Valiant Goes Big With California Quad IPA

Upon one sip of Valiant Brewing’s Quad IPA Alpha Overdrive, I’m pretty sure I reached a higher level of cosmic consciousness. Incense quickly filled the room, a third eye opened up inside my glass and I’m pretty sure brewer/owner Brian Schroepfer started to charm a cobra out of a mash tun with a pungi flute.

A few more sips and it hits me…this beer is an opium den in a glass.

Alpha Overdrive in the middle compared to the second runnings SIPA on the left and Alpha Drive on the right.

Alpha Overdrive in the middle compared to the second runnings SIPA on the left and Alpha Drive DIPA on the right.

Hovering in the lotus pose at least two inches over a dusty rug, my glass is filled with the potent 14.2% ABV beer. My first thought with such a beverage is disproving it instead of enjoying it. Is it a gimmick? After a few more sips of this chest-warming beer, I keep going back for more.

IMG_6084The first shock is the mouthfeel. It’s full, yet dry. Finishing at a low 1.015 FG, the beastly yeast had to travel through the valley of darkness from 1.137 to reach pure zen. Sure the alcohol is there, but it’s not fusel. Each addictive sip my chakras glowing wildly; Alpha Overdrive is a heating pad for my soul.

It’s not a hop bomb either. Balanced nicely, most of my nose is filled with caramelized malts from a five-hour boil. Some peach, melon, citrus zest and a bit of freshly-licked cherry Tootsie Pop make up its complex flavors. As it warms, layers unfold. The only question my mind after drinking this big beer: how many licks does it take to get to the center of this Tootsie Pop? Stop in to find out!

Official release of Alpha Overdrive is Friday 6/27 at Valiant Brewing’s brewery and taproom. First 30 guests get to fill a 32oz growler! Draft only release. / 

Provisions Marketplace is OPEN – Blogger Doesn’t Hang Himself

P1050559This post originally appeared on the website  West Coaster, a new Southern California beer magazine.

Never fully healed from The Bruery Provisions closing this past January, I had all but given up hope of a worthy suitor taking over the quaint spot in historic Old Towne Orange. Still stuck somewhere in the seven stages of grief, losing one’s favorite local craft beer and cheese shop is a tough wound to heal.

Then, a miracle happened. “Provisions Market” read the sign out front. I dropped to one knee and held a nearby bench to collect myself. I re-read the sign in disbelief, “It’s here!” I yelled at a confused old couple nearby. To celebrate, I scored some coconut gelato from a nearby cafe and went home to cut the rope hanging in my garage. The Haven Collective is here to save us!

P1050574 P1050567

P1050566What makes Provisions Market unique is the space. It’s one part bottle shop, one part tasting room and one part chef-driven food shop. Provisions is basically an artisanal 7-11. The best part about Haven moving in is their track record of providing high quality food and 100% craft beer at all of their locations in LA and OC. Partners Wil Dee (beverage manager), Ace Patel and Chef Greg Daniels look to add to the community by offering draft beer, bottles, cheese, charcuterie, snacks and sandwiches – all within a relaxed communal vibe. They also partnered with Portola Coffee Labs, which will open its second location within the market.

Bruery Provisions’ soul still haunts the new Provision Market, but in a friendly ghost sort of way. Thirty taps are locked and loaded, shined bright and ready for war. “We have room for ten more” says Wil Dee like he’s calling in an air strike over the lively tasting room. The space is freshly furnished with new seating in the shop area.  Bottles sit off to the sides like shy wallflowers waiting for a dance. I tip a pint of Trumer Pils, inhale deep and take in the evening, reminiscing about all the memories and friendships forged in this room over the years. TV’s are now a thing, although hung inconspicuously (volume off) allowing people to keep the conversation going without digging for a phone to check the latest scores. “The idea is, we will turn up the volume for huge events like the SuperBowl or other big games” says Wil.


The first guests arrive at the first Family & Friends soft opening.

Beverage Mgr. Wil Dee preps for the Family & Friends soft opening

Beverage Mgr. Wil Dee preps for the Family & Friends soft opening

The Haven Collective got its start in 2009, a short five minute walk from the new Provisions Market. When creating Haven Gastropub four years ago, Chef Daniels stressed, “We just wanted to make a pub, then realized the potential of the space.” Before Haven settled on the Gastropub spot, Chef Greg confesses “we were originally in a bidding war with Patrick Rue for the equipment (from the previous tennant Frogs Breath Cheese Shop), had we known it was him, we would have bowed out.”

