The Firkin for March 2021

In a hopeful sign, I have started to think about how I would feel going back to a brewery and imbibing actually on premise. Obviously after I get my two shots (hopefully in April)

For me, it is going to be in stages. Like a cautious child dipping their toe into a cold lake. I will probably get a half pint outside and drink fast and be super watchful. Then it might be a full pint but still on guard. Then an outdoor taster tray.

Then and only then will I venture inside and take a stool at the bar where that same three step process will happen again.

I do not know how long it will take to feel secure. When I was younger, I was in a car accident where a driver left turned into my car and slammed into me. The passenger door behind me was crumpled. For a long while, when I saw someone turning near my lane, my heart would beat a little faster and my hands would grip the wheel tighter.

Now, that feeling is long gone. I am looking forward to this Covid crash feeling being a memory too.

Best Beers of March 2021 + IPA Standings

My March Top Two come from near and far, sour and light. Tucana Tangerine Sour from Ecliptic Brewing in Portland was perfectly balanced. Tart and tangerine at once. The fact fruit had a candied peel note that I really enjoyed. Coming in a close second was the ‘Malgo Pils from Highland Park Brewery. This one just popped. Rarely do I have anything less than a great pilsner from this group.

Eagle Rock Brewery almost broke into the top three of the IPA with their anniversary TIPA Elevensies and Taste for Adventures from Pizza Port was a strong contender but the Top 3 are unchanged.

3. Societe The Coachman

2. Indie Brewing Quintette

  1. Offshoot Beer Co. DDH Visions

A Podcast & A Beer – No Such Thing as a Fish

I was pointed to the No Such Thing as a Fish podcast by beer buddy, Richard and it is quite the fun show. Hosted by Dan Schreiber with James Harkin, Andrew Hunter Murray and Anna Ptaszynski the podcast give some you the facts. Four facts each show that the panel then add to until you have learned quite a bit about mosquitoes for instance.

The group has great fun and loads of camaraderie which makes the podcast fly by super fast. Perhaps as fast as a Russian train.

Now a beer from Dogfish Head would easily fit the bill, I would say that it would be best to pair a single style of beer and then take an internet deep dive to find some facts about it. Fun things about Louis Pasteur or the mob visiting Brooklyn Brewery or about the failed Wolfgang Puck brewery in Los Angeles.

Cool Beers / Cool Labels – March 2021

Time to call out excellent label design and interesting new releases….

Here’s a sneak peek at next week’s can release in collaboration with the @glendalefireca and the Glendale fire Association in honor of Captain Niall Foley diagnosed with ALS in 2015. Malty and crisp with just a hint of smoke.

Next is another honorary beer released by Pocock Brewing Company to pay homage to the co-founder of Wolf Creek Brewery who recently passed away. A touching gesture from one brewery to another.

In the Tap Lines for March 2021

header_attractionsMoving on to the third month of the year with a little more hope in our step.  Vaccines are getting into arms which means we inch ever closer to life pre-pandemic with taster trays and not being forced to purchase meals.  

~ e-visits to (3) breweries known for nitro ales.
~ special featured reviews of beers from The Bruery for the second month in a row!
~Heads-Up on Los Angeles Beer Events (Far in the future events)
~ Three suggested beers to buy this month. One light, one medium and one dark
~ A Book & A Beer reads Awkward Conversations with a Black Man by Emmanuel Acho
~ A Podcast & A Beer listens to No Such Thing as a Fish
~ Great Beer names and Best Beers of the Month
~ I will tap the Firkin and give my no holds barred opinion on the craft beer world.

Best Beers of February 2021 + IPA Standings

Considering that Utopias and de Garde was drunk this month, the pickings for best we’re still pretty slim. I really liked aspects of the Samuel Adams old beer and the Strata hop wild ale but both were pretty one sided affairs.

Oddly enough, where I found balance was in the big beers of Shadow Puppet. Both of their triple IPA’s found the sweet spot of hops, alcohol and texture. Rational Exuberance and Efficiency TIPA’s are my February best choices. The 12 ounces cans from the Livermore brewery reminded me of the beer El Segundo big IPA’s. Strong and hoppy in equal measure.

