Summer-Beer-2014

It’s been officially summer for a couple of weeks now, but this week we’ve been really feeling it. Although you’ve probably had your fill of summer beer suggestions, with the 4th of July holiday and many more summer festivities to come, it’s time to share our favorites.

For brunch

The best way to get you through your consistently 85 degree house is a nice, cold Stiegl Radler. At around 3% ABV, it’s extremely sessionable for any time of day, but serves as a really great brunch drink. If you’re a fan of the Shandy (lemonade and beer mix), this grapefruit soda with beer is a pleasant and incredibly refreshing alternative.

Something basic

Summer beer isn’t always about choosing seasonals, but when you do the Sierra Nevada Summerfest is a pretty good choice (plus you can find it pretty much everywhere). Also not that this really matters, but supposedly Summerfest is extremely low carb if you’re watching your figure.

Sunshine in a can

One of the best things about living in Los Angeles is the sunshine, and despite the heat of the summer you really can’t help but love it. 329 Days of Sun by Golden Road pays homage to this with a low ABV, crisp and easy drinking lager. Since it’s canned, you can toss a few in the backpack for a trip to the beach or hiking.

Summah summah summah time

Backyard BBQs, poolside parties, whiffs of sunscreen and never ending sunsets are what the Victory Summer Love Ale is all about. This has been one of my favorites since we started blasting our tiny air conditioner this season, and is a nice shift from my normal summer IPAs as it’s a bit more malty yet still well balanced and crisp.

There are a lot of great summer craft beers out there – what’s your favorite?

 

Epic Hop Syndrome / Blue ski

Epic Brewing is well known for making delicious and very hop-forward beers, and it appropriately took home quite a few medals last year. The original brewery was opened in Utah, where it was the state’s only high alcohol content beer produced, but last year it opened a second brewery in Denver, Colorado. The second brewery was really meant to help the brand expand its distribution and line of beers, but also includes a large tap room.

What’s really interesting about the two brewhouses is what we have pictured above. Two Epic beers with different names and different labels. But from what we hear, these two beers are more alike than you think – they are, in fact, made using the same exact recipes.

But they taste completely different!

(Gasp!)

Why? Hop Syndrome is brewed in Salt Lake City, Utah. Blue Ski Lager is brewed in Denver, Colorado. Hop Syndrome has Weyermann Pilsner and Munich malts, so does Blue Ski. They seem to have the same ingredients except for one thing: the water!

Just like those New York bagels everyone loves so much, water can affect the flavor and character of your product. There are different levels of sulfates, chlorines, carbonates…. A lot of breweries have sophisticated filtration technology to maintain consistency with their beer, but in this case the same beer is in different states.

Hop Syndrome, which was brewed on March 3 in Utah, is a much more bitter beer and has an ABV of 4.8%. The aroma is bitter and sharp, the flavor has that dry, Pilsner finish. Blue Ski tastes, to me, much more like a lager as it has that kind of creamed corn flavor that I’m sooooo sensitive to when it comes to lagers. It’s a little nuttier but much lighter on the bitter hops flavor and has a 5.3% ABV.

The first time I tried these beers, I liked Blue Ski better as it seemed smoother, less bitter. The second time I did the side-by-side, I liked Hop Syndrome more. I recommend doing a little side by side taste test, and let us know what you think!

Update:

A big thank you to Matthew over at Epic, who assured us that our source is incorrect and the two beers are two different recipes.

“The hop bill in Hop Syndrome,” he writes, “is much more aggressive and is what some consider as an emerging style of Hoppy Lager or IPL. The real UT to CO lager comparison would be between Pfeifferhorn lager and Blue Ski lager. There is a discernible water chemistry difference. Pfiefferhorn has a closer chloride to sulfate ratio and seems to be crisper on the finish with slightly more hop perception.”

While we’re slightly disappointed we hadn’t cracked the case on this one, we’re always happy to have an excuse to drink more Epic beer!

This is part 2 of 4. Read part 1 here.

