Up From the Cellar – 2011 Pugachev’s Cobra from Hangar 24

I am trying to remember to pull up a beer from the cellar once a month. I feel that I need to catch back up to the amount purchased. This month, we have a 2011 beer from Hangar 24 in Redlands. This Russian Imperial Stout smells like a rum barrel and not bourbon. Initially this super dark beer is quite sweet then there is quite a burn going down the throat. There is also a strange sort of woody note tucked inside as well. Three distinct flavor stages. This beer does not let you forget it is strong but it does end very dry. For a 7 plus year old beer, it has held up. With the years this beer might be sharper with no rounded notes that might have been there earlier but still a good sipper.

Up From the Cellar – 2011 Parabola from Firestone Walker


The theme for Up From the Cellar for July is a year. 2011 to be specific. Also Imperial Stouts. A favorite style amongst beer geeks and snobs alike.  And we start with a barrel-aged Imperial from Firestone Walker.

This 12.5 stout pours jet black with a beautiful espresso rim of foam. That foam quickly dissipates and you are left with impenetrable darkness. The aroma is incredible. This decidedly falls into the camp of beers that you can smell and be satisfied without ever taking a sip. Though you will want to.

This beer spent 12 months in barrels before I even thought about cellaring it. And it shows. Big bourbon and rum notes intermingle. Some coffee bitterness is in the background as well but this is a barrel show.

There is some serious warming here as well. Each sip brings a flare of heat. But it fades quickly allowing for the bourbon and late flavor addition of chocolate and tobacco notes to power through. You cheeks will warm. But they won’t be red.  Even when another warming spice sensation emerges as the beer warms up.

The Verdict? – Parabola in all it’s yearly versions, tastes fantastic.  The fact that sitting for an additional three years hasn’t changed that, is almost a moot point.  Of course it’s gonna taste great.  It’s a barrel-aged stout from Firestone Walker.  I don’t think that even a rank amateur cellarman could do any appreciable damage to this beer.



Up From the Cellar – Vintage Ale from Trader Joe’s 2011

Earlier this month, I reviewed the gold embossed 2010 version of Trader Joe’s Vintage Ale brewed by the Canadian Unibroue and now we move on to the silver embossed 2011 and see how much (if any) differences there are.

To recap, here is what I said about this beer years ago, Aroma is not malty or roasted. Rich smelling. Pours dark brown close to black. Alot of plum type flavor in here. A faint touch of spice. The cheeks warm up but only after a few sips.

Every once in a while, you end up with a cork battle. This time the cork won. Various instruments of torture were used and I finally was able to get 1/2 of the cork out while the remainder floated merrily in the bottle.

After cleaning up the mess I made in the kitchen, I brought the glass to my nose and smelled cola?  Yup, distinct cola notes in the nose and taste as well as the carbonation. Drastically different from the 2010. I also pick up rhubarb in there as well. Rhubarb pie to be precise. This us such a brighter and bubblier drink.  There are some candi sugar flavors in there which adds to the sweet overall profile.

As it warms, the clove and typical Belgian yeast components come out of hiding.


The Verdict?  Strange and soda pop but I kinda liked it. Maybe the thrill of a fizzy aged beer has clouded my judgement but this year was fun.

2011 Brewery # 1 – Tequesta

For the month of February, I am highlighting breweries that opened in 2011. And our first stop is Florida and Tequesta Brewing Company.

And with beers like these Der Chancellor, Gnarly Barley, Terminally Ale, Julios Speltacular Weizen, Australian Amber, Vier Belgian Quad, Green Room’s Under Tow Barleywine, Green Room’s Head High IPA and Monk in the Trunks special release Belgian IPA, it looks like this new outfit is willing to take on many beer styles and many beer names as well.

Cheers to making Florida a better beer destination!

L.A. Beer Week 2011 Wrap-up

L.A. Beer Week – Year # 3 is now safely in the books. I careened from one part of town to another in search of great beer and here are my impressions.

It is hard to top the Deconstructed event that Firestone-Walker put on with the Home Brew Chef, Sean Paxton. Damn good (and exclusive) beer, excellent food and gracious hosts in a cool Hollywood venue.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Beer Float Showdown as well. For some of the same reasons as I enjoyed Deconstructed. Great beer paired with creative food. I could see that the float makers were both working hard and having fun.

I also enjoyed the three year vertical of Ten Fidy that Boneyard Bistro provided. The array of stouts and big beers they had that night was amazing and I wish I had more nights to have tried out a few more.

The big, big plus of the last two weeks was the sheer volume and variety of events. There were huge pairing dinners and simple meet the brewer nights, there were new beer releases and celebrations of our local brewers. There was something for every beer geek across the area. But within that bounty were some missed chances.

I would love to see a “New to craft beer” event that roved from bar to bar. A welcome mat of an event that would encourage people to try a variety of beers to acclimate palates to the good beer of the world and be able to get questions answered.

I would also like to see more signage with the L.A. Beer Week logo that could catch the eye of the passersby, if you will excuse the rhyme. Maybe an official L.A. Beer Week stop sign to hang in a business window or a sandwich board outside. Having an Untappd badge and the other social media kicking are great but I would like to see outreach to the non “in-the know” folks. And if people see enough of them as they drive around L.A., they might get curious.

