Tuesday, December 31, 2013

An Epic Year

I've been lucky enough to attend some pretty epic events this year, drink some amazing beers, and see some of my favorite bands perform live.  Listed below are just a few of my favorite events, beers, and shows from 2013.

Favorite Events

1.  Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest
An event where it is hotter than Africa that is still amazing?  Fantastic beers from around the world, country, and state.  I'm excited that I already have secured my tickets for 2014's festival.

Tasting glasses waiting for new friends.

2.  Stone's 17th Anniversary
When an event that already has a reputation for being amazing improves itself, it's a pretty impressive feat.  Stone expanded their offerings this year, which means more people were happy with even more amazing beer.  Another event that was held on a warm summer day that I really loved.

Cheers to 17 years!

3.  Great American Beer Festival
I've been fortunate to now attend this event for two years.  Must say, although the event itself is well done, I enjoy visiting all of the nearby breweries even more!  This year, I went on a brewery tour bus with Bootlegger's Brewery, which was rad.  My favorite brewery that I visited, like last year, was New Belgium.  I may or may not have told more than one person how I won a bike from them this year.

Brewery tours are always fun.

Favorite beers

1.  Firestone Walker Brewing Company's PNC
I've had PNC on more than one occasion, and each time, I want more.

PNC at Toronado

2.  Modern Times Beer's Blazing World
A new brewery, rad tasting room, and phenomenal beers.  I'm looking forward to see what 2014 has in store for Modern Times!
Modern Times Lomaland Fermentorium

3.  Gigantic Brewing Company's IPA
I have to admit, since I am a fan of the Pixies, having a brewery named Gigantic already piqued my interest.  Their beers are among my new favorites of the year.

Gigantic Brewing Company's label artwork is fantastic!

Favorite shows
1.  The Sound City Players on Hollywood Boulevard for Jimmy Kimmel Live
Seeing the members of the Foo Fighters perform with some legendary musicians, such as Rick Springfield was amazing.  I still can't believe it.  Especially since it was free and a few days before my birthday!

David Eric Grohl and Rick Springfield

2.  Bad Religion at SOMA in San Diego
Never disappoints.
Bad Religion

3.  The Pixies at the El Rey in Hollywood
A band that I thought I would never see perform, since they broke up before I was introduced to their music.  I've been lucky to see them several times before this show, but never in such a small venue.  The El Rey is one of my favorite venues, and the Pixies did not let me down.

The Pixies!

I had such an amazing year going on so many epic adventures, I can't wait to see what 2014 has in store for me!
Dana Point, New Year's Day 2013

Friday, November 1, 2013

Beer Blogging Friday, #81 Scary Beer Feminists!

The first Friday of every month, a group of beer bloggers around the globe come together to write a post for The Sessions, also known as Beer Blogging Friday.
For the month of November, Nichole Richard, who writes Tasting Nitch, chose the topic, "Women and Beer: Scary Beer Feminists or a Healthy Growing Demographic?"  
I find this topic interesting, because I have never really thought that women being involved in the craft beer world to be a novelty.  Perhaps because I grew up as a girl playing with both Barbies and Tonka trucks, it seems normal to me for men and women to share the same hobbies and interests.   
While I do realize that when I attend beer events, women are in the minority, I've never really questioned it.  I'm not sure if I would have discovered my love for craft beer if it hadn't been for my helpful boyfriend.  I had sampled craft beer prior to meeting him, but had no idea all of the options that were available and what an ever expanding market the craft beer industry is.
Throughout my craft beer adventures, I have been fortunate to make many amazing friends.  Not once have I felt that my opinions may not be taken seriously because I happen to be female.  I have friends who know much more about beer than I do, yet they always listen to what I have to say, which I appreciate.  
I hope that both women and men continue to realize how amazing craft beer is and give it a try.  Beer is for everyone, well, everyone who is of legal drinking age!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

4th Annual OC Brew Ha Ha

Large maps make it easy for people to find their destinations!
Have you ever gone on a vacation and can't wait to go back?  That's how I feel about OC Brew Ha Ha.  Last year was the first time I had the opportunity to attend and I had an amazing time sampling beers.  I have eagerly been awaiting this year's Brew Ha Ha since the end of last year's event!

