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Archive for March, 2012

New Beers and Beer News 03/28/2012

It’s a great time to be a beer trader.  Spring is shaping up nicely with so many great beers getting ready to pop up around the country.  Russian River in Santa Rosa, CA is about to drop another batch of Beatification for your drinking pleasure.  This is a much, much bigger batch when compared to last month’s release.  That’s good news, but it’s still going to be a brewery only release.  Vinnie and the gang are going to start selling bottles on Friday, March 30th at 9AM, with a 6 bottle limit.  Beatification is sour turned up to 11!  It’s delish and should be on your radar if that’s your thing.  Highly recommended.

Glorious spontaneous fermentation!

Last week I mentioned Cascade up in Oregon and their Sour Blueberry release.  They’ve got another tasty beer coming out on March 29, (yeah, tomorrow!), called The Vine.  The Vine is a blend of soured triple, blonde quad and golden ale, refermented with white wine grapes.  It then undergoes lactic fermentation, while spending more than 6 months in a barrel.  I found some old notes from a bottle I opened back in 2010.  I rated it very well and wrote down “notes of lemon, apples, grapes, grass and wood.”  The good news about Cascade and their bottles is that they’ll ship directly to many states.  Just check their website for an order form with all the details.  I believe they still have bottles of Sour Blueberry, Apricot and Kriek for sale as well. 

Also on the horizon for traders is Ithaca’s LeBleu.  All the way out in upstate New York, is a great little place, called Ithaca Beer Company.  LeBleu is part of their Excelsior series, which highlights events and special releases and has resulted in some amazing beers.  I believe this will be the third batch of LeBleu to be released.  The beer is a sour ale brewed with New York state blueberries and fermented with Brettanomyces.  It’s then barrel aged and gets a dose of Champagne yeast when it’s finally transferred into 750mL bottles.  This batch is a blend of barrels filled in 2010 and 2011.

LeBleu is another tart and super sour beer, but the Champagne yeast gives it an added dimension.  The Champagne yeast gives it a huge, bubbly head, plenty of carbonation and a very dry finish, much like a traditional gueuze.  I’ve been going on and on about how tasty this beer is, just making myself thirsty, that I didn’t even give you the release details.  So the release is set for Saturday, April 14th from 11-7 EST.  I haven’t seen a price yet, but plan on paying in the $20 range for a bottle.  The good news is that there will be a 1 case limit, so if you know a beer trader out that way, it shouldn’t be too hard to track down.

I’ve talked quite a bit about beers to track down in trades and some of you might not have a clue as to how to go about getting into the world of beer trading.  So maybe it’s about time we do a trade together.  Whaddya think?  I’ll work on putting together a trade in the next few weeks and I’ll walk you through it from start to finish.

Anybody have a suggestion on a beer they’d like to trade for?  It doesn’t have to be anything crazy rare or limited, it can just be a simple 6 pack or bomber that you have had and enjoyed, maybe something you miss from back home or something you’ve never had before, but have been wanting to try.  Here’s your chance.  I’m telling you, it’s like Christmas morning when you get a big ol’ box o’ beer from the FedEx guy.  It’s a fun and exciting way to try beers from all over the country that aren’t available in your neck of the woods.  So hit me up if there’s something you’re after and we’ll go through the entire process together, one step at a time and post it on here.

Ready for your first beer trade?

Now for something you don’t have to trade for.  Firkin Master Walt Chleva over at Dry Dock Brewing in Aurora, CO, has a Bacon Maple Firkin that will be tapped on Friday, March 30th at 3PM.  I can’t make it out for this one, but would love to hear how it turns out.

MMMMMM, Bacon!!!

Also at Dry Dock this weekend is their sort of, maybe, kind of annual Chili Cookoff.  It’s being held on Sunday, April 1st from 1-3PM.  Stop by and try some really tasty entries and vote for your favorite.  They’ve got details on their Facebook page if you’d like to enter your own creation.  This is a great way to spend the afternoon and the competition is pretty fierce.

That’s it for today.  Drop me a line if you have a suggestion for a beer to track down in trade, or if you’d like to learn how it’s done.  Cheers!

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A Toast to Michael Jackson

Today we remember Michael Jackson.  No, not the king of pop.  This is a beer blog people!  I’m talking about The Beer Hunter and writer, Michael Jackson!  The man was a legend and pioneer in the world of beer and if he were still with us today, he’d be celebrating his 70th birthday. 

Michael Jackson shed a light on the world of beer in 1977, when he published, The World Guide To Beer.  He spent most of his life traveling the world in search of great beer and whisky, visiting breweries, meeting brewers, reviewing beers and writing books.  I carried a copy of his Great Beers of Belgium book all over that little country when my wife and I visited a few years ago.  Without it, we would have been lost and missed out on a lot of special beers. 

The Belgian Beer Bible

In 1993, he hosted a popular TV show on The Discovery Channel, appropriately called The Beer Hunter.  It’s pretty amazing to think that one person was able to visit so many breweries, try so many unique beers and share his passion with people all over the world.  He’s a big reason why the craft beer industry is so successful today.  Without him, we might be swirling wine right now.  Yikes!   

