If you’re a Craft Beer Lover, chances are that you’ve laid awake some nights thinking about, dreaming about or even compiling lists of must visit breweries… And, if you are a true Beer Connoisseur, I’m almost certain that a certain brewery in Santa Rosa, California is on your list.
When you live in California, you are essentially surrounded on all sides by fantastic breweries. But given the sheer size of the state, you are bound to be hundreds of miles away from at least some of the dream spots on your hitlist…
Case in point for me, Russian River Brewing Company, home of Pliny the Elder. While Pliny is not my favorite Double IPA, I do pay homage to its exquisiteness. They’re aren’t many other DIPAs out there that can fool you into thinking you’re drinking an IPA…And for this reason alone, I’ve wanted to visit for quite a few years. While I enjoy their Sour Beers as well, there’s nothing quite like a Hoppy IPA or Pale Ale to float my boat. While my favorite beer of this visit was Happy Hops IPA, I was pleasantly surprised by their 3.75% O.V.L. Stout that packs so much flavor into what is essentially water…
So what is it that made me finally pull the trigger on a 500 Mile car ride? Nothing. Nothing other than a desire to move and go somewhere… Given that Russian River occupies the old New Albion Brewery, the space is essentially Mecca for true Craft Beer Lovers. So maybe, she just called to me long enough that I finally gave in…
Whatever the reason, I’m glad I made the trek. There is no better road trip than an unplanned, unregulated, untimed one… when you start with stress free, you end with stress free; and if your final destination is Russian River Brewing Company, your journey is sure to end in a smile.
It’s funny how quickly people you know ask you for your Venmo Handle when they realize where you are, but that’s another beautiful piece of what it means to be a Craft Beer Lover. The Community and Camaraderie that flow from this delicious libation have created some of the happiest moments in my recent memory.
With that thought in mind, a toast, to Vinnie and all the good folks at Russian River, for giving us something to write home about…
If you’re near Santa Rosa, or far and just wishing you could go, do yourself a favor and get down to 4th street…food’s fresh and beer is waiting…
Some of my most favorite brewery detours seem to materialize out of thin air… I wake up with a clean slate and think to myself, how can I make today Awesome?!
As my summer of phun draws to an end, I’ve been digging deep and trying to squeeze every last drop out of my recent salvation from a life I despised. And this morning, was no different. While scrolling through my IG feed post-workout, I double tapped yet another pic featuring Electric Brewing Company’s Ohno Kenzo Hazy DIPA.
To date, my only experience has been with Electric’s Uber Everywhere Hazy IPA, a collaboration with Track 7 Brewing, that was easily one of my favorite beers of 2017…
While Electric has released a slew of highly sought after hazies since then, i’ve struck out every time I’ve tried to acquire cans within the confines of Orange County…
With that thought in mind, this morning I consulted the Oracle at Waze and, after discovering I could be at the tasting room in under an hour, I set out post haste for Murrieta…Where? Trust me, if you’ve never been and love beer, you should just make the trip…If you’ve heard of Temecula, it’s basically, no literally across the street…
Upon arriving at the brewery I was greeted with the most magnificent smell of breakfast cereal…my favorite smell… (these guys are working on a Sunday = Dedication = +). I quickly checked out the To Go Fridge and realized I’d struck out on cans again…but, guess what? These guys offer crowlers of even their newest release!
With a new found enthusiasm I asked the Beertender for Tasters of all their IPAs, of course…When he pulled out the awesomely customized flight holder, I realized I had two more options, so I opted for a Pale Ale and Stout…little did I realize the “beertender” serving me was the Brewer 😱
The first beer of my flight, a Pale Ale was extremely delicious, it gave me high hopes for the rest of the beers…Upon sampling the 5 beers, I calculated Electric’s average beer score as 4.45 (Out of 5).
Conclusion, this is a MUST STOP brewery for any true Craft Beer Lover. Not for Juice Bros. or Pastry Hoes, but beer connoisseurs…
So glad that once again, I woke up and just decided to go wherever the universe led me. It’s no coincidence that the world is full of energy and the world is electricity and Electric Brewing Co. is killing it…
Hard-work, dedication and humbleness prevails every time!
(I sat near the exit and listened and watched as every patron was thanked by Justin, the Owner/Head Brewer as they left…classy.)
If you sit at the bar on a Sunday afternoon, aside from being able to talk with the lovely beertenders Sally & Roxanne, you may get a lap petting Session from Pig the Dachshund…her dad works at the brewery and she’s super friendly if she likes you…
Today, I woke up and decided it had been far too long since I visited Pure Project Brewing in Miramar, CA. Seeing as I could remedy this situation in under two hours and currently having nothing else to do, I decided to proceed southward stat.
