Beer Advocate “Class of 2012” feature

Another Beer Advocate Magazine byline this month with the Class of 2012 feature in January’s issue. Had a chance to write about 7 new breweries that opened in 2012, all of which I had never heard of before being assigned the stories back in October. Love being assigned stuff because it’s like being handed cool local breweries in other parts of the country to add to my “to visit” list (even got to cross two off during San Diego Beer Week!). Also learned how intense it can be brewing in other states: Hawaii, for example, has to ship in every supply except water–which is in a shortage–and Texas can’t have tasting rooms. It’s always good to keep things in perspective.

The 7 breweries were:

Since BA Mag still doesn’t have stories available online, you’ll either have to buy the Android subscription or download the PDF by clicking on the image above.

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How a Paso Robles wine trip turned into a Firestone Walker love affair

Tasters at the Firestone Walker Taproom in Paso Robles

Tasters at the Firestone Walker Taproom in Paso Robles

Three days before I was set to leave on a 48-hour jaunt to Central California wine country with my good friend Evelyn, I received a press release announcing the opening of Firestone Walker‘s latest project, Barrelworks–a wild beer program and new tasting room located at the award-winning midsize brewery’s Buellton location. Though the trip was originally planned so that we could pick up her wine club allotment at Chronic Cellars, we had already planned on stopping by FW and at least filling up a growler and eating a pretzel or something. Would I like to come see the place? Hell yes. Continue reading

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L.A. Beer Hop makes fun beer tours in a sprawling city

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The chariot that awaits

Last year for L.A. Beer Week, I wrote a piece about how L.A. finally has enough breweries to make beer tours actually feasible and three months later, I finally had a chance to go on one myself. A long time ago, I met up with the guys from L.A. Craft Beer Tours because I said I might want to be a tour guide on the buses. They weren’t doing any tours in L.A. at the time, just running trips down to OC or San Diego until the market grew some more. I gave them a shout out in my LABW story, but never heard of their plans to go full-time with the tours up here, so I forgot about it.

Then I came across another brewery tour company called L.A. Beer Hop and their sleek canary yellow bus and simplistic branding scheme (have you seen their use of Instagram on the website?!!) attracted me instantly. Then I met Hal, the owner who looks like the little kid from A Christmas Story all growed up (youthful exuberance and all), and was hooked. So I booked a ride on the Beach Cities tour which was scheduled to take us to El Segundo Brewing Company, Monkish Brewing Company and Strand Brewing Company–all of which are (by L.A. standards) close together. Continue reading

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The dinner party that ruled all dinner parties

dinner party aftermath

dinner party aftermath

I promised myself that this was not going to be the place for bragging about what beers I drank or blowing up my ego by posting pictures of empty bottles, but my Monday got particularly better this week when a stressful work daynight (it never ends, seriously) was interrupted by a casual dinner party that my guy had apparently planned and executed at my place.

I came home from a Staples-and-reporting-trip to the other side of town to discover four good friends (one of whom is moving back to San Diego to do amazing exciting beer things) had filled my fridge with some of the most righteous cellar digs I had ever seen. Over the next 5 hours, we ate and drank and drank and drunk. And when I woke up in the morning, I freaked out looking at the above pictured lineup, remembering that I was lucky enough to have someone bring Abstrakt 10, Firestone XII, 2009 Cuvee de Tomme and a Deus (did I mention the 13 year-old red wine?) to pour in my dining room on a basic Monday night.

It’s about time we all start loosening our criteria for “special events” so we have an excuse to drink all of those special beers we’ve been aging. Anytime food is being served over a table with good friends, that’s good enough for me!

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Airwaves 2013 was a succes (aka why IE beer matters)!

The aftermath of Airwaves' bottle share.

The aftermath of Airwaves’ bottle share.

Don’t they say that you know a party was good if you don’t remember it? Well, since in all my drunken awesomeness I’ve never managed to black out, I know a party was good when I don’t have a lot of photos of it. With Beer Geek Radio‘s first anniversary party–dubbed Airwaves 2013–I spent so much time meeting new people, laughing my ass off and drinking good beer that the only photos that actually exist from the day are, like, two blurry ones my new drinking buddies (including one awesome chick) and one of a graveyard of empty bottles.

Billed as the largest collective bottle share in the Inland Empire, Airwaves was a beer festival organized to be not only a party for local podcast duo Beer Geek Radio (the subject of my IE Weekly cover story the same week), but also a chance for the local beer community to come together and drink beer from breweries in one of the largest growing scenes in the country.

I know that people (especially in LA) scoff at the idea of anything cool or culturally significant coming out of the Inland Empire, (much less beer worth drinking) but after attending Airwaves, I have even more respect for its beer community and feel like that what’s bubbling out there is worth a deeper look. Continue reading

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Mark my words: 2013 will be a great year for L.A. beer

John Rockwell and Kip Larsen of L.A. Aleworks

After looking back with my year-end Triple IPA list, I decided to look forward and local, to all of the breweries that are trying to bring their beer to this black hole of craft beer that we call Los Angeles. With Kickstarters underway and older breweries stepping up their game, I tried to sift through all of the projects in process and come up with a fair list of places that Angelenos should be stoked on in 2013.

I hate doing lists because they inevitably leave someone out and though several new-ish breweries (such as Enegren, Cosmic, Kinetic) and other yet-to-be-opened ones (like Barley Forge and McLeod) aren’t on this one, that doesn’t mean that they will not be contributing in some way to this city’s growing beer culture. It just means I had to make a list because that’s how journalism works these days.

With so many new names entering the scene, it’s an exciting time to be drinking and writing about beer in L.A. Stoked to see what the next year brings!

