The Best Beer Event?

What if you could go to a beer event and try amazing beers, find out about industry trends & issues and talk to some of the biggest names in California beer?

I don’t know about you, but this is the kind of beer event that gets me hyped. Having gone to all the previous California Craft Beer Summits, I’m excited about this year’s summit.

3 days of activities including 28+ educational seminars, an expo where you can talk to manufacturers, suppliers, and vendors while sampling beer from all over California. And it’s that’s not enough there are Food and beer pairings and the summit ends with a beer festival on the State Capitol featuring 160 California breweries.

Check it out, I tell me you don’t think it’s a great event. California Craft Beer Summit!

Check out my post from a past summit.

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Saison For The Win!

Every one-year-old needs a beer brewed specifically for their birthday party!

A week or so ago I put a poll question on Facebook, asking what beer I should brew for my grandson’s 1st birthday party. Saison just edged out IPA.

Brewing a Saison as my first batch of homebrew after my move to Sacramento seems to be fitting. Sacramento was once home to one of my favorites, Odonata. And I’m expecting it soon to be home to one of my new favorites from Urban Roots Brewing & Smokehouse.

Strangely (or way too obvious) both come from the same brewer extraordinaire and really nice guy, Peter Hoey.

Now I’ve never seen a clone recipe for the Odonata Saison, it did inspire me to brew a number of Saisons. Including one for my daughter’s wedding that was aged on Brett and peaches.

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This photo was taken by JILL HEWSTON of ALLYSON MAGDA PHOTOGRAPHY

We some time and equipment restrictions (I’m still unpacking my equipment),  I thought I would brew a fairly basic Saison that would come in right around 5% ABV, a perfect beer for summer.

So this is what I’m thinking

Grain Bill

88% Pilsner Malt

6% Munich Malt

5% Wheat Malt

1% Carapils Malt

Hops

I’m going to see what’s available when I hit the homebrew store. The plan is to keep the IBU’s (as if anyone cares anymore) to around or just below 30. I will most likely stick with a 2 hops varieties, with additions at 60 min, 10 min, flame out and dry hop. It might be nice to try using some of the newer varietals for this batch.

Yeast

White Labs WLP568 Saison blend has always worked really well for me. I should probably stick with what works on this batch.

If all goes as planned, this beer will be kegged and on tap just in time for the birthday party.

Here is one of my Saison recipes that I brewed back in 2012.

Batch #2 - Beer Recipe | Brewer's Friend

 

Shed Build-Out Update

Just a quick update, the electrical installation is set to begin.

I hired a electrician to take care of the wiring side, but I will be doing all the grunt work. I’ve been a little scared to measure how far I need to dig the trench for the conduit, but I’m guessing it comes in about 75′ with a little tunneling to get under a small section of sidewalk.

The Details

50 amp sub-panel to provide enough power to run a small AC unit, refrigerator, lights and a handful of outlets.

If all goes well I will be able to move my fridge in soon and plan my first brewday. This will give me more time to plan the rest of the build-out.

Question

What type of material should I use for the interior walls?

4/14/18 Update: the trench for the electrical conduit has been dug. Tomorrow I will break-out the concrete and weather permitting, the wiring goes in on Monday.

So What Does 22 Mean In Beer Years?

Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale or just DBA is turning 22 & they are celebrating with a beer dinner.

Happy Birthday, DBA!

For those of us old enough to remember drinking beer (legally) before the existence of DBA & Firestone Walker, congratulations on still being able to remember things.

Back before Social Media and second wave of craft beer began, when you discovered a beer it was a major achievement. Now I don’t remember my first DBA. I do remember not knowing anything about the company. Were they new? Established? Related to a tire company? What I did know was that I found a beer and brewery that would change my understanding of beer and what it could be.

I’ve used DBA as a gateway beer for many of my non-craft friends. The expectation of somewhat darker, fuller bodied beer would often scare off the doubters. Inevitably, I got them to take a sip of my DBA…instant perception change. I might not have won them over, but now they were a little more open to experimenting, and straying away from their norm.

While you may think DBA is not cutting edge in today’s beer world, Firestone Walker still holds a patent for their Union System that is used in the fermentation process. And with four golds and one silver at the Great American Beer Festival, this beer has some serious street cred.

The fact that Firestone Walker is celebrating its 22nd year of existence, is as much as a celebration of its longevity as it is a celebration how far craft beer has come.

Do you think we will see DBA in a nitro can this year? I know it would make the Lion happy.

The Menu:

  • Double Barrel Ale: Welcome beer
  • Agrestic with fresh locally sourced fruit & cheese
  • Reginald Brett with an arugula salad with fresh citrus, toasted almonds, & raspberry vinaigrette
  • Rye Double DBA with NY steak potpie with flakey pastry dough, peas, carrots & beef gravy
  • UDBA with Chocolate pretzel brownie with caramelized bananas

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So This Happened

Homebrewing has always been one of those things were I had to find space to do it. Kitchen, garage, backyard and maybe an unused bathtub. It was always about putting everything back in it’s place, but often misplacing that thing you need right now.

With the move to Sacramento, came the ability to start fresh with a new space. My space to configure how I wish to.

So this 10′ x 12′ shed will be my new brewing space. This is just the start. In the next few months, the plan will start coming together. Stay tuned.

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 drink? ccba_logorefresh_011916_001
  • How much it 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!