Why L.A. Beer Week? Highlights From and Reflections On A Celebration of Suds

Dogfish Head Sah'tea Paired With Salted Cod Brandade at The Foundry on Melrose

It’s a beautiful thing when you can find a beer – or, what’s more, an entire beer culture – right in our own backyard. And the latter became increasingly evident as L.A. Beer Week events were curated and celebrated around the city. It was a beautiful thing to witness Angelenos walking away from events, bars and gatherings ever more appreciative and knowledgable about suds the past ten days.

Now, there were plenty more people with better stamina than I who attended probably double or even quadruple the number of events that I did – and props to you whether you’re also press or a beer distributor by trade. Whatever the degree of which you decided to participate, one thing was certain: Beer Week is an exciting time to be in Los Angeles. Here’s why:

  • You may witness a celebrity chef’s decision to revamp his beer program. Nobody is exempt from learning – nobody – and at the first ever Dogfish Head beer dinner held in Los Angeles, Chef Eric Greenspan confessed that his appreciation for craft beers has been renewed since his college brewing days. Now, at The Foundry on Melrose, you can find a highlighted craft beer for the month paired with an entree expressly by Chef Greenspan, himself.
  • You get to experience the evolution of a dessert that just a couple years ago never even existed. Yes, I’m talking about the now-popular beer float. There were four such creative renditions of beer floats at Food GPS’ Beer Float Showdown II with Boneyard Bistro‘s Floris Apple with salted Bourbon and cinnamon ice cream taking the prize. A close second was Simmzy’s cherry pie rendition … oh, was it so hard to vote for the winner!!
  • Hot Knivez's Brugge Rodenbach Cherry-Ciabatta Grilled Cheese with The Bruery's Oude Tart
  • It’s a great occasion to try an L.A. beer you’ve never tried and/or visit an L.A. pub you have never been to. Beer is really hot in L.A. right now, and Beer Week is only helping. One only needs to reference the entrance of The Bruery a couple years ago and Eagle Rock Brewery one year ago into the foray. Or the opening of Nibble Bit Tabby just last Spring. Naja’s Place, the place where all beer taps go to heaven, ranks up there as one of the only reasons I will visit the South Bay.
  • You get to experience food-beer pairings that blow your mind. Like the Dogfish Head Sah’tea paired with Chef Greenspan’s Smoked Cod Brandade with potato, cauliflower and eggplant. The juniper berries, black tea, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and black pepper in the Sah’tea were highlighted so well against the salty brandade (yet tempered by the cauliflower and eggplant), I’m salivating just thinking about it again. Another mind-blowing pairing was the Hot Knivez‘s Brugge Rodenbach cherry-ciabatta grilled cheese paired with The Bruery’s Oude Tart, a sour Red Ale which had dark fruit and oak notes that matched the Rodenbach-soaked cherries in the homemade ciabatta so deliciously. The Hot Knivez-Bruery Symposium at Verdugo Bar was another delightful event.
  • Floris Apple, Bourbon-salted caramel-cinnamon ice cream and Green Apple Coated with Caramel Cinnamon Crumble Beer Float
  • You may have dibs on the first batch – of something – to exist or hit the West Coast. The beer industry knows that L.A. Beer Week is the place to be, so you best know it, too. The Delawareans at Dogfish Head sent over its 10% ABV Burton Baton, an oak-aged old ale and Imperial IPA blend, to Los Angeles just for this event.
  • You get to try rare beers you have never tried – or even heard of – before. File this under Category: Obvious. Yesterday, at the culiminating event of all L.A. Beer Week events, the Union Station party in which you got unlimited 4 oz. pours for $40, you could taste a Samuel Adams sour ale in one sip and Craftsman Triple Sage in the next – with Victory Brewing Company’s version of Saison du Buff in the next. Be sure to walk around the party with at least one beer geek on hand (and mini stein in the other) to expedite the best recommendations and tastes to your lips.

It’s an exciting time for beer right now in L.A., and with this being only the second beer week – and a super successful one – I can see the excitement only growing. And brewing. 😉 I’d like to thank everyone I’ve bumped into along the way for making it a great few days to suds it up. There’s really nothing like great beer and great company.

