Category Archives: L.A. WEEKLY

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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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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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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Lagers for dummies in honor of National Lager Day

Sampler of lagers (and one IPA and a hef) from Sudwerk in Davis, CA.

I can’t claim to have planned it, but I did just so happen to visit Sudwerk for the first time the weekend before National Lager Day, which made receiving a frenzied last-minute email from my L.A. Weekly editor that much easier to oblige. Sure, I’ll write up a blurb about lagers. “How about a ‘Lagers for Dummies’?” I suggested. Then I word vomited everything I know about lagers. Then I edited it down. Then I found a venn diagram through Google Images that had an open copyright and brainstormed about local breweries that make lagers (there really aren’t any in L.A.). Made me kind of sad that we don’t have our own Lightening or Sudwerk that specializes in bomb lagers, but now I have even more reason to go back to Davis!

Happy National Lager Day + A Beer Venn Diagram

 

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San Diego Beer Week overload

View of Downtown San Diego from the hotel I stayed at the first weekend of San Diego Beer Week.

View of Downtown San Diego from the hotel I stayed at the first weekend of San Diego Beer Week.

For the last two weeks, I have been obsessed with San Diego beer. I mean, I’m always into drinking beer from “America’s Finest Beer City” (aka Beer City, USA), but it’s gotten very intense lately, what with San Diego Beer Week going on and me becoming the only published beer writer north of Camp Pendelton to take notice.

In a mere three days, I attended nearly a dozen events, drank beer from breweries I’d never even heard of before (Latitude 33, Societe), got new respect for some that I did (Iron Fist, you rule), visited beer bars I had never seen (Tiger!Tiger!, The Linkery) and got drunk four times (yes, that’s twice in one day–I slept the first one off). It was such a great experience getting deep inside a functioning beer community and as an outsider and L.A. beer writer, it gave me the opportunity to see the many ways in which Los Angeles can and will soon join the ranks of beer cities. We definitely have a long way to go, but hearing such positive things about places like Bruery, Monkish, Beachwood and more gave me confidence to say I’m from the most-hated land to the north.

I’ll put up my adventures from the Brewer’s Guild Festival and other events I attended in another post, but here, I wanted to compile all of the stories I wrote for the L.A. and O.C. Weeklys relating to SDBW. See you guys next year (hopefully at Hess’ new space??)!!!

San Diego Beer Week: Top 5 Events Worth The Drive South

San Diego Beer Week: Societe Brewing Is More Than Just The Bruery’s Apprentice

Top 5 Beers of San Diego Beer Week: Barrel-Aged Brews, Political Beers + Pasadena Sours

Best New Craft Beer Cookbook: San Diego Chefs and Brewers Collaborate With Brew Food

Stone hits Los Angeles like a ton of beer bricks

Stone Brewing Company just opened its first company store outside of San Diego and of all places, it landed in the new gravitational center of L.A.’s beer amenities–Old Town Pasadena. Spitting distance from Lucky Baldwins, Haven and Congregation, the new store will completely altering the way people think about beer accessibility. I mean, it’s a store. For a brewery. It looks like a damn museum store or something that you’d be forced to walk through after getting off a ride at Disneyland.

I love how far this industry has come that you can go buy a keg a growler fill or maybe a Stone Smoked Porter wax candle from a storefront on a subway platform like it’s no big deal. Apparently the idea blew other people’s minds too because there was a line down to the street before the media event was even over and people were just getting off the train and getting into line, no questions asked (“What’s going on? Well, whatever. If there’s a line, then it must be good,” one homeless-looking fellow said as he fell in), leading me to further believe that people in Los Angeles just love to wait in lines. Though the beer is good and it’s pretty cool you can get a Stone growler fill in the middle of L.A. 🙂

Stone Brewing Co.’s First Company Store Outside of San Diego Opens In Pasadena: Lines! Growlers!

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LA Beer Week 2012 is upon us! New breweries and events!

I’ve had dreams of starting Los Angeles and Orange County brewery tours for a few years now, but then I realized that there weren’t too many worth going to up here and the ones that were existed miles apart making a bus tour impractical if not cost prohibitive. Then 2012 happened and more breweries opened–including Monkish, Beachwood and Golden Road–and I met Dale and Pat from L.A. Craft Beer Tours (after a moped ride to Rock-N-Brews in El Segundo in which I did not leave my wallet, but I did lose a side cover) who were old school beer lovers ready with a perfect-timing, god-we’ve-been-waiting-for-this business venture.

