Pacific Northwest Beer Chick

Breweries, Beers & Good Times

Longing for Long Beach! December 31, 2014

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Just got back from a trip to my beloved Southern California. Visiting family and friends is, of course, always on the agenda, but what I really look forward to is hitting some of the new breweries cropping up and visit some of the old ones I have missed. On this trip I was staying in Long Beach aboard the Queen Mary so it was only appropriate to head downtown and see what was on tap! For years Long Beach was known as a not-so-safe place to visit. But over the last decade it has undergone some amazing changes making it much more tourist friendly. The downtown area has cleaned up, new businesses and shopping areas have opened, and there are even free shuttles to get you around downtown. My time for beer yard housedrinking on this trip was rather limited, but I gave it the “old college try!”

In the Long Beach neighborhood of Belmont Shore sits the Belmont Brewing Company. I did not have a chance to visit the brewery itself, but I did get to try one of their beers at the local Yard House. If you have never been to the Yard House (there are several locations in several states) you are really missing out! Over 100+ beers from around the world on tap. On the menu that night was Belmont Brewing’s Strawberry Blonde (4.5% abv). Fruit beer gets a bad wrap for being, well, fruity. Most men consider fruit beers “chick beer.” They couldn’t be more wrong, especially with this little gem. Fresh strawberry hits the nose before you can raise the glass. The fruit flavor is fresh and clean, does not taste syrupy. Lovely jamminess from start to finish but not too sweet. A lovely beer to get into the So Cal mood!

One night, I met with some very dear friends of mine at a more “spiritual” house downtown. Congregation Ale House is located right in the heart of downtown Long Beach. The actual brew house is located in Azusa, CA but there are three locations to enjoy: Azusa, Long Beach and Pasadena. The Long Beach “chapter” was quite lovely with glowing light, gothic arch ways, and gorgeous wrought iron chandeliers reminiscent of a gothic cathedral. The staff was very friendly and beer savvy and one of our servers, Kevin, was a kick in the pants! Thanks, Kevin!!

Praise On! Saison (5.8% abv) – This lovely farmhouse ale has a sour fruit aroma, wheat character in the body. It finishes sour and crisp.

10568825_10204477660760512_8533465143145378077_nEternally Strong Brotherhood ESB (5.4% abv) – I love a good ESB and this one hit the spot! Very malty, slightly bitter, and very delicious. Light hops in the top, with a slightly sweet finish. Very enjoyable.

Dark Of The Covenant (7% abv) – This American Strong Ale, is just that! Soft, smokey aroma and dark chocolate body. This is definitely a sipper for dessert. Almost like drinking a smokey chocolate bar. Quite tasty!

A few doors down is Beachwood Brewing Company. This brewery is also known for its BBQ and has two locations: downtown Long Beach (where I was) and Seal Beach (a bit further down the coast). Very laid back atmosphere. Nice place to hang out.

Foam Top Cream Ale (5.5% abv) – The aroma of Golden Grahams cereal hits the nose right away. Honey-sweet body and a creamy finish. Very easy to drink. Perfect beer for So Cal.

Knucklehead Red (5.7% abv) – Very well-balanced red. Nice caramel character with just enough hops to give it the kick “hopheads” require. Quite nice!

On the last night of my trip I visited San Pedro Brewing Company located in historic San Pedro, CA. Just a stones throw (and a bridge crossing) away from the Queen Mary, the brewery is tucked away in a darling, historic neighborhood. This brewery/restaurant is BUSY! I was a bit bugged atIMG_3664 first because it took almost 15min for anyone to acknowledge me after I sat down (as a former server/bartender, I’m pretty patient). Once my server stopped by things started looking up. I enjoyed a delicious grilled cheese sandwich and a taster tray.

Bruin Blonde Ale (5.5% abv) – This light bodied ale had a candy-like sweetness with a caramel finish. It was a bit like drinking, you guessed it, candy. Very nice for a hot day.

Sunken City Imperial Stout (8.3% abv) – Ink black color, dark chocolate from the start, but finishes smokey. Full bodied, malty, and very smooth. definitely and after dinner beer.

