Thursday, August 21, 2014

The circle of life

Warning! Incoming first world problems post!

I've come across a problem, you see...

Do you remember the excitement of sitting at a fancy beer bar or strolling through the aisles of your local bottle shop and marveling at the endless bounty of beer choices in front of you? Or the reckless abandon of going to your first beer fest and darting from booth to booth to try the latest and greatest rarity from that one brewery you don't get in your area? Or even that first sip from the first time you tracked down a bottle of something called "Pliny the Elder"... That one green label beer your "beer friend" told you about.

After a while, you're high on life and the beer scene. You have tasted plenty of whalez (brah), you've traveled to some of your favorite breweries and tasted their finest barrel aged offerings, and even finally grown a respectable beard. You're really in the flow of the beer scene. I mean you obviously have good taste in beer reading material since you're reading this.

Time goes on and eventually you don't want to go to every beer fest. You've tasted it all! Why drive another 45 minutes to a beer fest in bum Fuck nowhere when you can go to total wine and pick up your favorite six pack? (Or more. I never leave total wine with less than $100 of beer. It's my target.) Why Chase those whalez when there are almost 3000 brewies in the United states?

This is the crux of it. I'm at this point. What is a beer man to do? Where does he find fresh love for the beer arts? I still enjoy beer... A lot. I still want to go to beer fests sometimes. If anyone has any advice on how to proceed, please let me know.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

4th annual Brew at the Zoo!

This Friday, you may find yourself in need of something to do in the LA area. You may find yourself thirsty and in need of a craft beer to drink. You may also want to see some monkeys and listen to live music. You want all these things, but where could they possibly converge?


Brew at the Zoo is the answer to all your oddly specific needs. This Friday, August 8th from 7 pm to 11pm, you can wander around the zoo with a taster glass, some friends, and all the monkeys your heart desires. This year featuring 30 local breweries, music by three local bands -- Indian School, The Spazmatics and Jug or Nots Jug Band --, dancing with DJ Johnny Hawkes, pub-style grub for purchase and visits to Zoo exhibits including Elephants of Asia, Campo Gorilla Reserve, LAIR (Living Amphibians, Invertebrates, and Reptiles), the new Rainforest of the Americas and more.

I've been to this event the last couple years and it really is fun. They also get some of the top notch breweries from around town to bring in the goods. You won't find barrel aged Sucaba here, but you will get a good taste of the flagships from all the breweries you've been meaning to visit but haven't had time to check out yet. It's like the super sampler pack of beer events. In addition it's a bit more fun cruising around the zoo and checking things out than it would be sitting elbow to elbow with some guy at the pub.

Check out some of the hits from the sweet ass brewery list: Alosta Brewing Co., Angel City Brewery, Beachwood Brewing,  Bootlegger's Brewery, Brouwerij West , Eagle Rock Brewery, Fireman's Brew, Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Golden Road, Goose Island Brewery, Heretic Brewing Company ,  Lagunitas Brewing Co., Pizza Port Brewing Co., Port Brewing & The Lost Abbey, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Tap It Brewing Co., and Trumer Pils. 

This is a really cool event though. Especially once it gets a bit later and cools down. You can drink your beers and hang out away from the city lights or go up to the main area and ride the carousel. I know they have had problems with running out of beer in the past, but I'm assured everyone will have plenty to last until the event is over.

Tickets are on sale here for $45 pre-sale, $25 for DD tickets. Or $50 at the door if you're a late planner like me. We'll see you there!

Monday, July 28, 2014

California Beer Fest info and ticket giveaway!

Saturday, September 6th, the California Beer Festival returns to the most excellent town of San Dimas. Held at Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park, from 12:30 pm-5:00pm, you too can rock out to some of the greatest craft brews from Deschutes, Firestone Walker, Alosta Brewing Co., Hangar 24 and more.  They will be featuring a plethora of food options, 60 craft beers on tap, and also a pretty nice selection of ciders. In addition to the food and beers, there will also be some live entertainment from some of the local bands. (Wyld Stallyns may or may not be making an appearance)
Make sure to follow this motto while in San Dimas and always

Tickets are on sale now for this snazzy event. You can pick them up here. They have several levels of tickets, as is common nowadays, which include: A VIP Early Bird Experience; The Craft Beer Heaven Ticket; and The Designated Driver Ticket.

