News Archives: 2013 May

Provisions Market Opens Soon in Orange

May 29

UPDATE: Provisions Market set to open Wednesday, June 5.

Never fully healed from The Bruery Provisions closing this past January, I had all but given up hope of a worthy suitor taking over the quaint spot in historic Old Towne Orange. Losing one’s favorite local craft beer and cheese shop is a tough wound to heal, and I was still stuck somewhere in the seven stages of grief.

Then, a miracle happened: a new sign out front read Provisions Market. I dropped to one knee and held a nearby bench to collect myself. I re-read the sign in disbelief. “It’s here!” I yelled at a confused old couple nearby. “The Haven Collective will surely save us!” To celebrate, I scored some coconut gelato from a nearby cafe and went home to cut the rope hanging in my garage.

PP1050600rovisions Market, which held a private soft opening last week, makes full use of its space as one part bottle shop, one part tasting room, and one part chef-driven food shop with cheese, charcuterie, snacks and sandwiches. Bruery Provisions’ soul still haunts the digs in a friendly ghost sort of way, leaving thirty taps for the next tenants, partners Wil Dee, Ace Patel and Chef Greg Daniels.

The room is freshly furnished with new seating in the shop area. Bottles sit on the sidelines like wallflowers waiting for a dance partner. As I tip a pint of Trumer Pils, inhaling deep and taking in the evening, I reminisce about all the memories and friendships forged in this room over the years. Thankfully, the new TVs don’t distract me; they’re kept on mute, allowing conversations to flow and sports fans to still track the games.

As an added bonus, Portola Coffee Lab, a local roasting company that just celebrated their second anniversary, will open their second location inside the market.

P1050559The partners seem to have a grasp on what the market wants. “The beer scene in Orange was bleak before we moved in,” says Dee. Chef Daniels agrees: “I would sit outside smoking a cigarette while we were building Haven and wonder if people would come.” Now, the area is ripe for a proper beer crawl, with several craft beer friendly restaurants dotting Old Towne’s historic tree-lined streets.

The Haven Collective owns four all-craft beer locations in OC and LA: Haven Gastropub in Orange, Haven Gastropub + Brewery in Pasadena, Taco Asylum in Costa Mesa, and Provisions Market (30 taps, plus a bottle shop and food options). View our Facebook photo album.

Greg Nagel has been a beer fan for over twenty years and recently attended Sierra Nevada Beer Camp (#94 – Sleight of Hand). Follow him on his gonzo beer trail at OCBeerBlog.com and on twitter at @OCBeerBlog

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LA Ale Works’ Kip Barnes Debuts Beer Game

May 24
Kip Barnes, via Facebook

Kip Barnes, via Facebook

Kristofor “Kip” Barnes, co-owner of Los Angeles Ale Works, has taken his love for beer beyond just brewing it. In addition to his day job, Barnes runs a beer-centric website in LA called Bierkast. And starting today, he can add mobile beer game director to his résumé with the debut of Ziggy the Beer Yeast.

Available on both Android and iOS platforms for 99 cents, this arcade-style game tasks you with dragging Ziggy to eat sugars and avoid bacteria while fermenting a beer. The game was developed in partnership with his wife’s three-person indie game development company, Tip-Tok.

“I’ve been an avid gamer since my early childhood – board games, video games, you name it,” explained Barnes, who recorded the game’s voices himself. “I had the idea for Ziggy the Beer Yeast when I was homebrewing one day and my wife was testing one of her apps out.”

DSC_0271-002The game is geared to all levels of beer drinkers: “For people that know beer they’ll get a lot of the jokes and knowledge tidbits. For others, they’ll learn something new; it’s designed to be casual while teaching some basic beer ideas at the same time.”

Barnes’ drive to create Ziggy stemmed from the fact that there aren’t many beer-themed games out there. “That may be because it’s a niche market,” he pondered. “But with the success of Untappd, TapHunter, and craft beer in general, it seemed like a challenge we wanted to tackle.”

Follow Ziggy on Facebook and Twitter @ziggybeeryeast

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What’s Brewing in La La Land?

