Saturday, August 29, 2009

Blue Dot IPA

Hair of the Dog Blue Dot IPA at Lucky Baldwin's this morning- getting some age on it but it's still amazingly tasty. Wish I ever had the opportunity to get it fresh on draft. And ManU 2-1 Arsenal! Woo!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Beachwood Sour Fest 2

10oz of new belgium love barrel #13 and a 5.5oz of Russian River Consecration batch 2
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Beachwood BBQ Sour Fest

The sour fest has kicked off as of yesterday morning and I stopped by for an hour to check it out on my way home from Long Beach. Lots of familiar things on after having attended the Stone Sour Fest a month ago. Anyone remember Chili Wonka? That was one of the most talked about beers at Stone and deservedly so.

I started off with a 5.5 oz glass of Allagash Confluence. It is their blonde ale made with a couple strains of brett. It has quite few similarities to Russian River Sanctification, especially with the way Sanctification has been going lately (less tart). Confluence has an extra dimension though since they also use their regular house Belgian yeast to ferment some of it. It's super light, earthy, slightly lemony, mildly tart and super easy to drink. It has shown up around my house in bottle form for $20, might be worth a bottle or two for a special occasion.

The next glass I got was of the Cantillon Bruocsella Grand Cru '07. My intention was to smack the shit out of my palate with some ultimate Cantillon-brand sourness. This Lambic did not produce the mouth puckering sourness I was inaccurately expecting. It's spontaneously fermented and aged in oak barrels for 3 years. It is also a still beer- no carbonation. It pours a murky deep gold and was moderately tart with some malty sweetness behind it. Other than that it was unremarkable to me, although I could have come up with more to say about it over a full glass perhaps.

The last glass was the always fantastic Bruery Berliner Weisse. It's hard for me to see this beer on tap anywhere and not order it, so I did. As I've said a million times before, I could drink this allllllll day. And good news for non-So Cal area residents, it's being bottled now so it'll be easier to get.

Tonight they feature New Belgium sours, and Thursday they'll feature Lost Abbey sours. I won't be able to make either but you definitely should.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Long Beach Area Brewery Hop

Finally made an effort to experience some of the beer destinations around Long Beach with a friend who lives down here. I'm in the area fairly often and have slacked at trying out these places.

The first stop was Red Car Brewery in Torrance. They only had 4 beers on tap and I went with their IPA which was listed as 9% ABV and 65 IBU. It was drinkable but not particularly aggressive. As for their buffalo wings, I'm a fan of pepper but wow, these things set my face on fire.

The second stop was San Pedro Brewing Company. I tried their Pale Ale (picture 1). It was nothing special, only slightly hoppy but not with any major faults. This place appears to be a bRuin bar so I probably won't be back :-P

Third stop was Rock Bottom in Long Beach. They had a good number of beers on draft. I went with the Coffee Stout (picture 2) which was on cask and it was delicious. My friend ordered their IPA which had a very nice smell, similar to Blind Pig, but lacked that full and aggressive flavor.

The last stop was Belmont Brewing in Long Beach. Cool place with good beers on their guest list (picture 3). I tried the Belmont Hop Head Red (picture 4) which was tasty, and as expected fairly hoppy.

All in all, this circuit of beer stops around Long Beach isn't really anything to go out of your way for but there are formidable options if you happen to be in the area, like on a Monday when Beachwood is closed.
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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Beachwood BBQ Sour Fest

Starting Tuesday is Beachwood BBQ's Sour Beer Festival. The festival will run all day all week and feature special breweries on the first few nights (The Bruery, New Belgium, Lost Abbey). Beachwood is the highly acclaimed beer bar in Seal Beach also well received for their top notch food. There will no doubt be some amazing sour beers on tap (think Stone sour fest encore) and I'll try to brave the ridiculous crowds that will pack this tiny joint and surely send a few claustrophobics running for open air.