Michael Jackson went on to start the Michael Jackson Rare Beer Club, which is still going strong.  He even has his own line of glassware.  I was fortunate enough to meet him at the Great American Beer Festival a few years ago and was admittedly a bit star struck at the time.  In 2007, the beer world was turned upside down when he died suddenly from a heart attack. 

Five years later, you don’t have to look far to be reminded of his legacy and all that he did to advance, promote and educate people about craft beer.  I see it around my house on the bookshelf, hanging over the convention center floor during GABF and most of all in the great beers I’ve come to know and love.   

There’s a documentary in the works about Michael Jackson that will hopefully introduce him to a whole new generation of beer nerds.  Click HERE to stay up to date on the project. 

A Toast to Michael Jackson!

In the meantime, remember Michael Jackson tonight.  Raise a glass and salute the man who helped make the beer world what it is today.  Cheers!


New Brewery, Seasonals and Other Beer Happenings

It feels like summer outside!  This nearly 80 degree weather is making me thirsty for an IPA on the deck, but first, let’s get the rundown of what’s happening in the beer world.

First, I wanted to share some news about Great Storm Brewing down in Colorado Springs.  Their grand opening is today!  Jeff and Lynn Jacobs held a soft opening last week, but they’re official grand opening is today.  Jeff has been homebrewing for 6 years and recently decided to make the jump and open his own place.  He’s operating on a 1 bbl system and plans to have 5 flagship beers with 2-3 rotating seasonals.

Great Storm sampler.

From left to right: Lightning Wit (Belgian Witbier), Brass Ale Honey Amber (British Amber / Braggot), Black Bear Zwartbier (Belgian Black Lager), Lilliput Pale Ale and Shine On (Oaked Belgian Golden Strong).  By the time you read this, there should also be an IPA called Seven Wolves available on both CO2 and Nitro, as well as a Rum Raisin Stout on Nitro.  The Rum Raisin Stout is brewed with oats and brown sugar and sounds delish.

There’s no food for sale at Great Storm, although pretzels are available and there’s a pizza place next door.  Stop by and enjoy the nice weather on their patio.  Great Storm is located at: 204 Mount View Lane #3, Colorado Springs, CO  80907.

Tap List at Great Storm.

Great Storm Fermentation Tanks.

Thanks to Steve, one of our readers, who visited Great Storm last night and was able to get these pics to share in the blog.  Thanks man!

All the way up in Fort Collins, CO, Odell has announced that their Double Pilsner will be back on store shelves soon.  I gotta admit, when I think pilsner, I think Bud, crap, Miller and more crap…, but the Odell Double Pils is a tasty beer.  Come on now, can the guys at Odell make a bad beer?  Perfect for those warm summer days, it’s full flavored and refreshing and at 8.1% ABV, it packs quite the punch.

Want to get your “drink on” a little early on Tuesday, March 27th?  Start your day off right and head over to Lone Tree Brewing for an early riser happy hour.  Fox 31’s Good Day Colorado will be broadcasting live from the brewery and they want to fill the tap room with beer drinkers.  You’ll be rewarded with $1 off pints from 6am-9am and who knows, maybe you’ll even be on TV!  I’m sure your boss won’t mind if you stop by on your way to work.  Maybe it’ll make your co-workers seem a little more tolerable.  You bring the doughnuts, Lone Tree will bring the Oatmeal Stout.  Lone Tree Brewing is located at: 8200 Park Meadows Drive, Suite 8222, Lone Tree, CO  80124.

Next weekend, Hops & Pie is hosting another one of their Littlest Big Beer Fest’s on Sunday, April 1st.  This time they are focusing on barrel aged beers.  Once again, they will be pouring a solid list of beers with treats like Firestone Walker XV, Dogfish Head Burton Baton, Verhaege Duchesse De Bourgogne and Odell Bourbon Barrel Stout to name a few.  This is NOT an April Fool’s joke and will certainly be THE place to be next Sunday afternoon.  Hops & Pie is located at: 3920 Tennyston St, Denver, CO  80212.  Check it out!

   

If anybody was out at Dry Dock last night, I hope you got to try the Hop Goblin with 7 C’s hops.  It was a super tasty brew.  The last few ounces were like a thick, hop slurry.  Mmmm, good stuff!  My son is a big fan of their root beer which is also pictured below.  Nice big crowd as usual.  I love Firkin Fridays!

Hop Goblin of the 7 C’s firkin and Dry Dock Root Beer.

That’s it for now.  Enjoy the weather and the tasty beers.  Cheers!


New Beers and Beer News 03/21/2012

Alrighty, time for a recap of what’s going on in the wide world of beer.  There’s quite a few new beers that will be hitting the market in the near future.  Here’s a rundown of what to keep an eye out for, both close to home and around the country.

First up is Denver’s own, Great Divide, who are close to releasing two new beers in 22oz. bombers.  One is a Dopplebock, which they’re calling Wolfgang.  It’s a big 8% ABV, malty, sweet lager.  Scheduled release date is set for July 1, 2012.

Great Divide is also gearing up for their 18th anniversary this summer and they’ve brewed a wood aged Double IPA to mark the occasion.  This is a really tasty seasonal release and a beer that any self-respecting hophead should seek out.

River North, the newest brewery to open in Denver, is working on getting their first bottles out into local stores.  They recently got two of their labels approved.  One is called Hypothesis, which is a 9.0% ABV Belgian Double IPA.

