Wheelin’ & Dealin’

Activity comes in bunches it seems. After a few quiet weeks, acquisitions came roaring back into the beer world.

Those who don’t believe in coincidence might think that the news was timed to hide under all the Make America Sick Again healthcare debate.

Lets recap:
1. Brooklyn Brewery enters into a sales “platform” with Funkwerks and 21st Amendment

2. Shorts Brewing sells 19.99% to Lagunitas

3. Coronado acquires fellow San Diegan, Monkey Paw Brewing.

4. An un-named SoCal brewery put itself up for sale

Call this a response to having the highest number of breweries in operation ever. For events 1 & 2, it also shows the creative ways that people are staying Brewers Association street legal while growing bigger.

Thanks to a soft Twitter ban and some judicious unfollowing of the Debbie Downers that seem to populate the Tweet-isphere, I haven’t seen much vitriol towards the these moves. Mostly because they avoid the Scarlet A of Anheuser-Busch. Which shows me that some people see what a stain that is on a company and are opting to avoid it.

But if I can get a supply, even limited of Short’s beers in L.A., it is a development that I welcome.

On the 21st Amendment Bandwagon in L.A.

I finally fell into bed at 1:30 am.

That was what happens when you travel from one Goat Group bar to another with Ryan Sweeney and the co-founders of 21st Amendment Brewery of San Leandro & San Francisco.

As with Greg Koch of Stone Brewing, Shaun O’Sullivan and Nicco Freccia have Westside LA roots and this pub crawl was a chance for the duo to tell stories of their early days.

The tour started at the Valley Surly Goat in Encino before hitting Pasadena for stops at The Blind Donkey and Der Wolfskopf (where I joined the group) before the end of the line at The Verdugo Bar. In between there were cans of Toaster Pastry and Down to Earth Session IPA, I learned the backstory about each plus details on a new IPA in the pipeline, Blah-Blah-Blah. I even asked if they would be joining the fruit IPA bandwagon and got a resounding no.

I also heard about a cool and immersive beer dinner that they are planning that involves a speakeasy, being “arrested”, a boat trip to Alcatraz and dinner from the Alcatraz cookbook as interpreted by modern chefs. With 21A beers, of course.

This bus trip proved the point that beer people are cool and learning even just a few tidbits of what is behind the beer can add to the pleasure when you drink one.

Review – Marooned on Hog Island

Hog Island Oyster Company is a big deal.  Not being a fan of oysters or their effects on the anatomy, I only know that through hearsay.  The only way I can make any judgement is through the beer that 21st Amendment brewed using Sweetwater Oysters.
This has a certain salinity in the aroma or maybe I have read the can too much and am expecting it to be there.  The beer is quite silky in mouthfeel at first then the taste morphs at the midway point and I detect honey and a bit of dryness.  Marooned has almost a Baltic porter base in my mind. At 7.9% it has a bit of heat to it.  A cheek warmer for sure.

A multi-faceted beer for sure and after my enjoyment of Toaster Pastry, I now want to find the Sully cans and try that beer as well.

Review – Toaster Pastry from 21st Amendment

Not a fan of Pop-Tarts, am I. But I did buy this beer the minute I saw it. Great beer names make me do that. Plus it is one of the first beers from their California brewery.

Now it is time to see if Toaster Pastry from 21st Amendment was worth it…..
….and it is. A nice citrus hoppyness in this orange/red hued beer. The aroma is really great filled with a green hop aroma to it. I keep smelling it instead of drinking. Almost a vanilla type scent. The malt flavors do evoke a certain sweet bread type note. The bitterness really sticks to the palate. This is one of the better happier beers in recent memory.

Featured Review – Brew Free or Die IPA from 21st Amendment

Our final beer from 21st Amendment, their IPA Rushmore, Brew Free or Die!


