SoCal Cerveceros Dia de Los Cerveceros y Cocineros
Plaza de la Raza Lincoln Park

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SoCal Cerveceros follow up to their highly successful Coldchela 2018 was held on October 21, 2018 at the Plaza de la Raza in Lincoln Park. Coldchela 2018 put the Latino Homebrew club on the map with recent articles in the Los Angeles Times, BeerPaperLA, L.A. Taco, a mention in TIME magazine’s Beer issue and I’ve been covering them since June 2016 as the former beer critic of that infernal rag, the OC Weekly. The Cerveceros have grown in leaps and bounds and now boast over 80 members throughout Southern California, they are the largest Latino Homebrew club in the United States and at this rate should be the largest in the World. Dia de los Cerveceros y Cocineros was a benefit event with all proceeds going to the Vision, Mission and Service program at El Centro de Ayuda and Plaza de la Raza, featuring craft beer, food, live music and vendors, this review will be primarily on the beer, I was so impressed with the quality of the beer I didn’t get a chance to sample any food. Fijate!

I was fortunate to have been a judge at Coldchela 2018 so I am very familiar with the groups in Socal Cerveceros and their suds. It’s been great seeing the group grow and now Brewjeria Beer Company is slated to open their own brewery sometime next year in Pico Rivera. The weather was perfect for a craft beer festival, sunny with a light breeze, the event started at 1 p.m. and we arrived shortly after, right away I saw the folks from Maltitude Brewing Company, Phil Limon and Sandra Toledo, they brew out of Long Beach, I went for their Mexican Chocolate Stout, yummy! it was rich, smooth, not too sweet, looking forward to the batch they have aging with Madagascar Vanilla and Bourbon Tincture! Julianna had their Spicy Tamarindo Saison, Deeeelicious! So good and  it didn’t last long. I then saw the Brewjeria boys and made a beer line to their booth. We talked a bit about their new brewery and let’s just hope they can get it open without too many setbacks, the city sounds like they will expedite things but you never know. Hop on the 110 West Coast IPA with Amarillo, Cascade and Columbus hops sounded good and it was very refreshing, hop forward but not crazy bitter, Julianna prefers the lighter brews and A Blonde Moment was perfect, light but full bodied, crisp and fresh this also went quick. I spotted my homies Cerveceria Ortiz across the way, Alex and Desiree Ortiz from Silverado Canyon in Orange County, their Oktoberfest was calling my name, I love the maltier beers, the Oktoberfest was spot on! Rich with malts it went down smooth with tons of flavor, I offered Julianna a taste and she liked it! I’ll convert her yet!

At this point we sat down to enjoy our beers and listen to the DJ, the strolling Mariachi came by the stage and played a few songs to kick off the live music. I was thinking out loud and told Julianna that I could tell that the quality of the beer was better than Coldchela, the first five or six beers were all very good, not just good but very good like this isn’t  home brew good this is brewery good. From judging the beers at Coldchela I knew there might be some so so beers, it happens, but so far the brews were all 👍, it was still early in the day could this trend continue? Hmmmm…

Stopped by Norwalk Brewhouse to see what Ray had brewing, his Bidi Bidi Blonde Blonde was another hit with Julianna, I had the Hef with Pomegranate which I really liked and I’m not a fan of hefs. Next up was the food vendors, this is when we decided to keep drinking! Yeah! We walked in to the vendor hall to say hi to Alfonso Zuniga Jr. from Flight Tours, he will set up a custom craft beer tour for you and your friends, hit him up! Micho and Mary Premium Michelada Mix was another vendor you might want to look up, their michelada mix was 🔥🔥🔥🔥. Ha!

A new face in the group was Rueben from Rue’s Brews, he’s been brewing for about 4 years and this was his first event with Socal Cerveceros, I tried his Mango IPA and BOOM so good! I hope to see/drink more of his brews soon! Another new brewer I met was Sarah Flora, Flora Brewing, she brought a couple of tasty brews, follow her on Instagram @flora_brewing. South Central Brewing Company and Hub City Brewers were sharing a booth, South Central had You Down w/IPP an India Pale Pilsner! What the who? A hoppy pilsner sounded good to me and Ding! Ding! Ding! it was my favorite beer of the day. Today would have been a tough day to judge all these crushable brews, they were all so consistent, just all solid across the board but You Down w/IPP just separated itself from the crowd, it was different in a good way, clean, crisp, hoppy, Wow, this brew didn’t last long either. One more brewery and I was done, Big Boys Brewing out of Downey, David Garcia and his crew brought 4 beers and I had to try them all. Black Ring Coffee Stout, super rich, very delicious, hints of chocolate and coffee, YUM. Fiesta Saison w/ Jalapeno, WOW, nicely balanced Saison and you get the spice on the back end, it doesn’t hit you right away, wait for it, BOOM. ESBorracho, a style you don’t see often enough, ESB, excellent! El Pelirojo IPA, an IPA with malt, right up my alley, hop forward with a malty backbone. Another good showing by Big Boys Brewing, 4 different styles, all very consistent.