The other River North release is a 7.5% ABV Belgian saison called J. Marie.

The brewery is hoping to bottle somewhere between 50 and 100 cases in 22oz. bombers.  They’re looking at an April release.  Has anybody had the chance to try them yet?  River North is located in the former Flying Dog facility on Blake Street in Denver, CO.  Drop me a line if you have any other details to share.  I won’t be out that way until baseball season rolls around and would like to hear how they’re doing before then.

Speaking of baseball, the Sandlot Brewery at Coors Field in Denver, CO, has brewed a Farmhouse Red that will only be served at the stadium.  A tart and sour beer at the ballpark?  I’m all in.  I’ll definitely be seeking this out at the Rockies Opening Day in a few weeks.

Wrapping up the Denver news, the Vine Street pub is getting ready to brew their first batch of beer in the next few days.  They’re part of the Mountain Sun & Southern Sun family.  Vine Street has been open as a restaurant and brewpub for several years, but have had a lot of hurdles to overcome before they could actually brew on-site.  Hang in there people, the wait is nearly over.  They’re in the midst of sanitizing and cleaning and hope to be brewing very soon.

Out in Aurora, head brewer Doug Hyndman released Hop Goblin’s Revenge, which is a Double IPA brewed with CTZ, Warrior and Simcoe hops.  It measures more than 100 IBU’s!  Doug knows IPA’s like Bo knows baseball.  This beer is delish and not to be missed.  They’ve got a firkin going on this Friday at 3PM called Hop Goblin of the 7 C’s.  Check it out!  Speaking of 7 C’s, I’ve got a prize for the first person who can e-mail me with the names of the hops used in Dry Dock’s Double IPA, yeah, the IPA formally known as 7 C’s Double IPA.

Dry Dock’s Hop Goblin’s Revenge!

In other beer news around this glorious nation of beer, Victory Brewing, has announced they will be opening a second brewery in Chester County, PA.  They plan to reach maximum capacity this year at their Downington, PA facility.  Opening a second location will allow them to keep up with current demand, while continuing to expand and create new beers.  They hope to have the new brewery up and running by the summer of 2013.  Victory has been brewing since 1996 and currently distributes to 29 states, including Colorado.

Victory expanding to a second location.

Also out east, the always popular Dogfish Head, has released 3 beers in bottles this month.  The Deleware based company has released seasonal favorites ApriHop and Sah’tea and for the first time ever, they’re releasing 75 Minute IPA in bottles.  75 Minute has been available from time-to-time at the brewery for several years and has proven to be very popular.  It’s an IPA that is continually hopped for 75 minutes with Cascade hops and then bottle conditioned with maple syrup.  This is showing up to stores around town as I type this.  Keep your fingers crossed and eyes open and maybe you’ll find some!

I mentioned last week that Cascade would be announcing sales for their Blueberry Sour later this month.  The release is happening tomorrow!  Bottles will go on sale at the brewery up in Portland, OR at 4:30 PM.  If you like sours, you won’t want to miss out on this.  They also have a few remaining bottles of their Apricot for sale.  Grab some while you can.

And now what you’ve been waiting for!  Finally, some details on Westvleteren XII coming to the U.S.!  It was originally supposed to make it’s debut in the states next month, but that’s now been pushed back to June.  Hey, I didn’t say it was all good news.  The two importers bringing the gift packs out here are estimating that 15,000 packs will reach U.S. soil, with a retail price of $85 each.  Each pack will contain 6 bottles of Westvleteren 12, considered to be one of the best beers on the planet, along with two chalices.

At $85, it’s probably not the cheapest six pack you’ll ever purchase, but well worth it.  This is most likely a one time only deal as the monks who make the beer in Belgium are trying to fund a restoration project at their abbey in Belgium.  Typically, the only way to get the beer is at the abbey, so to have it shipped over to us is a pretty big event.  This is a great opportunity to get some without having to pay jacked up prices on ebay or a plane ticket to Belgium.  I’ll keep you updated with any more details I come across.

Patti guarding her Westvleteren loot.

Until next time, go check out one of those new breweries this week.  There must be more than 50 breweries that have opened in Colorado over the past 12 months, with plenty more scheduled to open this year.  Go check one out!  Send me a pic and I’ll try to use it in a future post.  Cheers!


Beer Trippin’ in California. The Bruery, Orange, CA

In my last two posts I covered our stops at The Provisions Store and The Reserve Society Party during our trip to California.  Our last stop of the day was at The Bruery’s actual brewery.  It’s  kind of tucked away off the highway and doesn’t look like much from the outside.  In fact, if it hadn’t been for the big grain silo out front, we probably would have missed it.

They have a huge, heavy door leading into the tasting room and we were greeted by their big chalkboard o’ beer.

mmm, beer.

As you can probably tell from the picture above, there were plenty of tasty options to choose from.

Patti and I both went with the BeRazzled, a raspberry sour beer.  Hey, I can’t resist a good sour and this was right up my alley.

Patti double fistin’!

The tasting room has a small, 4 or 5 seat bar area, with a row of taps on one side and a large fridge with bottles around the corner.  There were about a dozen picnic tables throughout the tasting room and nearly all were full.  We shared a table with a group of guys from Las Vegas, NV, who had also been at the Reserve Society party.  They were beer traders, had been to GABF a few times and knew their stuff, so we had plenty to talk about.