In an hour and a half, I removed myself from the confines of Orange County and found myself smack dab in front of one of my favorite breweries in the world!
While everything Pure puts out is a step above the competition, the board today was filled with IPAs. (Though it’s Haze heavy, the West Coasts are not to be slept on.) If you have enough time and a designated driver or a hotel room a Lyft drive away, I’d highly recommend you try every single last beer on the menu! Trust me, I’m a professional. You will not be disappointed.
As I had to return to the OC, I decided on one flight and a growler to go. My flight, which I aptly named Keep Hops Alive, consisted of the following:
Desert Trip – West Coast IPA brewed in collaboration with Mumford Brewing.
This beer was clean, light and delicious! The Southern Hemisphere hops brought this beer in at 4.25/5
Murk IPA – Murky/Hazy with Mosaic, Denali and some Motueka that really shined through. 4.25/5
Hanging Gardens – Murky/Hazy brewed in collaboration with Temescal Brewing out of Oakland. This beer was light, easy drinking and delicious. 4.25/5
Sign of the Times – Murky/Hazy DIPA with Citra and Galaxy hops. This beer was oddly malty/sweet and my least favorite of the flight. 4/5
Murkshake – Murky/Hazy TIPA with Organic Strawberries and Vanilla Beans. This beer reminded me of Strawberry Bijou from Great Notion and Mikerphone and was FANTASTIC! 4.75/5 (Flight Standout)*
Guess which beer I got a growler fill of…
In short, Pure Project Brewing should be on every Craft Beer Lover’s shortlist!
I only wish I lived closer as I would be there everyday…
What’s your favorite Pure Project Beer? What’s the farthest you’ve ever driven for Beer?
If Pure is within your driving range, get here NOW!
I hope your Spring has been full of delicious Craft Beer, and if not, Get on it!
In today’s “craft beer” scene a large group of “beer drinkers” have begun flocking towards “new” and “untested” offerings at the expense of perfected and dialed-in “flagship” beers. A walk down the aisle at any “in the know” liquor store or liquor chain, quickly reveals a dizzying bevy of beer offerings that is enough to leave even the seasoned connoisseur feeling a tad bit overwhelmed. A large reason for this is craft brewer’s attempts to find the newest and latest taste profile that aligns with the palate of folks who are looking for a quick fix of exsclusivity rather than a liquid piece of art. I for one, am of the opinion that while “new” is good, “dialed-in” is better. Unfortunately, in our rush to discover, we often forget to remember, and as a result miss out on the dependability that the “old” has to offer. I have to admit that even I have found myself caught up in the hysteria at times, but thankfully I’m always prompted to take a step back.
I recently was in the mood for a delicious Stout and perusing the aisles, at my local chain store, I made eye contact with an old friend.
“You believe!” He said to me. “We’ve sat and pondered existence, not just mine, but yours too, plenty a time”.
“We have.” I retorted.
And proceeded to take him from his place on the shelf. Though it had been quite some time since we’d last spoke, we picked up right where we left off.
And I swear that he’d even gotten better. Or maybe, nostalgia just brings out the best in people…
[Great Divide’s Yeti Imperial Stout, was one of the first really fantastic stouts I tried while beginning my journey down the path of craft beer. So hoppy, toasty and delicious; I can best describe it as a Stout/IPA Hybrid. It’s just so thick, hearty and rounded. Great Divide has been doing it right for over two decades. And if you’re a self respecting beer drinker, but have never tried them, I’d recommend — everything. Go build yourself a sixer. You have to love a company whose slogan is “Great minds drink alike” and then backs it up with their offerings.]
My experience reminded me that life isn’t always about passing fancies, and sometimes you have to remember what you forgot, because dependability is truly a virtue.
Now, I’m not advocating an end to new releases and experimentation, But I just think that in our rush to emulate in order to innovate, we’re starting to lose some of the artisanship and craftsmanship that made us fall in love with “micro-brews” in the first place.
I’m glad that I remembered what I hadn’t forgotten, but just hadn’t thought about in a while — sometimes, you just need to Yeti…
Hopefully’ craft beer lovers the world over don’t forget to drink the “classics”.
By now, 2016 has hopefully washed out of everyone’s systems, and we are ready for a new year full of new hopes and new beers!