Burrata, Olio Nuovo EVOO, Saba vinegar and edible flowers. Prettiest thing I've ever eaten.

Burrata, Olio Nuovo EVOO, Saba vinegar and edible flowers. Prettiest thing I’ve ever eaten.

Now capping off both sides of the historic Orange circle, the area is once again a Socal craft beer destination. Several craft beer friendly restaurants dot the old-town historic tree-lined street surrounded by a dozen antique malls and other fun shops. “The beer scene in Orange was bleak before we moved in. I would sit outside smoking a cigarette while we were building Haven and wonder if people would come.” says Greg. The area is now ripe for a proper beer crawl.

The patio at night.

The cozy patio at night.

The Haven Collective now owns four all-craft beer locations in OC and LA; The original location of Haven Gastropub in Orange (12 taps, bottles, cocktails and wine), Haven Gastropub +Brewery in Pasadena (40 taps + brewpub and bar), Taco Asylum in Costa Mesa (4 taps + craft cans and aguas frescas) and the latest Provisions Market (30 taps and bottle shop).


From the press release: Orange, CA (June 2013) – After much anticipation, haven collective’s new bottle shop and specialty market, Provisions Market, will open its doors in Old Towne Orange at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, June 5th (143 N. Glassell Street, Orange). Sidecar Doughnuts has partnered with Provisions to have their signature doughnuts sold on site, and the first two dozen customers on Opening Day will receive a complimentary doughnut!

This post was originally posted on West Coaster Socal!

Provisions Market on Urbanspoon

Blood, Sweat and Beers | Valiant Brewing Company

valiant brewhouse

Having followed several breweries during their planning, build out and initial brews, I know it’s something I never want to do. Be a brewer? Sure! Building a brewery is a task for the elite. Plumbing, electrical, graphic design, sales, engineering, investor gathering and book keeping are all positions you have to be GOOD at before a drop of beer ever gets poured. Let’s not forget the insane amount of bureaucratic crap you have to deal with; zoning, planning, alcohol license, heath license, etc. etc. etc. Got your half a million dollars and still want in? You have to be more than adventurous to build a brewery…you have to be Valiant. valiant brewhouse2

Built in Orange near the Santa Ana River, Valiant Brewing Co is hidden quite well in a snoozy industrial park. The 30 barrel brewhouse is substantial for a startup, indicating a confidence in not only the recipes, but the drive to get the beer on store shelves and restaurant taps. The husband and wife combo of Brian and Kelly Shroepfer aren’t messing around! Sampling their initial beers, a token IPA, Biere de Garde and a session premium ale show a nice spectrum of what Valiant is capable of. I look forward to sampling the rest of their offerings soon! Grand opening Feb 9 noon til 9!

heavenhill barrel

Make sure and check out their grand opening on Saturday Feb 9th from noon-9PM! If you’ve ever taken the Santa Ana River bike trail, there’s an ‘off ramp’ that goes into the business park. Check google maps for a nice satellite image.

Valiant Brewing Company

Owner Name: Brian and Kelly Schroepfer

2294 N. Batavia, Unit C, Orange Ca 92865


Tasting Room Hours – Grand Opening  on Feb.  9th! 12pm-9pm.

Extra Directions: We are located behind the Mark Co. off  Batavia.  If you are  coming  from  the 57fwy and Ball you’ll  turn Lt on Batavia. We are 1/2  mile from Taft/Ball on the Left. Look for the big RED arrow  on the Batavia West Business Complex sign.


Photos from their ‘Friends and Family soft opening:

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7 Stages of Grief – Bruery Provisions Closes

Blankly staring at my twitter feed, it popped up. “Bruery Provisions is closing”. My early morning pre-coffee brain repeated the phrase several times as if it were abstract poetry.  Provisions for me is why I’m typing this shit right now. I’ve always loved beer, but when I stumbled in Provisions for the first time, I knew beer was finally winning. A flight of beers and wedge of cheese is all it took for me to register this site. Hearing the news, I sat in shock and clicked the link. Then it hit me, I’m on stage one of the seven stages of grief.
My second visit years ago. Two flights and some notebook paper for notes.

My second visit years ago. Two flights and a paper scrap for notes.