I explored the area and snapped some pictures of the brewing equipment, fermentation tanks and some of their barrels.  I was really surprised at how small the place was.  For the amount of beer they pump out, I really thought the place would be bigger.  We didn’t get a formal tour or anything, but I’m sure there’s a barrel room hidden in the back somewhere.  With the St. Patrick’s day holiday and all, it was just too busy to ask the bartenders any questions.  The three guys working behind the bar were busy, busy.

The Bruery doesn’t offer any food, but have different food trucks park outside on the weekend.  You can bring in whatever you’d like to snack on or eat there.  This seems to be the way more and more places are going, which is fine by me.

For our next round, I went with a glass of 2010 Saison De Lente, which is a slightly spicy farmhouse beer, with a touch of pepper and fruit.  Really nice beer.  Patti got the Humulus Lager which was pumped through a Randall with ginger.

The Bruery tasting room has a fun, laid back atmosphere and everybody seemed friendly and outgoing.  I could get used to a place like this.

Barrels lining the tasting room.

Someone at our table shared the bottle list with us and it was solid.  The prices were the same as retail and even cheaper for us, given the 15% off we get from the Reserve Society membership.

The Bruery tap list.

I couldn’t help it, I wanted to end the night on a sour note, so we split a bottle of Provisions: Mother Funker.  Funker is a sour ale that was aged for several years in Chardonnay barrels.  This beer is fantastic!  Tart green apples, enamel stripping acidity, lemon and citrus and a very dry finish.  I could have sipped this beer all night long.  At $12.75 for a 750mL bottle, it’s delicious and reasonably priced.

The Bruery Provisions: Mother Funker

Eventually, it was time to wrap it up and head back to the hotel for some much needed sleep.  It was a bit of a whirlwind day, but it was certainly a fun one.  If you’re ever out that way, be sure to stop by and pay them a visit.  You won’t be disappointed.  Be sure to check their hours though, as they’re currently only open on fri, sat and sun. 

Hope you enjoyed some of the highlights from our trip to California.  It was a whirlwind of a St. Patrick’s day, but we had a ton of fun.  I’ve got tons of other beer news to share with you, so check back again soon to stay up to date with everything.  Until next time, Cheers!


Beer Trippin’ in California. The Bruery Reserve Society Initiation Party

In my last post, we visited The Bruery Provisions, in Orange, CA.  After finishing up our beers and stuffing ourselves with cheese, we decided to go find our hotel.  Patti had done her homework and found a hotel right next to The Bruery.  I don’t want to lose you here, but The Bruery Provisions is different from the actual Bruery.  Same company, but The Bruery is the actual brewing and bottling facility, with a tasting room inside.  We could see the grain silo from the hotel.  Yeah, my wife rules!  Unfortunately, The Bruery doesn’t open their doors to the beer nerds until 4PM on Fri / Sat and noon on Sun.

With not much else going on and the monsoon still raging outside, we decided to check in and relax.  Patti caught a nap and I went to find a cup of coffee.  We had some time to kill before the main event.  After an hour or two, I called for a cab and we got ready to head out.

I’ve already mentioned The Bruery Reserve Society, and you might not have a clue as to what I’m talking about  Well turn down your walkman and listen up.  Neil Diamond can wait.  The Reserve Society is a club run by The Bruery that gives members access to their hard to get, rare, one-offs and seasonals throughout the year.  If you’ve heard of beers like Black Tuesday, Chocolate Rain and Melange, this is the way to guarantee yourself a bottle or three.  If you haven’t heard of these beers, you need to seek them out!  Mark your GABF map now!  Seriously, GO!  It’s cool, I’ll wait for you until you get back.  Grab us a beer while you’re at it.

Now, do yourself a favor and hunt down some beers from these guys.  Even if it’s just off the shelf stuff like Saison Rue or Mischief.  Try them, ask a friend to share some, come to one of our tastings, join the club next year.  DO IT!  They’re making some pretty special beers and since opening in 2008, they’ve jumped to the top of the pack as one of the best breweries in the U.S.  It’s nice to see too.  Patti and I met the founder, Patrick Rue, at GABF in 2008 and he was just trying to get his beers out into the market.  We tried Black Orchard and Autumn Maple and knew we’d be hearing more from him in the future.  It’s safe to say he’s done very well for himself.

Memberships are sold out for this year, but signups typically open around November for the following year.  They won’t ship your beer to you, so if you don’t live nearby, start trying to track down someone who can pick up and ship for you.  This isn’t as hard as you might think.  I can point you in the right direction of some beer geeks out that way who will be glad to help.  If that’s not your thing, the fine folks at The Bruery will store your beer at The Provisions until March of the following year.  So, let them stockpile your beer, then make one trip out there and ship it back to your home or make a nice little road trip out of it.  Yes, it can be done!
Throughout the year, members can participate in various parties, beer releases and events exclusive to Reserve Society members.  We were in town for one of these events, The Reserve Society Initiation Celebration.  It just kind of worked out that I had the time off for our spring training trip to Arizona, so adding an extra day to hop over to California seemed all too easy.
The party was being held at The Phoenix Club in Anaheim.  This place is kind of like a big German hall with a restaurant and bar and various other areas that can be rented out.  Our party was in a giant tent.
They checked our ID’s, pulled our name on the guest list, gave us a wrist band with 10 tabs for samples, a glass and a list of beers being served.