But before I close the chapter on the year that was 2016, I wanted to take a quick moment to recognize some excellence in brewmeistering that shouldn’t be overlooked.
With the advent of apps like Untappd, it’s become so easy for people to rank, rate and comment on others’ work without ever taking the time to step back and really look at and appreciate some of the liquid accomplishments that we all enjoy and love. Sure, the best beer is the one in your hand, but when you collect beers like I do (by collect beers, I mean collect tastes, flavors, beer names, abvs..sorry, I’m weird) it’s important to take the time to make some sense of all the data that’s been collected.
While my recent posts have focused on beers that received ratings of 4.5 and higher, this post focuses on those beers that were just a step-above the average beers I drank this year. The bulk of beers I drank this year received a rating of 4. For me, if you are a brewery and you are not brewing a line-up that averages in the 4s, you don’t belong in the business. Your friends like your beers and they like any beers…Thankfully, there are a slew of breweries across the country (and even the world…one brew from the Other Side made this list…) that are consistently putting out fantastic beers and even when they are experimenting, they are using the experiences to learn, revise and perfect the liquid goodness that we all then get to enjoy.
The beers on this list received a rating of 4.25 on Untappd (brew_fiend). I have divided the beers up into the following categories: Brown Ales, Witbiers, Lagers, Sours, Porters, Stouts, Bourbon Barrel Aged Beers and IPAs
Brown Ale: This is a style I don’t usually drink, but anomalies exist…And this year one such anomaly made this list.
Witbier: One of my least favorite styles of beer. If it makes my list, it’s a must try for style lovers…The lone specimen is a textbook example of the style.
Lagers: Me and Lagers are like Britain and the EU…that is to say that we really don’t like each other, but when push comes to shove, we can make nice…The fact that there are Lagers, plural, on this list; even amazes me…two?
Sours: Though I am not a huge fan of sours, I will always give credit to fantastic brewmeistering. The 3 sours that made this list are well worth seeking out.
Porters: This grouping can be further sub-divided into Coffee Porters and Imperial Porters. These two almost stouts are worth a whirl…
Stouts: This grouping can be further sub-divided into Stouts, Milk Stouts, Oatmeal Stouts, Coffee Stouts and all manner of Imperial Stouts. This year proved once again that I LOVE STOUTS! And from the wave crashed shores of sunny Southern California to the Windy City of my birth, America’s Craft breweries are turning out some fantastic boundary pushing brews. The 12-pack I’m serving up is a bevy of all manner of that rich, thick, roasty goodness we all love.
Bourbon Barrel Aged Beers: This group contains beers that have been aged in Bourbon Barrels. While the bulk are Stouts, some Porters and Strong Ales may have snuck in there…It’s been said that 7 is god’s perfect number. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that seven beers made this year’s cut…
IPAs: This grouping can be further sub-divided into IPAs, Double IPAs, Triple IPAs and Black IPAs. The Black IPA sub-category encompasses Black IPAs and Double Black IPAs. It’s pretty obvious from this list what my favorite style of beer is…Unlike Sammy Hagar, 55 is a number I find pleasing and easy to remember. This year there were 55 IPAish beers that deserve a nod for being just a notch better than the rest.
The 83 beers that made this list are divided into Style. Beers within each style are listed alphabetically by Brewery then ABV where applicable.
As always, these beers are rated against the style they represent and not all beer in general…
If you are reading this, chances are that you’ve tried most of the beers on this list. And on the off chance you haven’t, you really should as these are some excellent examples of their individual styles.
Beer: Shot In The Dark Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Porter ABV: 11.8% Brewery: Tustin Brewing Co.
Fact: Beachwood, Bottle Logic, Modern Times, Monkish and Noble will always have SoCal on the map when it comes to fan-tastic IPAs! Though we’re always flying that West Coast Style Flag, we got this Haze on lock too…
2016 was definitely a year for the history books. It was a year of mergers, infiltration by “big beer” and the blowing up of the “Hazy” or as I like to call it “Yeasty” IPA. Trust me when I tell you that I drank my fair share of beers this year…
What follows are the 20 32 beers that received a, 5 out of 5 ranking on my Untappd account (Brew_Fiend).
These beers are listed in the order they were tried and while I can’t guarantee that you would give these beers a 5, I can guarantee that all of them are absolutely fantastic and should at the very least be on your radar.