Port Towne Hefe (5% abv) – Hefeweizen is one of my favorite styles of beer. This one was OK, but just a bit watery than what I prefer. The traditional banana clove flavor and aroma were present, it just didn’t have the body I was looking for. Still, not bad.

Red Headed Hop Child (5.6% abv) – Gorgeous color! Hoppy with a touch of hazelnut on the palate. Nutty, crisp finish. This was one of my favorites!

IMG_3873Iowa Battleship IPA (6.6% abv) – Named for the historic battleship docked just a few minutes away, this IPA is sure to make any “hophead” smile, but easy enough for the “hop-shy” to warm up to. Beautiful floral aroma with light hops throughout. Nice, clean finish. This IPA is perfect for the beginner and easy to drink.

Blitzen Belgian (9.11% abv) – This was my least favorite, but not because of quality. I’m not a barley wine/hard alcohol kind of gal so anything higher than say 8% abv really comes through on my palate. This Belgian ale was thick, syrupy and VERY sweet. Too sweet and thick for me but is sure to please the barley wine crowd.

 

If you would like to stay on the Queen Mary, be sure to look into some of the ship activities as well. It is a fun place to stay and a great alternative to a traditional, boring hotel. The free shuttle I mentioned leaves from the parking lot and stops in the downtown area only but runs until about 2:00am.

Cheers!

Liz

 

http://www.congregationalehouse.com

http://www.beachwoodbbq.com

http://www.belmontbrewing.com

http://www.sanpedrobrewing.com

 

To stay aboard the Queen Mary:  http://www.queenmary.com

 

 

 

 

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Beat the summer heat July 19, 2014

Ah, summertime. Time for BBQ’s, beach picnics, mowing lawns, and horrendous heat! So how does one find refreshment when sitting in temperatures that feels like the Seventh Circle ofIMG_1269 Hell? Grab an awesome craft beer of course! There are so many “summer style” beers to choose from, I have chosen a few that have tickled my fancy as of late.

Ninkasi Wünderbier – This tasty beverage is a German-Style Kölsch. I love a good Kölsch and was very excited to stumble upon this one. Slightly sweet with a hint of Golden Grahams cereal, Wünderbier  is crisp, light, and finishes clean. It’s a nice session beer at only 4.4% ABV.

New Belgium Summer Helles Lager – Hints of honey hit your nose before first taste. Summer Helles is very light in body, easy to drink, and has a nice, soft spice to the finish. It’s hard to put this one down!

Anchor Summer Beer – The very first craft beer I ever had was an Anchor Steam. That was 20 years ago and since then the Anchor Brewing Company has never disappointed me. This beer is no exception! This filtered wheat beer is crisp and light, with a hint a honey. Very refreshing.

Silver City Ziggy Zoggy Lager – One of my favorite breweries in Washington State, Silver City Brewing Company “kills it” with this awesome, unfiltered summer beer. Banana clove tastiness, honey everywhere, malty, and light. This one is a summer favorite for me!

For me, the key with any good summer beer is the body.  It has to be crisp, easy to drink, and not too heavy with a slight fruit or honey note. These beers “nail it.”

 

Cheers!

Liz

 

 

 

So Cal beer for the PNW shores August 5, 2013

My last couple of trips back home to So. Cal did not, unfortunately, include a visit to San Diego. There are many a great breweries in San Diego and the county has quite the 1002235_672912556055851_818241141_nreputation for producing some of America’s finest craft beers. About a month or two ago the very generous owner of Oceanside Ale Works, Mark Purciel, sent me a special package filled with “liquid sunshine.”

Elevation 83 Extreme Pale Ale (8.3% ABV) is a nicely hopped, well-balanced pale ale. Medium to full-bodied, this extreme pale ale is no lie! The aroma is hoppy yet has a touch of hard alcohol. Syrupy mouth feel. Toasty, very hop forward, and a bit of a whiskey finish. The overall taste reminds me of a crisp, autumn day. It would be a perfect ale for those cool summer nights on a Southern California beach, or a great fireside beer in the PNW. I really like this beer.

Thanks again to Mark and the great folks at the brewery! I know one thing: I need to get my butt down to Oceanside!

Cheers!

