Everyone Gets Lei’d at Firkfest

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Walking into Firkfest this year everyone got lei’d… with colorful flower lei’s that kicked-off the tiki beer event to a fun beginning. I always really enjoy Firkfest, partially because I know a lot of the attendees but it’s such a unique experience because all the beers are one-offs that you will never be able to experience again because they are cask beers (and normally including additives of fruits or spices not typical to general styles). Greg Nagel always puts on a well-organized and thoughtful event, and this year was no exception. The beer list was meticulous and exciting and I had a great time trying everything surrounded by good people.

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Speaking of the beers, here are some of my favorites: The Good Beer Co‘s Horchatorita, Tustin Brewing Co.‘s Greg’s Dole Hole, The Bruery Terreux’s Frucht:POG, Bottle Logic‘s Livin’ in the Limelight, and LA Ale Works‘ Bluume. The Good Beer Co’s Horchatorita was one of the most memorable because it was delightfully sour, but not too sour. It had good mouthfeel and the carbonation was there, but thanks to the lactose it wasn’t overpowering. In a sea of fruited and spiced beers, thank god for this citrusy sour beer because it woke my pallet up from the dead. Tustin Brewing Co.’s Greg’s Dole Hole had not only a hilarious name, but it was the most nostalgia-inducing flavors that closely matched a 50/50 ice cream bar or those dole whip’s you get at Disneyland. I’d go back for seconds, or fifth’s. The Bruery Terreux’s Frucht:POG is exactly what I expected when I saw “POG” a tropical fruit-bomb with wild yeast flavors. It was one of those beers you would give to both a beer noob and beer geek and both would like it. Bottle Logic’s Livin’ in the Limelight had a lime punch but the real accomplishment was the subtle tastes coming from the coconut and Madagascar vanilla beans. It has some of the best coconut flavor of the day because it wasn’t too much and it tasted fresh. I saved the craziest for last, the LA Ale Works’ Bluume, which consisted of a passion fruit Berliner Weisse with coconut whipped topping. I thought it was delicious, and the whipped topping was so different and crazy, I loved it until I tried to clean out my glass. It was really hard to get those residual oils off my glass so I am glad I saved that one till the end. No regrets though, it was super tasty!

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Overall, I love this event, it’s super fun and it gets better each year. I can’t wait to attend next year, and I hope they keep the tiki theme going! It was great to see everyone rocking floral shits, coconut bras, and straw hats. Cheers!

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Dry River Brewing Interview + Photo Journal

 

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In the last few years, I’ve participated with Andrea of EatDrinkAndBeHoppy and contributed my photos to her interviews. On a workday, we hustled up to DTLA to have a quick shoot at Dry River Brewing. It was a trip to preview their brewing space before they open their tasting room, and get a feel of their steampunk meets Ron Swanson decor. If Ron Swanson was into decoration-only gears, this is how I think his brewery would look. There was beautiful woodworking featured tastefully throughout the room, and it had this subtle charm that brought a smile to my face.

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Dry River sounds pretty exciting. Their mission is slow beer that is brewed responsibly and seasonally. On top of being sustainable, they are contributing to the community in other ways through local non-profits like CicLAvia, the LA Community Gardening Council, Fruta Y Cultura, the Arts Earth Partnership, and From Lots To Spots, etc. I find that refreshing since it’s easy to get sucked into the fast and competitive beer world. Here’s the whole interview.

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Ritual’s 4th Anniversary

 

rituals-4th-anniversary-editedI’m gonna make this short and sweet, the 4th Annual Ritual Anniversary was a blast! It was mellow, the beer was delicious, and I had a lot of fun. It’s rare to go to a beer event, and be able to share a table with your friends and relax while you lazily sample the various offering a brewery has to offer. I am used to heat, lines, and nowhere to sit, so this was a lovely change of pace!

