Christmas Beer Review – Our Special Ale 2022 from Anchor Brewing

You’ve at least ordered the Anchor Brewing Story, if not devoured it by now, so let’s dive into their 2022 Our Special Ale.

Right off the bat, the 2022 smells really malt. Just opened malt bag, malty. There is a bit of spice and a bit of apple cider here. To be honest, it tastes a little under done to me. I notice a little black licorice note as well. It doesn’t not say Christmas but it seems tilted to, dare I say, pastry stout? Apple cider and a yeasty bread roll version.

Beer Review – Ogopogo’s 4th Anniversary Hazy IPA

I didn’t make it out to San Gabriel for the actual Ogopogo Brewing anniversary party but I did drop in to snare the anniversary beer.

First off, kudos to doing a pale ale even if 6% is closer to that styles ceiling than floor. There is a bit of swirling haze in the glass but not a super murky appearance. Has that tongue scraping hop character that I kinda now expect from a hazy. It could also be that I see the word Phantasm and my mind fills in the blank with a powdery texture. There is a bright fruit punch note at first but that quickly transitions to a less bright earthy flavor.

Overall, I really like that switch. Both sides of that flavor coin are really good.

Duo Review – Replicant Beer – 1st Releases

The Shell station on Arroyo Parkway in Pasadena has become a media (social and regular) darling with their beer selection tucked into a corner of their mini-mart. They have now taken a jump into brewing under the Replicant banner and have released two beers. One hoppy. One sour.

Let’s review Astringency IPA and Spawning Pool Sour…

SP pours a pretty pink/red color. This is a strawberry assault. The label says heavily fruited and they ain’t wrong here. After the strawberry, I am getting a watermelon note strangely enough. It is sour but tilted more towards smoothie to me. I like the black can but not so much the weird creature in the artwork.

The IPA is solid. Nice fresh aroma and pretty orange color. Solid hoppy hit as well. Earthy and malty are the two adjectives that I would use. Has a good snap to it as well.

If forced to choose, the sour would be more for me. A nicely balanced while also big fruit taste.

Review – Sierra Nevada Bigfoot / Colonel E.H. Taylor Bourbon Barrel-Aged

Usually, I am a little late to online beer sales. The beer goddesses smiled upon me this time though and I snared one bottle of this Sierra Nevada meets Buffalo Trace barleywine.

Here is the description from the brewery, “Brewers hand-picked vintages of Bigfoot already aging in bourbon whiskey barrels — for up to 7 years — and after a final year in E.H. Taylor barrels, the beer that emerged was simply unreal, and at 15% ABV, full of immense flavor.”

Using the same packaging as the E.H. Taylor bourbon is a great choice, that is some classy, handsome, rugged design. Having it caged and corked is another high-end look.

BBAB pours a dark brown color with a streak of red to it. On the nose, the bourbon is not super big which came as a bit of a surprise (not the biggest one, get to that a bit later). This very smooth with close to a caramel taste to it. The rough, spiky hop notes in regular Bigfoot have been completely sanded down.

The biggest surprise is that this does not taste 15% or anywhere near it. Not in aroma, viscosity or taste. This is not a beer that you need to pace yourself with.

Overall, this was really good but I was letdown by the lack of bourbon.

21 V 26

Each year, I review the Firestone Walker Anniversary blend from five years ago along side this year’s model. Let’s dive into 21 and 26.

2017 – 21st

lovely espresso colored foam. bourbon and sugar aroma. silky and very sweet on the tongue. the bourbon flavors compliment the sweet notes. no alcohol burn to be found on a plus 11% beer. almost an imperial milk stout.

2022 – 26th

not much of a head at all. pours a pitch black color. aroma is surprisingly neutral. cherry is the dominant note here. bright, with no heaviness at all. there is a tiny bit of oak if you search for it. this will be interesting to see what happens with age to this.

Review – Olor A Kush from Los Barbones Cerveceria

Time to welcome another brewery to Los Angeles via my beer review. Today it is Los Barbones Cerveceria and their Hazy Double IPA, Olor a Kush.

First off, not a fan of the imagery on the label. Especially if it is not indicative of what’s inside the can. Setting that aside, OAK pours a dark orange color with some haze to it. I would say medium to low. It is a little too sweet. Getting a Sweet Tart rush with an odd raspberry note. Has the needed Hazy softness and a nice DIPA level of malt structure but the hops are playing third string here when they should be number 1 or 1b.

Review – Ommegang All Hallows Treat

If anything screams Halloween, this treat from Ommegang Brewing does…

My first two words for this beer are sweet and sweet. This is a Halloween treat yo’ self for damn sure. The beers pours pitch black and initially has a big chocolate aroma. Flavor wise, it is a mix of milk and dark chocolate and quite roasty. For me, the peanut butter promised on the label us too faint. As it warms, more peanut aroma and taste arrive, but it is not peanut butter.

Review – Dead Guy Ale from Rogue

Been a long while since I have had a Rogue beer and even longer since a Dead Guy even though that is really the only one available in SoCal.

Here is my review of the Dead Guy variant Dead ‘n’ Dead.

Whiskey barrel chips meets Maibock amped to 9.5% abv. Oak and alcohol on the nose. Kinda hoppy red ale initially before the Germanic influence creeps in. Was not expecting the bubbly nature, thought it would be more placid on the palate. Even so, you can tell this is strong beer. Nothing hidden here. The whiskey chips do their job, adding the spirit without bowling over the beer underneath.

Review – 2 IPAs from Unsung Brewing

I found two different IPAs from Anaheim’s Unsung Brewing at one of my bottle shop haunts (Talon) and thought it time to review their new hoppiness with a bit of a spooky season theme to the beer names.

Strange Tentacles – lot of hops going on here. Simcoe, Mosaic, Chinook, Amarillo and New Zealand Cascade. New and classic together. pours a dark yellow color. fruity on the nose with a pine accent. medium to low bitterness and light on the palate. summer IPA vibes here.

Alter Ego – into the haze, a light orange one nowhere near murky. super big coconut here which I blame on the Talus hops which are paired with Citra and Strata. a vinous mouthfeel on this one. bit of a milkshake quality as well. falls firmly into weird territory.

Review – 3 Festbiers

Who will be the Fest Winner? California, the U.S. or Germany?

The Contestants

Smog City Smogtoberfest – dark orange in color. smells hoppier than the other two. simple and crisp. lots of malt flavor here with a bit of a spice kick.

Half Acre Lager Town – pours a dark orange with a malty and orange peel taste. a bit heavy to me with caramel notes. minerality here too as well as a viscousness.

Weihenstephaner Festbier – the lightest of the trio. bubbly in the glass. a bit of malty sweetness with a tiny touch of minerality. very clean and crisp.

The Winner

I think I have to choose the SmogtoberFest. It is the lowest ABV but also the fullest of the three beers.