Beer Menu for the party.

 They had some rock music playing and along the edges of the room there were tables set up offering different beers.  There was already a line about 75 people deep for pours of Chocolate Rain.  Chocolate Rain is a version of Black Tuesday, their big ol’ 18% ABV imperial stout, that has been barrel aged with vanilla beans and cocoa nibs.  I’ve tried Black Tuesday (phenomenal beer!), but had never been lucky enough to get my paws on a Chocolate Rain.  It’s only been bottled two or three times and it’s never been sold outside of the club.  So, Patti and I got in line and waited for our pour.
Wow!!!  Amazing beer.  Thick, oily pour, deep black color.  It was so thick it coated the glass.  Huge bourbon, vanilla and oak aroma.  Loads of chocolate, fudge and caramel.  Man, oh man.  Delicious beer.  I’m really looking forward to getting my bottles.

Brewmaster Tyler King pouring his beers.

We really savored our sample and didn’t want it to end, so we took some time to walk the place and take in all the sights.  Each table had a row of bottles lined up, showcasing what was being poured.  I’m honestly not familiar with all the names of their beers.  With names like Run BMC and Gunga Galunga, it’s not easy to remember what everything is.  The bottles have a description on the label, so that really helped us with some of their more obscure beers.
 
After a good rinsing to peel the Chocolate Rain remains off our glass, we eventually decided on our next samples.  Patti went with Batch #50 Grand Funk Ale Road and I grabbed a pour of Melange #1, which is a blend of Black Tuesday (imperial stout) and Oude Tart (flemish red).  Batch #50 is an interesting beer.  It’s created in the traditional Belgian gueuze process of blending old and young lambic together to create a new beer called gueuze.  Sour and complex, there’s really no way to describe a beer like this until you’ve tried it.  It’s unique and a favorite style of mine.  Also interesting to note that it was brewed to commemorate their 50th batch, back in 2009, but because it took a blend of an old and new beer to make, it wasn’t ready for release until well after their 300th batch of beer had been released in 2011.

Batch 50 and Melange No. 1

Patti and I usually order different beers and swap glasses to sample each other’s and try more beers.  In this case, she preferred mine and I preferred hers, so we just swapped glasses.  It’s awesome having a beer loving wife!  I highly recommend finding yourself one.  It’s better than having to share beers with your buddy who’s probably just going to get you sick.
 Eventually, we made our way outside and discovered the draft truck.  This is a big, white, box truck, with 30 tap handles drilled into the side.  Lots of fun things pouring from the truck, but my favorite was a guest tap from Bootlegger’s called Knuckle Sandwich.  This was a nice big, west coast, Double IPA.  Patti got it with a splash of Centennial hop oil.  This made it green (it was St. Patrick’s day after all) and extra hoppy.
 
Food was provided by Beachwood BBQ and they had pulled pork, brisket and chicken to choose from, plus a wide variety of sides to try.

Plenty of great food provided by Beachwood BBQ.

Patrick and The Bruery peeps really know how to throw a party.  My only regret was running out of tickets before trying Sour in the Rye with kumquats.  It created quite the buzz, but I didn’t hear about it until after we got home.  There were just so many great beers to try, we were bound to miss something special.  Oh well, something to keep an eye out for in the future.
There were cabs all over the place when we got back to the parking lot and it was a short, 7 minute ride back to our hotel.  We stopped our driver as he was going past The Bruery, right next to our hotel.  So that wraps up part two of our Bruery weekend.  The third and final installation of our St. Patrick’s day throwdown will be at The Bruery’s brewing and bottling facility.  Stay tuned.  In the meantime, here are some random pics and labels from a few of the many beers that were being poured at the party.  Cheers!
 

Beer Trippin’ in California. The Bruery Provisions, Orange, CA

After having a nice trip to catch some baseball and beers out in Arizona, it was time to move further west to California.  My parents took the kids and caught a flight home to Denver, while my wife and I hit the first flight out to Ontario.  No, not Canada eh.  There’s another Ontario, which  is east of Los Angeles, CA and only about 30 minutes from The Bruery in Orange, CA.

I was pretty happy with my $9 / day rental car through Enterprise, until I noticed that gas prices are pushing up to nearly $5 / gallon out there.  That’s crazy talk.  Luckily we didn’t have too far to go.  There was a steady, cold rain coming down as we started our journey south from the airport.

Our first stop was at In-N-Out for some early lunch.  We rolled in just as they were opening their doors at 10:30AM.  If you’re coming from an area without In-N-Out, into an area with In-N-Out, you must stop there first for a bite to eat.  I don’t want excuses people, just make it happen.  It’s inexpensive, delicious and send me one while you’re at it.  E-mail me and I’ll get you shipping information.  Thanks and well done.

Now with that out of the way, we could begin some southern California beer-trippin’.  Our first stop was at The Bruery Provisions.  Back in 2010, The Bruery Provisions opened as a specialty market filled with some of the finest beer, wine, cheese and other grocery items around.  They have several coolers filled with some very nice Belgians and a wide variety of American microbrews.  They’ve also got a huge selection of Bruery beers, including a line of beers that is made exclusively for the store.  The cheese section was pretty impressive with dozens of different types available for purchase.  The Provisions is also the pick up point for members of The Bruery Reserve Society, which we’ll talk about later.