January 2016 Beer: Agrestic (2015) Style: American Wild Ale ABV: 6.6% Brewery: Firestone Walker Brewing Co. “…what a metamorphosis…to think that this started out as DBA is Mind-Blowing…”
Beer: Big Bad Baptist (2016) Style: Imperial Stout ABV: 12.1% Brewery: Epic Brewing Co. “…I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way …”
This was the first time I’ve had this since Untappd and failed to take a pic…
Beer: Xocoveza Extra Anejo (2016) Style: Barrel Aged Imperial Stout ABV: 8.5% Brewery: Stone Brewing Co. “…Fantastico! …”
Sadly, Stone bought in to a corporate mindset at the end of 2016 and worked their way onto my “Do Not Buy” list…
Beer: Strangematter (2015) Style: Wine Barrel Aged Saison ABV: 10.5% Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing Co. “…strange how time aged this to perfection…”
Beer: Last Snow (2016) Style: Porter ABV: 6.5% Brewery: Funky Buddha Brewery “…Phenomenal…”
Victim of a Bottle Share…No Evidence Exists…
Beer: The Butcher Style: Stygian Imperial Stout ABV: 9.8% Brewery: Societe Brewing Co. “…murder by Stout…”
Beer: Milk Stout Nitro Style: Milk Stout ABV: 6% Brewery: Left Hand Brewing Co. “…the Progenitor…”
(Sadly, no pic exists)
Beer: Boysenberry-Berlinear Equation Style: Berliner Weisse ABV: 5.2% Brewery: Bottle Logic Brewing Co. “…I hate this style of beer, but…”
(Another that vanished so quickly, I could not snap a pic…That, and I shared it with my “non-drinking” Korean in-laws: Geon Bae!)
Beer: The Nothing Style: Imperial Chocolate Stout ABV: 9.7% Brewery: Smog City Brewing “…Something…”
The Almost Perfects…
There were also several beers this year that were oh, so close to perfection…maybe they weren’t fresh enough or the lines weren’t properly cleaned or my taste buds were just having an off day…
Either way, these brews/breweries should also be on your radar in 2017.
Honorable Mentions go to the following excellent brews…All brews received a 4.75 out of 5 ranking on Untappd.
Hollaback Beer? Yep, a beer that’s so delicious that it tastes just like juice and has you wishing you could be drinking it during your morning meeting, along with a bagel and lox…
Vermont Style IPAs or YeastCoast IPAs, as I’ve affectionately coined them, are popping up at every brewery around the country from Brooklyn to Torrance…and with them is coming a new “unorthodox” style of beer that has many in the beer comunity in a quandry for how to classify these uniquely cloudy IPAs.
I for one, am of the opinion that these delicious beauties should have their own distinct classification, apart from traditional and west coast variations of the IPA style. At this point, these beers have tread some pretty unfamiliar territory in the realm of craft brewing. And their cult like following, has assured them a place in the hearts, minds and palattes of beer lovers the world over.
I’ve recently been blessed with the opportunity to try a variety of these beers from Jupiter, Florida to Anaheim, California and I can wholeheartedly say that I am a huge fan. But the fact remains, that I do not classify these beers as IPAs, but rather YIPAs…
Agree with me or not, I think that we can all agree that the entire craft beer community has benefited from brewers and breweries choosing to push boundaries and emulate one another when it behooves them to do so, to push the “industry” forward.
I’d love to hear what folks think about the matter…
Here are a few pics of some of the finer YIPAs i’ve been able to try (Please note this may include Pale Ales.)
Dankstar Pale Ale (Civil Society Brewing Co.: Jupiter, FL)
Eating Other Editors (Monkish Brewing Co.: Torrance, CA)
Happy New Year! Hoppy New Year! & Happy New Beers! To all my fellow craft beer lovers the world over.
Here at Craft Beer Confessions, we, like everyone else in the world, tried to set New Years Resolutions and commit to being blah, blah, blah… but the truth of the matter is that we and by we I mean I, I’ve spent much of the new year in the same manner in which I ended last year. That is to say that I’ve been engaged in a pursuit of fantastically crafted and wonderfully delicious craft beer.
While last year brought a lot of changes to the craft beer scene, the most ominous being the rise of “Corpacraft*” (*another article on this coming very soon…); it also afforded the “Craft Beer Community” the opportunity to sit back and reflect on what “craft beer” means to us and whether or not where it comes from or how it gets there is important to us. For some beer drinkers, questions like this are irrelevant as the real question is “how good is what’s currently in my glass?”. But for some of us, the “Craft Beer Purists” who, what, how and why matters. Needless to say that here at CBC, we will only be discussing beers from “respectable*” craft beer brewers not associated with “big beer”. While most of the beer discussed herein is available specifically in or around Orange County, California, there’s a chance you may be able to find some of these beers outside of California.