Dia de los Cerveceros y Cocineros was another success, SoCal Cerveceros know how to throw a party! The event was well organized, location was perfect, plenty of room to roam around and in addition to everything else Plaza de la Raza was hosting the art exhibit El Velorio presented by Antonio Pelayo. In it’s ninth year of production this was a great addition to the festival. If you missed out don’t worry Coldechela 2019 is coming up next year! Cheers! BobbyKnowsBeer!

 

 

 

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LUNA Belgian Style Pale Ale 6.3%(ABV)
Homage Brewing

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Homage Brewing is a welcome addition to the growing downtown Pomona scene, amongst the bars and restaurants Homage is brewing and fermenting some of the best suds in Southern California, they were recently mentioned in The Full Pint as one of the Best Sour Ale Makers of California. Not too shabby for a brewery that just celebrated two years in May. Homage Brewing is owned and operated by husband and wife, Matthew and Lauren Garcia along with Jeremiah Bignell, they are brewing up a storm in Pomona, collaborating with Cellador Ales from North Park and the Blendery from Long Beach. I had been wanting to pay a visit for quite some time and this past Sunday I was lucky to be joined by my partner in crime, Julianna Castillo, her palate leans towards the finer wines and brews so I value her insight and opinion.

Downtown Pomona was very quiet that Sunday so Homage Brewing was easy to find, it was around 3 p.m. and it looked closed but we walked in and we were greeted by 2 very friendly bartenders. We had our choice of seats but decided to sit at the bar, it seems like as soon as we ordered the place started to fill up, the Tasting Room is very comfortable, wide open, you can see all the equipment that they brew with. The décor was easy on the eyes, bright, clean, no TV’s, just you, your beer and your thoughts. Ha! Julianna ordered the Whitest Bier Alive 4.5%(ABV) a crisp and refreshing wit bier, something you would pair with a plate of meats and cheeses. I went ahead and ordered the Petit Masumoto 6% (ABV) Barrel Aged Saison w/Masumoto peaches and nectarines. Tart, refreshing, slightly sweet from the stone fruit, almost champagne-E. I then switched over to Milk Lizard 7%(ABV) Coffee Milk Stout on Nitro. Rich with notes of chocolate, toffee and wee hints of coffee. Very smooth and enjoyable, finished clean with no aftertaste.

So many interesting choices on the beer menu but I have always like Pale Ales and so I thought I would go with LUNA 6.3% Belgian Style Pale Ale Dry Hopped with Galaxy and Citra hops. YUMMMMEEEE!  I’ve become a fan of Galaxy hops, Amarillo hops are my numero uno but I hardly see them anymore, LUNA is hop forward with a nice tropical fruit backbone. FULL bodied, super enjoyable, finishes clean as a whistle. I’m thinking a tall stein of LUNA and a ribeye steak, medium rare.

Homage Brewing allows you to bring in your own grub or you can get your drink on and then cruise over to Dia de Los Puercos which just opened on 2nd and Garey. BOOM   #Bobbyknowsbeer!

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Marvel-Ous Marzen! Oktoberfest
Unsung Brewing Company

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Roll Out the Barrel! It’s Oktoberfest!!! My favorite time of year-I’m a malt fan-when breweries release their version of Oktoberfest style suds. Fresh off their win at Great American Beer Festival for Lumino, their Mexican Style Lager, Unsung Brewing took Bronze for this crisp and refreshing brew and now have released Marvel-Ous Marzen! Very exciting times at Unsung, their Tasting Room is located in Anaheim across the street from the Packing House. Congratulations to Mike Crea the Spider Man fan/Owner/BrewMaster and his crew for winning one of the twelve medals that Orange County breweries took home a few weeks ago at the 2018 GABF. Along with the 14 medals at this year’s World Beer Cup this makes Orange County the absolute Capitol of Quality Craft Beer when you consider that there’s only 37 breweries here compared to other counties. Yeah I did the math. BOOM

“We are dedicated to honoring these unsung heroes through philanthropy, and hope to inspire the hero in all of us”

Amen Mr. Crea. Inspiration hangs on every nook and cranny at the Unsung Tasting room that is decorated with murals of super heroes, collection of super hero dolls, posters and comic books. Plenty of room to stretch out with outdoor seating, yes, pets are welcome, there’s board games, various activities during the week including Yoga and Trivia. Food is right across the street or bring your own but my choice would be Jav’s BBQ which is in the same complex a few feet away. Smoked meats and side dishes are waiting for you but don’t wait too long because they do run out. Check out the menu at www.javsbbq.com. 

