Nitro Irish IPA?

by Sean on October 4, 2015

One day I will need to have a BSP helicopter on call to get me across town in a timely manner. I was last to arrive for the premiere of Guinness Nitro IPA in Los Angeles. It was also the first pour of the beer from a keg as well. All the previous stops relied on the 12oz cans.
Those who have followed the beers journey from East Coast to L.A. will have seen some less than flattering reviews of the IPA but I think it needs to be said that the name is a misnomer. An American IPA this is not. And it should not be reviewed as such. Think more XPA or Session IPA with a healthy dollop of old school Irish brewing. Yes, this is a brand extension into a hot sector of craft beer but after speaking with and listening to the Guinness reps in attendance, it is also about bringing a little innovation into Guinness, the brand.

The brewery at St. James Gate now has a pilot brewery where experiments can happen which for craft breweries is cause for acclaim. In the Guinness case, if a beer makes an impression it (now) might be considered for wider release. The previous beers from the Brewers Project have stayed in their neck of the woods however. In the case of the Nitro IPA, the recipe had to be tweaked to accommodate being brewed on a much larger scale and then it had to pass by the old guard who ain’t all that used to hops to put it politely.

More of a gauntlet to run for sure. That said the keg version is the one to look for. It has the same cool cascading effect as the familiar stout just in a lighter shade (though some roasted barley was tossed in). The nitro effect does seem to block the aroma. Which I would characterize more as orange rind with some woodsy notes. It has a nice soft mouthfeel and a medium/low bitterness. The canned version that I sampled was a bit on the old side so the hop aroma was kaput as was some of the bitterness. Both versions are much more evocative of British IPA’s than American.

A few side notes:
1. I questioned why a Black IPA wasn’t the first offering and got a “no comment” which I took to mean that style might be in the pipeline. I think it should have been their first offering considering their skill with darker malts.
2. A tap room for the pilot brewery is a possibility as well separate from the Sky Bar with it’s cool view of Dublin’s skyline.
3. The Larchmont was the dining host providing us with a very nice dinner and a really nice dessert of Passionfruit Panna Cotta with micro greens plus appetizers as well.


New for Abigaile

by Sean on October 4, 2015

When Brian Brewer left for the soon-to-arrive Hop Saint, The Brewery at Abigaile needed a new brewer in Hermosa Beach and now they have appointed Paul Papantonio as head brewer Papantonio is formerly of Oskar Blues Brewery and Saint Archer Brewing and will be meeting and greeting the public on Friday, October 9th for a “Meet the Brewer” Tap Takeover. In a twist, the night will feature a selection of his favorite beers including Uinta Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin and Firestone Wookey Jack.


Inland OktoFest

by Sean on October 3, 2015

On Saturday, Oct. 10, Hangar 24 and the Angels’ minor league baseball team, the IE 66’ers will play host not to beer and baseball but an Oktoberfest + beer fest. The event will be held at the San Manuel Stadium so there can be stein holding, keg tossing and other contests as well as bands from 4-10pm as well as a beer festival from 4-7pm with inland favorites like Black Market, Coachella Valley, Ritual and La Quinta plus other breweries to bring the total to over 25.

Hangar 24 will be in force with their fall seasonal Oktoberfest Fall Lager as well as Orange Wheat and Betty IPA + extra special reserves.

All proceeds from the event will benefit Hangar 24 Charities, a non-profit organization supporting local charities with close ties to the environment and Redlands community.


Here is the writing prompt for the month, given kinda late in the game but here goes for me…Thanks to Alan at a Good Beer Blog for hosting last minute!

So you are going to write about this: if we just “take the philosophical approach, that the Session has run its course” aren’t we really admitting that beer blogging is a massive failure? I say no. I say this is a fabulous way to cover up problem drinking with anti-social internet addictions. Maybe you know of another reason we should keep writing and try to make some sense of the beer and brewing world. Well, goodie for you. Write about it. Explain yourself. Because if you can’t you are really admitting (i) you’ve wasted the best part of the last decade or (ii) you live in a fantasy world where think you are a beer writer and not a beer blogger and that’s soooooo much more important… as if your friends don’t share concerned messages about you behind your back:

Linda? It’s Barry. Yes, I saw him. He still pretends he writes about alcohol as a job… she’s the strong one… poor things… where will it end?”

I was out on drinking beer on Thursday and missed the announcement for this month’s Session. Now I am playing catch-up with the pressure of a tight deadline. (Self imposed.)

