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!
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!!
Modern Times Beer is building their Leisuretown in Anaheim, and when it’s completed will be a destination like an adult Disneyland , with suds, coffee and a swimming pool! In the meantime I was fortunate to attend the Modern Times Beer Dinner at Chapter One: the modern local last month, with all the freshly brewed beer here in Orange County I hadn’t really had a chance to drink much that Modern Times has to offer so this was a perfect opportunity to try some of their brews and enjoy some great food pairings. Chef Chicken Wang gave his sous chefs a chance to shine and they really brought their A game! Shout out to Tony Castaneda, Temoc Chavez, Trevor Prindiville and Timmy Morley, our server was the very helpful Linsey Onken and at the Bar was Russel Feldt. A huge thanks to Ryan Harding and Mr. Jeffrey “JJ” Jensen.
The festivities started with a Fruit Salad paired with a Modern Times Ice Pilsner, my date this evening was the lovely, Julianna Castillo, she loved the Ice Pilsner, she’s not a fan of hoppy beers and I have to agree that the Pilsner was very refreshing, great body, it looks light but has plenty of flavor. The fruit salad had ripe pieces of peaches and watermelon that had been slightly smoked, mango sprinkled with tajin, goat cheese and a citrus vinaigrette. Delicious!
Next up was a citrus cured scallop aguachile, simply amazing with corn puree, avocado crème, pickled pearl onion, paired with a Modern Times Factory Cathedral Imperial Gose, brewed in their L. A. location. I could have eaten this all night, the scallops melted in your mouth, all the different ingredients came together perfectly. The Gose was tart and tangy, a bit sweet and fruity. It was only the second course and we both were just blown away with both the food and beer and we still had 3 more courses! Yay!
Third course was a shrimp taco paired with a Modern Times Blazing World Hoppy Amber. Off the charts! Shrimp taco came with a bean puree, tomatillo salsa, radish and watercress, the shrimps were huge and so tasty, slightly spiced, each bite was heaven in a tortilla, I savored mine to the last bite. The World Hoppy Amber was right up my wheelhouse, it was hoppy but not bitter and had a strong malt backbone. YUM. If I was to brew a beer this would be it, the best of both worlds!
For the fourth course they served us a charcoal grilled ribeye that was sliced over a chorizo mole with roasted summer veggies and paired with a Modern Times Orderville IPA. Ribeye was perfectly grilled and fork tender, no knife necessary! Also no steak sauce was needed, the steak mixed with the mole was crazy good! Again, each bite, each morsel of fat I cherished as I slowly devoured each and every ounce of this juicy AF steak. The IPA totally complimented the ribeye, with my fourth Modern Times beer I can see a consistency with their brewing; smooth, balanced and clean finish. BOOM
Time for dessert! A Stout Cake accompanied with berries and cream float, we were encouraged to add some of Modern Times Monsters’ Park Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout into the float. The Monsters’ Park was aged for 1 year and the (ABV) was 14.2%, it paired well with the cake which was baked and prepared by Amy Schwan. A perfect dessert for a perfect beer dinner!
The next beer dinner is coming up this Thursday when Towne Park comes in to Chapter One, make your reservations! Don’t miss out!
I know ya’ll been sleeping on the Polly Burger at Polly’s Pies. Every time a Top Ten list of the Best Burgers In Orange County comes out Polly’s doesn’t even earn an honorable mention and most of those Top Ten end up going out of business, AmIrite! Of course when you think of Polly’s Pies you automatically think of their freshly baked pies, seasonal fruit pies, apple, pumpkin, cherry, lemon meringue, so many choices! Then there’s all their other baked goods, muffins, cookies and those CINNAMON ROLLS!!!
Breakfast also comes to mind, thick Cherry Wood bacon, Tri-Tip, 3 egg omelettes and scrambles, pancakes piled high with bananas and strawberries, Belgian waffles, French Toast and quiches, all breads are baked daily so the toast is always a must order with their home made jam. The coffee at Polly’s is roasted exclusively for them in Belmont Shores, Long Beach, grab a bag of beans for home, as a certified #coffeesnob I give Polly’s coffee a #BobbyKnowsCoffee thumbs up! 👍
Come to Polly’s for lunch or dinner then bring your A game appetite or expect to take home some leftovers. Sandwiches are stacked and of course the bread is baked and sliced fresh. The Chicken Salad on toasted raisin walnut bread is my strong recommendation or go for a half sandwich and a dinner salad, a winning combo. The dinner menu is a wide variety of solid homestyle grub, Turkey meatloaf, Baby Back ribs, pork chops and their famous Rotisserie chicken dinner all come with tasty side dishes. They also have a Whole Rotisserie chicken dinner to take home, complete with dinner rolls, mashed potatoes and cole slaw, they’ll quarter it on request. The salads are also huge and delicious, the Asian Noodle Salad with Grilled Chicken is enough for two persons, I’ll order the Turkey Chili to go and use it on hot dogs or burgers at home. Thank me later!
