CVIndependent

Sat08242019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Erin Peters

The Rhythm, Wine and Brews Experience is back on March 5 with an amazing lineup of bands, wine and brews.

Live music, craft beer from 48 breweries and amazing wine from 21 wineries will be enjoyed with the scenic Empire Polo Club as the backdrop.

Kevin Olsen runs Adam’s Bottle Boutique in Redondo Beach; he is the RWB beer curator.

“This year, we have a more unique selection of breweries,” he said. “Some are a little less mainstream, with some smaller breweries that are more artisanal and craft-driven. Last year, we definitely took a step in that direction.

“Belching Beaver came out this year, (as did) Strand Brewing; Ritual Brewing, which is a little closer, is an Inland Empire brewery.”

Here is more information some of the breweries that will be rockin’ this year’s Rhythm, Wine and Brews. Get more information at www.rwbexp.com.

10 Barrel Brewing: This is a favorite in Oregon and a multiple Great American Beer Festival medal winner. There are satellite brewpubs in Boise, Portland and Bend.

Anchor Brewing Company: This brewery is dripping with history: Anchor began during the California Gold Rush and was the first to produce steam beer—effervescent beer now labeled California common beer. Anchor is the only steam-brewing company still in operation.

Ace Cider: Did you know cider is fantastic to cook with? Use Ace cider in place of champagne to lighten up your dishes, and consider Ace Apple with your next pork dish!

Ballast Point: This San Diego brewery is a homebrewer’s fairytale come true. Founder Jack White opened Home Brew Mart in 1992, after wanting more quality and unique brewing ingredients for homebrewers to use. Ballast Point opened their “back room” brewery, behind the shop, in 1996. In November, the UCLA students turned brewery owners sold to Constellation Brands for $1 billion.

Sierra Nevada: Ken Grossman, the godfather of craft beers, opened a homebrew supply store in Chico in 1976. He purchased whole cone hops from Yakima hop brokers directly and began brewing his now infamous hop-forward beers. He launched Sierra Nevada Brewing three years later.

Green Flash Brewing: Green Flash opened Cellar 3 last year, a new tasting room and specialty brewing facility in Poway. The facility focuses on innovation through barrel-aging and wild yeast experimentation.  When not sipping something sour, try the Soul Style American IPA. Citra, Simcoe and Cascade hops are layered, giving it tropical and sherbert flavors. It’s a perfect warm weather beer.

Breckenridge Brewery: Colorado’s third craft brewery began thanks to a ski-bum homebrewer in 1990. Today, Breckenridge’s beers can be found in 32 states. In true outdoorsy form, the brewery put nitro—nitrogen-carbonated beer—in cans late last year.

Three Weavers Brewing Company: The female-run brewery is Los Angeles’ second Kickstarter-funded brewery. Brewmaster Alexandra Nowell was the former lead brewer at Drakes and won two GABF bronze medals while brewmaster at Kinetic Brewing Company in Lancaster.

Coachella Valley Brewing Company: CVB, as we locals like to call it, answers the call for a bigger selection of sophisticated and modern beers here in the valley. Head brewmaster and part owner Chris Anderson is a graduate of the University of Alaska-Anchorage Culinary program. Anderson brews using local ingredients. CVB started a sour program in 2015, and the Profligate Society features sours like the cabernet-barrel-aged Epineux Poire prickly pear wild ale.

Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse: The Rancho Mirage restaurant and brewhouse was founded by Marie Callender’s founder, Don Callender. Don had a passion for craft beer and opened two small breweries in 1998 and 1999. Babe’s later opened in April 2002. In 2014, the Belgian Vanilla Blonde Ale took gold at the Great America Beer Festival.

La Quinta Brewing: One of the valley’s three local brewers opened its doors in the fall of 2013. And after much success and popularity, it recently opened a taproom in Old Town La Quinta.

Goose Island Brewing: Goose Island's brands are sold in 24 states and parts of Europe thanks to the Anheuser-Busch InBev deal in 2011. While craft-beer geeks across the country cried in their beers over the deal, their Bourbon County Stout has remained world class.

New Belgium Brewing: This is one of the coolest breweries on the planet. The New Belgium folks not only advocate for beer, they advocate for the planet. Tour de Fat is New Belgium’s traveling party regarding all things bicycle: In every Tour de Fat city, one awesome role model will step on stage to trade in his or her car keys and pledge to live car free for one year. Oh, and the brewery is now 100 percent employee owned.

Black Market Brewing: Black Market launched the craft movement in Temecula’s wine country. It recently brewed a Rum Matured Deception With Pineapple. The “normal” Deception is a coconut lime blonde ale. Black Market releases a new beer on Cask Night, every Monday.

Lost Coast: Lost Coast began in 1990, in a 100-year-old castle in Eureka, Calif. Barbara Groom, a pharmacist turned homebrewer, now owns the 43rd-largest craft brewery in the U.S. Have a friend who hasn’t turned to craft yet? Give them a pint of Great White.

Founders Brewery: If you haven’t fallen in love with Founders, you don’t have a heart. This brewery is ranked as one of the top breweries in the world by Ratebeer.com over the last five years. If you haven’t tried the Breakfast Stout, you haven’t lived.

Speakeasy Ales and Lager: Speakeasy hales from San Francisco. Last year, a new 60-barrel brewhouse was made with a malt handling system, fermenters, a centrifuge and a canning line were installed. Production capacity increased to 90,000 barrels per year.

Bootleggers Brewery: Orange County craft-beer darling Bootleggers was established in 2008 by husband and wife Aaron and Patricia Barkenhagen. They brew the popular Mint Chocolate Porter.

Firestone Walker Brewing Co.: I can’t say enough good things about Firestone—and neither could the Great American Beer Fest last year: Firestone took a silver for the Feral One in the Belgian-Style Lambic or Sour Ale category. The brewery also brought home two bronzes: for the Hammersmith IPA in the English-Style India Pale Ale category, and thr Sour Opal in the Wood and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer categories. Then, Firestone was awarded golds for the Pivo in the German-Style Pilsener and the DBA in the Ordinary or Special Bitter categories. It only made sense that it was awarded the Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year awards.

Bell’s Brewery: Bell’s was founded by Larry Bell as a home-brewing supply shop in 1983. It ranked eighth in total volume among all domestic craft brewers in the U.S. in 2010.

Barley Forge Brewery: This was the OC Weekly Best Brewery in 2015. Barley Forge specializes in Belgian, West Coast and German-style beers.

Brew Rebellion: This brewery is true to its name: Brew Rebellion brews beer 30 to 50 gallons at a time. That means an awesome rotating tap list and more specialty beers.

Coedo Brewery: Japan’s Coedo names beers after five classic Japanese hues. Coedo honors traditions: The brewers allow the first sip of beer to fall to the ground from the tanks, as a tribute to the brewmasters who came before them.

Einstök Brewing: This brewer is located just 60 miles south of the Arctic Circle in the fishing port of Akureyri, Iceland. All Einstök beers are 100 percent vegan, with no GMOs.

Clown Shoes: Funny name, great beer. Check out American black ale dubbed “Lubrication.” The label features a robot at a gas station holding a pump handle in his groin vicinity. Fun tidbit: The artist is a woman.