October 7 – 17, 2010

Stay tuned for 2011 dates

L.A. Beer Week

Venues all over Los Angeles

The Food GPS L.A. Beer Float Showdown Redux

Golden State Beer Float | Photo credit to Umammiart on Flickr

If you love beer and ice cream, this is your event. The second Beer Float Showdown returns for Beer Week and it happens on Sunday at 5:30 PM at Verdugo Bar in Glassell Park. It’s always been one of my favorite places to enjoy a pint, so it’s only fitting they be hosts to this (plus many other LA Beer Week events).

While the first put two teams head-to-head (The Golden State and Scoops vs. BottleRock LA and MILK), this better-than-ever Food GPS event will feature a total of four teams! Beer Float Showdown newcomers Boneyard Bistro (Sherman Oaks), Ladyface Alehouse (Agoura Hills), Simmzy’s (Manhattan Beach) and Tony’s Darts Away(Burbank) will face off in a Valley vs. South Bay battle of sorts. Every attendee will judge based on flavor and originality. So that’s 4 beer floats for $25 in advance or $30 at-the-door. Half the proceeds go to Share Our Strength, an organization that battles childhood hunger, so you can feel good knowing you’re helping out a great cause, pint-for-pint and scoop-for-scoop.

Feeling like more than just beer and ice cream? The Manila Machine and Mandoline Grill food trucks will be there, Verdugo style, so you can line your stomachs with some savory.

So get your tickets in advance and save yourself 5 bucks – or throw Share Our Strength a couple more and just show up at the door. I’ll see you there!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

5:30 PM

$25 in advance
$30 at door

Verdugo Bar
3408 Verdugo Road
Los Angeles, CA, 90065
323.257.3408‎

Kicking Off LA Beer Week: Pairing Cheese With Russian River Consecration Sour Ale

Funky Cheeses In Question: Which can stand up to Consecration?

It all started out with a contest. Hot Knivez, the beer-loving, meat-hating blogger-chefs in town, sent other bloggers and me a proposal. Said the email in my inbox: Pair cheese with beer. And write about it. If we love it, the winner with the best post will get to attend a private beer-cheese pairing symposium at Verdugo Bar with The Bruery.

Consecration Under Investigation

I love a challenge, and beer and cheese are two of my favorite things. Factor in Verdugo and The Bruery, and I am yours. I am a native Wisconsinite-turned-Angeleno, after all. Thankfully, Barrie Lynn Krich of The Cheese Impresario came to my aid by reconnecting me with my roots and her supply from Wisconsin cheese-makers.

Of course, the fun part was coming up with the control – the beer that would be lucky enough to have so much lactic love paid to it. Inspired by a particular Orange County-San Diego beer tour in which I discovered the wonders of sour ales, I found Russian River Valley’s Consecration within walking distance of home. Just knowing there was good beer stock so near was really the icing on the cake. It wasn’t the only sour ale but indeed probably one of the most approachable ones I’ve ever had. It isn’t a beer to smack you upside the head with overpowering citrus. In the 10% ABV Consecration is a blend of five different beers, including dark malts, which are then aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels for 4-8 months. Tobacco and fruit are prominent notes, particularly cherry (oh, look at that: currants are added). Carbonation comes from having fermented the beer in the very bottle it comes packaged in – and this further adds punch to its sour, my tasters and I found. Not only was it fun to pair this particular beer with cheese, it served as a palate cleanser as we went from candidate to candidate. Perfect.

Research Fellows

Barrie Lynn had given me five cheeses in all, which ranged in funkiness with the intention of standing a chance against the sour ale’s…well, sour properties. We tried the first, aptly nicknamed “Cheese Sex,” – which was an aged cheese spread, or a blend of Widmers Aged Brick Cheese and aged cheddar. No, it wasn’t funky. Yes, it was divine; it reminded my friends and me of a really well-executed version of the cheese in the Handysnacks cheese and crackers snack pack we all got in our lunches as kids. That is, probably the best execution that we had never dreamed of. (Seth noted as a parallel that we’re still waiting for the gourmet chicken nugget.) Don’t underestimate the Cheese Sex, okay? As far as a pairing, however, Consecration – and probably any other sour ale – overpowered the dream. The beer was too strong for even its slightly salty aftertaste, but all the same, I could understand why this spread is in such high demand, as evidenced by the sliver we were given. There be rations!