The beers to be tapped as posted on BeerAdvocate:
Abbey St. Bon Chein 07
Allagash Confluence
Avery Brabant
Avery Voltron
Avery Vogelbekdieren
Ballast Point Sour Wench
Bear Republic Cuvee de Buba
Boon Oude Lambic
Bootleggers Kentucky Wild
Bruery Berliner Weisse
Bruery Cuvee June
Bruery Sour in the Rye
Bruery White Zin
Cantillon Bruocsella 1900 Grand Cru 07
Cantillon Lou Pepe Frambiose 05
Craftsman Summers End Sour
Deschutes Green Monster
Deschutes Little Budha
Duchesse de Bourgogne Cellared 1 year
Echte Kreickenbier Cellared 3 years+
Green Flash Grand Mantis
Ichtemans Grand Cru
Jolly Pumpkin La Roja Reserva
Lost Abbey TBD
Lost Abbey Cuvee de Tomee
Lost Abbey Duck Duck Gooze
Lost Abbey Phunky Duck
Lost Abbey Isabelle Proximus
Lost Abbey Red Poppy
Moonlight Sourpuss Black cellared 1.5years
Moonlight 25 to Life
New Belgium La Folie
New Belgium La Terior
New Belgium Lechee Tart
New Belgium Love #30
New Belgium Transatlantic Kreik
Ommegang Rouge Batch 07
Ommegang Rouge Batch 08
Rodenbach Grand Cru
Russian River Consecration batch 1
Russian River Consecration batch 2
Russian River Temptation
ST. Louis Gueuze Fond Tradition
Telegraph Reserve Wheat
Valley Brewing TBD
Valley Brewing TBD
Valley Brewing TBD
Valley Brewing TBD

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Russian River Temptation on draft

If you are in the Orange County area and crave the tart bliss that is Russian River Temptation, their sour blonde ale aged in French oak chardonnay barrels, better get on over to Hollingshead's Deli and get it while it lasts. It's not often that Russian River's sours show up on draft in Orange County, and last time Hollingshead's had on Consecration it went in a day or so. By the time you read this Temptation might be gone too.

Miscellaneous Night

Watching Step Brothers with a couple brews. That Choklat is now 2 years old or so and still drinking very well. Tastes like a blend of malt balls and chocolate milk. It's definitely one of Southern Tier's better brews as far as their extreme series goes (which I think they call Blackwater series).

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lost Wages

I don't really wanna go back to Las Vegas for a long time, but at least here are a couple of the beer pics I took.

Waiting for Grimaldi's Pizza to open at around 10:30. Alpine O'Brien's IPA so generously given to me by The J's. We pulled around to the back of the strip strip mall and polished this growler off before heading in for our pizza.

Bottle of Fat Tire at Grimaldi's. I never bothered with this beer much before, but I really enjoy it at places where it's one of the better beers in stock.

$2.50 Dos Equis for Happy Hour. Couldn't complain at this point... it's Vegas.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tenaya Creek Brown Ale

At Alligator Bar in The Orleans. Not bad, only cost me $20 since I lost it all on video blackjack.
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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Stone / Cambridge / BrewDog Juxtaposition Pilsner

After a couple months of beer and beer writing apathy, I feel like I'm back into the swing of things. So today I decided to go out and find a new beer. I headed only a couple miles down the road to Pacific Wine Merchants (so I could do some cigar shopping at the same time- going to explore the Arturo Fuente line a bit more soon) without knowing what I would really find. They only have about 3 fridge doors worth of beer, but generally it's very good beer (Pliny, Pig, West Coast IPA, everything Stone, Oskar Blues stuff... you get the drift). To my surprise there were Blind Pig bottles in there that were only 3 weeks old! I haven't seen bottles that fresh at the best beer stores in So Cal for a long time.

