OC Brewers Guild Festival 2016 Recap

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One of the coolest things about the OC Brewers Guild Festival was it was from 5-9pm. It’s so nice to attend a beer event late and escape the oppressive heat that can happen with the early afternoon, be able to get stuff done during the day, and see how weird things can get under the guise of the night.

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I fully expected to see make-outs, crying couple fights, inadvertent genital flashing while peeing on beautiful orange trees, and basically mistakes in the moment – but alas I ended the night free of NSFW content. Either that means the craft beer crowd is getting better at holding their beer or this was truly an event attended by the more serious craft beer fan who really is there to have a good time and remember it the next day.

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The event was held at the Fullerton Arboretum, which made for quite possibly the most beautiful background of any event I’ve been to. It was also the inaugural event for the OC Brewers Guild, with vendors of solely OC Brewers and OC Restaurants. It was pretty cool to be so #drinklocal and actually mean it, but that also meant there was some stinkers in attendance. This was perhaps the second or third time I’ve seen Old Orange Brewing’s name on an empty table and it makes me sad. Why must they always seem to bail? It was cool to see Dean’s Brothers beer there, and have an Old Ale in a 2 month old cask and the same beer aged for 2 years. Unfortunately the 2 year old version tasted very off and was virtually undrinkable, while the newer version was somewhat palatable. I wonder if we will start to see more from Dean’s? It would be pretty rad to have an OC cask brewery à la McLeod in Van Nuys.

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Now for some of my favorite beers from the event! I really enjoyed the wild saison from Newport Beach Brew Co. and the new beers from Chapman Crafted. I had the pale from Chapman and it was crystal clear and on the hoppier-side of a standard pale, which is what I prefer over a less-hopped pale. Truth be told, Chapman is shaping-up to be a very exciting addition along with Unsung and Stereo Brewing Company to the OC beer scene. I think some great things are coming soon, and lucky for me it’s all within minutes from my house. I would also like to add that I had like 3 pours of “I Love It” from Noble, because -well – I love it. Pun intended.

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Overall, I really enjoyed this event. It was a cool location, it had food included (perhaps that helped keep the crowd PG-13), and the band was covering some of my favorite OC hits. The event also seemed more intimate than most, perhaps because the smaller number of total ticket holders and there being a finite amount of breweries, but it was a nice change of pace from those massive beer events. Cheers to the OC Brewers Guild – here’s to a fantastic start!

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Sabroso 2016 Recap

This is my third consecutive year as one of the prestigious taco judges for Sabroso, and this was by far the most adventurous yet. I almost missed the simplicity of the ghosts of tacos past, specifically the Haven asparagus taco, but this year’s line-up of offerings was far from disappointing. We judged blind and most of the time we had no idea who made what tacos, so I am still not really sure who each taco belongs to! Yay – no bias!

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Taco 1: Soy marinated flank steak taco with pickled veggies and purple corn tortilla. This taco was good, I liked the pickled veggies, and the meat was flavorful. I wished it had a bit more sauce, but overall very tasty. Sabroso 2016 edited-3

Taco 2: Breakfast taco with chorizo fried rice, carne asada, cream and a fried egg. This taco was messy, and perhaps perfect if I could eat it in a burrito, but it was somewhat off-putting in taco form. The runny yolk really took over the flavor, but I seriously applaud the ballsyness of this taco. It was the most shocking to see with the fried egg, so I have to give it some props for creativity and ridiculousness. Sabroso 2016 edited-4

Taco 3: Falafel, pickled red cabbage, house pickled jalapenos, cilantro garlic sauce, avocado. Straight-up I LOVED this taco for several reasons: 1. it was really crunchy and for me texture is super important, especially in relation to satisfaction; 2. the richness of the avocado was expertly cut by the pickled jalapenos and the flavors had a nice level of citrus to keep everything bright while being distinct; 3. it was mostly simple being it only had 4-5 main components and you could taste everything. I had to hold back from eating this whole taco being it was only the third out of like 16. I had to keep it together. Sabroso 2016 edited-5

Taco 4: Beef tongue pastrami taco with pickled ramps, rye toast, queso fundido, cabbage, and spicy island dressing. This taco was beautiful but it really didn’t do it for me. It was hard to bite through because the pickled ramps were stringy and as much as I love melted cheese, this melted cheese was so unpleasing. The beef tongue was a creative taco ingredient to see, and it was tasty, and I also liked the crunchy rye crisp. This one was middle of the road for me.

