A New Stroll on Mission Street

by Sean on September 3, 2015

Trader Joe’s has a few house brands, Ol’ Burro (Golden Road) and Joseph Brau (Gordon Biersch) and Mission Street which was done by Firestone Walker but now is brewed by 4+ Brewing in Salt Lake City.
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So it is time to see how the Utah version of the session pale and IPA taste….

The slightly mercenary naming of the pale ale as a “session pale” is the only turn-off for the blue labeled Mission Street.  The beer has a juicy citrus and tea taste with a nice layer of bitterness and malt underneath. It tastes lighter than the 4.7% ABV.

(On a side note, the label is stamped with the bottling date which is very helpful.)

On to the IPA, which is quite fine.  Woodsy would be the main flavor attribute.  A little toffee sweetness to it which is a bit of a detriment.  Tastes heavier than it’s ABV which is a fitting counterpoint to the pale ale.  Again, it is rather a juicy beer with some pepper notes in it.

I would take the Session Pale over the IPA but both are screaming great deals at $6.99 a six-pack with tax that comes out to about $1.25 a bottle.

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Drinking Buddies at Angel City

by Sean on September 3, 2015

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Angel City Brewing and Jameson’s Irish Whiskey threw quite the shindig on Tuesday night. I’m still recovering from it. The theme of the event was Drinking Buddies and it was a beer release party mixed with whiskey and cocktails plus the back-story on the different blends that went into the final barrel-aged Imperial Irish Ale.
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My drinking buddy Richard and I sampled the three beers that made up the blend of choice and though we may have liked different components of the beers. I personally thought the dryness and woody-ness of the sherry barrel version was the most intriguing, the Jameson’s came through loud and clear in the end.
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Jon Carpenter, the brewmaster gave the rundown on the process and the flavors that each component added after we got a little whiskey lesson from the Jameson rep. It was kinda surreal to see a vey Irish Whiskey juxtaposed against the gritty graffiti and urban L.A. vibe of the brewery but this was a serious party. Plates and glasses whisked away quickly. Plenty of food and gelato and more than plenty of whiskey.
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Bite Into It

by Sean on September 2, 2015

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There was a niche for the apps/snacks/bites arena paired with beer and the Beeroness – Jacquelyn Dodd has grabbed it with The Craft Beer Bites Cookbook.

There are 100 recipes such as:
Hawaiian IPA Pulled-Pork Sliders
Belgian Ale–Marinated Grilled Steak Crostini with IPA Chimichurri
Beer-Battered Shrimp with Chipotle Lime Dipping Sauce
Grilled Barbeque Chicken and Peach Mini Pizzas
Peanut Butter Stout Mousse–Topped Brownies

So, if you have a cook in the family, you might want to nudge them with this set of recipes.

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A Sour Breakfast

by Sean on September 2, 2015

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I have never thought of sours or wild ales as the punditry call them now, as a possible breakfast or brunch type of beer. But High Water Brewing obviously has and now that I think upon it, it does make sense. It could pair well with a sweetened fruit or jam on a waffle or pancake. Love the idea of grapefruit mixed with pear.

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Dry No More

by Sean on September 1, 2015

Beer is brewing at Dry River and it looks like October 2015 will be the opening month for this long awaited entrant to the Los Angeles brewing scene.

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Their Kickstarter backers got info on a possible soft opening / first beer release as well as a Halloween party that will be the big coming out party for them.  As a reminder, due to where they are located and the Byzantine requirements of our fair city, Dry River will not have a tasting room.  Rather they will do pop-up events and tap take-overs plus a bottle club which will be the best way to ensure a constant flow of their beer.

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In the Tap Lines for September 2015

by Sean on September 1, 2015

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The drought continues as we in L.A. await the Godzilla El Nino.  But we are keeping cool with a bevy of events this month.

~ e-visits to three breweries just north of Beervana in Vancouver, Washington
~ special reviews of beers of Oktoberfest like Sierra Nevada and Left Hand.
~ 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, Good Beer Hunting
~ I will tap the Firkin and give my no holds barred opinion on the craft beer world
~ … and Session # 103 will converge bloggers onto a single topic, this month The Hard Stuff

Here are two events to get your August started in the Los Angeles craft beer world:
1) September 1st – Angel City premieres their Jameson barrel aged beer.
2) Late September – Der Wolfskopf will be hosting Oktoberfest at their German themed Pasadena location.

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The Firkin for August 2015

by Sean on August 31, 2015

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Disclosure. It is a word that is tossed around like a live grenade with ensuing shrapnel flying around the interwebs.