The next cheese candidate was Italico, which was appropriately named because it reminded us of mozzarella. It was an ivory-colored cheese and was even milder than the Aged Brick Spread – without any finish at all. It was almost like there wasn’t any cheese at all. After some research, I found that Italico is better paired with fruit. Truly, there would be stronger cheeses that could hold their own in this tasting.

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St. Patrick’s Day Round-Up of Round-Ups

Photo credit to sebastian.b (altuwa) on Flickr

I’ve been eyeing the St. Patrick’s Day specials going around Twitter all week and have finally decided on one – in Hollywood. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a ton of other options available. Whether you’re looking for a few special Irish menu items, a pub to knock back a couple ales, Irish music or happy hour pricings (or any combination of the aforementioned) – these round-ups got them all:

Alternatives to Green Beer: St. Patrick’s Day Cocktails + 2 Cocktail Recipes – Caroline on Crack for LA Weekly Food

  • includes Drago Centro, 8 Oz. Burger Bar, Chaya, Comme Ca, The Edison, Pitfire Pizza, Rush Street, 25 Degrees

Pubs in Los Angeles – Google Maps

Where To Drink Green Beer – Elise Thompson for LAist

  • Elise of LAist put together this Google Maps mashup of pubs – because sometimes you just need to know where to get a pint of ale. Also check out her green beer post.

Where To Get Shamrocked – LA Times

  • includes Redwood Bar & Grill, Brennan’s, Bigfoot Lodge and even The Standard (er?)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day – The Happy Hour Tour

  • includes Blue Palms Brewhouse, Henry’s Hat, Bodega Wine Bar, Liquid Kitty, Saints & Sinners, Cabo Cantina and Tom Bergin’s

Also, don’t forget Pourtal Wine Bar in Santa Monica, serving up $5 Vinho Verde (green wine that is ironically Portuguese) starting at 4PM. Verdugo Bar in Glassell Park is serving up Devil’s Pie late-night; wash it down with a brew on-tap. Hungry Cat in Hollywood – where I’ll be – is offering $4 Murphy’s Irish Stout Irish Slings and $6 Picklebacks (whiskey with a chaser of pickle juice). Also, Allston Yacht Club in Echo Park will be serving up Corned Beef Sandwiches for $6 each and pints of Guinness for $4. All food is $5 as they integrate St. Patty’s with their Wicked Wednesday.

Erin Go Braugh, Los Angeles!!

Super Bowl XLIV Sunday in L.A.: The Round-Up

I may or may not have a Super Bowl favorite (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Got a place to watch the Super Bowl this year? If not, you have a few options around town. These are great if you’re the kind of fan who doesn’t like to clean up afterwards. And there are other great lists which include those I’ve forgotten (see notes) on teh internets LA food pubs so don’t forget to check these out:

Eater LA’s round-up – including The Hungry Cat (Hollywood), Wolfgang Steakhouse (Beverly Hills), The Dugout at X Bar (Century City), POP Champagne & Dessert Bar (an “anti-Super Bowl” party in Pasadena – no TVs!)…

Also, Grub Street LA has a compilation which includes Seven Bar & Grill (DTLA), Locals Sports Bar (Mid-Town) and Morton’s Steakhouse (La Cienega)…

Added: LAist also has suggestions for The Big Game.

The Super Bowl is as good an occasion as any to stock up on cheese. Squid Ink at LA Weekly reports that if you say (scream at the top of your lungs), “Who dat,” at Beverly Hills Cheese Store, you’ll get 10% off your purchase. Store hours have been amended to 10 AM – 2 PM.

And if you can stand the clean-up and are really an entertainer at heart – starting in the kitchen – you can always check out these Super Bowl appetizer recipes from the LA Times.

Pass the nachos…and watch the game at these spots (take-away after the jump):

Added: Big Wang’s (Downtown LA)

According to Blogdowntown on Twitter, Big Wang’s is set to open its new downtown location ON Super Bowl Sunday. No word as to “specials” – my prediction is they won’t need any since South Park residents will be curious enough to stop by as it is. My recommendation? Get the wings. Simple.

Big Wang’s
801 S. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90017

Added: The Spanish Kitchen (La Cienega, West Hollywood)

The Spanish Kitchen is celebrating The Super Bowl by hooking up a massive projector-screen for the game. How does $5 margaritas and $10 bottomless Micheladas (described as “Bloody Mary but with Tecate”) sound? Appetizers are $5 the entire day.

