News Archives: 2013 June

Eagle Rock Equinox Equals Best in Show

Jun 24
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Via @eaglerockbrew

This past Saturday Eagle Rock’s Equinox, a sour blonde ale with Brettanomyces, took top honors at the San Diego International Beer Competition. The trophy is a miniature fermentor.

Commercial Description: “As the winter thaws and the daylight hours lengthen enough to balance with the night, it reminds us all that spring is in the air. The aroma of citrus, and the taste of Muscat grapes, starfruit and freshly cut grass are a refreshing blend in this young sour ale. The perfect balance of sweetness, an intriguing tartness, and subtle hop bitterness are like a cool spring breeze in the warmth of the sun.

Color: 4 SRM
ABV: 6.6%
Bitterness: 11 IBU
Gravity: 1.053”

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Beer and Loathing in Paso Robles

Jun 6

P1050630We were somewhere around the edge of wine country in Paso Robles when the craft beer began to take hold (1). Baked and dripping with sweat, I dump the remnants of my tasting plate on the ground and use it as a makeshift fan. The air is thick, hot and pointless, laying on us like a nightmare in a sleeping bag.

Black bugs have somehow managed to attach themselves to odd parts of my body and pinch every so often. “Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn bugs?” (2). One clings to my armpit as I smack it and smack it again, making it bite harder. “Hey! Ouch!” I yelp as spectators laugh wildly. I duck in the bathroom and dunk my head under the sink, then sling on my hat to grab a beer…the only cold thing in this arid place called Paso Robles.

Flash backward a few hours as this Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival starts and I’m in ‘kid on Halloween’ mode. Media check-in and pre-fest starts early and I’m not taking any chances. It’s peaceful. Nearby cows moo. It’s time to drink.

P1050608Standing near Russian River’s booth I hear brewer/owner Vinnie Cilurzo say the words “five-day old Pliny” and “two-year old Temptation.” These words fish-hook the absolute cream of the beer-media (3). We walk like we’re in a Broadway musical, jazz hands fluttering to get a pour. A pretentious voice behind me mutters “I’ve had two-day old Pliny once” while clearing his throat nervously. The five-day old version must taste like piss to this guy. I toss it back, note the fresh Simcoe, Amarillo, Centennial and CTZ hops, and move on quickly for a glass rinse and something dark before it gets too hot. The forecast for today is nailed at 104 degrees.

P1050621At this festival, beers like Pliny the Elder are ‘just beers’. Not to discount the highly decorated Double IPA from Santa Rosa, but there’s some serious rarities to be consumed today. Brandy Barrel Aged Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout from Cigar City, which ended up winning the People’s Choice award, and Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Lord from the psychedelic Three Floyds Brewing were among the barrel-aged treats that generally elude us on the West Coast. Mikkeller, The Lost Abbey and Firestone Walker were unleashing lambics, framboise and collaborations. Orange County’s sole representative, The Bruery, leaked several rarities on the crowd each hour.

As much as the public loves this festival, brewers also gush at the prospect of getting an invite. Tyler King, The Bruery’s senior director of brewing operations, put it well: “It’s an honor (to be here) no matter where you’re from. We love so many of these breweries and to pour beer next to them is pretty amazing.” Tony Yanow of Golden Road/Tony’s Darts Away/Mohawk Bend was equally excited: “We are a very young brewery and to present our beer alongside our heroes is an honor.”

Adding to the event’s allure, there’s international beer, too. Fascinated with the thought of sampling overseas freshies, my associate Daniel Fernandez and I make a trip to the fest’s ‘Little Germany’. “I had no idea Germans were so tall,” says Daniel with his sub-sombrero sized hat. The guys at Mahr’s Brau Bamburg put David Hasselhoff to shame, and the girl at BraufactuM is at least three inches taller than me in flats. We then visit Yo-Ho Brewing, who also brought their beers from Japan to last year’s inaugural invitational. Close by, Italy’s Birrificio Italiano poured Tipo Pils, a beer that inspired Firestone Walker’s brewmaster Matt Brynildson to brew Pivo Pils, which should be arriving in the southland soon.