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Taco 5: Flour tortilla, 12-hour braised short rib, arugula, horse radish creme, buttermilk fried onions. This taco was good overall because it had texture, a bunch of greens, and tender meat. It just wasn’t the most exciting because it was lacking spice or punches of citrus, but I would certainly eat this again.

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Taco 6: Citrus braised barbacoa pork, avocado creame, cilantro slaw, with cotija cheese. I liked this taco, but something about the cotija cheese really didn’t mesh with the rest of the ingredients. I think my aversion to cotija cheese might have clouded my judgement but It felt off the mark for me.

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Taco 7: Pork belly taco, bao bun, pickled radish and cucumber. I am a sucker for a good bao bun, I just love them so much. The pork belly was perfectly rendered, but the skin was almost too crispy – I almost felt like I would break a tooth! It had great flavor and despite the insane crunch was delicious.

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Taco 8: Lime fried plantain & artichoke, roasted corn, cotija cheese, salsa, garlic mojo sauce, cilantro and radish. This taco was delicious, and vegetarian! I was loving the corn in this taco, it gave it such a nice crunch. The fried bit was also quite flavorful, and I didn’t mind the cotija cheese as much in this taco. It had a high score from me and one big bonus – it didn’t taste vegetarian. I didn’t miss the meat at all!

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Taco 9: Cajun shrimp taco, cabbage coleslaw and creole aioli. In all honesty, this taco was lacking for me. I wished it had more life, more creativity. It wasn’t spicy, or citrusy, but the shrimp was nicely cooked. It didn’t stand-out in the crowd for me.

 

 

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Taco 10: Barbacoa short rib taco, onion, cilantro, salsa verde. The taco was also most likely dipped in the meat drippings which made the tortilla really soft and flavorfull – but also messy! The meat had tons of flavor, and was moist, but the overall taco was soft in texture and therefore I couldn’t escape the oneness of this taco. I was left wishing for something crunchy or hot to wake-up my mouth! It was still a pretty decent taco.

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Taco 11: Pork belly, asian slaw, bahn mi sauce. This taco was underwhelming, it was really missing a sauce or the sauce was too thin. The pops from the sesame seeds were a welcomed addition, but overall this taco was missing something.

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Taco 12: Pork taco, quesco fresco, nopales, salsa, fresh avocado, radish. This taco was hard to eat, and seemed to had too many ingredients in it. Not my favorite, but had a good idea but needed some fine tuning. Maybe if the nopales was finely chopped so it was easier to eat?

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Taco 13: Braised goat taco, pineapple, manteca , cucumber pico de gallo, black mole. I think this taco would’ve been better on a plate, with a side of rice! It had good ingredients with some good flavors, but it got muddled in the taco, and was overall too wet without texture to rank high on my list. The goat was really nice on it’s own.

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Taco 14: Pork & plantain taco which appeared to have some type of crema sauce and cotija cheese. The tortilla seemed kinda strange, but overall the taco was too sweet for me to rate highly. It overall had one soft texture and wasn’t my favorite.

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Taco 15: Cinnamon carnitas taco, mango salsa, lime, pickled red onion, jalapenos. This was so close to being great! The meat had great flavor, the salsa punched you in the face, and the addition of cinnamon was a nice touch. I rated this one pretty high.

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Taco 16: Last one! Three sausage mix taco, smoked tomatillo salsa, avocado smash, garlic cream, cotija cheese, cilantro. More cotija cheese!! I need to get over my distaste for it, but dang man. It’s everywhere! The sausage was interesting but not my favorite taco, it might be due to palate fatigue but it seemed a bit on the bland side.

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Overall I had a great time at Sabroso. The taco judging took longer than expected and as a result I missed the wrestling – but my buddy John Holzer captured some really sick pictures of the action. I got to meet some new OC media people during judging like OC Food Diva so that was pretty cool.