And it is those two words that I believe have put the state of beer blogging on the wane. Without a supervisor looking over your shoulder, there is no one to hold the blogger accountable. It becomes so much easier to just type in the beer name on the Untappd app and call it night. Besides, the spouse is calling for you, the kids need disciplining, work beckons the next morning and what’s left of a California lawn needs to be mowed.

Luckily, no kids and no lawn for me so I can use that time to set my fingers to typing. I have no pretension that I am a “writer” though I am technically writing just without a net / without an editor. I also don’t think the title of blogger is a pejorative that some in the paid trade make it out to be. I think they are simply different beasts in the wild. One may be a lion but you need the jackals and hyena’s too in a Disney Circle of Life way. I will let you decide which is which.

I continue with my two posts a day because of one multi-part reason. I want to be heard and I have a passion for craft beer that I think I can curate. Being the selfish creature that I am, I love having my opinions heard be it about current events, movies or beer. Those listening can choose to use or discard that information but I want to be in the mix of the discussion when my posts are of the bulletin board variety. That leads into the passion. Without a passion for what is being made, I don’t know if I could sustain the day-to-day requirements. And lastly, I think that I can narrow the focus of craft beer to a manageable level so that a new fan can get a handle on this crazy world without going crazy themselves.

A beer blogger needs to get past that first “I want to be heard” phase because literally everyone on the interwebs, is reaching for that. And blogging probably won’t give you that jolt unless you are Donald Trump, The Food Babe or even louder and annoying. I think many people stumble on the passion portion too because they mistakenly believe that drinking is the only part of it. Not visiting breweries, not researching or reading books and not reading other beer blogs or magazines. The last part is finding your niche. The Sour Beer Dude. IPA Hunter. Brewer interviews. The places that the passion drives you to. For me, I enjoy curating. Taking all the information out there and condensing it into the short posts that I think are most important. I want people to see my site as a greatest hits album.

Sometimes I succeed and other times I don’t. But I keep at it because the alternative doesn’t seem as fulfilling to me.


From the Hop Fields of El Segundo

by Sean on October 2, 2015

If you are bitter about the dearth of wet hop beers in California as compared to say, Portland then you won’t want to miss this hop driven event at El Segundo.
Three different wet hop beers will be waiting visitors including:
Wet-Hopped Mayberry IPA with “200 pounds of Mosaic hops in the mash and kettle within 24 hours of picking to sexify this already amazing brew.”

Wet-hop Simcoe Pale with the “same recipe you’ve seen in the past iterations of this brew.. but sub in freshly harvested Simcoe!”

Citramongous DIPA “how is it we haven’t made a DIPA with Citra fresh hops yet.. seems a crime. Consider that resolved.”



by Sean on October 2, 2015

ba beer day icon
Hey! Did you know that today is Barrel Aged Beer Day? First started in 2013 to get the beer world to raise a snifter (not a pint) to celebrate the beer that is made better by sitting around lazily in barrels.

One way to celebrate the barrel would be at Barrel Down in DTLA tonight. You will find some “fun BA stuff on tap that doesn’t get out there much such as Wineification II, Smoking Wood mole, Barrel-Aged 6 Geese, White Oak.”

More info HERE.

Or you can sit around lazily yourself and get the hashtag #BABeerDay ready to go viral on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And don’t leave it at the one hashtag. Show some love to the brewery that let the beer sit instead of selling it.


Wham, B.A.M., Thank You

by Sean on October 1, 2015

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I will tell you that there are few festivals in Los Angeles that are must visit.  Session Fest at Eagle Rock. L.A. Beer Week. Blue Palms and their anniversary bash.  The Downtown L.A. Beer Crawl. PLUS B.A.M. Fest in Santa Monica.

Pre-Sale tickets are now over but you should check this fest out for a few breweries:

Bell’s – Get some damn Oberon!  It’s not all about Two-Hearted.

Boomtown – NEW.  Check their beers out. Give ’em feedback.

Revolution from Chicago – DRINK ALL of their beers!  Unless you travel to 2nd City a lot you won’t see their beers here.

Dr. Jekyll’s – Strange but a fest is a place to try strange.

Santa Monica Brew Works – They don’t stray from the beach so you have to go for them.  You will not be disappointed.




In the Tap Lines for October 2015

by Sean on October 1, 2015

You are now free to roam about the cabin and talk about pumpkin beers. The embargo can be lifted because we are in the actual month of Halloween, also the NBA season kicks-off! So let’s look at what else to come….