Pizza Port Brewing: Pizza Port serves delicious craft beer in Solana Beach, Carlsbad, San Clemente and Ocean Beach. Each of Pizza Port’s four San Diego County brewpubs won at least one GABF medal last year.

Hangar 24 Craft Brewery: Located at the end of a dusty road, with the San Bernardino Mountains serving as a backdrop, Hangar 24 is named after the hangar where owner Ben Cook—a licensed pilot—and his friends would relax after a day of flying. Fun fact: Much of the equipment in Hangar 24’s main brew house came by way of Las Vegas’ Monte Carlo Casino.

Pizza Port Brewing: Pizza Port serves delicious craft beer in Solana Beach, Carlsbad, San Clemente and Ocean Beach. Each of Pizza Port’s four San Diego County brewpubs won at least one GABF medal last year.

Mission Brewery: Mission Brewery was originally established in 1913; like most breweries of the time, it went out of business during the first year of Prohibition. The revived Mission Brewery is now in the East Village in downtown San Diego in the historic Wonder Bread Building.

King Harbor Brewing Company: This is first production brewery in Redondo Beach. Last June, it opened the Waterfront Tasting Room, joining Los Angeles craft-beer-bar icon Naja’s Place on the International Boardwalk.

Belching Beaver Brewing: This is a dog-friendly brewery in North Park, San Diego. The Beavers Milk, Milk Stout took a gold medal at the World Beer Championships in 2014 and 2015. Their Dammed! Double IPA also took a gold at the World Beer Championships in 2014.

Strand Brewing: Torrance’s first production brewery has grown so much since 2009 that it moved to Old Torrance last October. Strand Brewing, Monkish Brewing, The Dudes Brewing and Smog City Brewing are all within a short Uber ride from each other.

Deschutes Brewing: Deschutes is awesome—and it’s family owned and operated. The company even set up an employee stock ownership program in 2013 so employees can own a percentage. If you try anything from Deschutes, try The Abyss. It’s a world class, 12 percent alcohol by volume imperial stout.

Alpine Brewing: You may already know Green Flash and Alpine merged in 2014. Green Flash is about 20 times larger than Alpine. Alpine couldn’t previously meet the demand for its popular IPA. Now it can.

Angel City Brewing: Angel City has a special place in my heart: When I first started writing about beer in 2008, I met Michael Bowe, the founder of Angel City. He’s since sold it and is sailing around the world, but the brewery continues to thrive in downtown Los Angeles.

Ironfire Brewing Company: John Maino and Greg Webb met at Ballast Point in San Diego and decided to start their own brewery in Temecula—and Ironfire was born in 2012.

BarrelHouse Brewing Co.:BarrelHouse not only has fantastic beers (Sours!); it also offers beautiful views from the inviting Central Coast patio. The just-announced 2016 Curly Wolf is maple vanilla bourbon-barrel-aged Russian imperial stout.

Rock Brothers Brewing: Music and beer are this brewery’s mantra. Creating custom brews for bands is the focus: It made 311’s amber ale beer.

Elysian Brewing: Elysian was founded in Seattle in 1995. Try the Avatar Jasmine IP brewed with died jasmine flowers.

Golden Road Brewing: All of the beers are delivered in cans. Canned beers stay fresher longer without light oxidation, and they are better for the environment. Anheuser-Busch Inbev acquired Los Angeles’ largest craft brewer last September.

Acoustic Ales Brewing Experiment: Acoustic started brewing in 2012, but the building that houses it has more than 100 years of American brewing history: The original facility housed Mission Brewery, which operated before Prohibition.

Karl Strauss Brewing Company: Strauss was former vice president of production and reached master brewer at Pabst Brewing Company. He, Chris Cramer and Matt Rattner started the first-ever brew pub in San Diego in 1989.

Lagunitas Brewing Company: The brewery that brews in Northern California and Chicago sold a 50 percent stake to Heineken last September in an effort to expand the brand globally.

Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider: The Rev. Nat West started making cider in his basement, and in the spirit of craft beer geeks, grew into to a business that now distributes in five states.

Ritual Brewing Company: This Redlands brewery was founded by Owen Williams and Steve Dunkerken. Williams is a former brewing operations director of BJ’s Brewhouse and teaches at California Polytechnic University. Dunkerken is a Redlands native and long time homebrewer.

The craft-beer industry has long been on top of the latest trends and technology when it comes to helping people create, find and enjoy the best beer possible.

In other words … when it comes to craft beer, yes, there’s an app for that. In fact, here are five applications I recommend for beer-lovers both geeky and curious.

Untappd: Drink socially. That’s the mantra of Untappd. Imagine a beer app that’s a combination of Facebook, FourSquare and Yelp. With Untappd, you check in by both location and beer type. If the beer you’re drinking isn’t listed, you can add it yourself. In Yelp fashion, there’s a great five-bottle-cap rating system. Taking a page from Facebook, Untappd allows users to “friend” other beer-drinkers and say “cheers” regarding friends’ beer check-ins. The app also recommends other beers based on the style you’re enjoying. Drink new beers and unlock some awesome achievement badges! Yes, with this app, you’re rewarded for your beery curiosity and willingness to expand your palate. On the brewery side, Untappd allows beer-makers to engage with fans and grow an audience.

Untappd started five years ago and now boasts 3 million users worldwide—and the makers recently announced a strategic merger of Untappd and Next Glass, another alcohol-based tech startup. This means more updates, awesome features and even more badges. This is a world-class social community for beer-drinkers.

When you join, make sure to connect with me at untappd.com/user/epeters. We can enjoy a beer together online!

BreweryMap: What do you get when you combine geeky algorithmic mapping with craft breweries? This awesome app! You can search by location or plan a trip. In fact, Wired.com recently called BreweryMap a “great beer trip planner.” Enter your starting address and your destination, and find all of the craft breweries along your route!

TapHunter: While TapHunter shares some similarities with BreweryMap, this app specifically focuses on local watering holes and—you guessed it—their taps. TapHunter sends alerts when your favorite beer goes on tap. Founded in San Diego in 2009, TapHunter allows users to search for beers by location, brewery or name. With this app, you can learn about the latest trends, check the current lineup of brews at a specific bar, and help update tap lists—earning points and winning prizes along the way. As with Untappd, TapHunter allows users to share findings through social media. You can also use the app to discover great local bars, restaurants, tasting rooms and now bottle shops. This is a must-use app for bar owners: This app can keep menus up-to-date and let fans know about any changes!

iBrewMaster 2: Considering getting into brewing? Well, this is widely regarded as the premier brewing application. iBrewMaster 2 allows you to manage the entire brewing process, as well as add, edit and manage your own recipes. The app comes complete with pre-loaded recipes—and you can even purchase up to 280 more. When you start the brewing process, the app will tell you the estimated original and final gravities, alcohol content, IBUs, color and calories. The app is unique in that it makes a distinction between recipes and batches: A brewer can brew recipes more than once, but batches are often not the same. Here, for example, you can enter a base recipe for an imperial stout and then keep a list of the batches you’ve brewed with that recipe. One of the goals of good beer-making is to be able to brew a delicious batch of beer, the same way, every time. This feature helps with that. As they cleverly say, technology never tasted so good.

