CVIndependent

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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Back when Palm Springs was a frequent destination for the truly hip, Frank Sinatra would hoist his Jack Daniel’s flag on the pole in his luxurious Movie Colony neighborhood. It was like a smoke signal to Frank’s cohorts—it was cocktail hour.

Today, the Coachella Valley is once again becoming a frequent destination for the truly hip—but in a younger way. There’s new blood pumping into the area, and instead of a Jack Daniel’s flag, the craft-beer flag is flying high.

Aug. 30 marks the first anniversary of Coachella Valley Brewing Company, and what a year it’s been. Most recently, CVB signed an agreement for statewide Arizona distribution with Young’s Market Company.

Head brewer and chief operating officer Chris Anderson attributes the company’s fast success to “quality beer matched with a quality brand—but most importantly, the hardworking team at the brewery.”

CVB has secured more than 100 tap handles in the Coachella Valley, and earlier this year was featured at the renowned Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (better known around the world simply as Coachella).

I asked David Humphrey, the company’s CEO, if he expected this rapid success.

“Hell no,” he declared. “Honestly, you’ve got to understand, I had no preconceived notions of how this was going to go.

“We made a lot of calculated, risky decisions—underline ‘calculated,’ I suppose—and just hoped that it worked, and so far, it’s totally blown away our expectations, and even other people’s expectations.”

One of those recent “risky” and “calculated” decisions is to start a sour program. Sours are a great option for hot-weather drinking, and they have a wine-like quality that may attract an even wider audience of drinkers.

Anderson has been preparing a wild yeast and bacteria blend that is almost 15 years in the making. Now that is calculated. It’s a blend of Roeselare, the Rodenbach strain, Cantillon, and Russian River sour yeast blends. It also includes Pediococcus Lambicus, three strains of Brettanomyces, and a lactic strain Anderson isolated back in Alaska while working at Midnight Sun.

Framboys is a framboise made with raspberries and locally grown boysenberries; it will be released in November. Flame Rouges will be available in January; it will be brewed with red-flame raisins, re-fermented in cabernet barrels. Epineux Poire is a prickly pear sour, aged in port barrels, and will be ready around April 2015. All of these offerings will only be made available to CVB’s Fault Line Society.

On the non-sour side, CVB recently released its Whopper, a 10.4 percent alcohol by volume imperial chocolate milk stout that was aged in Old Fitzgerald bourbon barrels for six months, and brewed with 98 percent cocoa Callebaut chocolate, as well as Ecuadorian cocoa nibs. Dark Candi Syrup and Vermont maple syrup bring even more warmth for a sweetly decadent and Sinatra-approved beer.

The Harvester IPA was recently tapped. Humphrey especially loved this batch.

“Harvester IPA turned out better than the first time,” he said. “We use grapefruit that was picked a day or two beforehand, and the freshness is all about the Harvester. I think that’s the best IPA we’ve done.”

CVB is also busy getting ready for the Great American Beer Festival, held in Denver in October. Coachella Valley Brewing was specially selected to pour and was also picked to present a special “Farm to Glass” concept with a tasting for 200 people.

“It’s great to have good beer,” Humphrey said. “And it’s great to be able to do the ‘farm to glass’ local angle, but you know, you really worry: Are you going to be able to make it out of your own backyard?

“I think where we took our time is to really think about the brand. … I think that it comes down to great beer, but also having an iconic brand, that is something that’s going to be exportable.”

Just a bit east in Palm Desert, the folks at La Quinta Brewing Co. are busy with new releases, a new brewery club and expanded distribution—which is impressive, considering that the brewery is not yet a year old.

La Quinta Brewing just released a new imperial stout, coming in at 8.3 percent alcohol (80 IBU), that’s only available in the taproom. The brewery will also release a brown ale in mid-September, and the brewery’s popular Koffi Porter will be released any day now.

La Quinta Brewery is also starting to barrel-age for the first time, beginning with its porter. It’s aging in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels and will be available in the fall.

Of course, La Quinta’s popular usual suspects—the Sandstorm Double IPA, Poolside Blonde and Indian Canyon IPA—remain available. La Quinta’s also busy taking memberships for the Inner Circle club. The brewery only had eight slots left as of this writing, so hurry while there’s still availability.

La Quinta is in approximately 45 local retail stores, including Albertson’s, Total Wine, LQ Wine, Jensen’s and Bevmo. Currently, the brewery is distributing within the Coachella Valley and Idyllwild, but should begin delivering beer outside of the valley within 60 days. La Quinta is currently in 115 bars and restaurants (with more than 160 tap handles), and in about 45 stores.

More good things are coming: La Quinta installed two additional fermenting vessels in July, increasing the current production capacity to near 3,000 barrels per year. The brewery’s tap room will also be installing a new walk-in cooler behind the bar to increase the number of beers on offer.