Stage 1: Shock and Denial

My initial reaction? I thought the The Bruery’s site was hacked and this was some sort of sick joke. Not funny assholes! I was about to email Ben Weiss, the Bruery’s director of Marketing, then his press release hit my inbox:

We at The Bruery regret to announce that we will be closing our retail shop & tasting area in Old Towne Orange, The Bruery Provisions, on Sunday, January 13th.  Provisions has been an important part of our company, spawned by our passion for craft beer and the opportunity to introduce others to it. Our decision to shut the doors did not come easy…

Thinking I was obviously on the show Punk’d, I got excited that I might get the chance to kick Ashton Kutcher square in the crotch. Wouldn’t that be nice to strap on a pair of those creepy Vibram shoes with the finger-toes and do some Kutcher ball damage?

Stage 2: Pain and Guilt

patrick and greg koch

Future owner on the left? The pre-crazy beard man Greg Koch visits Provisions Nov 2011.

Realizing it’s not a joke, I looked back to some of my old posts and photographs at Provisions while drinking an old Provisions Series beer. “No more Provisions Series beers” I mumbled softly. Is there anything I could have done to keep them open? Could I have shopped there more? What if I did just one more blog post? It’s all my fault dammit! I’m a horrible monster and pray for death!

Stage 3: Anger and Bargaining

I hit rock bottom seeing Instagrams of the 30% liquidation Provisions beer hauls.  #bruery #provisions  #whalesbro #haul #sadface #curbstomp #face #candyfromababy #craftbeer #beer #sours #upshitkriek #beerporn #instadrunk #beerninja #neverforget #BP4eva #poursomebeerout #deadhomey #birdwell #stpaul #yams #10000IBU

Cindy Santoyo's haul pic.

If your Provisions haul pic needs iPhone Panoramic, you done good. Craft beer geek/hoarder Jason Moore’s haul pic of deliciousness.

Did Patrick Rue lose a poker bet? Did the mob force him out of Orange? Did Ken Hollingshead Sr. visit Patrick in a dream? Were sales that bad?

“But they added a patio last year!”, “But they added full pints!”, “But the classes were always sold out!”, “But their grilled cheese sandwiches were awesome” But, but but…Damn.

Stage 4: Depression, Reflection and Lonliness

pic courtesy Cambria Griffith @goldenroadbrew

Sad Kendra hates GABF head. (pic courtesy Cambria Griffith @goldenroadbrew)

I thought about lighting candles. I thought about listening to The Cure Disintegration.  No more sneaking in for a quick flight while my wife antique shops. No more fun beer/cheese classes. No more La Tur cheese and a pint for dinner. No more Old Town Orange beer crawls. No more chatting with GM Kendra, Asst. Man. Lauren and the rest of their talented staff. No more meeting random craft beer curious old people that stumble in for beers. No more guest flight nights. Provisions did everything right…maybe too right. Sure their tasting room at the brewery is ‘enhanced’, but it’s nowhere near what Provisions was. It was a magical place full of talented people where beer was handled with respect.

Stage 5: The Upward Turn

Re-reading the farewell email, something struck me:

…increased our production capacity by 130% in the last few months.  About 40% of our beer is aged in barrels for a year or longer, and we’ve amassed a collection of over 3,000 barrels to achieve this.  In evaluating how The Bruery should operate in order to achieve its goals, it became apparent Provisions is not the best use of our limited resources.

So, if the awesomeness that is the Provisions is gone, I would expect to see The Bruery’s beer production unfold in an equal and opposite reaction. I want to be dazzled by their beers more than now. Simply bretting/bourbon barrel/or tossing fruit on a base beer? That’s not good enough. Is adding new branches to their huge family tree of award winning beers the way to go? Maybe revisiting successful beers another option? We shall see. Losing the Provisions is a huge loss for craft beer, and I expect to see dividends. Given The Bruery’s track record, I have full faith they can pull it off.

The Provisions staff preps for the Black Tuesday party.

The Provisions staff preps for the first and last Black Tuesday party.

Stage 6: Reconstruction and Working Through

Provisions had it all: people, place, and product. Can someone else step in and do a great job? Sure, but they’ve got some very big shoes to fill. Why did the previous tenant ‘Frog’s Breath’ fail? With huge regional craft brewers like Stone Brewing setting up stores throughout SoCal, or with successful local entrepreneurs like Julie Lim at OC Wine Mart as possible interested parties, the future looks bright. Different, but bright. (Note that I have no knowledge who is interested in the spot, I’m merely speculating.)