Liz

http://www.oceansidealeworks.net/

 

California Brewin’ June 19, 2013

Going back home to So Cal for a visit is always fun. Over the last few years my visits have become much more exciting with the addition of new craft breweries. It seems like every time I go home, there is a new crop of breweries. In the past, San Diego and Northern California were the only spots in the state that were known for brewing craft beer. It’s only over the last six-plus years that the craft brew industry has taken a hold of Orange and Los Angeles Counties with new breweries popping up what seems like every other month! That’s great news! On my last trip I was a bit pressed for time so I could only visit three of said new breweries…

Old Orange Brewing Company located in the city of Orange opened in 2011 by four local boys. The tasting room is406 simple and cool. The staff is VERY friendly, and the beer…great stuff!

Old Orange Cream Ale on Nitro (6.1% ABV) – Smooth, creamy. Light fruit. Reminds me of a 50/50 bar. Yummy!

Street Fair Orange Wheat (4.6% ABV) – Ah, memories of walking around the Orange Street Fair. I only wish I had one of these in my hand back then. Light, very easy to drink, soft orange fruit. Clean finish. Perfect for those hot, Orange County days.

Cussin’ Jim IPA (7.4% ABV) – This medium bodied ale is nicely hopped and well-balanced. Lovely floral aroma with a hop finish.

Old Dummy Strong Ale (9.3% ABV) – Brown sugar  body, hard alcohol fume hits the nose. Malty and easier to drink than you would expect. Hard alcohol finish. Tread lightly, though this drinks easily it will kick your butt all the way to Riverside!

Thumb Master Double IPA (8.5% ABV) – Hoppy, well-balanced. Touch of toffee sweetness.

432About a block or so away is another OC gem: Valiant Brewing Company. Set back in  and industrial park, this brewery is a little harder to find, but well worth the quest. The tasting room is large and open sharing space with the brewing equipment. There are plenty of tables for anyone, just no chairs. If you get hungry there is a great food truck parked right out side the tasting room and the food will be brought right to you. But, again, you have to stand while you eat. Let’s get to the important part: the beer!

Mighty Maximus Ale (3.6% ABV) – Dark and bitter. Slightly sweet and lightly hopped. Nice, bitter finish.

Fields Ablaze Saison (6.9% ABV) – Brewed with pear and lemongrass, this baby is quite unique. Both sweet and tart with a nice crisp finish. Smooth and fruity.

31 Kings IPA (6.5% ABV) – Very well-balanced and malty. Nice hop flower aroma. Crisp, clean with a lovely hop finish.

About ten minutes away is the pride of Fullerton, CA: Bootlegger’s Brewery. Located in the historic district B102ootlegger’s has been churning out the liquid gold since 2008. There is a lovely, large beer garden just outside the door.

Tropical Thunder Pale Ale (5.3% ABV) – Fruity, hoppy aroma. Well-balanced fruit body, but not sweet. Lovely hop finish.

Mountain Meadow Honey Blonde (5.5% ABV) – This little beauty was like drinking a nice glass of iced herbal tea. Honey, sage notes throughout with interesting “tea-like” qualities. Nicely balanced and finishes softly sweet. Gorgeous!

Old World Hefewiezen (5.0% ABV) – If you like german wheat beers (me, me, me) then you will really enjoy this one! Bubble gum, banana clove aroma. Sweet, honey and flowers in the body. Nicely done.

I wish I could have spent more time in “So Cal.” There are so many more new breweries yet to hit. I’ll keep you posted next time I go.

Cheers!

Liz

 

www.valiantbrewing.com

www.oldorangebrewing.com

www.bootleggersbrewery.com

 

 

 

Give the gift on knowledge! November 21, 2012

With Black Friday just days away, I’m sure many of you are thinking “What do I get for the beer lover who has everything?”  How about something to read while enjoying his or her holiday pint? Over the last few years there have been many great books published about everything in the craft brew culture from what to drink, where to drink, and what exactly are you drinking.  There is a book out there for every level of beer enthusiast.

For the craft beer newbie there is The Naked Pint: An Unadulterated Guide to Craft Beer (2009). Written by the original “beer chicks”, Christina Perozzi and Hallie Beaune, The Naked Pint is a wonderfully comprehensive and humorous guide to the history of beer, various beer styles, flavors, characteristics, beer by regions, and even recipes to try your hand at making some home brew. This book is perfect for anyone just starting out in the craft brew scene or even the beer connoisseur who just wants to learn a bit more about the beer culture. Fantastic read!