Heading south to Rancho Mirage, the valley’s veteran brewery, Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse, has big plans for the remainder of the year.

Upcoming releases include Das Schwein (The Pig), a dunkelweizen available through late September. In the fall, keep a look out for Fall Amber Rye IPA, due in October. Babe’s annual Winter Nipster will hit taps around Thanksgiving, so make sure you drop in for this tasty colder-weather, seasonal brew.

Starting Sept. 4, Babe’s will host Thursday Night Football with Team 1010 Sports radio—and will tie in a segment called Beer Scene, discussing the growing Coachella Valley craft-beer culture.

The brewhouse is also attending the Great American Beer Festival in Denver.

Keep a look out for Babe’s and the other breweries at the Ace Hotel’s Craft Beer weekend on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 12 and 13. Join the local breweries and other popular craft brewers on Saturday afternoon for a pool party and barbecue with craft-beer tastings and live music. It’s ultra Palm Springs cool!

Published in Beer

It’s been the best of times … it’s been the beeriest of times.

My appreciation for craft beer began developing while I attended San Diego State University in the mid-’90s. Rearrange the letters in SDSU, and you get SUDS. Coincidence? Or divine inspiration?

Either way, The Beer Goddess was meant to be.

It was in the ’90s when Stone Brewing Company released the in-your-face Arrogant Bastard—blowing all of the San Diego beer-drinkers’ minds. I often hosted small dinner parties with my college friends. I started switching from Keystone Light and Bud Light (we all have to start somewhere, right?) to Bass, Sam Adams Boston Lager, Pete’s Wicked Ale and, of course, Stone’s Arrogant Bastard.

I discovered more taste. I discovered more depth. And dammit, it was good.

However, it was in 2008 when I began to pour my mind and passion into writing about the craft of craft beer. That summer, I received an email from my older brother that our dad was in the hospital, suffering from a fever that wouldn’t subside. We had recently celebrated his 70th birthday on the lake in Westlake Village. I took many trips to the hospital, and began researching his sudden condition—Felty’s syndrome.

He passed away 17 days later. It was devastating. I felt like my world was literally tipped on its axis.

My father was my hero. He spent most of his life as an entrepreneur, growing his company, Franklin Telecom, and later Franklin VoIP. He later became one of the founding fathers of phone-to-phone voiceover IP. He instilled dedication, passion and innovation in all of his five children.

One week later, I was laid off from my project-management job in Culver City. Not knowing how I was going to pay my high Los Angeles rent, and wanting to call my dad for advice, I felt lost. I started feverishly applying for jobs.

My boyfriend at the time and I were living in our new place—a warm, 1930s-style townhome near the Wilshire Corridor. He witnessed my anguish and tried everything to keep my spirits at a manageable level. It was then he suggested I start writing about beer.

I thought it was a funny idea at first—and it was the first funny thing I had heard in more than a month. (Even though it was just six years ago, beer wasn’t quite the widespread and celebrated hobby it is today.) In an attempt to steer my mind toward learning something culinary and crafty, I took his advice and dove headfirst into research and blogging.

I first wanted to figure out an angle, or at least a personality, for my new blog. I started jotting down tag lines, cute sayings and titles. Nothing resonated. Nothing stuck. So I just started attending beer events and writing. I soaked it in like a sponge.

After a family call to talk about how my father’s business would be handled, I recall staring at a plaque that was awarded to him and his company. I dazed at it, motionless, for about 10 minutes as my eyes welled. He named the company Franklin Telecom after his idol, Ben Franklin. His name was Frank.

That was it. Ben Franklin also appreciated beer! I wanted to tie this extraordinary founding father into the tone of the blog, because he was my dad’s idol.

There cannot be good living where there is not good drinking,” was one of many Franklin quotes. You’ll see a spin off to this quote on TheBeerGoddess.com: “There is good living, where there is good beer.”

It was placed there not just an acknowledgement of my recently departed father, but as an appreciation of how he exuded a passion for living life to the fullest. It’s a constant reminder of how lucky I was.

This year, I’ll be celebrating six delicious, fascinating, entertaining and humbling years in the world of craft beer. Beer is an integral part of the lives of many communities. Hundreds of breweries use local foods and spices that are indigenous to their areas. Craft beer tells a story of the land, of the area and of the brewers.

I’ve met numerous culinary, creative and passionate people along the way, from brewers and bloggers to the folks marketing the beer—and, of course, the craft-beer consumers themselves.

It’s not about drinking more (a concern I think my mother had early on—now she’s one of my biggest fans). It’s about drinking well. It’s about creating something from the earth. It’s about feeding our economy, one small business at a time. It’s about the people. It’s about giving U.S. consumers more choice.

I choose beer with innovation, style, integrity, quality and character. I advocate and celebrate what’s become known as the “craft beer revolution.”

Ben Franklin also once said, “Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing.”