Gorgeous day for a beer festival!
OC Brew Ha Ha was once again held in the tranquil setting of Oak Canyon Park, although it is in an area that seems to be far away from any major cities, it is actually not far from the suburbs of the east side of the city of Orange.  A quick thirty minute drive from Anaheim and I arrived at the entrance.

A firetruck that serves beer!
Although the event was sold out, it never felt crowded throughout the day.  The longest line had two people in front of me, which of course moved so quickly I forgot there had been people in front of me!
Nothing beats hanging out with Dr. Bill and Stephen Johnson!
Off-duty firefighters were pouring beer, while helped to remind everyone in attendance that a portion of the ticket sales profits were set aside for the Fallen Fire Fighters Relief Fund.  Another benefit of having volunteers pour beer at the Brew Ha Ha is that it helped brewers and brewery employees, who were in attendance, to have more time to talk with attendees about their various beers.  It is always nice to be able to talk to the people that make the beer and to ask questions, if need be.
Matt Becker, Aaron Barkenhagen, and Armen Badalian
Over the course of the afternoon, Greg Koch, David Walker, Dr. Bill Sysak, and Ed Heethuis all took to the stage to impart their craft beer knowledge upon the festival attendees.  Matt Becker, John Holzer, and Stephen Johnson of New Brew Thursday asked beer trivia questions before introducing the last speaker of the day, Greg Koch.  The fellas of New Brew Thursday also handed out t-shirts for those who answered their questions correctly.
Greg Koch likes to talk about beer.
After the last speaker, the highlight of the day for me began...Reel Big Fish took the stage!  Orange County natives who also happen to love beer, Reel Big Fish obviously were having fun playing to the appreciative crowd.

Oh, hi, Reel Big Fish!

Beer + ska = skanking
Many breweries brought their standard line up of beer while some chose to bring special or limited release beers.  Throughout the day, I heard from several people that I needed to try the IPL from Ironside as well as Sierra Nevada's Flip Side.  They were among my favorites of the day along with El Segundo's Pale Ale.  Another highlight of the day was the collaboration beer made exclusively for OC Brew Ha Ha.  Bootlegger's Brewery, Cismontane Brewing, and Tustin Brewery came together to create an Imperial Red.  I'm always happy when I have a chance to try beers that I've never had before!

Ironfire's IPL is fantastic!

Besides beer, there was an great selection of food available at the OC Brew Ha Ha.  Food trucks along with stand alone restaurants brought their tasty treats to make sure everyone was well fed.  From The Viking Truck to Hopscotch Tavern, there was a wide variety of food to be found to please everyone.
Food trucks!
The organizers of OC Brew Ha Ha took an event that has had great success the past three years and made it even better.  They ensured that the brewery booths were spaced out well enough so that it did not feel crowded, even though more breweries attended this year then last year.  Just like last year, the weather was a bit on the warm side, but there were ample water stations throughout the event grounds as well as misting stations which helped to cool people off.

Thanks, OC Brew Ha Ha for a great event.  I can't wait for next year, I hope Reel Big Fish returns, cause nothing beats going to an amazing beer event with a rad band playing live music!
Erik Zwack, Matt Becker, and Scot Koury

Monday, August 5, 2013

This Saturday, Surf 'n' Suds Beer Festival in Carpinteria!

Living in California, many of us are fortunate enough to live within driving distance to the beach. The upcoming Surf 'n' Suds Beer Festival reminds us not only how lucky many of us are to live near the beach, but also how many amazing breweries are in our great state.
This Saturday, August 10th at Linden Field at Carpinteria State Beach, Deep Surf Magazine will hold the inaugural Surf 'n' Suds Beer Festival.  Over thirty breweries will be on hand to serve delicious beer in an amazing beach setting.  

