Next in our local, cellared and high ABV beers for review is The Nothing from Smog City of Torrance.
Another beer from the year 2014 and one that I thought I would bring up after the Wood Cellar festival.
The Nothing pours jet black with a toffee head to it. 4 years might be too much for this one. That would be my bad for losing track of it in time and not recognizing that it is under 10% which is the generic threshold for cellaring. Bit of a wine vinous thinness has crept in. Sapping some of the velvet nature that an Imperial would normally possess. The chocolate has a bit of tang and is in second place strength-wise to a coffee roast note.
To add to the degree of difficulty, the featured high ABV beers will also come from my cellar and be local.
First up is White Rabbit, an imperial Wit bier that was the 4th Anniversary beer for Eagle Rock Brewery. Let’s just say that was a “few” years ago.
The bottle was helpfully stamped with a born on date in 2014. Wine sour smell on the initial cap open. Considering this is a four year old beer in a style not known for keeping, it is not too bad. Once warmed a skosh, it settles down into a spicy fall beer. Certainly a Wit but it does not taste like 11%. Getting hefeweizen like esters of clove here. A tiny amount of warming as the bottle goes on. Some vinous notes at the very back along with a slight menthol touch.
This year’s L.A. Beer Week signature festival moved both temporally and geographically. From Union Station to Chinatown. From End to Beginning and from Sunday to Saturday.
Here are my thoughts on the festival in it’s new regeneration run by the Los Angeles County Brewers Guild.
The weather gods smiled on the crowd of beer lovers and the brewers pouring in Chinatown for the sixth go-round of the L.A. Beer Week festival. A week earlier and everyone would have roasted beet red.
I will leave the review of the fest in general to a later time. This post shall focus on the beers tried and the beers missed. And the beer that missed the mark.
I shall start with the middle option. When I refer to missed. It was not due to a beer running out which I didn’t see happen by the time I left at 6pm, an hour before the fest was due to close.
Vulcanizer from Beachwood and Drakes was there for the taking but I never sauntered over to that booth with an empty glass. I missed Timeless Pints and the Brewery at Abigaile’s entirely. I got a taster of Chandelle from Hangar 24 but did not taste the new Pro-Am beer. Bad me.
On to the more fun topic of what I did taste, I have one word, Monkish. Hem and Haw and Arrivant were spectacular. I told multiple people to get those beers at all cost. The other brewer with two winners was King Harbor. I had been waiting to try their ode to ice cream, Swirly, for awhile. I was not disappointed at all. A not sweet mixture of chocolate and vanilla. Their “50 Cent” grapefruit Belgian was also a treat. Very juicy without being too acidic.
There were a couple beers that fell into the “I was hoping would be better” category First was the Mai Tai HopTonic and the Longevity Baltic Porter. Both from breweries that I rarely find fault in. The Eagle Rock Baltic porter I will chalk up to the end of day dead palate issue but it was bland to me. Not that I was expecting fireworks from that particular style but for it to be a Pro-Am winner, I expected something that wowed beer judges. The Mai Tai from Smog City was too sweet and too coconut for me. The IPA portion was buried. I wished the base was a tripel or saison instead.
All in all, I wish there was a dinner break and then another couple hours to try the remaining beers that I wanted. It is the sign of a good festival when you leave full but wanting more.
The Hoosier Beer Geek is hosting the March edition of the session. The topic I’ve been thinking about is local beer. The term is being used by just about every craft brewer in the country. What does it really mean though? Is it more of a marketing term or is there substance behind the moniker? This month I want to think about what makes local beer better? I’m not just talking about the beer itself, although it’s the focal point, but what makes local beer better? My connection to local beer is far from thinking that my beer is actually “local.” Maybe you don’t agree with me, and you can write about that. Bonus points for writing about your favorite local beer and the settings around it being local to you.
We now enter the wonderful word of semantics which as Wikipedia puts it, is “a problem of understanding that comes down to word selection or connotation.” First, I do not think there is a universal idea in the craft beer world when the word “local” is uttered. I frequent a fabulous beer bar in Burbank (shameless plug for Tony’s Darts Away) that only serves California brewed beer. Is it all local? To some yes and to others no. Personally, I only care that they serve a varied list of great beer and the carbon footprint of delivery is of lesser though still significant importance.
To others local denotes freshness. That is very important in an IPA but if I am partaking of a barrel aged sour at (shameless plug # 2) Eagle Rock Brewery then it doesn’t really matter. And local can mean the watering hole closest to you that you frequent the most. The Cheers to your Norm as it were. And it could be a brewery, bar or bottle shop. Then you have the whole issue of locally sourced ingredients to ponder.
If you have gotten this far, you may probably be saying, “Well, what is your definition of local?” And the answer is all of the above. Even I don’t have one overarching idea. There is my idea of “locally brewed”, my idea of “locally distributed” and my idea of “local destinations” but to me they are all minor considerations to me when I make a beer purchase.
I guess that it is because I firmly believe in widening ones horizons. Travel far and wide. Sample the craft beer bounty that others before us were not so lucky to have.
It might seem anti-eco to say this but as laudable as the whole “local” movement is, and as much as I admire the Sierra Nevada’s and Rogue’s that grow their own hops and barley’s, I find it more important to focus on being creative and exposing the world to the tremendous bounty that we should all responsibly enjoy.
Bring on your organic, bring on the discussion of terroir, grow it all within yards of the brewhouse but also keep brewing. Be it a simple German pilsner of some exotic beer with kaffir limes and sake yeast. I will drink local, close to local and international as long as it is craft beer.