Sunday, January 5, 2014

Beer #17-30 / Day 4: Valiant and Noble Attempts At Drinking

She was happier when ramen arrived
Saturday, Camille and I planned on a long day in Ventura, but our plans were foiled when she woke up with a severe cold.  Best thing for a cold is hot soup, so we hit Orochon in Burbank, and got some spicy bowls of ramen.  This place is known for one of those "extreme food challenges" that so many restaurants have these days. Orochon's challenge is based on an over-the-top spicy bowl of ramen. If you finish in 30 minutes, you get your photo on their Wall Of Bravery.  As for me...I opted for a medium-spicy bowl, and a selfie in front of the Wall Of Bravery.
Hoppy IPA + spicy ramen = Who knew?
This restaurant has a surprisingly decent tap selection, and I went for the ANDERSON VALLEY BREWING HOP OTTIN' IPA - Beer #17.  Most Asian food places don't offer IPAs, and this is the first time I remember having an IPA with spicy noodles. It paired perfectly!  The beer itself is a no-nonsense, hoppy, awesome IPA, but it also cut through the heat of my food effortlessly.  More Asian restaurants need to branch out from Sapporo and Kirin!

The Wife needed quiet time to rest, so I decided to trek an hour South, down to Orange County to check out some old punk bands.  And of course, it was the perfect excuse to leave early and explore some breweries that I haven't been to yet.  I chose to visit a couple tap favorites: VALIANT BREWING COMPANY and NOBLE ALE WORKS.  Hmmm...Valiant and Noble.  That's how I like to picture myself as a beer drinker.  You know, something more distinguished than just Fat and Tired.
Like most breweries worth their salt, these two are located in nondescript industrial parks, tucked around a few corners, so you'd never know they existed if you weren't specifically seeking them out.  Valiant is a thing of beauty.  Non-pretentious and dedicated to high quality.  I've been planning a pilgrimage here ever since I tried my first Valiant brew about a year ago.  I've sampled their beer at a couple festivals, but even at local craft beer bars it's difficult to find them, at least in LA proper. 
So beautiful, it brings a tear to the eye
It was a full house. The man behind the taps was Andre, and he was in fact doing a valiant job of running the room by himself.  Additionally, he was happy to answer my nerdy questions, and was knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and positive about their operation.  The perfect dude to man a tasting room. If I had to describe their beers with only one word, I'd say "rich".  Each one is complex, deep, and best of all freakin delicious.
I tried 10 beers and EVERY SINGLE ONE was excellent! These guys obviously CARE about what they're brewing. Plus I had no idea how deep their bench goes as far as the variety of styles. And all are exceptional:
*GOLDEN MOUTH INDIA PALE LAGER - Beer #18:  I love the idea of IPLs. The Bruery Humulus is the King of IPLs, but this one is damn good in its own right.
*MUZZLELOADER WEST COAST IPA - Beer #19:  A brand new one. Killer.
*10.5 MPG FALL PERSIMMON SAISON - Beer #20: Perfect, and not a hint of being a cloying "fruit beer".
*KRATOS BELGIAN GOLDEN STRONG ALE - Beer #21: Possibly my favorite of the entire Valiant roster.
*PATHOS BARREL AGED IMPERIAL CHOCOLATE PORTER - Beer #22: Tastes as awesome as it sounds. Barrel Aged? Sign me up!
*MIGHTY MAXIMUS PREMIUM BITTER - Beer #23: Mellow and sessionable (did I just make up that word?)
*VERANDA BIERE-DE-GARDE - Beer #24: Great rustic biere.
Oh, hell yes.
*JERICHO IMPERIAL IPA - Beer #25:  Joshua fought the battle of Jericho. Chris Dodge drank the bottle of Jericho.
*DECEMBERFEST IMPERIAL MARZEN LAGER - Beer #26: Simple, tasty, easy to drink.
*STONEWALL JACKSON 5 DOUBLE RED WHEAT - Beer #27: Rich, but clean.

Valiant has recently started bottling, and it's only one beer:  The Jericho IPA.  I bought one for me, and another to take to Dave Witte when I go to Baltimore in a few weeks. I want him to be the first man on the East Coast to try Valiant.
Props to the Hobo Co. Pizza truck for parking at Valiant. Excellent made-to-order pizza for ten bucks, and great service. Pizza and beer. A legendary combo, and when both the pizza and beer are of the highest caliber, it's just that much better.

"Open": My favorite word
A few miles South, in another generic industrial park, I visited Noble Ale Works.  I still had a long night ahead of me, so as much as I wanted to go crazy and try everything, it was in my best interest to show some moderation. This is another down to earth, all-killer no-filler brewery.  I went for the CITRA SHOWERS DOUBLE IPA - Beer #28. Aside from a name that sounds kind of nasty, it's crazy good, gloriously skunky, with that strong, resiny hoppiness we love so much on the West Coast.  Up next was the TOO DARN HOT IPA - Beer #29, a beer "infused with a medley of chiles". I've come around to really enjoying chili beers over the past year, because there's so many damn good ones these days. It tasted to me like there was some habanero in there. Delicious with a good kick, but mercifully easy to drink, and the heat doesn't linger. It finishes clean.  Unique and frickin delicious.
Beer selfie. Never look into your own camera.

I made my way over to The Observatory in Anaheim, an awkward little club in an office park complex (think "Office Space") that's trying desperately to pretend it's The Place To Be. I caught four hardcore punk bands, and strangely enough, I first saw all four of these same bands back in the '80s.  DISSENSION from Long Beach, BATTALION OF SAINTS from San Diego, ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT from Oakland, and POISON IDEA from Portland. I'm always on the fence about these shows.  I don't want the good memories of my youth to be tarnished. At the same time it renews my faith when the bands are actually really good after all these years.  In spite of having only one original member, Battalion Of Saints was my favorite of the evening. They were loose, energetic, and they all seemed to be having a good time. They kept it short, and played the songs I wanted to hear. "Leave 'em wanting more", I say.  Attitude Adjustment was fast, mean, and tight, the way they've always been post-Andy Andersen (would that be 1989?). Really solid, but they should have kept the set to 30 minutes. The biggest surprise was finding out this club served a few decent beers. I chose BROUWERIJ HUYGHE DELIRIUM TREMENS - Beer #30 during A.A.'s set.  It was $10.  Apparently PBR was $9.  And a lot of people were drinking PBR.  No, I don't understand it either.  Poison Idea also has only one original member, legendary vocalist Jerry A., and half of the band looked like they could have been his kids. His days of broken bottles and fire breathing are over.  Self-abuse has been replaced by sweatpants. It was great to hear the tunes, although they seemed disconnected, and could have benefited from tightening up the set... more songs back to back with no breaks, less down-time.
Battalion Of Saints ruling
Overall, it was great to see old friends.  The whole evening was a combo of odd, nostalgic, strange, and comforting moments.  But you can't blame the beer for that.


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