Craft Beers of the Pacific Northwest: A Beer Lover’s Guide to Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia (2011) is a great book for the beer lover who has never been to the Pacific Northwest but would like to make the trek. Lisa Morrison (AKA the Beer Goddess) put together a wonderful book for the beer traveler. She discusses the PNW micro-brew culture that exploded into the craft brew culture the region is known for today. Lisa lists the breweries that are worth a looksy and what to have once you get there. She shares stories of her visits and what special pub crawl or bottle shop to hit along the way.  This book is a must have for your next road trip to the PNW!

For the beer historian in your life Brewing in Seattle (2012) offers a glimpse into the history of Seattle breweries and where the Seattle beer culture is today.  Beautiful, rare photos, vintage advertisements, and interviews from some of Seattle’s best-known brewers saturate this little paperback. From the earliest brewery established in 1864 through Prohibition and then on to the beer mecca Seattle is today, Brewing in Seattle is a must have for any beer historian near or far.

For the well learned beer enthusiast there is The Craft of Stone Brewing Co: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance (2011). Stone Brewing Company shares the history of the company along with a behind-the-scenes look at what has made the company the fastest growing brewery in the USA. Homebrew and food recipes, beer & food pairings, and gorgeous photos are just some of the wonderful features in this hardcover.

Does your home brewer want to make a business out of it? Well, Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head, has written the book on it. Brewing Up a Business: Adventures in Beer from the Founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (2011) tells Sam’s story about taking his home brewing kit and turning it into one of the country’s best craft breweries.  He discusses his successes and failures, strategies in marketing, competing and keeping up with other companies, and what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur.   This is a must have for anyone starting a new business.

I own all 5 of these books and highly recommend them. There is more to beer than just drinking it. Knowledge truly is power and the gift of books will never go out of style. Feed your brain and always continue learning more about your hobby or craft.

 

Cheers!

Liz

 

The Best of Orange County (part 4) April 5, 2011

As my series on Orange County pubs and microbreweries comes to a close I decided to save the best for last. The Olde Ship Pub & Restaurant and Heroes Bar & Grill are two Orange County icons that are very near and dear to my heart.

For close to eighteen years The Olde Ship in Fullerton, CA has been serving up some of the best and most authentic British beers and cuisine in Orange County. Upon first entering this cozy little pub (and I do mean little), you are surrounded by all things British. Low ceilings, dark wood paneling and beams, and more Queen Elizabeth stuff than Buckingham Palace! The Olde Ship prides itself on being British owned and operated, the almost completely British staff is warm, friendly and welcoming. In fact, The Olde Ship catch phrase is “You’ll be a stranger here but once.” What’s on tap? The best of Britain of course! Brews such as Boddingtons, Harp, Smithwick’s (pronounced “smidicks”), Abbot Ale, Fullers London Pride, Old Speckled Hen, and Blackthorn Cider are poured almost non-stop. And no British pub is complete without Guinness on tap.

The Olde Ship also serves some great, rustic, authentic pub food. The fish and chips are some of the best in Orange County along with “Bounty’s Bangers & Mash” and “Churchill’s Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding.” And the dessert…good night nurse! You haven’t lived until you’ve tried the Rhubarb Crumble or the Sticky Toffee Pudding.  If you are with a large group of friends, you may want to check out their larger, roomier location in Santa Ana, CA. The Olde Ship was the first British pub I ever stepped foot in and remains one of my all time favorite pubs. If you’re looking for a great place to sit back, relax, and actually have a conversation with your “mates” without yelling to be heard, the Old Ship is your place.

Up the road a few blocks sits the pub that started it all for me; Heroes Bar & Grill. It was here in this eclectic, unique, fun pub 17 years ago that my husband introduced me to my first “real” beer. That moment forever changed how I looked at not just microbreweries, but the beer culture in general. The walls and ceiling are saturated with antiques, vintage beer advertisements, and old photographs humbling one to remember that there were others enjoying life long before we were. Kick through the peanut shell covered floor, mosey up to the bar and stand in awe of the 119 beers on tap. Say what? Yes, 119 wonderful beers from around the world on tap! But don’t be overwhelmed, the bartenders are very knowledgeable about what they are pouring and can help you choose the right brew for you. Luckily for me, three of the beers on tap that day were from Bootlegger’s Brewery, Orange County’s newest and most exciting microbrewery.

