More Canned Russian River

Vinnie Cilurzo has been slow and steady on entering the can arena. He wanted to make sure that the quality was top notch. And now more Russian River Brewing beers are a’coming…

“As part of our commitment to brewing more lagers in 2023, you will soon see both STS Pils and Velvet Glow Helles in 12oz 6-pack cans!”

It will radiate out from Santa Rosa then to outside markets later.

No Menu

Courtney Iseman who writes Hugging the Bar brought up an interesting topic on her substack recently about brewery taprooms having no menus.

And while there is nothing more satisfying to me, than flipping through a beer menu, the idea has some interesting benefits to it in my mind.

First, you won’t default as quickly to a safe beer or your typical order.  Secondly, you have to improve your descriptions of what you like.  You just can’t say hoppy.  You will need to give more specifics like grassy or peach or soft.  Thirdly, you just might find a beertender who is on your taste wavelength and you will be able to find a new favorite beer.

I think it would be cool if a taproom had a no menu Monday to encourage those three items.

Sean Suggests for September 2023

Small town breweries can get lost when you live in the big city of Los Angeles but sometimes you have to drive away and find the out of the way spots. Here are three worthy of trying….

Heater Allen Bobtoberfest – 5.6% – from my college town of McMinnville comes this excellent example of a festbier from brewer Lisa Allen.

Bright Spark Good Natured Saison – 6.6% – giving off flavors of clove, yarrow flower and peach from a family owned brewery just south of downtown Ventura.

RT Rogers The Crystal Gazers Hazy IPA – 6.7% – The Monrovia brewery tucked up in the mountains has joined the haze craze with this new IPA.

A Book & A Beer – Circe

When I was in Portland, my wife was lent this book by my Mom, and I decided to read it too. It is Circe by Madeline Miller.

This tale follows Circe a daughter of Helios, the God of the Sun and a Titans. Circe is a strange and not like the other children of Titans. Nothing like her parents either. She has the power of witchcraft.

It is a book that puts the narrative into Circe’s point of view. You see how she reacts to the day-to-day activities of her fellow Titans and the Gods as well. Most of the book finds her banished to a deserted island where she deals with visitors who mostly interrupt her peace. Most get turned into pigs.

This is one of those books where having a list of characters at the back is very helpful. My college days reading of Greek tragedies only took me so far. I have a predilection for stories told by a not major character elsewhere. It fleshes the world out and you gain new insight on people you think you know but you really only know from their narrative.

For beer, I would look for beers with either botanicals such as juniper, sage and the like to represent the ingredients for many of Circe’s spells or look for a wine barrel-aged sour beer because there is a lot of sour grapes between parent and child, between siblings, between sea creatures and sailors and practically everyone in this book.

Peel the Label – All for One

There is discourse both illuminating and not about the push / pull of beer and wine and spirits and whom is in the lead. Who has the market share?

To me, the three work in concert. A distiller has to use a barrel once? Well a brewer will take that barrel. Wine spritzers beget hard seltzers beget RTD’s. Craft brewers spawned craft distillers. Heck, for a hot second, there was a whole wine / beer hybrid thing.

I wonder why the three alc players don’t push together? We could possibly see uniform state laws if that happened. Uniform tax rates too. But they often work against each other instead of being co-conspirators.

And consumers seem stuck in lanes too. Wine drinkers say beer is too complicated. Beer and spirits drinkers say the same but I say enjoy the banquet. I do not go for seltzers or wines but gin and bourbon are great. I sneer at beer slushies damn a mint julep tastes grand.

There seems to be sharp elbows out when welcoming high-fives should be the action. I want all the beverages on the menu.

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

Chimay Can

Purists may howl but Chimay will start appearing in cans. 11.2 ounce cans…

Are bottles traditional, yes. Are they selling, not so much. And I am of the opinion that some tides you can’t fight against if you really want more people to drink Chimay. The pendulum will turn back. I have seen 12oz bottles 22oz bombers, growlers, crowlers and more in my beer life and they will come back in fashion.

Some Dry Goods Too

Stanley’s Wet Goods is part of the Los Angeles trend towards fancy grocery shops that every cool neighborhood has to have.  SWG is on Venice a few short blocks off the confusing road patterns of downtown Culver City.

Big high ceilings houses what, to me, is a goodly sized wine selection.  There are tinned fish cans because this is also de rigeur in L.A. now.  A liquor selection that is better gin wise than bourbon and a smallish, kinda old look can collection for craft beer fans.

There is a nice sized bar area, inside and out and predominantly wine by the glass along with a food menu that is a little bigger than what I have seen at other shop and stop spots.

If you need a beer, draft is a better choice.  Only five options but two are Radiant Beer Co. which are always solid.  

The best option is the RTD cooler.  Lots of great options from Ventura Spirits and Death & Co.  and you could get a canned French 75 too.