Monday, January 13, 2014

Beer #49-79 / Day 11&12: Hittin' My Numbers

And so the weekend begins.
Further proof that my Wife does love me, evidenced by her indefatigable support and companionship this past weekend, as the Big Year In Beer launched into overdrive, logging 27 different brews in one day.  We were both in the mood for our usual, weekend, mid-day lunch at one of the endless, new beer spots in SoCal.  It was a beautiful afternoon, worthy of sitting outside (unlike in the other 90% of the country), so Camille suggested the Laurel Tavern in Studio City.  We headed out that way, down Ventura Blvd, when my eagle-eyed spouse spotted STOUT.  One quick, and highly illegal U-Turn later, we were on their patio, splitting a mouth-watering burger, and enjoying their excellent tap & bottle list.  Our server Kasey was super cool, and offered to bring me several tastes when I couldn't decide.
I tried the ANDERSON VALLEY THE KIMMIE, THE YINK, AND THE HOLY GOSE - Beer #49, a mildly fruity, mildly sour and acidic gose with sea salt.  Tasty, but a taste was just enough. Happy to try it, but a full glass would have been too much.
Next, I tasted the LOGSDON FARMHOUSE ALES SEIZOEN BRETTA - Beer #50.  Logsdon saisons are infallible in my experience.  This one was excellent.  Light, perfumy, complex, slightly wild.
We also tasted the DOGFISH HEAD SAH'TEA - Beer #51, listed as an Ancient Ale, this is their take on a traditional Finnish sahti, and I'll admit I've never known a damn thing about sahtis until now.  It was like many of the spiced ales out there, but much better. Clovey, yeasty, and super good.
Camille went for the SMOG CITY HOPTONIC IPA - Beer #52. I had a sip.  And then a few more. So refreshing, a real powerhouse of an IPA. Some serious hop funk. Delicious. If I wasn't on a quest to drink so many different beers, I'd make this one of my regular house beers, no question.
I chose the FLYING DOG SIMCOE SINGLE HOP IMPERIAL IPA- Beer #53.  Deep, rich, hoppy, and round. A winner, although I'd go for the Hoptonic as my first choice.
We love this place.  Funny thing is out of about 40 choices they only had two stouts on the list.

Yes, we have arrived.
I was focused on trying to hit a beer tasting at Vendome Wine & Spirits in Toluca Lake.  We cruised over there, and not surprisingly there was not one available seat, and no one was in any hurry to leave.  I was intent on trying this tasting, so to pass the time, we decided to head up into North Hollywood to The Federal.  Half a block from our destination, once again my Wife's beer radar was operating with maximum reception as she pointed out THE DISTRICT PUB, another new spot I've never seen.  Yet another speedy U-Turn, and we were saddled up to the backroom bar, where a gregarious gentleman, who insisted his name was Fox, treated us to some decent sized tasters before we even looked at the list. He poured us a couple classic Belgian brews:  BRASSERIE DUPONT AVEC LES BONS VOEUX - Beer #54, and BRASSERIE D'ACHOUFFE LA CHOUFFE - Beer #55.  Camille decided on a sampler flight, which I horned in on as well.  Their paddle consisted of:
*STIEGL PILS - Beer #56, a solid and easily accessible Austrian pilsner.
*WEIHENSTEPHANER HEFEWEISSBIER - Beer #57, a legendary hefeweizen from one of the world's oldest breweries.
Gettin' flighty.
*BEAR REPUBLIC RACER 5 IPA - Beer #58, I've mostly dismissed this beer in the past, given how easily accessible and "common" the Racer 5 is... big mistake on my part, this is a damn good IPA that I've avoided for no good reason other than I'm trying to be a snob.
*EPIC BREWING 825 STATE STOUT - Beer #59, a bit more fluid (i.e. more watery, less inky) than I prefer in a stout, but still pretty tasty, and Wifey really liked it, so that made it even better.
I went for a pint of the MONKISH CRUX - Beer #60, listed as a "single ale with elderflower". I don't know what the hell an elderflower is, but this akin to a Belgian pale ale, light and crisp.  I'm never disappointed by this Torrance brewery.  I'm overdue for a pilgrimage there.
Knowing full well we still intended on muscling our way into the Vendome beer tasting, we cut ourselves off early, although we could have easily spent the entire afternoon at the District Pub.  Apparently they had only been open for five days, so I'm happy we were one of the first to try it before the word gets out about how this is the new beer spot in NoHo. 

