Hide and Seek

by Sean on April 23, 2014

Almost at the corner on Soto Street sits what could be mistaken as a a run of the mill L.A. liquor store. But Ramirez Liquor is unique for the neighborhood and the craft beer scene.

The smallish store has quite a selection of beer. Enough to satisfy most beer geeks. But you won’t find all the beer styles in one cooler or all of one brewery grouped together. And you won’t find the macro water lagers shunted into a corner. Everything is thrown together in a delightful mix. There are cans of Budweiser next to packs of Modern Times beer.

Some may see this as haphazard and may long to re-organize the space but it is almost like a treasure hunt this way. You can find a New Belgium Gruit next to an Alaskan Brewery offering, with hops.

Personally I like it that way. It forces you to look at all the beers instead of zeroing in on one style or brewery. It makes you look at beers that you may normally pass by and cause one of those serendipitous moments where you buy a beer that becomes a new favorite or an introduction to the style.

In a couple days, I will post about my visit to their newer and bigger “Ramirez beverage center” and voice a nagging concern about both locations.



Brouwerij Lindemans is coming up from the cellar in April!  I started with the Faro and now we tackle the Cuvee Renee. A refermented in the bottle Gueuze that the label declares “Improves in bottle with age”

I always dread corked bottles.  You never know if the cork will behave or if there will be a geyser.  But this cork came out easy and cleanly.  No trouble at all.  It pours a really clear orange with a bit of lacing around the edge of the glass after the initial pillow of foam recedes.  The aroma is pure funk.  I get grass, hay and barn wood.  And this probably sounds strange but I also get that smell just before rain starts.  Weird.

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Boy, this a puckery inducing beer.  My first thought was of sucking a lemon.  It has that citrus note that is punctuated with tart.  It is twisting my mouth into different shapes.  It is really sharp at the front of the mouth which makes finding other notes a little harder.  But I do get some oak wood notes.  Very minor but there.  A little bit of apple cider vinegar as well.  I have had beers that are more sour but this is definitely at that end of the spectrum.  Not an easy drinker and a sharp contrast to the sticky sweetness of the Faro from earlier this month.

Both were bought at the same time.  So I will “assume” that they were close vintages.  And yet they couldn’t be further apart to me.  This is super tart and that doesn’t let up much as it warms either.  In fact, I start to get more grapefruit pith notes now.  My palate is in a state of sour shock.

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The Verdict – Part of me thinks that this beer has turned a little too vinegary and that I may have held it a good half year too long.  But the acid isn’t super high and I still do get some citrus notes and the barnyard funk is in full bloom.  So, I am conflicted.  Let’s split the difference and say that this would have been better back in January.


Steel this Pint

by Sean on April 22, 2014

Kleen Kanteen has made all sorts of containers. Camping is a focus. As is hiking. But they have also worked craft beer in there as well. Growlers being one item they do.

But for those who hate red plastic cups. Either due to a horrible country song or because they offend your inner beer geek. Now you can go stainless.

Just don’t actually steal them. They are a bit expensive.


Journey Jug

by Sean on April 22, 2014


Adding another level to growlers.  (For those who can fill any growler anywhere.) And if you want to create a history of different beers much like passing a book on from person to person and writing your name in it or putting a code on a dollar bill, then Journey Jug is up your alley.

You fill it and log it. Then pass the empty on.  Or you fill it and pass it on to a friend with the instructions for them to do the same and then start tracking the progress.  It will be interesting to see if this takes off.


Yes, We Do

by Sean on April 21, 2014

Now you will have to wait a bit (you can pre-order though) the latest visit into craft beer via Sean Lewis and his upcoming book, “We Make Beer“.


He has sit-downs with people such as Paul and Kim Kavulak of Nebraska Brewing Company, Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada and Greg Koch of Stone Brewing Co. all to find out more about the people in the industry and to capture a bit of the spirit that makes everyone so passionate about it.

Lewis has written for Beer Advocate so I am hoping that this book will add more insights for the fans and drinkers.