Breakfast ber

Breakfast beer

The morning after our night of glamping in Los Olivos, we board the bus for Paso Robles. My husband wins the award for the first beer cracked, a Stiegl Radler (best breakfast beer ever). Upon entering Firestone’s production brewery for a tasting session, the first thing our host Norm Stokes says is, “I apologize up front, but I’m the guy that gives you the bad beer.”

Reference beerIn reality, his job is to make sure Firestone beer is of consistent quality. But for these intents and purposes, we’re getting a lesson in sensory analysis.

The first set of beers were loaded with Diacetyl, Dimethyl Sulphide (DMS) and Acetaldehyde. Then a sampling of Union Jack that had been aged 3, 30 and 300 days at different temperatures. As you can probably guess, those that were aged longer and in warmer temperatures lose their aroma almost completely. It makes me feel guilty for not having an extra beer fridge at home.

Sensory analysis is a great way to refine your taste buds, but Firestone does this all the time. Their shelf life is four months, but really should be consumed within a 30 day period. Always, always check those expiration dates!

Brewery tour with Dustin

Brewery tour with Dustin

Next up, head Brewer Dustin Kral once again leads us on a brewery tour; under his term the brewery has gone from a 4-vessel to a 7-vessel brewery. They brew 24 hours a day, six days a week on an automated brewhouse system, which the team likes because they can monitor and maintain quality much more easily.

And that’s the question most breweries face: How do you manage huge growth, increasing quantity by maintaining quality and consistency? Firestone has really done such an incredible job managing this all.

Firestone-Beer-Bloggers29In addition to walking through the brewery’s stainless steel innards, we get to see the barrel room once again (which holds 1432 barrels) and the new canning facility with a 30-head filling machine that filles 400 cans per minute. Just what are they doing with this new canning facility?

805 cans! As of May, you can expect to see these cans on the shelves for your camping, beaching, hiking adventures.

Next stop: hop on the bus for a super, top secret destination….

Next up…. Part 3!

This is part 2 of 4. Read part 1 here.

 

It was quite a warm day on May 17, the day of the Los Angeles Vegan Beer Fest. Just a couple of days prior we hit triple digits, so 85 degrees was quite manageable to say the least!

Apart from the weather, there are a few things that makes this beer festival quite special:

Not too much beer, not too little

You don’t get overwhelmed by how many booths you have to visit, how much beer you have to taste. It’s a perfect balance of intimate meets abundance. Also, you don’t have to go home drunk.

Craft beer geeks love it

You don’t have to be a beer blogger to join in on the festival, but craft beer geeks are right at home. I certainly wasn’t going to miss Noble’s Gosebusters! There was a lot of great beer!

Great crowd

The staff is great, the brewery representation was fantastic, and the crowd seemed fairly lacking in douchbaggery. Cheers to that!

It’s Vegan!

The food was fantastic! A lot of great local options. But what’s the deal with vegan beer? The short story is that animal products can be used during filtration, and sometimes it’s as simple as using milk products (like a milk stout). There are many resources out there if you’re curious about what beer is vegan, but you can start here.

We had a great time at the festival, keep your eye out for the next one on the festival website – tickets sell out fast!

 

 
Russian River at the 2013 Invitational

Russian River at the 2013 Invitational

Good god we are excited to hit the road on Friday with some fellow beer bloggers for the 3rd annual Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival. Last year I had a fun case of bronchitis in 104 degree weather – this year I’m in full health and it’ll be in the low 80s!

There are so many great pics for the festival this year, which makes this the best event in California (at least) for beer lovers. Many of our recommendations are things you cannot usually get on this side of the country (other favorites like Beachwood Brewing are just a drive away). But we’ve managed to narrow down the list to a must-must-must-have list of breweries to visit during the fest. The full preliminary lineup of breweries and beers available at TheFullPint.com

Here goes:

3 Floyds
8 Wired Brewing
Avery Brewing Company
Ballast Point
Bell’s Brewery
Cigar City Brewing
Crooked Stave
Dogfish Head
Firestone Walker Brewing
Founders Brewing
Kern River Brewing
Mikkeller
Pizza Port Brewing
Revolution Brewing
Russian River Brewing
Southern Tier Brewing
Surly Brewing
The Bruery

And to recap the lessons I learned at last year’s festival:

  1. Don’t get deliriously sick
  2. Bring a pretzel necklace
  3. Bring lots of business cards (ideally this would be swag, but we ran out of stickers!)
  4. Be fashionable but appropriate (this isn’t Coachella, thank god)
  5. Lots of ice water!

