level, then cleanses for the next bite so it doesn’t cloy. In the photo above, the cheese and pâté are on the left with the dried apricot resting on top. The pâté looks like a small piece of pumpernickel bread, but it’s Mousse, with the consistency of a creamy hummus.

Second Pairing: Silence of the Lambs. Pictured on the lower left corner. Bruery Snicklefritz! with P’tit Basque Sheeps milk cheese and Molinary – Finnochiona Pork fennel salami. Beer was clear bronze, notes of coriander, ginger and maple on the nose, taste was typical Belgian strong with notes of toffee, spice, and dark fruits. The strong fennel in the salami brought me back to 1978 Pizza Hut Pepperoni. It was a total Ratatouille moment where the food critic goes back to his childhood on one taste of the dish. The cheese was too subtle to stand up to the big flavors in the beer, but was a nice contrast. “toughened your nipples didn’t it?” – Dr. Hannibal Lecter. By they way, I’m naming the pairings, they weren’t named.

Third Pairing: Cheesing My F’ing Brains Out!: Pictured on the top left corner. Bruery Batch 300, Cypress Grove – Midnight Moon cheese and Molinari Hot Salami. It’s always nice to taste some Citra hops as they usually have a tropical-citrusy aroma, but in this case all I got was a slight cat pee scent. Sometimes that hop can give ‘off’ aromas at less than ideal temperatures or ages, or perhaps the remnants of my cold threw off my nose. I was glad to see I was the only one getting that aroma. The cheese really worked well bringing the heat down from the salami and it also had those little dried calcium lactate crystals that I love so much. God I love those things…and they’re good for you too! Also paired was a simple olive oil cracker which helped cleanse the pallet.

Fourth Pairing: Autumnal Flavorgasm. Pictured on the upper right. Out of the five pairings, this was all of our favorite. The Bruery Autumn Maple, Beemster – XO Gouda, Prosciutto De Parma and candied walnuts. Alone, each of these were good, but altogether worked like the cast of Friends in my mouth (without Ross of course). Beer poured a hazy auburn with hints of allspice and nutmeg on the nose. Taste is a boozy clove yam-fest. Interesting fall beverage, although it’s got nothing on my Maple Wheat! Gouda is one of my favorite styles of cheese and this was like nothing I’ve ever had. The prosciutto was aged  18 months, was floppy, fatty, salty, delicious. I made a little mini-burrito with the meat as the tortilla, two wedges of cheese and the candied walnut. Flavorgasm with the beer! So no one told you life was gonna be this way *clap*clap*clap*clap* Your job’s a joke, you’re broke, your love life’s DOA! It’s like you’re always stuck in Richard Gere….Sorry for getting that song stuck in your head.

Fifth Pairing: the Big Pickle. I say that because we were all feeling a bit pickled at this point! Pictured on the bottom right (above). Beer is Bruery 3rd anniversary Cuir (pronounced queer?), Bleu De Causses cheese and Bresaola beef charcuterie. Beer had big time dark fruits on the nose and appeared a deep murky plum juice. Taste was booze, figs, raisins, molasses. I don’t remember much of this, luckily I took notes! Don’t laugh at my ‘taste of cheese’ comment! The drawing depicts how the flavors ramp up on my tongue, the vertical line is when I take a sip. I know it’s weird! Don’t be a hater!The class as a whole was extremely informative and Kendra was great at answering questions. She walked around to talk to people to get their opinions on everything. The booklet was thorough at explaining every detail. The Bruery is such a gem to have in Orange County and I couldn’t recommend taking a class there more. I was surprised at the older crowd; maybe the younger crowd thought it was too pricey? $35 was well worth it for the supplies alone.

The thing I really learned from the class is how to break down a cheese and meat selection at the store. I’ve always found it daunting to drop some serious cash on something that might not pair well. With my knowledge of beer, I’ll start with that and work my way to a cheese and meat that might work with it. Or, I can easily go with one of the pairings above. It really made it seem easy. Thanks Bruery Provisions!

Classes are usually on Wednesdays. Contact the Bruery Provisions, or check her twitter and the facebooks.

Next class:

Belgian Cheese and Beer
with Kendra, The Bruery Cheesemonger @ The Bruery Provisions, $30

Wednesday, September 21st 2011

8pm-9:30pm