Something Wicked This Way Comes

Bottle Shop Los Angeles

Vendome Toluca Lake has one of the best places in L.A. to sample craft beers on Saturdays.

Diligent and faithful readers of the Beer Blast will have noticed a Wicked Weird beer tasting at Vendome Toluca Lake. Because of the holiday weekend, some may have been out of town and could not partake. But don’t cry over missed beer. Vendome holds tastings every Saturday between 2 PM – 5 PM, featuring beers they stock on store shelves. They usually have around 15 beers to sample for the low, low price of $10.

Here are three helpful hints before you head to the June 5 tasting of Saisons, Ciders and Meads.

1) Arrive at 2 PM. You don’t want to rush in at with an hour left and try to sample the whole list. Besides, you might not find a seat.

2) Take advantage of the water and pretzels that are available. It will clear your palate so that you can enjoy the next beer (or cider).

3) If you don’t like your beer, pour it into the communal dump cup. These tastings do a great job of presenting a wide variety of styles from many different brewers. Of course that also increases the odds that something will not strike your fancy. Thanks to the great price though, there is no reason you to drain every last drop. Track the tastings on VENDOME’S CALENDAR.

Now, my highlights and lowlights of the Wicked and the Weird.

Top 3 Beers

Jolly Pumpkin’s Bam Noire. This Dexter, Michigan beer was tart and dry with many other wine characteristics. Lovely faint flavor of fruit.

Fritz Briem’s 1809 Berliner Weisse. Along with The Bruery’s Hottenroth, an exemplar of the style. Crisp with a touch of sour that make for a refreshing summer sipper.

Birra Artigianale’s Quarta Runa. I have been on an Italian beer kick and this one hit the mark for me. A little sour but more notes of fruit (grapes and peaches) and some hints of chestnuts as well.

Bottom 3 Beers

Baird Brewing’s Jubilation Ale. This Japanese brew was one that I was looking forward to because I have heard such good things about their line-up. But this was a malty, sweet and syrupy mess with little distinctive flash to it.

Birra del Borgo’s Te. This Italian beer was made with tea but it did not work. I don’t know if was because the tea was too far in the background or it wasn’t a tea that I like but this was a bit of a muddle.

Alvinne’s Melchior. One of the Three Wise Men of beers. Also available is Balthazar and Gaspar. This was made with mustard. That aroma was strong and the flavor was stronger and strange. It grew on me but that initial blast did not please the taste buds.

The biggest surprise from the list was Avery Brewing from Colorado. I usually like their beers but The Beast Grand Cru and Samaels Oak Aged were just too thick and viscous and not very complex. Great expectations can sometimes lead to letdowns or maybe I just prefer their relatively lighter beers like Brown Ale and Maharaja IPA.

Your homework is to head out and try Vendome. Saisons, ciders and mead on June 5 followed by German beers on June 12, to coincide with the June 11 start of the World Cup.

Since the homework is easy and fun, the beer(s) of the week will take some searching for. Sierra Nevada releases the second in their special 30th anniversary series. A Helles lager that has been imperialized. Or you can search out a location that is pouring the sought after Parabola from Firestone Walker. Both are what I call sipping beers with complex flavors to slowly enjoy.

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


Sean Inman

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

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