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It was nice to see new friend like Unsung at the event, of which I was recently introduced to. I got to see a sneak peek of their tasting room design – it’s really nice and clean. Perfect for across the street from the packinghouse in Anaheim. Every person I talked to at the event said I need to try their beer, so that’s always a good sign. I remember loving the margarita beer from Newport Beach Brew Co. a ton, plus it was great to see the brewer Derek again. I hope to see everyone again next year!

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Firkfest 2016 Recap

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I am back from a long vacation, and following-up where I left off with my recap of the Firkfest event in Anaheim, CA. I have a guest writer who will be contributing to my post, so I will first mention my feelings and then introduce the guest author with their words! All photos are still by me 🙂

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Firkfest was really fun, as per usual. I couldn’t walk more than a few feet without seeing someone I knew so it ended-up being a party of sorts, but with considerably good beer available each step. Some of my faves being from MacLeod and Good Beer and Bravery, all making very drinkable and flavorful cask beers. MacLeod shouldn’t be a surprise, as they are masters of the cask, and if you haven’t been to their Van Nuys tasting room you should give them a try. Besides the beers, the event was very well organized as I’ve come to expect from Greg Nagel. He’s not only a beer event organizer, but a frequent attendee of beer events, so I think he really knows how to put together a good beer event better than most. The crowd seemed happy, and for the most part there were no lines, and no complaints. It was another great year, and I look forward to the next one. I almost think they are outgrowing their location, so I wonder where they will move to instead?

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Let me introduce Gilbert “Charlie” Perez, Certified Cicerone® from “Terms of Embeerment” for the next portion of the post. We’ve previously worked together on his post about Diacetyl where I provided pictures for him, and he’s much more technical than I am when it comes to beer. Without further ado:

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A bit of a backstory on cask. There are some words that are usually used when we talk about casked beer. When we talk about real ale or cask, the words that are almost always used in tandem are: English, Pub, Ale, and Cask. The ales we most commonly associate with cask-conditioned beer are English Bitters and Milds. The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), founded in 1971, is possibly the biggest contributor as to why these beer styles didn’t fade into history.

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What is a cask? Well, for the sake of this post we will say it’s a keg that has a keystone that can be tapped for dispensing. The most common are Pins at 5.4 U.S Gallons and Firkins at 10.8 U.S Gallons. What is Real Ale? CAMRA defines as follows: “Real ale is a beer brewed from traditional ingredients (malted barley, hops water and yeast), matured by secondary fermentation in the container from which it is dispensed, and served without the use of extraneous carbon dioxide.”

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The world wars and taxation have heavy hand shaping the British beer scene and influencing what was pulled at the pubs. The ever-growing popularity of Pilsner kept creeping into the slots where Mild and Bitters once were. A group of loyal pub-goers took notice and started a campaign to bring back what they eventually coined as “Real Ale.” CAMRA was born and they pushed to revive the tradition of cask-conditioned beers that were basically on their last breath.

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By the 1960’s and 1990’s, the pubs in England evolve to resembles what we recognize today with plenty of Real Ale pulled from the cellars directly from the casks. Pilsner still has a vast popularity, but Real Ale has firm footing.

Fast forward to Firkfest and we see rows of Pins and Firkins flowing unique, tasty, and esoteric beers. Although they may fall under the definition of “Real Ale,” most of these beers were so outside the box that you’d wonder… If someone purposely punched a hole in it to let creativity loose!…  if there was even a box to begin with! Aside from a few beers encountered with Diacetyl, most beers were quite pleasant.

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Some standouts for this author were Noble’s Wrong Side of the Road, McLeod’s Ordinary Bitter, Bottle Logic’s Square Root, and, Bravery’s Pink Lemonade.

Before we begin, an honorable mention goes out to Kum Town from Tustin Brewing Company. The beer was tasty (Tustin’s Old Town IPA with Kumquats), that’s no question. But that name… That’s a ballsy name. (Pun was totally intended). Award for best name: TBC’s Kum Town!

Noble’s Wrong side of the Road was impressive! A crisp, light, floral, and tasty ale. Light biscuity malt flavors but plenty of floral an earthy hop notes. Perhaps one of the best examples of an extremely fresh (and dry-hopped) bitter pulled from a cask in OC.