So aside from stocking up on the Pig, which I would take any day over Pliny, I also noticed the recently released Stone/Cambridge/BrewDog collaboration Juxtaposition Black Pilsner. For the last year or so I've thought the whole trend of "blackening" traditionally light beers was kinda gimmicky and lame. I didn't like the Stone 11th Anniversary black IPA so much and I think that's where it started. If I see one of the many Black IPA's on tap these days I never order it. But I figured I'd give this one a whirl, since The J's seemed excited about it. So it's a 10% ABV black pilsner. It pours with an obviously thin body... ok that's good, because if it didn't it'd basically be a porter disguised with lager yeast. The smell is quite interesting at first, and maybe that's because I served this puppy COLD- the way it should be (probably around 40F). At first I get really nothing other than some lager yeast byproduct stuff in the aroma, but after a bit it starts mirroring the flavor a little more with a mild roastiness. In the taste there's no question this contains a good amount of roasted malt (as opposed to that darkened malt that imparts no roastiness, I think one of the Carafa's). Anyway, it's basically an imperial chocolate porter with a thinner body and a less fruity yeast. The 10% ABV is easily detected on the back end of the palate and has a belly warming effect. This aspect wears on me a bit as the beer warms up towards the end of the glass. The body was not overdone here which is nice. It's still within the "thin" spectrum of mouthfeel, just slightly below medium. I enjoyed this beer for the most part but as I got to the final 1/3'rd I began to get tired of it. An interesting brew, but give me a well crafted regular pilsner like Sly Fox Pikeland or Moonlight Reality Czeck and I'll be much happier.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Cool Beer Label

Nothing new for Lost Abbey to pump out some awesome artwork for their beer labels, but I especially like the new Duck-Duck-Gooze lable.

Brewing Like A Monk

I started to read "Brew Like A Monk" by Stan Hieronymus a while back and there were a couple paragraphs in the foreward by Tim Webb that really grabbed my attention:

"Unfortunately, in the permanent, and I for one think misguided, quest to keep down production costs, the recent falls in the quality of the fermented beers are now revealing the effects of flawed recipes rather more than was previously the case. At Rochefort the taste impact of the beers has diminished a little, through reduction in lagering time and, I suspect, by rather too enthusiastic filtration. In Chimay and Westmalle beers one finds the acrid backtastes of fast fermentation, set against a backdrop of svelte character. Orval remains a classic brew but is less extreme in its statements and is the smaller for that."

"In a head-to-head tasting of Belgian-style abbey beers made by American microbrewers, in Arlington, Virginia, in early 2005, I was shocked to find that the American imitations were knocking the socks off certain freshly imported "real" Trappist ales." I should not have been. After all, the Belgians have been imitating them for years, and some the pretenders, such as St. Bernardus, Kapittel, Witkap, Dupont, and St. Feuillien, are way better than most of the originals."

"So if you want to brew like a monk, what should you do? Not imitate current practice, that is for sure. Perhaps the best advice would be to brew with good intentions."

A 221 Mile Brewery Hop

221 miles of driving took us to three of the best breweries in America Sunday afternoon. Granted we've been to each of these places many times before, but this was the first time that I've ever hopped over to Orange County and then down to SD just for the afternoon. It was worth it. We started up at The Bruery in Placentia, about 25 miles from my house. JRhode and JTH ("The J's"... no connection to our friend from the Plantae kingdom... well... maybe....) came up from SD to check it out for the first time and reserve a couple bottles of The Bruery's new 19.5% ABV barrel aged imperial stout called Black Tuesday. After having a few tasters of it, I noticed JTH rated it his first 5.0 ever... nice! I started off with one of my favorites, a Hottenroth Berliner Weisse, at barely over 3% ABV and super tart and funky it's an awesome breakfast! As we sampled beers, a couple blokes from the East Coast had brought in some beers to share. Got a little taster of Southern Tier's Cherry Saison. Not bad, quite a fruity Saison obviously, but not sure how much I could drink of that as it didn't seem dry enough for a saison. The J's brought up a growler of Alpine Duet to share and people seemed to like it (how could you not??). My last glass was their new Humulus Lager, which could probably place in competitions in the IPA category if they kept the lager part hush-hush. We all agreed this beer was strikingly similar to the amazing Ballast Point Sculpin IPA. Hops abound, orange citrus, tropical fruits, a swift bitterness... it was delicious. After just under a couple of hours at The Bruery the fellas helped me talk myself into heading back down to SD with them to hit Stone and Pizza Port.

