Vin de Garde

Looks like de Garde Brewing is branching out. Not into Seltzers or Canned Cocktails but into a more natural way, literally.

Low intervention wine making is how they put it. The de Garde Cellars has come out of the gate Rose #1 with grapes from a small sub-region of the Walla Walla AVA.


Terroir Project is back and it’s twice the size of last year’s event! On Saturday, Sept. 21, 14 breweries from around the world will participate in an experimental crossover between beer and wine, and present their own interpretation of a shared recipe that draws from both the grain and the grape.
Tickets go on sale Tuesday, Aug. 6 at 9 am. Ticket price is $65 and includes Terroir Project tastings from the 14 participating breweries as well as tastings from guest breweries and wineries, a commemorative tasting glass and live music.

First Burgundy, next Munich?

Add to the list of courses that I would have taken, had I been at Linfield now…..

…now, we just need to get an exchange going with Germany or Belgium or the UK to get historical and current brewing knowledge.

Return to Re:Find

A few years back, as part of a trip to Paso Robles put on by Firestone Walker, I had a lovely evening eating food and having cocktails and even practicing creating my own blend of gin at the Re:Find distillery. (It was not good). I finally returned up the windy road and windier driveway to this time taste wine and spirits.

For the fantastic price of $15, a visitor gets four splashes of wine and then tastes of spirits in the room next door, right in front of the beautiful shiny still.

Of the four wines on the flight, my favorite was a Cuvee Blanc from 2016. Sharp and strong with great grape taste to this amateur wine drinker. But I was there to taste the gin and limoncello and decide which I wanted to bring back home with me.

The Vodka was clean and strong but surprisingly the barrel-aged Vodka [e] was even stronger and I noticeably was struck by it. The Limoncello is perfect as a base for cocktails. On it’s own, it was too sweet for me but that lemon taste was magnificent.

The Gin is made of a proprietary blend of botanicals including juniper berry, coriander, orris root, lemon & orange peel, grains of paradise, and lavender. And the aroma was heavenly. This is a gin that could be drunk straight and would reveal different nuances. In a cocktail it really adds a set of spice notes and alcohol heat that was amazing.

Re:Find is part of the distillery trail in Paso Robles but I could have sat on the hill and just drank G&Ts all day.

Into the Pool


I don’t think you need an actual harpoon if you are in a pool in Tuscany. But the beer that Harpoon made in collaboration with Birri­cio L’Olmaia might become a whale.

Tuscan Pool Party is part of the 100 Barrel series from Harpoon and mixes Amarillo hops with juice from Merlot and Sangiovese grapes.

You will be seeing more and more beer/wine hybrids so you best jump on the bandwagon now.

Atwater Beer-Wine-Food # 2

Atwater BWF

The folks behind the curtain at Link ‘n’ Hops and 55 Degree wine have come back for a second go at The Atwater Village Beer, Food & Wine Festival.

According to the organizers, “Last year the festival sold out with over 1,000 attendees.” Which is amazing considering the small space it was wedged into.  But for those in the Glendale/Pasadena/Silver Lake areas it is a great chance for a lower key fest without a lot of the snobbery you see at other festivals.

Partial brewery list: Figueroa Mountain, El Segundo Brewery, Bootleggers Brewery

Partial food truck list: The Grilled Cheese Truck, Kogi BBQ

Click here for the full (and growing) list of participants. And to check out if you would rather go VIP or regular.  Prices go up the day of so better to buy in advance.


The Firkin for March 2013


Beer is not wine. Seems simple enough to fathom. But for some folks, they have to be yoked together. Like some mismatched Odd Couple. Hence the reaction in the craft beer community to this article in the NY Times.

Here is the deal. Wine is great. So is beer. I like my spirits too.  But for the love of God don’t compare the three. I don’t care if you are a brewer talking to a journalist or a journalist talking to us in the craft beer community.  True, they are all alcoholic beverages but they have vastly different histories, vastly different present creative and economic situations and their trajectories will see all three in (you guessed it) different places in the future.

Beer simply cannot be the new wine or the old wine. Just because a brewery bottles in fancy big bottles does not mean they are “wine-ifying” themselves. It probably means that it was the most cost effective or it looks good on a store shelf. Hell, maybe it means a shorter bottling day.

Just because some beers are aged and cellared does not mean that a beer geek who has a spreadsheet of all his beer meticulously organized is copying a wine geek who does the same thing. People love to collect.  Hence an entire show on hoarding.

And just because a beer costs as much (or more) as a wine in some instances does not mean that beer is trying to supplant wine as the tipple of choice.  It probably means that the ingredients were costly and it took time to make. 