~ e-visits to three breweries that you may not have heard of that won Gold at GABF
~ special reviews of beers new to bottles from Ladyface Ale Companie including their new Flanders Red, Flamberge
~ Heads-Up on Los Angeles Beer Events
~ Three suggested beers to buy this month. One light, one medium and one dark
~ Beer-centric podcast review, Brew Bloods
~ I will tap the Firkin and give my no holds barred opinion on the craft beer world
~ … and Session # 104 will converge bloggers onto a single topic, this month on hiatus.

Here are two events to get your October started in the Los Angeles craft beer world:
1) October 1st – Elysian Pumpkin Beers @ the Federal Bar
2) October 3rd – Sunset Beer 4th Anniversary Party

P.S.You may have noticed that the Golden Road logo is no longer part of the “My Locals” graphic. I made that decision due to the fact that Tony Yanow is not involved anymore. That departure saddens me because, for me, he was the beer lover/IPA fan in the ownership group. That is gone and been replaced by ABInBev. That crater sized hole, I am afraid, will not be filled by people with that same Tony attitude.

I did not make this decision lightly and I know that it won’t matter a whit in their popularity but I have to draw line for myself and Golden Road crossed it, and crossed it without apology in their awkward video and other interviews that instead of promoting craft beer became salvos against home brewing and playing for the winning team. It’s as if they were sneering at where they came from instead of celebrating it.

Their beer may not suffer in quality and yes, it will be available in more and more places but it has lost the “craft” and become just “beer”.

Now, where can I find a “Craft Beer is the Winning Team” t-shirt?


The Firkin for September 2015

by Sean on September 30, 2015

Recently, I participated in an impromptu bottle share. Now that may not seem like Extra! Extra! Type of news for a beer blogger. But in the past year or more, I have found myself avoiding the bottle shares (as well as most beer festivals), because of two Viagra-ish reasons.

1.Fear of Inadequacy
2.Lack of Stamina

I know that I should confidently stride into any bottle share. It isn’t a game of who has the biggest…well bottle. But I do feel measured for what I bring. If I bring a vintage 2013 caged & corked limited release, I should feel good about it. But I will look over and see that there is an older bottle to the left, a more limited edition to the right and I deflate. That feeling is not helped by the bragadoccio of the typical bottle share participant. They skew to the snobbish and I feel like a democrat at a republican debate being snided at by Trump, or worse Huckabee.

Maybe if I cultivated a larger cellar and spent more money on beer than the obscene amount that I already do, then I would have that alpha male strut and confidence. But right now, I always feel like I brought the wrong gift to the party.

Then comes the palate fatigue. Most bottle shares usually center on the barrel-aged stouts and the high alcohol monsters. Even when you pace yourself and drink double the amount of water to beer, you will get tired. One beer starts to taste like the next and you find yourself overwhelmed. At this point in my craft beer drinking career, I have come to embrace the small and curated festivals. The ones where you get 5-10 tasters and no more. I paradoxically feel better leaving a festival that I didn’t try every last beer that I wanted to. If a festival is an all-you-can-drink buffet, then I curate it myself by creating my own personal festival within a festival. Maybe I will drink only sours or only the beers of the two breweries that I have never heard of before. Anything to put parameters on the event.

I don’t expect bottle shares to change just for me. I am not that stubborn. But it will probably take a reimagining or re-booting of the classic format for me to hop back into that bed.


Vancouver Brewery # 3 – Heathen Brewing

by Sean on September 30, 2015

Any place that calls it’s tap room a Feral Public House wins points in my book.  Se let’s take a look at Heathen Brewing, our last stop in Vancouver, Washington.


Let’s go really hoppy and check out the bitter descriptions of Heathen Brewing.

Vantucky Pale Ale – “Pours a light orange color with a vague coppery hue. Subtle grapefruit, tangerine, and grassy tones assault the nose, while malty-grainy-ness eases up from the rear. This beer is firmly planted in that gray area between Pale Ale and IPA.”

Carnage Double IPA – “This golden straw-color Imperial IPA has a big bright hop flavor without harsh bitterness. Moderate clarity due to the slaughtering amount of dry hops, this low maltiness beer leaves your hop head wanting more.”

Malice Triple IPA – “Papa Malice has finally come to join the Malicious IPA family here at Heathen. We took inspiration from his son, Son of Malice, and combined even more hops, time, and evil into making this huge triple IPA.”

Son of Malice Imperial IPA – “A full bodied malt backbone dangerously balances the 95 IBUs until the bitter finish kicks in and leaves a hoppy residue that you can scrape off with your teeth. This IIPA has a sinister agenda that is best served at 50 degrees with malevolence.”

Oh and check out their Cedar-Aged Seins Belgian Tripel too.