See you there!

blogger_tripAbout a year ago, the Los Angeles Beer Bloggers received an invitation to tour Firestone Brewery in Paso Robles and the new Barrelworks in Beullton, in what ended up being an epic experience.

For this year’s LA Beer Bloggers trip, Firestone showed off its latest expansion project in Venice Beach, where we had a peak at the new Taproom restaurant (nothing’s been transformed yet, permits are still in the works). This is where we board a beer-filled bus heading to Central California guided by the lovely Anders Nilbrink of Firestone.

For the first night, we camped on “Area 51” – the property that was once the site of the original Firestone Walker Brewery in Los Olivos. Plenty of DBA, Easy Jack and Pivo Pils await us in buckets of ice as we unload and set up camp.

We then trek from the campsite on the back of a squeaky trailer (a hayride without the hay) sipping on cold bottles of Easy Jack as we pass by the alpacas, rows of grape vineyards and rusty, hard-working oil pumps. I had missed some announcement, but when David Walker stands on the back of a pickup truck and says “hop on” – well, you go.

Soon enough, we’ve arrived at Andrew Murray Vineyards in the old Firestone Walker brewery, where Andrew himself greets us with a dry, light Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc blend of the winery’s This Is E11even series (note this This is Spinal Tap reference). Alongside Andrew, David Walker and Barrelworks Direct Jeffers Richardson told stories about the old days of brewing at the location, even those times they were making just “terrible” beer before they figured things out.

The sun is setting over the bright green vineyards so we head back to camp for a little surprise… a preview of Barrelworks’ Bretta Rosé, which wasn’t to be released until May 17. Barrelworks just starting bottling their wild ales this year, and production is extremely limited – they only produced 500 cases each of Feral One and Bretta Rosé (which is only their third release).

Firestone-Beer-Bloggers17“Sour Jim” Crooks brewed Bretta Rosé with 1,000 pounds of fresh raspberries that came for free from a local source, which they were thrilled about despite having to remove them from tons of clamshells. It has a bright pink hue alongside a fresh raspberry flavor –not quite like a Framboise as this is much lighter as a wild beer and is considered a “California take on Berliner weiss.”

Then onto some wine and beer blends – wow. The first was a 50/50 blend with a Bretta Weiss “base” (beer pulled from a batch 2-3 days into fermentation) and  Chenin Blanc wine – newly carbonated just for us. Another was a blend using pressed off Zinfandel skins from another local winery. All of the beers tasted were amazing examples of what Barrelworks is capable of when it comes to blending these incredible Wild Ales.

After dinner, over which we discuss the different flavors of French oak versus American oak, we mosey over to a fire bit and start yet another bottle share. I went to bed hoping not to get too drunk on night one, but thankfully I wasn’t the first to head in.

Firestone-Beer-Bloggers19

Stay tuned for part 2!

Full photo gallery:

 

downtown-centerSaturday’s 5th Annual L.A. Vegan Beer & Food Festival is sold out – but if you snagged some tickets early on you’re probably wondering how to navigate the over 40 craft breweries (that’s about 110 types of beer), not to mention the 30 food vendors to check out. Here are a few things special things to look out for when you arrive:

Golden Road’s Almond Milk Stout

The vegan-friendly version of a milk stout is brewed once a year just for this festival. Thankfully this time they produced a 50 barrel batch, so there should be plenty! Since Tony Yanow is also a host of the fest, expect a lot of other Golden Road brews to taste, including Cross the Pond, Heal the Bay, and more.

Noble Ale Works

Gosebusters is a Gose style beer and must-have – after all, brewmaster Evan Price said it is “maybe my favorite beer we’ve ever made.” Since Noble rarely disappoints, also get a try of the Stay All Night black session IPA.