May 20

Collaboration and camaraderie have become major pillars of the foundation that unite craft brewers, who’ve largely chosen to eschew the inhuman pitfalls of cutthroat competition in favor of genuine bonhomie and mutual respect for each other’s talents and successes. Taking their unified vision one step further, a cadre of craftsmen have recently announced the formation of the Los Angeles Brewers Guild, an industry group which aims “to create and foster a culture of world-class beer in Los Angeles County by promoting and protecting local craft brewers.”

“It’s great for us to be able to rally together, and to have a collective voice,” explains Eagle Rock Brewery co-owner Jeremy Raub, who is serving as the guild’s inaugural president. “It’s so important and so helpful—especially in an area as huge and spread out as L.A.—to know that you have a support network you can turn to.”

The tasting room at Eagle Rock

The tasting room at Eagle Rock

While new to L.A., brewers guilds have existed elsewhere for some time now, with an impressive 46 out of 50 states claiming their own statewide guilds, and plenty of regional associations under each of those, according to the Brewers Association. Rumblings of a potential LABG began swirling a little over a year and a half ago. Raub and several other Los Angeles-based brewers attended a meeting of the Orange County-based Southern California Craft Brewers Guild, but respectfully decided to keep the L.A. entity separate.

“Our health codes and government entities are very different,” he acknowledged. “We thought it best to keep it as local as possible, focusing on where we live and work versus spreading ourselves too thin. Opening and operating a brewery in Los Angeles involves keeping an eye on a lot of moving targets, and we want to have the strongest support structure we can have, both for existing breweries and fledgling new ones.”

Besides enabling brewers to have open discussions and share knowledge, the guild hopes to someday host events and festivals to build a stronger community. Reflecting on the local craft beer scene, Raub beams, “We’re in this perfect time in our infancy, and the culture is growing so quickly in L.A. People ask why we’d help our competitors, and it’s great that we’re able to say they’re not our competitors at all. Our market share is so small that there’s enough room for us to grow and flourish together. Like they say: ‘A rising tide lifts all boats.’”

Many restaurants, bars, vendors, suppliers, and even consumers have expressed interest in becoming members or otherwise supporting the guild, but so far, only breweries and brewpubs with facilities in Los Angeles can join. “It’s been great to get so much validation of what we’re doing, but we’re not ready to handle associate members just yet… perhaps in the future,” Raub suggests.

Raub also hopes that in the next quarter, the guild will be able to draw up lots of materials to help its members, with important items such as best practice guidelines, quality control policies, and general tips on staying in compliance and avoiding unnecessary fines. “Things I wish we had access to when starting Eagle Rock Brewery,” he lets on with the slightest of grins.

DSC_0509-001Moreover, Raub hopes the guild can also act as a catalyst for change. And while the LABG just became official at the end of January, they’ve already found themselves pushing for some solutions to better serve their thirsty customers.

As anyone who owns a handful of growlers from different breweries can attest, the laws regarding refilling them can be tad prohibitive. The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) hath decreed that breweries may only refill growlers from their respective establishments, which must be clearly labeled as such. While I enjoy collecting beer ephemera as much as the next geek, it’s rather easy to quickly amass more growlers than you have room for. Wouldn’t it be easier to have one vessel that you could fill virtually anywhere? (Yes. Yes it would.) At a California Craft Brewers Association workshop in February, a representative from the ABC stunned beer industry attendees when he very plainly announced that it wouldn’t be a problem for a brewery to fill any container so long as it contained approved labeling, even if that was some kind of sticker placed over the existing graphics on another brewery’s growler. A well-meaning industry member in attendance immediately took to Facebook asserting that there’d been some kind of policy change and now people could go to their local brewery with any growler and expect to get it filled.

“It caused a lot of confusion,” Raub laments. “Customers were coming in and getting upset that we wouldn’t fill another brewery’s growler. And we tried to explain that it still wasn’t that easy, but they’d get upset and reference that Facebook post. The guild members got together to discuss what all of this meant—and didn’t mean—for us. Ultimately, we decided that it was too early and presumptuous of us to make any changes without fully understanding what we can legally do. We issued a statement explaining that LABG members wouldn’t fill other breweries’ growlers until we were able to meet with ABC representatives to ensure that we’re in full compliance with their regulations.”