Well, maybe only two sheets.
Second time was a charm at VENDOME, and we easily found two seats at the tasting area.  Thanks to the incredible tasting menu selected by Harley, the house Cicerone (the beer equivalent of a wine Sommelier), we were in heaven.  The theme of this tasting was "malty ales". We were in for waaaay more than we could have ever imagined, quality-wise and quantity-wise.  The list was progressively more incredible with each pour.  While the entire flight was excellent, they truly saved the best for last.  I was ready to make love to the North Coast Old Stock by the time we reached it.  But that's what this whole nerdy ass beer adventure of mine is all about... true love of the craft, and a sensory experience that transcends all expectations. As for the tasting list:
*BROCKHOUSE BRYGGERI DRAUPNIR - Beer #61, slightly sweet with honey and pine flavors.
*BROCKHOUSE BRYGGERI ESRUM KLOSTER - Beer #62, like the previous one but more caramel and spice. Camille and I agreed both of the Brockhouses had a slight hint of cough syrup as well.
Do not disturb the nerd.
*GRAND TETON BREWING  DOUBLE VISION DOPPLEBOCK - Beer #63, a favorite of the tasting, rich and malty, and the tasting notes mentioned it was brewed "in strict adherence to the Reinheitsgebot", which are the German "purity laws" for brewing beer.  In spite of it being a centuries-old tradition, tell me with a straight face that doesn't sound Hitler-esque!
*THE BRUERY SHEGOAT - Beer #64, tastes surprisingly like a subtle banana bread with caramel.
*DOGFISH HEAD THEOBROMA - Beer #65, a really damn good cocoa & chili beer, great heat but well balanced. I love this one. Perhaps second only to all of the unique chili brews coming out of Vista's Aztec Brewery.
*BROUWERIJ DE BRABANDERE PETRUS WINTER #9 - Beer #66, a Belgian strong ale that's thick, mildly bitter, but finishes clean.
*BROUWERIJ DILEWYNS VICARIS WINTER ALE - Beer #67, a Belgian strong ale with a hint of a licorice, anise quality
*HALEN BREWERIES MARIENRODE QUADRUPLE 12 - Beer #68, another strong favorite, bad ass and easy to remember when you think of Van Halen.
*MODERN TIMES BLACK HOUSE - Beer #69, my first brew from this San Diego outfit, a bit too overwhelming on the coffee, I couldn't really taste anything else happening. Interestingly, it's distributed in cans.
*BALLAST POINT INDRA KUNINDRA - Beer #70, I had this last year & didn't love it.  This time I truly enjoyed it.  A real curry & coconut bomb. Indian food in a glass. I wouldn't want a full pint, but a taster is excellent, and just the right amount.
*BLACK MARKET BREWING INVASION IMPERIAL RED ALE - Beer #71, Wow, the biggest surprise of the tasting. I've mistakenly disregarded Black Market as a novelty brewery. Boy, am I stupid. This imperial red is exceptional!
Love is...
*CLOWN SHOES CRUNKLE SAM BARLEYWINE - Beer #72, another favorite, super dense, super delicious.  Is it me or are American barleywines improving by leaps and bounds in recent years?
*NOBLE ALE WORKS GONE TO PLAID - Beer #73, their take on a Scottish wee heavy, good but difficult to distinguish between such powerful barleywines.
*ALASKAN BREWING ALASKAN PILOT SERIES BARLEYWINE 2013 - Beer #74, yet another big favorite, holy Christ, what a superior, rich brew this is, leaps and bounds above the other Alaskan ales I've tried.
*NORTH COAST BREWING OLD STOCK CELLAR RESERVE BRANDY BARREL (2011) - Beer #75, the crown jewel of this tasting, un-freaking-believably delicious. If you splurge on one more expensive beer this year, this is the one!

Action shot of Emery's
Needless to say, after a 27-beer Saturday, our limits had been pushed, so Sunday I decided to show some restraint, if you could call it that.  We invited some old friends over, Katie & Jon Emery and Melissa Gearhart, sat on the back patio, grilled and chilled while the boys played Xbox inside.  I uncapped a few singles throughout the course of the day:
*ABBEY BEVERAGE COMPANY MONKS' ALE - Beer #76, slightly misleading as it's neither brewed by monks, nor brewed at an abbey.  It's from New Mexico.  But it's still a darn tasty Belgian style pale ale.
*MAREDSOUS BRUNE - Beer #77, a classic knockout Belgian brew, dark, complex, and addictive.
*LAGUNITAS MAXIMUS - Beer #78, a more powerful IPA from this NorCal brewery that seemingly cannot brew a bad beer.
Action shot of beer on a counter top.
*RUHSTALLER 1881 - Beer #79, categorized as a red or amber ale, depending on what you read, but it's smooth like a Creamsicle... I refuse to use the term "mouthfeel", but this is one of those rare instances when it would apply.

If it's not obvious, drying out after such a soggy weekend was no easy task. Next weekend I'm headed to Baltimore for some hardcore beering, so I need to rest up and prepare for some serious action.

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