Top 6 Los Angeles Breweries to Watch in 2013

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My first beer cover story! Now with punny headlines!

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My cover story on the Beer Geek Radio guys has officially hit shelves. Check it out anywhere in the IE or read it below! See you guys at Airwaves this weekend!

It’s two days before Christmas and Brad Grider and Steven Isaak are rolling a large canvas suitcase full of audio equipment through a dark parking lot in Rancho Cucamonga. Grider holds two 22-oz. bottles of craft beer that neither friend has ever tasted.

It’s only 8 p.m., but the streets are quiet and the nondescript office building they parked outside of is entirely empty. Isaak and Grider roll their mobile workspace inside the building’s marble lobby, onto the elevator and, eventually, through a locked door into a small conference room off a real estate office on the third floor.

They unzip the suitcase and begin methodically unloading professional-grade mixers and microphones onto the table, plugging in cables and setting up the laptop to record their podcast like they do most weeks (sometimes, this process is done at their favorite bar or brewery). Grider’s girlfriend brings in a bottle of a stout called Velvet Merlin from the break room fridge and portions it out into a few red party cups.

“I remember the sentiment the first time we ever did an episode,” says Grider, sitting at the round table, sipping on stout. “We recorded about 45 minutes and once we were done, we were like, ‘Wow, that was so much fun.’ It was exhilarating. We couldn’t get enough of it. We started meeting on Saturdays and one day we made three episodes in one day. The original plan was to do two to three a month, but it wasn’t enough for us. We wanted more and apparently, the fans did too.”

Continue reading

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HAPPY NEW BEER!!

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A few weeks ago, our friend Kim decided she wanted to clean out her closet (literally, not figuratively) and give back to us a Duvel magnum that had apparently been sitting in perfect cellar temperatures for a year. I remember buying these from whole Foods for $25 last holiday season, but I have no idea how it got to Kim’s or why it was in her closet. No matter, because all it means is that we had a magnum of aged Duvel ready for New Year’s Eve champagne replacement!!!

Though another year in beer is gone (and my “Year In Beer” zine I started in 2011 still isn’t completed…ugh), I am happy to look forward to the beer stories I have yet to write, the beer scene in L.A. that has yet to flourish and the beer magazine that my man is in the process of starting (Beer Paper L.A. is coming bitches!). I’m hoping to turn some notebook scribbles about incoming beer trends into a post someday soon, but for now, you better watch your back, 2013, because I’m already inside you.

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2012’s emerging beer style of the year: Triple IPAs!

I hate typical year-end beer lists where people just brag about the craziest good beers they got their hands on that year (it just looks like the RateBeer Top 100 anyway), so I always try to think of beer trends or emerging styles that would make for better, more year-specific lists. Last year, it was the Double Black IPA and this year, I said fuck-it to Pliny The Younger fever and found five different triple IPAs that made 2012 worth drinking.

  1. Drake’s Black Label Hopocolypse
  2. Stone Ruination 10th Anniversary
  3. Knee Deep Simtra
  4. Beachwood Brewing Dank Epoch
  5. Moylan’s Hop Craic

Note: all of my L.A. Weekly lists are based on beers that were readily available in the greater L.A. area. If not for this regional limitation, I would have included Auburn Ale House’s ZZ Hop, Alpine’s Exponential Hoppiness and any number of triple IPAs currently being made in the Midwest that I will never have access to.

Top 5 Triple IPAs of 2012: Pliny The Younger Be Damned

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Peanut butter beers, Beer Geek Radio and my recorded-opinions debut

Brad Grider of Beer Geek Radio gives a Mona Lisa smile over some peanut butter beers

Brad Grider of Beer Geek Radio gives a Mona Lisa smile over some peanut butter beers

Two days before Christmas I drove out to a deserted office park in Rancho Cucamonga, drank two peanut butter beers at a conference room table with two hilariously offensive dudes and called it reporting. Being a legit beer journalist kinda rules (except, of course, for deadlinezzz).

A few days earlier, I received a last-minute note from my editor at the IE Weekly saying that the story on Beer Geek Radio I had pitched for a small feature in preview of their year anniversary party on January 5 was cover worthy–did I think I could get copy in by December 28? I didn’t think I could do it, but of course I love a challenge (and, for some reason, making more work for myself over the holidays?) so I accepted and made plans to meet up with the BGR dudes to interview them and be a guest on an episode of their show.

Since I had only met Brad at the Eclipse release party and that got pretty hazy after the first 30 minutes, I wanted to sit and do the interview first. The guys were almost as foul-mouthed as me and I loved talking candidly about our opinions on the beer scene. I was also surprised to learn about all the new breweries that are opening up in the Inland Empire since I had only been to Hangar 24 and attempted once to go to Packinghouse, but it was late on a Sunday night and I should have known they would be closed.

After an hour-long talk with the microphones off (during which we drank a Lips of Faith Super India Pale Ale, Zombie Dust and a Velvet Merlin), two bottles of peanut butter beers appeared on the table and they turned on their equipment. I’d never recorded a podcast or even spoken on record before, but with two cool dudes keeping things casual, It wasn’t nearly as nerve-wracking as I had anticipated. We drank the Terrapin peanut butter porter and the Rogue Voodoo Donut Memphis Mafia ale, spouting real-time opinions to each other and bantering off of how gross the latter was.

Brad put the episode up a few days later while I was hours deep into writing the meaty cover story about his show and listening to it and feeling a part of something bigger was super motivation to finish the damn thing. They always did say I have a face for radio…haha

I’ll post the cover story when it hits the streets January 3, but until then, go to PodOmatic and check out episode 33 of Beer Geek Radio featuring commentary from yours truly (warning: I sound like a man).

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