Random Openings 004

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Random Openings 004

Firestone Walker – Barrelworks
2015 La Piccola Virtuosa Dark Wild Saison
Bottled 3/5/15
6.2 ABV

Color – Deep ruby with brown highlights.
Aroma – Fruity sweet with some cherry, orange, oak, and funk.
Flavor – Tart with some stonefruit & cherry, lots of oak and as it warmed a bit of orange started to come in.

More Random Thoughts – Had this beer upon completion of my final homebrew for 2016. First off, the head dissipated really quite fast, but there was still a good amount of carbonation. I started drinking it right out of the fridge, which I liked the best.  Very refreshing at that temp. I also let the last few ounces come to room temperature. When warmed a bit, the fruit character was gone, the flavors were a bit muddled and it was not as enjoyable for me. The bottle description states cinnamon, clove, tangerine, and vanilla on the aroma. I got none of those, but the bottle is almost two years old.

All in all, this beer was very good. I think I should have drunk it a little sooner to enjoy more of the aromas, but no complaints.

Side Note – This beer was a collaboration with Agostino Arioli, owner/brewer of Birrificio Italiano and was released at the Firestone Walker Invitational in 2015.

Cheers!

If You Homebrew, You Need A Post Brew Day Beer!

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Did someone say IPA!

I don’t always need a reason to hit up a local brewery, but I had a homebrew session planned and wanted to pick up a “To Go” can of a beer to end my brew day.

Kings Brewing in Rancho Cucamonga was my choice.

Southern California is a hot bed for new breweries, and the IE is no exception. No brewery I have found of late is doing as much with IPAs and hop forward beers as Kings Brewing in Rancho Cucamonga.

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Kings Brewing is located in a generic business park, like so many new breweries. They brew on a 6 bbl system and had an impressive 24 beers on tap on my last visit, with a promise of 2 more in the coming days. From of the 24 beers, 10 were either IPAs or DIPAs. The 6 beers I sampled this day covered the IPA style guidelines. From the P-Town Prince IPA, a West Coast IPA true to form. Major bitterness, crisp and finished extremely dry. A great example of what defines the West Coast IPA. To Juice Bomb a 6.7 ABV Vermont style IPA that was both juicy (by name) and cloudy. From my experience, Kings Juice Bomb was just a tad more bitter than it’s North/Eastern US counterparts.

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Whatever your go-to IPA style is, Kings brews it; hop forward – malt forward – big bitterness – heavy dry hopping. They even have a green tinged IPA named Game Changer, they choose not to share their secret ingredient.

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With the heavy IPA tap list you might think these guys were a one beer style brewery, but this is far from correct. One of the of the best beers I sampled was their Kings Brunch Stout. A 6% ABV Oatmeal Stout that had a massive chocolate milk in both flavor and aroma, but not overly sweet, very well done.

Over the past few months I’ve visited Kings Brewing 3 times, and each time impressed with the selection and quality of the beer.  The staff behind the bar is also great, friendly and provides quick service.

While Kings tap list is impressive right now, they got barrels. I don’t know the details, but from what I understand Kings will be rolling out barrel aged beers, both sour and bourbon.  Something to look forward to for sure.

Kings Brewing
8560 Vineyard Ave. #301
Rancho Cucamonga, CA

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Random Openings 003

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Random Openings 003

Firestone Walker
2013 Sucaba Barley Wine
12.5 ABV

Color – Ruby/Brown
Aroma – Big chocolate with bourbon sweetness
Flavor – Bourbon infused chocolate. Vanilla and caramel.

More random thoughts – Yes, I’m a Firestone Walker fanboy, but for good reason. This beer was phenomenal. One of the best examples of a beer that ages perfectly, with flavors staying in proportion.  I didn’t check the drinking temperature, but I shared it with two other people over about 30-minutes. When cooler the chocolate was huge. The bourbon and vanilla came in as the beer warmed.

What makes a great beer event?

  • How much beer you down? ccba_logorefresh_011916_001
  • How much is costs?
  • How many friends go?
  • The cool factor?

What if you could go to a 3-day event that culminated with a beer festival that included over 150 breweries, serving over 450 beers by brewery staff.  And by staff this includes owners & brewers.

The 2016 California Craft Beer Summit!

I might have a bias because it’s California, but California Craft Brewers Association knows how to put on an event.

The 3-day event had tickets that range from just the festival @ $60 to a full VIP ticket that gets you all access (just about) @ $289 with a total of 5 ticketing options.

3 days might sound like a lot of beer (it is, pacing people, pacing), but it’s not all about drinking.  There was 9-hours of trade show, broken up over 2-days.  This incuded vendors that supply homebrewers all the way to lawyers to help keep the breweries in line. During the tradeshow you get a chance to try beers being poured from the various brewers guilds located around the state.  Also pouring: Firestone Walker, Stone, Sierra Nevada and Laugunitas.

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One of my favorite parts of the event are the educational sessions, they make my inner beer geek a bit giddy.  There are mulitible tracks going, so picking one is often the hardest decision.

My Picks:

  • Yeast: The key to great beer. Karen Fortmann, Ph.D of White Labs gave a great talk on yeast. The session ended with a tasting of wheat beers, fermented with different yeast strains.
  • Alesmith: Charting growth over 21 years with Peter Zien the owner and CEO. Speedway Stout!!!
  • Dr. Charlie Bamforth, UC Davis gave a great presentation on the only thing that really matters, QUALITY.
  • Past, Present & Future: A talk with David Walker. Starting a brewery 20 years ago, not that easy. A trail blazing brewery for certain.
  • Master Pairings with “Dr.” Bill Sysak – Chocolate and Beer.  Bill is a wealth of knowledge and humor. Always fun to hear him talk. img_4562
  • Sip & Judge with Michael Moore “Big Mike” Fun to judge and discuss classic beer styles and flavor interpretation.
  • Closing Session: with Vinnie & Natalie Cilurzo and Tomme Arthur. What a way to end the summit. Honest, upfront and informative.  Anyone thinking about opening a new brewery in California should have been there. In short, saturation! It’s a big issue and depending on your goals, it can be a tough go in California for a new brewery.  They also agreed, they might not be brewers if they were starting out today.

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And if none of those thrill you, they had sessions that included careers, hospitality, homebrewing, beer trends, building a brand, malting, barrels, advanced tasting and additional food pairings.

Ok, so the educational sessions might not be for everyone. I get that. But the opportunity to sit in on a conference where some of the biggest names in California beer are both presenting and listening is pretty damn special.

If you want an audio taste of the happenings at the 2016 California Beer Summit, check out my friends at Four Brewers, they put together a fantastic group of interviews from the floor.

This the 2nd annual summit, and I have been lucky to attended both. No joke, if you love beer and brewing, you need to attend. This is really one of the best beer events I’ve attended…Ever!

~Cheers!