Join me as I celebrate The Beer Goddess’ 6 Pack Sixth Anniversary, starting at 7 p.m., Saturday, June 21, at Schmidy’s Tavern, 72286 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. We’ll feature a special collaborative brew between Coachella Valley Brewing Co. and me; there will also be live music and all sorts of fun.

Why haven’t you heard of any of the anniversaries until now? I haven’t celebrated the past years. I was too busy trying to write something worth reading.

Published in Beer

SynthEtiX —aka Alvaro Sandoval—is a local DJ who has a unique house/techno sound. He frequently collaborates with Independent contributor All Night Shoes, aka Alex Harrington. He has performed at Clinic, Schmidy’s Tavern, Coachella Valley Brewing Co. and a variety of other local spots. For more information on SynthEtiX, visit www.facebook.com/SynthEtiX.Official; hear some of his mixes at www.mixcloud.com/SynthEtiX.

What was the first concert you attended?

Monster Massive (a Halloween-themed electronic dance music festival in Los Angeles), in 2008.

What was the first album you owned?

Linkin Park, Hybrid Theory.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Little Dragon, Chromeo and Darkside.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

Indie.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

Chemical Brothers.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Omarion.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Exposition Park (in Los Angeles).

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

“Little sister, can’t you ...,” from “Little Sister,” Queens of the Stone Age.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Richie Hawtin inspired me to experiment and be myself—to DJ what I like to listen to, and to find other people with similar tastes instead of trying to appeal to those I don’t understand.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

Mat Zo: “Will you work with me?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Thing Called Love,” Above and Beyond.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Linkin Park, Hybrid Theory.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Hot Natured,” Benediction. (Scroll down to hear it!)

Published in The Lucky 13

The craft-beer industry is no stranger to collaboration: Many craft brewers embody not only an entrepreneurial spirit, but a basic human kindness toward his or her fellow brewer—as well as an infatuation with the art of brewing, and a respect for craft-brew consumers.

The American Homebrewers Association’s National Homebrew Competition, which is currently under way for 2014, embodies this ethos. It’s the world’s largest international beer competition that recognizes outstanding homebrewed beer, and it has been going on since 1974.

But the National Homebrew Competition isn’t the only contest; growing in popularity are smaller competitions that celebrate the craft of homebrewing—and one such contest is taking place here, starting in May.

Coachella Valley Brewing Company and the Beer Culture Webshow are joining forces to present The Wort Challenge, a beer competition that celebrates the roots of American craft beer—homebrewing.

Coachella Valley Brewing Company will provide entrants 5 gallons of golden ale wort (6 percent alcohol by volume, 25 IBUs), professionally brewed on the High Efficiency Brewing System—there are only 10 such systems in the world. On Saturday, May 10, between 2 and 4 p.m., entrants will bring a sanitized carboy to the CVB tasting room. Homebrewers will go on to add yeast, other ingredients and a copious amount of creativity to create collaborative concoctions that will become the first entries in what's intended to become an annual event. The tasting room will open at noon with specially priced beer.

So, what can a homebrewer do? Age a brew with oak cubes and vanilla beans? Go hot and add peppers? Or add some hazelnuts for a rich, brown ale? Fruit-infused beers are popular in the warmer months; perhaps a brewer can add some blackberries and raspberries, as well as some cocoa nibs, to create a slightly tart, yet velvety feel. Feeling super-adventurous? Add some sugar, and ferment with Belgian yeast.  Another refreshing option for the sizzling desert summers are saisons: Add some saison yeast, orange zest and coriander, and dry-hop with some Amarillo or Citra hops.

On Thursday, June 12, participants must submit nine bottles of their wort collaboration homebrew. Four inspired entries will win prizes.

The “Best in Show” will be determined by the judging panel (yours truly will be one of the lucky judges) on Friday, June 13. The winners will receive a trophy and a day with Coachella Valley Brewing Co.’s head brewer, Chris Anderson. Winners will also be interviewed by Beer Culture Webshow and will receive a special prize from Beer, Beer and More Beer.

The “People’s Choice” award will be decided by Coachella Valley Brewing Co’s patrons at the Grand Tasting, on Saturday, June 14, from noon to 4 p.m. “Best to Style” will be determined by the judging panel, as will the recipient of the “Most Creative” award.

It costs $25 to enter (with a cash or check made payable to the Coachella Valley Brewing Co.). If entrants want to split the wort into a second entry, submit an additional $10. Make sure to use the recipe form found at www.bjcp.org, and specify the details. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to enter.

This is the first time Coachella Valley Brewing is making wort with no intention of fermenting it in-house. So, challenge your brewing skills; get objective feedback from knowledgeable judges; and taste the fruits of your labors, and well as those of your fellow brewers’ labors.

