Review – Two from ISM Brewing

One of the breweries that I am hyped about is ISM Brewing in Long Beach. I grabbed a couple in cans recently and it is review time.

Coastal Curves is the hopped up West Coast Pilsner and it pours a bright and bubbly yellow. Aroma is definitely hoppy. Getting a bit of Simcoe, I think. There is a bit of berry here. also a peppery note as well. Not super crisp but there is a minerality there that keeps this from veering into pale ale territory.

Sonic Substance a collaboration with Creature Comforts and it too pours a bubbly, vibrant yellow color. Getting a bit of a soft pine near a citrus grove feeling from this one. Not dank but not a fruit bomb either. Tastes heavier than the 6.66% listed ABV.

If forced to choose, I would go toward the pilsner. But it is a close race.

Beer Review – Lagerville by Figueroa Mountain with Wild Fields Brewhouse and West Coast Brewing

This year for Lagerville, Figueroa Mountain traveled a bit of distance to Atascadero and Wild Fields to grab one collaborative partner and then a much bigger distance to Japan to get West Coast Brewing for a Matcha Rice lager.

It pours yellow with a tinge of green (unless that was me reading into it). There is an orange aroma coming off this at first and then in the first sip, the matcha tea comes through the citrus. This is very light and I am getting a bit of tea bitterness at the end.

Review – Luponic Distortion 2024 from Firestone Walker

Seems like forever ago when Firestone Walker started their quarterly hop adventure, Luponic Distortion. I believe I collected them all and even reviewed quite a few as well.

LD was a rotating IPA with each version utilizing different hops on the same base beer. Now, it is back as part of a variety pack in cans or bottles.

The new blue canned Distortion is pretty close to pale ale strength and pours an orange-y / yellow color. Aroma is quite strong. I set the glass down and could smell it from over a foot away. I get a bit of sweet tart followed by a bready malt note in equal measure. Berry fruit in particular on the second sip and a bit of a rough hop bite which I like. But still quite light on the palate and the malt keeps this from tasting watery which is an issue I have encountered a bit lately.

Review – Scottish Golden Aged in Single Malt Whiskey Casks from Innis & Gunn

One of four barrel-aged expressions of a Scottish Ale, the Single Malt Whiskey matured version might not have the spirit geek cred of Caribbean Rum or Islay casks, but the issue is how does the base Innis & Gunn beer react with each cask.

Though I am afraid of the combination of clear bottle and non-refrigerated bottles, I picked up the lone bottle to try and the aroma is nice and Scotch-y but then the flavor turns a little too sweet. Almost cola sweet but that aroma keeps pulling the affair back to center. I like the subtle smoke note here as well. I wonder how this tastes fresh, would it have less caramel?

Review – Tiki Fusion Zombie Cocktail Inspired IPA from Lagunitas Brewing

Lagunitas Brewing has dipped into cocktail culture for a Zombie inspired IPA. With notes of orange juice, fresh lime, grapefruit and allspice.

Let’s dive in….pours a very faint yellow. Not a see through yellow but not hazy. Very orange liquer aroma. Orange is the first and foremost flavor followed by a hint of lime. The spice arrives on their heels. Quite bubbly but that ABV is super underground. There is enough bitterness and carbonation to tamp down the citrus sweetness that wants to escape. I was worried this would be a bit chaotic but it says cocktail and IPA.

Review – Infinite Wishes 2024 from Smog City Brewing

Back to Smog City Brewing and their 2024 edition of Infinite Wishes, a barrel-aged stout, after a lager review detour.

The 2024 pours an inky black with a nice coffee foam head that dissipates in a bubbly fashion. For such a big ABV beer, this is not thick sludge but rather a sprightly beer. The predominant note is oak. Dark and roasty and far more dry than sweet. As it warms, a little chocolate pops through the wood but curiously not much bourbon coming through on this. Just perfect though for a spring day.

Review – K-Town Lager from Common Space

Los Angeles has been on a bagel kick over the last couple years and my wife has had me driving from Highland Park to Culver City and points beyond for taste tests.

On a recent Saturday, I was on the road to Calic Bagel for another round when I noticed that there was a featured beer named K-Town Lager. I scanned and saw a few Common Space Brewery beers and deducted that they had made this beer for this bagelry. So, does this lager pair well an everything bagel?

Pours a bubbly and fairly dark yellow color. Got a nice zip to it. A burst of floral hop notes from the German Magnum hops. Followed by a full but not slick mouthfeel with a good corn taste to it without being sweet at all. One of those where the glass is empty before you know it beers.

Review – Strawberry Dipped Infinite Wishes from Smog City

Imagine my surprise when a delivery person knocked on the door with a box from Smog City Brewing. Inside were two wishes, both infinite.

Today, I will talk about the Strawberry Whipped variant.

Once I got through the blood red wax, I immediately got a rush of strawberry. When I got another sniff, it was like a See’s chocolate with a strawberry middle. Just super berry notes. That perfume follows into the beer but then the milk chocolate takes charge. It is straight up strawberry truffle. This is a decadent dessert beverage. Lava cake would be a great pairing because this beer despite the double digit ABV is still light and would cut the richness of the lava while the chocolate would sync from beer to cake. This is a luxury ale.

Review – Bigger on the Inside from Urban Roots

Someone at Urban Roots Brewery is a Whovian, in addition to a Bow Ties are Cool beer, there is also today’s reviewed West Coast DIPA in a familiar blue color…

Bigger on the Inside, a common exclamation for new companions upon entering the Tardis for the first time starts with a really light and see through yellow color. Getting a big grape aroma (no celery here). Lots of tropical fruit notes. Guava and citrus for me. And the 8.5% ABV is most certainly there. As strong as a Sontaran warrior. I do like the balance of strength and fruit flavors.

Parabola Exploration

Yesterday, I joined Firestone Walker brewers Jordan Ziegler and Sam Tierney, to see the “many faces Parabola can take on through adjuncts..” There were over seven tastes of new experimental variants of the imperial stout, some only available for very short times.


This event at The Propgator brought together members of the Brewmasters Collective, an enthusiastic group of Firestone fans ready to taste Parabola in its newest incarnation as well as learn about the nuts and bolts of adjuncts in an imperial stout.

It starts with an inspiration. New Orleans offered Ziegler ideas as did the plane ride when the snack was a Stroop Waffle cookie. Then it goes to small bench tests where you try adding adjuncts and seeing what works and doesn’t. Fig was fine in tests but really called for an accompaniment so Ancho Chili was brought in to make a duet.

From there, it becomes how best to get a flavor punch. Thai bananas are good but lacked that Cavendish appeal. (sorry) The way you toast coconut and then deciding if circulating the beer through it or steeping it in the beer is a better preparation.

Mix in that Parabola is aged in differing bourbon barrels from super wet Elijah Craig to reliable Heaven Hill just adds another level of complexity. Then you have to make sure the resulting beer has a Firestone house taste to it as well.

For me, the plain 2014 Parabola was the best. You got a nice bourbon and oak note on top of a luxurious stout but the real action was deciding what of the flavored beers ranked highest. To me it was the Thai Bananas Foster. The interplay of fruit and stout just worked. Second was Coconut closely followed by the Peanut Butter (really peanut flour) with the Fig and Stroop Waffle in a lower tier of interesting and Mixed Berry bringing up the far back.

Oh and another plus, we got a taste of the newly reformulated XPA as well which I thought was a bright and hoppy addition to the line-up.

If you needed a temptation to join the Brewmasters Collective, this type of event would fit the bill.