Penn vs Penn

by Sean on April 17, 2014

Thanks to beer compatriot Richard passed on a bounty of beer. And since I had a pilsner and dark lager from Pennsylvania Brewing I thought it would be a good opportunity to compare and contrast since I had never had a beer from Penn before.

The pilsner pours quite bubbly and a dark yellow. It has a nice clean aroma and is a solid all around pilsner. Their is a nice barley and toast taste and is well balanced between carbonation and sweet.

Penn Dark pours a cola brown color with a thin head to it. Initial taste is almost more brown ale than Vienna lager. A pleasant near coffee aroma and the taste had a little roast to it as well. Another nice and bubbly beer. Getting a little bit if caramel notes as well.

In the end. Both were a lot better than I expected. Lively and balanced even though neither was particularly complex. I would probably take the dark because of the added roast and coffee notes. But if you have friends who won’t budge off of BMC beers then the pilsner might make them see the light.


Nitro in a Can

by Sean on April 17, 2014


Oskar Blues Brewery have had various nitro options since 2009 under the leadership of brewer Juice Drapeau. It has centered on their Scotch ale, Old Chub, but they have also given the nitro treatment to others in their core line-up  such as Dale’s Pale Ale, Deviant IPA & G’Knight Imperial Red IPA.

Now they have added a Nitro widget which is “attached to the bottom of the can and is charged with liquid nitrogen during the filling process. The widget releases the nitrogen when the can is opened, liberating the cascading creamy smooth nitro pour.”

Maybe know we can get more than just Guiness and few British beers with nitro cans.



Since I was bringing Belgian beers “Up from the Cellar” I thought it fitting to do video reviews of two new New Belgium beers in tandem.  And first up is Spring Blonde, which the brewery describes as “Brewed with pale and Munich malts, this golden ale pours bright copper and holds a strong, white head aloft. A nose of lemon peel, pepper, and fresh baked bread entice a sipping. Spring Blonde drinks malty, sweet and wonderful. And the easy Nugget hopping pedals towards a dry, lightly bitter finish.”

But what do I think of it?  Watch on to find out….


Congregation – Brewfest of the Valley

by Sean on April 16, 2014

The Congregation Ale House in Pasadena will play host to Brewfest of the Valley.

If you haven’t had any of the Congregation brewed beer, this might be the perfect opportunity to sample and compare them to our other L.A. breweries.

I would also suggest trying some World Beer Cup winning beer from Ohana and Haven plus Claremont Craft Ales is one to look for.


Ship that Beer – literally

by Sean on April 15, 2014


You see this typical shipping container.  But if you put your craft beer mind to it.  It could be a full working brewery.


TheCzech firm Mobilní pivovary s.r.o. will sell you one of these for what I must assume is a lot of money.  But probably less than trying to build out a brewery in Los Angeles.  Now if they can put a tasting room into an adjacent container and a cellar for barrel aging in a third.  Then we are onto something.


Sean Suggests for April 2014

by Sean on April 15, 2014


A very SoCal list for April.  We roam from 10 minutes from my home to Golden Road, then take a looooong drive to Redlands for a new IPA and then pick up one of my favorite beers of the year so far, made with a nut that I wouldn’t touch if you handed one to me.


Golden Road 329 Lager 4.8% ABV

“Medium-bodied, crisp and refreshing, 329 Lager is perfectly suited for L.A.’s outdoor culture and a drinkable complement to summer barbecues, beach hangouts, baseball games and everything in between. A balanced combination of Bravo, Tradition, and Opal hops, the merican-style lager emanates a delicate floral finish with notes of honeysuckle and jasmine.”


Hangar 24/ Betty IPA 6.5% ABV

“Betty is an American IPA boasting a blend of Mosaic, Citra, Simcoe and Centennial hops. We spent 8 months perfecting this hop blend, and we love the huge range of juicy aromas and flavors we were able to hit: tropical fruit, citrus zest, berries, stone fruit and pine are all packed in… ”


Monkish/ Seme Della Vita 9.4% ABV

“Belgian-style tripel brewed with pistachios and vanilla beans”


Review – Odyssey from Sly Fox

by Sean on April 14, 2014

90 IBUs!

According to the back of the can, Sly Fox has made “well over” 40 pales and IPAs using different hop combinations and varietals and Odyssey is the capstone to that project. An 8.4% ABV Imperial IPA.

It pours a dark orange color with fast swirling bubbles that quickly recede along with the head. I get a strong dried orange smell alongside some dankness.

It does taste Imperial. The slightly metallic bitterness is sharp at first then really sticks to the roof of the mouth. And it stays there. There is a touch of spice (maybe pepper) in the mix but that dried fruit aroma is mirrored in the taste too. Along with a tiny hint of lemon.

This is certainly one of the happier East Coast IPAs that I have encountered.


Not Heisenberg

by Sean on April 14, 2014


Now this is a combo that I had not seen.  Gluten Free.  Canned.  From Canada!

Glutenberg Blonde, Pale Ale, and Red has grown quickly with a new brewery, and larger distribution.  These gluten-free beers are brewed in Montreal at Brasseurs Sans Gluten.

Right now it looks like they only come as far west as Illinois and Ohio but enterprising beer geeks have gotten much rarer beers before.


Book Review: Cheese and Beer

by Sean on April 13, 2014

Even for beer geeks who love minutiae and going down educational rabbit holes can be scared off of learning about other food and drink which have similar learning curves.

Thankfully, Cheese and Beer by Janet Fletcher carries a consistent tone that straddles the line between beer appreciation and snobbery well. By that I mean that some craft beer books seem to either apologize for the price or flavor adjectives and try to dumb down to an extent. Or they might avoid plain language for technical detail.

This book (which I read via the Nook) is straightforward. Here is the beer style. Here are examples of that style from breweries far and wide. Here are three cheeses to pair with it and why. Here are other cheeses you can also try.

The descriptions are great for both the beers and the cheeses. The writing is clear and as opposed to some books the beers selected as exemplars are uniformly solid. The photography is very nice though some of the backdrops seem a bit over used.  The reasoning that Fletcher uses as to why each style pairs with individual cheeses makes what could be complicated, understandable.

And it makes you hungry. The recipe using Picandou cheese and salad with a Kolsch is simple but sounds delicious and there are at least four or five cheeses that I want to try now.

The only issue that I take is that the format is a bit repetitive. And that point is highlighted when Fletcher focuses on a single beer and makes even more specific choices. I would have liked to see more specific beer and cheese pairings. Saison DuPont or a coffee stout would have made good choices.

All in all this is a splendid edition to a beer library.


Circuit Breaker

by Sean on April 13, 2014


There have been a lot of variety packs swarming the shelves in LA but one that we don’t have and that is quite different comes from Southern Tier (Which is available in Oregon, but not here).

Here is what the brewery says about “Fuse Box”, “What makes this box unique is the encouragement by the brewery to blend the beers together to make “fuses.” For example, IPA fused with Porter adds a bitter hop bite to the wonderfully malty robust porter.

Refer to the Fuse Directory on the top of the box for great blends and share your own concoctions with the world online. The 12 ounce twelve pack holds 4 bottles each of IPA, Porter and their latest recreation: PMX. PMX is a bottle conditioned version of the venerable Phin & Matt’s Extraordinary Ale.”

Sounds like a bit of a chemistry experiment.  Which beers work and in what ratios.