In all the muck of LA Beer Week happenings this year, I saw Pat and Dale’s company and noticed that a number of local brewery tours were being set up for the first time ever and decided to riff on it for a little bit for the L.A. Weekly. Then I dredged through the rest of the LABW events to find some good ones worth going to. Between my commentary on the increase in local breweries and a roundup of local beer events, consider this a State of L.A. Beer in honor of LABW 2012. Or don’t, whatevs.

L.A. Beer Week: More Local Breweries Bring Shuttles and Tours

L.A. Beer Week Event Picks: Ballast Point, Bacon and Beer, Beer Floats + ‘Beer University’

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I vent to ze Netherlands and vrote some stories about eet, ishn’t dat veird?

De Molen Restaurant and Brewery in Bodegraven, Netherlands.

De Molen Restaurant and Brewery in Bodegraven, Netherlands.

Even though I spent two weeks drinking and traipsing around several European countries (all to be divulged in later posts), it was the Netherlands that really spoke to me, craft beer-ily speaking. I promised myself that I wasn’t going to work (aka write) while I was on vacation, but of course when I came home I couldn’t help but pitch a few stories and share some of what I learned.

Biggest and most awesome was the big feature I got to write for Beer Advocate Magazine about Dutch craft beer. I made a lot of connections during my beer travels out there, all of which came in handy for writing a story about the growing beer scene in the Netherlands. I  Skyped with Peter van der Arend, chased down a phone call with Menno from De Molen and talked to the only female administrative member of PINT, a Dutch craft-beer consumers organization.

Only shitty part was that I was moving into a new place during the main week I had to do interviews and so I didn’t have internet for most of them. I sat in my old apartment mooching the neighbor’s wifi for one, did another one on my cell phone (which does horrible with Skype) and did a third at the nearly-mom-in-laws house. Still, I got it all done and they even used a bunch of my travel photos for the layout! BA Mag still doesn’t have an online edition (though you can download it from Google Play), so you’ll have to download the PDF below to read it. It’s worth it!!!

Click to Download PDF

Click to Download PDF

I also used some interesting photos I took of bottles from The Bruery which I found on shelves in the Netherlands to make a blog post for the OC Weekly about the phenom. Can you tell I think it’s funny that Americans think Dutch people say things in a way that can be typed out?

The Bruery Goes Global: Bottles Spotted In Netherlands–Ishn’t Dat Vierd?

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Back to school edition: another interview with a badass beer chick

Paige Reilly at Mohawk Bend right after our interview.

Another beer chick I’ve been wanting to meet (aka force to be a new lady beer friend) is Mohawk Bend’s Paige Reilly. I know I am not always 100% on board with Tony Yanow’s role in L.A.’s growing craft beer community, he does have an eye for awesome people and has some of the coolest chicks in the industry working for his breweries, bars and restaurants (sup Cambira!!).

Paige is the “Beer Champion” (seriously, read her business card) at Tony’s Darts Away, Mohawk Bend and the Golden Road Brewpub, meaning she buys all the beers and organizes all the education for new staff. She is super enthusiastic about her job and sharing beer and making the Los Angeles beer scene more educated in what they are drinking. I related to her even more when I found out she is around my age and kind of got into craft beer around the same time as me through a similar avenue (got job at beer bar as a way to learn more about beer). If journalism fails me, I’ve always wanted to do something like what she does–helping run a bar, teaching others how to love craft beer.

When Tony and I first met, he asked me what was my goal in life. And I said I wanted to make craft beer a totally normal thing. I want to walk into any restaurant and store in the universe and not even think about the fact that you’re about to buy a Stone IPA or whatever it may be. I do not care about being special; I don’t care about hierarchy. I just want it to be super normal — same thing as buying a bag of carrots. And I think that’s what we’re doing — making it normal.

Read my interview with her about her Back to School Beer Classes at the L.A. Weekly:

Q & A With Paige Reilly of Mohawk Bend: Mohawk Bend’s Role in L.A. Craft Beer, Back to School Beer Classes + Paying It Forward

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If they were serving Brewdog at the Olympics, I totally would have gone

olympicsbeer.jpg

Got super over-thoughtful with my Olympic-themed post for L.A. Weekly, which ended up being about my picks for the beers that the London 2012 Committee should have chosen to represent the U.K.’s rich brewing history. Not necessarily the best beers from Great Britain, but the beers that are well-crafted enough to exist in large quantities, drinkable enough to session with while watching gymnastics for hours on end and interesting enough to be a good representative of the new and old brewing awesomeness that goes on out there.

Click the headline below to read  some of my thoughts on beers from Timothy Taylor, Sam Smith, The Kernal, Meantime and Brewdog.

Top 5 U.K. Beers That Should be Served at the Olympics Instead of Heineken + Happy International IPA Day

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