need home brew supplies?

by Sean on April 21, 2016

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The 2017 Birthday Beer

by Sean on February 22, 2017

Washington’s birthday (and mine) has rolled around again and I have had to open my cellar boxes and peer into beer shops to find a suitable ale to celebrate.

For 2017, I have chosen a beer that my Mom selected for me from Oregon. It is Sticky Hands IPA from Block 15 Brewing in Corvallis.

Sticky pours orange with a lemonade tint. The aroma isn’t overpowering. Mostly grassy and earthy. Fairly light drinking as well. Not a big hop hit at all for an IPA north of 8% but it does grow slightly into a dankness as it warms. That dank note is a skosh off-putting for a beer that is light up to that point. I do have to factor in that my expectations were sky-high for this beer. I have heard nothing but good things about Block 15 so maybe if I had a second can (hint, hint Mom), I might have a different reaction.

In any case, it was good to have a beer from home to celebrate the year ahead.

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Beer Book Review – My Beer Year

by Sean on February 21, 2017


As someone who passed the entry level Certified Beer Server test of the Cicerone program and then blanched at the cost of the remaining levels and complexity, My Beer Year by Lucy Birmingham was just what I needed to remind me that I didn’t want to pursue the next step while also putting me “in the room where it happens” as it were.

Birmingham’s prose style is easy and flows smoothly. She is dexterious moving from describing scientific points in a hop field to her feelings about husband and son and then back to beer again.

Her plan for conquering the Cicerone test is quite good and should be emulated. Don’t just sit at home with flash cards and books and empty bottles but get out there and visit breweries and talk to people and home brew. You could almost see the movie montage playing as answers come to her from the experiences with brewing as opposed to planting a nose in a book.

The book also gets where it is going without feeling rushed. You know a test is at the end and the results just after that and it can be hard to make the preceding chapters exciting but she does just that.

What I like most is that Birmingham seems to understand the duality of studying of beer and the enjoyment of beer are linked but sometimes at odds with each other. From the pages, you can tell that she will not be that know-it-all but rather someone with a lot of beer knowledge.

My first quibble is that more could not be spilled about the test itself. Having to take the test and then write about it is hard by itself, but then trying to dance around the strictures of test rules adds a second layer to the writing task. I would also have liked her to take a harder stand on the theme in women in beer but when I went back through the book, I realized it would not have fit the tone.

If you are planning on taking the Cicerone test, read this book. If you don’t want to take it, this book can be your proxy.

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Is it the Recipe?

by Sean on February 21, 2017

The same beer being produced at multiple locations was once only the purview of Big Beer. But distribution and breaking into a market is becoming harder and harder. The first due to a non-level playing field in regards to smaller distributors and the latter due to the sheer number of breweries out there.

And the way to break into a highly populated locale like California or a brewery heavy area like Portland or Denver might be extending beyond just collaborating with a brewery in either of those cities.
Cigar City Brewing and Perrin Brewing Company are both under the umbrella Corp with Oskar Blues leading to a functional way to see how to lightly broach a market. Perrin will be brewing Jai Alai IPA from Cigar City of Florida. In Michigan.

Obviously, some connection would be needed. A local L.A. brewery isn’t going to send a recipe and a brewer to Ohio, for example, and hope for the best. But as breweries form around a stable nucleus, the recipe becomes less sacrosanct and in both terms of creativity and replication.

I can imagine a time where Boulevard beers are on tap at Firestone and not because kegs drove all the way to Paso Robles from St. Louis.

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1st Visit – Arrow Lodge

by Sean on February 20, 2017


The 210 freeway can be as bad as the 405 can be on a bad day which can make it hard to venture past Pasadena. But there is good beer off the freeway and Arrow Lodge and their head brewer Amy Heller are crafting beer that should be noticed in L.A. proper.

Not to blow smoke. There were a couple beers that missed the mark. But the beers that hit did so strongly. Strictly Business, their take on the NE (hazy) style had good bite to it and left what I consider the trademark scuff on the palate. The well-named Arrowmatic may be just an IPA but their DIPA worked well. Solid aroma leading to a quaffable DIPA. MY favorite though was their take on a French Saison. (an item rarely seen). Oui Adelit was bright with lovely yeast notes throughout.

The Ol’ Salty Gose did taste like Sprite and the Milk Stout needed some sweetening like a sound track but for a three-month old brewery that is still adding equipment, this is a solid start. You won’t see this on tap much in Los Angeles but if it makes it easier. Alosta Brewing is within steps. You can kill two bier birds with one drive.

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Scottish cask ale was the inspirations from where Le Castor sprung and now this Canadian brewery is creating their own footprint.
Here are the four beers I would put on my first taster tray….

INDIA SESSION ALE
“The India Pale Ale is without a doubt the most popular craft beer style in the world. But sometimes we want all those hops, without so much alcohol. Sometimes the night is young, the conversation is great, and we want to have more than just one. The India Session Ale was born out of this unsatisfied thirst. This is our interpretation of the fledgling style – an unbridled level of hop-thusiasm, in a package that lets you get on with your day, or night.”