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The beer was great, with some big hits from the year being the Extra Red with Mandarin (but my favorite is still extra red was the one with Tangelo) and the Java Deluxe. Cheers to the great team at Ritual for making such wonderful beers!

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Punk’s Not Dead at Ye Scallywag

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I realize that it’s becoming normal for me to be super late on my blog posts, so I took a long break to catch up on work, and now it’s time to catch-up with my blog posts! I have a long list. I am riddled with guilt on being so late – but screw it. My 2017 resolution is two fold in getting more done in a shorter time span, and take less bs. I feel like that is a pretty lofty goal, but here’s to challenging yourself and making things better for you, and not just for others. My problem is not realizing that working a more than full time job is demanding, on top of my personal life, and I need to be realistic in what I can juggle with the blog and photography. I love it, but it started to weigh on me. Taking a break really helped bring me back and I am energize and excited to begin again, and start doing some really creative stuff in the coming year! I also plan to launch a photography site, to showcase some of the really cool stuff I’ve been doing with my work, because I realize everyone here is missing out on all of that.

With that being said, let’s launch into one of many past-due blog posts with Ye Scallywag! It was the first of the punk-inspired beer event organized by my friends at OC Brew Ha Ha and this event was at the lovely Waterfront Park in San Diego. It was cool to make a weekend of it and stay down in SD, and the weather was hot AF but I had a great time overall. It was really cool to be able to have a photo pass that allowed media to inhabit the space in between the crowd and the stage, and get super close shots of infamous OC Punk royalty.

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Like any downtown spot in a major city, parking was a bitch. But, as I get older, I just don’t care and realize parking close and paying $20 is better than walking a mile to save $5, especially after spending 5+ hours standing in the sun and walking all day taking pictures. So, we parked in the underground parking, and headed into the event. It was crowded, but not terrible. The lines that I did wait in went pretty fast. I enjoyed several delicious beers, the ones that stand out were the Mikkeller beers, the IPA from Clown Shoes, and the Unicorn Juice from Artifex. Maybe I was just feelin’ the IPA’s that day, which is certainly not the norm for me.

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The worst thing for me was the sun, because I am so pale and even with SPF 50 or 75 or even 100, I somehow burn. I was able to sit behind the Ritual tent for a little while, that provided some much needed shade. I was missing the tree-covered venue that OC Brew Ha Ha is held, but it was cool to try a new venue every so often. I kept making my pilgramige over to the music stage to catch each band, with only missing a few acts because – well – beer. Reel Big Fish was as great as always, but my clear favorite act was Goldfinger.

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I have a long history of going to shows, which started when I was 14 being a ska kid. I went to all the ska shows at Chain Reaction, The Galaxy, and the Hey Brother festivals, and later I was going to the big OzzFest shows in San Bernardino, NIN at Qualcomm, Tool, Radiohead at the Hollywood Bowl, etc. I’ve seen Goldfinger with Fishbone at the race track, and I remember enjoying them back then, but seeing them again they were electric. Perhaps Fishbone being the raucous and fun band they are overshadowed how great Goldfinger was, but either way they were by far the most enjoyable band of the day. The lead singer, John Feldmann, had more energy than most of the younger singers that performed and jumped around the stage in a full suit despite the sweltering heat. It was great to see an old favorite, Bad Religion, and hear those frequently played tracks like Sorrow and Infected. It was John of Goldfinger that rekindled the love of live music in my cold, dead heart that believed punk was dead. I then really noticed and appreciated all those punk kids that I saw wearing their jean jackets adorned with punk patches and I realized good music is still around, and young kids are still into it. Thanks for restoring my faith in humanity, and giving me that music buzz that I had been missing Ye Scallywag!