Breweries scheduled to attend include:
Not only is this a beer event, but it is also an event that celebrates surfing.  Live music will be provided by three bands; Afishnsea the Moon, The Kick, and The Rincons.  Surfboard shapers who are from the area will also be available to showcase their latest surfboard creations.  Throughout the event, movies celebrating surf culture will be shown to help add to the ambiance.  Of course, food is essential during any event where beer is served.  Three vendors will have food available for purchase; B & D's Curbside Grill, The Burger Bus, and Tiki Taco.
Both VIP and general admission tickets will be available.  VIP tickets are $60 and provide attendees to enter the festival one hour prior to general admission ticket holders.  General admission tickets are $45.  For $20, Designated Drivers may also attend the festival.  The Designated Driver ticket also comes with a $5 food voucher.  The event will begin at 11:30 a.m. for those who purchase VIP tickets and 12:30 p.m. for general admission ticket holders.  Beer will stop being served at 5:00 p.m. with the gates closing at 5:30 p.m..
Tickets are available for purchase here.  Don't miss out on a fun opportunity to enjoy the beach and some great beers!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


IPA Day is back this Thursday, August 1st!  This year marks the third annual IPA Day.  I'm super excited to celebrate because well, I love beer and IPAs are one of my favorite styles of beer.  To read more about the history of IPA Day, check out the creator of the event, the Beer Wench's blog post here.  Many breweries and beer related businesses will be offering specials to help encourage customers to try an IPA.  The following breweries and businesses are just a small sample of events and promotions that will be occurring on Thursday.

Brew Heads will be having a sale all day August 1st to celebrate IPA Day.  Check out their site for some rad craft beer items!  They have shirts, glassware, hats, accessories, and work shirts available.

Butcher's Brewing will be releasing two new IPAs with a sweet price of only $3 each.  They are also having a contest to name one of the new IPAs which was brewed with hibiscus, jaimaica, ginger, and orange.  Names for the new IPA may be submitted in person between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Thursday.  Winners must be at the tasting room if their name is selected in order to win.  Not only will the winner have the honor of naming a beer but they will also get a t-shirt!

Hangar 24 will have four of their standard IPAs on tap in their tasting room along with 6 pilot batch IPAs created just for IPA day.  XIPA also known as Experimental IPA, Double IPA, Columbus IPA, and Essence are the standard IPAs that will be available.

Karl Strauss will be doing a special event on Thursday in San Diego, an interactive pub crawl with their North Park sales rep Ryan Murphy.  The details of where Ryan will be are going to be shared on their facebook page, twitter and instagram accounts.  Toronado, Urbn Coal Fired Pizza, Bar Pink, and True North will all be featuring specials on Karl Strauss beers.

Kern River Brewing Company will have three IPAs on tap on Thursday.  Their Single Track Session IPA, Just Outstanding IPA, and Winter DIPA (their 5th anniversary beer).  They will also have guest breweries' IPAs available on tap as well.

Northern Brewer is offering a special deal, 10 % off when you order a Cascade Mountain IPA extract recipe kit you also receieve a free growler!  The offer ends 7/31 at midnight CST.

O'Dell Brewing will be celebrating IPA day by offering a special deal, if you purchase a growler fill of their Myrcenary DIPA or their standard IPA you will receive the growler (the container, not the beer) for no charge!

Pagosa Brewing will be doing a joint celebration with Riff Raff Brewing offering a tasting flight consisting of beers from both of their respective breweries as well as other breweries.  Beers available in this "IPA Taster Collaboration Tray" include:  Great Divide Brewing's Titan IPA, Pagosa Brewing's Powder Day IPA, Telluride Brewing's Fishwater DIPA, La Cumbre Brewing's Elevated IPA, and Riff Raff Brewing's Hopgoblin IPA.

