St. Patrick’s Day was cold and rainy but that didn’t stop The Bruery or the members of its Reserve Society from heading to Anaheim for the Reserve Society Celebration of 2012. 30 Bruery beers in bottles. 13 Bruery beers on draft. 2 firkins of Bruery beer and 8 guest taps in a large Festhalle near the Honda Center and Angels Stadium. With only 10 tickets, the choices were hard to make.
I could probably just re-print the menu and make the craft beer geeks drool but instead here is a rundown of what I sampled (saving my favorites for the end).
There were three different versions of their Smoking Wood rauch style bier. Aged in Rye barrels. Aged in bourbon barrels or on cask with bacon. Yes, the meat bacon. Since I had not tried this beer before, I stuck with the rye. It certainly was smokey with some peat notes to it. But it wasn’t overpowering in BBQ aroma or taste. In fact, it was a little spicy. Not with heat but from it’s time in the rye barrels. ISO:FT was a secondary collaboration with Cigar City Brewing of Florida. A play on Marron Acidifie with guavas and dates added. And although I thought the fruit additions worked well in other beers that day. This one just seemed a bit murky with flavors collapsing in on each other. Their first anniversary beer, Papier from 2009, had really sweetened up as some of the booziness had decreased. Two sours beers earned top marks from me. Carmen with kiwi fruit added was really nice and had me wanting more strength from the kiwi. And the Oude Tart with sour cherries was really nice. Loads of cherry taste in every sip.
But my two winners were suggestions from friend of the L.A. Beer Blast, Dave Watrous. TAPS from Brea brought their Imperial Balinese Stout which was like drinking a powerful cup of coffee. Black as night with an aroma that you could pick up before your nose got even close to the taster glass. I wish I could have it for breakfast. And the other beer that really stood out was the Sour in the Rye with an addition of kumquats. Normally, I wouldn’t be caught near a kumquat but this beer was beyond tasty. It had the sour covered, but it was sparkly with a pitch perfect amount of fruit taste. Just a tremendous beer.
I would be remiss not to mention a couple other standouts. One was the Bruery’s Humulus lager dosed with a liberal amount of green Centennial hop oil for a colorful and very aromatic nod to the holiday. Showing that you can have a great green beer. Also, Beachwood BBQ again proved that they are the one to call for great food that pairs well with beer. The whole afternoon was very well run. Plenty of water to clear the taste buds. Lines that were short once the initial excitement wore off and great people to talk to at every table.
Your Beer of the Week is actually a taster pack. If you have visited a Trader’s Joe’s lately, the beer aisle is a little brighter with these $9 packs from Unibroue of Canada. You get Maudite (strong amber ale), Trois Pistoles (abbey style dark), La Fin du Monde (golden tripel) and Don De Dieu (triple wheat ale). If you haven’t had Unibroue, then this is your chance to try a nice cross section of their beers at a very good price.
Your Homework this week is to head back to Blue Palms Brewhouse! Yes, the Hollywood craft beer spot is back up and running again as of last weekend. So make a beeline back to Hollywood Boulevard and welcome back Brian Lenzo and his great crew. They will be putting on a grand re-opening celebration on April Fools Day (no joke) that is sure to be a great event. It feels good to have the craft beer scene of L.A. back to full strength.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.