Category Archives: published pieces

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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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!

ieweeklycover

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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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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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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Beachwood wins two GABF medals!!!

Not going to say “I told you so,” but I have on record my predictions for Beachwood BBQ & Brewing’s epic wins at this year’s Great American Beer Festival and, well, can’t help it if I was right. All the real credit for L.A. County’s only microbrew GABF medal (Pabst won one since they moved headquarters to LA last year), of course, goes to Julian Shrago–the ultimate homebrewing rocket scientist who only recently quit his day job at Raytheon to make Beachwood Brewing a full-time gig.

After submitting a few beers to last year’s GABF judging panel when the brewery had only been open for a few months (submissions are due in August/September), Shrago got positive feedback from the judges: beers were almost medal-worthy, but the first batch isn’t often the best. Since then, Beachwood has expanded its offerings fivefold and this year, they submitted a bunch of the brewpub’s one-offs, two of which won!

Gold: Udder Love, a milk stout, in the Sweet Stout category

Bronze: El Verano, in the French-and Belgian-style Saison category

Shrago’s beers never disappoint (well, maybe the Berliner Weisse was a little ambitious) and his single IPAs, double IPAs and extra-hoppy pale ales are competitive with some of the best coming out of San Diego right now. I feel so fortunate that Beachwood is not only in Long Beach, but it is my local bar. I love that beer geeks drive from all over the southwest to try a beer from the spot a few blocks from my apartment.

It’s about time Long Beach gets on the beer map–after all, we have the oldest operating brewpub in Southern California (Belmont Brewing Company), the oldest operating bar west of the Mississippi (Joe Jost’s) and the first Rock Bottom Brewery outside of its home state of Colorado. ‘

You can read the news story I wrote about Beachwood’s wins at the Long Beach Post.

 

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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