Some tips:

  • Know your style and what you want to brew.
  • Use extracts and yeasts that are fresh.
  • Water matters! Use quality water.
  • Keep everything clean, at every phase.
  • Allow enough time for the beer to condition and carbonate properly.
  • Take copious notes on how you brew your beer. It may be a winner!

With a mission to grow, advance, educate and advocate regarding the industry of craft beer, homebrewers are the brewmasters of tomorrow. Join the club!

Published in Beer

Not going Coachella? You’re far from alone; most of us can’t afford the cash or the time it takes to go to the festival.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t experience a taste of what Coachella has to offer: A number of local venues throw affordable parties and events before, during and between the Coachella weekends.

We asked representatives of a variety of venues what they had planned. Some declined to tell us, at least as of our late-March press deadline—perhaps because they didn’t want to let the cat out of the figurative bag too early, or perhaps because the details had not yet been finalized. For example, we’ve heard rumors that venues including Bar, Clinic Bar and Lounge and others may hosting some great parties and events, but we couldn’t get the details. (Watch CVIndependent.com for news.)

Here are four great events about which we have the details.

Coachella Valley Brewing Co’s Pre-Coachella Warehouse Party

We admit we’re a little biased about this one, because we’re sponsoring it: On Saturday, April 5, from 3 to 8 p.m., Coachella Valley Brewing Co. will host a party featuring two stages of music, live art, great food and—of course—delicious beer.

Independent contributor All Night Shoes (Alex Harrington), with the help of with Phonetix Entertainment Group, has assembled an impressive DJ lineup that includes Synthetix, Ivanna Love, Femme A, RowLow and CreamSFV. Caitie Magraw and Michael B. Perez will create a live work of art in the midst of the festivities, too. The $35 ticket includes four CVB beers, and proceeds will go to EcoMedia Compass, a group working to restore and promote awareness of the Salton Sea.

Coachella Valley Brewing Co. is located at 30640 Gunther St., in Thousand Palms. Get tickets at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/594166.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

Pappy and Harriet’s has announced a fantastic series of events going on before and during Coachella, and there may be more to come: Robin Celia, one of the owners of Pappy’s, told me one additional event may be announced in April; watch the Independent Facebook page for details.

Here’s what we already know: At 7 p.m., Thursday, April 10, the Afghan Whigs will play an outdoor show on the eve of their Coachella appearance. The Afghan Whigs announced their reunion earlier this year, along with news that they are recording new material. The show’s opener is Brody Dalle, the former frontwoman of the Distillers, and Queen of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme’s wife; she’s currently working on her debut solo album. Both of these acts should bring the house down! Tickets are $30.

Later that night, at 11:30 p.m., Goat and Holy Wave will be playing an indoor show; tickets are $15.

The good news: At 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 16, Little Dragon and The Internet will play an outdoor show. The bad news: The event is already sold out.

Pappy’s is located at 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza’s Coachella Kick-Off Party

The Hood Bar and Pizza has scheduled two shows by Mickey Avalon, at 9 p.m., Thursday, April 10 and Thursday, April 17. Avalon is a white dude from Hollywood who raps about drugs, prostitutes and his sexual escapades; he has a rather strange appearance that includes eyeliner and makeup. If you’re feeling brave enough to check this one out, and you’re 21 or older, tickets are $15. There are no pre-sales, so it’s first-come, first-serve.

The Hood Bar and Pizza is located at 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Call 760-636-5220, or visit www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Desert Gold at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club

Desert Gold is returning for 2014—even though we reported just the opposite in our print edition, due to incorrect information we had received. The festival will take place Thursday through Monday, April 10-14 and April 17-21

The free mini-festival will feature events curated by Festival NRML, described by the Ace as “a crucial convergence point between emerging artists from Latin America and the rest of the world.” Kindness will be doing a DJ set at a pool party from noon to 6 p.m., Friday, April 11. Later that day, Stronghold with Jonas Acunas will take place in the Amigo Room at 10 p.m. Festival NRML will hold pool parties on Saturday and Sunday both weekends from noon to 6 p.m. From noon to 6 p.m. on both Sundays, The Do Over will take over the Commune with barbecue, booze, and a lineup of mystery musical guests. (You need to RSVP on The Do Over’s website at www.thedoover.net/dodesert14 for these parties.)

DJ Day will be doing his usual Reunion shows in the Amigo Room on both Thursdays, and there’s no doubt he’ll have some special guests in what they are referring to as “Reunion Kickback.”

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club is located at 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Call 760-325-9900, or visit www.acehotel.com/desertgold.

A region formerly best known for old-school martinis continues to expand its craft-beer prowess—and a brewery that’s not even a year old is, in many ways, leading the way by offering small-batch offerings, tap-room special releases and seasonal farm-to-glass brews.

Coachella Valley Brewing Co. may be best known for its popular wide releases like Kolschella, Desert Swarm and Monumentous, but it’s also pushing limits with clever blends, new yeast strains and inspiring bourbon beers.