· VIP Early Bird Experience - $70 - This exclusive (limited to 300 tickets) VIP experience is ideal for the true hardcore Craft Beer fans.  The VIP experience will take place an hour prior to the gates opening to the general admission ticket holders.  Take advantage of this great opportunity to taste signature and seasonal beers from participating breweries and a chance to meet the brewers and representatives themselves!  VIP tickets include: Access inside the CBF gates an hour early;  samples of reserve and specialty brews from participating breweries; (1) CBF souvenir pint glass; access to the street taco bar (taco bar hours 11:20 am-12:20pm; and (1) bottled water.  The VIP pouring is from 11:30 to 12:30.

· Craft Beer Heaven Ticket - $45 - This is the perfect ticket for individuals who are looking to expand their mind and educate themselves on new and old styles of craft beer.  The Craft Beer Heaven ticket includes: (1) CBF souvenir tasting cup, samples of Craft Beer, live music and bikini bocce ball!

· Designated Driver Ticket - $25 - The ideal ticket for non-drinkers who still want to go to CBF to hang out with friends and family and/or those responsible for getting everyone home safe.  The Designated Driver ticket includes: entrance to the festival, (1) free meal from any food vendor inside the festival, (1) bottled water, live music and entertainment.

Also, for the few readers who made it to the end of the post, make sure to watch the facebook this week as I will be giving away a pair of tickets to the event!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Board Beer Geek: The second one!

A couple weeks ago we had our second Board Beer Geek event!!! I know... I'm behind the times, but I'm hoping to be more current in the coming weeks now that my work schedule has calmed down a bit. If you don't know, I host the Board Beer Geek event along with my good friend Kip Barnes of LA Ale Works fame and my newer good friend Bo Radakovich of The Gamesmith fame. We came together for this second event at Story Tavern for good times and beer. There was plenty of both!

For this event we wanted to try focusing on pairing games and beer. We paired Playroom Entertainment with the LAAW Lievre Saison. Playroom is famous for their Killer Bunny series of games, so we figured the light, summery saison would pair well with the light hearted nature of the killer bunny games. The saison has a somewhat beastly 7% abv to help smooth out any qualms people might have had about bashing innocent bunnies.  It also helps that Lievre is french for Hare so the pairing wasn't that hard to come up with.

We also featured AEG and local hometown heroes, Eagle Rock Brewery! Jeremy Raub himself brought us a special beer called LOU which is made with a blend of hops selected by the Ales for ALS charity. It's a hoppy american brown ale, which is the first time I can ever remember hearing those words together. I'm not a huge brown fan, but the hop mix in this beer was enough to get me sold on this as a great beer. Also, a dollar from any and all sales of the LOU beer is donated to ALS research. We paired them with AEG so that people could taste a brand new beer alongside a brand new game that at the time had not been released, Seventh Hero.

In addition to the kegs I mentioned above, we also brewed two special casks for the event. Kip prepared the Lievre with Kumquats and Lemoncito. This added a citrusy taste and kicked the refreshment factor up ten notches.

Bo Tapping the Saison with Dan from Playroom on the assist
Eagle Rock and the three of us actually got to team up and make the LOU cask ourselves! If you got to try the LOU cask, it was actually handcrafted with love by your BBG team. It was based off the LOU hoppy brown and conditioned with Anise and Mugowrt. This gave it a slightly camomile, licorice taste that complemented the hops.

I got to tap it with some AEG help!
Besides the sweet beers and sweet games from AEG and Playroom, we had a whole plethora of free to play games to choose from. People were playing King of Tokyo, X-wing attack squadron, and there was even a table playing some kind of role playing game. We even had a brief Wil Wheaton appearance! He of course immediately won the second raffle right after he got there, but graciously ended up putting the AEG gift card he won back into the pool. Which was awesome of him. Thanks Wil!

All in all, it seemed like everyone had a great time and really enjoyed the cask beers. We really enjoyed having everyone there and hope to see you all again for the next one which is tentatively in late September or early October. Cheers!

Cheers from the BBG crew! And Andrew...

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Double DBA is double going away

I know this was big news yesterday, but I'm slow. And busy. So there! Haha, while Double DBA was not my favorite beer from Firestone Walker, I know Craig will be very sad to see it go. "Rotate it out" at least implies that there's hope! Keep the flame alive and make sure to send all of your complaints to Jemma. Check out the news below:


2014 Vintage Makes Way for Beers to Come

Paso Robles, CA: The third and final bottled release of Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s barrel-aged Double DBA begins on July 12, setting the stage for an as-yet-unchosen replacement next year.

