The only thing the bars have in common is that they all specialize in craft beer. Beyond that, it was anybody’s guess who emerge victorious in L.A. Beer Float Showdown II. On October 10, as part of L.A. Beer Week and presented by Food GPS, Boneyard Bistro, Ladyface Alehouse, Simmzy’s and Tony’s Darts Away all converged on the patio of Verdugo Bar, where they each made their best effort to capture a new crown.
Beer expert Paige Reilly led the beef float crew for Tony’s Darts Away. Boneyard Bistro touted seasoned bar manager Rory Snipes. Ladyface featured owner Cyrena Nouzille and chef Jessica. Simmzy’s contributed some of the top beer minds in the South Bay, including manager Peter Shuey. Better yet, 50% of proceeds benefited Share our Strength, which has been working to eradicate childhood hunger in the U.S. and Canada since 1988.
Each team made a single float. Everybody in attendance got a vote, with categories devoted to “flavor” and “originality,” each with a 5 point maximum. Last year, there was also a category for “presentation,” which didn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense after seeing the teams just pour beer and scoop ice cream into nine-ounce clear plastic cups. This year, most teams had at least one garnish, adding visual interest to complement what was in the glass. If there’s an L.A. Beer Float Showdown III, “presentation” could easily reemerge.
TONY’S DARTS AWAY
The entry for Tony’s Darts Away was “Lime Surprise,” a 100% organic and vegan house made lime sherbet served in a scooped-out lime half, accented with lime salt from Spice Station and dropped in Eel River Brewing Co.’s Acai Berry Wheat.
When asked about her approach, Tony’s manager Paige Reilly said, “We wanted to stay very true to what our restaurant represents, which is California, vegan, healthy lifestyle, so we went with an all-organic, all-vegan, all-California craft product, and we also wanted to keep it very California like. As a result, we wanted to keep it light, fresh and something that was still summery, because let’s be honest, in California, October’s still the summer.” Especially this week.
Boneyard Bistro bar manager Rory Snipes made a float using Floris Apple, Bourbon-salted caramel-cinnamon ice cream, and a garnish of green apple coated with caramel cinnamon crumble.
When asked about his approach, Snipes said, “I started with lots of different types of ice cream, and lots of beers. We tried salted caramel gelato and Floris Apple, and it was fantastic, but slightly lacking. I decided to add some [Maker’s Mark] Bourbon. Amazing. I happen to know Nicci Pisticelli, who has an ice cream company called Drunken Udder, and she makes ice cream with liquor in it. So we had her make a Bourbon salted caramel cinnamon ice cream, and I think it turned out awesome.”
One attendee gave Boneyard Bistro a 9 and said the float “tasted like candy apple ice cream, sooo good!!” Another person awarded a perfect 10 and wrote, “OMG SO EFFING GOOD!”
Simmzy’s entry combined Brouwerij Verhaeghe Kriek – a cherry Lambic – a scoop of brown sugar-black cherry ice cream and a snickerdoodle garnish.
Simmzy’s manager Peter Shuey said, “It was a collaborative effort between our executive chef, sous chef, myself and the staff. We tasted all our regular customers on everything. We went through a half-dozen ideas and the cherry pie came up as hands down the winner. That’s basically all we did. We taste tested all the people we know and trust, and after all the feedback we got, the cherry pie was what we came up with.”
One attendee gave Simmzy’s float a perfect 10 and wrote, “What can I say? I’m a slut for a snickerdoodle.”
Ladyface was the only team to incorporate house-made beer, courtesy of brewmaster Dave Griffiths. They went with a Weizenbock, a scoop of Belgian chocolate and brandied cherry ice cream, drizzled Picture City Porter reduction and brittle made from the wort.
Ladyface owner Cyrena Nouzille described the approach to their float, saying, “We started with a completely different beer and [chef] Jessica came up with an ice cream that was so intense that we had to match the ice cream with our beer. I decided on our Weizenbock, which is an 8% dark, German-style wheat beer. It’s got some hints of chocolate in there, so we paired it with the chocolate ice cream. It’s actually an intoxicated cherry chocolate, using Belgian chocolate and brandy-soaked cherries. She came up with some toppings too. We took our Picture City Porter, reduced it down and made a syrup and then we put the weizenbock wort, which is unfermented beer, and she made a beer brittle out of that.”
After two hours of scooping, sipping and spooning, it was time to award a winner, so the DJ passed me the mic. In a crowd where everyone was a critic, Boneyard Bistro racked up 573.37 points, besting Tony’s Darts Away (536.7), Simmzy’s (532.12) and Ladyface Alehouse (470).
Thanks to all the competitors, participants and of course Verdugo Bar, L.A. Beer Float Showdown II was a success. Every float received a perfect 10 on at least one ballot, everybody seemed to have a good time, and we raised some money for a good cause.
I already have some ideas for L.A. Beer Float Showdown III, which should return to Los Angeles in spring 2011, and if all goes according to plan, beer floats will never be the same again.