BJCP: Even if you’re not studying to become a certified craft-beer judge, the BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) is a great tool to learn more about beer styles, as written by the brewers’ association. Beer is not only fun and delicious; it’s serious business. Take note: The 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines mark a major revision from the 2008 edition. The industry is moving fast, and brewers are pushing limits and creating new styles and hybrids. This app is updated with a plethora of information regarding emerging craft-beer-market trends, modern brewing ingredients and sensory characteristics. Learn more about the numerous beer styles, and get better at recognizing the appearance, aroma, flavor and mouth-feel of a beer.

Trust me: These apps will better your beer-drinking experience. Find out what’s new in the craft beer world, and join the craft beer revolution—one app and one beer at a time.

Some beer-drinkers and wine-drinkers have the idea that you must be loyal to one beverage or style.

Well, let me introduce myself: My name is Erin Peters. I am a cross drinker—and I’m not the only one.

A visit to California’s Central Coast offers cross-drinkers like me the chance to compare some of the world’s best artisan beers and wines. I recently took a drive up to Paso Robles, and then further north to the Monterey area, to find out what craft beers are preferred by wine experts.

Midnight Cellars is a small-production, award-winning winery on the west end of Paso Robles. The boutique winery produces sustainably farmed Bordeaux grapes on 28 acres of hilly and limestone-rich soil. Midnight is known for making some of the best blends and big merlots. (Do not mention Sideways to the winemakers there!) Merlots are often viewed as gateway wines—kind of like pale ales are in the beer world. However, Midnight’s 2010 Estate Merlot transcends this stereotype: It’s big, bold and rich with dark fruit flavors.

Perhaps not so coincidentally, Shelby at midnight told me how much she loves Sierra Nevada’s pale ale—still known as one of the biggest pale ales in the industry. There’s a nice balance in both this beer and this wine.

Just around the corner from Midnight is a gorgeous, upscale tasting room, serving old world varietal wines. Sextant Winery serves powerful zinfandel and petite sirah blends. The folks at Sextant claim it is the only winery in North America to cross-pollinate grenache and cabernet sauvignon, producing a big and bold caladoc. Bright Bing cherries and ripe blackberries are layered with dark fig, cinnamon and spicy cardamom notes. It’s delicious and poetically one-of-a-kind. Just don’t call it a blend.

Enthusiastic and knowledgeable server Kate Keller is a fan of local breweries like Central Coast Brewing, Libertine Brewing Company and BarrelHouse Brewing Company. BarrelHouse is a must-do when visiting the Central Coast—not just for the beer, but also for the beautiful views and inviting patio. The brewery typically has at least a couple fantastic sours on tap.

Monica Villicana not only runs a boutique winery, Villicana Winery, in Paso Robles; she and her husband, Alex, were the first in the area to distill spirits from the used grapes. Winemakers bleed a percentage of the free-run juice from red-wine grapes before fermentation to enhance the quality of the wines. Saignée is this French term meaning “to bleed,” and this juice is often discarded. By fermenting this bleed and then triple-distilling it, Re:Find Distillery has found a new use for saignée.

No surprise: Monica’s first choice of libations is wine. Then she’ll reach for liquors such as brandy, vodka or whiskey. While she’s not a big beer fan, she recently found one that she enjoys and can drink for a longer period of time: Central Coast Brewing’s Original Chai Ale. The spiced blonde ale from this veteran downtown San Luis Obispo brewery—it’s been open since 1998—comes in with a very manageable 4.9 percent alcohol by volume and has flavorful notes of vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.

Her husband, Alex, will grab Firestone Walker’s Double Barrel Ale when he’s not enjoying his own cabernet sauvignons, zinfandels, merlots or syrahs. This American take on a British style beer has sweet malt flavors overlaying a slightly woody aroma. Villicana’s vintner likely enjoys the earthiness notes that highlight roasted bread, caramel and oak.

Traveling north on Highway 46, I stopped in Cambria, a lovely seaside village that oozes quaint, artistic expression. Here, you’ll find several wineries and what used to be called Cambria Beer Company. After a trademark dispute, the local brewery is now thriving as 927 Beer Company. Head brewer and president Aaron Wharton doesn’t have a taste for wine, but in true collaborative craft-beer-industry fashion, his patrons and friends bring him bottles and growlers of their beers to exchange with his own brews. Some of his favorites include Modern Times, Noble AleWorks, Rare Barrel and Alpine Brewing. In January, Aaron will start offering barrel-aged beers on a monthly basis.

Down the street is tasting room for Moonstone Cellars. Server and “wineaux” Ron Panna tends to favor chardonnays and appreciates red varietals like petite syrah. Young petite syrah wines may have dark berry and plum fruit characteristics, as seen in the winery’s 2013 petite syrah, which is a club exclusive—and it’s fantastic. This wine is full of spice and dark fruit and demands a meal befitting its robust and full-flavored nature, such as rosemary leg of lamb.

When not sipping on wine, he seeks out beers like Lagunitas Sucks’ Brown Shugga. Brown Shugga is a whopping 10 percent ABV American strong ale that carries flavors of malt, dark fruit and brown sugar together beautifully. Many strong ales also have prominent notes of spice, just like syrahs.

Heading up Highway 1, in Big Sur Village, I came upon a cozy pub serving some of the best wings I’ve had in a long time. Maiden Publick House is a bit of a transcendental intersection, where locals, hippie campers and tourists enjoy brews among surrounding lush forests. The menu also lists nice beer pairings for the appetizers, salads, sandwiches, burgers and traditional favorites like shepherd’s pie or Monterey chicken. Choose beers from 12 taps or 70 bottles. Parish Pub in Santa Cruz owns Maiden Pub, giving them access to a nice beer selection.

Continuing north to Monterey, I stopped by Alvarado Street Brewery and Grill. The first thing I noticed were the delicious smells wafting from the main bar and kitchen. Thanks in part to access to pristine, local ingredients, the brewery has started a barrel-aging program utilizing zinfandel barrels from Joullian Vineyards in Carmel Valley. Now aging is the Kriek lambic with Brettanomyces—and 40 pounds of cherries. Alvarado’s approach to artisan craft beer nabbed them gold at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival: The Mai Tai PA was recognized in the international-style pale ale beer-style category. The beer lineup includes Saboteur saison, Super Rad! sour and Double Cone double IPA. The Super Rad! was, well, super rad—and their bacon and egg flatbread was positively scrumptious.

I later picked up a bottle of pinot noir from my dear friend Cathy. (I’ve known her since the fifth-grade!) She and her husband, Chris Weidemann, started Pelerin, a small artisan winery in Carmel Valley. Their wines are hand-harvested, gently tended and bottled without filtration. When not sipping on pinot noir or Rhone-style syrah, Chris and Cathy enjoy beers from the Monterey Coast Brewing Co. in Salinas. Chris enjoys mid-weight, moderately hoppy ales, and like most, enjoys craft beers from his local community. 

Here’s a quick guide that may help you match your beer preferences with your wine preferences:

  • Enjoy Chardonnay? Try wheat beers.
  • Like carménère? Try West Coast IPAs.
  • Drink syrahs or chianti? Try a porter.
  • If you enjoy merlot, pick up a pale ale.
  • Like riesling? You may also like Czech pilsners.
  • Shiraz or grenache-blend aficionado? Try a Belgium ale.
  • Is your go-to pinot noir? You should also try lambic or sour.