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Party Hard at OC Brew Ha Ha

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Someone wise once said, “when it’s time to party we will party hard” and I feel that is very fitting with the most anticipated OC beer event coming this Saturday! OC Brew Ha Ha is a local beer lover’s oasis of craft beer, fun live music, the most fun and funky buzzed masses – just waiting to get captured by my camera. I have to admit, this event produces some of the greatest moments I never publish but who knows – maybe one day I will host a an uncensored photo exhibition of all the gems I’ve stored away after all these events. Luckily, the event has a shuttle system this year to prevent drunk or buzzed driving or having to walk to the main road to get a signal for your uber driver.

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I had the opportunity to visit Bottle Logic and witness an interview with Wes Parker (Brewmaster at Bottle Logic), Dlyan Mobley (Lead Brewer at Bottle Logic), Anthony Chen (Lead Brewer of AleSmith) and OC Brew Ha Ha Event Organizer Cameron Collins about the new OC Brew Ha Ha Collaboration beer called Stable Orbit. This beer is really interesting with South African hops with sorghum and corn added to the malt bill to make this DIPA way different than the norm. Cameron really just went for it and admitted he was pleasantly surprised that he could get AleSmith to collaborate for this special event beer, “I honestly thought Alesmith was kind of a longshot. I was beyond thrilled when they said they were interested because they were the brewery that I got into when I first started in craft beer. Bottle Logic has been coming up and winning some awards as well, so the pairing just came together.”

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Stable Orbit, clocking in at 8.5% ABV, features South African hops: African Queen, Southern Passion, Southern Star and XJA2. Enthusiasts can sample the beer at the dedicated tasting station at the festival on September 24. The collaboration beer will be available on shelves and in taprooms in late September.

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Needless to say, if you haven’t already got your ticket for OC Brew Ha Ha, I suggest you get one now because it’s one of my favorite events, and because you can taste this creative DIPA along with a bunch of different tasty beers. Use code “beerandbaking” for $10 off VIP tickets!

I am feeling kinda guilty, because I never published my review of OC Brew Hee Haw so I’d like to mention that for a moment. It was a really fun event, and I loved the new location right near the blue gate entrance. I know the line was long to get into the event, but besides that it was a breezy, cleaner location sans the barnyard smell that invaded the previous location. One thing I noticed from this event is the people who attended were crazy and ready to party … hard (see how we’ve now come full circle?!). At the end of the event it felt more like a club, one that I would actually go to because it was fun and the dance moves people were doing were pretty incredible. Overall, it was really organized and a well-run event, and I loved attending. I don’t really love going to the fair with all the parking and crowds, but I usually go once a year when it’s here and going because of a beer event is the perfect avenue to get me there.

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One more thing, if you haven’t already heard, Cameron’s got a brand new event that he’s organizing this year called Ye Scallywag! This event has a killer band list: NOFX, BAD RELIGION, GOLDFINGER, AGAINST ME!, REEL BIG FISH & WAKRATOn Saturday, Oct. 22nd at San Diego’s Waterfront park you can sample over 100 different beers and 100 different wines, food trucks, and listen to live music all day long starting at 11am until alcohol ends at 3 and music ends at 7pm. I know I am going (I am getting a hotel room and making a weekend of it!), I hope to see everyone there!

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And now – all the photos from OC Brew Hee Haw!

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Beercation: Reno Road Trip

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I surprised my husband with a friends road trip to Reno for his birthday this year, and it was filled with beautiful scenery, lots of beer, and good friends.

Day 1

We had a long drive from Orange County to Reno, about 8 hours. We left very early Friday morning (like 6am) and took off to the 395 for our first stop at Mammoth Brewing Company. After about 4-5 hours in the car, it was a much needed pit stop. We were able to get there right at noon and share a few pints while stretching out our legs and taking in the snowy mountains in the distance. I got the saison, and it was pretty solid. After grabbing a few bottles, we loaded back into the car for the next location – Fifty Fifty Brewing Co.

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We stopped to take a few pics at Lake Tahoe and before you knew it we were at the infamous Fifty Fifty brewery and restaurant. We ate some food (pizza and onion rings – the staples of a good diet) and tried a bunch of beers. Afterwards we were invited to tour the tiny brewery and talk shop with the brewers. Peter generously showed us around the compact brewing set-up and I took a few pics as while everyone discussed how Fifty Fifty has such a large presence and how shocking the actual brewing space was so small.