On my recent visit they were out of the award winning Lumino but it’s almost ready, another batch is fermenting, so I chose the Tangerine Saison 6.9(ABV) another customer told me it tasted like a mimosa and sure enough it did! Very juicy, easy to drink, fresh and enjoyable the 6.9(ABV) is not noticeable until you get about half way through, that’s when I started to feel it, whoa, easy Tiger, it literally taste like tangerine juice with a tiny bit of booze. Friggin amazing!

Marvel-Ous Marzen 5.5%(ABV) MMMMmmmmalty! Always a nice change from the hoppy brews, gives the palate a chance to breathe, to stretch it’s legs a bit, give it some brown shugga, so to speak. Yes this marzen has a slight slight sweetness to it,  full bodied, hints of spice and toastiness with a clean AF finish. Very noice! Perfect for the cooler evenings, bring out those Brats Jav! Bobbyknowsbeer!

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The 2018 Great American Beer Festival: “CraftBeerPalooza”

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The 2018 Great American Beer Festival was all that and a bag of pretzels! Held every year in the great city of Denver, Colorado this year’s fest was host to 2,404 breweries that poured 8,864 brews. Awards were giving in 102 categories that represented 167 styles of beer, also, 105 Pro-Am teams competed for 3 awards. State wise, California led the way with 72 medals, L.A. County won 9 medals, San Diego County won 16 medals and Orange County won 12 medals. With 37 breweries Orange County is proving to be the “Quality Capitol of Craft Beer” in America! And the envelope please:

1.Stereo Brewing Company in Placentia; Robot-Imperial Red Ale (Silver Medal)               2.Stereo Brewing Company in Placentia; Wall of Sound-Oatmeal Stout (Bronze Medal)   3.Barley Forge Brewing Company in Costa Mesa; Grandpa Tractor-Dortmunder or German Style Oktoberfest  (Gold Medal)  4. Noble Ale Works in Anaheim; Nobility-Imperial India Pale Ale (Gold Medal )  5. Riip Beer Company in Huntington Beach; Black the Riiper-American Style Black Ale (Silver Medal)   6.TAPS Fish House and Brewery Corona; TAPS Irish Red-Irish Style Red Ale (Silver Medal)  7.The Bruery in Placentia; Mischief-American-Belgo-Style Ale (Bronze Medal)   8. Unsung Brewery in Tustin; Lumino-American Style Lager or American Style Malt Liquor (Bronze) 9. Gunwhale Ales in Costa Mesa; Hayshaker-Classic Saison  (Bronze Medal) 10.Green Cheek Beer Company in Orange; West Coast IPA is Dead-American Style India Pale Ale (Bronze Medal) 11. Green Cheek Beer Company in Orange; Fools and Babies-English Style Mild Ale (Bronze Medal) 12. Beachwood Brewing in Huntington Beach; Udder Love-Sweet Stout or Cream Stout (Silver Medal)  13.Beachwood Blendery in Long Beach; Funk Yeah-Belgian Style Lambic or Sour Ale (Gold Medal)

Congratulations to all! This weekend was the fun part but a lot of hard work goes into each and every ounce of beer that is produced by all those that are involved in the brewing process. A few notes on my end. It was good to see more folks from Orange County attending the event, of course I didn’t run into anyone, my one beef with this year’s GABF was that the breweries were placed in alphabetical order where in years passed they used to be set according to region. I would be able to visit the local breweries because they were all in one area but now they are all split up. Boo! I did run in to Tommy Hadjis from Left Coast and his Galaxy Supernova IPA was on point!! In fact I enjoyed quite a few delicious Stouts, IPA’s, Reds, Pales, Sours, so many choices!

This year I stayed in the wonderful neighborhood of Wheat Ridge, last year we stayed downtown a few blocks from the convention center but decided to try out the local scene, it was a wise decision and we had a great time. Growler U.S.A. had 100 craft beers on draft and the food was bomb. Rise and Shine was a biscuit establishment but they also poured 8 craft beers in case you wanted to wash down that flaky AF biscuit with a pint! My all time fave is Ted’s Montana Grill which is in downtown. Steaks, burgers, sandwiches, all with great service, I wish we had one here in Santa Ana. Until next year! Cheers! Bobbyknowsbeer!