P1050607

Yo-Ho Brewing

Of the many, many beers sampled, three are my standouts:
1. Mikkeller’s Spotancherry Lambic gives me repeatable goosebumps. Juicy tart cherries burst in my mouth with the tiniest sip. Tastes like fresh tart cherry pie.

P10506522. Lagunitas is shocked to hear my love for Sonoma County Sour Stout. “It’s pretty shocking considering we aimed to break every rule when making it…a stout on a hot day that goes down easy? Shocking!” says the biker-looking guy pouring. Layered flavors and aromas strike hard, then hit in waves with each sip. Roastiness, oak, tart fruit, some pleasant funk. The sign aims to debunk its tastiness and only makes me want it more.

3. The Lost Abbey’s Framboise de Amorosa is also among my standouts. Very bright and clean raspberry tart without any metallic notes. Finishes dry with tons of flavor. Shocker, I know. Funky/sour/Belgian style beers are perfect for hot weather, I’ve learned.

P1050624Food at the festival is dotted potluck-style amongst breweries. 25 local restaurants brought small-plate tastes to serve throughout the day. I enjoyed the Bloody Mary Granita from Luna Red and Ancho Duck & Cheese Quesadilla from McPhee’s Grill. Near the end, most food was gone.

The music from Hot Buttered Rum fit the mood of the festival; hyperactive, progressive bluegrass is something I could very well be a fan of without knowing it. The White Buffalo also performed later in the day but I was blissfully altered by craft beer at that point in time (see top paragraph).

P1050623Gripes: 0! If you go to one festival a year in California, this is it. It’s like a GABF greatest hits mixtape in a small venue with really good food and music. This is the gold standard of beer festivals. Despite the hot temps, there was no problem finding shade, misters, water or an NFL sideline cooler.

Title,(1),(2),(3) – quotes inspired by Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas copyright 1971 by Hunter S. Thompson

View the Facebook photo album here.

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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2013 San Diego International Beer Competition Results

Jun 3

Southern California winners:

Aftershock Brewing Co, Temecula, CA
Richter – Silver

AleSmith Brewing Company, San Diego, CA
AleSmith Decadence 2012 Belgian Quad – Silver
AleSmith Wee Heavy – Silver
AleSmith Decadence 2010 Old Ale – Bronze

Aztec Brewing Company, Vista, CA
Aztec Noche De Los Muertos – Bronze
Aztec Amber – Silver

Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits Linda Vista, San Diego, CA
Navigator Doppelbock – Silver
Three Sheets Barley Wine – Silver
Brother Levonian Saison – Bronze

Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits Scripps Ranch, San Diego, CA
Longfin Lager – Gold
Calico Amber Ale – Gold
Tongue Buckler Imperial Red Ale – Silver

Beachwood BBQ & Brewing, Long Beach, CA
Hop Vader – Gold
Barrel Aged Full Malted Jacket – Silver

Belching Beaver Brewery, Vista, CA
Rabid Beaver Bite – Silver
Blushing Beaver – Silver

Breakwater Brewing Company, Oceanside, CA
Beach Honey – Silver
Rasbiscus Mead – Silver

Coronado Brewing Company, Coronado, CA
Idiot IPA – Silver
El Borracho Brown – Silver
Black Sails IPA – Bronze

Eagle Rock Brewery, Los Angeles, CA
Equinox – Gold
Unionist – Gold

Fezziwigs (Arcana) Brewing Company, Carlsbad, CA
Flying Monkey – Bronze
Marley’s Ghost – Bronze

Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company, Buellton, CA
Paradise Rd Pilsner – Silver
Danish Red Lager – Silver

Fireman’s Brew, Canoga Park, CA
Fireman’s Brew: Brunette – Gold
Fireman’s Brew: Blonde – Silver