We set out from North OC, a little 91 fwy to the 15 and before ya know it (1:15 min later?) we were at Stone. Only 1 Alpine growler casualty occured, and the cause of death was determined to be from JTH's small bladder. Ok maybe it's not small (the bladder part), after all he was waxing off the rest of that Duet growler in the car on the way down. Stone's taplist was solid and other than those bush league little "8oz" tumbler glasses they pour like half of their beers in, we didn't have much to complain about. Please, Stone, for the millionth time, please get better glassware for your small pours! No way should a barleywine and a saison be poured in the same 8oz tumbler glass! In fact, get rid of like 75% of those 8oz pours and put them in regular glasses... it's making American's look bad (errr worse)! I digress. First round consisted of Firestone Double Jack, one of Dupont's saisons, and a Lagunitas Lil Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale. Lil Sumpin' was refreshing, moderately bitter, hoppy, with just a tinge of wheat. After some munching on Stone's new soft pretzel dish (which is delicious, but only 3 for $8.50?? --> NOT worth it) and another round of brews (not for me) we headed for the main course at Pizza Port.

Pizza Port's selections were kinda strange today. Guest taps were just ok and Blind Pig is obviously solid, so we got a pitcher of that first, but Pizza Port's own beer selection seemed bland. A couple bitters/milds, a couple wheats, Wipeout IPA (good, but I prefer El Camino IPA and Swami's IPA which can be found at the other locations), a couple Stouts (Sticky Stout and Night Rider) and some other stuff. We ended up also getting pitchers of their new Double Wheat Ale and the Imperial Red named 547 Height Street (after the Toronado SF). And for the record, I've decided Pizza Port is my second favorite pizza (behind Grimaldi's in Las Vegas and of NY fame).

After that, it was back home from Calrsbad, back up through OC and into the armpit of Southern California known as the Inland Empire. 221 miles, about 3/4th's of a tank of gas, and a handful of beers. Just another Sunday around here.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Pizza Port '09 Reunion Double Wheat Ale

What's the story behind this beer? I dunno but it's a double wheat and awesome. On tap right now at the Carlsbad location. Oh yeah, also, Pizza Port is officially the best pizza west of Las Vegas (Grimaldi's is the best, of course).
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Stone Brewing Co, Escondido, CA

Lagunitas lil sumpin sumpin Ale... Hoppy wheat ale, very good. Nothing interesting in terms of growler fills unfortunately. They should make Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean a regular, I would go broke if they did but at least my belly would be happy.
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The Bruery, Placentia, CA

This is their new Humulus Lager, an India pale lager, and this could pass for a great IPA. Quite similar to Sculpin IPA. Very orangy, fruity, dry. Stimulus Sundays are pretty cool, 25% off all draught pours and growler fills!
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A Pretty Random Big Beer Tasting

We started with a couple Alesmith beers that I had never tried. As ubiquitous as these are at the better beer stores in Southern California it was only a matter of time. Alesmith Grand Cru is described as an amber Belgian style beer, and that's about it. It poured with close to no carbonation, which is usually a dealbreaker for me but I paid $10 for this bottle so I was gonna try to enjoy it one way or another. The flavor was actually really nice. I didn't take notes this whole night so all I can remember was that it had a nice malty flavor, almost dubbel-ish but not really.

The next Alesmith beer was their Wee Heavy Scottish ale, and it is a wee heavy at around 10% ABV. Good beer though. Nice and malty, toasty like a scotch ale should be but the high alcohol cuts that bite some to smooth it out. No wonder people go crazy over the barrel aged version of this beer, I can see it doing very well in a barrel.

The next beers came from a brewery that would rank in my top 5 most overrated, although it's hard to say that as much as I love their Gumballhead. This would be Three Floyds in Munster, Indiana. My buddy picked up this first beer, Behemoth Barleywine, from our local liquor store for over $20. I would have never bought it, which is why I've left it sitting in the cooler every time I've been in this store for the last few years. The smell was very odd. Main thing I remember is it had some oxidation with wet cardboard (we have no idea how old this bottle was) and an off-smelling sweetness. The taste did not match at all though, and it was actually quite tasty for a barleywine. I still wouldn't drink it ever again but at least it wasn't a drain pour.