In the back of The Provisions is a tasting area with an extensive beer menu, as well as meat and cheese plates.  Patti picked up three different wedges of cheese and I ordered a flight of beers for us to try.

Specialty flight and delicious cheese!

From left to right: Filmishmish (oak aged sour apricot), Humulus Lager (hoppy imperial pilsner), Sour in the Rye (oak aged sour ale), White Oak (bourbon barrel aged wheatwine) and Chocosaurus Rye (collaboration with Bootlegger’s; lager brewed with cocoa nibs and vanilla beans).  The cheeses were brie, cambozola and goat.  It was quite the start to our day.

The Provisions also offers free wifi, so we got our laptop and tuned in to American Craft Beer Radio to hear Gary V’s broadcast and catch up on what was happening back home in Colorado.  The staff was busy filling orders for Reserve Society members picking up their orders.  I’m a member of the club, but because I had a large order, I’ve got a friend who’s going to pick it up and ship it out to me.  It’s easier than trying to fumble with it at the airport or trying to pack it up for FedEx.  We had limited time and my hookup said he’d take care of it for me.

There were quite a few guest tap offerings to go along with the extensive list of Bruery beers.  They had Russian River’s Pliny the Elder, Allagash’s Odyssey, Ballast Point’s Sea Monster Imperial Stout and Great Divide’s Espresso Yeti to name a few.  There wasn’t a bad beer on the menu and the staff seemed knowledgable and able to help with pairings and suggestions.

They periodically host tastings and offer classes where they pair up flights of beer and cheese or wine and cheese.  Tune into their facebook page to keep up with the tap list and new beers arriving in the store.  They are also working on getting approval for their patio.  Once that happens, you’ll be able to enjoy a beer outside!

We could have easily spent an afternoon in this place.  Friendly staff, great beers and cheese.  Orange is a nice little town with antique stores and family restaurants.  We’ll be back for sure and this is a must-stop if you’re ever out that way.  Not to mention, Reserve Society members get 15% off purchases.  We need a place like this in Colorado!  Their address is: 143 N. Glassell Ave, Orange, CA 92866.

We had such a beer filled trip to California, that I’m going to split this into three parts.  Check back soon and we’ll take you inside The Bruery’s Reserve Society Initiation party and then finish up with a stop at The Bruery’s prodcution facility and tasting room.  Until then, Cheers!


Beer Trippin’ in Arizona. Baseball and Beer Hunting.

My family and I are big baseball fans and every year we find ourselves heading to Arizona for a few days to take in some Spring Training games.  We got up bright and early on Wednesday morning to grab the first flight from Denver, CO into Phoenix, AZ.  As we were waiting for our bags at baggage claim, we realized that we had accidentally left the kids bag at home…  NOOO!!!

In the past, my wife and I would always share a bag with them and fit their stuff in with ours.  But, since they would be flying back to Colorado with their “Mimi” and “Pap” and my wife and I were heading to California for the weekend, we decided to give them their own bag.  Unfortunately, since we got up at 2:45AM on the day of our flight, we packed the bag and had all their things in it, but we forgot it at the top of the staircase at our house.  Not a great start to the trip.  Hey, it’s not like we pulled a “Home Alone” and left our kids behind.  Trying to stay positive about the situation, it gave us a chance to get them some new clothes and was a way to kill a few hours before In ‘N’ Out opened.

mmmm, in-n-out!

So a few hours later, after a trip to Target, they had clothes and we were off to get checked into our hotel in Scottsdale, AZ.  When we got in, everyone was tired and ready for a nap.  With not much else going on, I decided to head out for a little beer hunting.  I always try to track down new and interesting beers when I’m out-of-town.  I like trying beers I’ve never had and usually keep a mental list of things I’ve been wanting to try from different regions around the U.S.

Within a few miles of our hotel was a Bevmo! and a Total Wine.  These places are practically next door to each other.  It’d be like having Argonaut and Lukas Liquors across the street from each other back home.  Kind of crazy, but it makes an out of towner like me happy to not have to drive far for good beer.

Bevmo! was solid and had a wide variety of beers, both local and imports, but Total Wine was just awesome!  They had a sign advertising 2500+ different beers.  I liked the setup quite a bit.  They divided their beer section up by style.  For example, all the IPA’s were in one section, in alphabetical order, with notes about some of the beers and staff recommendations.  They even had a section for special releases and limited beers.  It was almost too easy.

Total Wine offers classes every month educating consumers and offering samples of different styles of beers.  They had some deep discount beers to get rid of their past seasonals.  I saw quite a few xmas seasonals for great prices.  For example, Sierra Nevada Celebration and Odell Isolation for $4 / 6-pack.  Great idea that I wish stores back home would adopt.  It prevents beer from just sitting around for months and keeps inventory fresh.

Anyway, the store was great and I got lost in their beer section for nearly an hour.  I made a mix-6 of some locals and grabbed several bombers to open during our stay or take home to the cellar.

Arizona locals.

