Thursday, September 28, 2006 


Oktoberfest is upon us and sadly yet another one that I'm enjoying in Munich. This year's is from September 16 to October 3. I'm a little late on it this year, so I'm going to have to get my hands on some of German's finest ASAP.

In the Los Angeles area there are few places to celebrate this occasion. The most popular is Alpine Village in Torrance. It's a bit silly and during the day it's family oriented - kinder during oompa dances is definitely in effect. Be sure to pick up a glass (Maß) at the giftshop or bring your own or you'll be drinking out of a big plastic cup.

Another spot and one worth checking out year round is the Red Lion Tavern in Silver Lake. This is a pretty legit Bavarian restaurant / beer garden. The sausages are crazy delicious as is their beer. They have a fine selection of German favorites and I'm sure they'll roll out the Märzens (aka Oktoberfests) for this time of year. A good place to start is with the Paulaner Oktoberfest , one of my favorite lagers.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006 

Corona Extra

32 / 100

This is the beer of ubiquity in Los Angeles. Maybe people like the active aspect of ramming limes into the bottle, maybe it's because we're so close to Mexico, maybe it's because LA likes shit beer - but mostly a combination of all these things.

Harsh fake malt flavors? Check. Sinus burning additives? Check.

Make no mistake about it - this is a T E R R I B L E beer. Mexico makes some bad beers and this amongst the worst. At least it is common practice to disguise the taste with fresh citrus. The lime is the only part worth ingesting.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006 

Liars Club

3844 Mission Blvd.
San Diego, California, 92109

After a much needed few hours of sleep after the Stone 10th Anniversary Festival, the missus and I headed over to Mission Beach, as it was the closest area to our hotel. The area is nice, something I wish LA had more of in it's beach communities. Parking wasn't all that easy, but we finally came upon something within 5 blocks or so.

The bar itself is a bit dingy, something that didn't bother me at all. Great jukebox playing stuff from Pixies, Elvis Costello to Chuck Berry. Seeing that it was a Saturday night, I expected to see a lot more people in there at 9PM. Even stranger that the place thinned out considerably more by the time we left at 10:30.

The beer selection is outstanding: TONS of great local offerings (Alpine, Alesmith, Stone, Pizza Port) and others (notably: 3 different from Russian River and some harder to find Belgians). Not terribly hungry, we just ordered an appetizer - hush puppies served with a chipotles aoli. The food was quite good and the spiciness went well with the Alpine IPAs I was enjoying.

The only setback was the service. Our server (pale, kinda punk rockish red headed woman) was terrible. She was particularly rude when the missus asked which appetizer was better. Her boyfriend / husband was there and they would start "making out" (I use this phrase to indicate how high school they were being about it) by the bar quite distractingly. Yeah, it was pretty gross. Not only that, after ignoring my girlfriend's order for Russian River's Lil White Lie, she returned asked if we wanted anything else. She politely reminded the server that she ordered that and I ordered another beer for myself. About 10 minutes and a few make-out sessions later, without our beers, we decided to just get our check. Mind you this all when the bar was, at most, a quarter-full.

The rest of the staff seemed nice, so I will come back. I'll definitely avoid this server's area. We didn't let this terrible server get us down - so we still had a good time and I would definitely recommend going here. If a pale red head comes to take your order, might wanna see if there are seats in another server's section.

Friday, September 22, 2006 

Lone Hill Liquor & Deli

1828 E. Route 66
Glendora, California
(626) 963-0611

Driving east on the 210 on the last leg of my 3200 mile journey, I see a sign for the Lone Hill exit in Glendora. Shit, Lone Hill Liquors must be near. I'm never ever in Glendora, why not take this rare opportunity to stop in to this heralded shop? I quickly call information and turns out I'm half of a mile away. Perfect.

Throughout my cross country (and parts of Canada) travels, I accumulated beers from all over the place that I could not get in LA. Some of these - Bells, Dogfish Head, Founders, Great Divide - Lone Hill had them! One of the owners told me that they have been making national trades to bring in stuff not distributed out here. Great. The bottles were priced at a premium - but this was to be expected at the laborious method used to procure them.

On top of that they had as good a selection as any I've crossed in Southern California. And all refridgerated. It was clear that these were beer lovers. I was very impressed. As I mentioned, Glendora is not terribly near me. It is worth the drive and I plan to go out and stock up some day soon.

I highly recommend this place.

Thursday, September 21, 2006 

Russian River Temptation

84 / 100

From the label:

Is it beer, or is it wine? "Aged in French oak wine barrels for twelve months with distinct characteristics of fruit and subtle oak" sounds more like a description of wine than beer. But, of course, Temptation is indeed beer. Actually, Temptation is a Blonde Ale Fermented with a special strain of yeast, then aged in French oak chardonnay barrels. Flavors of wine and oak absorb into the brew throughout twelve months of aging. During this aging process, a secondary fermentation occurs using a yeast strain disliked by most brewers and winemakers called Brettanomyces. The "Bret" gives Temptation intriguing characteristics and a pleasant sourness. Temptation is re-fermented in the bottle to create its carbonation--a process commonly used to make fine champagne and sparkling wine. Spent yeast forms a thin layer of sediment to remain in the bottle.