On to the top three IPA’s of 2021, Strata Aerobic from Highland Park Brewery drops out and The Coachman from Societe drops to third as Quintette from Indie Brewing grabs the number 2 slot just behind Visions from Offshoot Beer Co. Quintette an anniversary IPA from the DTLA brewery packed a punch but was also light on its feet. I finished the can and immediately wished that I had another.

Peel the Label – When I will drink at a brewery

Not that anyone is asking for my presence at a taproom but I bet that there are many people out there who are on the fence about sitting outside with others with masks going up and down.

I thought I would show the reasoning behind when I would return to have beer from a glass outside of my own home.

First, I will need to have gotten the vaccine. Second, I would need to see a significant percentage (over 60%) of people in Los Angeles County had gotten it as well. Or, a higher percentage (like over 75%) had received their Fauci Ouchie.

Once that baseline criteria is met, I would need to see that hospitals had bed capacity. Because if despite precautions, I did get sick after, I would want a bed available.

Then I would tentatively go out with the proviso that if a space was too crowded or too maskless, that I would bolt. I figure the people jonesing to be out are more than likely people who may have taken less precautions than me. Now, I don’t consider myself paranoid just lucky to have avoided getting sick and want to keep that streak alive.

Now let’s all get that vaccine!

Peel the Label is an infrequent series with no photos or links. Just opinion.

Sean Suggests for February 2021

Two reds and an oak for this month. It highlights that even in these heady beer times it can be hard to find just three red ales to fill out the scorecard.


SLO Brew Reggae Red – 5.6% – “This one-of-a-kind ale was born at our brewpub amidst influential musical acts of California’s 90’s reggae movement. A harmony of seven different malts, three types of hops, and a dash of hemp seeds makes Reggae Red a crowd pleaser.”


Common Space Double Red – 7.5% – “Our Double Red brings the rich caramel flavors you expect, without the heavy, stickiness that weighs down some reds. Double Red has a huge charge of Cryo-hops to brighten and lift the caramel flavors up, and create a beer that is hoppy, malty, bold, and delicious.”


Faction Oakes Imperial Stout on Nitro – 8.5%- “Our Russian Imperial Stout with oak chips. Shake the can and pour straight to activate the Nitro!”

A Podcast & A Beer – KingCast

I have been reading Stephen King for way too long. Why my dad thought it was OK for me to read Pet Semetary as a pre-teen when we had cats and a dog is beyond me. I slept with one on on the cat for a few nights. The KingCast deep dives into the world of the horror and nostalgia master. Whose stories are still resonating today even if the current adaptation of The Stand isn’t lighting the world on fire.

The podcast does meander a bit and the guests, though eclectic, sometimes don’t seem to be King aficionados. But there are fun nuggets of King lore to be found.

With the resurgence of Black IPAs, that would be a good place to start. Dark and bitter. Lucky Luke and Common Space have local versions for us here in LA. Another good choice would be to have some Maine Beer Co. while you are listening, especially for any of the Castle Rock or Derry books. But what I would push for something like the AleSmith My Bloody Valentine Red Ale is out currently and is a perfect Misery beer.

A Podcast & A Beer – From Now

I generally focus on non-fiction when it comes to this monthly feature but to start off the year, let’s go into outer space. Here is the logline: “a lost spaceship named USS Hope returns to Earth after 35 years, one shocking lone survivor disembarks—and chaos almost immediately ensues.” Starring the voices of Game of Thrones actor Richard Madden and Brian Cox from Succession.

Now, you can find many a beer with a space theme but I would suggest that you look for IPAs with Galaxy hops as the lead. Maybe compare and contrast a West Coast version vs a hazy one.

A deeper cut would be to drink beers from breweries that are older than 35 years. See how those “surviving” breweries are doing.

An even deeper cut would be this….

…a newl re-released beer from Institution Ale Company that has the word hope and a skeletal astronaut. “Hope Unknown is back in 4-packs for the first time in over 2 years! Hope Unknown is a Double IPA hopped with Azacca, Ekuanot, Mosaic and Simcoe. Expect big flavors of melon, papaya, stone fruit and pine. Hope Unknown has high bitterness, dry body and a crisp finish.”