These are mere recommendations; after all, nothing beats your own palate.

Wine is known to be gorgeous, mysterious and sophisticated. Craft beer can portray a sense of worldly history, anarchy and fun. Enjoy both—and you can have it all.

The first Coachella Valley Beer Week—which I helped create—recently wrapped up after 10 days of craft-beer events all over the valley. On Nov. 14, the Indio BBQ and Beer Competition took place, and on that same day, La Quinta Brewing celebrated its second anniversary.

Now that these excellent events are over, where in the Coachella Valley can you go to enjoy the ever-expanding craft-beer revolution?

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club keeps up with trends in music, art, food and drink, and the folks in charge have updated the Amigo Room to carry more craft beer again. You can enjoy them in the dim, cavernous space, or brighten up by the pool.

In the northernmost reaches of Palm Desert, you’ll find the beloved La Quinta Brewing Co. and its taproom. On any given evening, you may find a local band playing, or women enjoying Koffi Porter ice cream floats during Ladies Night. The Heat Wave Amber and Tan Line Brown Ale beers recently returned, and the Napoleon barrel-aged beer was released for the brewery’s second anniversary. The biggest news of all: La Quinta Brewing just opened a taproom in Old Town La Quinta!

In Rancho Mirage, Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse has been serving up barbecue (just voted as the valley’s best by Independent readers) and craft beer since 2002. Try the award-winning Belgian Vanilla Blonde Ale, brewed with raisins and whole Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans. Babe’s also offers new, seasonal brews and a nice selection of other Southern California beers in the restaurant bar. Keep an eye out for the recently released DIPA, a hoppy pilsner, as well as an apricot tripel.

Babe’s neighbor at The River, the Yard House features 155 beers on tap. I’ve recently met knowledgeable bartenders there who will guide you in the right sudsy direction.

Schmidy’s Tavern is a favorite in Palm Desert among the younger crowd. Live music is a constant, and the pool tables are typically full. Enjoy beers on tap like Bell’s Midwestern Pale Ale, Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale and Ironfire Outcast Dead Barrel Aged Imperial Red Ale.

Up Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs is a restaurant offering a farm-to-concrete-table dining experience that’s industrial chic and progressive. While the menu at Workshop Kitchen + Bar is heavy with cocktails and duck fat, the spot also offers a nice selection of beer. With a 34-foot-long concrete communal table and lofty wood-trussed cathedral ceiling, you may feel as if you’re sharing beer steins in Bavaria.

A little closer to the heart of downtown Palm Springs is Bar. The street-art-friendly, chalet-inspired watering hole serves classic cocktails and a nice sampling of Southern California craft beers. Try the Picnic Eggs—deviled eggs with Sriracha and wasabi—with the War Gin beer cocktail, with gin and lemon honey pale ale.

The spirit of Sinatra is alive at the Purple Room Restaurant and Stage—but unlike hangouts of the ’60s, this swanky supper club offers a great selection of craft beers. In bottles, you can enjoy San Diego beers like Ballast Point Longfin Lager and Stone Pale Ale. On tap, enjoy CVB’s Desert Swarm, Babe’s Blackfin Lager, La Quinta’s Poolside Blonde and many other brews

Fame Lounge is an upscale cigar, wine and microbrew lounge located in the heart of downtown Palm Springs. At the bar, you’ll find a rotation of beers on tap. Recent finds: Stone Wootstout 2.0 and North Coast Indica IPA.

On Indian Canyon Drive, check out the progressive Vietnamese-American beer bar Rooster and the Pig. Try the banh mi burger with one of the California craft beers on draft. Chef/owner Tai Spendley also has a nice variety of Vietnamese beers in bottles.

What happens when you combine traditional Tokyo cuisine with American and Japanese craft beer? You get the upscale-casual Gyoro Gyoro, at Tahquitz Canyon Way and Palm Canyon Drive. The spot offers a nice selection of craft beers from the states and Japan, along with a variety of fantastic sake.

Beloved farm-to-table brewery Coachella Valley Brewing Co. also celebrated its second anniversary recently. Sustainability, creativity and passion are key ingredients in these exceptional beers. Be sure to check out head brewer Chris Anderson’s sour program, as well as the brewery’s Profligate Society, which features rare beers. Palms to Pines, the ever-popular Triple IPA brewed with locally foraged spruce tips and coconut palm sugar, will be released around mid-December.

On Highway 111 in Indian Wells, you’ll find So Cal chain Eureka! Currently, Eureka! boasts 20 impressive taps ranging from Stone’s Barrel Aged Brown Ale with Balaton Sour Cherries to Mother Earth’s Imagination Land. Watch for great beer-pairing events.

The Stuft Pizza locations in Palm Desert and La Quinta have become hot spots for watching the game and sipping your favorite suds. The “not just pizza” joint in Palm Desert has 15 taps, two of which rotate with the latest craft seasonals. There’s a reason why pizza and beer are a match made in heaven: The acids and tannins in wine tend to amplify the acidity of tomato dishes.

Wherever you go … take time to savor your beer and enjoy the craft-beer revolution! 

Stout beers offer a soft, almost chewy richness—unlike any lager.

The sharp and roasted yet creamy flavor is delicious any time of the year—but these beers are especially lovely when the temperatures start to drop. These darker beers pack a cornucopia of flavors, with plenty of alcohol by volume to keep you warm and toasty.

It’s time to celebrate these beers: The Fifth Annual International Stout Day (an event I helped create) will be celebrated around the world on Thursday, Nov. 5.

International Stout Day has become a day of delicious celebration, a time when we salute this rich and complex style—and the brewers who craft it.

On this fine, roasted-malt-infused day, I recommend checking out some of these delicious beers:

Deschutes Brewery Obsidian Stout: Sharp coffee flavors and full-bodied hop bitterness are prominent, while the beer provides the warmth that’s common among great stouts. Espresso and dark chocolate notes lead the way. Noticeable in the background are touches of molasses and sweet milk chocolate. This is an incredibly well-crafted and well-balanced beer.

Surly Brewing Darkness: The massive Russian Imperial Stout uses Belgian dark and candi sugar, and features a different artist on the label every year. This year’s artwork is a nightmare bat. The world-class 10.3 percent alcohol-by-volume stout is now aged in whiskey barrels and offers an incredibly silky mouth-feel. There’s a ton of tart cherry, brown sugar, dark chocolate, molasses and date—offering the perfect level of complexity. The beer even has a day dedicated to it, when dark-beer lovers descended upon the gates of Surly in late October.

Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout: This beer can be enjoyed any time of the year—but it’s especially fantastic during the winter months. The 9.5 percent ABV beer has a massive caramel and burnt-coffee malt backbone, with hints of dark fruit. The flavors layer beautifully and lend to a rich and creamy mouth-feel.

Alaskan Smoked Porter: Coming in with a relatively low 6.5 percent ABV, this beer has some extra flavor thanks to special smoked malts. Known as “rauchbier” in Germany, smoke-flavored beer didn’t really exist in the United States until Alaskan Brewery developed it in 1988. This brew has a nice, earthy character. Smoked chocolate, dark fruit and molasses all come through in this classic porter. Keep a look out for limited vintages on Nov. 1.