BRETT BITTER
“English Bitter was a major beer style in the 19th century. Brewed and packaged very quickly, it was a type of “running beer”. Before the widespread adoption of stainless steel tanks, this beer almost certainly had Brettanomyces yeast in it. But there simply wasn’t enough time for Brett character to develop before it was served in pubs. What if the publican accidentally left a cask to age for a few months before serving..? You might have a beer that tastes just like this one.”

SAISON RAKAU
“New Zealand isn’t just famous for its Maori culture, rugby team, and a cute little flightless bird. To beer lovers – it’s revered for its unique hop varieties. This beer is a marriage between the fruitiness of the New Zealand hops, and the floral character of the saison yeast strain.”

BARLEYWINE RHUM
“What you have in your hands is our 2015 American Barleywine, that we brewed with a considerable amount of organic malt and American hops. Strong, malty, super-hoppy, and a bit unruly, the beer has had a nine month slumber in El Dorado rum barrels from Guyana. And it appears to have been time well spent! Alcoholic heat has mellowed, while assertive hops have melded with brown spirit and oak, creating layered fruitiness with a dry oaken finish.”

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Another Save the Date

by Sean on February 19, 2017


60+. That is how many IPA’s that Mohawk Bend will have on offer for their 4th iteration of the L.A. IPA Festival. The bitterness starts on Saturday, March 4 and continues the on Sunday, March 5, 2017.

MARCH 4: THE MAIN EVENT
The judges start tasting and voting at 9:30am with awards at 4pm. In between and after will be large crowds and sharp elbows so plan accordingly and make sure to vote for your favorite in the People’s Choice poll.

MARCH 5: TASTE OF THE IPA FEST
This is the day that I usually attend. I can arrive and grab a seat and select from the flights on offer all day. Of course, the winner is usually long gone as are many other beers, but there is still a strong showing of IBU’s to choose from.

10 oz tastings are $5 and you can buy the custom glassware for an additional $5.

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Save the Date, wait, Week+

by Sean on February 19, 2017


My lucky number matches the years of the signature week in craft beer for denizens of Los Angeles.

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Mix that Fermentation

by Sean on February 18, 2017


Brouwerij West is calling it a year with a breakfrunch.  Plus you get High Fives.

Here is the initial beer list:
•Our 1st Anniversary Beer: Barrel-Aged Tripel (NEW!)
A Belgian Golden Strong Ale aged for 3 months in red wine puncheons
•Animal Farm – mixed-fermentation beer aged on peaches (NEW!)
•Chinatown – barrel-aged mixed-fermentation beer (NEW!)
•Spelt Saison (Out-of-the-Cellar First-Year Favorite!)
•Buckwheat Sour (Out-of-the-Cellar First-Year Favorite!)
•Get Back (Out-of-the-Cellar First-Year Favorite!)
•+ surprise variations on some of our classics & more

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America to the World

by Sean on February 18, 2017

apologies for my penmanship


Sierra Nevada’s popular Beer Camp is poised to go worldwide this year with a variety 12-pack: Beer Camp Across the World.
Sierra Nevada keeps upping the ante on this program and this looks like the logical next step. They have European collaborations in their history with their Oktoberfest beer so why not go international.

The “supergroup” beers heavily leaned on the geographic places that the breweries hailed from and they plan to do that again as Bill Manley from Sierra Nevada, explains “With the international folks, we asked them to think about something unique to them, what’s unique to their sense of place, so we’ll be able to, theoretically, taste two senses of place.”

The initial R&D test batches were brewed in November of last year and the whole packs will be on shelves in June of this year. Here are the beers that you will see (italicized are my picks for most excited to try) starting with the international side.…
Dunkel Weisse with Ayinger Brewery
Hoppy Belgian-Style Golden Ale Brewed w/ Lemon Peels with Duvel
Atlantic Vintage Ale with Fuller’s Brewery
Campout Porter with Garage Project
White IPA w/ Yuzu with Kiuchi Brewery
Thai-Style Iced Tea with Mikkeller

Now onto the American beers you will find in the box….
Dry-Hopped Barleywine Style Ale with Avery Brewing Co.
West Coast Style DIPA with Boneyard Beer
Dry-Hopped Berliner Weisse with Saint Arnold Brewing Co.
Ginger Lager with Surly Brewing Co.
Raspberry Sundae with The Bruery
East Meets West IPA with Tree House Brewing Co.

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Wait for It

February 17, 2017

I have a pair of early April Fool’s suggestion. Granted they will most certainly infuriate Whale Hunters but they REALLY need their protective bubble burst. #1 I need a brewery to create a mock-up of a label for cans of a new hazy IPA. No need to brew one. Then tweet out a thanks to […]

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