“The 2014 Double DBA is a big and complex beer that still offers the balance and drinkability that are the hallmarks of DBA,” said Brewmaster Matt Brynildson. “This vintage is outstanding, so Double DBA is leaving us on a high note.”

He added, “This beer has served us well, but there’s a finite amount of space and brewing capacity dedicated to our barrel-aged beers. In order to brew and share new barrel-aged beers, we need to rotate some out, starting with Double DBA. So get it while you can.”

Other beers in the brewery’s barrel-aged program include Bravo, Helldorado, Parabajava, PNC, Saucerful of Secrets and Brownie Wine—but it remains to be seen which will replace Double DBA in 2015. 

As with previous vintages, the 2014 Double DBA imperial special bitter is Firestone Walker’s flagship DBA brewed at double strength, using twice the amount of malts and hops. As with the regular DBA, the 2014 Double DBA was partially fermented in a union of new American oak barrels. After fermentation, the beer was racked and returned to the union barrels as well as bourbon barrels, where it aged for one year. The barrel mix for the 2014 Double DBA included vessels from Woodford Reserve, Elijah Craig and Four Roses.

The 2014 Double DBA is limited to 3,500 cases of 22-ounce bottles. It will be available in select markets across the United States starting this month. The suggested retail is $16.99.

While Double DBA may not see the bottle again, it lives on in mysterious ways. Double DBA is the base beer for Reginald Brett, a bretted barrel-aged ale to be released later this year from Barrelworks, Firestone Walker’s dedicated wild (a.k.a. sour) yeast facility.

And in a new collaborative twist, the bourbon barrels used to mature the 2014 Double DBA are being shipped to Scotland, where Tullibardine distillery will use them for aging single malt scotch whisky.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Saint archer one year anniversary

A couple weeks ago, I took my lady down to San Diego to get out of town and have a nice little vacation after she defeated tax season. Or that's what I told her... Really we went down to check out Saint Archer Brewing Co's first anniversary/can release party!

Saint Archer was ready for a crowd...

If you are an avid reader of LA Beer Blog, you may have noticed that I am really down with canning, cans and can news. I like beers in cans. They are both better for the environment and better for the beer. It's just science. So when I heard that a one year old brewery was making it a priority to put their beer in cans, I had to find out what that was about.

I spoke with their director of marketing (Adam Renfree) about the aggressive canning operation and he said that the reason they chose cans is simple. It fit their (Saint Archer's) way of life. The Saint Archer community is full of surfers. skateboarders, hikers and people who are active and who want to have a beer after they bust their asses. It's just not feasible to carry a bunch of bottles with them. Cans on the other hand, don't break and can be crushed after you drink them. I really respect this line of thinking from a business. It's a practical solution to a common problem I have while camping and hiking!

Cans waiting for tasty Pale Ale!
In addition to doing things the cool way, they also have good beer. The main line of Pale Ale, Blonde, IPA, and White is good, easy drinking beer that fits their philosophy of drinking while being active. You won't find any heavy stouts or barleywines here. While we were at the brewery (which is an awesome space btw), they also had a couple really good cask beers on. The Pale with grapefruit juice was really refreshing and they also had their IPA with Hallartau hops, mandarina hops, and pineapple puree that I didn't get a chance to try.

...They got one!
When I asked Adam what their plans are from here, he said "We really want to focus on our home market of Southern California.  Our biggest priority right now is making the highest quality beer possible.  With this expansion we are investing heavily into an on-site lab at the brewery.  We are also installing a centrifuge and grain silos to increase our production efficiencies."  

All in all, the brewery is a cool place and they are growing by leaps and bounds. Their cans are distributed all over SoCal. From Mexico to SLO.  With plans to expand through California until they are in every neighborhood store. They have already increased their initial barrel capacity tenfold to meet the demand and in one year of operation surpassed their five year plan. Currently they are producing 2000 barrels a month just to meet demand! I gotta say, this brewery is going places with the easy drinking crowd.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Macleod Ales: Van Nuys' first craft brewery!