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After a long day of driving we traveled the last hour from Truckee to Reno, did a bit of gambling and drinking before crashing out. We had grand plans for day 2 to be spent brewery hopping around Reno!

Day 2

After a big ass breakfast, we went to the first stop of the day: Great Basin Brewing! We walked in and noticed the place is more like a restaurant then a brewery, but seeing as we had just ate we posted up in the bar area and ordered a few tasters. Overall the beer was kinda underwhelming with a few decent beers and a few unpleasant beers. What really stuck out was how confused the staff was when we said we didn’t want food, and they looked at us like we had just kicked their dog. Oh well, we had more places to go!

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Next stop: The Brewers Cabinet! Upon first impression, they seemed like a restaurant first and beer bar second, which is cool but they had the same attitude about the food thing. Maybe most people don’t go around beer hopping in Reno as much as OC but damn… we just wanted to chill at the bar and enjoy some beers! At least the Brewers Cabinet had some really decent beers on tap from their own brewery and guest taps as well. Nice selection of sours too!

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The third stop was by far the most anticipated – Brasserie St. James! We really planned the whole trip around this brewery and it was by far and away the best beer we had the whole trip. The 1904 cranberry which is a 100 % Brett Ale aged in wine barrels with cranberries. It was so tasty and slightly tart I had two. We got a few snacks to much on (because they also had food, but strangely they had more of a beer-y atmosphere) and we could do no wrong. The food was delicious and basically every beer we ordered was good AF. Inside it was so tasteful with exposed brick, lots of places to sit and chill, and the service was A+! I wish they weren’t so far because I would come back all the time!

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While we were at Brasserie, a fellow craft beer lover commented on my photo and said we needed to visit The Depot so that’s where we headed next! The Depot was in a historic looking brick building with clean accents of subway tile, warm lights and archways that was so inviting. We decided to just have a few drinks, hit one more place then get dinner so we sat at the bar again. We were able to sample some liquor as well as beer because they also distill which was a unique surprise. We hung out until it began to get really crowded with the dinner rush (because – you guessed it – they are a restaurant too) and I could tell if we weren’t gonna order food they were looking to have our group move along. The beers were good, but nothing was too memorable. I was more impressed with the beauty of the space, and I would’ve liked to sample the food but perhaps I will go back another day. They also were doing distilling which was rad, the person who tasted the gin said it was tasty.

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The last stop of the day before getting dinner was Imbib which was the first brewery only space we went to all day. I think they had a food truck but there was no restaurant aspect, only people drinking beer and hanging out. They had a decent beers but I was more relieved to not feel guilty about not getting food and have a safe judgement-free zone. It was a chill spot but we were eager to get some food in our systems by this point. We left and ended-up eating at one of those claim jumper-type places and stuffed our faces, and was really tired from such a long day of beer tasting!

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Day 3

We drove back through the picturesque 395 and on our way back stopped at my buddy Brian’s brewery Bravery in Lancaster. I’ve never seen his space and was really excited to visit! Brian’s beers a really good, he does a nice job making clean well-made styles that are sure to bring a lot of praise. If that wasn’t enough, Brian is a charming and humble human being who I love to shower in compliments whenever I see him if only to see him scoff and politely brush off the attention. Bravery doesn’t get the attention it deserves because, well it’s in Lancaster, but you won’t regret making the drive up from LA to visit Bravery. Be sure to tell them how good their beers are!

