Re-Cap – Pink Boots Collabrew

Each spring, beer fans see Pink Boots collaboration beers made (sometimes) with that years special hop blend. You would have have to search them out brewery by brewery. But this year Los Angeles got lucky with the first CollaBrew Festival so youcan taste many of the beers all in one spot.

Held next door to Frogtown Brewery in front of a dance studio, Pink Boots LA brought together many local breweries and one in the works cider maker all together under a sunny, spring sky to show off their beers. There were also sessions all afternoon so that you could hear about women in our brewing industry.

And I had two really fantastic beers amongst the tasters. First was an IPA from 14 Cannons Fuck the Patriarchy that tasted just hopped, it was that fresh. Project Barley had one of the best cold IPA’s in their short history named Ice the Nectaron that was perfectly light with just a touch of hop bitterness.

I hope this festival becomes a yearly event. The San Diego chapter has expressed interest and it could become a bigger festival.

LABW11 – recap

Earlier today, I posted some photos, here are my hazy recollections of the events I attended during the latest LABW

For the first time, well since ever, I did not attend the Kick-Off festival. Primarily due to the fact that I was only two weeks removed from Firestone Walker’s Invitational and because I was going to hit Sour Friends on the following weekend. Marathon. Not a Sprint mentality.

I did head over to Eagle Rock Brewery to sample and catch-up on the beers that they were quickly releasing in the run up to our beer week. Though the balance was weird, my winner of the group was Stimulus 03 which swapped out Belgian Amber for NE IPA with the only constant being high quality coffee. I also like the Norwegian Brut Kveik beer as well.

Next day was event-less as well unless you count making a run to Sunset Beer Co. to get the Unity beer not exciting. I mean the Cubs were in town which meant the Ravine was either busy or reeling from the busy.

Finally on Monday, I went to a sanctioned event! Hopped LA gathered some hazy IPA’s together at the Glendale Tap to show off what both LA and outside LA brewers are doing lately with the style. Arrow Lodge took home the popularity trophy on the night. I voted for Homage and their Little by Little which I thought hit all the hazy style points.

Next was Wednesday where the Brewers were making cocktails at Arts District Brewing. The usually raucous DTLA spot was not packed to the rafters which was good because the cocktails were to the rim of the glass. My favorite was the Three Weavers concoction which was one of the few mixed drinks that had beer as a component, in this case Knotty DIPA. I also enjoyed the Eagle Rock Bazooka Joe. Rum and honey swirled together.

The hits kept coming as I stayed close to home at the hidden gem that is We’re Pouring. They had a Shrago-centric list with a great variety of Beachwood beers. They had IPA’s (Greenshift for me), they had sours, they had Haybusa and they had stouts (System in two variants). Plus great pizza and NBA draft on the TV.

Friday and Saturday were my two most excited about events. I always make a point to hit Sunset Beer Co. during the week. They always come through with a casual and fun time. This year Kelly Erickson curated a list of Women-Brewed beers and she got a far ranging selection from Firestone Walker to the new Wave Maiden and Arrow Lodge as well.

Then I went out to Cellador (which I have been doing a lot this year) for their Sour Friends. This was a delight. Another great set of breweries pouring sours from across the spectrum many with Masumoto peaches if you wanted to pick a theme. Pyrus Rustique from Beachwood Blendery was fantastic filled with pear taste. Violet Underground from Firestone Walker was great as well plus they had palate cleansing beers like Pleasant Pils from Highland Park.

There was a quick stop at MacLeod’s on the way home to try their Five Anniversary 11% plus beer and soak up the sun on their patio and then, like that, LABW11 was done.

Firestone Walker Invitational – Full Recap

It is easy to write an Invitational recap. Talk about the heat. Talk about your favorite beers. Talk about the lines. Talk about how well this event is run and voila, word count is hit.

I will instead focus on a different tack…

Each FWIBF is safe, structured and similar.  That may seem like faint praise but it is not.  I know that everything will run smoothly.  They will be ready with information weeks before the event, they will follow up, badges will be handed out, the BBQ will start on time and the festival, well, the festival will have too much.  I would like to spend three days going through the beers.