After over a year of waiting, I finally cracked open my lone bottle of Temptation. Batch 001, 350 mL.

The golden color fizzed nicely in my Chimay chalice. It swirled a nice pinky finger head. A sweet and sour Brettanomyces fragrance reminded me of an oud bruin, almost. The taste was tart without being cloying, as a sweetness followed. Sour apple and meringue flavors were evident. It's close in taste to Depuration, but a bit sweeter. A fine beer.

Friday, September 15, 2006 

Left Hand Imperial Stout

81 / 100

"A black beer to brighten your day" as the label says. Bottled on 2/22/06.

I picked this up in Boulder, Colorado on my travels. I poured this into my Stone Imperial Russian Stout goblet and then started thinking about Stone Imperial Russian Stout. Ahh so good. Anyhow this was a fine beer too, not one to compete with Stone's but very few can.

The color was dark as can be with a cereal milk looking head. Coffee, chocolate and toffee dominated the aroma. The taste was much of the same with a slight single malt scotch flavor in the slick finish.

This did brighten my day.

Thursday, September 14, 2006 


58 / 100

Prounounced "height" despite one of my jabroni friends insisting it was "hee-tay".

This beer works very well when eating Korean bbq. The watery light lager cuts through the spicy gochujang that I slather all over the meat (galbi / bulgogi). My Korean girlfriend has shown me the ins and outs of proper Ktown bbq'ing and it has made me very happy.

Initially, I thought "Wow, Hite is fucking great!" It's not. It's one of those time and places beers that holds up quite poorly outside of it. One day when I loaded up on Hite at a local Ktown market - I learned the hard way.

First off, it's one of the lighest color beers I've ever seen. If you soaked a few grains of straw in a glass of tonic water for an hour, the color would be unmistakeably Hite-ish. The smells would probably be similar too. The taste isn't terrible - it's watery, there's lil character but it is refreshing. At a Korean bbq you'll probably drink like 4 before you realize that it's not very good. But for those 4, at that bbq joint - Hite does the trick.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006 

Breckenridge BBQ & Brew Pub

Back to some of my x-country adventures - this stop in Denver. My friends knowing all about my beer geekdom had a spot all lined up rather close to their home. And it was happy hour, where everyone wins.

Surprisingly the place wasn't very crowded. The layout was part bbq joint / part brewery. The huge kettles filled out the back part while the kitchen was more to the front. You could smell the glorious hops.

Breckinridge Mountain is a popular ski resort about 2 hours west of Denver. The brewery is now headquartered in Denver with 2 brewpubs in the city (the other by Coors Field). My guess is most (all?) of the brewing is done at the location we were at. Their bottled beer is available pretty much everywhere in Colorado.

Having driven 675 miles that day (from Des Moines, Iowa), I had plenty of appetite. I ordered the pulled pork sammich, which came with corn bread. It was plenty of food (maybe too much) that hit the spot. The bbq sauce was nice and tangy. I couldn't finish the whole thing especially with my belly filling up with their beers.

Never having any before, it was a pretty easy pick to get the sampler. With the happy hour pricing - it was only $6 too. Usually samplers are a couple ounces each. Not here, each sample was around 5 ounces. So all of a sudden the sampler is a TON of beer.

Summer Bright Ale

74 / 100

We started lightest to darkest. Maybe not the best way, especially with a DIPA in the middle - but it worked out. This was a citrus wheat, quite light in color and taste. It was easy-drinking and quite refreshing. I'm sure this sells well with the recent boom in popularity of the hefes and such. I enjoyed it enough, but I kept looking forward to the bigger ales.

Avalanche Amber

76 / 100

Colorado has these American Reds down. Very akin to New Belgium's Fat Tire, Avalanche has a smooth start with a sweet middle and a slighty bitter but crisp finish. In a blind taste, I wouldn't be able to differentiate the two. It goes down easy and balances my pulled pork sammich quite well.

Trademark Pale Ale

79 / 100

Now we're moving toward my styles. This is a wonderfully balance American Pale. It has enough hops to keep me interested, but not too much to scare away John Q Public. The malt shines through cutting the citrus hop profile and keeping things in check.

Small Batch 471 Series IPA

83 / 100

Boom! Hops all up in my face. This was no regularly IPA, this was definitely a double, despite how it was explained by our waitress. I liiiike. The hop character is very citrus - TONS of grapefruit and some pine. It's thick with a slight carameliness that makes it remarkably creamy. The bite is very bitter. This is not a beer to mix with food, but I didn't mind it's palate crushing. Of note: I purchased a 6 pack of this to bring back West with me - the draft version was much better and far less grapefruity.

Vanilla Porter

71 / 100

No surprise that the aroma from this is pure vanilla bean. The color is dark and smooth. Some chocolate scents are in there too, along with the malt base. I was surprised how thin the mouthfell was. I was expecting something more thick - more of a hearty after dinner beer. It was awful sweet, perhaps great after a long day of skiiing, but I wasn't in love with it right now.