“It really felt good to have us all come together at that meeting,” Raub continues. “Many of the brewers brought up potential issues that others hadn’t thought of, and lots of creative solutions were presented. Being able to unite like this is really going to help brewers and benefit consumers for years to come.”

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Noble Pumps Out the Naughty Sauce

May 16

If I were to tell you Orange County’s most talked-about beer isn’t an IPA, you’d probably say, “It’s a Double IPA, right?” Nope. “Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout?” Closer! Here’s a few clues:

  • It’s a coffee milk stout.
  • It’s blonde.
  • It’s only served on nitro.
Naughty Sauce. Photo courtesy of Aubrey Dunham Price

Naughty Sauce. Photo courtesy of Aubrey Dunham Price

Although a blonde milk stout served on nitro is intriguing on its own, Anaheim’s Noble Ale Works cooked up all the talk this year by adding a fun name: Naughty Sauce. My initial reaction was “gimmick beer”; however, knowing what Evan Price has done since taking over as head brewer at Noble mid-2012, I couldn’t deny the sauce.

Visually, Naughty Sauce looks similar to a freshly baked vanilla cupcake. Its fluffy golden yellow body is topped with a dollop of creamy white cascading head. Blindfolded, the beer smells and drinks like a frothed beer-latte. It’s hard to not look like a “Got Milk” ad after the first sip. “Got Milk Stout?” Indeed. A pint goes down with minimal effort thanks to its velvety spumescent body.

Noble enlisted Portola Coffee Labs in Costa Mesa with its custom El Salvador coffee blend. Beans are hand-selected and roasted specifically for Naughty Sauce. “We let Portola geek out with the blend. We know beer, they know coffee,” says Price with his boyish good looks. He claims that fresh coffee beans “have a fruity quality going in the tank, but impart a bright-roasty character when complete.” Although three pounds of coffee per barrel are used, Portola’s owner and master roaster Jeff Duggan confirms a small amount caffeine is infused in the beer, estimating around 20% of the caffeine in a standard 12 oz cup of coffee per pint.

Naughty Sauce is brewed and released quarterly — this latest batch yielded 45 BBL — to maintain freshness and quality. As the beer is nitro-only, Noble likes to spread the sauce around Orange County’s best craft beer bars. Initially a one-off batch, Don’s Naughty Sauce was brewed in collaboration with the all-craft beer restaurant The Playground in downtown Santa Ana. Using superstar coffee Don Pachi, the release let people taste the expensive $100/lb Panama beans in a unique beer.

Jarred Dooley, Director of Libations at The Playground, put it well:

“There’s nothing quite like the face a person makes the first time they try Noble’s Naughty Sauce. People can’t equate the color of the beer with its flavor. I think that, hopefully, people will start to realize that the plethora of amazing beers being churned out means they don’t have to go on an endless search for a ‘whale’ of a beer. I think that Naughty Sauce deserves the cult following that Pliny the Younger gets!”

Special firkin releases are also a regular occurrence. The small environment of a cask gives Noble the freedom to infuse base beers with high quality specialty ingredients. Casks like Naughty NutsNaughty Sauce infused with hand-shaved, roasted coconut – are usually drained in one long continuous pour. Popular batches may pave the way for larger brews.

The name Naughty Sauce came from assistant brewer Brad Kominek who thought the name matched the “sexiness” of the beer. Noble owner Jerry Kolbly wasn’t a fan, but gave it the green light after a pint. Noble Ale Works has fun with most of their beer names, such as a porter named Jonathan (named after the freshly-opened Smog City Brewing’s Jonathan Porter) and Gosebusters, which is their take on a Leipziger Gose. Although Noble’s IPA still outsells the Sauce, all the attention has been a nice money shot for the brewery.

Noble Ale Works is located walking distance from Honda Center and Angel’s Stadium in Anaheim. Head Brewer Evan Price previously brewed at TAPS Fishhouse & Brewery, Hangar 24 and BJ’s.

Greg Nagel has been a beer fan for over twenty years and recently attended Sierra Nevada Beer Camp (#94 – Sleight of Hand). Follow him on his gonzo beer trail at OCBeerBlog.com and on twitter at @OCBeerBlog

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