The next beer, also from Three Floyds was their Fantabulous Respendence XI Anniversary beer, which was released in the Summer of 2008. It's listed, at least on BA, as a 7% IPA. That doesn't sound too promising to me, considering it's now a year old, and it tasted just like that- an old IPA. I could maybe detect some potential in it if fresh.

At this point we started losing focus and somehow a couple of really old bottles of Pliny the Elder and Blind Pig were opened. Blind Pig was bottled in 11/08, and while I didn't taste it, the whiff I took from the bottle actually smelled pretty good still, thus adding to my suspicion that Blind Pig has a pretty good shelf-life when stored properly (ie FRIDGE). As for the Pliny, Pat drank that so fast I don't know how it was.

Lastly we opened a bottle of Deschutes Black Butte XX, which now has a year of age on it. The consensus was that it still could use a bit of mellowing, although I certainly did not agree with those sentiments. It was hot when it was fresh, the alcohol was certainly detectable. I noticed much difference and a melding of flavors between the mildy roasty malt coffee type flavors and the chocolate and alcohol. I think it'll still hold up for quite a while though, so no need to drink your bottles anytime soon if you are cellaring.

Quick Beer Notes On Last Week's Trip To SD

-Hit the Ballast Point tasting room right off the bat. Went with their flight of special releases. This included a scottish ale, Even Keel session ale, Victory at Sea imperial coffee porter, and Dorado DIPA. I hadn't had Dorado in a LONG time because the last time I had it I didn't get a sense of great drinkability from it (too soupy, not dry enough, too orangy). That was maybe 3-4 years ago. The pour I had in the tasting room was awesome. The hoppiness- so citrusy, the body- not too thick... it was superb. The scotch ale was truly solid though not my favorite style, Even Keel was essentially a very hoppy beer with practically no body (which is exactly what they are going for) and Victory at Sea is dessert in a glass (woh vanilla!) and a little less coffee-ish than I remember from before.

-Next stop was O'Brien's with nothing too much to note other than that I tasted the latest batch of Alpine Nelson. This beer is getting crazy grape-y. I know that Nelson Sauvin hop is known for its grape-like taste but MAN was it a grape-bomb (no not grapefruit, just grape). I usually like Nelson, but this was actually hard to drink. Oh, I also had a pint of Coronado Idiot IPA. I had a bottle last Summer and chalked up my dissatisfaction for it to an old bottle (even though I had no way of knowing... no date on it). Well, it turns out I really just don't like this beer. It's thick, not crisp, the hoppiness is weird, and it's overly sweet. It baffles me that San Diego beer geeks can rave about this when they are drinking it next to Pure Hoppiness, Pliny the Elder, Ruination, and Green Flash Imperial IPA all the time.

-At Hamilton's there wasn't much to note other than those Cascade sours I tasted with the Booze Reviews crew. Cascade is the side project of Raccoon Lodge brewpub if I'm not mistaken, and the guy is pumping out amazing sour beers.

-Also hit Toronado and Blind Lady Alehouse. BLAH is doing some amazing business over there. I don't think I've ever not seen it packed. One of the best taplists in SD as well and delicious pizza.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Bruery Sour in the Rye

Nice sour bite to this, quite sour, the carbonation doesn't hit a ton, maybe the rye smooths it out or something. Definitely a bite at the end that isn't just from the acid.

Also just had the Black Tuesday imperial stout, wow! An interesting balance of sour and sweet going on there, and the finish has a taste unlike I've ever had in a stout- its sweet, maybe it's the molasses.
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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Why The West Coast Cannot Be Beat

You cannot find a tap lineup like this anywhere on any occasion in the country.

Blue Palms Brewhouse 1st anniversary party, August 8th.

GROTTEN BROWN ( PIERRE Celis Signature )
Gueze Fond Tradition

Alpine Exponential Hoppiness
Bad Boy IPA Alpine
Pizza Port Killer Dana Double IPA
Firestone Unfiltered DBA