The little spree
If you haven't heard, MacLeod Ale will be opening this weekend for reals. Finally, there will be an oasis in the valley for some craft beer! I got to spend a bit of time with owners Jennifer and Alistair Boase as well as head brewer Andy Black a few weeks ago. While we were there, we had some of the first pours from their first cask beer. A Little Spree, which is a Yorkshire Pale Ale.

All of Macleod's beers will be served cask conditioned. Cask Ales are unfiltered and unpasteurized during the brew. Then they are served from a cask without additional forced carbonation. This leads to a less carbonated mouthfeel.

What I really want to talk about is their grand opening this weekend on the 22nd! They have had an overwhelming response to the open invitation so they have decided to put tickets on sale for a couple two hour blocks which you can check out here. The tickets are $15 and you get 5 drink tickets which you can redeem for a half pint or trade in 2 for an imperial pint. There will also be a couple food trucks on site in case you get hungry after 5 beers. (Craig and I will be at the noon to two slot if you wanna come say hi)

Drinking in action!

Here's a look at the beers they will have on tap:

The Little Spree [Yorkshire Pale Ale] - There is nothing quite like beer from Yorkshire, England, whose breweries have exceptional water sources. Yorkshire breweries create ‘mellow’ beer of unrivaled quaffability. Los Angeles water is not Yorkshire water by a long-shot, but it is part of the challenge of brewing beer in this city. The Little Spree aims to bring a fresh and unfiltered Yorkshire pale ale to LA.
This is a deceptively simple recipe, relying on quality raw ingredients and excellent yeast health for a clean beer without flaws. One malt and three hops makes for an approachable, refreshing beer that can still be enjoyed for its delicate complex flavors. An ode to a wonderful base malt, Golden Promise, and classic European hop varieties.

The Session Gap [Ordinary Bitter] – Pub bitters are rare in the US apart from bland, filtered, and pasteurized Boddingtons. Bitter really comes into its own when served at its peak in cask. It is a straightforward yet lovely beer, and its subtlety is often misunderstood. Not to mention the confusion of bitter/bitterness. It is reasonably assumed that a beer style named ‘bitter’ would have ‘bitterness’ or heavy hopping as primary attributes, but such is not the case as hops and malt play equal parts. However, there are years and years boosting the resilience of this misnomer, meaning we will just have to live with the contradiction.
The recipe for the Session Gap uses just a few specialty malts to create a rounded grain profile. The hops are common English varieties for that floral, wood, and earth character that is the cornerstone of the bitter style. Just enough hops to peak over the hedge of malt.

The King’s Taxes [Scottish 60/-] - The shilling system, as a means of differentiating ales, originates from the wholesale cost of a Scottish hogshead cask. Shilling designations corresponded with the original gravity of the wort, and has differed throughout history and from brewery to brewery . MacLeod’s 60/- equates to an OG of 1.047 as per the Wm. Younger brewing archive of 1868
The King’s Taxes 60/- bridges between old and new interpretations of Scottish ales. The recipe uses a decent amount of proper cane sugar-based invert sugar syrup, equivalent to Brewer’s No. 2 invert. It lends a clean maple syrup to caramel-sweet note, not achievable with beet sugar inverts  (i.e. Belgian candi sugar). Inspite of this one old-timey ingredient, an extended boil is avoided by using dark specialty malts for color and a bit of toastiness to keep the invert flavor in check. Hopping is minimal; this beer is all about the flavors gleaned from the malt and sugar.

Jackie Tar [Best Stout] - ‘Brown Stout’ means a lot of things throughout brewing history as beer styles are always adapting to changes in ingredients, brewer preferences, taxation, and technological developments. Porter and other dark English beer styles likely originate from brown stouts. The style, or at least the style name, is having a tiny resurgence probably due to interest in making dark ale other than imperial stouts and Guinness Draught clones.
Born from historical recipes, Jackie Tar was reworked to accommodate modern ingredients and methods. The core of Jackie Tar is a strong roast malt character, and from there working back to build an appropriate spectrum of flavor. Although hopping is medium-low, two late hop additions add nuance to the finish.

And if you can't make it Sunday, you can check them out here during the following hours:
14741 Calvert Street
Van Nuys, CA 91411
Hours 5-10 Wednesday-Friday
12-10 Saturday-Sunday

Fancy logos...
...and fancy gentleman pouring beer!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Eureka!!! A Tasty Tasting Kitchen

Last Wednesday I had the opportunity to stroll over to Eureka Tasting Kitchen on Hawthorne. Eureka is known for their take on craft food, great craft beer, and fine whiskey.  Josh got me in contact with Alexia the person In charge of their marketing and PR, and we sat down to sample some of the grub they had to offer. 

