Thanks to Beer Belly ONS Ambassador Rich, I got the chance to crack open the special Smog City and Beer Belly collaboration, Mind of a Fruitcake.

This is a serious fruitcake beer. I can see that people might be divided like they are with the actual doorstop of a holiday treat.

Cinnamon is really prevalent here along with a sticky sweetness. This cola colored ale was aged in wine barrels (red) but that is completely faded to the deep background as the quad and spice take center stage. On a side note, The first “Mind of…” beer felt under peach-ed. Now this one is bold as all get out.

There are some beers that can be drunk with a multitude of foods but this one screams to be paired with dessert. I keep thinking of gingerbread cookies. Something spicy but sharp to contrast against the viscosity of the beer.


Straight from the Barrel

by Sean on February 16, 2017

No scientist am I and when I see phrases like “restrictor disc” and “N2 pressure to a heat exhanger” or going even further to “inline liquid & gas infuser”. I do not think of craft beer. Seems more like mechanic lingo to me.

But it is part of the mechanical engineering for the draft system called AeriAle which is a byproduct of a team-up between Dogfish Head Brewery and AC Beverage.

The end goal is to drink barrel-aged beer directly from the barrel at the proper temperature and pressure levels.

I am not going to tell you that I understand the process. For that I would need an extra brain and a side by side comparison of the same beer from different taps but I do applaud the creativity and nitro dispense in the US could use a boost.

Maybe this is it. And if an East Coast Eataly restaurant has one, maybe the new Eataly in Century City might too.


There are books that you read and when the end is reached, your first utterance is, “Well, I can see that being made into a movie.”

Such is the case with Dark Matter and in this case, that is not a disparaging remark. The author, Blake Crouch, has TV in his writing background, Wayward Pines so when the hero (more on that later) starts jumping from parallel earth to parallel earth, you can see the special effects in your minds eye.

The tale starts with one Jason Dessen a professor at a small Chicago college who us abducted and shot up with chemicals and deposited not in his world and has to find his way back.

If you are a time travel nitpicker, then this is probably not for you. The villain of the piece, well I can’t spoil that reveal since it doesn’t come until a bit later in the book is a bit problematic until later in the book.

But if you bought Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, you might shell out movie tickets to see him portray this Jason. It’s right up his alley.

Beer Wise – The label design and names from Bottle Logic in Anaheim fit this book to a T. Get a Recursion IPA or an Ocularity DIPA and become bitter with the villain. Better yet, pick up their GABF winning Lagerithm Black lager.

Since the book is set in Chicago, you can search out some Half Acre beer and enjoy a Pony Pilsner while going through the pages.

Or if you want to keep a science theme going. Get a growler from L.A. Aleworks from their SpaceX line of hoppy beers.


Triple IPAs Abound

by Sean on February 15, 2017

To help you find a replacement for Pliny the Younger, head to the Monrovia location of 38 Degrees for their Triple IPA Fest on Saturday, February 25th. Starting at 11am.

Since PtY is limited by the brewery (until their new Windsor production facility could be utilized to make more), you have the enviable task of finding beers as good or better for your big hops, big ABV fix. They will have quite a few examples on tap and you get to use their fancy iPads to help you choose.


Sean Suggests for February 2017

by Sean on February 15, 2017

For February, let’s go with the color red. I know it is a day after Valentine’s Day but beer (like cards and chocolates) shouldn’t be just one day a year.

Dieu du Ciel/ Rosee D’Hibiscus 5.9% ABV
“The Rosée d’Hibiscus is a soft spoken wheat beer. The rose colour comes from the hibiscus flowers added during the brewing process. The aromas and flavour of this tropical flower are very prominent in the beer, giving it a slight acidity and a very agreeable fragrance. It is the perfect thirst quencher on a hot summer day.”

Crux Fermentation/ Banished-Better Off Red 7.00% ABV
“Flanders Reds may be called the Burgundies of Belgium, but we age our take on this complex, slightly tart style in Oregon Pinot Noir barrels for nearly a year. A fresh batch will present spicier notes while older versions pick up more oak and yield cherry flavors. So we blended them figuring we’re better off presenting this exotic mélange simultaneously. “

Logsdon/ Ceraus 8.5% ABV
“From Hood River, Oregon near the orchards of the Fruit Loop, a Flanders Style Red Ale with organic cherries.”

All of these beers can be found at Sunset Beer Co. (unless they got bought up real quick)


Featured Review – A Hop Duo

by Sean on February 14, 2017

Not content enough to make the logistical Day 1 IPA series, El Segundo Brewing is now embarking on level 1 of their Super Beer Bros. collaborative IPA series.

Up first is their work with the upcoming Washington State brewery, Grains of Wrath pours a reddish amber color. Doesn’t taste 8 percent. Red IPA? Good carbonation which leads to a quick palate bite. 2 days old. Subdued pine needles. Not quite grassy but the combo of malt and hops leads me to forest descriptors. Aroma is toward forest hike.

Having had a multitude of both SoCal and Oregon IPA’s, this bears the hallmark of both. Taming the sometimes harsh ESBC with the more restrained Oregon IPA.


1st Visit – Ballast Point Long Beach

by Sean on February 14, 2017

The northernmost outpost of the Constellation backed Ballast Point Brewing has been out on the pier in Long Beach for quite awhile now. I finally lyfted out to the ocean to check out the menu and location.

And it is impressive. BP has maximized the amount of water view seating around three different bars on two levels. The calming peaceful water views are prime territory. You probably have to grab them when the brewery/restaurant opens the doors. At 2pm on a Saturday with not much in sports going on, there was nary a seat to be found, especially outside.

Next tip, from a one time visitor, is to station yourself at or near the Main bar. You will notice on the menu letters in front of the beer names. They designate where the beer is pouring. Notice all the “M”s? and not as many of the “U”s and “P”s.

So, you are now there early and at the main bar. What to order? Well, readers of this blog know of my issues with “fruited” beers which BP seems to love hard. But there are a good many choices and more exotic beers to choose from. I went with a Nitro Biere de Garde, Azote.  The style worked well with the nitro and made for an interesting beer that never got boring.  Tangential Entry a Nut Brown with rum chips would have been my second choice.  There was a gose and sours to choose from as well as a cask of Sculpin with a single hop addition.

It is a potent mix of maritime views and beer.



by Sean on February 13, 2017

Not just an oatmeal stout, but a rye oatmeal stout. Not only that but an imperial rye Oatmeal stout. Oh and go ahead and age it in bourbon barrels.

Might as well, since it is the 10th anniversary of the great Double Mountain. We get a few dribbles of their beers here in LA, so maybe I will see it around.


Bend the Knee

by Sean on February 13, 2017

Is this the second golden ale from the Ommegang – Game of Thrones series of beers? OK, the first beer was a Blonde ale but it would have been fun to see a new beer style like an altbier or kellerbier instead of the golden ale of Bend the Knee (like the name)….

I think I missed the last beer in the series so I have some catching up to do, much like Martin has with writing.


The second of the month’s duo comes from Anchor Brewing. And the difference is clear, at least according to this helpful chart…

Liberty Ale – has a lovely dark orange color. Got some heat to it too. Some orange peel notes in the taste close to orange pekoe in the aroma. Liberty is quite zippy and quite dank. Almost close to being a session barleywine.

Liberty IPA – On the fence with this new Liberty. Not super digging it. The aroma is a bit harsh and medicinal to me. Has bitternesss to spare but the taste gets worse as it warns up. Some minor tropical notes in the background. Hint of guava and pineapple that the IBU’s quickly supercede.