Anderson Valley Barley Flats Oatmeal Stout: Oatmeal is added to this brew for a silky smoothness—and a touch of sweetness. It’s a sweet appetizer beer. The taste is simpler and more candid than the European stouts. Roasted barley, caramel malt and velvety-smooth coffee dominate while sweet oats linger on the aftertaste.

Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Imperial Stout: No actual chocolate is used in this beer—but the use of roasted malt and the process by which the grains are roasted give it similar flavors and nuances. With this decadent beer, you’ll not only pick up notes of chocolate, but coffee, vanilla, toasted bread crust, licorice and dark cherry. The mouth-feel is lovely with this indulgent 10 percent ABV beer.

AleSmith Brewing Bourbon Barrel Aged Speedway Stout: This beer is not for the faint of heart. This 12 percent ABV barrel-aged imperial stout has massive bitter chocolate and coffee aromas, with layers of raisins, bourbon and butterscotch. Sweet caramel and toffee flavors in the beginning blend seamlessly with vanilla, coconut and oak flavors. A nearby roaster delivers an extra helping of coffee for added depth and flavor.

Firestone Walker Velvet Merkin: This 2010 and 2011 Great American Beer Festival gold-medal winner starts out as the lovely 5.5 percent ABV Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout. Barrel-aging raises the ABV to 8.5 percent—and turns the beer into a decadent and incredibly drinkable stout. Dark-chocolate truffle, toffee, vanilla and coffee dominate the nose. The taste is only slightly muted, with notes of raisins, spicy oak, marshmallows and bourbon. It’s a beautifully balanced beer.

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout: The brewers’ notes indicate an intense mix of charred oak, chocolate, vanilla, caramel and smoke. The appropriately named beer won a gold medal in 2006 at the World Beer Cup Awards in the Wood and Barrel Aged beer category. Bittersweet cocoa powder, molasses, fig jam, vanilla and toasted coconut flavors create a lovely beer.

Boulevard Imperial Stout: This is a special blend of barrel-aged beers coming in at 11.8 percent ABV. Grainy toastiness, oak, coffee and spicy hops balance beautifully with date, brown sugar and plum notes. The imperial stout is a blend of fresh beer and several barrel-aged beers. Spice, chocolate and hovering alcohol warmth play a big part in this balanced beer’s charm. Serve in a tulip glass, and pair with roasted meat or smoked cheeses.

Locally, Coachella Valley Brewing Co. will have its Black Widow and Whopper stouts ready for Nov 5.

Don’t forget to check in to Untappd on Nov. 5 to grab your special edition badge. Unlock it by checking into any style stout on that day.

Raise your glass to this historic and iconic beer style—and toast the craft beer revolution. Visit stoutday.com for more information.

Local beer weeks celebrate the culture and community of craft brewers across the U.S. These events give the beer-lover a chance to taste a variety of rare and new beers, meet area brewmasters and hang out with fellow beer-drinkers.

Featuring local breweries, pubs and restaurants at their best, beer weeks allow attendees to experience a “beercation” filled with gastronomic pairings, rare tastings, beer dinners and festivals showcasing thoughtfully crafted suds.

While the Coachella Valley may not have as many breweries as, say, Los Angeles or San Diego, the rate at which the craft-beer revolution has taken hold and demanded attention here is impressive. Two award-winning Coachella Valley breweries—Coachella Valley Brewing Co. and La Quinta Brewing Co.—are celebrating their second anniversaries this year, while Rancho Mirage’s Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse has taken home a lot of notable craft-beer awards—including the 2015 California State Brewery of the Year honor from the California State Fair.

Therefore, it’s time for our area to have a beer week of its own: Introducing Coachella Valley Beer Week, to be held Nov. 13-22.

CVBW is a 10-day, valley-wide celebration aimed at attracting beer and foodie tourism. It focuses on our fantastic local breweries as well as surrounding Southern California craft brewers. It will feature festivals, beer dinners, tours, pub/restaurant crawls, tastings and more. Full disclosure: I am one of the two founders of the week; Brent Schmidman, aka Schmidy, is the other.

We will be kicking off the week with the Beer Goddess Brewmasters’ Dinner on Friday, Nov. 13, at the Purple Room in Palm Springs. Chef Jennifer Town is preparing the perfect menu, using a handful of Southern California craft beers. Mingle and chat with some of your favorite brewmasters, the Beer Goddess (aka me!) and chef Jen; then sit down for a delicious dinner while the brewmasters head to the stage to talk about their beers. The cost is $69 per person.

On Saturday, Nov. 14, join us for the first Indio California Barbeque State Championship and Festival, at the Lights at Indio Golf Course. The festival, put on the city of Indio and various groups, will include a sanctioned state barbecue championship contest featuring up to 50 of the best pit-masters in the state, all competing for a prize pool of up to $10,000. Of course, great barbecue will also be sold to the public. Additional activities include a local “King of the Desert” BBQ competition, live music, games, craft beer and more. Entry is free and open to the public.

After the festival, head over to Coachella Valley Brewing Co. for a rare event: the “Below Sea Level” Hi Low Beer Release. This Guinness World Records contender is believed to be the first and only beer brewed at the lowest elevation in the country. CVB’s brewmaster Chris Anderson and Brent Schmidman brewed this 13.6 percent alcohol-by-volume imperial blonde stout in Death Valley, Calif. No tickets are required.

On Sunday, Nov. 15, join us in Palm Springs for the Beer Goddess Buzz Crawl, aboard the one and only free Palm Springs Buzz bus. Take a ride around Palm Springs, and savor favorite craft beers at some of the most swanky Palm Springs bars and restaurants. Buzz Crawl pick up will be approximately every 15 minutes at each stop. Stay as long as you want at any location, or make it a night and hit our top favorite craft stops from these participating locations: Workshop, Trio, Bar, Fame Lounge, Matchbox, Gyoro Gyoro, the Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club, the Ace Hotel and the Purple Room.

If you’d rather stay in one place that evening, head over to Eureka Burger in Indian Wells for “Nite of the Barrels 1.” This is an evening of learning, featuring one of the most popular craft beer styles: wine-barrel-aged beers. Taste a variety of California beers with their accompanying wine varietals, and compare the nuances. A variety of cheeses and crackers will be included in the tasting. Make sure to reserve your seat; watch the Coachella Valley Beer Week website for details.

Experience a sushi craft-beer dinner like none other on Monday, Nov. 16, at Palm Springs’ Gyoro Gyoro. Unlike most sushi restaurants, Gyoro Gyoro has a nice selection of not only American craft beers, but Japanese craft beers. More information will be available soon, so watch the website.

On Thursday, Nov. 19, head back to Eureka Burger for “Nite of the Barrels 2.” Bourbon-barrel-aged craft beers have a unique complexity that is full of flavor and perfect for cooler evenings. Come taste these complex beers alongside the very same bourbons that were aged in those barrels. Note the similarities, and see how the beers pick up different flavors and nuances from the bourbons.

On Friday morning, Nov. 20, come hit some balls with your favorite brewmasters from various breweries! You don’t need to be a great golfer to participate in the Brewmasters Shotgun Golf Event; everyone’s welcome. Get paired with a brewery team, and enjoy free pours as you play to win various prizes and awards. Cigars and snacks are also available. It costs $120, and there’s limited availability, so reserve soon!

