Shopping List: Fourth of July Weekend


This is you trying to figure out what beers to buy this weekend

I don’t condone drinking to excess, but there’s something distinctly American about celebrating our independence from the British with a few combustibles and of course great American beer. Long lighter in one hand, tulip glass in the other, I like to chant “USA, USA” while watching safe & sane fountains spew fart-smelling smoke and sparks in the air. Before the shelves run empty, what beers should you pick up for the big weekend? Here’s my 2014 shopping list:

photo1. Stone Unapologetic IPA – When it comes to whipping British ass, don’t be sorry! Celebrate your freedom unapologetically with this brand new collab beer from Stone Brewing. I think we can all agree Mitch Steele, Julian Shrago and Jamil Zainasheff know how to make a hoppy beer, so I’m not going to waste your time describing this experimentally hopped DIPA. You were going to get it anyway, right? Right.

Ketland12) Growler of Noble Ale Works Pistol Whip’d Pils – In the revolutionary war, I’m sure some jaggy British teeth were knocked out by way of flintlock pistol. With misfires a problematic drawback of the weapon, it’s heavy barrel was probably used for more pistol whipping than anything. Noble’s Pils is a dry, hoppy and sessionable lager.

3babygotback) The Bruery Loakal Red – I literally just figured out the spelling with the word OAK in Loakal. Man I’m slow! I always thought Patrick Rue was a bad speller. I’ve had this beer hundreds of times over the years and I just got it! Wow! I also knew part of this beer sat on oak. Only distributed in Orange County, what better way to celebrate stomping red coats than with an oaked red ale? The color will remind you of the blood of those lost on the battlefields some 200+ years ago.

4) TAPS Cream Ale – When brewmaster Victor Novak first started brewing in Philly 20+ years ago, he cut his teeth on this light and bright beer The small amount of English fuggles in the beer are somewhat tea-like and will remind you of the Boston Tea Party that led to the American Revolution. A bit of a stretch? Maybe. Suggested food pairing: freedom fries and hot dogs. Bonus points if you pick up your growler during happy hour and eat all kinds of great stuff on the cheap. TAPS happy hour = my favorite in OC.

Can't believe Stephen Hawking photobombed a perfectly good beer pic

Can’t believe Stephen Hawking photobombed a perfectly good beer pic (credit Jessica McNew)

5) Bottle Logic She Shot First – Sure, Stephen Hawking is British, but you’d never know that without hearing him speak. As long as Bottle Logic is his favourite brewery, I’ll give him a pass. “She Shot”, as they say at the brewery, is a pale wheat ale with prominent bitterness and some nice fruity hop aroma.

Have fun and happy beer shopping!

Good Beer Hunting While Shopping for the Holidays

This holiday season, instead of hitting the local caffeine dispensary for a frustrating day of speed-shopping, take it easy. Relax, enjoy the day. Sing to the annoying music. People watch. While you’re out at the local shopping mall, take a break in your day and grab a beer and bite at some of these great spots.

hollingsheads bar2

1) Main Place Mall – Santa Ana. Chances are you’re here because either A) You like the Abercrombie & Crotch smell or B) a you enjoy a crooked owner that (allegedly) undervalues malls to pay less taxes (I personally think he’s dead on with Main Place). When you’re rumbly in the tumbly, head up Main street a block or so for a DIPA and appetizer that can cut through the festive mall stench and provide a bit of your own.

  • Eatery: Hollingshead’s Deli.
  • Dish: Pickled eggs!
  • Beer: Russian River Pliny the Elder. Usually on tap due to their long-time relationship with Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo, the IBU’s are just high enough to dull your olfactory senses to survive the rest of your day. Bonus, buy some really great beer for gifts!
credit: facebook like page

credit: facebook like page

2) South Coast Plaza Oh you fancy huh? As this mall brings in more money than the state of Maine, don’t be surprised if you see kids in strollers talking to other kids in strollers via Bluetooth headsets. With no proper food court and the removal of Del Taco, I’d recommend crossing the bridge for necessary food and drink. Although this destination does have beer, this is one place where the brewed and bubbly takes a back seat. After mixologist James Wood won a Golden Foodie award, he immediately took over the bar master duties at Scotts.

  • Eatery: Scott’s Restaurant & Bar
  • Dish: Peruvian Ceviche
  • Drink: Blossom – any drink containing Templeton Rye is a friend of mine! Hell, even the bitters are whiskey barrel aged. I noted hints of cinnamon and honey with a great refreshing crisp mouthfeel. Alternately, a cocktail called Hops has Anchor Distillery Hophead Vodka if you’re so inclined for a nicely balanced libation.
  • Crystal Court/Metropointe?: Karl Strauss all the way for some Four Scowling Owls paired with Holiday Gravlax. Boom.