What is great is that there are the in-between times where you can explore Paso Robles and you had best explore it because for a smaller, out of the way town, there is a lot of beverages to check out and food to eat.  I have my own schedule of visiting Silva Brewing, Twisted and Glazed Donuts and Tin City but you can do the new Field of Light exhibit now or hit up Templeton and their quaint Main Street.  Or head to the other side of the 101 and all the wineries there.  Firestone also has a morning after wine brunch to ease you back into Sunday and to be able to talk about the beers from the day before.

This year, my wife and I stayed in an airstream trailer outside of town that overlooked a vineyard and had a friendly pit bull named Ladybug along with chickens and rabbits and a beautiful night sky.  Next year, I might stay in a different part of town (if I go of course, let’s not get ahead of ourselves).  Who knows, I might go up next year even if I don’t go to the festival.  I might head north just to visit all the breweries that I can’t get to like Tent City or in SLO.

As far as the festival itself, it is all just nitpicking but I have come up with some quick greater than – less than notes from the 28+ samples that I tasted on the day.

Great Leap from China > Balter from Australia

Green Cheek booth display = Alvarado Street booth display

Side Project line > Garage Project line (due to The Bruery doing ½ of the beer presentation of one Garage Project beer)

Pils as Festival collab beer > barrel-aged collab

Not following my own set festival rules because I am easily distracted > following my own set festival rules

Oh, and my favorite brewery was Rare Barrel.  They have seriously dialed into my taste buds.  Sadly, I did not like the two Hair of the Dog beers that I sampled even though I was really pumped for them to be there.  I also missed Sante Adairus and Russian River which is very, very bad of me.

Firestone Walker Invitational – Day 2

Onto the good stuff, my 2nd day recap of the 2019 Invitational. There was a breeze in the air as I made my final approach into the festival. I always walk around the Mid-State Fairgrounds around the same time to gauge how many people line up a full two hours before they are allowed in. This year seemed lighter in General Admission line and larger in the one hour wait VIP line.

The booths had been changed up a bit. FW keeps people guessing so that muscle memory doesn’t move people to the same spots each year. I will touch on the favorites poured this year in another post but I want to talk about the two panels hosted by the Brewing Network. First was cocktail beers. If there is anything that will bust up the hard seltzer train it will be this area and though Boulevard Brewing brought an actual canned cocktail which I passed on because nothing could reach the heights of last nights Re:Find offerings, I found the Corpse Reviver #2 from Gigantic Brewing to be really good. Burial Beer brought a beer called Amaro from their Visual line and this digestif meets beer was great as well.

The sour panel held a couple surprises too. Crooked Stave had a twelve-ounce can of Sour Rose. Not super sour but boy did it smell and taste like Rosewater, and it was fantastic. Rare Barrel poured Cyboogie which was also canned and also fantastic though calling it sour IPA was a stretch. That panel ended with a table beer from Side Project whose line was long all day and has been since they first came to the festival.

More coverage and photos to follow.

Recap – Session Fest

Wanna know what fun and super low ABV beers were being offered at the 2019 version of Session Fest? Well, read on…

…and that was just the inside tap list. There were still beers outside to try. Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. I was excited to see Brewery Draconum on the list. This is a brewery on my to visit list and their Kolsch did not strike me well. Tasted kind of green and un-kolsch-y. I also had a Mexican lager from Absolution and it was another below par performer from that Torrance brewery.

On the positive side of the ledger, the Malty AF from host Eagle Rock was a delight. Doubt it would sell in a 16oz can but it was as name suggested a dive into malt. Loved it. The other winner for me (unsurpisingly) was from Cellador. Their Famille is a past Food GPS Beer of the Week and it was delicious. Tart and earthy and malty and fun.

I really like this festival because of the depth of beers. There is a deep bench of beer styles that are not seen and this event showcases them. It may not be as sexy as a DIPA Fest but the true craft believers will find themselves at this event.

#LABW10 – Week+ Recap Part 1

I took a day break from LABW festivities on Sunday after the Kick-Off Festival but was back at it on Monday in Eagle Rock at the Brewers in the Hot Seat. Held at the Eagle Rock Brewery Public House, this event was one of many competitions. Be it Sumo wrestling, pinball or whose keg kicked first. This night entailed hot wings and beer industry talk.

Both Bob Kunz from Highland Park and Peter Mumford from Mumford Brewing showed the obvious signs of discomfort but that didn’t stop them or Alex Nowell from Three Weavers or Lee Bakofsky from ERB talking about various points related to creating craft beer.