Eagle Rock Brewery

Talk about a perfect summer beer – the Ginger Saison (which they just started bottling) will be a perfect thirst quencher.

Hangar 24

The Redlands brewery is bringing something special: Betty IPA. Right now this beer is quite popular and hard to find both on tap and in bottles (we hear they sold out). The only other beer they’ll have is the Orange Wheat, so this will go fast.

Bison Brewing

The Berkeley brewery deserves a shout-out because they are not only very environmentally conscious, they are also extremely vegan friendly. The Hop Cuveé is a good choice for a hot day!

Ballast Point

Hellooooo spicy beers! We love Sculpin but the Habanero Sculpin packs a punch! Spicy beers are also trending right now for the summer season.

And of course, Firestone, Modern Times, Smog City, El Segundo, Monkish, Pizza Port, Bootleggers and other great breweries will be bringing some great stuff that we are so excited to try.

 

Remember, if you’re a first time rider of LYFT you get $25 off with the promotion code VEGANBEER.

 

AVF_Postcard

The second annual Atwater Village Beer, Food & Wine Festival is this weekend – and we are EXCITED!

The fest is taking place in just a few short days on Sunday, April 27 from 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm at the parking lot of hosts Link N Hops and 55 Degree Wine. Last year sold out with over 1,000 attendees from all over the area, and was a blast.

There will be about a dozen local and craft breweries, a variety of local vendors, as well as live entertainment. Participating breweries include El Segundo Brewing, Surf Brewery, Figueroa Mountain Brewing, Bootleggers, The Dudes’ Brewing, Atwater Village’s own Golden Road, and more! Coolhaus will be joining in again along with The Grilled Cheese Truck, Kogi Bbbq, and several other great additions to the fest.

Tickets are $50 for VIP access (which are almost sold out) and includes unlimited tastings, early access and a gift bag. Regular tickets are just $40 and includes 15 tastings, and designated drivers tickets include a sausage sandwich, fries and a soda. Buy your tickets in advance – prices go up at the door!

Visit www.atwatervillagefestival.com to buy tickets and for more information about the fest!

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Raffle donations

 Craft beer is more than about the beer – it’s family. We are so lucky to have a family that supports us, especially when it’s for a good cause!

Thank you to everyone who attended and supported our fundraiser for the Downtown Women’s Center at Sunset Beer Company on Sunday. We are so proud to announce that we have raised just about $500 for the Center, which provides important services to homeless women such as permanent housing, meals, health and medical, classes, support groups, job counseling… and more!

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Fantastic tap list

When I read on the Center’s website that just $100 provides 50 people lunch, I was inspired. I could do that… help feed 50 people! While that’s the goal I started  with, through planning the event we expanded the goal. And then we exceeded that goal! Thanks to attendees who bought raffle tickets, to those who donated money and prizes, and the event sponsors, including: 

Sunset Beer Company

Urban Hillsides

LA Beer Hop
Pilates & Arts
Tomm Carroll
Peaches Smokehouse & Southern Kitchen
Mohawk Bend / Golden Road Brewery

New Belgium Brewery

Angry Horse Brewing

 

Stay tuned for the next Girls Who Like Beer event!

 

We were gearing up to write an article called something like “Get your tickets now before they sell out!” But before we knew it, the Los Angeles Vegan Beer Festival Facebook page announced the news…

LA-Vegan-Beer-Fest

We sort of saw this coming. The event is wildly popular, and even had to expand last year – doubling its size by moving to the parking lot across from The Roxy Theatre. VIP tickets sold out in mid-march, and it didn’t take long for the rest to go.

This year promises to be the biggest year yet with (so far) 35 breweries and 31 vegan food vendors and restaurants. We’re excited to see some of our favorite breweries like Smog City, Ohana, Modern Times, Firestone, Monkish, Noble… and the list goes on! Headlining the musical entertainment is Los Angeles band He’s My Brother She’s My Sister.

If you missed out on this year’s ticket sales keep an eye out on the event Facebook page for those looking to buy/sell extra tickets.

LA-Vegan-Beer-Fest-poster