The next day, we headed to Salt River Fields to watch the Colorado Rockies take on the Chicago Cubs.  We had perfect seats about 20 rows back behind home plate.  We were in the shade and it was 84 degrees.  Glorious!  You couldn’t have asked for a better day.  There’s not much of a beer scene at the stadium, but you can get an $8 Blue Moon or a $10 bomber of Fat Tire.  I stuck with my bottle of water and enjoyed the game.

The view from our seats. Perfect day!

Yeah, the Cubs still suck and the Rockies won 7-5.  Hey, there’s always next year Cub fans.

After the game, my parents offered to watch the kids for a few hours, which gave my wife and I a chance to visit a few local breweries.  Our first stop was at Papago Brewing in Scottsdale, AZ.  As soon as I walked in, I knew it was our kind of place.  The walls were completely covered with beer signs, tap handles, mirrors,  posters and so on.  Papago has 30 beers on tap, which featured both their beers along with a great selection of guest taps.  I decided to try their Hopago IPA and Patti went for their Oude Zuipers Tripel.  Both were well balanced and very drinkable.

An impressive tap lineup at Papago Brewing.

Oskar Blues was there doing a promotional deal with their Deviant Dale’s.  The rep, who was from Denver, spent a long time chatting with us about the Colorado beer scene and gave us some swag to take home.  I had a tough time trying to deciding on a second beer.  Papago has about 9 glass door refrigerators full of bottled beer that’s out in the bar area.  They allow you to buy bottles or make 6-packs to take home or you can pick out a bottle, bring it to your table and drink it there.  I LOVE this idea!  First, the fact that you can actually look at the bottles and not have to order from an out-of-date menu was nice, but also being able to take things to go or share with friends at the bar…  Brilliant!

They had all kinds of locals, but some nice out of state options and imports, including all sorts of beers from Dogfish Head, Epic, Marin, Ballast Point, Lost Abbey and so on.  They even had big time beers like Firestone Walker’s Sucaba, their highly sought after barleywine.  Beeradvocate.com named this one of the top 20 places to have a beer in the entire world and Papago has the beer to back it up.

I was pretty impressed and for my next beer, I went with a Three Floyds / Mikkeller collaboration called Boogoop.  This was a new one for me and is listed as a 10.4% wheatwine.  Big hops, sweet, sweet malty backbone.  I loved every drop of it.  Patti got a Bear Republic Racer 5, which is a classic American IPA from Healdsburg, CA.  You can spend a pretty penny in this place if you’re not careful.  Well done Papago.  We will be back.

Shuffleboard in the back at Papago.

Our next and final stop of the day was at Four Peaks Brewing in Scottsdale, AZ.  We got a table outside and took a look at the beer menu.  Patti went for the sampler and I ordered a Hop Knot, American IPA.  Their sampler consists of 8 different beers which range from a Peach Ale to an Oatmeal Stout.  It wasn’t anything mind blowing, but they were all well made and were pretty tasty.  They had good food and a friendly atmosphere (think Rock Bottom).  They sell growlers and bottles to go as well.

Four Peaks sampler.

Arizona is slowly transforming into a decent beer town.  Every year we come it seems that another brewery has popped up and is trying to educate the locals on choosing better beer.  Arizona Beer Week was two weeks ago and they have various beer festivals throughout the year.  It’s not exactly Colorado out here, but they’re working on it.

Today was another perfect day of baseball.  We sat 8 rows behind home plate to watch the Brewers vs. the Royals.  Spring training is tough to beat!

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day and we’re heading out for a big ol’ throwdown at The Bruery in Orange, California.  This should be a pretty epic party with nearly 50 small batch, hard to get beers being poured, plus 4 guest breweries and a ton of food.  We’ll be making a few other stops along the way, so stay tuned.

Tomorrow’s schedule will consist of The Bruery, The Bruery and The Bruery!


Rogue / Voodoo Update, Meet the Brewer Night and Cascade Blueberry Sour!

I know several of you have reached out to me with interest in splitting a case of Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale.  I haven’t forgotten about you.  But, Lukas Liquor down in Lone Tree, CO, posted today that they expect to have it on their shelves sometime next month.  I’ve got another friend in the industry who’s trying to get some into his store in Parker, CO.  So keep your fingers crossed.  I’ll update you as I get more details, but it looks like we’ll be getting some out here after all.   

All hail bacon and beer!

Down in Gleneagle, (think Colorado Springs), the folks at Another Pint are putting together a Meet The Brewer Night with Doug Odell from Odell Brewing.  This will be their third installment in this series and is scheduled for Friday, March 30th at 7PM.  Doug will be on hand to talk about his beers, answer questions and share some of his creations with you. 

For this event, Another Pint will be pouring 90 Shilling, IPA, Myrcenary, Shenanigans and Footloose.  I mentioned Shenanigans in my post from yesterday.  It’s scheduled to be released later in the month.  Footloose is a barrel aged Brett and Lacto beer with a tropical fruit flavor.  This event will be pay by the pint.   

If you’ve never heard of Another Pint, I’m not surprised.  I was introduced to this place by a college buddy that lives down that way and they really seem to be flying under the radar.  I was blown away by their tap and bottle selection.  Everything from popular locals like Bristol and Avery to impressive and harder to get offerings from Dogfish Head and Firestone Walker.  Check them out!  http://anotherpint.net/

Samuel Adams has announced two new beers for their small batch series. 

Sahti Ale brewed with Juniper Berries.