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Bottleworks XII Clafoutis

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What the hell is a Clafoutis? That’s what I asked my husband when he suggested I make one. It’s something he stumbled across while watching reruns of Good Eats, and he was quite excited about me making one with beer. After some reasearch, I found it to be a cross between a dutch baby (also wacky but more well-known fluffy pankcake-y crepe-y thing you see at restaurants) and a yorkshire pudding. I decided to make a beer syrup to go along with the clafoutis in case it was a total disaster, I could drown it in something delicious and also use it to make beer sugar. Beer sugar is easy, it’s basically how you make brown sugar. You take some of the beer syrup and mix it in your baking white granulated sugar and poof! – beer sugar.

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Ingredients for Clafoutis:

2.5 cups fresh or frozen raspberries (or cherries or blackberries)

4 large eggs

1/2 cup granulated beer sugar

1 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup AP flour

butter for dutch oven or cast iron

Ingredients for Syrup:

1 cup beer

1/4 cup sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of your cooking vessel. I used my large cast iron pan, but you can use a dutch oven as well. Make sure there is room for your cast iron to cook in the middle rack.
  2. If using fresh cherries make sure they are pitted, and if you are using frozen berries make sure to wash them and thaw them before cooking. Make sure there is no excess juice.
  3. Make beer syrup by cooking down so the liquid is reduced by half. Use half of the syrup to mix in with the 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and save the second half for drizzling over the cooked clafoutis.
  4. In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and beer sugar until frothy, add milk vanilla and flour and whisk to combine. Place the fruit in a layer on the bottom of the cast iron and pour the batter over the fruit. Add additional fruit on top if desired.
  5. Cook in the middle rack, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until golden brown on top.
  6. Allow to cool slightly, for at least 10 minutes before serving. Drizzle beer syrup and add powdered sugar if desired.

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I am sure people will think I am crazy to use the Bruery x Bottleworks 12, an imperial whitbier sour but it was really quite delicious. We had decided to open it anyways, I just used a cup of it to make a dessert and it turned out damn tasty. The overall texture was smooth and delicate while the taste was tart balanced by the sweet powdered sugar and the pops of the fresh fruit. My only concern was it was a dish that would go bad quickly because it’s mainly eggs and milk. I think this was a hit and I would totally make this again. Let me know how yours turns out!

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The Burger Parlor Opens In Old Towne Orange

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The Burger Parlor opened in Old Towne Orange, in a great location next to the Haven Provisions, Pizza Press, Pie Hole, and à la minute. I was impressed to see their dedication to having good craft beer on tap. Similarly, Pizza Press has a nice selection of craft beer, so it’s a smart competitive move. The consumer is the ultimate winner, where the question “where do you want to go for dinner” isn’t followed with the debate of whether the beer selection is good or not.

Managing to keep that old school diner charm with the leather bar stools and Sputnik lights, the Burger Parlor seems to have a promising future. With the open kitchen, you can watch the chefs make your food, my favorite part is when they toss the fries with salt.

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I tried the classic burger with the “half and half” side where you can get a little bit of fries and a little bit of onion rings, which is perfect for someone like me who likes both. Sean got “The Orange Plaza” which is the parmesan grilled sourdough bun, smoked bacon, fontina cheese, caramelized onions, mushrooms, arugula, and chipotle aioli. He also gt the “Plaza Fries” which is housemade chili cheese fries with secret sauce and caramelized onions. I really liked the way the burgers were done, with that “backyard bbq” feel to it, it tastes very well made. Nothing was bad, but I might not get the plaza fries again, it was kinda messy. Those onion rings – will be forever craved. They have this solid batter that is thick and crunchy, and the onion doesn’t pull from the batter making it easy to bite through. I would gladly eat those onion rings again. I did also get the opportunity to try the milkshakes, which as much as I am not a milkshake person I did indulge in for a few sips. It was seriously decadent. I would recommend checking them out and deciding for yourself! Let me know what you thought 🙂

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See You At The OC Fair!

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It’s that time of year again when swarms of people attend the OC Fair for fried food, music, beer, and the people watching. My favorite thing about the OC fair is the giant corn dog (#nageling) and the return of OC Brew Hee Haw!