Stage 7: Acceptance and Hope

help-me-obi-wanBruery Provisions was such a bright spot on the craft beer map. Not just for OC…it was a destination. For out of towners, it was a one-stop shop. Sure you can visit Hacienda Beverage, Vendome Liquor or HI-Time Wine Cellar for bottles. Sure you can get great beer and slow-food at The Playground, Hopscotch, Carolina’s Italian, The Globe, Selmas and Beachwood BBQ. Sure we can visit the many great Breweries and Brewpubs in OC. As craft beer continues to grow, I’m sure we will see other boutique style shops open. The up and coming Packing District in Anaheim is ripe for a small cheese/beer shop.

Overall, I’ll miss my favorite beer and cheese shop. I’m thankful that it existed to begin with as it sparked me this righteous path of deliciousness, fearless writing, and fun.

For posterity, I saved their final draft list:

On Deck at The Bruery Provisions – 8

A Perfect Storm / The Bruery Black Tuesday Release Parties (2012)

Patrick and Rachel Rue relive their Black Tuesday prom.

“I thought I had messed up raising my son” said a well-dressed older gentleman in a bow tie and extra-extra long grey suit. “Who’s your son?” I asked. “Patrick Rue”. I could tell by the gleam in his eye, Michael Rue (President of the Bruery) is proud of what his son has created. Even the lore of Black Tuesday, an epic brewday-gone-wrong, has turned into something magical. The mere fact that 3,000 bottles of the $30 beer sold out in ten minutes is proof Patrick Rue knows what to do when life hands him lemons…throw them in a bourbon barrel and hope for the best.

Peanut Panna Cotta w/Toasted Marshmallows

The 2012 Black Tuesday party and beer release is double the size of last year. The party has expanded to the Bruery Provisions and the new tasting room at two sessions a piece. With the beer, production was up and more variations are available at the parties, giving fans a chance to try special cask, randall’d and tap versions of this enigmatic Imperial Stout.  At Bruery Provisions, each variation is paired with a perfectly crafted dish! Here’s a write up of the tail end of Bruery Provision’s party, and my notebook notes verbatim of the full party at the Tasting Room. Please, enjoy.

Bruery Provisions Session One:

Faster than lightning strikes, tickets to the party at Provisions disappear.  I’m all about pairing beer with food and I’m quite curious how a complex 19% ABV bourbon barrel-aged beer will fair with food. What the hell would I pair? S’mores or maybe a nice Macanudo Robusto Cigar, or perhaps a nice triple-cream Brie glazed with a honey-bourbon reduction? I know, it’s not an easy beer.

Lukcy Basardts on the patio of Bruery Provisions

Arriving at Provisions as the sun sets, the squeaky back gate is all that welcomes me. The quiet crowd outside must be content as everyone is sipping gently with pinkies out. The outside air is refreshing, golden and still. Birds flutter inside the nearby hedges, snuggling in for a nap after eating artisanal crumbs all day. Going inside, I’m met with some serious 1920’s zing! The ambiance is brought to life by the smiley staff completely and not cheaply dressed to the nines. Ladies are elegantly draped with long strands of pearls, throwback hair feathers and flapper dresses. Gents are dashed in everything from bowler hats and suspenders to pinstripe three pieced suits. Tyler King, man of infinite fashion skills, even had a grey button-up short sleeve shirt (with shorts). One can always spot the artist at a show, I suppose.

Provisions kitchen coordinator Bryan Liem set out to prove his mad pairing skills with five versions of 2012 Black Tuesday.

  • Black Tuesday (straight) with Wild Mushroom Mole, Masa Cake & Sesame seeds.
  • Grey Monday (Hazelnut version of BT) with Blue Cheese cold smoked over Hazelnuts, Dried Figs, Fresh Pairs & Toasted Hazelnuts.
  • Black Tuesday Cask with Coffee & Vanilla served with Coffee & Vanilla Pulled Pork Slider w/Coffee BBQ Sauce on a pretzel bun.
  • Black Tuesday Cask ‘Banana’s Foster’ paired with Peanut Panna Cotta w/Toasted Marshmallows.
  • Black Tuesday Randall with Mint Chocolate next to Goat Cheesecake, Raspberry Coulis & micro Mint.

“I really wanted to do at least a couple of savory dishes to show Black Tuesday can be paired with a variety of dishes. I thought the vanilla brine I did for the pork added just hint of vanilla to really bring it out in the BT.” Bryan Liem, Bruery Provisions Kitchen Coordinator

courtesy Bruery Provisions facebook page.