It there a cleat in there too?

by Sean on April 21, 2014


I love the World Cup.  Yes it is as corrupt (if not more) than the Olympics (which I hate) but the game is on the pitch.  No heartwarming stories.  No cutting away to curling or synchronized swimming.  You get world class soccer. And no Bob Costas and his pink eye.

And now there is a beer for the occasion (if you are fond of AB) Brahma Selecao Especial which uses barley grown on the pitch of the Granja Comar training centre. Home of the Brazilian National team!

Normally, the barley would get beat to shit by soccer cleats and bouncing balls but the grounds were being renovated and while that was going on the ground was put to an extra use not normally associated with the Beautiful Game.

I am sure that it won’t taste good so I am glad it probably won’t show up in the states.  I am sure that I can find some beer to drink while watching the US team play in the Group of Death.

(Special thanks to Erika Taylor for pointing this out to me)


English Brewery # 2 – Five Points

by Sean on April 20, 2014


Our second stop is at Five Points Brewing Company.  But not the historic neighborhood in NYC but in London. It is a small, neighborhood brewery in Hackney.  Their flagship is a pale ale and their labels are simple but really effective.  Very Kernel like and I like that a lot.  But enough about labels.  What beers would I put in my first taster tray?

OK.  They have three mainstays and those are what I would get first.  The pale which is a 4.4% session beer with Amarillo, Centennial and Citra hops then the Hook Island Red which is a rye beer and then finish up with the Railway Porter, a London classic.

Another plus they subscribe to the London Living Wage inititative.  Good to see that.


Oinkster in Hollywood

by Sean on April 20, 2014

Those that know beer in L.A., know that the Oinkster is part of a beer loving restaurant group that is tied to Maximiliano and Little Bear and that they have added craft beer into their equations which other celeb chef driven spots seem oblivious too. (Looking at you Bourbon Steak at the Americana)

So I was happy to get an invite to the soft opening of Oinkster 2, the sequel.


Thanksgiving Turkey Burger and El Segundo Citra Pale ale. That is how I inaugurated the new Oinkster on Vine. And since I am a fan of the original. This article will be peppered with comparisons.

The new location (years in the making) has six taps compared to four in Eagle Rock. Josh Salinas (who has ably managed the rotating list) will manage both. There will be the same plastic cups that customers are used to as well. You can probably expect plenty of locals like Craftsman and Eagle Rock on tap.

Minimalist design is the motif inside. A bit retro diner meets Ikea. Their is some color mismatch which is jarring with teal on one wall then the classic red tablecloth pattern in one section. Some tables have bench seating and others don’t. Seems a bit random but I am not an interior designer. There is wrap around outdoor seating. It is a nice open space and a dog patio will soon be added as well.

There seem to be more things on this menu that I would repeatedly order (next time I will get the Bacon Cheeseburger or the Bleu Cheese burger) and for the Yelpers who bitch about parking, this spot has its own plus plenty on the street which is a Hollywood rarity.

I can see this becoming a late night spot to grab food when you tire of the scene to the north. And if the smog is light and if you get the right seat, you can see the Hollywood sign in the distance.


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Distilling Hops

by Sean on April 19, 2014

The Distilling side of Anchor has put out some cool spirits in the past. I myself have bought their Junipero Gin on occasion.

Now they are playing to the hop boom with Hophead Vodka…

Obviously, you would have to be more choosy in cocktail recipes seeing as how hop bitterness might not work in some vodka cocktails but I would try this straight. Maybe they will do single hop versions down the road.


Warrior, Columbus, Simcoe but mostly Citra

by Sean on April 19, 2014


April 29th, Beachwood Brewing bottles up another fan favorite. This time their “modern” west coast India pale ale, Citraholic is brewed with an abundance of Citra hops and blended with Warrior, Columbus and Simcoe in the kettle (for good measure). The citrusy brew is then dry hopped with a massive charge of Citra, imparting heavy aromas of citrus and tropical fruits along with melon and gooseberry accents.

This one will probably go real fast so don’t dilly-dally.