Those points aside, this first post of 2016 is a psuedo-review of the first 25 beers of 2016. (As an aside, this list shows me it’s time to ease back a little…slow down son!). In this psuedo-review I thought I would focus on the 12 beers that stood out and earned a rating higher than 4 on my 5 point Untappd inspired rating scale. When determining the rating for a beer, I measure it against all other beers of the style that I’ve encountered and not against all beers in general, how drull. But before I go into detail on the best of 2016, so far, here are the brews that did not earn this distinction by style and rating.
Let It Go from Stone Brewing 4
Buoy 1 from Stone Brewing 4
IPA from Stone Brewing 4
Anthia from Unsung Brewing 4
BILF from Massively Miniscule Brewing 4 (*homebrew)
Pliny the Elder from Russian River (almost a year old, like Barleywine) 4
Poseidon from TAPS Fish House and Brewery 4
Imperial Red IPA
Double Red IPA – Winter Seasonal from AleSmith Brewing 4
Rubidium from Bottle Logic Brewing 4
Imperial Red Ale
Toaster Pastry from 21st Amendment Brewery 3.75
American Brown Ale
Hazelnut Brown Nectar from Rogue Ales & Spirits 4
Space Bar Friends from Stone Brewing 4
Tart Red Ale
Money on the Wood from Noble Ale Works 4
As you may notice, the majority of the beers listed above earned a 4 on scale of 5. In other words, these are all, for the most part, delicious beers that I would gladly imbibe again, but it’s the above 4 beers that are what I consider standouts and think everyone should at least try and come to their own conclusion.
Bourbon Barrel Aged Beers
Darkstar November (Russian Imperial Stout) from Bottle Logic Brewing 5
Shot in the Dark (Imperial Porter) from Tustin Brewing Co. 4.25
When it comes to BBA beers, it’s all about the barrels and for my money, there is nothing better than Buffalo Trace to lend a helping heap of wood to whatever variant of craft beer goodness is placed inside. If you like BBAs, I urge you to try these beers. As Tustin does not bottle, you will have to head right to the source.
Big Bad Baptist from Epic Brewing Co. 5
Monsters’ Park from Modern Times Beer 4.75
If I can’t have a BBA, an Imperial Stout is the next best thing. Robust, chocolatey, flavorful describe these two offerings perfectly. If you are looking to get there quickly, either of these bad boys will do it Monsters’ Park will only have variants bottled this year, so if you see any of the original around, grab them.
Xocoveza from Stone Brewing Co. 5
I cant get enough of this beer. I see it, I buy it.
American Wild Ale
Agrestic from Firestone Walker Brewing 5
To think this beer started out as DBA is absolutely mind blowing the brewmeisters and blenders at Barrel Works are Magicians.
English Brown Ale
Nut Brown Ale from AleSmith Brewing 4.5
Browns are not typically my style, but i have to pay homage to craftsmanship and as far as browns go, this is probably the best I’ve tried.
Triple IPA (TIPA)
Do you smell what the Waka’s cooking? from Noble Ale Works 4.5
Truism: Noble knows IPAs. Read that as Noble knows DIPAs, Noble knows TIPAs too.
This drinks like a session and its over 10% ABV, too smooth.
Double IPA (DIPA)
Ruination 2.0 from Stone Brewing Co. 4.5
Classics never die, they just sometimes get revamped and improved upon. This one is always an enjoyable drinking experience.
Recursion 7.0 from Bottle Logic Brewing 4.75
IPA from AleSmith Brewing 4.5
IPA from TAPS Fish House and Brewery 4.25
IPAs will always hold a special place in my belly I LOVE HOPS!
While there are numerous delicious IPAs available, these are three of the best I’ve aleady had multiple times this year.
Recursion, now on its 7th iteration is the epitome of a West Coast IPA and can currently be found in bottles around The OC. AleSmith’s IPA is a classic example of West Coast craft that is often overlooked due to its minimalist packaging, don’t sleep on it. Though TAPS has plans to bottle soon, you will have to go to the source(s) for now. Luckily you have 3 options.
Needless to say we here at CBC started off 2016 with a balls to the walls mentality with no signs of slowing down. To think that it’s only the 3rd week of January and we’ve already hit 12 standouts bodes well for the State of Craft Beer in America. What “standout” beers have you drank so far this year? If you haven’t had any yet, hopefully you can use this as a launching pad…