That online debris leads me to two questions:
1. How much disclosure is enough?
2. Who is calling for more and why?

Let’s tackle that first thorny question. On this blog, every January, I post a generic disclosure. It is pure CYA (cover your ass) because if you read a post in late January you will have to scroll like a madman to find it. And if you read a random post in the dog days of August, you surely won’t see it.

This leads to what can happen to respected beer bloggers and writers in regards to disclosure in this day and age.

Problem # 1 – You can get tarnished if you disclose TOO late
If you hit a WiFi dead spot and don’t tweet that you are on a press junket with free food and beer from a brewery looking for publicity and then someone else does. Well, your tweets and instahoots now appear to be in response to the person who called you out.

Problem # 2 – You can disclose in advance but then your disclosure gets buried.
You add to Facebook that you are in the airport ready to head to the junket. You disclose that it is paid for but by the time the event rolls around and you are posting away that CYA is a distant digital memory.

Problem # 3 – You have to disclose on each and every platform.

No good posting on your blog that you are a blogger with a moral compass. If that doesn’t find its way to the rest of your Social Media hubs, then you can be targeted as a corporate shill.

Full disclosure now requires constant disclosing about everything much in the same way that you had to use the safest of words when political correctness was running rampant in the land.

Did you review a beer that you got for free? Disclose. Did you get a free beer from a publican at an event but reviewed a beer you paid for? Disclose. Do you know the brewer? Disclose it. Is the beer from your hometown? Disclose the zip code. Did your Mom buy you the beer? Disclose the hospital you were born in.

Eventually all of your posts (or mine) could be made up entirely of disclosures if you rode the point of thought all the way to the end of the road. Now, my writing ain’t the most poetic or grammatic to start with. Add a layer of disclosures on top and the reader would be really punished.

Both you and I know that Roger Ebert or Gene Siskel did not pay to see a movie or travel to Sundance or Cannes but they had the “cover” / “excuse” provided by a newspaper. You could assail their taste but not their cred. Bloggers like me don’t have that, so it is easy for those who want to attack me or others. Be the reasons for the attack good, bad or nefarious trolling.

which leads us to my second question of who and why?
It would be easy and more fun to claim that it is sour grapes (sour mash) from people who weren’t on the junket, didn’t get the free beer or the media pass and early entrance. I see it as coming from two primary groups.

– Beer writers who feel threatened by bloggers. That perceived threat reveals itself in those who complain about bloggers who use made-up words like “grammatic”. The complaints vary from poor writing, poor editing, too much cheerleading, not professional. Which boils down to, not cool like me.

– Bloggers who claim that the internet is a new beast and that “grandpa” doesn’t understand which is untrue. Good writing is good writing. You don’t need to be a top-flight journalist but a little research and practical knowledge goes a long way. At least try to disclose, even if you don’t succeed all the time.

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Our final Spud State stop is at Portneuf Valley Brewing in Pocatello has been brewing since 1996 and moved production to it’s current facility in 2002.

These are the beers that I would have on my initial taster tray:
Ligertown Lager – “The classic all malt, all American pilsner. Balanced flavor and light body.”

Krystal Weizen – “Cousin to the hefeweizen, we’ve cleared it up for a smooth and light wheat beer. Light and crisp with low hop character.”

Grog – “Our Premium India Pale Ale is high in malt flavor and aggressive hop bitterness and aroma. This current batch is dry-hopped.”

Portneuf Cocoa Porter – “Silky dark malt flavor that’s slightly toasty with a bittersweet chocolate finish and medium hop bitterness. Made with real cocoa!”

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Review – DTLA Craft Beer Crawl

by Sean on August 30, 2015

Talking about the California drought and the seeming non-stop heat is getting old but it does play into beer festivals because most are held out of doors and it can dampen the fun like sweat on a shirt.

The 2015 version of the LA Craft Beer Crawl had the blazing sun to contend with more than most because it’s strongest and best attribute (other than the beer, of course) is the walking the streets of Downtown LA.  Seeing new condos and new business but also seeing the old side of the city from street level and not just the 110 freeway.

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The check-in process this year was notably smoother (and on time) and in a new spot near Cole’s and Las Perlas.  From there me and beer buddy Rich headed to the Golden Gopher to have Return of Sassy and then Even Sassier.  Starting the day off with a rye bang.  Then through the heat to Seven Grand to partake of two new Highland Park beers, Hammered Satin an Oatmeal Stout and then Dank You Very Much which was my pick for beer of the day.  A lovely IPA that I could have had all day long.