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Speaking of bitters, another stylistically outstanding ale was McLeod’s Ordinary Bitter. Moderate mealtimes and woodsy hops in the undertone. A firm (but not harsh) bitterness floats atop of the malty caramel tones and foresty hops. Absolutely British! Well, for this author, that is. Without having taken a trip to England, this is the best example that showcases what a Bitter should resemble (according to style publications).

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The uniqueness award goes to Bottle Logic. Their Square Root was a Brown Porter with root beer spices added. If root beer scares you, feet not. The spices were subtle and wet hiding behind the chocolate character pulsed out from the appropriately named EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse = Electromagnetic Porter… Science!). The finish resembled more Bottle Caps candy than soda, and that’s not a bad thing. If root beer was your thing, a hint of root beer was in the finish. If root beer was NOT your thing, the finish was cola-like. A nice take on a beer that has hints of said flavors, not a flavor bomb on top of what used to be an otherwise great beer. Nice work, guys!

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Olfactory memory. That’s when memories are activated when you take in certain aromas stimulate your olfactory nerves. For this author, Bravery’s Pink Lemonade almost made him shed a tear. Aromas of “Agua de Jamaica,” lime, and fruit brought back memories of when his grandma would make some Agua de Jamaica (hibiscus water) and fresh lemonade during the summer. Back then, this author never really enjoyed Agua de Jamaica on its own. So, to not upset his grandma, the author would secretly splash some lemonade into the Agua so he could drink it. Bravery’s Pink Lemonade’s aroma was so similar to Jamaica-Lemonade the author almost heard his grandma’s voice behind him, yelling as he mixing the drinks for the first time. The author almost shed a tear…

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Hell, this author isn’t fooling anyone, is he? Yes, he let out a few tears. So what!? That’s what beer is all about: the experience. And that’s the one experience this author won’t soon forget from Firkfest.

Source for Real Ale definition:

http://www.camra.org.uk/en_US/faq

Thanks Charlie for your contribution! Cheers!

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Barley Forge Black Dahlia Cookies

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It’s been so long since I’ve posted a recipe on the blog. I have a few planned posts coming soon, I hope it will make up for the long wait! I made these chocolate crackle cookies with Barley Forge’s Black Dahlia. The beer lended a slightly fruity and boozy kick to these very decadent cookies.
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Ingredients:
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped then melted.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened dutch process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt (like sea salt)
1 stick of unsalted butter – room temp. (or melted!)
1 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup whole milk
1/3 cup Beer
(For the rolling before baking – not the batter! – in separate bowls)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup confectioners sugar
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Directions:

1. Melt chocolate and set aside to cool. Mix together flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, ginger, cayenne, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.

2. With an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs and vanilla and then the melted chocolate. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the flour mixture in two batches alternating with the milk. Then add the beer. Divide dough into three or four equal pieces and wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (2 hours to overnight).

3. Preheat oven to 350F and divide each piece into sixteen 1 inch balls. Roll in the granulated sugar and then the powdered sugar and place on a baking sheet with parchment paper. About 2 inches apart because they will spread.

4. Bake until the surfaces crack, about 14 minutes. Rotate the sheets halfway through. Let cool on wire racks. Cookies can be stored for up to 3 days.

These are quite possibly my favorite cookies. I get tons of requests to make these because they are rich, warming, and crunchy on the outside with a soft middle. They might be the most perfect cookie, ever.

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Beer Yoga @ Native Son’s in DTSA

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The Hop Mistress Society hosted a beer + yoga session on the roof extension of Native Son’s and it was pretty magical. Forget that it was slightly colder than expected, a decent crowd came to detox then retox with Andrea Machuca of The Culinary Underground and Yulia the yogi master. It started with a sugarless grapefruit juice drink, followed by yoga under the stars (or was it the twinkle lights?), concluding with a chia seed pudding and a beer. Native Son’s is one of the coolest locations for a bar, and one of the only respectable rooftop bars that has a decent craft beer tap list. The fact that they have a private space for yoga, catering events or otherwise is downright rad.