Overheard inside, “The pulled pork dish and coffee Black Tuesday easily won best in show, best beer and best pork dish I’ve had.” Said a random lady. Kendra, Provisions GM agrees, but mentions the Smokey Blue by Rogue Creameries paired with Grey Monday was a close runner up. Anytime you can get a complex cheese that’s been smoked for three days over hazelnuts with a complex hazelnut beer, you’re in for a sure mouthgasm! Everything was delicious and perfectly paired.

Overall, session one at Provisions was super mellow. It was nice to see it wasn’t over-crowded, guests had plenty of elbow room to shmooze around and take photos. More on the beer in the next segment, but five variations of Black Tuesday with paired food is plain brilliant. Bryan Liem has some serious mad skills and I can’t wait to see what he has in store in the future!

Bruery Tasting Room Session Two

I took four pages of notes in a spiral SPAM notebook during the party; here they are verbatim.

Bruery BT 12 party

Dan from out of the park pizza is here with a Brewluminati shirt. He “probably should have been put on Ritalin, but his mom didn’t, thankfully, Fuck that shit” says Dan. Doors open, clock strikes 8 and Black Tuesday flows quick, thick and black like a 1970’s blaxploitation film. A hundred voices corrupt the fall night and are buzzing consciously with phones and beers in hand. Untappd is tappd out, thankfully. I don’t normally check in tasters, but this has more booze than a standard 12oz’er. Glasses clank unheard among Hipbone Slim & the Kneetremblers ‘Snake Dancer’. “Cheers!” screams a table with necks stuck out. Music is all encompassing and volumetric, throwback blues jam thick like a Black Keys Pandora playlist. Black Keys? Black Tuesday. Nice to meet you. Likewise. Pleasure.

Staff is sexy, dipped in classy 20’s garb. Crowd is sloppy with tshirts and tennies. Sitting by the last-call bell and firkins, wooden handle, 8” ringer. I’d ring the server’s bell like Anita Ward. Sitting by the casks, people yell drink orders without saying please and not tipping, “BANANA AND GREY MONDAY” yells a puffy guy that looks like Clint Howard. Lee Fields ‘Who do you love?’…great song…tappin my feet, sipping, scribbling, eavesdropping, heaven.

Vanilla coffee cask best I’ve had all year. On par with Smog City’s Groundwork Coffee Porter that took gold at GABF; fucking crazy good beer. After two pours I get a case of the sweats. Spoke to Jeff Duggan at Portola Coffee Lab in Costa Mesa; “the coffee is a lighter blend than Portola does normally, we ground it this morning to drop in the cask.” he says while hauling bottles to a work party. Vanilla? Not really punchy aromatically. There are GROUNDS in my beer! I repeat, there’s GROUNDS in my beer! Coffee character is perfect; it smooths out fresh BT perfectly, 19%? Nofa King way. I want this beer Ya heard.

Hitting more CASK action: Banana’s Foster. Boozy bruleed banana that bounces on the palate like a real creamy banana. Banana fumes after a sip! On the belch, more banana fumes! Michael Rue gave me his on the way out. “I barely touched it.”

MINT – was this through a randall? I didn’t see Randall anywhere. Imagine Chocolate Rain with some cooling, boozy mint. Least Fave. Not bad by any means, but the bar has been raised. Last year’s BT S’mores cask wasn’t that distinct. This year, variations are nuanced and  a force to be reckoned with.

*Show a tweet with #BlackTuesday and get a free BT ’11. Done and done. Wow so smooth compared to ’12. Def going to bury my ’12 in the backyard like a dog.

Hottenroth – Palate cleanser of the Gods.

Grey Monday – Sweet hazelnuts! Sexy decadent hazelnuts tap dance in my mouth. Time to convert BT to P.

Straight BT ’12: Graham Crackers all day long like Heather Graham in Bowfinger. Deep dark fruit vanilla followed by bourbon, oak. Boozyness clashes with hoppier finish not prevalent in BT ’11. Baby Black Tuesday needs to mature, cut teeth and get potty trained.

Dan Auerbach ‘Streetwalkin’ blastin’. Serious Portola coffee sweats going on! Buzz hit! Caffeine too. Intense. Life of a beer blogger is always intense. Bank on that.

Ashley, peacock feathers, pearl necklace and beer. Best seat in the house!

