The Firkin for April 2022

Every year April heralds Easter and then 4/20. And boy, am I not on the CBD or THC or TLC bandwagon. All the Snoop Dog memes, the warmed over munchies craving jokes make April 20th a day to avoid social media.

To me cannabis and beer is like stuffing cheese into the crust of the pizza, overkill. What actual flavor does cannabis add? I do not know. I have read about chocolate with marijuana, candy with marijuana, water with marijuana and yes, even pizza with marijuana and I have not seen what it adds to the experience.

This is no anti-weed screed, just a reminder that if you are adding an ingredient to a beer, that ingredient better add something to the overall drinking experience. I had a saison that included lemon and vanilla recently. The creaminess imparted by the vanilla played extremely well with the citric acidity, bringing out the best aspects of both while also taking the edges off of both.

And that is what any CBD/THC addition should do in a perfect world.

In the Tap Lines for March 2022

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Out of Birthday Month and into a mask free world?  Not quite in L.A. County but it regular life is looming, does that mean regular beer life is here, or did I miss its re-introduction?

~ e-visits to (3) breweries that you may look past because they are “old”
~ special featured reviews of classic dark beers from yesteryear
~Heads-Up on Los Angeles Beer Events
~ Three suggested beers to buy this month. One light, one medium and one dark
~ A Book & A Beer reads The Anomaly by Hervé Le Tellier
~ A Podcast & A Beer listens to Plain English with Derek Thompson
~ Great Beer names and Best Beers of the Month
~ I will tap the Firkin and give my no holds barred opinion on the craft beer world.

The Firkin for December 2021

It is easy to proclaim at the end of each year that the last twelve months were a crazy rollercoaster. But I think we need to look at this in three year increments instead of one year.

2020 had a different trajectory than 2021 and 2022 will (hopefully) be the last part of the trilogy of the Covid years.

I said hopefully because it may look a little bleak at the moment with Omicron and the January surge that will follow the holiday. But breweries hung in there and new ones opened. Both may have been by a hair but it did.

I think that beer life will improve this year, maybe by June we won’t be looking over our shoulders. It may not be enough for some breweries but I think it might allow for some positive churn.

But whatever happens, it will be crazy.

The Firkin for September 2021

There are words in the English language that make people squirm. Including squirm or the leader in the category, moist.

There are beer descriptors that turn me off. I am wary of specific terms like sweet. But what really boils my blood is the term “crushable”. You can read a take on it from The Punch, HERE.

I guess, for me, it just conjures up people drinking just to drink. Not drinking to enjoy whichever beverage it is. Not drinking with a group of friends, not drinking and enjoying football or soccer. But it is just drinking. Like inhaling a bag of chips for no reason other than being on the couch.

I am not going to sermonize that every beer is meant to be analyzed with every sip. Far from it. Sometimes the best experiences are the ones we let wash over us. But “crushable” isn’t anywhere near experience. It is neanderthal, violent and best left at Animal House.

Brewers can put the word on their labels but they should know that many people do not have the same definition of the word,

The Firkin for July 2021

France has recently passed quite the unpopular law that bars unvaccinated people from going inside cafes. Los Angeles has many bars that are requiring proof of vaccinated to enter.

At this point, I would require it to come into my home as well. The vaccine is free, it is available and you have no excuse. You buckle up to drive to a bar. You obey street signs on the way. A jab in the arm seems an easy one and done proposition to me.

But of course, it is not. Now bars and taprooms will have to have bouncers at the door and endure negative Yelp reviews based on not being allowed in.

This may be the only way though to get our vaccination numbers up. Keep denying entry to various fun activities until enough people finally give up this weird “hesitancy”.

Plant a pop-up vaccination center next to a brewery and see if the lure of beer will get more needles in arms.

The Firkin for February 2021

Maybe I am the only one feeling this way but I get the feeling that beer world has been pretty quiet lately. Granted, I avoid beer Twitter and have a really pared down beer social media but either beer life is moving back toward normalcy with Biden in office or that we are passing through the eye of a larger economic storm.