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Noble’s Fifth Anniversary Recap

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Noble’s Anniversary party is one of my most favorite to attend every year. With so many anniversary celebrations to attend, picking the best ones are getting increasingly difficult. For me, the reasons why I love Noble’s event so much is: The live music comprised of local brewery employees, the delicious beers and punches and cocktails, getting to see all my beer homies and make new friends, and the epic people watching.

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  1. The Beer: Evan Price is really a master of his craft, and that is the craft of craft beer. Along with his fantastic team of hard-working individuals, Noble is able to corner the market on several niche styles like IPA’s, English-style ales, beer punches, some of the most sought-after nitro beers, delicious shandies and gose’s, etc. Winning the sought-after LA IPA award two years in a row, and this year winning a bronze metal at GABF for their IPA’s was not a mistake because they make some of the most drinkable, and well-balanced IPA’s I’ve ever had. In my humble opinion, they crush the IPA category, and are able to produce some of my tip top favorite IPA’s of all time. I still think about the Messenger with Yuzu they did with Three Weavers.Noble's 5th Anniversary-78Noble's 5th Anniversary-3Noble's 5th Anniversary-4
  2. The Live Music: The bands were all really fun to watch. The light-hearted music was fun for everyone to watch their favorite head brewers and beertenders play a cover of their favorite song.  I really enjoyed watching Jeff Monig of The Bruery sing, he was electric. Evan and Brad of Noble rapping was the cherry on top of an already decadent afternoon.

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  3. The Punches/Cocktails: In previous years, they’ve had some really great cocktails made with beer but more recently it seems like punches are where it’s at, and they make some damn fine ones. I tried all the different ones they had to offer, and my favorite was the Oh Yeahhhhhh! that had cool aid mix in it. Toss my shame into the wind, because this was the tits and I don’t care who knows it. I went back for seconds.Noble's 5th AnniversaryNoble's 5th Anniversary-58Noble's 5th Anniversary-45
  4. The People Watching: Noble seems to attract a very eclectic crowd on a regular basis, so their Anniversary was weird on steroids. There is always the Rob Zombie Doppelganger, the way too drunk couple, the awkward PDA, the tongue wagging in unison, the general revelry that I’ve come to expect and love from Noble events. Overall, it’s a really good time and I always love getting those lowered-inhibition photos towards the end of the day. There always ends-up being photos I can’t share, but I am convinced that someday I will have an NSFW gallery event where all my deep and dark archives will see the light of day to the horror of a few. You know who you are.

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It was a super fun event, and I cant’ wait to attend again next year. It’s become a beloved tradition for me and my good friends so join me next year and be apart of the fun times. Cheers!

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Firkfest Is Almost Here!

Take note, gentle reader, that Firkfest is coming back next weekend! This beloved beer event (by myself and the general beer lover) will be hosted for the 3rd year at the Anaheim Farmers Park (the park in between Anaheim Brewery and the Anaheim Packing House). The event is sure to be a crowd-pleaser with more than 50 casks of beer from at least 30 local craft breweries. If you haven’t bought your tickets yet, there is still time! It’s scheduled for March 19th, from noon to 4pm, with the forecast 75 degrees and sunny.

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Jill Cook

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I can throw a rock five feet and hit a beer event almost every weekend, but that doesn’t mean it’s good. Choose to be choosy, my friends. Anniversary parties are one thing, having a general beer event is another and we are swimming in a sea of mediocrity. The best OC beer events are Firkfest and the Brew Ha Ha’s (this includes Brew Ho Ho, Ha Ha, Sabroso and Hee Haw) -excluding Anniversary parties (don’t hate me breweries, I really love your Anniversary events). They are the most well-organized, they have the best beer, and are the most enjoyable to attend. There are a lot of factors that go into being enjoyable like shade, not being over-sold, a comprehensive map of the event, media check-in being easy to find, general lines not taking too long, bathrooms-o-plenty, food, etc. It’s not easy to play puppet master to all those strings, and somehow these guys make it look easy.

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Firkfest is special because you get to try beers that are one-of-a-kind. Common cask offerings are IPA’s with fruit and citrusy mixtures, and we will most likely see a coffee-infused beer, and I hope to see more funky sours with herbs and fruits – I am looking at you The Good Beer Company! I can’t wait to attend this year, and I hope everyone who is local and has been flirting with the idea of coming takes the plunge. You won’t regret it.