The burger menu alone is a Top Ten list, Polly’s uses only fresh ground beef and all their buns are baked fresh daily. They make a great Turkey Burger and a very good Veggie Burger, one of my faves is the Avocado and Friends Burger, avocado, ripe tomatoes and Alfalfa sprouts! Healthy AF! 😝 In all honesty I like my burgers simple, with lettuce, pickles, cheese and a good spread, that is The Polly Burger, juicy, tender beef patty, seasoned perfectly, All-American as apple pie! There are 15 Polly’s Pies throughout the Southland, I am a regular at the Santa Ana location, I’ve been going there with my family for 30 plus years. The service there is awesome, everyone is always happy and ready to take your order. I was recently at the Montebello location and happened to be there on a Wednesday night which turns out to be Bingo Night! It’s the only Polly’s that currently plays Bingo and it was so much fun. You get a chance to win Cinnamon Rolls, Cookies and Pies. Oh My! So ignore those trendy Top Ten lists and enjoy a juicy, fresh Polly Burger with a nice slice of pie! #BobbyKnowsBurgers!
Writing craft beer reviews over the last few years has stoked my interest in brewing my own suds. I’ve been invited to brew days by my compadres the SoCal Cerveceros, a rapidly growing Latino home brew club. While I know how much I will enjoy learning a craft that will result in tasty brews, I also know how compulsive I can get with a new hobby. When I learned how to golf it became an obsession that led to me collecting a literal forest of persimmon woods in my garage, so if learning how to brew beer will result in a refrigerator full of beer then so be it!
I heard that El Indio Botanas Y Cerveza would be hosting a home brew class led by husband and wife, Robert and Zaida Ramirez, @Amor_Y_Cerveza on Instagram and AmorYCerveza.com, their blog. Robert and Zaida have been home brewing for three years and belong to the Long Beach Home Brew Club where they now live,, they’re both originally from Santa Ana and Robert works at El Indio. In less than a year El Indio Botanas Y Cerveza has established itself as the go to spot for Baja Craft Beer and delicious home made Mexican food in Orange County. Most evenings they have a D.J. spinning jams, weekends they’ll have live music and their Taco Tuesday is one of the best around with $1 tacos and $3 Indio beers.
The class started at noon on a Saturday so everyone ordered their food and got ready to learn how to brew beer. I opted for the tacos de barbacoa, 3 tacos stuffed with perfectly cooked meat, tender and flavorful, other favorites are the tacos de canasta, sopes, Mole chicken wings and the quesadillas. The Baja Craft beer list is a variety of styles from Border Psycho, Fauna, Agua Mala, Insurgente and Wendlant priced at $5 and $6, this school Rocks!
Robert and Zaida were going to teach us a method of brewing that is becoming popular called Brew In the Bag. This process is perfect if you don’t have the room for a full home brew system that can include up to 3 to 4 separate vessels. Local home brewer, Thien Le, uses this method since he lives in an apartment and his beers have earned numerous awards, including a second place medal at the 2018 National Home Brew Competition held this June in Portland, Oregon. Home brewing takes time so if possible you will want to start early in the morning. Robert and Zaida took us through all the steps up to fermentation, they were going to take the “wort” home and add the yeast there. They not only explained the steps on how to brew but gave us insight on possible mistakes you can make at that particular stage of brewing, they let us ask questions as we progressed through the brewing process. Since it did take some time they also talked about the different grains that are used in brewing beer and passed around containers of grains so we could taste and smell them, they also did this with the different hops that they were using. They did emphasize the importance of sanitation, always had a spray bottle of Star San handy and used it constantly on the ladle they were using to stir the grain as it boiled. Robert is Mexican and Zaida is from El Salvador so they use their different cultures to influence the styles of beer they brew, Tamarind Passion Heff and Ponche Double IPA are just 2 examples of what types of beer they are creating. YUM!
Here are the steps to BIAB, click here to watch a video on BIAB.
- The MASH > 60 minutes. Heat 5 gallons of water to 160 degrees, add mesh bag and stir in grain, constantly stir so no lumps form.