I started off with Bootlegger’s Old World Hefeweizen. This unfiltered beauty has the gorgeous banana clove and wheat aroma that I just love. Clean, crisp and lightly hopped, this is a well balanced beer. Next up was the Palomino American Pale Ale. This ale had a smooth, creamy, almost nitro-feel with subtle hints of orange, spice and hops. I really enjoyed this ale. Lastly, I was pummeled by the Knuckle Sandwich Double IPA. I knew this beer wasn’t going to be a cakewalk; it’s a Double IPA after all. But, what I didn’t expect was to actually enjoy it. This IPA deceptively starts out smooth and then POW! Knuckle Sandwich punches you right in the face. I enjoyed the beers from Bootlegger’s and look forward to sampling their other brews.

Orange County is amazing. There’s no other place like it on earth and I look forward to my next visit and see what other new hot spots crop up. I hope you enjoyed my series on the Best of Orange County. Now, back to the PNW.

Cheers,

Liz

 www.theoldeship.com

www.heroesrestaurant.com

www.bootleggersbrewery.com

 

The Best of Orange County (part 3) March 28, 2011

Microbreweries lightly dot Orange County, each brewing with their own style and character.  Two of these breweries have become staples in the “OC.” Tustin Brewery has been serving up some of the best award-winning beers in Orange County since 1996.  Resembling a French château, Tustin brewery is just as pretty outside as it is inside. When visiting a few weeks ago we were somewhat limited on time. But, we did sample some of the “good stuff.”

Being a fan of wheat beers, I enjoyed the Lemon Heights Hefeweizen. Unfiltered and spicy with hints of lemon, this light hefeweizen would go great with any meal. You will definitely want to forgo the lemon it is served with. This flavorful beer doesn’t need it.  The American Pale Ale had a great hoppy aroma and flavor. Grapefruit and lemon gave this pale ale a great kick and clean finish. Lastly, we enjoyed Jackson’s Double IPA. For you “hop heads” out there, this beer is for you. Hardcore hops and citrus aroma hit you as soon as you raise you glass. The taste? Grapefruit and pine pulverize the palate. This beer is not for wimps.

Located directly across the street from the Honda Center in Anaheim, JT Schmid’s Restaurant and Brewery has become a permanent fixture in the “OC.” The restaurant is large, contemporary and chic. The beer isn’t bad either. I ordered the taster and started off with the JT Light.  Very light yellow in color, it looked more like lemonade than beer. But the flavor was anything but. JT Light has a sweet, straw flavor, a soft wheat aroma, and a crisp finish and would go great with a meal or on its own.

JT’s California Hefeweizen is another great “anytime” beer. The floral, spicy aroma grabs you and the banana clove and citrus flavor seals the deal. Yummy! Next up was the Anaheim India Pale Ale. This medium bodied ale is a bit on the hoppy side with flavors of grapefruit, caramel and orange. It’s an easy pale ale to drink so at 6.9 % ABV I had to watch my intake. Emil’s Amber has a deep, pretty red color. German hops are used to give a nutty, caramel flavor to this lightly hopped, malty brew.

 JT Schmid’s Extra Stout is ink-black and has a thick, tan head. I caught a whiff of brown sugar and roasted coffee. The flavor was every girls dream…dark chocolate! This was a full-bodied beer that should be sipped on its own. Lastly on my taster tray was the America Brown. This full-bodied brown ale was toasty, smooth and slightly bitter. Hints of molasses and brown sugar sweetened it up, but almost to the point of sickening sweet. Not bad, but a bit over the top on the sweetness.

When beginning the Best of Orange County I originally planned on a three-part series. But, there are still a few more hot spots worth mentioning so, being a female, I changed my mind. The fourth and final entry on my week in Orange County is coming soon!

Cheers!                                                                                                                                                  

Liz

www.jtschmidsrestaurants.com

www.tustinbrewery.com

 

 
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