Oatmeal Stout

81/ 100

Thankfully after the vanilla sweetness of the porter dissipated, I was able to fully enjoy this hearty stout. It was full of flavor: roasted malts, almost Cheerio-like oats and expresso. It had a all of the thick meatiness the porter did not. It was dry with a slight bitter lingering. This was the perfect finish to a healthy bounty of samplers.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 

Pizza Port Wipeout IPA

91 / 100

Pizza Port comprise of 3 San Diego area restaurant / breweries (Solana Beach, Carlsbad and San Clemente) that makes some extremely tasty beer. Earlier this year, they opened Port Brewing Company in the old Stone Brewing Co.'s facility in San Marcos. They've already started distributing their Sharkbite Red to SoCal shops and plan to start bottling more.

This is fantastic news because until now, the only way you could get their offerings were at the restaurants themselves (and a few select SD bars). On the way back from San Diego this weekend, the Solana Beach Pizza Port was directly en route. So I picked up a growler of Wipeout - the best PP I've tried to date.

No doubt about it, I fucking love hops so fucking much. This here is a fine way to get a healthy dose of hops into your diet without the intensity of moving on to a Double IPA (not that there's anything wrong with that).

With a little help, I bombed through this growler very quickly. Whatever the ABV, it just didn't matter. It was well buried in the gorgeousness of the hop character. Pine and citrus hopness all over the place. Not too intense, perhaps just quite right. Everything about this was pure class.

Sadly, now it's gone and I'm 150 miles away from the closest Pizza Port.

Monday, September 11, 2006 

Alpine Beer Company

The only disappointing thing about Alpine's beers is limited geographic area that I can get them in. Everytime I'm in the San Diego area, one of my goals is to get a bunch of these delicious brews in my belly. When the missus and I arrived at the Stone 10th Anniversary this past weekend, we notice the guest breweries were alphabetized. Brilliant! Alpine for the start!

We sauntered up to the pourers and got 1 each of their 2 offerings. Both were incredibly delicious, but alas the small taster only made me want more. Luckily that evening, at the Liars Club in Mission Beach, San Diego they had both on-tap, so of course, I had to get a pint of each:

Duet IPA

96 / 100

Duet, new to me, is everything I long for in an IPA: fruity, floral with a generous portion of American hops. Lots of lacing throughout my glass, the bright amber beer had a good sized head. Plenty of hops in the nose, the best type: fruity with a slight pine flavor. The taste was much the same, rounded out with a pleasant malt balancing that limited the bitter bite. This is an outstanding IPA, of the hundreds that I've tried - this is right near the top.

Pure Hoppiness

93 / 100

The hop nose hits you instantly: very floral, slight pine and citrus tones. The pour was perfect: a frothy laced head topped the golden colored ale. The hop bite is substantial, but the taste is well-balanced. It has a nice creaminess that masks the 8% ABV, making it potential dangerous – I could see myself drinking this all day.

These are outstanding beers, sadly only limitedly available in San Diego. If you ever cross pathes with them, you know what to do.

Thursday, September 07, 2006 

Rogue Imperial India Pale Ale

78 / 100

Despite the thick pricetag ($12.99 for a fancy ceramic bomber), I had to give this a try, at least once. I love IPAs and love Rogue. Had to do it.

It's hoppy, not the mega-sweet hop bombs I've come accustomed to. It's akin to Stoudt's Imperial IPA - the kind of meaty hop malt character. It's a flavor, I'm noticing more from East Coast hop monsters, even though this is from Oregon. Someone with better brewing knowledge could ID the type of hops better.

Overall it's a fine beer. The flipcap was put to good use, as the 22 oz. was a bit much for my one sitting. And the price was a bit much for a bomber. I'd love to try this on tap.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006 

The Silver Fucking Bullet

Coors Light

40 / 100

At my girlfriend's parents this past weekend, I went searching through the refrigerator looking for something to help ease the pain of some spicy Korean food. The Silver Fucking Bullet? I haven't had this in years. Sure why not?

I wanted to be fair and go in with an open mind. I poured the can into a pint glass. It's watery and yellow, not much head. It actually smelled a lot better than I remember. Perhaps the spicy food had dulled my olfactory or perhaps it wasn't a terrible smelling lager. Either way, the taste was pretty much as I remembered: not very good. I searched for that Rocky Mountain refreshment but didn't find it.

I drank about half of it and then switched to warm Brita filtered water, which actually seemed less watery. Oh well...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006 


79 / 100

I make no qualms about saying it, "I fucking love Russian River Brewing Co." I can't wait to see what they have in store for the Stone 10th Anniversary this Saturday. To tie me over until then, I had a Perdition yesterday at Father's Office.

It's pours a dark copper color, opaque - a small head. Touching the glass, the beer seems a little bit too cold. The aroma is of spice: cinnamon and clove and some mustiness. Toasted malts come through on the palate followed by a strong yeast. It goes well with Father's Office's incredibly delicious sweet potato fries.