 

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Curvas, Cherry Sour collab with Brewjeria Company and Dry River Brewery
Dry River Brewery

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When we talk of collaborations we usually refer to the musical kind, Lennon and McCartney, Sonny and Cher, Simon and Garfunkel all made beautiful music in their day. The modern day collab is now the joining of two breweries, both creative in their own ways, with different ideas, different styles and the end result is beautiful music in the form of a nice pint of craft beer.

The collaboration between Dry River Brewing and Brewjeria Company is a bit different from other brewery collabs,  Brewjeria Company are home brewers that belong to the fastest growing Latino Home brew club in the nation, SoCal Cerveceros, Brewjeria is made up of six individuals, Agustin Ruelas, Adrian Ruelas, Isaac Ruelas, Milton Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez and Raul Gomez  is very close to getting their own brick and mortar brewery, in Pico Rivera, so close I can taste the Belgian Dubbel but I’ll let them make that announcement, sealed my lips they are. In fact this is the third collab between Dry River and Brewjeria, earlier this year they brewed La Diosa Salvaje, using 40 pounds of passion fruit with El Dorado hops, it was a tangy sour, slightly sweet, very enjoyable.

Dry River Brewing has made a name for itself, in it’s short existence, led by head brewer, Naga Reshi, they brew what they call “Slow Beer”. Using only wooden wine barrels they will ferment their suds for as long as it takes to create the right funkiness. Sour beers are an acquired taste, it took me awhile to appreciate the lengths that a brewer will go to brew a sour, utilizing different strains of wild yeast, different barrels and the time it takes. If you’re not a fan don’t give up on them, you will eventually find one that you like.

The release of Curvas was on a sunny Sunday afternoon, Dry River Brewing is located in the far reaches of Boyle Heights, the tasting room is a fascinating collection of reclaimed material, look closely and admire the handiwork of owners, David Hodgins and his wife Vanda Ciceryova. That day the food vendor was CGK Oyster Bar, Crooked Gaff Kitchen from Uptown Whitter, brothers, Kevin and Steven Obregon were shucking like crazy, the fresh oyster platters were a very nice change from the usual food truck fare. Freshly brewed craft beer with some oyster shooters! Viva La Vida! Curvas 7.2%(ABV) is a vibrant cherry sour, tart, smooth, the cherries are not overpowering, another tasty collaboration between two old friends. I. Got. You . Babe. Bobbyknowsbeer!!

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Ponderosa Pale 5.6% ABV
Taps Brewery and Barrel Room

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On July 23, 2018, owner Joe Manzella cut the ribbon and opened his much anticipated TAPS Brewery and Barrel Room in Tustin, on Redhill and Valencia. Mr. Manzella is owner of 3 TAPS Fish House and Brewery’s and also owns The Catch in Anaheim. It was in 1999 that Manzella opened the first TAPS in Brea and over the years has won numerous awards for his craft beer at both The Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup. TAPS Brewery and Barrel Room will be the center of production for all the restaurants and other retail outlets. With a total of 19,000 square feet there is plenty of room in the tasting room and the outdoor patio, there’s a pool table, some arcade games, and of course the ever challenging Jenga! Pull out son! Food is provided by a TAPS food truck, Chef Roman Jimenez has created a menu with some outstanding pub fare, a Royale w/cheese, Oxtail Poutine, a Hippie Burger, Colonel Roman’s Fried Chicken Sandwich, Brewery Pretzel, Ban Me Bacon Wrapped Hot Dog are a few of the items, there’s also a children’s menu. I opted for the Electric Taco, cerveza marinated carne asada, chorizo pork belly, caramelized onions, string cheese, salsa del dia and a truck made tortilla. The tortilla is the key to this taco, a store bought tortilla would disintegrate trying to hold in all this goodness. At first glance I was like, Hmmm, it didn’t quite look like the tacos of my local taqueria, but I folded it up, took a bite and Ay. Dios. Mio! Simply amazing. The carne asada is perfectly marinated and tender as a Prime New York steak, with each bite I discovered the genius of Chef Roman, the chorizo pork belly just melted, it added the perfect amount of crispiness and salt. As I continued to bite into the taco all the juices melded together and they complimented my beer, The Irish Red, but I’m sure it would compliment any beer on the menu. This was my first visit and I wanted something to snack on as I tried the different suds on the menu and the Electric Taco was the perfect pairing for my tasting adventures. The TAPS food truck pulls in every day and leaves in the evening, you order from a kiosk and the first time might take a little bit of reading through the instructions but once you order and pay you can find your seat and someone will bring you your food, having a food truck also saved a lot of area that can be utilized for the barrel room and production, a full size kitchen would have taken up much needed space.

