Category Archives: travel

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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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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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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Road trip to FiftyFifty Eclipse Release Party

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Last weekend, I drove more than 1000 miles, stayed in three motels (each with a varying degree of classiness), did my day job from the motel lobbies, drank from a dusty bottle of 1993 geuze, sampled a dozen versions of a coveted bourbon-barrel aged imperial stout and ate many chocolate covered pomegranate seeds from a well-stocked nosh table (I never did make it over to the savory side).

All this, the result of an epic beer road trip I embarked on last weekend-ish with a few ex coworkers to attend the FiftyFifty Brewing Company‘s Eclipse Release Party in Truckee, California. Continue reading

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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

Hangar 24 part 3

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For the third time in a month, I found myself back at a brewery that I never even thought I would have a chance to visit–Hangar 24 Brewery in Redlands. Visits one and two were too quick: a hop off the freeway after an IE Weekly interview and into the airport-adjacent brewery where I had a few tasters, filled an expensive growler, bought some bottles and hit the road home.

This time, however, I was with my man and not in a rush (we were on a meandering drive back from attending a wedding in Palm Springs) so we hungout and drank full glasses of beer on the shady concrete patio while the bottle line clanked in the background and the air smelled like brew day goodness.

I’ve never been to a brewery that’s operating full steam ahead on a Sunday afternoon, but apparently that Orange Wheat needs to hit distribution and not like any of the regulars who live in this last-bastion-of-the-citrus-industry town are fazed by a working grain silo.

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I’m always pleasantly surprised by the diversity of people that love this place. Mexican day laborers, suburban dads, biker dudes, college kids, recovering day hikers, young Hispanic mothers and white boy Angels fans all hang out here at this off-the-grid brewery nestled in the foothills of the Inland Empire.

Merch is a little pricey but beers are spot on (drank some Fresh Hop IPA and the new Local Fields beer, Gourdgeous). Didn’t get another growler fill (how the hell am I supposed to get rid of 2 liters of beer in 48 hours?), but as always, I was stoked to have an excuse to stop by Hangar 24.

Hangar 24 is located at 1710 Sessums Dr., Redlands, CA (909) 389-1400, hangar24brewery.com

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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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Russian River Beer Revival and BBQ Cookoff

STUMPTOWN BOUND

If there has ever been a defining moment for Long Beach‘s growing importance in the beer world, it was last weekend. And if there is one local beer-maker paving the way for my city’s sudsy future, it is Beachwood Brewing–the 15 month-old brewery housed inside Beachwood BBQ‘s restaurant in the revitalized Downtown.

While Long Beachers drank through nearly 30 kegs of Beachwood’s beers at the sponsored beer gardens at both Funk Fest and Rose Park Bluegrass Festival, the barely-year-old brewery was also winning over new fans up north, at one of the state’s most important end-of-summer beer festivals–the Russian River Beer Revival and BBQ Cookoff in Guerneville.

And by some drunken stroke of luck (or maybe it was just the overbooking and me having previous customer service skills), I was among the selected few who got to go up and pour beers at this epic fest on behalf of Beachwood. Continue reading

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It was a Pizza Port kinda day

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Today was the most impromptu summer day I’ve had in a while and it consisted of blowing off hours of work I should be doing to prepare for Monday and driving down to Pizza Port San Clemente instead (I’d like to thank one of my main cholas for making this happen).

The drive through much of Orange County was miserable, but of course San Clemente was worth the wait with a beachside breeze, train track-adjacent beaches and the closest Pizza Port to Los Angeles.

As soon as we got there, I had to do a phone interview with Twin Shadow for an IE Weekly story I’m writing and so the first 20 minutes on site were spent in the car asking what about the 80s is so cool to him and being told that “I don’t like to categorize what I do into genres.” Continue reading

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