Monday, September 15, 2014

LA Beer Blog's guide to LA Beer Week 6!

Every year, you see lots of people post about how cool all the beer week events are and how much fun they had and yadda yadda yadda... This year, I want to make sure to be the swiss army knife of blogs and give you everything you need to be prepared for this years LA Beer Week!

Oh, in case you don't know, LA Beer Week is a series of beer related events that go from Sep 20-28 in the Los Angeles area. These events celebrate drinking local and partaking in the craft beer community. On to the events!

Sep 19th-30th The Coaster Show - While  LABW officially starts the 20th, the last couple of years it has been kicked off a couple weeks earlier by the Coaster Show. This is a cool, art focused event where artists from all over LA come together to do their art on the coaster medium. If you don't have any idea what I'm talking about, check out more info here.

Sep 20th LA Beer Week kickoff - This is kind of a big deal. In the past, there has been the finale at union station to cap off LABW. This year, since the beer week is under new management, they decided to do a kick off event instead to get everyone in the beer week mood!
This event is unfortunately sold out as of yesterday, but I still had to mention it since it is where the party will be. If you have tickets already, I'll see you there!

Sep 21 ERB brewers brunch - If you happen to find yourself a little hungover after the kick off, you should definitely go get yourself some hair of the dog with Jeremy and crew at ERB on Sunday! Chef Jerry will be serving up some tasty goodies and ERB will be fully functional and ready to serve all the Unity you will need.

Sep 23rd Cask and ye shall receive - MacLeod Ale Brewing Co is putting on it's first cask specific event. There will be casks from several breweries, people talking about cask beer, and an all around good time. Make sure you get to this a little early. It is free and there is not that much room in the tap room.

Sep 24th Fullpint takes over the oinkster - The Oinkster Eagle Rock is hosting the super cool crew from The Full Pint. The Full Pint crew is picking their favorite Drafts and Bottled beers, and we will be offering a couple exclusive food items made especially for The Full Pint peeps.

Sep 25th Meeting of the guilds - Three of California's brewers guilds are meeting up at Mohawk bend and bringing some of their best beers in a tap take over. So basically the best beer from San Diego, LA, and San Francisco will be on tap. Do you really need to know more than that?

Sep 27th Walker's wild ride - Walker's Wild Ride has become somewhat of a tradition when it comes to cool beer things happening in LA. If you're not familiar, David Walker (of Firestone Walker fame) loads a bunch of kegs of really good FW beer into his Land Rover and drives around town with them. Making stops at all the bars where the children have been good. He's pretty much the Santa Claus of craft beer. Except more British.

Sep 28th Block party with smog city and monkish - To close out beer week, you may want to spend some time at the Glendale Tap. They are bringing you two of the best breweries in LA in a end of week tap takeover. Smog City always brings the goods and this gives people in LA a chance to try some of Torrance's finest representatives.

Friday, September 5, 2014

2nd annual Coaster show

Last night I got a chance to go check out the Coaster show that is held at the La Luz de Jesus art gallery the night before it opened to the public! (I'm fancy.) This is the first event that really starts the festivities for LA beer week.  It runs from tonight, September 5th, until the end of LA beer week, September 28th. But as I mentioned, I got in last night and I gotta say, the Coaster show has some pretty damn impressive art work.

Using your everyday, regular beer coaster as the canvas, the Coaster show features over 1000 individual coaster size masterpieces. Ranging from a painting of a pug dressed as batman, to Christoper Walken, to some kind of industrial collage very reminiscent of warhammer 40k, you can find something that suits your taste if you want to take one of these home. Oh yeah, you can buy the coasters. I don't know if you want to use them to set your beer on though... Ranging from free (although I didn't see any with a free price tag) to $250, every one of the over 1000 pieces is for sale.

La Luz de Jesus is located at
4633 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027

If you have any questions or need to get in touch with someone about the event, Contact Matt Kennedy, Gallery Director for availability and purchase info: (323) 666-7667

Well, without further ado, check out some of the art that's on the walls after the jump

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

House of Blues "Local Brews, Local Grooves"

Coming up pretty quick, is the House of Blues inaugural beer/music event "Local Brews, Local Grooves". Next Thursday, September 11th, they are putting on a bit of show and dance with some exceptional local craft beers paired with a specially crafted gastropub style menu. The event features some great local bands to keep it mellow while you enjoy the goods.

With the music raging in the background, you will be able to sample 30 different craft beers from 10 breweries including local favorites Golden Road, Eagle Rock, Smog City, St. Archer, Lagunitas, Stone and Angel City.

General admission tickets for the event are $8 with a $40 vip option available. While tickets don't get you any actual beers, you will be able to purchase a wristband to get five 4oz samples for $15 on site and purchase additional tasters for $3 a piece.

The gastropub inspired menu is available for purchase there on site and will include Smoked Barbequed Wings, Gourmet Sausage Hot Dogs with Grilled Onions and Peppers, Smoked Brisket Sandwich, Vegetarian Flatbread, and Bacon Flavored Popcorn.

The featured band will be Rumours - The Ultimate Tribute to Fleetwood Mac and other local bands including Strange Vine, Huxlee, The Get Down Boys, and Lacey Cowden.

This is kind of an interesting a la carte style beer event that you don't see too often. But you will definitely have it your way at the Local Brews, Local Grooves.

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!