The Session # 110 – Twitter Beer

It is easy to hate social media. It is cluttered, loud and repetitive. Then there is the privacy angle to untangle or the trollery from really hateful people. The sheer number of posts and photos and links is enough to make me turn off my iPad and head to the ‘fridge for a beer.

So, why then did I choose Twitter as a topic for beer bloggers? There were external factors such as the 10th anniversary of the first Tweet that happened in March as well as the possibility of Twitter expanding to more than 140 characters but really, I wanted to show that it is woven into the fabric of craft beer. With six tweets, I can show a concise little history of Los Angeles beer evolution. (Thanks in part to the First Tweet website)
Starting with me and my blatantly stolen quote from Fred Eckhardt. That I joined Twitter a full two years+ after I started beer blogging lands me directly into the late adopter crowd. Unlike the brewery that is the base for L.A. brewing, Eagle Rock Brewery. They jumped right onto the bandwagon and said hello.
At around the same time as Eagle Rock both Strand Brewing and Ladyface Ale Companie opened up shop and L.A. beer drinkers could entertain joining the ranks of cities that celebrate their local beer with a Beer Week all of our own. And later in 2009, LA Beer Week tweeted out the ticket information for the first fest that was held at Descanso Gardens.
After that, more breweries started opening around Los Angeles. One that has gone on to great Great American Beer Festival acclaim is Beachwood Brewing based in Long Beach. Back in 2011 they were just getting ready to open. Little did they know that the block they live on would soon house two restaurants with craft beer an integral part of the menu but also their own Belgium-styled Blendery as well.
Not all the news was rosy though. Just as it seemed LA was hitting its beer mile stride, Golden Road sold itself to SABInBevMiller (or whatever mashed-up name it is AKA now). I could find many an expletive filled tweet to illustrate this point but instead, chose another craft beer industry tweet to show that beer can be promoted on Twitter and then talked about over a pint while the video streams across the world.
But that is so last year, it would take a lot of scrolling to find that vitriol now especially when at about the same time, another brewery on the same road that was golden opened up. Brewyard has taken the mantle of the small and local brewery and will hopefully be Tweeting for years to come.

The Session # 106 – It’s Christmastime

We head to the land of misfit beers for this installment of The Session hosted by Jay Brooks and the Brookston Beer Bulletin.

“For seasonal beers, the Solstice/Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza/Mithra time of the year is my mostest favorite. This past weekend, we had our fifteenth annual holiday beer tasting for the Celebrator Beer News, and sampled 42 of this year’s Christmas beers. Here’s how I’ve described them in the introduction of the tasting notes for the holiday edition each year:

Holiday beers are by design no one style, but are a chance for individual breweries to let their talent and imagination run wild. At the holidays, when people stop their busy lives and share some precious time with family and friends, the beer they choose should be equally as special as the time they’re sharing. So a holiday beer should be made to impress, to wow its audience, to stand out. That’s the only criteria that should be met by one of these beers. Will it impress? Different breweries, thankfully, do this in many, many different ways. Some use unusual spices or fruits, some use special malts or hops, some use other uncommon ingredients like spruce or rye, and some make a style that itself is unusual. So there’s nothing to tie these beers together apart from their celebration of the season. That makes it both a delight and a challenge to judge. Ultimately, perhaps more than any other tasting, these beers are simply a matter of what you like and our judging is a matter of what we like. So try them and discover for yourself the many flavors of this holiday season.”

The day after Thanksgiving, I head out to beer shops and stock up on Holiday beers even though the weather is far from frightful in Los Angeles. Invariably, my wife will ask why there is significantly less room where the leftover turkey and fixin’s should be as I crack open my first Christmas beer of the season. I love the variety of holiday ales first and foremost and it is seems to be the only time of the year where an IPA seems out of place, despite the dilligent work of Sierra Nevada’s Celebration and others.

For this Holiday fueled Session, I want to list (despite my deep-seated aversion to listicles) what I deem to be the ESSENTIAL holiday ales. The beers that you drink when you decorate the tree or wrap the presents or while other people open presents and you get a break from your own gifts.

1. Anchor Merry Christmas – Happy New Year
The streak is at 41 this year and it is literally the first holiday beer that I pour each year. I even keep a few past years on hand to compare and contrast with.

2. Deschutes Jubelale
The artwork can be hit or miss and I do long for a photography version on of these years, but this is, along with beer # 3 my home state of Oregon go-to holiday tipple.

3. Double Mountain Fa La La La
With all due respect to Celebration. This is the hoppy Christmas beer that I look forward to. Maybe it is the stars on red design but it is a repeat buy for sure.

4. St. Bernardus Holiday Ale
This beer just tastes and smell’s like a kitchen at Christmas.

5. Trader Joe’s Vintage Ale
$5.99 for a 750ml beer is a steal and a half. And this beer is just so good. Very close to St. Bernardus and another beer that gets cellared and brought out as a “fancy” beer for guests.