The TAPS brew crew are still settling into their new digs but once everything is in order they will be brewing 5,000 barrels the first year and eventually hit a capacity of 25,000 barrels annually. The separate barrel and aging room is designed to hold up to 350 barrels of deliciousness. Your TAPS brew crew are Kyle Manns- Director of Brewing, Jonathan Chiusano-Brewery Operations Manager, Eric Zwack-Head Brewer, TAPS Corona, Brennan Perry-Head Brewer, Taps Brewery, Tustin and Max Jones, QAQC/Packaging Manager. The Manager of TAPS Brewery and Barrel Room is Kristine “KC” Cunningham. My first beer on my visit was the award winning Irish Red 5.2% ABV, I’m a malt lover and when I see a Red on the menu it’s always my first choice. The Irish Red did not disappoint, smooth, malt forward, a hearty and toasty example of what a red ale should taste like. The world would be a better place if more breweries brewed a red ale IMHO. My next choice was the Coffee and Cream on Nitro 5.5% ABV. OK, I’m also a #coffeesnob and I saw on TAPS Instagram that they used coffee beans from Bodhi Leaf Coffee Traders which I recently discovered thanks to Thien Le of Ideation Brewing in Anaheim. If you are also a lover of coffee please visit Bodhi Leaf, there’s 4 locations in Orange County. So GOOOOD! Coffee and Cream on Nitro where have you bean all my life, it’s light and refreshing and the coffee is right up front but the finish was so clean and creamy, absolutely a treat! I then decided on the Ponderosa Pale 5.6% ABV, a West Coast Pale Ale with Tangerine and grapefruit. WOW! Wonderful hop presence, almost but not quite in the IPA range, citrusy, very balanced( as are all the other beers I drank), grapefruit on the back end and it lingers with its signature tartness. Ponderosa Pale is a perfect compromise for those that don’t care for  Session IPA’s, that want some hops but not the full IPA profile of bitterness. Something I noticed with all three of the beers I drank is the high quality of the water, they all finished so clean, no aftertaste at all. None. Zero. Zilch. Well that was my first visit to TAPS Brewery and Barrel Room, definitely not my last, maybe I’ll see you there! Cheers! BobbyKnowsBeer!

 

 

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Protocol 76 Oktoberfest Style
Network Brewery

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Protocol 76 Oktoberfest Style at Network Brewery in Santa Ana

I always love going to Network Brewery in SanTana. Its old tasting room was one of the smallest in Orange County yet brewed some of the most creative suds around. It just finished an expansion that removed the intimacy but now has 12 extra tap handles,  big-screen TVs on either side, and an art exhibit with five artists that have used drink coasters as there canvass. So much…

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Parts Unknown Coconut Pandan Stout
Riip Beer Company

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Parts UnKnown Coconut Pandan Stout by Ideation Brewing

The 2018 Great American Beer Festival will be held next month from September 20-22, with over 4,000 craft beers from 800-plus breweries. But a separate contest is also being held where pros brew the entries of amateurs who have previously won at an American Homebrewers Association-sanctioned competition. Last year saw 118 entries, and it’s become a popular feature of GABF because this is where you see the next generation of taste…

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BobbyKnowsBajaBrews
Border Psycho Cantina

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Border Psycho Zonkey Imperial Stout

I’ve attended the Ensenada Beer Fest the last 3 years and have seen it grow from 60 breweries to 120 breweries in 2017. It’s held every year in March and is nothing but fun, fun, fun. But you don’t have to wait until March to sample some Baja craft beer—do a quick day trip to Tijuana.

Start with the new Border Psycho Cantina on Avenida Revolucion, within walking distance of established cervecerías Mamut and Nor…

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Moon Sparkle with Mostra Hambela Coffee
The Good Beer Company

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Moon Sparkle Oak Aged Amber w/Mostra Coffee

Husband-and-wife team Brandon Fender and Robyn Spevacek opened the Good Beer Company in the fall of 2014 in downtown SanTana. Their brewery (located in a building that used to house livery stables) has row after row of wooden barrels full of  delicious suds fermenting with different versions of wild yeasts that Brandon has cultivated throughout the years. Brandon began brewing at home in his garage and became fascinated by wild yeast and bacteria and how they reacted with hops, spices and fruits. Thanks to this obsession, Good Beer remains one of the few breweries in Southern California that brews sour beer, a genre that deserv…

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