By some stroke of genius, we have a craft beer event in conjunction with the infamous OC Fair, which is one tradition that this OC gal never misses. I’ve been to the OC Brew Hee Haw the last two years (here in 2015 and here in 2014) and it’s always a blast. I heard that some really special beers are going to be poured *cough* Guavamatic, El Dorado Single Rye, Whits End with Yuzu *cough*.

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There are four sessions available so there is flexibility for peeps who prefer a later beer session or a Sunday Funday. Get your tickets here!

SESSION 1

VIP
FRIDAY, JULY 15
6 PM – 10 PM

GENERAL ADMISSION
FRIDAY, JULY 15
7 PM – 10 PM

SESSION 2

VIP
SATURDAY, JULY 16
NOON – 4 PM

GENERAL ADMISSION
SATURDAY, JULY 16
1 PM – 4 PM

SESSION 3

VIP
SATURDAY, JULY 16
6 PM – 10 PM

GENERAL ADMISSION
SATURDAY, JULY 16
7 PM – 10 PM

SESSION 4

VIP
SUNDAY, JULY 17
1 PM – 5 PM

GENERAL ADMISSION
SUNDAY, JULY 17
2 PM – 5 PM

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Fundamental Observation Beer Dinner 2016 Recap

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This is my second year attending Bottle Logic’s Fundamental Observation beer dinner to celebrate the bottle release of one of OC’s most infamous stouts. The beer geek and bottle trade enthusiast salivate over the chance to score a few bottles every year, and the beer dinner is a mellow opportunity to get bottles in advance of the online or local line madness.

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Upon being seated, I noted that my table consisted of Brandon Buckner, his better half Christina, Greg “pancake” Nagel, Cody Storts, and of course my wonderful husband Sean McNew. Rowdiness and revelry was sure to ensue as the beer flowed generously with each course.

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First Course: Hamachi – Melon agua chile, avocado, pickled watermelon rind. Served with: Set to Stun Variant (IPA with Melons).

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Second Course: Stone Fruit Salad – Ricotta, honeycomb, pistachio. Served with: Berlinear Equation with Stone Fruit.

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Third Course: Lobster – english pea vichyssoise, pickled kumquat, sumac. Served with Haze Flux (double IPA).

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Fourth Course: Beef Cheek – Heirloom bean ragout, baltic porter demi glace, herb crumble. Served with: Cobaltic Porter & Bourbon Barrel Aged Cobaltic Porter.

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Fifth Course: Chocolate Torchon – Foie gras, espresso, Mt. Rainer cheeries. Served with Fundamental Observation 2016 with Mostra Coffee.

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Cheese Plate: Humboldt fog, Midnight moon, and aged cheddar. Served with Fundamental Observation 2016.

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Just for shits and giggles, we really finished the evening with a taster glass of Fundamental Forces  and chocolate covered hard brittle candy. (not pictured was the candy, because I ate it too fast)

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I had a lot of fun. The chocolate torchon was really decadent, I almost wish it was a chocolate cake instead of a fatty foie gras but I appreciate the thought behind it. I also wish the cheese was served with a more carbonated beer that would help balance the fattiness of the cheese like a saison or Belgian beer instead of FO, but I also get that’s where the dinner was going so I get serving that beer at that point. I really liked the brittle at the end – I need more of that in my life! Crunchy and salty with dark chocolate is all I really want at the end of a meal. Thanks to Chef Patrick for making a great meal for all of us beer and food enthusiasts.

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The service was well organized, the dinner was timely, and everyone left full and happy (thanks Lindsey!). Dinners like these are a labor of love, and a lot of time and effort and work goes into them. I think anyone who does them should be applauded, and as a attendee I appreciate all the efforts made by everyone involved. Check out my buddy Greg’s write up on the event if you haven’t already!

PS – I hope Bottle Logic wasn’t planning on doing anything with those cute turquoise clothes pins because we did some weird stuff with them after all that beer.

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