To believe that the craft beer industry is merely trying to mimic the wine industry means, in essence, that you want brewers to restrict themselves. Restrict themselves to what worked with wine.  Maybe they should also copy the industrial beer complex too.  Perhaps they should all make 12oz cans of an adjunct corn lager? 

I know that is an exaggeration but I firmly believe that we shouldn’t put blinders on the craft brewers of the world. Give them free reign. If they want to have vintners help pick a beer blend, do it.  If they want to bottle strictly in jereboams then fine.  Some experiments may not work. But others might.

And in the end the wallet will speak the loudest. If a beer is too expensive or in too large a container or flat out too weird, it won’t make the journey from store shelf to cash register.  In the end, the beer inside is 100% more important than the packaging outside or the pricing on the bar code.

Just like you wouldn’t put a red wine into a dimpled British bitter glass why do we insist on pouring craft beer into the wine world?

Beer or Wine with your Cheese?

This Wednesday, March 20th from 7pm-9pm over at the Colorado Wine Company you can test the theory of beer pairing at “WINE vs BEER: A Battle for Cheese’s Hand in Marriage”

Here is the information you need to know: “It has long been understood that wine was the ultimate beverage companion to fine cheeses.  But then these beer geeks came along and claimed that beer was the better pairing for fine cheeses.
As many of you know, we have both a wine store (Colorado Wine) and a beer store (Sunset Beer Company) and we sell both at both stores so we really have one foot in each camp.  Or two feet in two camps.  We like to drink.

Anyway, while it may be true that it all depends on which cheese you’re pairing, we’re going to go ahead and claim that there can be only one and only YOU can decide.  We like conflict.  Two beverages enter….ONE beverage leaves.  That sorta thing.

Join us Wednesday night 3/20, 7-9 pm and decide for yourself. Decide for us.  Decide for all of humanity.

The beer + cheese flight:  4 beers paired with 4 gourmet cheeses and sides,


The wine + cheese flight:  4 wines paired with 4 gourmet cheeses and sides,

The combo: (2 wines and 2 beers of your choice from the flights)

Choose among any of these for $15!  The cheeses alone, as you regulars know, are worth coming for.  We source our cheeses from the same great importer as Nicole’s and the best gourmet shops in LA.”

Highly Anticipated Seasonal # 2

I am as puzzled and curious as you are by this Stone label. Wine & tea flavors mixed up with beer? Can it work? My record with beers with wine notes is hit and miss. I have had Rogue’s Chamemellow and it was flat out delicious. It will be interesting. It worked in the collaboration saison earlier this year.

The Firkin for May 2010


Wine gets it and beer doesn’t. It seems to be a thorny issue. Especially now that craft beer has raised it’s profile. Beer has prestige where once it was only a plebian drink. But the pro-beer crowd seems to feel that despite innovation within the brewing industry and educated palates of consumers that proper respect isn’t being given and that wine is sitting on its grape laurels.

That is so beyond the point to me. Beer shouldn’t be compared to wine in that way. By reducing it to a class struggle or vying for preeminence at the dining table, it takes away what is great about both drinks. And it makes both seem like inaccessible drinks for the highly cultured few.

Beer does not have to justify itself as classy. Beer is classy. And wine people who put down beer as beneath them and the beer people who fight every perceived slight just reinforce the old and outdated image of beer as just a watery lager for the masses.

An argument is made that there should be a level playing field. Wine and spirits and beer starting at point A. They are all great and deserve a participation ribbon. That seems very short sighted. We should celebrate the heritage of beer and marvel at the journey it has taken. Then the beer world needs to focus on what is good for the advancement of beer. Not in comparison to others but simply beer.

Beer does not need to keep up with the Jones’s of the wine industry. Remember that this new renaissance started not to compete but to make a good beer because the beer available was watered down and not getting any better. It wasn’t done to win a competition of beer vs wine.

Oddly enough though, I love beer vs wine pairing dinners where people can vote on what works better with their palates. This is because it is an educational setting. It may be externally a competition but in the end people from both sides of the aisle are being exposed to different flavors and their combinations.

The people of the craft beer world need to use whatever GPS is needed to relocate where beer is in history and move forward from there. We are not on the same trajectory as wine or spirits or coffee or tea. They have their own arcs. If beer has a problem then let’s find a BEER ANSWER.

If an alcohol law need to be changed, then we should craft resolutions that fit this industry.

If restaurants don’t use beer to cook or as an accompanying beverage, then we should start restaurants that are beer centric.

If informed media exposure is needed then, then we need to provide either the content or the screens, be they computer or TV, for potential customers to see it.