Through the Rows and Over the Hills…A Northern Journey…

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…

Though RRBC offers the largest flight in the world, I settled on a sensible flight…

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…

✌🏽❤️🍻

BrewFiend

And, the world is full of energy…

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).

Always a good sign when a brewery is working on a Sunday…My delicious flight!

 

Conclusion, this is a MUST STOP brewery for any true Craft Beer Lover. Not for Juice Bros. or Pastry Hoes, but beer connoisseurs…

The Devil is in the details…Awesome Flight Boards, ⚡️

 

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.)

Notes:

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…

Somehow a 7th Anniversary in the books…

The sun is out this morning, in full force, in the slowly rising city of Anaheim, California.  The Orange County city that gave the world Oranges, No Doubt and today some of the best beer being brewed in America.  While the elements tried Saturday, to test the mettle of Noble Ale Works‘ fans, the Noble Crew and their band of Nobleteers still managed to pull off another successful, delicious and thoroughly entertaining Anniversary Party.  (That certainly left more than a few folks shuddering to think about last night…)  Here are my reflections on the day as a Nobleteer.

Whether you’re a fan of the latest Hazy IPA, Cereal Stout, Spicy Beer, Sour or tried and true West Coaster, Noble brewed up something for everyone.  I had the pleasure of serving the most beautiful beer I’ve ever seen, Orange is the New Black Currant, a Radler that was as delicious as it was beautiful.  And I’m sure it would be all over Instagram if folks weren’t drinking and had ten minutes to type out that hashtag #… (I’ve now done it for you, so if you took pics of that beauty, hashtag away.  If there was a prettiest in show or most likely to be mistaken for an Acai Smoothie Award, this lovely lady has it in the bag, and everywhere else for that matter.)  I also measure beer success by how often the Brewers and Tasting Room Employees come back and yeah…FANTASTIC BEER!

I also served Montemocito (would love to know the meaning behind this beer name Noble folks.) This was a Cherry Lemonade Beer.  Though I wasn’t a huge fan of this one, the folks who like it came back like 15 times, seriously.  I also poured a few Lemon Shandylands and Pomelo Something or other….I learned what a Pomelo looked like yesterday, I kinda knew what it was, but people kept asking so I finally looked it up and then started describing it…beer brings knowledge, knowledge is power…beer is power.

The best part of being a Volunteer Beer Server is getting to meet and talk beer with so many cool and often like minded people.  The one thing we all can agree on is that we love beer and Noble was more than generous in facilitating and offering a plethora of delicious libations.

Huge thanks to Thunderking Brewing for keeping me going with that yummy Cold Brew! Appreciate it!

All in all, it was a fun, exciting and joyous couple of hours.  The Impromptu Dance Party USA that sprung up at 4PM was absolutely awesome and Vito was, well Vito! Such an Awesome Day! Thanks again Noble for the opportunity and thanks to everyone who came out in support of one of America’s Premiere Breweries and local Anaheim, Orange County treasures.  I look forward to continued to success for this Crew and can’t wait to see where this year takes them.

(To anyone I was lucky enough to serve, I truly hope you enjoyed the beer and the day!)

Hope your 2018 has been full of delicious Independent Craft Beer thus far, and if not, get on it!

BrewFiend

 

 

 

Food and Beer?

When it comes to OC breweries, the number of breweries with a kitchen attached are few and far between…

At most local breweries, hungry patrons queue in line at whatever the food truck of the day is, that’s when there is a food truck on site.  But what do you do if you want to spend a day eating great food as an accompaniment to your craft beer adventures?

Well, when you are in or near Costa Mesa, California, you could head on over to Barley Forge Brewing, where food, wine, and craft soda serve as the perfect accompaniments to fantastic locally crafted beer.

Based on a concept years in the making, BFBC brings a uniquely Americana feel to Orange County’s craft beer scene, both in packaging design and brewery functionality.

The brewery offers a host of games as well as free popcorn for you to enjoy. And based on the fact they have food, wine and craft soda available, it’s the perfect meet-up location for you to invite even your non-beer drinking friends (if you have any…you can even bring the kids…reminds me of Midwestern Breweries ala Capitol Brewing of my old stomping grounds in Madison/Middleton, Wisconsin)

Aside from their The Patsy, Coconut Rye Stout, that is a must try, I highly recommend Future Tripping DIPA and Fugue State RIS (barrel aged version if it’s available).

Now, they even have free live music on Thursday nights!

All in all, a highly successful endeavor that above all else produces FANTASTIC, locally crafted beer. So the next free weekend you have, come down and check them out. You will not be disappointed.  I must confess, I stop in whenever I’m nearby…

Until next time, Drink Good Beer! Craft Beer!

Photo Credit: BrewFiend

Above the Mean, far from Median, hardly the Mode…

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.

Session IPA

Let It Go from Stone Brewing 4

Pale Ale

Buoy 1 from Stone Brewing 4

IPA

IPA from Stone Brewing 4

Anthia from Unsung Brewing 4

BILF from Massively Miniscule Brewing 4 (*homebrew)

DIPA

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

Altbier

Space Bar Friends from Stone Brewing 4

Tart Red Ale

Money on the Wood from Noble Ale Works 4

Standouts

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.

Imperial Stouts

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.

Mocha Stout

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.

IPA

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.

Conclusion

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…

Until next time drink good beer, Craft Beer!

Peace, Love & Beer†!

 

Winter Beers?