Check out my previous posts of previous years: 2015 , 2014

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Brouwerij West Pre-Opening Preview

 

 

Written by Andrea Machuca of eatdrinkbehoppy.net and photos by beerandbaking.com

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Time has come and gone, soulful roots have been planted and the doors of Brouwerij West will finally open! Watching Brian Mercer’s dream unfold (post conception) in front of my eyes has truly been an awe-inspiring experience. Everything from trampling upon mounds of dusty gravel, to scaling the roof of the original wooden structure has been an adventure in and of itself. Every intricate detail in this handsome WWII-era warehouse has been meticulously orchestrated to provide a welcoming atmosphere for guests to enjoy. Beer drinkers and architects alike will revel in seeing gleaming fermentors that sit majestically at the heart of the ‘brouwerij’.

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Up on the roof! 

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During Construction

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Almost Done!

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Almost Done!

With new digs comes a new assistant brewer – many applicants were eager to brew side-by-side with Mercer, but Jeremy Czuleger fit the bill perfectly. Czuleger most recently hails from local Costa Mesa hotspot Barley Forge. His brewing expertise originally stems from his time at Trumer Brauerei (of Berkeley, CA), where beer purity and consistency is practically law. Not only does Czuleger bring knowledge to the table, but a great attitude and admiration for beer. I’m excited to see what the future has for this dynamic duo.

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Now, the journey of building the ‘brouwerij’ has come to an end – the journey of running a brewery begins. What can we expect to taste this coming weekend? A limited menu of classic styles, made with old-world methods – and no IPAs.

Saison Extra – 6.5% ABV

An excellent beer to start your day with, and a flagship of the brewery, Saison Extra is an accessible version of the increasingly popular style. Pouring a clean golden color, this beer brings subtle complexity to the tip of the tongue, then scrubs the palate clean with a light carbonation and dry bite. With such a clean flavor profile, you’ll be surprised it rings in at 6.5% ABV, since it drinks like a much lighter ale.

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Dog ate My Homework – 7% ABV

Saisons are my go-to style when my taste buds need to be quenched by funky farmhouse succulence – so this beer was apropos. This beauty pours luminously ruby red, with pleasant acidity and crisp freshness. Wine aficionados will fall deeply in love with the familiar notes this brew brings.

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My First Rodeo – 6 % ABV

100% Brett saison brewed with a blend of Washington barley, German wheat and Belgian barley. Highly drinkable, effervescent, clean and citrusy. A perfect beer for a tepid Southern California.

Grand Opening Day is scheduled for this Saturday, Feb. 27th. Check them out!  http://www.brouwerijwest.com

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During Construction

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Beergagement

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I’ve never jumped into any wedding photography, besides casually shooting as a guest. As for posed engagement shots, I’ve never done that before either. When I was asked to shoot some pics for my friend Andrea (who you may recognize from previous posts where she’s the Chef doing pop-up beer dinners for The Culinary Underground), I of course said yes! It was especially exciting to learn she wanted to visit a few breweries and thus the beergagement photo shoot began.

We started off in LA, getting to Mumford Brewing right when they opened at noon to shoot some pics in their minimal and beautiful taproom. I’ve never been to Mumford before and I really liked the feel there. It was reminiscent of Seattle for me, with the factory windows that opened all the way, allowing the crisp cool air to flow through the taproom. We all really liked the beers we had, my favorite was the Sorachi Ace Saison. We shot some fun pics there, then moved on to have lunch at the Grand Central Market where we had some tasty BBQ and beers at Horse Thief BBQ.

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We then shot at The Last Bookstore to get those romantic surrounded by books pics, and a cute group shot. We went to a few other places, but no pics were taken.

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The second half of the shoot was in San Francisco, where we flew up just for the day. First stop was the historic ferry building, where we picked-up some cones of meat from Boccalone and went outside to shoot some cute pics by the water. Who knew pics of rings with meat cones was so adorable? There’s a first for everything…haha.