Stone Brewing Company's Liberty Station will have of course their standard IPAs on tap, alongside guest breweries' IPAs.  They will be featuring more than twenty IPAs along with two beers on cask.  Some of the beers that will be available include:  Ritual Brewing's Hop-O-Matic, Modern Time Beer's Neverwhere Brett IPA, Haven Brewing's Double Hubble IPA, Robert Masterson & Ryan Reschan's Rip Current/Stone Brewing's R & R Coconut IPA, Bear Republic's Cafe Racer, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens' Liberty Station Matt's Thrill Rye'd IPA, Russian River's Pliny the Elder, El Segundo Brewing's White Dog Wheat IPA, and Rip Current Brewing's Lupulin Lust IPA.

Valiant Brewing will be featuring a keg of their Jericho Imperial IPA that was dry hopped with Simcoe hops last week on tap in their tasting room.

It is exciting to see such a variety of events and promotions that will be happening on IPA Day!  I can't wait to celebrate my love of craft beer on Thursday by drinking an IPA.  Do you have any fun plans to celebrate IPA Day?

Brussels Bistro, which is not in Brussels

Going to a new restaurant is always a bit intimidating for me.  As a kid, I traveled and lived all over the States and World.  As a picky eater, I quickly learned when my family and I were on trips or living in different places to eat before we went out so I wouldn't be stuck eating odd sounding food.  Thankfully, I've grown up a bit, not too much mind you, since then and am more willing to try new places.  Sunday afternoon, with no plans and nowhere to go, my boyfriend and I decided we would drive down the coast on PCH.  I thought we would start in Laguna Beach and work our way back up the coast, possibly heading to a favorite of ours, Beachwood BBQ.  Instead, we stumbled upon a small Belgian restaurant, Brussels Bistro.  At first I didn't want to even go into the restaurant because it seemed small and crowded.  As our hostess seated us, though, I realized that the restaurant was in fact, bigger on the inside.  I felt like we had traveled overseas in a few moments and had arrived in a neighborhood restaurant in Europe.  Our waiter had a nifty French accent, which made me feel like I should try to bust out some of my unused French, thankfully for my boyfriend, I chose to stick with English.  Since the restaurant is Belgian, they of course had a wide variety of beers on tap as well as available in bottles.  I ordered a Grimbergen Dubbel by Brouwerij Alken-Maes while my boyfriend chose a La Chouffe Golden Ale.  Both of our beers were served in glassware which matched our beers, which is always a nice touch.  

Instead of ordering full meals, we decided to order Belgian fries, which came with three different dipping sauces as well as a charcuterie plate. Our appetizers were accompanied with a bread basket, which tasted as if it were freshly baked, which is always nice. The charcuterie plate also came with a different type of bread along with three types of meats, small pieces of cheese, and pickles.  

We were lucky to arrive prior to dinner, so for most of the time we were in the restaurant only a few other people were in the downstairs area where we were seated. As we were finishing up, the dinner crowded was in full force, I'm glad we arrived when we did since the small restaurant quickly filled up. It was nice to find a hidden restaurant with great food and beer on a whim!

Monday, July 29, 2013

OC Brew Ha Ha

Last year, was my first time going to the OC Brew Ha Ha.  I knew it was going to be a great event when I found out my boyfriend and I were going to drive Greg Koch to the festival.  He had sent out a tweet asking if anyone would be able to pick him up from the Irvine train station.  Ahh, the power of the internet!  When one of the biggest names in the craft beer world attends an event, you know it is definitely one you don't want to miss!

Reel Big Fish love beer, just like you!
This year, I'm looking forward to seeing one of my favorite bands, Reel Big Fish perform while I drink some amazing craft beers.  While I love drinking local beers such as those from Bootlegger's, Noble Ale Works, Valiant Brewing, and The Bruery, it is always nice to try beers from other parts of Southern California as well as those from different counties and states.  This year, the event will once again be held at a Oak Canyon Park near Irvine Lake.  While the event is held during the summer when it can be a bit warm, there are plenty of shade trees to help keep people out of the glare of the sun.  The venue is located in an area that makes you feel you've traveled farther from the major freeways than you actually have.