Chocolate Rain materializes in my tasting glass. Manliest goosebumps ever. This is the point where they all start to blend in. Chocolate is decadent, smoothing. Wish I had a doggie bag for this. Time for food. Lime Truck ran out of food. Bastards.

The crowd is apologetic and nice with the tight squeeze. Overheard: “scuze me, sorry, may I get through here, sorry, pardon me, whatcha drinkin there? Didn’t I see you at another event?” “Tuesday, Monday, Tuesday, bananas!”  “Coffee, Coffee, Coffee, did you hear the Coffee cask is great? Anything? Nothing.” “Damn son.”

Overall! Great party, pretty much perfection! Was a little loud, but hell, I’m old. Next year I hope do the same thing. The beer is pretty much phenomenal and this year was an improvement with the variations. Portola Coffee / Vanilla cask Black Tuesday I will pretty much swoon over for weeks to come. I hope it makes a return throughout the year!

Haven Brewing debuts in Orange for their 3rd Anniversary!

courtesy Anne Watson Photography www.annewatsonphoto.comUpdate, as of 2014, Haven no longer brews.

It’s 5:00 P.M. on a balmy Monday night, nerves shot from an emotional day sending my kid to Kindergarten. At Haven Gastropub in Orange, I bet brewmaster Dave Larsen is having the same feelings. Debuting his beers for the first time in his native Orange, I’m sure It feels like an artist’s first show or the first time a stripper shows her junk on stage. Making the jump from a homebrewer/sou chef at Haven to brewmaster is astonishing. Tapping ten beers in five months is equally ambitious! Although the beer isn’t brewed in OC, this event is essentially the welcoming of yet another craft brewer to our growing list in Orange County. Are the beers good? We shall see. (Pretty photos courtesy of blog collaborator Anne Watson Photography

courtesy Anne Watson Photography www.annewatsonphoto.comI pull in a bit early, drop anchor on a stool and snap a few shots. At the stroke of six, Haven’s front door looks like the tube of an arriving flight. A constant flow of people attack the tables and bar area like an army of well dressed ants. My goal for the evening? Sample every beer and have fun! Sampling every beer is not an easy task given brewmaster Dave Larsen’s average ABV with ten beers is 8%.

courtesy Anne Watson Photography www.annewatsonphoto.comAlong with ten Haven beers, the special 3rd Anniversary menu is an ode to Haven Gastropub and spinoffs.  Taco Asylum, Burger Haven and special gatropubish offerings are layed out in a proper celebratory fashion. The thing I’m most excited about are menu items in the $5-10 range for small plate foods. I would love to see more of these items in regular rotation! Thirstier than a beerblogger at a bar, I get hit with a paddle of Gross National Happyness (cream ale), Hafen Hef, upRYEsing (rye IPA) and Diana Brown with a side of Taco Asylum Wild Mushroom Taco. My flip flops rhythmically clap my heels to the beat of Fiona Apple’s ‘Fast As You Can’ playing obliviously over the heads of this full house.

courtesy Anne Watson Photography

Brewmaster Dave Larsen gingerly watches like a lifeguard at a pool. No splashing Dammit!

The last time I saw Haven this busy was a month after they opened! The tiny alcove window seats are sealed thick with bodies chomping at the bit for a beer. Jeremy the bartender scans the bar left and right like he’s watching a tennis match with two Russian gals playing. Dave Larsen stands nervously near the bar, scratching his red beard, like he’s about to be married. Lets get down to business!

Diving into the flight:

GNH Cream Ale is a light and herbal beer with low bitterness and a dry finish. Notes of sage, honey and spearmint ring the nose. I’d recommend this for someone that doesn’t like dark beer or the bitterness of an IPA. Fun fact: It’s brewed with some special heirloom red rice. Bitches love heirloom red rice.

courtesy Anne Watson Photography www.annewatsonphoto.comHafen Hef is just that, a traditional Bafarian Hefeweizen. It has some nice bubble gum flafor up front, yet mild banana and clofe. [Geek note – Drinking a hef in a 4oz taster on draft is not ideal. Most of my excitement drinking a trad Hef is how pretty it looks when poured in proper glassware. The bright golden-orange beer topped with a frothy meringue-like head is a necessity!] Bottom line: If you like Hef’s you’ll like Hafen’s version. It is heafenly. Skip the lemon, you heathen. (v’s replaced with f’s on purpose you feluptuous fagina fulture.)

