Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Label's heavy metal outfit EXMORTUS to play 'Bottle Release Party' on Nov. 21

THREE WEAVERS BREWING COMPANY has teamed with their friends and neighbors at PROSTHETIC RECORDS to combine their love of beer and heavy metal by brewing and bottling the Blood Junkie Imperial Red Ale.  Roping in acclaimed artist and fellow beer aficionado Dan Mumford (The Black Dahlia Murder, Parkway Drive) to design the bottle's menacing artwork, the bottled version of Blood Junkie will make its debut on November 21st.

Sharing a common affinity for assertively hopped ales, Three Weavers Brewmaster Alexandra Nowell and Prosthetic co-founder E.J. Johantgen melded minds and sought to develop a ruby-hued imperial red that is big and malt-driven, yet dry and balanced.  Johantgen commented, "I have been obsessed with beer and the process of making beer for years - almost as long as I've been obsessed with metal.  Alex and Three Weavers are even more passionate about making some of the best beer imaginable.  So it only made sense that the hop-heads here at PROSTHETIC be a part of something as special as Blood Junkie.  We are very proud of the result and think fans of craft and metal will be equally pleased."

To commemorate the special event, PROSTHETIC and Three Weavers will host a "bottle-release party" at the brewery's tasting room in Inglewood, California on Saturday, November 21st featuring live entertainment provided by Prosthetic's own heavy metal group Exmortus along with support from Three Weavers brewer Chris' progressive rock quartet LITAOA.  Additionally, a limited amount of exclusive t-shirts featuring the bottle's artwork will be available for purchase on site.  Doors open at 8:00 and tickets will be available at the door for just $5.  For more information, please RSVP at https://www.facebook.com/events/494808434032718/.

Blood Junkie is built on a grain base of 2-row, Munich, and a healthy dose of British crystal malts for color and body, coming in at 8.7% and 70 IBUs.  The beer is then double dry-hopped to the hilt with a combination of Mosaic, Simcoe, Summit, and experimental hop variety 342, giving Blood Junkie a bright, tropical hop character and a distinctly west coast spin on the imperial red style.

Three Weavers is a craft brewery based in Inglewood, California.  Founded in 2013, they are deeply rooted in the concept of responsibility--to the environment, to the industry, to the community, and to their employees.  Three Weavers exists to share their love and appreciation of beer with the world.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


The inaugural Cali UNCORKED presented by Harrah's Resort of Southern California, a day-long music, comedy, craft beer, wine, and food festival will take place on November 14th at the picturesque Oak Canyon Park in the hills of Silverado, CA.  The venue is a short drive from downtown Irvine, CA.  The festival will also feature a full day of music, with performances from Santa Barbara's Rebelution, and Collie Buddz, as well as indie surf stylings from locals Matt Costa and Tom Curren.

Off-duty firefighters will pour beer and wine for attendees and a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales will go to the 3631 Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

Cali UNCORKED will also feature a comedy stage, presented by one of the most influential comedy and lifestyle websites, Funny or Die.  Top national and local comedians such as Grant Cotter, Monty Franklin, Jason Collings, and Gene Pompa will perform on a special Funny or Die Comedy Stage.

Cali UNCORKED is produced by premier music festival production company Synergy Global Entertainment (SGE) and Brew Ha Ha Productions, Orange County, California's most successful and respected craft beer event producer.

Cali UNCORKED will be from 1:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. on November 14th.  Attendees will enjoy complimentary craft beer and wine tastings from top Californian breweries and wineries throughout the sprawling grassy area of Oak Canyon Park.  Local artisan food trucks and pop-up restaurants will also be on site selling a variety of delicious and unique food options throughout the day and evening.  After 4:00 p.m., several UNCORKED breweries and wineries will continue to offer beverages for purchase.

Extremely limited VIP packages are available.  Three different packages include a variety of perks such as early admission for an extra hour of tastings, premier parking, premier restrooms, shaded lounge seating, and even a meet and greet with the bands.  VIP attendees will also have the opportunity to attend a session with "Dr." Bill Sysak, Craft Beer Ambassador and Certified Cicerone at Stone Brewing Company.

