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

 

Tagged , , , ,

Road trip to FiftyFifty Eclipse Release Party

fiftyfiftyfront

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

Tagged , , , , , ,

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!

Tagged , ,

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.

 

Hangar 24 part 3

image

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.

image

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

Tagged , , , ,

Ale to the Chief: Or How To Brew A White House Beer

I have been a very bad blogger, whatever the hell that even means. I’ve still been going to breweries and drinking tons of good beer, but I haven’t updated this internet receptacle of my travels in a serious hot minute. And now I’m doing the whole obligatory apology-to-the-three-people-who-read-this-but-don’t-care-how-often-I-post-shit-anyway thing. I probably should have just backdated this, oh well. Onward and upwards.

Last month (yes, the tabs have been open on my Firebox browser for that long), the White House released Barack Obama’s beer recipes and holy crap, two things. One, the White House has an epic YouTube channel and a series called “Inside the White House” with quirky characters and fun information like an episode of Bremasters or something. Two, our President bought a homebrew kit with his own money and decided to start making White House beer, which he uses to toast with medal of honor recepients and passes out to pals on the campaign trail. Kind of makes me smile at the American Dream.

Anyway, after a failed public records request, a bunch of dorks banded together (no doubt with the help of the Beer Advocate forum) to create a We The People petition forcing the White House to release the recipes. And after shaking their heads at the misuse of their online petition site (I’m not sure if they implemented it so it could be used for such frivolous yet awesome ideas like this), government officials finally obliged, giving men nationwide something to cook up while their wives are all busy butchering the first lady’s cookie recipe. Continue reading

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’

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

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?

Tagged , , ,

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

Tagged , , , , , , ,