Osso Bucco Riblets: Being a professional chef for nearly 7 years, I kind take food serious. When I hear the word Osso Bucco I think of shanks, veal, and lots of sauce.  This was a nice take on a classic dish, the Riblets came out a little warm though I would of preferred them to be a tad bit warmer.  The sauce was super tangy and paired well with the beer I was sipping on. 

Lollipop Corn Dogs with Porter mustard sauce,  house made ketchup, and house made ranch. Not your typical corn dog. It was made with polish sausage! The sauces were on point! I wanted a little more beer taste from the mustard sauce though. An IPA or pale ale would definitely put it where it should be. 

Overall, I would say the food is done right. I've eaten here a few times now, and always had a pleasant experience. But the main reason I reached out the Alexia and Eureka! Was to see what this "steal the glass" was all about. 

Steal the Glassis an event they host every Wednesday where they invite a local brewery in to pour some brews. You pay for the pint, and keep the glass. This last Wednesday they featured Kings Harbor Brewing Co from, Redondo Beach. 

    Phill: Head Brewer

I was given a flight of all the beers in rotation. A saison, Pale Ale, and coffee porter. Not being a big fan on saisons, I'd say it was my least favorite, it reminded me of spearmint gum.  The pale ale and port on the other hand... wow! The pale ale was super fruity and refreshing. It was like the powerade of beer.  The port was a smack in the face of some dark, dank coffee, mild chocolate notes and a smooth Caramel finish.

This being my second media experience I have to say it was by far the best. I was treated with a lot of respect from the staff.  It was more then a pleasure to talk beer with Phill and have a nice meal with Alexia. If you're in the area, be sure to head over to eureka or cruise down to redondo and check out kings tap room. 

BTW: Get there early, it gets packed and glasses go fast. 

Right to left: Pale, Porter, nothing ,saison.

A few more photos. 
    Panko Onion Rings




   Fresno Fig Burger

Eureka Tasting Kitchen, Hawthorne Ca. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Announcing: Board Beer Geek two!

The Board Beer Geek returns! This time with even more beers, boards and geeks. We are returning  to story tavern for another action packed board game extravaganza. This time featuring several new games and special guests that I really can't talk about yet but am very excited for! We will also be featuring a cask from Eagle Rock Brewery and a cask from Los Angeles Ale Works. 

From noon to five on July 12th, we will be jamming cards, cardboard, and dice to our hearts content. Everyone will get access to the special casks as well as a beer from both of our guest breweries. We're still working out the details on tickets but we will have an official announcement by next Friday. 

We've been working super hard to get this one more organized, get more swag to hand out and just to make sure everyone has a great time! So mark the 12th on your calender, cancel your other plans, and bring your ass to story tavern!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Father's Day Colla-brew-tive Brunch

Do you have a Father? Does he like being treated awesome? Then this may be the event for you! Presented by Firestone Walker and Food GPS, the Colla-Brew-tive event is in it's second year of giving good beer and good coffee to deserving dads everywhere.

Your dad put up with a lot of weak beer and questionable coffee while he was grinding away to put a roof over your head!

Now it's time to repay the favor, change it up and rock your dad's taste buds at the 2nd annual Father's Day CollaBREWtive Brunch, featuring Los Angeles craft brewers, coffee roasters and chefs - including coffee-infused beers created specially for the event!

Taking place on Saturday, June 14th at Tiato - Kitchen Bar Garden + Venue in Santa Monica from 11:30am - 3:30pm, this year's Father's Day CollaBREWtive Brunch features an expanded lineup of eight brewery-roaster pairings, as well as deliciously eclectic bites offered by a dozen notable chefs. Session beers and freshly brewed coffee will also be offered. Craft sodas presented by Los Angeles Ale Works and water supplied by Pure Water of Los Angeles.

This event isn't just for dad, and the entire family is welcome. The festivities will include kid-friendly activities. Guests are free to chart their own culinary adventure, at their own pace.

Bring the whole family and treat your dad to something extra special for Father’s Day!

Tickets can be purchased in the regular or VIP variety here