All VIP information and tickets can be found at:  www.uncorkedfest.com

The initial list of participating breweries include:
Anchor Brewing Co.
Bottle Logic Brewing
Black Market Brewing
Bootlegger's Brewery
Stone Brewing Co.
Pizza Port

Many more breweries as well as participating wineries will be announced closer to the event date.

Food vendors include:
Porko Rico
Haven Gastropub

Producer John Reese of SGE explains, "We wanted to create a new beer, wine, and food festival married with a music and comedy festival that had three headliners: the drinks, the food, and the entertainment.  Since we're Orange County based ourselves, we wanted to highlight the best of the region's beers, wines, artisan nibbles, music, and comedians from our own backyard."

"We have never been more excited about bringing a new event to Orange County," says Cali UNCORKED co-producer Cameron Collins of Brew Ha Ha Productions.  "For the past six years we have built a reputation for producing the highest quality and attended craft beer festivals in Southern California, and that reputation is important to us.  We enthusiastically enter into this new venture with SGE confident that we will be presenting a world class event unlike anything our attendees have seen before!"

Tickets for Cali UNCORKED are on sale now at www.uncorkedfest.com.  Please note that the event is for those 21 and up.

General Admission and VIP tickets will be available for purchase for the following prices.  Note: All tickets include beer and wine tasting, as well as access to the Funny or Die Comedy Stage, and concert.

Early Bird Discount
$45 (limited quantity to include complimentary early access VIP upgrade!)

General Admission
$45 while supplies last, then prices will increase based upon availability

Early Entry VIP
$65 (early entry for craft beer and wine tastings, starting at noon)

VIP Lounge
  • 1 hour early entry (starting at noon)
  • Premier parking lot access
  • Access into the Harrah's Lounge
  • VIP bathrooms

Meet & Greet VIP
  • Meet & Greet with Rebelution to include pictures and poster signing
  • 1 hour early entry (starting at noon)
  • Premier parking lot access
  • Access into the Harrah's Lounge
  • VIP viewing area in front of the music stage
  • VIP lounge with additional shaded seating areas
  • VIP bathrooms
Designated Driver tickets can be purchased at the door for $30.

Oak Canyon Park is located in Orange County at 5305 East Santiago Canyon Road in Silverado, CA and is less than two hours from Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties.  It's also conveniently located a short drive from John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, CA. 

For those traveling to the Southern California area to attend Cali UNCORKED, the nearby cities offer a wide variety of hotel and camping options.

The festival producers encourage attendees to drink responsibly.

Website:  www.uncorkedfest.com
Facebook:  Facebook.com/CaliUncorked
Twitter:  @CaliUncorked
Instagram:  @UncorkedFest

Thursday, September 3, 2015

6th Annual OC Brew Ha Ha

6th Annual OC Brew Ha Ha Craft Beer Festival Returns to
Oak Canyon September 12

I'm so excited that one of my favorite beer events of the year is just around the corner! I've gone to the OC Brew Ha Ha for the past two years and had an amazing time each year! If you're curious what the OC Brew Ha Ha is all about, check out my recap for 2013 here and my 2014 recap here! Information about this year's event is detailed below.

Cheers to rad beers and friends!
(Silverado, CA) – As Brew Ha Ha Productions’ annual Brew Hee Haw at the OC Fair successfully wrapped with record-breaking sales and over 100 stand out beers served, the team is excited to announce that the 6th annual flagship OC Brew Ha Ha Craft Beer Festival will return to beautiful Oak Canyon Private Ranch on September 12. This year’s festival will present over 90 craft breweries sampling more than 200 craft and import beers as the festival continues its reign as “Orange County’s Best Beer Festival.”
The 2nd annual Brew Hee Haw returned to opening weekend of the OC Fair and even in a downpour of rain, attracted record-breaking attendees while raising over $18,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County, The Centennial Farm Foundation and the Orange County Brewers’ Guild. Dr. Bill Sysak, Craft Beer Ambassador and Certified Cicerone at Stone Brewing Co. hosted some educational Q&A’s with members of the new OC Brewers’ Guild that included Noble Ale Works, Barley Forge, Beach City Brewery and The Good Beer Co.
The 6th annual OC Brew Ha Ha will offer unlimited tastings from an impressive list of breweries that includes:
Artifex Brewing, Left Coast Brewing Co., Pizza Port Brewing Company, Stone Brewing Co., Bottle Logic Brewing, Modern Times Beer, The Good Brewing Company and many more. 
A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Fallen Firefighters Relief Fund aiding spouses and children of fallen firefighters in the line of duty. Local off-duty firefighters will be on hand to help pour the large array craft beer offerings.
Gourmet trucks and food vendors will present the best in pub and artisan foods, creating endless pairing options for the event’s expansive beer list. Mouthwatering burgers, award winning gourmet tacos and more will be served up by foodie favorites Slater’s 50/50, The CUT, Haven Gastropub, Devilicious, The Burnt Truck, Dos Chinos, The Iron Press, Viking Truck, Brewcakes and many more.