On Friday evening, Nov. 20, the largest area guest-bartender brewfest will commence. This mini-block party will feature eight Southern California breweries and eight local charities. Watch the website for details.

That same night, head to Indio to check out live music and live ale at the Tack Room Tavern’s Caxton-n-Cask event. Sip local cask ale from our three local breweries while listening to one of our favorite local bands, Caxton. The breweries will be adding special ingredients, using some of the oldest and traditional methods of secondary fermentation, to create these amazing one-time cask ales.

On Saturday, Nov. 21, don’t miss out on the annual Props and Hops Craft Beer Festival at the Palm Springs Air Museum. Last year, we put together a rare in-flight beer-tasting in a vintage World War II airplane—and we’re doing that again this year! Enjoy more than 30 craft breweries, great food and live music, all while taking in the Palm Springs mountain views.

More events are being added, so watch the website for updates, changes and additions. Be a part of the first ever Coachella Valley Beer Week, and find out what makes our valley a great part of the craft beer revolution!

Coachella Valley’s 100-plus-degree thirsty season continues well into September, so there’s no better time than now to review new and returning classic summer craft beers that can quench our thirst—in the most delicious way possible.

Almanac Dogpatch Sour: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Sours are perfect for hot weather. They’re refreshing, brisk and—in the case of Almanac’s Dogpatch Sour—bright. This barrel-aged wild ale (above) is a hazy reddish-orange pucker bomb. Paying tribute to the Flanders red style, this complex and sophisticated beer offers notes of cherry, apple, candy, earthy funk and wine.

Ballast Point Fathom: Want the hop-smacking goodness of an IPA melded with the clean, bready notes of a lager? Here’s one of the best IPLs on the market. With the hop profiles of a West Coast IPA and lager yeast, this brew, with 7 percent alcohol by volume, offers tropical and easy-drinking goodness. Hints of grapefruit and citrus blend with honey and pine bitterness to create a hot-weather favorite.

Enegren Brewing Lagertha Pilsner: This refreshing, clean pils hails from Moorpark, Calif. Brewed with German pilsner malt and Saaz and Mosaic hops, it’s a perfect pils to sip during the summer season. Brewing a light beer with a perfectly balanced hop profile and clean yeast flavor isn’t easy, but Enegren does it wonderfully, with just a touch of funk.

Paradox Beer Company, Skully No. 25 (aka Salted Sumac Sour): I discovered thisat Stone’s Sour Fest, and it was in my top three at the festival. Skully No. 25 is a gorgeous sour golden ale brewed with sumac and sea salt, and aged in oak wine barrels. This unusually refreshing beer has lightly floral bright citrus and vivid acidic and salty notes, making it a savory summer beer. The sumac is a nice touch, giving the Skully No. 25 layers of flavors and lovely balance.

Sixpoint Jammer: This 4.2 percent ABV gose-style beer is balanced with citrus and made with hand-harvested sea salt from Netarts Bay, Ore. This hazy brew is a little tart, a little briny and a lot refreshing. It’s not your typical gose: With flavors of coriander, lemon pepper and sea salt, it’s well-balanced and drinkable. Fire up the barbecue, and grab a can of this sessionable beach beer.

21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon: This is summer in a can. The San Francisco brewpub starts by brewing a classic American wheat beer, and then puts it through a secondary fermentation using fresh watermelon. If you think watermelon won’t blend with well beer … think again. This is the quintessential summer beer, with the perfect amount of sugary sweetness—in other words, not too much. Pair the beer (pictured below) with a garden salad or a burger—or just good conversation.

Victory Summer Love Ale: German hops and pale malt blend beautifully into a flowery, hoppy blonde ale. Some grassy and earthy notes balance with light cracker and tropical-fruit (mango, orange, pear) flavors. Pair this with chicken, salads or pizza. Like other great summer seasonals, it’s available in 12-ounce cans for easy drinking.

Rogue Farms Honey Kölsch: This is a fantastic farm-to-glass beer: 119 colonies of local Oregon bees were fed; then the honey was uncapped, extracted, filtered and finally infused into this kölsch-style beer. The honey provides a natural sweetness and nicely balances with the malts. There’s a zesty citrus finish that cuts nicely through the honey, too.

Allagash White: Brewed with a generous portion of wheat and spiced with coriander and Curacao orange peel, this award-winning 5 percent ABV Belgian wheat beer is crisp, clove-y, fruity and spicy. Think banana, lemon and light malts. Whether or not you’re a wheat beer fan, this is a must-try, especially during warmer nights. It’s definitely one of the best wit beers on the market, and pairs perfectly with fish or a variety of cheeses.

Golden Road Hefeweizen: This is Los Angeles’ version of a Bavarian beer, brewed with locally grown organic citrus. The smell is full of yeast, with a hint of slightly bitter candy. After banana and clove notes, you’ll find tart citrus and a dry finish. Lemon is also present, offering a slight sourness. This is another canned summer beauty.

Odell Brewing St. Lupulin: This floral and earthy beer has characteristics of both an APA and an IPA. Available through September, this 6.5 percent ABV extra-pale ale is dry-hopped, giving it a clean, crisp finish. Caramel malts offer mild sugar notes, while a fruity bouquet of pineapple and melon shine through. This is another perfect summer brew.

SanTan Brewing Co. Mr. Pineapple: The brewery this year teamed up with Chiquita to use Rainforest Alliance certified pineapple juice to create a more-sustainable, socially conscious can of craft beer. The flavors include wheat malt, pears, bubblegum, pineapple and just the right amount of banana. It’s slightly dry with a juicy sweetness to balance.

Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin: This is one of my favorites year-round. Mango, lime zest, peach, apricot and, of course, grapefruit shine in this 7 percent ABV IPA. The perfect blend of hops shares the spotlight with the grapefruit for a citrusy yumminess that will not disappoint.

The San Diego area is renowned for its high-quality beer.

San Diego’s legacy breweries—Karl Strauss Brewing Company, Stone Brewing Co., Ballast Point, Green Flash Brewing Company and AleSmith Brewing Company—have a stellar reputation for brewing consistently great craft beers.

These craft-beer pioneers continue to inspire fellow brewers, homebrewers and beer drinkers alike. Therefore, we decided to check out some new kids on the brewery block that are helping make America’s Finest City even finer.

Half Door Brewing Company: This brewery opened in January and is located downtown in a historic 4,000-sqaure-foot, two-story home on the corner of Ninth Avenue and Island Avenue. The Irish-inspired pub oozes cool. HDBC celebrates old-world European tradition with a new flair. The Bearleener is a day-drinking 3.8 percent alcohol by volume beer brewed with Citra hops and Lactobacillus grown from acidulated malt. Sour, meet wheat; wheat, meet sour. This refreshing summer beer has lovely sour tangerine and lemon notes with a slightly tart finish.

Trick your senses with the Gimmick Ale: a white chocolate peanut butter golden milk stout, brewed with four malts and tons of flavor. It’s dessert in a glass. Sip it from the upstairs deck and listen to the roar of the crowd at Petco Park. Oh, and the food menu is crafted to complement the house beers.

Modern Times Beer: The appropriately named brewery has a dream team of brewers, including founder Jacob McKean, a former Stone Brewing employee and long-time homebrewer. Modern Times Beer just celebrated its second anniversary. It’s also celebrating the fact that it was named one of the “Top 10 New Brewers in the World” by RateBeer in 2014.