Gose, with Salt and Corriander.

These should be making their debut in April or May.  Interesting and unique styles this time around.  For only $5.99 per 22oz. bottle, they’re worth a try. 

Lastly, a bit of news from up in Oregon.  Cascade, one of my favorite U.S. breweries, has been talking about releasing their Blueberry Sour for a few months now.  Today, they said it will go on sale at the brewery later this month.  Still no date has been set, but it’s coming!  This is a must try beer!  I can’t say enough good things about these guys.  If you’ve never had them and enjoy sour beers, you must, must, must seek them out.  You’re going to have to trade, travel or make a friend out there to get some, but it’s worth the extra effort. 

Cascade's Blueberry Sour, bottled, labeled and waiting for you.

Patti and I paid them a visit last October and couldn’t believe how many great sour beers they were pouring under their roof.  They keep things interesting and fun with their “Tap It Tuesday” series, where they continue to push boundaries and pump out one-offs and experiments every Tuesday night in their Portland based Barrel Room.  Tonight, they released a beer called Pink Pixie Sticks, which according to their Facebook page had hints of raspberries, grapes, lemon peel, cherries and sweet tart fruit.  These draft only beers are here today and gone tomorrow.  Do yourself a favor and check them out! 

Sippin' on some tasty sours!


New Beers and Beer News 03/12/2012

So I’m not even sure where to begin this week.  So much news to share!  I guess I’ll just dive right in and start with the news that’s close to home.

First up, Odell Brewing, in Fort Collins, is getting set to launch their Shenanigans on March 24th.  This 8.1% oak aged, Brett brew will be hitting shelves in 750mL corked and caged bottles.  If you live in the Odell distribution area, make sure you seek this one out.  Their last few big, seasonal beers, such as Friek and Saboteur have been fantastic.  I’ve got a feeling this won’t disappoint either.

Odell Brewing is at it again.

Odell’s neighbor up in Fort Collins, New Belgium, also has a new beer up their sleeves.  This one is a collaboration with Elysian Brewing out in Seattle, WA.  The two have combined for a Pink Peppercorn IPA.  This 7.5% ABV beer will be bottled and sold in 22oz. bombers.  No release date has been set yet. 

New Belgium’s also planning their next Lips of Faith release.  This line of experimental beers has had some great releases in the past year, but this one could top them all.  The 7.5% Tart Lychee, is an intensely sour beer that bases itself around the unusual, tropcial lychee fruit.  I’m a huge, huge fan of sour beers and I got to try this one last year at the Avery Sour Festival.  Sweet, sour and complex, it was one of my favorites of the day.  I’m really excited to see they’re going to bottle this beer.  You better hope I don’t get to the beer store before you when this comes out.  I’ll be the guy stocking up when it hits the shelf.   

New Belgium announced today that they will be entering the Michigan market in August.  They’ve been in the news quite a bit lately with rumors surrounding a possible east coast expansion.  Although there’s no official word yet, the rumor is that the brewery is looking at property in Asheville, NC.  Might not be a bad time to start planning that trip to North Carolina after all.

Down in Colorado Springs, Jason Yester and the Trinity crew are plugging away getting their new 12 barrel brewhouse installed.  They worked into the wee hours last night and are back at it again today.  They’ll be closed until Wednesday, March 14th to get everything up and running.

Shiny new fermenters at Trinity, waiting to be fed tasty beer!

Over in Denver, Bill Eye is also hard at work, getting his masterpiece assembled at Prost Brewing.  I can’t wait until we can talk about the beers he’ll be pouring when Prost opens.  Hopefully it’ll be sooner than later.

Bill Eye becoming one with his kettle at Prost.

In Aurora, be sure to mark your calendars for the Copper Kettle One Year Anniversary Party coming up in April.  They’ve got 4 big days planned with music, food and some exciting beers.  Check out their website for more info.

Copper Kettle turns 1 in April!

To wrap up the local news, if you’re looking for something to do tonight and are in the Boulder area, slide over to Mountain Sun on Pearl Street.  If you order a beer, they’ll give you a free Stout Month t-shirt.  They’ve got some awesome beers on tap right now including two of my favorites, Hop Vivant Imperial IPA and Nihilist Russian Imperial Stout.  If you’re looking for something a little lighter to enjoy with the nice weather, check out their Blackberry Wheat or FYIPA.  With 15+ beers on tap, there’s something for everyone, even your light beer drinking co-workers.  So grab a beer, get a shirt and watch the world go by.  Life is good!

Before we finish up, here’s a little something for all the beer traders:  Rob Tod and the gang at Allagash, up in Portland, ME, are getting ready for another one of their small batch, brewery only releases.  They just announced a release party for Saturday, March 31st to release Old HLT, a beer that was brewed with cherries and aged in stainless steel for more than 2 years.  This one clocks in at 8% and will be sold for $10 / 12.7 oz. bottle, with a 4 bottle limit.  I’ve traded for a few of their small batch beers and they never disappoint.

Brewtally Insane is hitting the road this month.  We’ll be checking out some breweries and beer bars near Phoenix, AZ, as well as the Los Angeles, CA and Anaheim, CA areas.  Got a recommendation or know of some places we should visit?  Drop us a line on our Facebook page and let us know.  We’d love to hear from you.  Until next time, Cheers!