Here are some of my jotted notes that struck me. One from each brewery.
HPB – Less beer geeks at Chinatown. Refresh, the house beer is a big seller.
MB – Not trend driven but on top of trends. Have been close on the heels of hazy and brut.
ERB – sending more beer to Bay Area where Manifesto Wit is more popular for instance
TW – wants large variety. Wants different colors. A Rainbow.

The next night, I drove out to Culver City for Japanese beer at Harajuku. A snug little spot with access to a pipeline of Baird beer. Not even their core beers are widely seen around town and this spot has all levels of tap choices.

Even better, a rep from Coedo beer was also on hand pouring out samples from their range which included a Pilsner and an amber sweet potato beer. Since it is World Cup time, I also had the New Belgium / Baird Bicycle Kick Kolsch too.
Coedo Pilsner

Owner Adam Gutentag fell in love with Japan loved izakaya and pub culture and also befriended Brian Baird the brewer behind his eponymous brewery that started out as the Fish Market taproom. Japan is starting to move out of what has been called the “souvenir” brewery phase to bigger and better things. How that plays out will be quite interesting. But pairing beer and skewers works really well.

L.A. Beer Week Kick-Off – The Recap

Back to L.A. Center Studios to volunteer and drink beer at the Kick-Off Fest for LABW10.

Here is my recap of the day after I finished my shift of putting wristbands on festival patrons…

I tasted fifteen beers. Some just a few sips, others I needed to get to the bottom of the glass. Only 1 was truly off but that was from the new Ximix Brewery down Hawthorne way and I will attribute that to travel and being new.

On the good side was Simmzy’s Beerbank Bubbly Brut. I don’t know what to expect from this American version on the classic (but wicked expensive) and rarely seen Belgian Brut beers. But this was low on bitterness with a nice dryness to it. Of the two Brut’s that I had, this tasted more like I expected than the Beachwood/Drakes collab.

My two favorite beers were from new breweries since that is where my focus was pointed. Liberation’s Lucy Hoppy Blonde and Ogopogo’s Naitaka rye were both bursting with flavors and stood out amongst the flood of tastes from each taster. I was also quite impressed by Wiretap from Lincoln Heights. Both their Echelon Pale Ale and Luchador Belgian/Mexican mash-up were very tasty. Cellador was strong as was Chapman (which had three beers kick before I could even make my way there!

Thankfully the weather was much better. So much cooler in fact that I forgot to put on sunscreen and came home red despite the cool breezes downtown. Organization wise, I will again make the plea for signage. Lots of signage. The crowd was processed much faster this year and with much less complaints but I think that signs and maybe some traffic controller volunteers might help make this a smoother event.

As it stands, this is the best event to try the beers from all over our sprawling beer scene.

L.A. Food & Beer Fest – Recap

My better half does not attend beer festivals. But, she made an exception for the 1st ever L.A. Beer & Food Fest.

1st festivals are almost always interesting. Is the space right? Are they ready? Many questions to be answered. But Frances Lopez and her crew did a great job of using the Mack Sennett Studios to their full advantage.

Upon entering it was encouraging that physical room separation was used for good. If you have two indoor rooms and one outdoor space, how do you use it?

By putting food and drink outside, brewpubs in one room and breweries in another. Location was used to best effect. And, with tinkering can be even better.

Since this was a beer AND food festival, I gave to say that the food on offer was great but could have been better showcased. My wife and I loved Waffle Love (Come to Glendale) and their dessert waffles in two varities. Sausal had a great chili with kick to it and Vagabond Cheese was their usual terrific selves educating and making great pairing suggestions. (pecorino with Standard Crude). But nowhere did I see signage that pushed people to try food A with beer B or beer C. Except for the brewpub area where you could try Eagle Rock beers with Eagle Rock Public House food. Same goes for Ladyface, Twisted Oak and Wolf Creek. All brought unique food in perfect little bite sized tastes.

As I age, the amount of beer I drink at unlimited festivals is becoming less, so I leave a lot on the table especially at a fest with so many breweries pouring a pair (or more) beers a piece. But I found some winners. Transplants Brewing had a beautiful red colored Triple IPA, Not Getting Any Younger which was excellent. I got my first taste of One from Strand Brewing which at DIPA strength made me look forward to Two. I had my first beer from Arrow Lodge, Pale to the King which was probably my favorite of the day.