Most events have a mixture of brewery representatives and volunteers pouring beers.  The OC Brew Ha Ha also has volunteers who just happen to be off-duty fire fighters.  This helps to remind attendees that some of the ticket sales profits will go to an excellent cause, the Fallen Fire Fighters Relief Fund.

Scheduled breweries who will be at the event this year are:

Alcatraz Brewing
Anchor Brewing
Avery Brewing
Beachwood Brewing
Brash Brewing Co
Bootlegger's Brewery
Backstreet Brewery
Ballast Point
Brewery at Abigale
Brewery Ommegang
Black Market Brewing Co
Clown Shoes Beer
Coronado Brewing Co
Craft Brewing Co
Dogfish Head
El Segundo Brewing Company
Figueroa Mountain Brewing
Firestone Walker
Fireman's Brew
Goose Island
Great Divide Brewing
Hangar 24
Haven Brewing
Inland Empire Brewing
Ironfire Brewing
Iron First Brewing
Karl Strauss
Left Coast Brewing
Lost Coast Brewery
Maui Brewing Co
Monkish Brewing
Monks' Ale
New Belgium Brewing
Newport Beach Brewing Company
Noble Ale Works
Ninkasi Brewing
Old Orange Brewing
Oggi's Brewing
Packinghouse Brewing Company
Pizza Port San Clemente
Refuge Brewery
Ritual Brewing Co
Saint Archer
Speak Easy Brewing
Smog City Brewing Co
Stone Brewing Co
Stadium Brewing
Taps Brewery
The Bruery
Tustin Brewing Company
Valiant Brewing
Wicks Brewing
Widmer Brothers

Not only does your ticket allow you to sample some amazing craft beers, but there will also be home brew enthusiasts on hand to explain the brewing process along with beer connoisseurs who will help attendees have a better understanding of beer.  There are two ticket types, general admission and VIP tickets.  The general tickets include ten four ounce pours of beer along with complimentary water and soda.  VIP tickets will have fifteen four ounce pours of beer, access an hour before general admission as well as the opportunity to sample some rare beers.  Both tickets include a special glass to enjoy beer during the event and to also display proudly on a shelf at home.  Food will be available for purchase from a wide variety of food trucks, some even incorporate craft beer into their recipes!  Food vendors scheduled to serve scrumptious food at the OC Brew Ha Ha this year include:

Burrito Bandito
Dos Chinos
Garlic Scapes
The Viking Truck

And don't forget the live music!  Two bands will be performing, the aforementioned Reel Big Fish and The Creepers.  General admission tickets will set you back $45 while VIP tickets are $60.  If you're into math at all, that equates to a really good deal.  Even though I hate to see the summer come to an end, the OC Brew Ha Ha is a great way to ease into the fall season.

When:  Saturday September 7th, 2013
1:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.--General Admission
12:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.--VIP
Where:  Oak Canyon Park
Tickets are available through Eventbrite, here.
Don't wait to purchase your tickets, the event will sell out, wouldn't you rather hear Reel Big Fish play live than on your record player?

Beer shopping is my favorite kind of shopping!

Going shopping is a favorite hobby for many people.  The only kind of shopping I truly enjoy is beer shopping.  Going to new shops to find beers I've never tried is always an adventure!  Today, I traveled a few miles up the road to visit Hacienda Beverages in Brea.  I was happy to see some old favorites along with new beers, well, at least new to me!  Out of the beers I picked up today, I've had four of them; Dogfish Head's My Antonia, Knee Deep Brewing's Citra Extra Pale Ale, Epic Beer's Armageddon IPA, Stone Brewing's Woot Stout, and Dogfish Head's Aprihop.  The new to me bottles of beer I brought home included; Oud Beersel's Oude Geuze Vielle along with Gigantic Brewing's IPA and their Imperial IPA.  Of course I love trying new beers, but I must admit I'm most excited about trying Gigantic Brewing's beer, since I love the Pixies and scored tickets to see them when they are in Los Angeles in the fall.  Have you had any new favorite beers lately?