Currently aging in the barrels at the Thousand Palms brewery is Mayahuel, a new Belgian-style agave tripel. This will be the first offering of the brewery’s new Fault Line Society, premium reserve club, with memberships starting at $150 per year. Fault Line Society members receive discounts and can earn points, which can be redeemed for gift cards to be used on future purchases. Members will also be invited to beer-release parties, among other perks. Find details on the CVB website.

Mayahuel gets its name from the Aztec goddess of agave. Additions of Blue Weber Agave Nectar and clear candi sugar, imported from Belgium, lighten the body while adding complex alcoholic aromas and spicy flavors of banana, clove and anise. The complexity is complemented by the additions of tangerines and limes. This beer has been aging in bourbon barrels for more than a month, with another month or two left to go; expect those bourbon barrels to add rich notes of toffee, vanilla and caramel.

Desert locals are no stranger to small critters and insects—and CVB is offering a seasonal bourbon-barrel-aged Russian imperial stout to Fault Line Society members called Black Widow. At a whopping 16 percent alcohol by volume, Black Widow is formulated with a Maris Otter malt base and five different dark-roasted malts. After fermentation began, brewmaster Chris Anderson and company added Belgian chocolate, molasses, Vermont maple syrup and Belgian dark candi sugar. This pitch-black beauty was then placed in bourbon barrels, where it’s currently aging.

If you’re looking for something lighter to suit the warmer valley days, try the Oasis Ale, a 5.6 percent ABV ale-and-cider medley. Anderson has been known to gather the apples from Julian orchards himself. This unique offering begins with malted white wheat and pale malted barley; freshly pressed cider is then added to the brew, resulting in a refreshing beer.

Currently on tap is the popular “Luke Rye Walker” Belgian-style rye double India pale ale. The beer is named after Luke Anderson, Chris Anderson’s new son. The intergalactic IPA was formulated with Pacific Northwest pale malt, caramel malt and malted rye, resulting in a sweet, yet earthy backbone. The toffee notes are given life with simcoe and Australian summer hops. The force continues with Torulaspora delbrueckii, the house wild yeast, deepening the complexity with fruity esters of pear and peach. Try a pint before it disappears!

CVB is also busy expanding its reach and brand. Young’s Market Company started distributing 1,200 cases of CVB beer state-wide in mid-March, with Desert Swarm, Kölschella and Monumentous India Pale Ale being offered. And watch out for 200 CVB handles in bars and restaurants across Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego.

Of course, April is known for being the biggest music month in the Coachella Valley, and the brewery is helping locals warm up with the help of local artists and DJs. On Saturday, April 5, from 3 to 8 p.m., CVB and the Coachella Valley Independent—yep, that’s us—will offer live art, food, six DJs and, of course, great craft beer at the Pre-Coachella Warehouse Party. Southern California native and Palm Springs resident Caitie Magraw and fellow artist Michael Perez are collaborating on a live art piece and will be painting throughout the day.

The lineup includes local music luminaries, All Night Shoes (aka Alex Harrington, an Independent contributor and one of the party’s organizers), Synthetix, Ivanna Love, Feeme A, RowLow and CreamSFV. The $35 ticket price includes four 12-ounce Coachella Valley Brewing beers. Get tickets at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/594166.

Proceeds will go to the EcoMedia Compass; the nonprofit is working to raise awareness about and funds to restore the Salton Sea. EcoMedia Compass and its “Save Our Sea” movement began when Kerry Morrison, a local musician, filmed a music video there. Morrison realized the sea’s needs and potential, and banded together with fellow artists, scientists, filmmakers and activists. Get more info at www.ecomediacompass.org.

In-between the two Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival weekends, CVB will take over the taps at Eureka! in Indian Wells: On Wednesday, April 16, CVB will have a minimum of five handles at the Indian Wells craft beer and burger restaurant.

It’s great to see Coachella Valley Brewing answering the call for a bigger selection of sophisticated and modern beers. As Anderson frequently implores: Stay thirsty revolutionaries.

Published in Beer

Foodies from around Southern California and beyond have descended on Palm Desert this weekend for the 2014 Palm Desert Food and Wine Festival.

At the Saturday, March 22, grand tasting, attendees dealt with sweltering heat inside of the giant white tent on Larkspur Lane, just off of El Paseo. Despite the toasty temps, however, people seemed to have a great time, enjoying bites of food from various local restaurants, as well as sips of wine and cocktails from various vendors.

The Food and Wine Festival also spawned various food-related satellite events, such as the Taste of the Saguaro. Jose Garces—the Iron Chef and head of the Garces Group, which operates Tinto and El Jefe at the Saguaro—came to town for the weekend, and attended a special dinner at the Saguaro on Friday, as well as an event called Taste of the Saguaro on Saturday.