Live entertainment will come courtesy of L.A.’s reggae ska sensation The Aggrolites. Renowned industry guest speakers will also take the stage offering Q&A’s and educational seminars focused on all things craft beer.
Tickets for the 6th annual OC Brew Ha Ha on September 12 are on sale now. Early Bird tickets sold out in less than two hours. General admission tickets are $45 and VIP tickets are $60.  A limited number of extreme craft beer enthusiasts can partake in the Ultimate Experience Admission and receive all the VIP perks plus access to a private air conditioned lounge, exclusive beer and wine selections, complimentary small plate food offerings, UE VIP parking, private executive restrooms and a signature UE VIP commemorative glass for $150. Designated driver tickets are available for purchase upon entry and must be accompanied by a paid ticket holder.

OC Brew Ha Ha is a 21+, rain or shine event that kicks off at 12 p.m. for VIP guests and 1 p.m. for general admission guests. Taps close down at 4 p.m., and staff members will gladly assist attendees with utilizing cabs and Uber. Oak Canyon Park is located at 5305 E Santiago Canyon Road, Silverado, CA, 92676. For information on camping at nearby Lake Irvine call 714-649-9111 x 305. For festival information visit www.ocbrewhaha.com.

Monday, August 31, 2015

OC Fest of Ales

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA- With brews, food, music and friendly competition, Anaheim's third annual OC Fest of Ales will support local non-profit organizations during the one day, hop-filled event on Center Street Promenade.

After a year's hiatus, this year's festival will return bigger and better on Saturday, September 19 from noon-4 p.m..

Unlike previous years, all guests at the 2015 OC Fest of Ales will get the VIP experience with unlimited beer tastes from over 35 craft breweries and unlimited food tastes from Orange County eateries. One unique aspect of Anaheim's OC Fest of Ales is that food is included in the price of the ticket. No need to pocket out additional funding once you pass the entry gates.

Participating food and beverage contributors include:
BXCR, HammerBar, Lemon Drop, Colony Wine Merchant, Crepe Coop, Georgia’s, the Gypsy Den, the Healthy Junk, Hubert’s Lemonade, Infinity Sauces, Out of The Park Pizza, Pour Vida Latin Flavor, Snow Station, Tony’s Original Deli, Umami Burger and  Brandy’s Sweet Temptations.

Participating breweries include:
32 North Brewing, Absolution Brewing, Anaheim Brewery, Angel City Brewery, Backstreet Brewery, Ballast Point Brewing, Beach City Brewery, Bootleggers Brewery, Bottle Logic Brewing, Bravery Brewing, Cismontane,  Coachella Valley, Coronado Brewing Co, Dale Bros Brewery, Einstök Ölgerð, Firestone Walker, Golden Road, Heroes,  Hanger 24, Karl Strauss Brewing, Lagunitas Brewing, Left Coast Brewery, Legends Craft Brewery, Lost Coast Brewery,  MacLeod Ale Brewing, Main Street Brewery, Newport Beach Brewing, Noble Ale Works, Phantom Ales, Portland Cider, Rough Draft Brewing, Saint Archer Brewing, Strand Brewing, The Bruery, Tustin Brewing, Valiant Brewing,  and Wicks Brewing.

Hundreds of beer lovers will gather to support Anaheim Cops 4 Kids and Downtown Anaheim Association, two Anaheim non-profit organizations promoting a positive community.