6. Eagle Rock Jubilee
My local. There winter warmer for Los Angeles has had in past been very evocative of fruitcake in some years and I can’t wait to try it in regular and barrel-aged versions as well as part of a mixer with their IPA, Populist. Where it becomes Populee!

Once I get through that list, I start looking for new holiday ales to see if any will make the cut for seasonal standards. Right now I am looking at a Boulevard Snow & Tell and a Bell’s Christmas Ale. The former has expanded their offerings here in L.A. and the latter just entered our stores with a splash this year. And maybe I will sneak other Winter IPA’s into the mix, I hear there is a new Green Flash IPA out there. Better get out and check the stores.

Bagby Beer

One of the most hotly awaited brewery openings is coming so close….


Bagby Beer Company has a massive space in Oceanside that was once a car dealership.  You can check out some great photos HERE from Jay Brooks.  Keep following their Facebook page for details.  This will be a popular place and not just because of the ocean.



Anchor Brewing has unveiled a new line of beers going by the name of the “Zymaster Series,” which will have its coming out party during San Francisco Beer Week.

It will be a modern re-creation of a lager using California malt and cluster hops to match up with what may have been brewed back in the days before even Anchor Brewing started up. To read up on the research that went into creating this new beer check out the Brookston Beer Bulletin HERE.

Session # 46

Mike Lynch of Burgers and Brews has announced the topic for The Session #46: “An Unexpected Discovery.” He writes:

I recently drove out to Colorado for a concert, and realized this was a perfect opportunity to stop at as many “beer destinations” as I could. I researched, plotted routes, looked at maps, and generally planned the entire trip around beer. What I was surprised to find was that despite all the amazing stops I planned, one of the best beer experiences of the trip was completely accidental. I found great beer in the last place I thought to look for it.

Has this happened to you? Maybe you stumbled upon a no-name brewpub somewhere and found the perfect pale ale. Maybe, buried in the back of your local beer store, you found a dusty bottle of rare barleywine. Perhaps a friend turned you on to a beer that changed your mind about a brewery or a style. Write about a beer experience that took you by surprise.

Well, there was the time in 1995 when we stopped at the Cat’s Paw Casino in Bozeman, Montana. Maybe I’ll write about that Dec. 3.

You would think that with a blog called Beer Search Party that I would be discovering all kinds of craft beer surprises or accidentally finding that stunning brewery that only the locals know about.

I would pose two reasons why that doesn’t happen to me. One is that I check out a lot of different beer blogs, I subscribe to (at last count) three beer magazines and I attend my share of beery events. So, breaking news rarely gets by me for too long before I hear about it. Second, like our gracious session host, I enjoy the planning stage. Especially when craft beer is on the agenda. I will plot out vacations based on beer destinations and I rarely stray from my targets. When I visited Boulder, Colorado for the Beer Bloggers conference, I knew I wanted to visit Twisted Pine and Oskar Blues and taste beer from Upslope Brewing and Odell’s. All four goals, accomplished!
Now, having explained how I am never taken off guard, here is my “unexpected” story. It involves sitting in the right place at the right time, twice!

During this year’s LA Beer Week, I was helping out at the Beer Float Showdown at the Verdugo. (If you visit Los Angeles, this is one of “must” the beer stops). After my shift was done, I took a seat with a friend of mine and a fellow beer geek to enjoy the imaginative beer float creations. Beer talk was flowing as I finished my last sample and our tablemate brought out a new beer from Green Flash Brewing, Silva’s Stout. Before I could say anything, my glass was filled! It seemed that Lady Luck was smiling upon me as it was a tremendous beer and a special limited release to boot. I figured this type of good fortune wouldn’t happen again soon but….

Lo and behold it did!

A couple of months later, sitting at the Blue Palms in Hollywood (another “must” for beer geeks in LA); I was tasting the 14th anniversary beer from Firestone-Walker. The place was packed. But in the crowded space of the bar sat another generous soul with a growler from Kern River Brewing. Because I and my friend were in the seats near some acquaintances of his, we also got samples of the famed Citra IPA. On aroma alone, that beer is one of the best that I have had all year. Another surprise based solely on where I was sitting.

I certainly hope I get surprised again.

High Tech Delivery Systems

Recently, two beer items popped up at the same time so I took it as a sign that I should talk about it.

First, All About Beer magazine had a blurb about table taps. OK, it’s got the marketing name of DraftMaster. Two tap handles rise out of the center of the table so you can pour your own beer.

I can so see why this would go over well with publicans. Saves time. People will order more because it’s right there. Technology probably hits the credit card whenever a pint is poured. But to me it just promotes the drink all you want culture and speed. I try my best not to race through beers. (Some are so good that I do it anyway). It also eliminates the creation of a rapport with the barkeep. But what scares me most is that it, in the end, promotes a homogenization of beer. You could have different beer at each table (that would be kinda cool). But then some tables would always be vacant while others would have lines going out the door. I would not give up an Upright or Drakes table easily.
To avoid that scenario, either each table would have the same beers or at least one common denominator, usually the lowest. And how do you know your table has a full keg?