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Next stop was the Mikkeller bar, where we tasted some beer, had some food, and got to shoot the sour room and other spots around the bar. The beer was amazing, they had so many fantastic options to choose from. The one I remember as being the most interesting was the spontanwatermelon, it was tart and really funky. It was quite impressive how they served every beer at the proper temp, and their menu made it easy to decide on what beer you want based on the temp you preferred. So smart.

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After Mikkeller, we walked towards Cellermaker Brewing Co. but it was too early for them to be open so we had some coffee at this adorable little bakery/coffee place next door called Vive la tarte. We fell in love with the lofty, industrial-chic vibe and shot some impromptu pics there as well. After one of the most wonderful coffee experiences ever, we went to Cellermaker to get the last shots of the day. This ended-up being my favorite spot, and my favorite pics from the whole shoot. The beers were cloudy, but not in a bad way, and even though I might not be a huge IPA person (because I tend to be picky, and have a problem with Cascade hops) their IPAs were juicy and delicious. I loved everything we had there, and it was decided that if we were locals, this would be our typical place we would hang out. Overall, minus almost missing our flight home, it was a really fun day trip to SF and I am happy to be able to share all the pics with you guys! Where would you go for your beergagement photo shoot?

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Ritual Beer Dinner @ Amazing Grapes

 

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I was invited to attend a beer pairing dinner at Amazing Grapes in RSM and little did I know, it was actually a beer vs. wine dinner! Hey, I like wine, so that was a nice little surprise for me.

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1st Course: Herb & citrus marinated squid, cherry tomatoes, olives, red onions, baby arugula. Paired: Main Street Brewing – Bishop’s Tipple Triple vs. 2013 Mariposa Albarino. The salad was light and acidic, and was a great appetizing start to the meal. Ritual distributes Main Street, and I think this beer was paired really well. Both the beer and the wine was citrusy and light with some fruity notes. I think the beer won this round, just barely.

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2nd Course: Pate de campagne, pickled daikon & carrots, cucumber and cilantro on a french baguette. Paired: Ritual’s Amarillo Hop IPA vs. Tudor Nacina Riesling. This was a small bahn mi “slider” and it was really delicious. It had jalapeno pieces in it, that wasn’t listed, but in true bahn mi tradition it was welcomed. The beer was the obvious winner, as it was hoppy and clean and helped clean the palate in between bites of the complex bahn mi.

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3rd Course: Roasted acorn squash stuffed with dry cranberry-studded wild rice pilaf. Paired: Ritual’s Love & Malt vs. 2013 Annabella Pinot Noir. This was my least favorite dish mainly because the sauce was crazy sweet. I don’t think the Love & Malt was a good pairing because the dish was inherently sweet and the love & malt had a too similar flavor profile, but the wine was a very nice pairing. The wine was spicy and dry, which cut the sweetness of the squash and sauce pretty well.

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4th Course: Rack of wild boar, potato & celery root puree, bourbon-cider glaze. Paired: Ritual’s Extra Red vs. 2011 Negro Giusepp Barbera Pulin. The meat cooked really well and delicious and the potato was perfect and velvety. This dish was very satisfying and beautifully plated.  I think the beer paired nicely with the meat and richness of the dish, so that was the winning pairing for me.

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5th Course: Sticky pudding with dates & figs, warm rum-caramel sauce, whipped cream and bacon. Paired: Ritual’s Fat Hog. It’s not a fair fight since there was no wine with this course, but the Fat Hog played well with the sweetness of the dessert. I loved that they added bacon to this because it was really sweet and really needed that salty contrast. The textures were great, a mix between soft and crunchy, chewy cake and soft whipped cream. A great ending to a yummy dinner.

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Amazing Grapes has a decent bottle shop for craft beer and an even greater selection of wines, and they serve delicious food as well! It’s also around the corner from the OG Cismontane tasting room and brewery. Check ’em out and let me know what you think! Ritual Beer Dinner @ Amazing Grapes-10Ritual Beer Dinner @ Amazing Grapes-14Ritual Beer Dinner @ Amazing Grapes-11Ritual Beer Dinner @ Amazing Grapes-13Ritual Beer Dinner @ Amazing Grapes-9