The Independent attended the Palm Desert Food and Wine Festival's grand tasting on Saturday afternoon, and the Taste of the Saguaro on Saturday evening. Scroll down to enjoy some photos from the events.

Published in Snapshot

Our big April Music Issue will start hitting newsstands next week—and to celebrate, we're releasing April's Coachella-themed FRESH Sessions mix a bit early!

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has been around since 1999, and has grown—massively—ever since. This year’s lineup features a diverse collection of performers from all over the world. To celebrate the festival, for this month’s FRESH Sessions, I've compiled a set of tracks that includes some music by up-and-coming artists at the festival, as well as songs by some more well-known acts.

I like Coachella because it showcases a wide variety of performers and genres. Everything from indie rock to trance is represented under various tents, all with an atmosphere that is electric. While the festival has lost a bit of its local element, unfortunately, it still seems to carry a strong sense of culture and creativity.

As for my appearances in April: Watch my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ansofficial) for an updated list of gigs—but make sure you don’t miss the Pre-Coachella Warehouse Party, at Coachella Valley Brewing Co. (30640 Gunther St., Thousand Palms), starting at 3 p.m., Saturday, April 5. Tickets are $35, and that includes four CV Brewing Co. beers, lots of music, live art and tons more. Get your tickets now at brownpapertickets.com!

In the meantime, here’s the April FRESH Sessions. Enjoy—and watch out for a surprise!

  • Chromeo featuring Toro Y Moi, “Come Alive”
  • Duck Sauce, “Barbara Streisand”
  • Anna Lunoe and Touch Sensitive, “Real Talk”
  • Flight Facilities featuring Elizabeth Rose, “I Didn't Believe”
  • Chromeo, “Bonafied Lovin’”
  • DJ Topsider, “Mast (Yale x Classixx)”
  • Anna Lunoe “Up and Down”
  • Alf Alpha x All Night Shoes, “Deep End”
  • Justin Timberlake, “Suit and Tie” (Aeroplane Remix)
  • Flume featuring Chet Faker, “Left Alone”
Published in Subatomic

The Southern California Homebrewers Festival is held every year in early May.

The festival, hosted by the California Homebrewers Association (CHA), is held at Lake Casitas, in Ventura County—about a three-hour drive from Palm Springs. Commercial breweries and homebrewers pour their beers; award winning homebrewers and brewmasters speak at the wildlife recreation area. With more than 40 homebrew clubs in attendance, and unlimited tastings, it’s a beer and camping extravaganza that attracts a couple thousand beer-lovers every year.

However, its future was temporarily thrown into doubt, thanks to a potentially damaging piece of legislation.

On Oct. 1, 2013, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 1425. The bill was supposed to do good things—namely, make home-brewed beer and wine easier to share. However, it included this phrase: “A nonprofit organization established for the purpose of promoting home production of beer or wine, or whose membership is composed primarily of home brewers or home winemakers, shall not be eligible to sell beer or wine pursuant to this subdivision.”

The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control initially interpreted that phrase as prohibiting homebrew festivals—such as the Southern California Homebrewers Festival.

The California Homebrewers Association put pressure on the ABC for a more favorable interpretation of the law—and they had help from some powerful people. On Jan. 23, the top two members of the Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization—chair Isadore Hall III, a Los Angeles Democrat, and vice-chair Brian Nestande, a Palm Desert Republican—issued a press release announcing they’d sent a letter to the director of the ABC in an effort to ensure the festival can continue.

“It appears that there is a misinterpretation of the committee’s intent with this bill,” Nestande said in the news release. “These small local festivals attract thousands of people. They are a vital part of our economy and promote small-business growth. I’m committed to working with director (Timothy) Gorsuch to ensure the festival can carry on as planned.”

David Humphrey is the CEO of the Coachella Valley Brewing Company, as well as an attorney. He said that the provision in question was intended “to keep commercial breweries from using the expansive language as an end around from obtaining a proper license.

“Under no good-faith reading was the provision meant to limit a homebrewer or home wine-maker from showcasing his hobby at a festival,” Humphrey said.

Brett Newman is the Coachella Valley Homebrew Club president and has been helping the other Southern California homebrew clubs fight the ABC interpretation. Newman has attended the festival twice. He said he loves getting ideas, and tasting rare beers.

“Serving and pouring at your booth is just amazing,” he said. “I actually love doing that almost more than anything else. It’s like instant feedback. … You can’t trust your own senses with your own homebrew sometimes.”

California Homebrewers Association president Christy Elshof wants to make it clear that it’s the Southern California Homebrewers Festival. Note that the word “beer” is not included.

“We want to make that clear, because it seems that there’s a lot of misunderstanding that it’s all about the beer,” she said in early February. “We want to make it very clear it’s all about the homebrewer. It’s the homebrewers’ rights that are in jeopardy with the law as it stands.”