* Fave of the evening! upRYEsing – I loves me some rye malt all up in my beers! Up front this is still a hoppy IPA with some juicy grapefruit and tropical notes chased with a slick pepper spice on the finish. It goes perfectly with my Wild Mushroom Taco! Each bite and sip found heat in the taco and complements the huge umami/parsley/garbonzo flavors going on. If Taco Asylum carries upRYEsing, I highly recommend this pairing. I can only imagine how the Ghost Chili Pork taco would fare with this beer. I’m salivating and clenching thinking about it.

Diana Brown – Sadly, my flight was mis-poured and I didn’t get a chance to sample this beer.  I got two Hef’s on my paddle. Dammit.

courtesy Anne Watson Photography www.annewatsonphoto.comOn to bigger and better things, I sample the oaked and non-oaked versions of Bremasters Breakfast Oatmeal Stout. Whoa there cowboy! This is a monster! Wait… what? This is damn near Old Rasputin Imperial Stout! An Oatmeal Stout shouldn’t be this big, bold, dry and boozy. When I think Oatmeal Stout, I think smooth, creamy roasty-roastyness!. I assume this is a mis-poured 100 Rubles, Haven’s Russian Imperial Stout. The oaked version, assuming it is also the 100 Rubles on Oak, really mellows out the mouthfeel, adding in some pleasant oak tannins and booze while boosting the dark fruit notes.


Sosigenes Double IPA is a huge hit with the crowd around me. The draft board is numbered and people order fast-food style. I overhear, “I’d like a number 6” many times. Haven’s bartenders, despite standing next to the draft board force people to say the name, causing some pretty hilarious mispronunciations.  Winner of the night: “I’D LIKE A SNAUSAGES PLEASE!” Haha! I personally thought it was soh-sih-JUH-knees, but I heard Wil Dee (Haven’s Bev Mgr) say it as soh-sih-jen-nis. Potato, Potato. It’s a damn tasty DIPA with tons of hops sitting on an easy drinking malt backbone. Paired with the Taco Asylum Short Rib Taco doesn’t do the taco any favors. The ‘salsa verdi’ in the taco is reminiscent of Italian salad dressing, perhaps a mis-douse? it was weird, although I still inhaled it.

damn auto correct

Changing my luck, I grab a sure-fire pint of Hello World Pale Ale to cap off the evening. I lift anchor on my bar stool and chat with Dave for a bit. “I need a beer” he says wiping sweat off his brow. “This tastes exactly like my Organic Pale Ale homebrew, which I love” I say. We both stare awkwardly at Greer Wylder nearby. “Welp, have a good night!”. “You too”. I’m like the Ryan Seacrest of beer blog interviewers. I was going to ask about growler fills, kegs, bottles, what’s coming up through the end of the year, why rice in a cream ale, what other fun adjuncts are you brewing with, is the moon made of swiss cheese, who trims your beard, etc. I drew a blank. Sorry readers!

I’m mildly annoyed Kate Upton has a tiger.


Despite the mis-steps, Haven is still Haven. She’s like a beautiful girl that slightly annoys you from time to time, but you keep coming back because she’s super hot, ready for action and delicious. I’d like to see some more session beers to round out the beer repertoire; a 3-4% English Bitter, Porter or Mild might be pub friendly. I’m still impressed with this initial public offering after five short months. If they keep it up, they will surely increase my gross national happiness!


Hours of operation are 11 a.m. – 2 a.m. daily. Walk-ins welcome. For more information, including address and phone number, visit (on Facebook,

Haven Gastropub on Urbanspoon

Escape from Alcatraz Brewing (closed 2014)

While shopping at the Block in Orange, or whatever the hell it’s called now, I checked into Alcatraz Brewing Co. for a quick flight. Not pictured was a strawberry wheat which was cloudy pink and tasted exactly as described.

The standouts for me were the Light Wry Ale and the Albino Pelican Pale Ale. The Light Wry Ale was a fairy complex Weissenbock style beer with some nice spice from the rye and banana/clove. The Albino Pelican Ale was probably the most citrus forward beer I’ve had in some time. I thought my wife squeezed lemon or lime in it! I ordered a second to be sure. Highly recommend either on a hot day!

If you’re ever at the outlets in Orange (previously The Block) , stop into Alcatraz. Be sure to plan your escape!