This pours out of the can pretty piney smelling.  Very enticing to start.  The orange color and cool lacing are also positives.  And the taste follows suit for a bit.  But then the flavors start to wear on the tongue.  There is some tropical in the mix but I get a lot of woody notes up front that is barrel-esque but finishes with more of a sawdusty taste.  It is bitter but not overtly so but the hops do start to make their presence felt which is what causes the weariness.

Maybe I appreciate the lighter 21a beers.

Featured Review – Down to Earth from 21st Amendment

Session IPA’s are all the rage and at first it was easy to stand out but now that more players are in the low ABV IPA game, it makes it harder for the latecomers one of which is Down to Earth from 21st Amendment.


Despite my aversion to the grinning monkey on the can, here is my review of Down to Earth.

The initial aroma is a bit on the wine grape side for me.  Like a white wine almost. There is a brief moment when you first sip that you think it might be too bitter for the style but then it drops off the proverbial cliff and lightens up considerably.  It is still really hoppy and the malt base has left the building.

The Session IPA pours a dark orange when I expect something of a lighter hue. This beer is strong out of the gate but then falters from there on out.  Some bitterness lingers for awhile after each sip.  It doesn’t quite grow on me though.  The lack of malt backbone really hinders this beer.


Featured Review – Hell or High Watermelon from21st Amendment

Now this is a divisive beer. Some think it is too sweet and others (like me) could drink it by the gallon. I first encountered this beer, long, long ago at the Oregon Brewers Festival and was smitten.

But now that it is newly arrived in LA, it is time to re-evaluate the Hell or High Watermelon from 21st Amendment.


The wheat ale pours a medium dark yellow out of the can.  There is an immediated whiff of watermelon.  Not the fakey Jolly Rancher kind (though some people feel it is).  To me, it is more watermelon juice.  Divorced from the normal sensation of how we normally eat watermelon.  So it throws people’s tastebuds off.  But for me the balance is spot on.

It is very refreshing.  The watermelon flavor is there and strong but nor cloying and overpowering.  A true summer in LA type of beer.

In the Tap Lines for June 2015

header_attractionsThis is L.A. Beer Week month. From the 20th to the 28th, the City of Angels becomes a beer destination for all comers starting with a blowout local brewery bash at Exposition Park near USC.  Plus…..

~ e-visits to three breweries who were at the recent Firestone Walker Invitational
~ special reviews of beers from new to L.A. 21st Amendment
~ Heads-Up on Los Angeles Beer Events
~ Three suggested beers to buy this month. One light, one medium and one dark
~ Beer-centric podcast review, goes scientific with Beervana
~ I will tap the Firkin and give my no holds barred opinion on the craft beer world
~ … and Session # 100 will converge bloggers onto a single topic, this month it is Resurrecting Lost Beer Styles

Here are two events to get your June started in the Los Angeles craft beer world:
1) June 1st – Burger Week at both of the Oinkster locations with Red Tick Ale from Highland Park Brewery
2) June (anytime) – Check out the new DTLA gastropub and homebrewer space of BarrelDown.

21 Reasons

Starting May 11th, new cans will be seen on craft beer shoppe shelves. 21st Amendment of San Francisco started shipping to us, Orange and San Diego counties + the Inland Empire as well.

I had always found it weird that I could buy Hell or High Watermelon and Brew Free or Die IPA in Portland but not in LA despite being just a skosh closer to the brewpub. I know that the canning was going on in Minnesota but it was not enough to dent our large customer base. Thanks to a new California production facility, we are now on the delivery list.

And I can’t wait to buy a box of 21A cans.

Smog Collaborations

Smog City has (2) collaborations on shelves……

“We teamed up with the awesome people at The Bruery and the result is “Atomic Kangarue”: a dry-hopped sour ale brewed with 2 types of grape must and fermented with Brett.”


….and on tap is “the North vs. South “California Love” Collaboration with 21st Amendment Brewery in San Francisco. This Imperial Red brewed with citrus and Pinot Noir grapes will be making a simultaneous return on September 9th (to celebrate the day California became a state!) at both our taproom and the 21 Amendment pub in San Francisco.”