Elshof started homebrewing 17 years ago. She started going to the event as a volunteer in the 1990s and was later asked to join the board. Elshof feels that the ABC was looking at the event as a beer festival; she looks at it as a place for homebrewers to get together and talk about what they make.

“We are enthusiastic hobbyists. Over the years, we’ve grown from … three or four clubs that started it. … We had over 2,000 people last year. If they could actually hear how brewers talk to each other—talk about technique, you know. As a brewer, you’re always looking for that little intangible. You want to know what it is that added that little back flavor. What did you add? What was your temperature? You gather more information by sharing with others.”

Things came down to the wire, but in mid-February, Elshof learned that the event could go on: Thanks to a loophole and the involvement of a nonprofit group, the early May festival is safe. Tickets should go on sale around the first of March. Meanwhile, the group will keep fighting to make sure the law is fixed.

“This is where we grow our future craft brewers, in the homebrewing industry,” Elshof said.

For more information, visit www1.calhomebrewers.org.

Published in Beer

I like my beer like I like my men: tall, dark and handsome. And what is the darkest beer of them all?

Well, hello, stout!

Stout originally meant “proud” or “brave,” but morphed into “strong” after the 14th century—and this handsome, brave and strong beer now has its own day of celebration.

International Stout Day will be celebrated for the third year on Friday, Nov. 8. How did this boozy holiday come to be? I’ve always been intrigued with the idea of celebrating a beer style or locale. Just like vineyards and the resulting wines tell the story of the people, the weather and the land behind them, beer also tells a story about its creation. In 2011, I reached out to other beer bloggers and breweries—and the day was born.

The first stouts were produced in the 1730s. The Russian imperial stout was inspired by brewers in the 1800s to win over the czar. “Imperial porter” came before “imperial stout”; the earliest noted use of “imperial” to describe a beer comes from the Caledonian Mercury of February 1821, when a coffeehouse in Edinburgh was advertising “Edinburgh Ales, London Double Brown Stout and Imperial Porter, well worth the attention of Families.”

Guinness has been brewing porters since about 1780 and is famous for its dry or Irish stout. Oatmeal stout beer is one of the sweeter and smoother stouts—and the fact that we today have oyster stout and chocolate stout is proof that society is ever-evolving. (The first known use of oysters as part of the stout-brewing process actually happened way back in 1929, in New Zealand.)

Thanks to today’s craft-beer revolution, you’ll find an amazing array of stouts—perfect not only for a chilly day, but for pairing with gourmet meals. Thankfully, Coachella Valley breweries and bars are celebrating on Nov. 8 with a variety of special beers and special events.

Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse (71800 Highway 111, Rancho Mirage; 760-346-8738) will have two specialty stouts on tap: Anderson Valley’s Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrel Stout, and AleSmith Speedway Stout

To make the Bourbon Barrel Stout, the folks at Anderson Valley take their Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout and age it in Wild Turkey bourbon barrels for three months. Anderson Valley has an exclusive deal to get the barrels fresh from Wild Turkey’s “dumping room.” This ensures consistency and freshness in the barrel—and eventually, the beer. Despite the use of liquor barrels, the beer is on the lower side of the alcohol scale.

Alternatively, weighing in with an impressive 12 percent alcohol volume, the San Diego-born Speedway Stout starts with strong coffee and dark-chocolate sensations. Alongside sweet notes of molasses are alcohol heat and dark fruit undertones; this is a delicious beer.

Coachella Valley Brewing Co. (30640 Gunther St., Thousand Palms; 760-343-5973) will have Condition Black on tap. The black IPA is a marriage of stout and IPA styles—featuring the malt complexity of a stout, and the hop bitterness of an IPA. Using multiple dark-roasted malts like midnight wheat, barley, two dark crystal malts and chocolate malts, this Cascadian dark beer is a new style in and of itself. It’s not technically a stout—these beers typically lacks the roasted taste and body of a strong stout, but are much maltier than a typical IPA.

While Eureka! Burger (74985 Highway 111, Indian Wells; 760-834-7700) may be the new kid on the local restaurant block, the Indian Wells location of the Southern California chain is no stranger to craft beer and will join the festivities with stouts and barrel-aged stouts from breweries throughout the U.S. Stouts are always a tasty accompaniment to a juicy burger!

Stouts also make for a decadent pairing with a fine cigar, so visit Mel and the rest of the gang at Fame Lounge (155 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-320-2752) for a stout and cigar; they almost always have at least one on tap.

The craft-beer advocates over at Schmidy’s Tavern (72286 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-837-3800) in Palm Desert will be offering some savory stouts as well; their selection had yet to be announced as of our deadline.

While visiting these fine establishments, make sure you share your stout with your friends! Are you a member of Untappd? Log in and post what beer you’re drinking—and get the 2013 specialty Stout Day badge!

What other stouts should you look for and enjoy?