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From there we snuck into The Varnish with our press passes to try another HPB beer, Uncultured.  A wine barrel aged bottle offering that then faded into having Mattina Rossa from Allagash.  In between we chatted with Bob from HPB, Omar from Three Weavers, Jon Carpenter from Angel City and David Munro from Bell’s.

Our stamina fading we went back across 6th Street to Casey’s and grabbed a Phantom Carriage saison before calling it a day.

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As usual, this is one of the better fests for beers.  A wide swath of breweries are involved.  Locals and non-locals are welcomed.  It is a great activity for newbies to beer because you have choices that aren’t whale driven.  Yes, there are rarities but anyone can get get a taste of a special beer like Golden Brett from Allagash next to a lager from Ninkasi.

As I mentioned, I loved the aspect of walking because it cuts down on the bro’ness that other festivals have to deal with.  The annoying aspects are contained in just one space.  This year the signage at each entrance was great.  But inside each space, especially Casey’s, finding the brewery you wanted was made more difficult because the signs inside were in matte black with dark grey writing and even the most eagle eyed could barely make out the words.  (My press pass was inches from my face before I could read the word “Press”) This was in stark contrast to the blinding yellow volunteer shirts that were in abundance.  It would also have been better to have the check-in not so near to two of the stops.  It made those two hard to get into and out of.  I liked that no beer was being served at the check-in but it would be great to have it in a central spot in the city to subtly force people to scatter in all directions.

Those are little tweaks to make an already great LA institution better.  Kudos to Christina / Hallie and the 213 group for another job well done.

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I have driven by and walked past the Bourbon Steak restaurant at the Americana at Brand quite a few times now and always wondered what it was like inside.  And on Friday night, I was presented with the perfect opportunity to find out.  (Full disclosure and tease of an opinion piece coming tomorrow, I had a media pass for the dinner)

Beer pairing dinners, for me, always have that item that you don’t like (for me it was the raw fish), an item that you don’t think will pair well with beer (Pad Thai) and an item that you know will be a home run (peaches, ricotta and Oarsman ale).

This was the 1st such beer pairing dinner for Bourbon Steak and partnering with Bell’s Brewing is a strong head start.  They have a wide variety of beers and aren’t loaded down with IPA’s which are notoriously hard to work with.

As expected the first course with the quasi/neo/sorta Berliner Weisse Oarsman was an excellent opening salvo to the night.  The cream and especially the cheese and the fruit were in marked contrast to the slight tartness of the beer.

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Skipping over the raw fish course though, let’s go straight to the beer for that course, Oberon.  I learned the proper pouring technique from the Bell’s crew.  Pour the beer into your glass, swirl the bottle (or can) and get some of that yeasty sediment going.  That way you get a nice cloudy Oberon filled glass.

Course three was a trio of pork with (2!) beers to compare and contrast.  Amber Ale and the famous Two-Hearted Ale.  The pork was delicious any way Bourbon Steak presented it.  So much so that the food overpowered the beer.  I thought the sausage with the Two-Hearted worked the best because it was a battle of spice on hop.  The gentle amber with some tea notes was better as an after the course beer.

Then it was on to the steak and I really loved it.  Yes, it was oversalted but it melted on the tongue brilliantly.  Pure luxury.  And it came from a family farm that has been in business for a long time.  The Pad Thai noodles were also a bit on the salt side but paired so well with the licorice tinged Kalamazoo Stout.  A pairing that I thought would clash like boxers in a ring.  The stout dulled the salt and added that licorice bitter note that pulled the whole thing together.

I was dead full by this point.  Beer is a much more varied and interesting pairing partner for food but the downside is that it fills you up.  I so wanted to polish off the S’mores dessert which was excellent but I just couldn’t.  The Double Cream Stout played well with the chocolate which brought out more coffee ground flavors from the beer but it wasn’t a Wow pairing.  With each bite, I rotated through other Bell’s beers to see what would bring out more.

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The verdict? – The sommelier at Bourbon Steak is a beer fan and if the Flat Iron is any indication, you will get a seriously good steak here and have some solid if not horribly exciting beer choices.  With $4 happy hour beers.  They also have a monthly “Down the Hatch” series which focuses on a tasting of different types of drinks.  August covered Digestifs and maybe a beer-centric tasting will be happening in future months.  But if Bourbon Steak puts on another beer dinner, buy it.  $55 plus tip is a steal for the amount of food and beer that you get.

 

 

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