As with everything else, I hate conformity when it comes to beer drinking.  But the fact of the matter is that humans are creatures of habit and most creatures tend to “follow the crowd”.  It’s no different with breweries and if you think about it, from a purely scientific perspective, it makes sense to have different beers at different times of the year.  Having grown up in a highly-advanced society, I’ve simply become accustomed to getting/having what I want, when I want it…

So, if I demand a fantastic DIPA in January, May, September or December, I can usually have it. But, “variety is the spice of life” as they say and so it is with beer drinking.  You need to spice it up every once in a while in order to keep your thirst growing.  So while I may not want to conform, I must say that I am a huge fan of the fantastic beers that the “winter” months bring us.

While CBC is not about “reviewing” beers, it is about sharing fantastic tasting experiences with interested or like-minded folks and so this post is designed to share some of the amazing non-IPAs currently available from respectable “craft beer” outfits.

If you have a favorite brew from a “craft brewery” (I’m sure BC is fantastic, but I only drink non-big beer affiliated craft) that you think folks should try, please let us know.

Here are some of the fantastic offerings of the season that are available locally in Southern California, the OC specifically.

Stone Brewing Co.: Xocoveza, A Chocolate, Winter-Spiced Mocha Stout

While the name may be a mouthful, the beer is 100% (perciento), whatever you want to call it, it is: L-E-G-I-T.

This “beer” registers 110 on any self-respecting “beer connoisseur’s” list.  Aside from being a delicious, easy drinker it is a fantastic example of the marvelous things going on in American Craft Beer.  This Stout is sure to turn the staunchest craft opponent into a craft padawan in the flick of a wrist… Think Abuelita’s Hot Chocolate in alchol form and you almost have the Winter deliciousness that is Stone’s Xocoveza.  DO NOT SLEEP ON THIS BEER!

Oskar Blues Brewery: Death by Coconut, Irish Porter (Pass. Dash. Hit.)

🍀, Yup, Top-o-the-mornin’ to you my Blarney lovin’ bastards!  Oskar has outdone himself with this fantastic take on the Coconut Porter.  This is one delicious, monstorously coconut brew that simply must be followed up by another.  ‘Tis a shame they only come in 4-packs, but if you see one, grab it before the fella next to you and if you don’t, then—fight him for it.  Seriously, a must try for any Coconut lover.

Hangar 24 Craft Brewery: Local Fields (Series): Warmer, Winter Warmer Ale

This is one local, winter warmer that I look forward to every year.  Having lived in both the OC and IE, it’s nice to be able to have a little taste of IE Winter anywhere in SoCal.  This hearty, wintery ale has a hint of San Bernardino Mountain’s Spruce Tips combined with a dash of Cinnamon and some Maple Syrup to produce a uniquely Hangar 24 Winter Warmer.  Nothing like a taste of your Locale to get you feeling warm, toasty and at home.  I wish this was a 4-pack like Hullabaloo…seriously though, if you see either of these offerings from Hangar, pick them up!

Port Brewing: Santa’s Little Helper, Imperial Stout

This is one rich, flavorful, but boozy Stout I pick up every year.  Found it this year at Costco for under $7 and I never pass on something like that…sorry Yobo…

This year’s batch is a little more boozy and carbonated than last years, I’d consider this a bottle share beer as it seems to hold more than the 10% ABV listed on the label.  Maybe you sit on this for a few months and it mellows a bit?  For $6 or $7 it’s worth a shot…

Barley Forge Brewing Co.: Fugue State, Russian Imperial Stout (Aged in Bourbon Barrels)

This was BFBC’s First Anniversary Brew and my oh my, what a way to say Happy Anniversary.  Another excellent edition to the local, yearly “Stout” scene.  Had this on tap at the release in October and had a subsequent bottle which was a nicely executed, textbook example of a RIS, with that added Bourbon Flavor.  If you can still find one, pick it up and sit on it until next Xmas, it should be smooth as silk by then…

Bottle Logic Brewing Co.Darkstar November, Russian Imperial Stout (Aged in Bourbon Barrels)

One of the smoothest, easiest drinking Bourbon influenced beers on the market.  I can’t speak to BC as I only drink craft beer, but this beer is a perfect gateway to enjoying the BBA movement.  if you come across any year of this beer, BUY IT!

Hangar 24 Craft Brewery: Pugachev’s Cobra, Russian Imperial Stout (Aged in Bourbon Barrels)

The brew that enlightened me to the BBA movement, I have enjoyed this beer and faithfully bought at least one bottle, usually 3 or more, every year since 2012.  If you want 1 bottle of beer to help you ring in the New Year, this is that beer.  2014’s release weighed in at over 18% ABV. 2015’s is a much lighter 13% ABV but either way any year of this beer is a fantastic beer experience that will push the envelope of what you or your non-beer drinking friends consider beer.  Brewed with hints of Molasses, this is a sweet, sipper of a brew that if drank solo and with a bottle topper, can last you several hours…(obviously, i’ve been there and done that, well, one year…)

If you are looking for a beer that will win over liquour drinkers, this may very well be that beer. Hints of Chocolate and dark coffee flavors take a back seat to that Bourbon goodness.  At $20 a bottle, this is not your every day beer, but it’s the perfect beer for a Special Occassion or a day of reflection, I’m still sitting on 2 bottles from 2014 and just picked up my 2015 bottles.  (I liked last year’s more, but this years is still respectable, if, by some off chance, you come across the Royale variant, spend up to $100 for the bottle.  You will not be disappointed…)

Wrap-Up

So there you have it folks, a veritable cornicopia of delicious “winter” brews that are sure to cure your Holiday thirst…

Each of these beers was purchased locally in or around Anaheim, California.  Hopefully you can enjoy some of these tasty treats this Holiday Season.  If you find something you like as a result of this post, please CONFESS here.

Thanks for reading and until next time,

Drink Good Beer, Craft Beer, Real Craft Beer!

Peace, Love, Beer†

 

Photo Credit: BrewFiend