Brewery Ommegang’s Game of Thrones Take the Black Stout was released at the end of September and is available on draft and in 750-milliliter bottles. This stout is full of midnight wheat, roasted barley, Northern Brewer hops and chocolate malt. Check out the Ommegang website and click “find a beer” to see where it’s available.

• Founders Brewing can do no wrong. The world-class Kentucky Breakfast Stout is an imperial brewed with a massive amount of coffee and chocolates, then cave-aged in oak bourbon barrels for a year. The alcohol volume is 11.2 percent, so take your time, and savor this big beer. Smell the succulent scent of rich dark chocolate, plums, vanilla-cream, cherry, coffee and bourbon. The more you sip it, the more this perfectly aged beer will warm and reveal notes of bourbon and oak.

Firestone Walker Brewing’s Parabola is a whopping 13-percent-alcohol Russian imperial stout. Pouring a dark caramel-brown color, this delicately smooth stout has flavors of sweet malts, charred barrel notes, coconut, vanilla, bourbon spiciness and chocolate. The immense complexity is nothing short of artful. Watch for their “bottled on” dates—located on the necks or bottom left corner of the label. Buy a couple, and age one in a dark place to drink on next year’s Stout Day. It will take a little edge off the bourbon and round off the flavors. You won’t be disappointed.

Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout is brewed every winter, and the imperial stout has won numerous awards. What makes it special? The addition of wheat and specialty malts, and the use of three mashes. Beginning with cocoa, caramel malt and dark fruit, the beer features roasted bitterness, and finishes with pleasing alcohol warmth—as the chocolate continues to send ribbons of its bouquet to the palate. This is a wonderful stout.

Southern Tier Crème Brulee is an imperial stout brewed with vanilla coffee beans. Yes, please! You’ll find vanilla, custard and brown sugar in the nose. Serve this in a tulip glass, snifter or oversized wine glass. Want to really dive into dreamy decadence? Enjoy this with bananas foster or over vanilla ice cream.

Foothills Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout gets the Beer Goddess award for the coolest name. The famed imperial stout has been brewed since 2007; the original Sexual Chocolate contains nine different malts and four different hop varietals, in addition to its “chocolate”—organic Peruvian cocoa nibs. Foothills Brewing has been awarded seven Great American Beer Fest medals since 2006; three of those went to Sexual Chocolate, as did a World Beer Cup medal in 2010. Because this is a limited release, you may not find it in time for this year’s Stout Day—so keep an eye out for the new version that will become available for next Stout Day!

• The 2013 Stone Espresso Imperial Russian Stout is part of Stone’s “Odd Beers for Odd Years” program, which began in 2011; the series introduces new, or “odd,” versions of Stone Imperial Russian Stout in tandem with the classic version during odd-numbered years. Stone Imperial Russian Stout is one of the highest-rated Stone beers and has a “world class” score on BeerAdvocate.com. The beer features espresso beans from San Diego’s Ryan Bros. Coffee; Stone brewmaster Mitch Steele notes that the coffee enhances the perception of the chocolate. The taste is substantial, yet balanced. The 11 percent alcohol volume is just slightly noticeable. Pair it with a flavored cigar like Java Robusto or Camacho Triple Maduro.

• Deschutes’ The Abyss American Imperial Stout pours an obsidian black, after being aged in bourbon barrels and brewed with licorice and molasses. The 11-percent-alcohol beer has barrel-aged character, but it’s never overpowering. Light nuances of oak, vanilla and bourbon give it great complexity. It’s definitely on par with a fine dark rum or bourbon as a mature sipper.

• The 2013 version of Allagash Fluxus has citrus notes. The beer is brewed differently every year to commemorate Allagash’s anniversary, and this year’s Fluxus is a porter brewed with a blend of 2-row, coffee and chocolate malts, as well as blood-orange pulp and zest. Yes, I’m including a porter on the list. I won’t go off on a craft-beer-style lecture, but I will say that “stout” has typically meant a stronger version of porter. So, close enough.

Three Floyds Brewing’s Dark Lord Imperial Stout is like chocolate mousse in a glass. Wonderful for aging, Dark Lord boasts an alcohol volume of 15 percent. Sweet molasses, coffee bitterness, caramel notes and dark fruit come in waves, all while offering a nice sweetness and a velvety mouth feel. All bow before the Dark Lord! This is a phenomenal beer.

Ten Barrel/Bluejacket/Stone Suede Imperial Porter is a chocolaty, higher-alcohol porter that’s a perfect collaboration beer for Stout Day. Tonya Cornett from Bend, Ore.’s 10 Barrel Brewing Company wanted a beer she could put in the cellar and enjoy for years to come. So, pick up a couple of bottles; enjoy one on Nov. 8; and tuck one away for Stout Day 2014. The sturdy yet velvety base of imperial porter holds up beautifully with the addition of the avocado honey, jasmine and calendula flowers.

Cheers!

Published in Beer

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