This year, OC vintage-style, rock n' roll group, the Rayford Brothers will have festival guests dancin' on the promenade (sponsored by Anaheim Packing District).

Also featured during the event will be the announcement of the winners of the home brew challenge. The Brew My Brew Challenge brings together a special community of folks who don't just drink craft beer, but make it, too. The Best of Show winner will have their amateur creation brewed by Bottle Logic Brewery and recognized by the honorable Mayor Tom Tait.

Tickets are now on sale!

For more information and to purchase tickets for OC Fest of Ales, visit:
OC Fest of Ales.

Don't forget to enter code, "EPIC" to save $10 on your tickets at checkout!

Hope to see you there, I know I can't wait to hang out with my friends and have fun at the OC Fest of Ales!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Are you a citizen of Stone Ruination Nation??

Stone Ruination Nation is a celebration at stores, bars and restaurants nationwide featuring the newly reintroduced Stone Ruination Double IPA 2.0 and the sought-after annual release of the massive 2015 Stone RuinTen Triple IPA.

This Thursday July 30th, Out of the Park Pizza in Buena Park will be helping Stone Brewing Company celebrate Ruination Nation.  The celebration of all things Stone Ruination will begin at 7 PM and there will also be some sweet Stone swag available for attendees!

Out of the Park Pizza in Buena Park will be featuring:
  • Stone's RuinTen Triple IPA
  • Ruination Double IPA 2.0
  • Double dry-hopped Ruination 2.0
  • American oak-infused Ruination 2.0

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

2nd Annual OC Brew Hee Haw

"Brew Hee Haw" Craft Beer Roundup July 18-19 at the OC Fair

Costa Mesa, CA--Brew Ha Ha Productions, creator of the most award winning craft beer festivals in Orange County, along with the OC Fair are pleased to present the 2nd Annual Brew Hee Haw Craft Beer Roundup on July 18-19 opening weekend of the OC Fair.  The Brew Hee Haw offers day and evening tasting sessions and includes free admission to the OC Fair, a commemorative festival glass and special presentations by "Dr." Bill Sysak.

Brew Ha Ha Productions puts on some of my favorite events, such as the Sabroso Craft Beer and Taco Festival and the OC Brew Ha Ha.

New this year, the OCBG (Orange County Brewers Guild) is presenting an exclusive VIP hour prior to the General Admission sessions featuring rare and limited release beers as well as a unique VIP tasting glass.  Some of the breweries participating include:

Additional new features at this 2nd annual event are unlimited 2 oz. pours, more than 80 craft beer selections from some of the best breweries in the county, and no ticket fees when you buy the print at home tickets!  
  • Two VIP sessions are offered on Saturday July 18th (12-4 p.m.) & (5-9 p.m.) and one Sunday, July 19th (1-5 p.m.).  
  • Two GA sessions are offered on Saturday July 18th (1-4 p.m.) & (6-9 p.m.) and one on Sunday, July 19th (2-5 p.m.).  
Arrive before your session of choice to ensure you have the most fun with a day at the OC Fair plus a great beer event!

General Admission tickets are $50 in advance and $60 the day of the event.  
VIP tickets are $65 in advance and $75 the day of the event.  
A portion of the proceeds from Brew Hee Haw will benefit Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Orange County.  
For more information or to purchase tickets visit http://www.ocbrewheehaw.com/
For more information on the OC Fair visit http://www.ocfair.com/2015/

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Firestone Walker Brewing Company's Helldorado Debuts July 18th, 2015