Aside from signage and more pushing pairings, I think the addition of more specialized cuisines would vault this fest higher. Pizza, salad and Americana staples would have helped. The food on offer was great and hit niches well like dessert and spicy foods but adding a couple more would ease lines and give more options especially with the amount of IPA’s on tap.

You have to judge a festival based on many factors, not the least of which is how many times it has been done. If this is where the LAB&FF starts from, the sky is the limit.


Another year of Great American Beer and the Festival that celebrates it, is now past.  Brewers and craft beer fans are heading to the airport for flights home.  Now it is time to see what was awarded in Denver at the GABF and what I think about it.

For L.A. fans, the two big pieces of news are the brace of silvers that are coming home  Smog City nabbed their second medal since opening with their Kumquat Saison in the Belgian-Style Fruit beer category.  Julian Shrago and Beachwood added to their trophy case with Mocha Machine in the Coffee beer category.

There were a whopping 92 categories this year plus the Pro-Am beers.  The smallest category was the American style Dark Lager with only 21 entries. Fifteen of the categories had over 100 entries with IPA’s again dominating the proceedings with an astounding 336.  Followed by Imperial IPA’s with 208!  And California wrested the IPS crown back from Oregon as BNS Brewing from Santee took the gold with their Revolver IPA.

Speaking of state bragging rights, California was in the forefront again with 66 total medals (by my count).  Including a sweep of the Cream Ale category with Pabst of Los Angeles brewing Washington Iconic beers of Rainier (gold) and Olympia (silver). Dale Brothers from Upland took bronze with Nuff. Colorado parlayed its home field advantage to 35 medals including a gold in the hotly contested Wood and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer category that was won by AC Golden.  Oh and Coors Banquet struck gold as well. Oregon hauled in 19 medals and Washington State 12 and it seemed whenever the ABInBev owned 10 Barrel would win that another Bend based brewery would win the next higher medal.  A bit of karma perhaps?

Firestone Walker and TAPS were named mid-sized winners and Rip Current from San Diego was tabbed for Very Small Brewing company awards.  If you prefer your beer brewed or owned by a large corporation, the Pabst of Los Angeles should be your choice, at least the Brewer’s Association thinks so…


Other assorted notes:

Feral One and Sour Opal picked up medals for Barrelworks in Buellton.

Ritual won big with two gold medals as did Bottle Logic.

Session IPA’s debuted this year and had the 4th highest entry count.

My college town of McMinnville was mentioned with a gold from Golden Valley .

Best beer name was in the Belgian Quadrupel category: Quad Damn It.




Firestone-Walker Invitational (the recap)


As threatened here is my recap of the Firestone-Walker Invitational that was held on Saturday……

With a beer stained shirt, I left the 2013 Firestone-Walker Invitational Beer Festival dizzy from the variety of beers and breweries on display and maybe the triple digit heat too.

The Mid-State Fairgrounds was hopping with crowds attracted by an impressive worldwide brewery list with beers that are rare within miles of their home breweries, let alone seen in California. Dark Lord from Indiana’s Three Floyds or Hunaphu from Peoples Choice winning brewery, Cigar City from Florida.

Both highly rated beers and both excellent but in my opinion, three others made my Best in Show List (plus an honorable mention in Tipo Pils from Birrificio Italiano).

#3 – Dos Osos IPA from Revolution Brewing. A collaborative hop bomb between the 3 year old Chicago brewery and Firestone-Walker. Was super fresh with a great bouquet.

#2 – Nefarious DIPA from Boneyard Brewing. For a big DIPA this (again very fresh) Double was light and nimble.

# 1 – Prickly Passion Saison aged in Peach Whiskey barrels from the venerable New Belgium. My first beer of the day and one that struck a chord that I measured all the rest of the days beers on. Had a bright fruit note that balanced with a smooth and light barrel flavor.

OK, on to my beer festival check list:
water: plentiful (they also had cool zone blowers and misters at most stations to keep things cool)

food: plentiful (and free with admission) I certainly enjoyed the cupcakes but you could really do some great beer pairings.

crowds: There were long lines but that was to be expected. You could easily move about the fairgrounds and if one line was too long another fantastic brewery was close by.

Considering the heat and the massive beer geek popularity of the beers on hand this was well-run and smooth operation. (Which was not a surprise to me)

This will be an annual pilgrimage for me.