Les Brasseurs Merveilleux de Glassell (and Citricado)

It’s a dark Thursday evening as I drive around and around the traffic circle in historic Orange with my daughter. As I re-inact the scene from the classic movie ‘European Vacation’ she laughs wildly. “Look, Big Ben…Parliament”. “Daddy,” she says with best British accent, “go around again, again Daddy!” snort-laughing as we hug the inside turn. A homeless man standing on the corner points at us and laughs. I count the times we pass him…three…four….five. Our car tires screech like we’re in a freshly paved parking garage.

Randy Clemens, Greg Koch, Patrick Rue and Steve Wagner pose among the beer geek collective.

“Ah yes! The blokes from Stone are at Bruery Provisions tonight!”. I break out of the circle as a spot right in front of the Bruery Provisions opens up. Dizzy from the shenanigans I order a cheese in my best British accent, “’ello love, care to nab off a goat for me gal before she throws a wobbly? ”. We gobble the goat as we wait for her mums to pick her up.  “I’m thoroughly arse over tit, where the bloody ‘ell is your mums?”. We chat back and forth in British accents for the hell of it.

As my wife and kid head off for dinner and antique shopping, I settle into my nook at the tasting bar. I order a Bruery Special flight that included the Bruery / Elysian / Stone collaboration, “La Citrueille Céleste de Citracado” (The Heavenly Pumpkin of Citricado; Citricado is the street name that Stone Brewing resides in Escondido; the more you know.)

Greg Koch, CEO and co-founder, Steve Wagner, President and Brewmaster and Randy Clemens, PR coodinator at Stone Brewing arrive to sign books, have quick chats and take snaps. The beer geek collective surround me in the tasting area and we talk about some serious beer. Everyone within an earshot of us brews their own beer! The passion for beer in this room is a tangible force to be reckoned with! I chat with Patrick Rue, who stumbled in as he was waiting to pick up dinner at a nearby place. Randy Clemens, author of The Sriracha Cookbook: 50 “Rooster Sauce” Recipes that Pack a Punch, and co-author of The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance is fun to chat with.

Stone Flight that had ’08 and ’10 IRS, Black Tuesday, and Bruery Special Flight. Heaven? No, but damn close.

The book-signing crew stayed for a few hours, sadly we didn’t get indoctrinated with the beer gospel ala Greg Koch. It would have been a task considering the lively atmosphere! Sometimes its nice to let the beverages speak for themselves. The beers I had tonight get the message across loud and clear. “Ello Guvnah!”

Rue’s Gregface!

Old Orange Brewing Co. (Pre Grand Opening)

Popped in for a quick flight at Old Orange Brewing Co before their official grand opening. Just a few quick notes.

Lovely Friday evening around six I drove the Death-Star (aka Scion xB) into the typical brewery set up in an industrial park on the weird part of town. I found a business nearby called “BJ Machine“. Seriously, how weird is that? If I worked in a surrounding business, taste buds would be tingling with delight when I found a brewery is a neighbor. As it is, my liver is pretty unlucky to have a fifth brewery within a ten mile radius of my house. Drinking local is now extremely viable in north OC thanks to the good folks at OOB.

Walking into the long and skinny warehouse, the brewery is set up nicely with a tasting area that fits around a dozen fitness-minded types around the bar area. The tasting room itself is large enough to fit a few elephants, or maybe even a Chinese Tour Bus, heck even the ego of Russell Crowe could fit in this place. Prince could drive his little red Corvette in here without any lubricant. If you brought a hotdog in here, it would be like a hotdog in hallway! It’s pretty loose is what I’m getting at, if you catch my drift. It’s a pretty clean set up with nicely painted walls, shiny taps and fermenting beer.

Socks! Bonus points for having a woman with a Hess shirt! I actually ran into this couple at Bootleggers the night before. Very nice!

They had 3 beers on tap:

  • Street Fair: Kölsh 4.5%
  • Old Dummy: American Strong Ale 9.3% – My favorite of the three. Malty/fruity aroma. Nutty carmely malt complexity. Smooth scotch ale type mouth feel.
  • Cannonball: IPA had a slight diacetyl quality. Very different from other Socal IPA, perhaps reminiscent of English IPA which I’m not that familiar with.

The guys behind the bar were extremely nice and helpful. I really look forward to the other beers they have in the tank. I will definitely be back for the grand opening! 1444 N. Batavia Street Orange, CA 92867

Update: Squeeze My Orange has a nice interview giving some background on how they started and the stories behind the beers.