Inaugural Bottling of Barrel-Aged Blonde Barley Wine
Set for July 18
Paso Robles, CA: You’ve been warned: Helldorado may be blonde in color, but if you take it lightly, you’ll get gunned downed by a blast of barrel-aged flavor at an ABV of 12 percent.
Indeed, after years as an occasional draft rarity, Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s iconoclastic Helldorado—a blonde barley wine aged in retired spirits barrels—is set to make its bottled debut on July 18.
“The idea behind Helldorado was to create a super blonde barley wine that could still carry the strong barrel character imparted by these intense spirits barrels,” said Brewmaster Matt Brynildson, “You’ll want to expect the unexpected with this beer.”
Naked & Unafraid
Helldorado was originally brewed to fill a stylistic gap in Firestone Walker’s barrel-aged Anniversary Ale blending program, which is composed of eclectic component ales.
“A few years into the program, we noted that all of our barrel-aged components were really dark and thick,” Brynildson said. “We needed some differentiation in color and style. It got us thinking about how cool it would be to brew this really pale blonde ale, and then age it in spirits barrels to create this naked beer with tons of pure barrel expression.”
He added, “Helldorado is made with just one malt, El Dorado hops and the barrels. I’ve resisted the temptation to blend a little something else into it. It’s just this really interesting expression of barrels beyond anything else we’ve done, and I decided that there was no need to mess with it.”
Tombstone Days
The name Helldorado comes from a fortuitous road trip that Brynildson took with his grandfather to Tombstone, Arizona—home of the infamous gunfight at the OK Corral.
“We were walking around this old-timey desert town and grandpa suggested that we go have a beer,” Brynildson said. “We went to the local saloon and there was this poster on the wall advertising a local event called Helldorado Days, depicting this evil bull scaring the crap out of some cartoon guy—Hellll-dorado!
At the time of the Tombstone excursion, Brynildson had just begun brewing this blonde barley wine with El Dorado hops. He also knew that the German word for “pale” is hell. “It was just too perfect, so I knew right then, sitting in that saloon, that I’d found the name for the beer,” he said.

The 2015 Helldorado is limited to 3,500 cases of 22-ounce bottles as part of Firestone Walker’s Proprietor’s Vintage Series. It will be available in select markets across the United States. The suggested retail is $16.99.

Monday, June 29, 2015

L.A. Beer Week Kickoff Event Recap

Fancy glasses for the VIPs!
Even though I live near Los Angeles, I don't visit as often as I would like to, mainly because of dreaded traffic.  Last Saturday, though, I had the perfect excuse to battle the freeways, the L.A. Beer Week Kickoff Event!  Held at Exposition Park, the event featured over seventy-five breweries, live music, and food trucks.  

Food trucks in their own area helped with lines.
The Kickoff Event was very well organized, from check-in to the layout of breweries and food trucks.  There was an exclusive area for VIP ticket holders which featured a large area with chairs and tables, as well as a large tent to help keep people out of the warm California sunshine.  Another unique feature of the VIP area was that there were designated bathrooms for VIPs only as well as special pours of beers in this area.  I thought this was a great idea!  

VIP bathrooms
Shady VIP area
Many breweries brought special beers which were released throughout the event, which helped attendees to space their drinking out over the course of the afternoon.  I found it interesting that the longest line of the day wasn't for a beer, but for free tote bags which were being screen-printed on the spot by Boulevard Brewing.  

Boulevard Brewing brought their sweet van.
Since the event was held in a large area, it was a great way to help attendees spread out and make for short lines for beer and food.  This also made it easier to run into friends throughout the afternoon.  

Half of the Four Brewers

The event organizers ensured there were plenty of water stations placed throughout the event area, which helped people to stay hydrated on the hot day before summer.  

One of the many water stations

One of my favorite beers of the day, Smog City's Infinite Wishes
El Segundo and Cascade Brewing's collaboration beer, Perfect Strangers

Curling anyone?

I'm so glad that I was able to attend the L.A. Beer Week Kickoff Event and am excited to see what is in store for next year.  If you weren't able to attend this year's event, I highly recommend you add it to your calendar for next year!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Pink Boots Society Los Angeles to Host L.A. Beer Week Charity Beer Garden

Celebrate women in the craft beer industry at Three Weavers Brewing on June 22 

Join the women of Pink Boots Society Los Angeles for a charity beer garden at Three Weavers Brewing Company on Monday, June 22nd from 4pm­-9pm. The event will celebrate women in the beer industry with a stellar lineup of guest brews hand­selected by Pink Boots LA Chapter Lead and Three Weavers Brewmaster Alexandra Nowell. 

The event will also mark the official release of the Three Weavers collaboration with the yet­to­open Arts District Brewing. Return of Sassy Rye IPA is a super dank (and super sassy) rye forward IPA generously hopped with Simcoe, Mosaic, Galaxy, and Equinox hops. The collaboration brew welcomes award­winning female brewer Devon Randall back to her hometown of Los Angeles and is a new iteration of the beer they originally brewed by Nowell and Randall at Pizza Port Solana Beach in 2014. 