Modern Times brews four year-round beers and is one of the only breweries in the world to roast its own coffee in-house for the beer. In July, the brewery finally secured South African hops for its Southern Passion and J-17 IPA. Homebrewers can rejoice, because the brewery provides the recipe for many of the brewery’s special-release beers. The Palace of Cracked Heads (Gotta love beer names!) is a juicy 9 percent ABV American wild ale brewed with 50 pounds of heirloom nectarines per barrel.

Love sticky, danky beers? Don’t miss the First Annual upcoming Festival of Dankness, at the San Diego Waterfront Park on Saturday, Aug. 22. Check out first-hand how badass breweries are using incredible new hops from around the world to craft juicy, aroma bombs.

“Modern Times” was a utopian socialist community founded by innovators and activists, built on Long Island in 1850. All of Modern Times Beer’s brews are named after real utopian experiments or mythological utopias. This new-ish yet already influential brewery is escaping conformity and peacefully providing social happiness—in a stylin’ tallboy can.

Fall Brewing Company: This punk-rock-influenced brewery opened in November last year in the heart of San Diego’s beer epicenter, North Park. Co-owner and graphic designer David Lively has done work for Jack Johnson and G. Love. In an area known for West Coast style IPAs, brewmaster Ray Astamendi brews what he wants. Plenty for All is a California common-pilsner hybrid. This 4.9 percent ABV unfiltered zwickelbier is an easy-drinking, warm-weather standout. Fall is getting a great reputation for clean, simple and sessionable beers.

Societe Brewing Company: Societe is a production brewery that was founded by Travis Smith, formerly of Russian River Brewing Company and The Bruery, and Douglas Constantiner. The brewery opened its doors in May 2012 and now offers three lines of year-round beers: “Out West,” hoppy beers; “Old World,” Belgian-esque ales; and “Stygian,” dark beers. “Drink it fresh” is Societe’s philosophy; the brewery’s crisp IPAs are only sold on tap within a 20-mile radius of the brewery.

The Harlot is a must-try. This Belgian Extra Ale is a tweaked hybrid beer using a pilsner-lager recipe; it’s then fermented with a house Belgian-ale yeast strain. This beer was inspired by three of the founders’ favorite beers—Reality Czech Pils from Moonlight Brewing Company, Redemption from Russian River Brewing Company, and Taras Boulba from Brasserie de la Senne.

The Apprentice is a dry, hoppy American IPA brewed with a winning combination of Amarillo and Simcoe hops, producing pine, bubblegum and tropical fruit notes. Societe is also in the process of doubling its fermentation capacity to deliver even more delicious, hop-forward beer.

Amplified Ale Works: Formerly known as California Kebab and Beer Garden, this California-inspired nanobrewery sits just a block off the beach. This rockin’ brewpub started production in Pacific Beach (my old stomping grounds!) in 2012. Brewmaster Cy Henley came from San Diego brewing pioneers Ballast Point, Alpine and Green Flash.

You’ll find Amplified’s own hoppy brews like the Electrocution IPA and Pig Nose Pale Ale, along with craft beers from other breweries in the city. Electrocution IPA is the flagship beer, featuring tropical fruit notes like passion fruit and lychee. The beer, the location, the vibe—it’s all very So Cal.

Amplified’s rapid growth and popularity has led to a recent decision to sign a deal with H.G. Fenton Company to utilize a ready-made brewing facility in Miramar. The new seven-barrel brewhouse (plus four 15-barrel fermenters) will eventually increase Amplified’s production by an additional 1,000 barrels of beer in the first year.

South Park Brewing Company: SPBC is the youngest brewery on this list, but the owner is no stranger to the San Diego beer scene: Scot Blair was the brain behind Hamiltons Tavern, Small Bar and Monkey Paw Brewery.

Located in San Diego’s famous 30th Street corridor, the 6-month-old seafood-centric brewpub serves fresh yellowtail, bluefin, halibut and oysters along with its award-winning craft beers. Cosimo Sorrentino, from Monkey Paw, is the head of brewery operations.

My suggestion: Don’t miss the Scripps Pier Oyster Stout. Roasted coffee, chocolate and a faint hint of toffee make up most of the aroma. The beer is brewed with water from Scripps Pier, giving it a light saltiness and an earthy flavor.

Whether you're looking to just grab a delicious pint, or pair a beer with a locally sourced dish, the capital of craft continues to push the envelope and please the palate.

With the help of nature’s unpredictability, experienced brewers are adapting traditional European techniques to bring bursts of tart and tangy flavors to beers.

Yep. We’re talking about sours.

In the mid-19th century, when beer was aged and shipped in wooden barrels before the advent of refrigeration, nearly all beer was, to some extent, sour.

Today, good sours can take up to two to three years to produce. But the wait is worth it: All hail Pediococcus, Lactobacillus and Brettanomyces. The remarkable flavors in sour ales can be attributed to these wild yeast strains.

We recently spoke to people at three Southern California breweries that are helping lead the sour resurgence.


The Bruery: A Chat with Benjamin Weiss

Benjamin Weiss is the marketing director of The Bruery, in the Orange County community of Placentia. The Bruery celebrated its seventh anniversary in May.

Benjamin became a professional brewer at The Bruery in 2008, just two years after starting to homebrew in Los Angeles. He eventually became the brewer on the infamous Black Tuesday beer.

What’s your background brewing sours?

I just drank them. Brewing them is pretty much the same as anything—you’re just fermenting slightly differently. … Most of our sours are aged in a used wine barrel. (With) most of them nowadays, actually, primary fermentation starts in an oak barrel, then we rack into smaller oak barrels.

Do you have favorite wineries from which you like to get your barrels from

No. … We get the barrels from wineries, but we’re really using a neutral barrel. We clean them out … so as long as they’re newer, solid barrels, we’re happy with them.

What do you love about sours?

I’ve loved sours since I’ve first tried them back in my homebrew meeting about 10 years ago. … When you have a good sour, there’s something complex and delicious about it. Most of our sours are not purely lactic fermentation. They’re not just one note. It’s hard to describe; it’s almost a clean sour taste … also the funkiness that you can get from different strains of Brett (Brettanomyces) that comes with time. … I find them just fascinating.

What do you think of the resurgence in popularity of sours?

It’s crazy. I was just commenting to one of my co-workers that, we were at some festival … five years ago. Every single person that came up to you, you had to explain what a sour beer was. … Now, almost everyone walks up and says, “Oh, you have a sour beer?” It’s completely the opposite, at least with the beer crowd. It’s still a very, very small segment of beer. But within the craft-beer aficionado community, it’s increasingly more popular.

What are some of your favorites from The Bruery?

One of my favorites we make is Rueuze, our kind of gueuze style. … It’s gotten a little bit better every year. It has that funky character that I like. Gueuze is a type of lambic made by blending young (1-year-old) and old (2- to 3-year-old) lambics, which is then bottled for a second fermentation. Rueuze is a blend of sour blonde ale from several of their oak barrels, some of which have been aging several months, some several years. Notes of apricots, peach, lemon and bright barnyard funk flavors come through—perfect for summer.

What are some of your upcoming plans?