I am really hoping it is the latter because the smaller confines of buying a 4-pack and running away from human contact has lost its luster, if it ever had it. This coming from a big introvert who has loved working from home.

Whether we get back to February 2020 in two months or six, I do believe that how we all experience beer will be weird for even longer. Some people are going to avoid gatherings for a long time. New brewery taprooms, especially in California will be designed with patios in mind. Creative packaging solutions will arise to offset 16oz can shortages.

I really hate the phrase new normal because it implies a certain stasis when life is always changing. But, it is a handy phrase in times like this.

Peel the Label – When I will drink at a brewery

Not that anyone is asking for my presence at a taproom but I bet that there are many people out there who are on the fence about sitting outside with others with masks going up and down.

I thought I would show the reasoning behind when I would return to have beer from a glass outside of my own home.

First, I will need to have gotten the vaccine. Second, I would need to see a significant percentage (over 60%) of people in Los Angeles County had gotten it as well. Or, a higher percentage (like over 75%) had received their Fauci Ouchie.

Once that baseline criteria is met, I would need to see that hospitals had bed capacity. Because if despite precautions, I did get sick after, I would want a bed available.

Then I would tentatively go out with the proviso that if a space was too crowded or too maskless, that I would bolt. I figure the people jonesing to be out are more than likely people who may have taken less precautions than me. Now, I don’t consider myself paranoid just lucky to have avoided getting sick and want to keep that streak alive.

Now let’s all get that vaccine!

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

The Firkin for December 2020

How will “dry”uary fare next month? Will seltzer keep rising? Is there a new IPA sub-style waiting in the wings? When will we be back at beer festival? If a year has started with more question marks, it has not been for a long time.

The biggest question being, the economy in the immediate vaccine aftermath. How long before life starts clicking like it was back this time last year?

I don’t have any good answers. The second set of stimulus, the brewery taxation and Save Our Stages bills got held up by the Child in Chief because of lack of magazine covers or some other imagined slight. That going into effect would have gotten us back at least a week early.

My prediction is that August is the month where we can stride to a brewery and have a pint at a bar. There will be sanitizer everywhere and people will be wary and some may even still wear masks even though that is the last safety measure that we should let go and not the first like I believe it will. Until that point, all other bets are on pause.

Aftermath – Part 9

It is not too often that folks will openly let you know that their establishment is not safe. But everything is bigger in Texas, including hubris.

But this post is not about knowing that this bar will soon be on the news as a virus hotbed. It is about the smaller signs to look for when going to a bar or taproom.

A. Tables should either be removed or blocked from use.

B. Doors should be open to avoid contact.

C. Windows should be open to avoid recirculating air.

D. You should see hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies around and being used.

E. There should be a restricted amount of people inside.

F. Masks should be on

Here is a way simple analogy. You do not go to a car dealership and ask for a car with either seatbelts, airbags or anti-lock brakes. There is no OR, it is AND. Same with virus safety. A mask and six feet is safer than just a mask. That is why you need to look and see first before sitting down.

The Firkin for May 2020

I have to say that the moves that the California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) have made during this pandemic have been mostly smart and effective. They moved with decent speed to allow beer sales to reflect the curbside and on-line ordering marketplace. Let breweries ship beer within the state and have loosened restrictions so that sidewalks and parking lots could be used as seating for patrons to keep that distancing effort alive.

But I am at a loss about this food and alcohol rule. Otherwise known as The Stuffed Sandwich for the great deli and beer lovers spot here in Southern California that operated under the weird rule that you could not purchase beer unless you ordered food.

Now that seems to be back on a larger scale for breweries wanting to re-open their taprooms. But what if I am a vegan and it’s a BBQ truck, or it’s a seafood truck and I am allergic to shellfish or if I just want a beer? Maybe they are looking to force breweries to help out restaurants?

Whatever the reasoning, I see people buying the lowest cost item and then not eating it. It has a two-drink minimum comedy club vibe to it. And it seems to put brewpubs into better position than taprooms.

Or am I reading this rule incorrectly?