The Spanish Kitchen
826 N. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA, 90069
310.659.4794‎
@thespanishkitchen

Added: Pourtal (Santa Monica)

Wine with The Super Bowl will never be the same (Pourtal has artisanal beer, too). Take notice of the notes in your wine glass while cheering on your team into the red zone and munching on tater tots. The game will be broadcast on 3 flat screens as you order from their Happy Hour menu, which is available until 7 pm.

$5 Wine & Beer
$4 Appetizers

2 – 7 PM

Pourtal Wine Bar
104 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
310.393.7693
@pourtal

Chaya (Venice)

Chaya has four big-screen TVs located throughout the restaurant so everyone is ensured to have prime view. The entire space will also adopt the Happy Hour Sushi & Bar menu usually exclusive to the lounge area. To sweeten the deal, they’ll also be giving away $25 gift cards at the end of each quarter.

$5 Albacore Sashimi Salads and Chef’s Special Rolls
$3 Domestic Beers
$5 Margaritas

Enjoy bar bites such as Classic Housemade Beer-Battered Onion Rings with Spicy Mayo and Braised Short Ribs with a Red Wine Sauce and Potato Purée.

2 PM

Chaya Venice
110 Navy St.
Venice, CA 90291
310.396.1179
@chayarestaurant

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Saturday in LA Beer Week

Today: If you’re not in Mammoth snowboarding or skiing for free, you’ll want to poke your head into the nearest Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and retrieve your complimentary pumpkin iced latte or iced blended between 4-7 PM. And if you are a pre-fan of the movie or love Arcade Fire, pick up the Where the Wild Things Are Soundtrack at Amoeba Hollywood, because while you’re at it, you might as well get a voucher redeemable for a free ticket to see the actual movie at participating cinemas (Arclight, across the street, would be my favorite cinema membership).

Then, tomorrow – you’ll be ready to celebrate the arrival of fall in LA this mid-October (hellooo, El Niño) and celebrate by drinking beer. No matter where you are, there are plenty of options to celebrate LA Beer Week tomorrow – especially if you’re trying to rectify your horrific LA Oktoberfest experience from last week. Between Bigfoot West’s awesome interior and one of my old time favorites – Verdugo Bar – you’ll see me debating where to go up until tomorrow afternoon.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

West Los Angeles

Bigfoot West celebrates its first October by calling their tented beer fest Rocktoberfest. Tomorrow, they’ll be hosting a tented beer garden with bands – thus the rock – and a special list incorporating that infamous Bavarian Purity Law including:

Beck’s Oktoberfest
Jack’s Pumpkin Spice Ale
Hofbrau München
Spaten Oktoberfest
Hacker-Pschorr
Weihenstephaner

(Shhh…I won’t tell anyone if you don’t that Beck’s nor Jack’s doesn’t pass Reinheitsgebot. But, who’s counting at Rocktoberfest?)

12 – 8 PM

Bigfoot West
10939 Venice Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90034
310.287.2200

Eastside

Never fear, eastsiders – Verdugo Bar is having their own beer celebration. Buy your entrance fee into the festivities for $20 (or $25 at the door) and included in admission is 4 drink tokens. With Ryan Sweeney – who’s been recently tapped to do the Capitol City beer program in the Cahuenga Corridor - at the helm, this is the place in town to have 4 beers anyway. German beer will be featured and special food will be available as they open up the parking lot, set up the tents and a stage for music.

Open: 6 PM – 2 AM

Verdugo Bar
3408 Verdugo Road
Glassell Park, CA 90065
323.257.3408

South Bay

The Strand Brewing Co., a new craft beer brewery based out of Torrance, will be celebrating their launch at Naja’s Place on the Pier in Redondo Beach. Their inaugural brew is called 24th Street Pale Ale, and all of The Strand’s VIP will be on hand for the celebration. Naja’s actually has one of the largest beer lists in all of Los Angeles while specializing in Belgians. Looking for ABV? Check out some of what’s on tap:

St Bernardus Abt 12
Allagash Curieux
Delirium Tremens

Open: 12pm-2am

Naja’s Place
154 International Boardwalk
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
310.376.9951

Live elsewhere? Check the official LA Beer Week event page for what’s going on in the ‘Dena, Torrance, Downey and Alhambra (38 Degrees would be a place to check out – though I still need to visit).

Have a great Saturday and weekend.