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Beer

12 Sep 2019
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Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came … In 2008, I was in the midst of a major life transition. I was a musician who had retreated from the wasteland that was the Los Angeles music scene a year previous, and was I wondering what my next move would be. Beer had always been a love of mine, so I found myself alongside my cousin Josh, attempting to brew it at home. Our first beer was an IPA, and while it turned out drinkable, it wasn't great. I needed help, and deep within the recesses of Yahoo! Groups, I found the Coachella Valley Homebrew Club. I contacted the club's founder and was invited to a bar in Palm Desert for the award ceremony of a local homebrew competition run by the bar's proprietor. That proprietor's name is Brent Schmidman, and his…
15 Aug 2019
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Last month, I said my next column would be about a “craft-beer institution from the past that still has not been matched in this valley”—and it seems I lied. I will bring that to you soon, but I want to make sure I take the time necessary to do it well. To make up for it, I’m writing about a place—and its beer festival earlier this month—which is vying to become the aforementioned institution’s long-awaited successor. The Ace Hotel and Swim Club Palm Springs opened in 2009. The Ace folks renovated “a mid-century desert modern former Westward Ho with a Denny’s” into a hipster paradise. The hotel bar, the Amigo Room, includes many craft-beer taps. In the early years, the Ace and the Amigo had a great rag-tag staff of people who cared about craft beer and strove to put the best beers they could get on tap. From this,…
11 Jul 2019
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I occasionally have so much on my mind when it comes to craft beer that I just have to write about it all in one column. I did this last year in what I describe as a less-lazy equivalent of Larry King’s defunct USA Today column. Rice lagers are all the rage right now for some reason. … What is the deal with those beer multi-packs? … How can Beaumont have a bottle-shop/craft-beer taproom and downtown Palm Springs not? As repugnant as I find this kind of writing, there is some utility in this scattershot approach in that I get to dump all of my burning thoughts on current topics in the beer world while barely having to do any research. In other words, I get to have my lazy cake and eat it, too. So without further ado, let’s jump right in. • Eureka! Indian Wells is pretty much…
11 Jun 2019
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Gather ’round, kids, and I will regale you with a tale of a lion and a bear who came together many years ago for one purpose: making beer. It all began around 1995. The big microbrewers at the time were Sierra Nevada and Samuel Adams, while long-gone up-and-comers like Pete’s Wicked Ale were also making a splash. Most people had no idea what a stout or an IPA was. The aforementioned bear’s name is Adam Firestone, member of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company and their vineyards; the lion is his brother-in-law David Walker, an Englishman who wanted a taste of home while living in California. Both were in the wine industry before opening Firestone Walker Brewing Company with a humble 24-barrel system. In 2001, they were able to buy out a professional-size facility from SLO Brewing Company (even though it was actually located in Paso Robles), which had filed…
15 May 2019
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As I type this, I’m taking shelter from the wind that is offering another merciful reprieve from the inevitable heat to come. When the heat does arrive, you can bet I’ll be looking to get the hell (no pun intended) out of the Coachella Valley when I can. Thankfully, there are many escape options, all within a two-hour drive—many with treats for the craft-beer lover. Julian is a little mountain town, founded by a former Confederate soldier; Julian later saw a gold rush started by the find of a former slave. It’s about 100 miles from the Coachella Valley, a good way to the northeast of the more-densely populated parts of San Diego County. The first I heard of the town was due to the opening of Julian Hard Cider, which is fitting because—as many area signs will inform you—the town is known for its apple pies. There was also…
16 Apr 2019
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Prime barbecue season is upon us—and barbecuing lends itself to Mexican food. I’ll never look down my nose at Mexican mass-produced beer—it’s better overall than American mass-produced beer, in my opinion—but an even better sensory experience can be had with Mexican cuisine if you step up the beer game. To put it bluntly: You can do better than beers where the ads instruct you to put a wedge of lime in the bottle. (Why didn’t they just add that when they were brewing?) But I digress. Instead of just listing pairings of entrées and beer styles, it would be more helpful to summarize some of the most-common ingredients in Mexican cuisine, and explain why they might be better partners with certain types of beers: Corn: This is a staple in both Mexican food and beer. That distinct corn flavor and sweetness make Mexican beer styles an obvious choice for pairing.…

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