Review – Gold Brick Pale ale from Ol’ Burro

My local Trader Joe’s (and by local, I mean across the street) has upped it’s beer game in the past 5-6 months.  More options and newer options as well. But that hasn’t meant a stop to their “house” brands.  So my beer radar was up when I saw Ol’ Burro Brewing of Los Angeles on their shelves.

Now their house brands are pretty solid. Unibroue and Gordon Biersch with Firestone Walker doing some as well and now it appears Golden Road as well. No mention of it on the box.  Other than a mysterious “brewed in Los Angeles”.


Since there are not many breweries in Los Angeles and not many at all that can. It is not much of a leap to Golden Road.  A cursory Googling found only an address.  An address on West San Fernando Road.  Which if you have been to Golden Road, is their street location.  After my Sherlocking, I asked the clerk where it was brewed and you can guess the answer I got.

Now I don’t know why the subterfuge.  The beer geeks will find out and all they are fooling are people who may not understand the contract beer thing.  And that may turn people off if and when they find out.  I would put proudly brewed for Trader Joe’s by Golden Road on the label and if people liked this lower priced offering, they might reach for the higher priced Heal the Bay Or Wolf Among Weeds the next time they beer shopped.

That is a topic oft covered on this blog so lets get to the beer…..

It pours a dark amber brownish/orange color.  For a pale ale, there is not much hop nose at all.  45 IBUs doesn’t scream hoppy though it is more in line with a traditional pale ale.  The first sips mirror the aroma.  Primarily maltiness.  Super easy to drink.  Leaves a pretty lacing on the glass too.  Very quenching but more an ESB than a pale.  And if the box and can replaced pale with ESB, I would have been pleasantly surprised.  As a pale ale, it is no great shakes and could use a serious bitter boost.


Obviously at a lower price point, you can’t expect Citra, Nelson or Rakau in your pale but you would expect more hoppiness to be there.  They also have four packs of a blonde ale as well.  Usually those don’t stray too far style wise.  That makes the choice easier.  If you want light, go for the blonde it will only set you back $4.99.  If you are in a malty mood then pony up an extra buck for the Gold Brick (ESB).

Up from the Cellar – Mission Street Anniversary 2011


It is great to have a Trader Joe’s across the street from you especially when they have the Mission Street line of beers and some of their other private label brands that are very inexpensively priced for the quality of beer that you are getting.

This is a Firestone Walker beer and it is a blend of three different beers so it’s sort of a baby version and extremely baby version at that of the anniversary beers that they release each year. It is called an Imperial brown and  I don’t know how much longer Firestone will actually brew this particular brand but if you can get your hands on the 2014 it is out and you should get it.


2011 pours a black with reddish tint. The initial smell from this is big caramel notes with a little bit of oak and a touch little bit of bourbon to it but definitely a caramel sweetness has sort of taken over the whole beer at this point.

It is still zippy though even though it does have much more of a silky mouth feel to it. The alcohol definitely is also more prominent then you would expect from an 8.5% beer but that is more than likely why you shouldn’t of gone past the three years that it has been aging


The verdict probably a year maybe maybe year and a half tops but three is definitely a bit on the long side for holding onto this one.  I should’ve opened this much earlier.

Review – NGB Gluten Free


NGB is one in a small line of gluten-free beers on the market.  It pours a light amber color.  Smell is primarily cider with some caramel notes.  The taste is cider all the way through.  Not much else here.  And the cider tastes a little underfermented.  When I bought it the Trader Joes cashier warned me it would be bad and that no one liked it at the store.  It is pretty close to drain pour territory.

Omission from Widmer is still the class of this category.  NGB isn’t even close.


With the new TV season well underway, one show that I am following is Sleepy Hollow.  Yes, the idea requites a sturdy underpinning of belief in the fantastical but it does have it’s creepy moments and a headless horseman is always cool.

Mission Street in 2013

One of the better beer bargains can be had (unsurprisingly to some) at Trader Joe’s. Their Mission Street brand is brewed by Firestone-Walker and they do a range of blonde to pale to IPA to bombers of brown ale and hefe but each year they put out an Anniversary beer. Now, it doesn’t touch the Firestone-Walker anniversary beers but for the price, you get a great beer. Look for it in the coming months….


Looks like Trader Joe’s is having Unibroue add to the private label beers that they supply with the coming soon Providential Belgian Golden Ale.

Not only can you get Unibroue branded beers at a discount at the chain there private label offerings are an absolute steal for the high quality you get. Just avoid the Boatswain beers. Not good.

Mission Street 2011

One of the great surprises of 2010 were Firestone Walker bombers made for Trader Joesunder the Mission Street Label. The Hefeweizen was solid and even better was the brown ale that had just the right balance of malt and thickness with a spice kick.

Now they have produced a new beer, Mission Street 2011 Anniversary Ale. The copy on the label explains: “This year’s Mission St. Anniversary Ale showcases complex malt flavors with roasty notes layered in and medium hop character. It is a blend of three incredible brews carefully blended for maxiumum aroma and flavor. We affectionately call this brew an Imperial Brown Ale. 8.5% ABV.”.