Hot ‘Buzz on Buzz’ Action – Portola Coffee Invades Iron Press Tap Takeover

6:42 PM on a Tuesday, The Iron Press, OC Mix, Costa Mesa, California, USA, Earth, Milky Way, dot on the back of a ladybug in an alternate universe.


Much how a car runs on oil, The Iron Press runs on beer. Each tap handle a piston, each waffle sandwich an airbag punching you in the face and each beer the gasoline that pumps through our sparkplugged-veins. Tonight, we’re getting lubricated with high-octane turbo caffeinated beers; all Portola Coffee Lab infusions from (mostly) local breweries.

After a flight, I find myself clutching the bar tightly with one hand and curiously tapping the drum solo to Rush’s Tom Sawyer with the other. Curious, because DJ LexaKhan’s turntable is spinning Depeche Mode’s “Just Can’t Get it Up.” “Can I get a Heyay! Can I get a Ho-oh!” he requests waving his hand in the air. The highly java-based beer buzz yields an immediate response from the tightly packed P-shaped restaurant; some found it proper to wave their shaky beers around in the air (like they just don’t care).

Portola lives and breathes just a few steps from The Iron Press in the OC Mix. Jeff Duggan, the owner/roaster is at this event; smiling, intense and looking like Rick Moranis in ‘Honey I Shrunk the Kids’. “What’s your favorite so far?” he asks, sliding his glasses up his nose fastidiously. “Smog City’s Fluffy Fuzz Buzz,” I reply, noting the Kongo beans blending well with the base beer. He nods, knowingly, “Hmmm, yes”.


Sitting in the blind spot.

The beer menu at this event is ripe with seventeen varieties, laid out with ABV’s ranging 3.8% to 13.8%. As I was expecting all stouts, I’m astonished with the variety of styles. Graetzer, Flemish Red, Cream Ale, Stout, Amber, Tripel and Porter are here presenting the range of choices that work with Portola’s beans to varying success. Some beers are production versions, such as Noble’s Naughty Sauce and the Bruery’s Mash & Grind. Others are one-offs for the event.

After sipping Epic’s Big Bad Baptist with a shot of espresso tossed in at serving, I take my light jacket off and lean back. Sweat forming on my brow, this beer is a real leg-crosser. I’m somehow channeling my inner-Italian Spiderman, sipping my beer like a freshly-fired macchiato…pinkie out and making subtle slurping noises.


My faves: Torrance’s Smog City and Monkish

The fruitiest beer of the bunch, Monkish’s Caffè della Vita melded dark fruit coffee notes, nutty pistachio, vanilla and Belgian yeast esthers behind a very well hidden 9.8% ABV. What’s with these Torrance guys killing it? Topping things off, I even got a shoulder massage from Monkish’s Brian White, claiming “you look tense.” You bet your ass I look tense. The Iron Press is tense with uppers and downers fighting for your soul like a tug-o-war. If terrorists were to attack the OC Mix, safe to say the people inside this restaurant would fucking roll their non-caffeinated sober asses like a pissed off beehive.

010ee09f55a15b4d2e799062a203623b143e9a8612The Iron Press roped off the patio creating an outdoor space for Beer Savage swag and casks from Cismontane and Coronado Brewing. Blue Bridge Coffee Stout, one of my favorite easy to get $5/22oz coffee stouts. Sadly, it lacks any tickling of carbonation. Cismontane’s Roja I used to be a fan of, however this version has a funky acetobacter type sourness and hints of mildewy wood on the finish.

Overall, I consider Portola Coffee Labs to be among the brewing community and this evening proves it. Great beers, DJ Lex is always a pro, and the Iron Press continues to be the best place to grab a beer in Costa Mesa.

Royal Treatment / Noble Ale Works 2nd Anniversary Party

royalty sign

royalty beerTwo seconds after getting my red-wristband strapped and tasting glass, the sign for Royalty beams me in like the Death Star. Sampling Orange County’s first Triple IPA is my primary directive on this red letter day. Looking like a Barleywine and smelling like a stadium filled with fruity hops, Royalty is highly aristocratic on my palate. Fierce notes of exotic tropical fruits tar-and-feather my taste buds. “I think I stubbed my tongue” I say to the milfy volunteer pouring the stuff. She raises an eyebrow and smirks. The boozy 11% ABV peeps it’s head out to say “hi!”, then sucker punches me in the face repeatedly with its long 125 IBU finish. I quickly get a second pour to be sure…don’t hate! The second drink grabs my tongue in a figure-four leg lock, forcing me to succumb to its behemoth hop load. I dip my pinkie in the glass and rub some behind my ears, you know…for good luck, and to keep bears away. Glad that I survived the big hill of this roller coaster, I can coast along and enjoy myself.