Thursday, July 25, 2013


I won a bike!  I still can't believe that I have a brand new New Belgium Fat Tire bike sitting in my living room.  Last month, my boyfriend told me I should enter their contest, Pairs Well.  You could either take a photo with a snazzy caption or just enter your e-mail address.  While I love taking photos, especially of beer, I decided to just enter the e-mail contest.

Yes, please, I would love a bike!
I had forgotten about entering until I received two e-mails within a few minutes of each other.  The first one thanked me for entering the contest and the second one was filled with congratulations on winning a bike.

I've never felt so lucky!

I was lucky enough to visit New Belgium last year while in Colorado for the Great American Beer Festival. While on the tour I noticed the wide variety of employee bikes and wondered how I could ever have one of my own.  Our tour guide told us that after working for the company for a year, employees receive their own New Belgium bike.  While I was pretty tempted to drop everything and relocate to Colorado for a pretty bike, I'm glad I won one instead.

Rad bikes at New Belgium Brewery
After I replied to the initial e-mail, I had to submit paperwork within two weeks.  Less than a month later, my bike was delivered to my doorstep.  The bike is manufactured by Felt Bicycles, which are known for their amazing reputation for creating fantastic bikes.  After a quick run to the hardware store to purchase a couple of tools, my boyfriend graciously put together my partially assembled bike.

I love all of the details on the bike and am excited for the many adventures that I will have with it!  Thanks again, New Belgium!

I love my new bike!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Beer filled Saturdays are the best kind of Saturdays!

Air conditioned beer event = rad!
This past Saturday was a whirlwind kind of day.  The day started off by driving out to Pechanga Casino in Temecula for their fifth annual Microbrew Fest and chili cook off.  

Glasses waiting for attendees

This event is sponsored by Habitat for Humanity's Inland Valley location, so the proceeds go to a fantastic cause!   

Bootlegger's Brewery
Besides beer and chili, there was also a silent auction with a wide variety of items available to bid on.  Instead of drinking beer at the event, I was helping pour beer which is always a fun experience.  A steady flow of festival attendees throughout the afternoon made the time pass quickly. 

Yeah, just because...
On our way back to Orange County, we had lunch at my favorite fast food Mexican restaurant from San Diego, Sombrero in Corona.  Having a good meal before heading back home was essential since the second part of the day I would actually be drinking!


Congrats, Mr. Nagel!

After leaving Corona, we headed to Anaheim to help OC Beer Blog celebrate his second anniversary.  When we arrived at Noble Ale Works we were greeted by many familiar faces.There was a steady line of people eager to drink standard Noble Ale Works beer as well as some of the special beers created just for the event. As we were getting ready to leave, Slaves Against the Machine were tuning up their instruments.  I wish I'd been able to hear them because they sounded great just from the few notes I was able to hear!

Cutest beer baby, ever.

Happy Birthday, Stephanie!

Our next stop of the day took us to Bootlegger's Brewery in Fullerton to help celebrate the Amazing Stephanie's birthday.  It also happened to be Stein Night!  It was great to see all of the creative steins that people brought in for the competition.    

Sam judging steins.

I'm glad I don't have to help judge because it would be hard to pick the winners!  Some of our friends had not been to Bootlegger's Brewery, so it was nice to introduce them to beers they haven't tried before.  The favorite of the evening was the Black Phoenix, which is a coffee chipotle stout.

A drink with Christmas added!

The final destination of the evening was Hopscotch in Fullerton for dinner and drinks.  Hopscotch always has unique items on their food and drink menus.  The birthday girl was very happy with one of the newest items on the menu, a mini loaf of bread served with freshly made peanut butter and jam.

Lynchburg Lemonade = yum!

I had one of the new summer cocktails, the London Lemonade which was great.  I was also happy that even though one of my favorite drinks was not on the menu, a Lynchburg Lemonade, the bartender happily made it for me, it was amazing!Saturday was a fun-filled day.  I'm glad I was able to see so many of my favorite people!