- The BOIL > 60 minutes. Pull out the bag and rinse it with water to collect additional sugars in the pot. Bring 6 gallons of wort to boil, add hops once the water is at “rolling boiling”.
- COOL THE WORT – After the boil you will have sugar water called “wort”. Now is the time to cool this as fast as you can to room temperature using an ice bath or wort chiller.
- PITCH THE YEAST – Transfer your wort to a clean fermenter or glass carboy. Pitch the yeast at or near 70 degrees and move the fermenter to a cool dark area.
- FERMENTATION > 2 WEEKS. Ferment your beer for 2 weeks. During this step the yeast eats the sugar in the wort and converts it to alcohol (YAY!) and CO2 gas. you can also add more hops to dry hop the beer or you can also add fruit or anything you like to add additional flavors. After the 2 weeks you can bottle or keg the beer. Enjoy!
You will need to visit a home brew store and Robert and Zaida recommend Windsor Home Brew Supply in Costa Mesa, an entry level home brew system can cost anywhere from $100 to $200 depending on what you want. If you know specifically what you will need Windsor can custom build your system. Muchos Gracias to El Indio, Oscar Olivares, Chef Ramon and Robert and Zaida! I might be changing my # to #BobbyBrewsBeer! Cheers! 🍺🍺🍺
Taco Tuesday has emerged as the favorite day of the week followed closely by Meatloaf Monday, Fish Fry Friday and Tofu Thursday. A restaurant based in Wyoming has even trademarked the term “Taco Tuesday” and files cease and desist orders every year. Read all about this fascinating history in the latest Thrillist post by Gustavo Arellano. Since I’m Mexican I consider every day Taco Tuesday so if they want to get @ me then buena suerte. Taco Tuesday! Taco Tuesday! Taco Tuesday!
Tacos and craft beer make a such perfect pairing that this year alone I have attended three craft beer and taco festivals. A hand made corn tortilla filled with al pastor or carne asada then topped with salsa, cilantro and onions in one hand and an IPA in the other is as common at a tailgate party as hot dogs, burgers or brats, and as delicious.
Since 2009 SOHO has set the bar for Gourmet taco trucks, using the best ingredients along with their on-site hand made tortillas they also cater weddings and special events. Cismontane Brewing has also been around since 2009, coincidence? Ha! They originally opened in Rancho Santa Margarita but are now permanently settled in SanTana where they brew their award winning Mesa V 7%(ABV) 60% Pilsner, 40% Riesling, 100% Genius. In 2017 Cismontane Brewing brought home a Silver Medal from The Great American Beer Festival, the beer menu is stocked with familiar styles, IPA’s, Blondes, Stouts, but the crew at Cismontane loves to experiment and a great example is their Zonifornia Native Sour Gruit 5.5%(ABV), yes that’s Gruit, I didn’t misspell fruit. This is a collab with Thunder Canyon Brewery from Tucson, Arizona. Using only herbal mixture found out in the open trails and meadows, gruit is German for herb, it’s a light but full bodied ale with zero IBU’s. Gruit is one of the oldest methods of brewing but was basically outlawed in 1516 when Germany adopted the Reinheitsgot, also know as the German Beer Purity Law that proclaimed only water, barley and hops were allowed when brewing beer. Know your brewing history!!!
Tacos aren’t the only thing brewing on Tuesday’s at Cismontane, it’s also Cask Night! Every Tuesday Cismontane brews a small batch specialty craft beer, follow them @cisbrewco on Instagram for up to the minute updates.
So here’s the deal; from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. SOHO sells their gourmet tacos for 99 cents! Even their scrumptious shrimp taco is 99 cents(the mahi taco unfortunately is regular price), the tacos are regularly priced at $3.59 each and for 99 cents you get that very same, filled to the rim, taco. SOHO doesn’t skimp on their deal, like most places I’ve been to, you show up for 99 cent or $1 tacos and they give you a tortilla barely filled with meat, you look at them like, hey, where’s the beef! and you get the, Dude, they’re 99 cents, what do you expect, womp, womp.
Cismontane Brewing and SOHO Gourmet Tacos delivers the BEST deal on Taco Tuesday(from 5pm to 6pm), how many can you eat in an hour? I once saw a homie eat 9 tacos! Yikes! I’m good with cuatro, dos de asada and dos de carnitas, with all the goodies, the salsas are all fresh and espicy and the beers are cold and enjoyable. Thank me later! BobbyKnowsTacos! BobbyKnowsBeer!
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!
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…
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…