Lastly, as much as I liked the plethora of beer, two weeks was a bit much. I know America is the land of outsized ideas but by the end on Sunday, I had heard the lament of “ready for Monday” many times and not just from myself. I am a proponent of the 10 day week. Coming on the heels of the Great American Beer Festival and before the November San Diego Beer week, ten days allow some rest for the wicked. Not that everyone attended an event a day like me but I think that L.A. has enough of a craft beer culture where we can start having mini-festivals throughout the year to augment the many other events that are happening so that beer can gain a momentum that a once a year event cannot generate.

That being said, kudos to all the organizers for taking on the extra workload and less sleep and loads of driving to bring beer to me and to all of the people of L.A. The city is better for your efforts.

LA Beer Week – Day Six – Beer Floats

Friday was a day of rest. Two big events past and two on the weekend. Pacing myself. Anyway, here is my take on the 3rd Beer Float Showdown (full disclosure – I volunteered at this event and write for FoodGPS that was the presenter of the showdown)….

The challenge was set forth. Five floats created by a combo of brewer and chef. And not just any chefs. Ilan Hall and CJ Jacobson of Top Chef fame, the Trans of Starry Kitchen, Andre Guerrero of Oinkster and the new Maximlilianos and Laurent Quenioux of Vertical Wine Bistro.
Serious fire power and the beer wasn’t from slouches either Ladyface, Eagle Rock, Beachwood, Firestone Walker and the new Smog City were all there.

I only tried three of the floats and in fact did not get to taste the eventual winner. But I was mightily impressed by the Ladyface / Starry Kitchen effort…..….which had fruit, pop rocks and habanero! My personal favorite was the Firestone / Yard combo … It had a rim of caramel and potato chips, the famous hemp ale and a nice light ice cream. Primo stuff from CJ and Jace. I also enjoyed the creation of Beachwood and Laurent Quenioux. Herbs with saison and another light ice cream. Three creative and tasty floats.

But the winner was Andre Guerrero and Jan Purdy who were paired with the host of the event Jeremy Raub and Eagle Rock Brewery. Their secret ingredient? Bacon with Vanilla Bean Solidarity.

The Beer Float Showdown champions of 2011!

If you think this event looked fun then check the official website for more information on events during week 2.


Here is the info on this year’s LongShot winners!

“With the 2011 Samuel Adams LongShot American Homebrew Contest – Category 23 Variety six-pack hitting shelves this month, drinkers nationwide can taste the two innovative homebrews that triumphed over more than 700 competitors to win the 2010 Samuel Adams LongShot American Homebrew Contest. Samuel Adams founder and brewer Jim Koch tapped homebrewers nationwide to think outside the box and develop a “Category 23″ style beer unlike any other. Georgia resident Richard Roper’s Friar Hop Ale and Illinois resident Rodney Kibzey’s Blackened Hops beer were named the 2010 winners at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF).

In addition to Richard and Rodney’s winning brews, Samuel Adams also honors Employee Homebrew Winner Caitlin DeClercq for her Honey B’s Lavender Wheat beer. All three winning homebrewers had the opportunity to brew alongside the Samuel Adams brewers in Boston. Their recipes were bottled and are now available nationally in the 2011 Samuel Adams LongShot American”

An Expanding Ladyface

Ladyface Ale Companie doublind downits annual production capacity, from 600 barrels in 2010 to a estimated 1,200 barrels in this year. How? With the delivery of new 15 barrel brewing vessels at their facility in Agoura Hills, California.

Here is what the press release says:
“With the arrival of new brewing tanks, we’ll have the means to keep more of our regular ales on tap as well as brew special and seasonal ales,” said Brewmaster David Griffiths.

“It is very gratifying that demand outstripped production in our first year of operation. This will also allow us to increase availability to wholesale accounts,” added Cyrena Nouzille, General Manager of Ladyface Ale Companie.

In the Tap Lines for January 2011

A New Year to celebrate all the craft beer goodness that is available! And since the holidays mean curling up at home (be it adopted or hometown), I decided to start off 2011 where I currently call home, Southern California.

Here is what is planned this month for all of you readers/drinkers.

~ e-visits to four breweries of California
~ video reviews of three beers from my local, Eagle Rock Brewing
~ suggested beers of the Golden State to buy this month (maybe all brown ales in honor of our new governor)
~ I will tap the Firkin and give my opinion on the craft beer world
~ my 2011 Beer challenge will be unveiled
~ plus many more posts about new beers, beer products and breweries

And if you haven’t noticed, some minor site changes have taken place…..
~ The 50 Beers / 50 States Challenge has it’s own dedicated page
~ There is a page dedicated to the great Eagle Rock Brewery
~ My best of lists and monthly suggestions have been combined into one page
~ The beer links listing has been both added to and subtracted from so as not to overload (even though there are some really great sites missing)

Pepe Nero

The dark malted sensation is moving from IPA’s and lagers to saison? As part of the Goose Island Belgian inspired series, then yes. Bottles will start arriving sometime next year.

Can you wait that long?