Review – Bites & Brew at the Ritz Carlton Laguna Beach

I have had great beers in a cold warehouse setting off a freeway off-ramp and I have had bad beers in fully kitted out taprooms but having a selection of curated beers on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean is a whole new level.

Yesterday, I attended the Brews & Bites at the extremely fancy Ritz-Carlton in Laguna Niguel (maybe Dana Point). So fancy that empty glasses and empty food plates were whisked away by an attentive wait staff.

I will circle back to the beer later but the food was certainly a co-star. I mean, there was an ice cream bar with beer caramel (and sprinkles amongst other toppings). And two of the ice cream were beer accented.

Myself and my beer buddy Rich sampled all the food from the lamb sliders, to pretzels, quesadilla, curry fish and chips and a Korean corn dog. The borracho taco which was more a quesadilla to me was my favorite with the curry being my least even though the fish was nicely done. All the dishes had a kick to them, nothing plain to be found.

There were a lot of pilsners and lagers on hand which matched the bright sunshine of the day perfectly. Sage has their new LA LA Lager which was almost my favorite of the beers drunk were it not for the Bow & Arrow table where you could have the Easy Cactus Lager or Denim Tux Blue Corn Pilsner. The lager was Vienna malty in style and the pilsner was the perfect start to tge afternoon.

Another good choice was Like, Wow hoppy lager a collaboration between People’s Republic of South Central and The Bruery. It used Vista hops and had an apricot version as well.

I could easily get used to this ritzy beer festival.


If you want proof (bad too early pun, sorry) that brewers treat (ugh, another one) water with a lot of thought and care, then look no further than Beachwood who have a new pizza place in Huntington Beach.

They took the dough so seriously that they now have special water that they sell that you can use to make your own pizza dough.  I am somewhat tempted to buy and taste it.


The only bummer about my Christmas trip to San Juan Capistrano was that Heritage BBQ was also on vacation those days.

But I have a new reason to try again, this time in Oceanside at the second location of Heritage that also includes a brewery and they have a former Pizza Port brewer at the mash tun.

You can read all about it HERE from San Diego Beer News.

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Turkey Day beer fans!

Have a fantastic day, however you wish to spend it. Be it football, family, fistfights with family or festbiers.

Back to regular beer programming tomorrow, along with the annual Christmas Seasonal beer survey.


Needed or Not – Beer Cheese Pretzels

I still do not know what really constitutes beer cheese.  Is there even beer in the cheese? Or is it just a bit of malty flavor?

That being said, transferring cheese flavor to a pretzel cannot be easy.  Adding a beer cheese to a pretzel must be harder.

So, this would be Needed or Not based on one taste of the pretzel.  If it ain’t good, or at least to the American level of saltiness then the vote is Not Needed.

Bruery Supper Club

The Bruery is starting a supper club and they have chosen the highly regarded and much written about Oaxacan fare at Guelaguetza as the first restaurant in the series.

As you can see from the menu, this was a wide ranging set of foods and beer. I have to start by saying that the Moles were as advertised. Really flavorful and really a festival. It was great on the chips at the start of the night as well. The Chiles Rellenos were also quite good.

The beers, as expected, were well up to the high Bruery standards. Many were beers that I had not tasted in a long time and it was great to be reacquainted with them. Especially Or Xata and Mischief which seemed quite hopped up to me.

Strangely though, despite both sides being excellent, the pairings didn’t really fly. The Helles with the ceviche was the best of the bunch but even that was a bit dull. The tequila barrel-aged Siesta Saturday with the beautiful looking corn dessert, Nicuatole was a complete mismatch. The big burly beer ran over the delicate and subtle texture of the dessert. I would have paired the Helles here or the Gose.

Do not let that stop you from following along to see when and where The Bruery will supper with next. Food and beer pairings is an art and a science and sometimes it clicks and sometimes it just misses.