The second dispensing system has the inventiveness of the first, plus some. But whereas the DraftMaster is a sure fire economic barnburner. The Biero idea may end up being too costly. I saw this earlier in the month on the fabulous Brookston Beer Bulletin.

Basically it takes bottled beer and puts it into a chilled and light protected tube so that patrons can see the beer. From what I have read on their site, they love beer and have thought of most of the technical issues, which shows how far beer culture has grown. But I don’t know how feasible it is. To compete with great tap beer, you would need a hook. The one I see is rare beers or perhaps blended beers. And that could work if they get the price point right. And I would certainly enjoy trying a rare beer that I normally couldn’t get because of price. But is the public ready for what is basically a cellared beer bar? I know Cascade opened a sour beer bar. But I worry that this a good idea ahead of its time.

Session # 41


The chosen topic: Craft Beers Inspired By Homebrewing. How has homebrewing had an affect on the commercial beer we have all come to love? Feel free to take the topic in any direction your imagination leads you.

Write about a beer that has its roots in homebrewing. Write about a commercial beer that originated from a homebrew.

Write about a professional brewer you admire who got their start in homebrewing before they went pro. Write about a professional brewer who still homebrews in their free time.

Write about a Pro-Am beer tasted either at a festival or a brewpub. Write about an Amateur / Professional Co-op you’ve had the pleasure of experiencing (such as The Green Dragon Project).

Write about commercial brewers using “Homebrewing” as part of the marketing. Write about the Sam Adams LongShot beers, whether good or bad.

With this opportunity, I would like to rant about an imbalance that I feel needs to be focused on to keep the craft beer world lively and engaging and most importantly, growing.

We need more female home brewers. Alot more. I know most homebrew clubs have female members, maybe even sub-groups comprised solely of women. That’s great. Keep it up. But this industry is tilted far to the male side and we need to get the percentages rising on the female side of the ledger.

I have my personal reasons why the craft beer community needs to embrace this idea and it stems from a theory of mine.

My theory is that home brewing is the minor leagues for the craft beer world. That means the more women brewing at home means the better the chance that they might go pro. If your club has 20 active members and only two or three are women, the chances that one might start a brewery are not good. But if there is a large and active female membership then the odds become better. And there is no better time than now, there is mentoring available through the Pink Boots Society, there is publicity available through great writers like the Beer Wench, Lisa Morrison and Christina Perozzi, there is even a documentary in the works about female brewers.

I say all this in enlightened self-interest. I love craft beer. Spend way too much money on it. Spend way too much time writing and reading about it. But if we don’t expand our horizons to recipes from a new perspective, new styles or re-imaginings of current favorites then the world of craft beer will crash into the reef of Double IPA’s and Russian Imperial Stouts and not be able to extricate our way out. We might end up, god forbid, stagnating. Not only as an industry as a whole but in individual beers.

We as bloggers need to push, cajole, entreaty as much as possible for more women in home brewing and more women drinking and creating a big craft beer tent as big as a Munich beer Hall in September.

P.S. I just know the best beer of 2011, 2012 and beyond are out there so keep it up homebrewers!

P.S.S. Click HERE to see the Session hosts posting on the topic.

Session # 38


One of the reasons why I selected the topic of What Beer(s) would you stand in line for hours to taste? is that I secretly hoped that I was not the only one out there that would stand in line for a beer that wasn’t a Russian Imperial Stout.

I hope to see some session beers mentioned but I think I am realistic enough to know that I might not get agreement on my specific selections because it is a style that is old and semi-forgotten.

I am talking about the style of beer known as GOSE. And if I can sway one person to try it then I will count myself a success. I had heard of this beer in vague terms from mentions on various beer blogs but I never ran across one in the beer bars I frequented or breweries I visited. Then, one day in Leipzig, after succeeding at getting myself lost on the outskirts of the city, I decided to salvage the remains of the day at the Bayerischer Banhof. Sitting at the bar at the crossroads of Leipzig with their Gose instantly made my day better.

Flash forward to this year and two breweries (Cascade and Upright)from my home state of Oregon are making brash American versions of this old style. And that is what I would stand in line for with a stupid grin on my face. And maybe, there will come a day, when I will have to wait in line for a beer that nearly became extinct.

When it comes to “Great Beer Expectations”, I will use the example of my first 3 Floyds beer. (Not Dark Lord) I was the lucky recipient of a bottle of Moloko Milk Stout. I held onto that bottle for less than a week before cracking it open. I thought to myself, “This is one of those premier breweries that a relative handful of beer geeks has the opportunity to sample”.

Upon that first swirl and sip, I admit to being let down. But as I drank and slowed myself down mentally, the beer grew on me. I started to detect nuances and flavors that I had missed in that first go around.

Did the expectation hurt my beer experience? I would say no. Did it force me to slow down and re-adjust my thinking, yes.

I will stop there because I need to start reading what others are saying.