Firestone Walker Brewing Co, Paso Robles, CA
Wookey Jack – Silver

Green Flash Brewing Co, San Diego, CA
Flanders Drive (Sour Red Ale) – Gold
Le Freak – Gold
Green Flash Trippel – Silver

Hangar 24 Craft Brewery, Redlands, CA
4th Anniversary – Gold

Indian Joe Brewing, Vista, CA
Apricot/Peach Hefeweizen – Silver

Intergalactic Brewing Company, San Diego, CA
Red Planet Rye – Gold

Karl Strauss Brewing Company, San Diego, CA
Red Trolley Ale – Bronze
Karl Strauss 23rd Anniversary Old Ale – Gold

Karl Strauss Brewing Company – Downtown, San Diego, CA
Karl Strauss 25th Anniversary Preview – Bronze
Off the Rails – Silver

Kern River Brewing, Kernville, CA
Just Outstanding IPA – Gold

Latitude 33 Brewing, Vista, CA
Biere de Mars – Silver
Slater’s 50/50 – Bronze

Lightning Brewery, Poway, CA
Old Tempestuous Ale – Bronze
Thunderweizen Ale – Gold

Manzanita Brewing Company, Santee, CA
Manzanita Pale Ale – Bronze
Gillespie Brown – Bronze
Riverwalk Blonde – Gold
Danger Ranger – Gold

Mission Brewery, San Diego, CA
Mission Blonde – Bronze

Monkey Paw Brewing Co, San Diego, CA
Low and Slow – Gold

Mother Earth Brew Co, Vista, CA
Hop Diggity – Bronze

Oceanside Ale Works, Oceanside, CA
Dude – Gold
OAW – Bronze

Pizza Port Carlsbad, Carlsbad, CA
Deez Smokin’ Nutz – Gold

Pizza Port Ocean Beach, San Diego, CA
Bacon and Eggs – Gold
Z-Man Stout – Silver

Pizza Port San Clemente, San Clemente, CA
Way Heavy – Silver

Port Brewing Company, San Marcos, CA
Old Viscosity – Silver

Prohibition Brewing Company, Vista, CA
Ruby Red – Gold

Rock Bottom Brewery – La Jolla, La Jolla, CA
Rock Bottom La Jolla Red Ale – Bronze
Longboard Brown – Silver

Rock Bottom Brewery Gaslamp, San Diego, CA
Rock Bottom Kolsch – Gold
Rock Bottom Red Ale – Silver
Rock Bottom Brown Ale – Bronze

Rough Draft Brewing Company, San Diego, CA
Barrel-aged Emboozlement Tripel – Bronze

San Diego Brewing Co, San Diego, CA
Lakshmi Imperial Red – Bronze
80 Schilling – Bronze

San Pedro Brewing Company, San Pedro, CA
San Pedro Pilsner – Gold
SPBC Oktoberfest Lager – Bronze

Societe Brewing Co, San Diego, CA
The Butcher – Gold
The Harlot – Bronze
The Apprentice – Silver

Solvang Brewing Company, Solvang, CA
Blue Eyed Blonde – Silver

Stone Brewing Co, Escondido, CA
Stone IPA – Silver
Stone Cali-Belgique IPA – Bronze

Stumblefoot Brewing Co, San Marcos, CA
Schwarz be with you Black Lager – Gold
Mojo American Stout – Gold

Tap It Brewing Co, San Luis Obispo, CA
Full Blown Stout – Bronze
Ale Camino – Gold

The Bruery, Placentia, CA
Hottenroth Berliner Weisse – Bronze
Saison Tonnellerie – Gold
White Chocolate – Silver
Oude Tart – Silver

The Lost Abbey, San Marcos, CA
Serpent’s Stout – Silver
Saint’s Devotion – Silver
Track #9 – Silver
Framboise de Amarosa – Bronze
Track # 10 – Bronze
Inferno – Bronze

Thorn Street Brewery, San Diego, CA
Golden Hills Pils – Bronze

– See all results here
– These breweries and many more will be participating in the upcoming San Diego International Beer Festival June 21 – 23. 

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