Ticket Details:

  • Tickets are $20 and available for purchase through Eventbrite.
  • Five 5­ oz tasters (which includes a Three Weavers glass!) are included with tickets.
  • Additional tasters will be available for $4 each. 
  • 100% of proceeds from the beer garden will be donated to the Pink Boots Society scholarship fund which was founded to empower women in beer through education and community building.

Taplist includes: 

  • Three Weavers/21st Amendment-We Saw Them Coming Watermelon Saison 
  • Three Weavers/Arts District Brewing-Return of Sassy Rye IPA 
  • Three Weavers/Prosthetic Records-Blood Junkie Imperial Red 
  • Arizona Wilderness-Prunus Persica Peach Saison 
  • 21st Amendment-Down to Earth Session IPA 
  • Highland Park-Bonkers IPA 
  • Eagle Rock-Cold Shillin’ 60 Shilling 
  • Smog City-Unity Tart Saison 
  • Noble Ale Works-Naughty Sauce 
  • Golden Road-Heal the Bay IPA 
  • Beachwood Brewing-Hopular Mechanics 
  • Drake’s-Omega Session 
  • El Segundo Brewing-Mayberry IPA 

PLUS:​  Confirmed participation from Cascade Brewing, The Bruery, Figueroa Mountain, Stone Brewing, Ladyface Ale Companie, and Kinetic Brewing! 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Dipping in Magic Waters

"The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come."

Field of Dreams is one of my all time favorite movies.  It is one of the few movies that can bring a tear to my eye, every time.  I love how both magic and a story of a son and his dad are intertwined.  A couple of years ago, I started to research the filming location for Field of Dreams, wondering if it still existed.  When I found out that the field was still in Iowa adjacent to the house featured in the movie, I made a very impulsive decision.  
I decided that I needed to visit the Field of Dreams.  I found out that flying into Chicago, Illinois would be the closest airport to Dyersville, Iowa, home to the Field of Dreams.  I also checked to see if the Chicago Cubs would be in town the weekend I selected to go on my spur of the moment trip.
I arrived in Chicago, rented a car, and drove directly to Wrigley Field.  Without any tickets to the game that was being played that afternoon.  After parking my car in a fast-food drive-thru, I walked towards the entrance of Wrigley Field.  Luckily, there were several people selling tickets.  I bought myself a ticket and headed inside.  I couldn't believe I was actually sitting in the oldest National League stadium in the MLB.  It was so small compared to the stadiums where I usually attend games in Anaheim and San Diego.  
The next day, I woke up early to make the nearly four hour drive from Chicago to Dyersville, Iowa.  When I checked the map, I noticed that while it said the drive would take nearly four hours, that it was only 200 or so miles.  I thought that perhaps the map wasn't accurate, because taking that long would not make sense.  I realized after I started driving, though that the reason it would take longer is because the route went through several small towns.  
Dyersville, Iowa is a small farming town, just as it is portrayed in Field of Dreams.  I felt as if I was entering the movie itself as I got closer to the farm house.  The only indicators that it is a tourist attraction are the large sign and small gift shop.  Before I had arrived, I was worried when I visited it that it wouldn't live up to my expectations.  But, it actually exceeded them.  Being able to throw a ball on the field and walk among the corn stalks was one of the best baseball related experiences I've ever had. 
Oh, and visiting Wrigley Field to catch a Cubs game was pretty neat too.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Collaborative Cross-Continental Dark Saison to Debut at Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest

Paso Robles, CA: Multiple versions of the same collaborative dark saison wild ale—called La Piccola—will be unveiled at the 2015 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest on May 30, capping off a year of cross-continental brewing hijinks between brewmasters Agostino Arioli of Birrificio Italiano and Matt Brynildson of Firestone Walker Brewing Company.

“With most collaborations, you start the beer together at one brewery, and it gets finished there, resulting in one beer,” Brynildson said. “Agostino and I decided to do something different. We sat down and designed the recipe together, then went back to our respective breweries to brew them on our own. We’ve been emailing back and forth for a year now, trying to replicate what the other was doing.”