We’re launching a tasting room for Bruery Terreux (in Anaheim) hopefully at the end of this year, if not early next year. … Bruery Terreux is a newish brand, loosely translating to “Earthy Bruery” in French. Developed by Patrick Rue of The Bruery, it’s a new space that focuses solely on their farmhouse-style ales fermented with the wild yeasts.


Firestone Walker’s Barrelworks: A Brewery in Wine Country

The “accidental” story of Firestone Walker’s Barrelworks is beautifully tasty. The story of renegade brewers Matt Brynildson, Jim Crooks (“Sour Jim”) and Jeffers Richardson has grown from humble beginnings in 2005 to a program that produces more than 1,500 barrels annually in Buellton, just south of Paso Robles.

This innovative and unprecedented barrelhouse is the birthplace of several of the wildly coveted beers being poured annually at the Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival, held every May. Their Agrestic (2014) began as the brewery’s DBA; it then goes through a “chrysalis” process involving 87 percent French and 13 percent American oak barrels, and a proprietary collection of micro flora. It spends 14 months there. This sour leans towards the punker, tropical and oaky side of things.

The Sour Opal is an American Gueuze style with a titratable acidity (T.A.) of 6.6 g/L. Currently, no other brewery that I know of divulges this information. With their home in wine country, Firestone Walker has adapted traditions and techniques from winery friends.

I spoke to Jeffers, the director of Barrelworks (aka the “Barrelmeister”).

What’s your fascination with sours?

I love how it contributes depth and complexity to beer. Acidity adds a whole new dimension of flavor to beer … and plays teasingly with wild yeast and oak, when those components are involved.

How long have you been experimenting with sours?

My palate has been experimenting with acidified beers since 1985, when I lived in Brussels and first tried them. But I didn’t become comfortable with wild beer production until I teamed up with Jim. I’m old school. I was indoctrinated in the ways of clean beer practices. Once we were given our own padded room, and the inmates were allowed to run it, I was more comfortable. Jim, on the other hand has been a certifiable experimenter of sours for some time.


Coachella Valley Brewing: Pucker Up in the Desert

On a local level, Coachella Valley Brewing Co.’s Chris Anderson has been brewing up a sour program in Thousand Palms over the past year.

This sour program at CVB is taking off. Anderson hinted the brewery might be expanding its sour program outside of the current space in the near future.

The new Profligate Society will feature upcoming sours, cabernet-barrel-aged Epineux Poire prickly pear wild ale, cabernet-barrel-aged Cassis Noir black currant sour ale and cabernet-barrel-aged Flame Rouges wild ale. Less than 500 bottles of each beer will be released to Profligate members.

What sours are on tap now?

The Peche, an American wild ale with locally grown white peaches and pediococcus, and lactic and multiple Brettanomyces cultures. Tasters are $3, and there’s only one keg left.

When did you start this, or think about starting to brew sours?

We immediately started getting into that mode when we had the capacity to store that type of a beer. We got a bunch of tanks dedicated just for making sour beers. That was probably about a year ago. That was the inception of the first couple sour bases that we use to make a couple different beers with a batch of different fruits.

How many tanks?

We have three right now. We immediately made a sour base, which is your run-of-the-mill wheat beer and used some really old hops, which is typical of sour beers. You want to use old, cheesy, skanky hops, rather than the real aromatic ones. You don’t want that to shine through in the beer. We aged it away; we use a special flora. We have an onsite laboratory. … We built our own culture, that we inoculate all the barrels with, as well as the wort.

What do you love about sours?

I don’t know. It’s kind of mysterious, you know? A little unorthodox. It’s the opposite of everything you’re told as a brewer, even the way the mash is done. The long aging … you still may not get really high quality results … and it’s all about blending, too.

La Quinta Brewing Co. has been busy making beer for Coachella Valley locals and visitors since late 2013. Last year, the brewery delivered 1,000 barrels from its Wildcat Drive location in Palm Desert. This year, the brewery is on pace to brew 2,000 barrels.

Owner Scott Stokes said La Quinta may be expanding even more in the near future.

“We’re gonna have to get a couple more fermenters, probably a couple of 60 barrel-fermenters. These are 30s,” he said, pointing to brewery’s fermenters.

However, it looks mighty crowded at the brewery’s current location.

“Well, we would have to modify some of the ceiling, and (the new fermenters) would be taller. There are a couple places. Some people say there’s no room, but I say there is,” he said, smiling.

The quality of the beers at La Quinta—one of the valley’s three microbreweries—has been verified by several awards. Brewmaster Ryan Pearson and the La Quinta team won a bronze medal for the Indian Canyon IPA at the 2014 San Diego International Beer Festival—and they just took home silver for the Tan Line Brown Ale at this year’s festival. The brown ale also brought home a gold medal in this year’s World Beer Championships.

Pearson and his crew recently canned more than 100 cases of their popular Indian Canyon IPA, and 200 cases of the Poolside Blonde. The brewery will be releasing more Windy Point Wheat in June—a great warm-weather brew, coming in at 4.9 percent alcohol by volume.

Also coming in July is one of my favorites, the Sand Storm Double IPA, in 22-ounce bottles. Until then, enjoy it at the taproom on draft.

Session IPAs are all the rage. In fact, the name of this IPA subcategory offers some history: World War I workers in England were allotted two drinking periods (or “sessions”) of four hours each workday. This practice, of course, called for a lower-alcohol beer. Some define the style as meaning that no beer is higher than 3 or 4 percent alcohol, but most in the States categorize any IPA with 5 percent ABV or less as a “session.”

La Quinta’s Sundaze Session IPA is brewed with Citra, Cascade, Ahtanum and Chinook hops and comes in at 4.6 percent alcohol. Expect awesome citrus (grapefruit) and floral aromas—perfect for summer. It’s been such a popular brew among locals and tourists that La Quinta is canning it mid-June for availability at the end of the month.

La Quinta is also releasing a second batch of the barrel-aged Koffi Porter any time now. Also, keep a look out around November for an Imperial Stout aged in barrels, for the brewery’s second anniversary ale.

As for events: On Friday, May 29, play some holes with the brewery at the “9 and Stein,” La Quinta’s golf outing at Desert Falls Country Club.

“Every month, we have our Desert Cancer Foundation fundraiser,” Stokes explained. “…We are talking about having another golf tournament in early-to-mid June. It will be an 18-hole golf tournament … and we’ll probably bring our beer truck.”

Wednesday, June 10, is Ladies’ night, featuring Koffi Porter ice cream floats. Saturday, June 20 is the brewery’s popular “Acoustic Night” with local music and barbecue. On Wednesday, June 24, help the community with a canned food drive. Keep a look out at www.facebook.com/LaQuintaBrewingCo for more upcoming events.

Want to keep up to date on everything that’s happening with La Quinta Brewing, for less? The brewery’s “Inner Circle” will be opening back up on Sept. 1. Members receive a 20-ounce personalized mug, stored at the brewery. Members also can purchase gallon growlers for the same price as a half-gallon growler, and are first to receive specialty growler fills. Every draft beer members purchase in the brewery is 50 percent off, while cans, bottles and kegs are 25 percent off. The annual fee will be $165.

It’s exciting to see La Quinta and our valley’s other breweries thrive! Visit www.laquintabrewing.com for more information.

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