IPAs, Sessions and Belgians

Craft Beer Los Angeles

Jeremy Raub and Lee Bakofsky pour at Eagle Rock Brewery's 2011 Session Fest.

When it rains it pours. Not actual rain of course. We are in Los Angeles. Last week was a great week to be a beer geek in the Southland.

It started Thursday in Redondo Beach at Naja’s Place with a formidable list of 71 beers that assistant manager Martin Svab and his hard-working crew put together for their 3rd annual IPA festival (which ends tonight, so catch the remaining kegs if you can). And these were not baby IPAs either, most were bitter bruisers in the 6% to 10% ABV range.

I started by throwing down the Gauntlet. The imperial IPA from Iron Fist in Vista. From the first aroma to the last sip, this beer lets you know that it is bitter. Some vanilla and spirit like notes invaded as well. Not a beer for the faint of hop. I moved up the road a bit with Strand’s Black IPA which could not have been more different from the first brew. This was pitch black and had powerful coffee and roasted notes. I ended my night with a beer made for the Craft Beer Conference by Drake’s of San Leandro. It poured a bright orange and was a muddle of many different hops.

After taking Friday to recover, I arrived at Eagle Rock Brewery on Saturday ready to take on Session beers. Jeremy Raub and his gang of brewers (including his dad, Steve) had concocted 11 beers of 4.5% ABV and below. You could buy by the pint or by taster flight. I had two tasters that covered most of the list. Tarte Noir was one standout. This is Solidarity aged in wine barrels with a little lacto tossed in to sour things up. The berry flavor stood out to me, and it wasn’t so sour that it made your lips pucker. My winner for the afternoon was the Noble Kolsch. It poured a bright, almost clear yellow. A bit of a ginger aroma, a nice small hit of hops made for a sprightly and refreshing beer. Maybe it will end up in regular rotation. If not, I will certainly revisit for the second Session Fest next year.

Returning to the beach for the third completely different style, it was time for some Belgian beers at the Library Alehouse. I settled in with some beers from Chouffe that I had not had on tap at all and long ago in bottles. First was the hoppy Houblon, it poured a light yellow and looked great in the specially made glass. And it tasted even better. Lightly hoppy with a touch of the Belgian yeast made for a great start. Then I followed that up with the plain, old regular Chouffe beer. And I may be back later to try beers from the gypsy brewer Stillwater.

For the craft beer of the week, I recommend Wyld from Uinta Brewing in Utah. Yes, Utah. It is a true pale ale. And it’s organic. It pours a pleasing orange-ish color and gives off slight citrus aromas before settling into a pleasant, light ale for a hot summer day. It can be found at Vendome in Toluca Lake.

Your homework this week is to overshare. Set up a communal calendar in either iCal or Google or wherever you schedule events. So that you and your friends can see what beery events you all are going to attend. That way everyone contributes information so that one person does not have to do all the planning.

Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.

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Sean Inman

Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.

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