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

 

 

 

And then, there were twelve…

In my “never-ending” quest to discover my “perfect beer” this year (notice I say my, as “the” perfect beer can only exist to you…), I came across 12 almost perfect beers. This dirty dozen was just so close, but in the end needed just a bit more to be there with the elite beers of 2017.  I would call this 2017’s B Team… (though more of an A- really…) to be clear, all of these beers were FANTASTIC!

If you’re anything like me, you rate beers within an instant of the first taste/smell. You know as soon as that sweet, hoppy, malty goodness hits your tongue how this beer in particular, sizes up against the examples you’ve enjoyed from that style. And though some beers do seem to “improve” as they warm, I usually go with my first impression. These were the beers that I rated as 4.75 on Untappd.

Anaheim’s Noble Ale Works led the way taking up 1/4 of this year’s “Almost Perfect” 12-pack.  Whether it’s fantastic Hazy DIPAs or Imperial Coffee Stouts, Noble was on point all year long.

Double Platinum and the brewery only release Because You’re Worth It provided further proof that Noble knows Hazy DIPAs (see my Best of 2017 post for their best).

Double Platinum
Staring down that Double Platinum.  This was so good out of the keg, I bet it was closer to perfection out of the can, but this was pre-Eventbrite…and I stopped doing lines this year…
Because Your'e Worth It
I had the pleasure of serving Because You’re Worth It in the Jungle of Juice at Noble’s 6th Anniversary Party this year and instantly fell in love…I was all over that 2nd batch.

Ending the year with a fantastic canned Imperial Coffee Stout brewed in collaboration with 2nd Craft was brilliant as was the name, Whoomp! There It Is, and there it was indeed with such toasty, roasty, delicious coffee flavor!

Whoomp! There It Is
What else can you say? There it is. Whoomp! Dangerously easy to drink…

In classic Bottle Logic fashion, Anaheim’s Bottle Logic Brewing added 2 Barrel Aged entries to this year’s twelver. When it comes to Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stouts, Bottle Logic is Orange County’s “Lord of the Dance”. This year’s Week of Logic preview of their now iconic Fundamental Observation was almost perfect (and that was a preview, mind you…).

Fundamentally Challenged
That week I worked at Bottle Logic Brewing was surreal…Week Of Logic will always be a great memory…this may or may not have been a plastic cup full of FO…

Vamp up their Ground State with an infusion of Mostra Coffee and you have Reaction State (which hopefully remains part of the Stasis Project) another in a long line of fantastic coffee infused collaborations from this awesome duo.  So much delicious coffee flavor that blended almost perfectly with that bourbon…

Surprisingly, Hazy IPAs and DIPAs took up another 1/4 of this 12-pack. When it comes to Hazies in Southern California most people think of one brewery and that brewery, Monkish Brewing Co. added a fantastic Double Dry Hopped Double IPA to the pack. Foggier Window was an amped up version of Foggy Window (which I rated at 4.25) where the DDH did so much to make this beer even more delicious.

Foggier Window
Take me to church…I worship like a dog at the shrine of your hops…Foggier Window DDH DIPA

And although they were the new kid on the block this year, Orange’s Green Cheek Beer Company jumped right in and claimed a spot on Orange County’s list of Haze Master’s. Their Wherever You Land Hazy IPA was a delicious burst of West Coast Haze illustrating just how quickly Evan mastered this style while staying true to his West Coast roots.

Wherever You Land
No greater day, than the day that Evan and Brian bought Valiant…Wherever You Land, Drink While Smiling. Smiling indeed!

Another newer OC brewery to quickly establish themselves as being in the know when it comes to the Haze Craze was Anaheim’s (or is it Tustin’s?) Unsung Brewing Co. — They wowed me with Triangulum from their Nebuloid IPA Series and left me thirsting for more…(still have to try that Cat’s Cradle…)

Triangulum
Coming out of nowhere with some fantastic Haze…Unsung Brewing Co.

Not surprisingly, 2 DIPAs, West Coast Style Double IPAs, to be exact made this year’s “Almost Perfect” pack. Perennial All-Stars El Segundo Brewing Company did not disappoint with their Wet Hopped Citra-Mongous DIPA that was so close to being perfect, I bet it was at their tasting room…

Wet Hop Citra-Mongous
CITRA-MONGOUS! Even her remnants were beautiful…

San Diego’s Modern Times Beer (Who’s gonna claim them next year?) saw fit to somehow try and improve on their masterpiece flagship beer Blazing World, by making a double Dry Hopped Version and they almost succeeded at perfection. Mega Blazing World was an other-worldly Hoppy Amber though they have yet to finally admit it’s an IPA…

Mega Blazing World
Improving on an original is often difficult, this came so close…Mega Blazing World embued with Nelson, Simcoe, Mosaic…enough said.

The only beer in my “Almost Perfect” 12-pack not from a California brewery was this year’s Christmas Bomb! From Prairie Artisan Ales. This massive 13% Imperial Stout went down way too easy!

Christmas Bomb!
Christmas Bomb! 2017, La Bomba Mas Fina!

[I’d like to thank the good folks at Bradley’s in Tustin, CA for always keeping me stocked with fantastic beer and always looking out for me. Much Love!]

The final entry and definitely the “Most Interesting” beer I’ve ever tasted in my entire life was riip Beer Company’s Kalua Porker, a Pork, yes PORK! Infused Baltic Porter. This was the brain child of Trevor and this year’s addition to Firkfest. I was fortunate to get to serve this beer at the festival and I may or may not have taken home a growler…I couldn’t just dump all that deliciousness as instructed…sorry Trev!

Kalua Porker
The only growler of this beauty, Kalua Porker, to have existed…Trevor had me dump most of the Firkin, but I had to share this beer, which I did with the beer tenders at Bottle Logic.

So there you have it folks, my 12 pack of “Almost Perfect” Beers (which oddly enough is exactly half as many as “Perfect” beers I had this year…)

And while I’m never one to tell people what they should drink, I’d highly suggest that you put these beers on your radar and if they are still available, find them!

I hope your 2017 was full of fantastic Craft Beer and that your 2018 overflows with your perfect and almost perfect brews.

Peace, Love, Beer!

All Photos By: BrewFiend

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