It all started at last year’s beer fest, when Arioli and Brynildson hatched their plan to brew a dark saison that would be made with debittered black malt, then soured via secondary fermentation and aged in barrels—and also spiced up with an unlikely twist.

“Like many Italians, Agostino is a true gourmet, and he takes a chef’s approach to brewing,” Brynildson said. “He’s really into exotic spices and he wanted to play around with these Sichuan peppercorns, which are really weird and unique. We had to contact a spice hunter in Italy to get our hands on them.”

After Brynildson brewed his base version of La Piccola, he sent it down to barrelmeisters Jeffers Richardson and Jim Crooks at Firestone Walker’s Barrelworks wild ale facility, where they initiated secondary fermentation and maturation for 12 months in French oak barrels.

In the end, they decided to create one version with the peppercorns (La Piccola Pepe Di Sichuan) and one without (La Piccola Virtuosa). Meanwhile, Arioli is finishing up his own La Piccola made with the peppercorns. All three beers will be first presented at the Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest on May 30 in Paso Robles. Bottles of the California-brewed beers are limited to 250 cases each, and two-packs will be available for purchase at the Paso Robles brewery and Barrelworks in Buellton starting at 3 p.m. on May 30.

The base beer was brewed with the same Belgian yeast used to make Firestone Walker’s Opal saison, giving it classic fruit and spice notes. The debittered black malt provided dark color without assertive bitterness. The souring and barrel aging layered in just the right amount of earthy funk. And the peppercorn version presents its own distinctive qualities.

“The Sichuan peppercorns are pretty intense,” Brynildson said. “If you pop one in your mouth, your face goes numb. In the beer, it adds black pepper and lemon zest notes, and it also gives this subtle tingle on the tongue.”

He added, “I can’t wait to try Agostino’s version. It will be fascinating to compare and contrast the final results between the same beer made separately in California and Italy.”

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

2nd Annual Sabroso Craft Beer and Taco Festival Recap

Have you ever been to an amazing event, and looked forward to attending it the next year? That's how I feel about every event that is put on by the folks at OC Brew Ha Ha.  Last year was the first year of Sabroso and I had such a great time!  You can read about my recap from last year here.

This year's event, held this past Saturday, had the same elements as last year, tacos from local restaurants and food trucks, a great variety of beer, and wrestling.  Of course, this year, though, there were more taco choices, more breweries pouring beer, and more wrestling matches.  Just like last year, there was a competition among the restaurants and food trucks who made tacos.  This year's winner of the taco competition was Dos Chinos.

Sabroso was held in the same location as last year, which is adjacent to major freeways in Orange County, but feels as if you are hours away from any major metropolitan area.  I love this about both Sabroso and Brew Ha Ha.  It makes the event feel a bit more relaxed since it is held in a park setting filled with trees and next to a lake.  The venue has an upper level, which is where you enter the event and where the food booths/trucks were located.  Various vendors were also on hand, such as Craftbeerd, which sells some of my favorite beer related t-shirts and artwork.  

The mid and lower levels are where the majority of the breweries were located as well as a stage with live music and the wrestling ring.  The variety of breweries at the event allowed both novice and more seasoned beer drinkers to be able to find something that would interest them throughout the day.  

Although it was a warm day, the ample shade provided by both the large shade trees, canopies at each brewery's station, and expansive seating area on the upper level helped to ensure festival attendees would not swelter too much.  In addition to extra wrestling matches this year, two local breweries also had a match up in tag team wrestling.  Bottle Logic Brewing and Noble Ale Works decided to take their local friendly competition into the wrestling ring.  The Bottle Logic Brewing and Noble Ale Works match was talked about throughout the day.  "Are they really in a fight?  Have you seen their instagram posts?  I heard that they don't like each other!  I wonder who's going to win?"  In the end, the match which had wrestlers wrestle on behalf of both breweries ended up in a draw.  After the end of the match, it was announced that Bottle Logic Brewing and Noble Ale Works will be working on a collaboration beer.  This was such a great way to announce a collaboration beer!
I had so much fun at Sabroso this year and can't wait for next year's festivities!