Julian Shrago of Beachwood BBQ & Brewing with Noble Ale Works brewer Evan PriceChef Greg Daniels and Wil Dee of Haven Collective sandwich Evan Price.Jonas and Patrick of the Bruery next to Rick Smets of Stereo Brewing

The fenced in area in front of Noble Ale Works hosts a diverse set of food trucks, guests and delicious craft beer. The always delicious Rolling Sushi Van, GarlicScapes, Short Stop BBQ, the Viking Truck (among others) serve up beer-friendly lunch and snacks. Old people, young people, parents, toddlers, hot girls, dweebs, pliny shirts, and local pro brewers are showing their support for Noble today. I spotted (a thinning) Patrick Rue and Jonas Nemura of The Bruery, Julian Shrago owner/brewer/crooner of Beachwood BBQ & Brewing, Brian Avery of Bravery Brewing (Lancaster, CA), Chef Greg Daniels and Wil Dee of the Haven Collective, Jarred Dooley of The Playground, Kyle Manns of TAPS Fish House & Brewery, Kenny and Mike Hollingshead, as well as Anaheim’s Mayor Tom Tait.


Jerry Kolbly gives a brief history lesson.

coconut changer

Coconut Changer on Cask. Oily!

Along with the diversity of food and people, Noble’s Jerry Kolbly, Evan Price and Brad Kominek lined up a diverse array of beers for the day. Four casks (served every hour) kept a constant flow of people in the tasting room and brewhouse. I tasted three, Knight Changer with toasted coconut being one of my favorites of the day. Dank, oily, tropical, thick and decadent; I wish I had a wooden tiki cup to sip this out of!

Royalty on cask is also a game changer; the hops have an entirely different fruity flavor mixed with a catty finish compared to the draft version. Keeping with the tropical island cask flavors, the IPA with grapefruit makes me wish I had a grass hula-skirt and a coconut bra. I’ve made a beer version of a tropical cocktail called ‘Meihana’ (Anaheim backwards) in the past, and this beer would make a great base for it. I missed the fourth cask, sadly. Boohoo. So sad.

mayor and i

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait and I clank the India Dark Ale w/Simcoe.


India Dark Ale w/ Simcoe

On tap in the tasting room comes another facet of flavor from Noble: Pepper, coffee and tea beers. Pistol Whip’d with Serrano (Pistola), Imperial Stout with Morita Chiles & Yellow Curry (Good Time), Triple IPA with Habanero (Shotgun) all knocked my socks off Kurt Cobain style. Other rarities of the day: Barrel “1” First Dip was coming along nicely. Then it hit me; India Black Ale with Simcoe. I share a glass of this with Anaheim’s Mayor, Tom Tait, and we both agree this is pure silliness. Cascadian dark in theory, yet not piney. I hope this makes it into the regular lineup of beers so I can sample it with a fresh palate. Moby Dick and Naughty Sauce didn’t make it in my mouth today, sadly. Go ahead, make the joke…done laughing yet? Great, let’s move on, cochino.

I don’t normally comment on the bands, but damn…Lady Gaga covers? Eminem covers? Crazy. I’m not ashamed to say I danced in the porta-potty, and the mess on the seat is not mine.

tasting room

At this point my palate is wrecked. My tongue is deflated and numb. I ask beertender Samantha (pictured above) for a Pistol Whip’d Pils to nurse my wounds, but it came out like I got back from the dentist. While she pours, I say “she can pistol whip me any time” to a guy next to me at the bar. He gets up and leaves without saying anything. It’s probably time to go home. I’m such an awkward social butterfly.


Overall, this was a great anniversary party that showcased new-brewer Evan Price’s abilities. His flavor mashups in cask are a fun way to experiment with some bold flavors. I can tell by the amount of support from other pro-brewers that they’re also excited to see where Noble Ale Works is going!

Special thanks to Jerry Kolbly, Evan Price, Brad and Bridget Kominek, Danielle Madsen, Mother Nature, Bobby Navarro of 100 Eats 100 Days, new Tasting Room Manager Lauren St. Paul(!), and a few hundred of my closest friends. Cheers!

brewers wives

The banged and bunned brewer’s wives, Bridget and Aubrey gettin’ naughty with the sauce.


The Komiseks. Brad is the assistant brewer at Noble.



Did anyone actually win a raffle item? hehe



Julian chats with the Hollingsheads.