Taco Asylum’s pretty tacos. credit: facebook (probably Anne Watson)

3) The Lab Anti Mall/The Camp When people watching makes you wonder why a certain breed of men like to dress like lesbian lumberjacks, it may be a time for a beverage and a bite. I recommend two here based on what side of the Bristol street you’re on:

  • The Camp Eatery: Taco Asylum: Ghost Chili Pork Taco as eating it makes you look super uncomfortable and pissed. Grab a can or two of 21st Amendment Bitter American: because hey, this isn’t distributed down here and also, you’re fucking bitter as hell. Scowl and enjoy.
  • The Lab Eatery: Seabirds Kitchen: Beer Battered Avocado Tacos because they’re insanely good, crisp and creamy all in the same bite. Beer? Go with a can of Uinta Brewing’s WYLD. It’s perfectly crisp and fizzy enough to wash your palate clean. Plus, it’s vegan and organic if you swing that way.
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photo – nagel, beer – nagel

4) Fascist Island – With outdoor temps in the mild 70’s near the beach, outdoor malls are a nice way to spend the day with oddly dressed rich people walking ugly dogs. Fortunately, Whole Paycheck opened with an actual pub with good food and craft beer taps. If that’s not enough, you’re welcome to bring anything in the store into the pub and consume it on premise!

  • Eatery: Back Bay Tavern
  • Dish: Stone IPA Battered Fish & Chips
  • Beer: Whatever the hell you want. With a dozen taps and one of the better selections of craft beer in a cooler, this is worth coming to this mall on its own.
tender greens steak salad

Credit Yelp User Jonathan Z.

5) Irvine Spectrum – You’re probably thinking “Yard House” right? Sadly, that’s where you’re wrong. With all the holiday debauchery, I like to treat my temple to a vegetable or two for some nice fiber and bonus vitamins.

  • Eatery: Tender Greens
  • Dish: Backyard Steak Salad with horseradish vinaigrette
  • Beer: Cismontane Dead Santa, because hey, drink to Santa’s health.

s-ipa-bttle226) The Block (or whatever it’s called now) – After Alcatraz went belly up after a much improved year, this might surprise you. Step one, get a Krispy Kreme sample. Step two, shop.

  • Eatery: Rubios Fish Tacos
  • Dish: Original Fish Tacos with copious amounts of their new Diablo sauce.
  • Beer: Stone IPA, because a nice San Diego food/beer pairing is a total win! Not a fan of hoppy beers? Grab a Hangar 24 Orange Wheat with the Habanero Mahi Mahi tacos.

P10607377) Brea Mall – The only reason you shop here is because you hate Main Place or live in the area. Regardless, Brea has a couple of great choices nearby.

  • Eatery: Lazy Dog Cafe
  • Dish: Hawaiian Ahi Poke
  • Beer: House Hefeweizen –  After Firestone Walker gave up contract brewing, Lazy Dog grabbed LA’s Golden Road to make their house beers. I’m not sure if the recipe is the same as GR’s Hef, but it’s still tasty and goes great with Poke.
  • Eatery #2: Taps Fishhouse & Brewery
  • Dish: Oyster bar!
  • Beer: TAPS Irish Red. Such a beautifully simple and delicious beer…the combo brings me back to my trip to County Clare Ireland, drinking fresh Smithwicks and scarfing seafood.

I honestly haven’t shopped anywhere else in the last ten years! What are your recommendations? 

Green Beer is Unfiltered Leprechaun Urine

Green Beer is American Pale Light Lager brewed with government subsidized corn and rice. Add a few drops of (potentially toxic) green food coloring and you’re perpetuating a stupid American tradition that makes Kathy Ireland cry! Sure, people in Ireland drink more and more light beer, but if your lads caught you adding green drops to your beer they would surely laugh until they barfed over the Blarney Stone!

Proper pitching rate achieved.

Everyone likes a little Irish in them from time to time, right? Since true Irish craft doesn’t make its way across the pond (yet), I really like Guinness Foreign Extra Stout. Guinness’ older, stronger brother. Look for the yellow label! Not shipped to the US until a couple years ago!

Bootleggers Knuckle Sandwich DIPAFresh Knuckle is available everywhere this week! Its (sort of) reddish hue can fake your 1% Irish heritage into thinking you’re drinking an Irish Red. At 10% ABV, you’ll surely get the gift of gab and stumble around like a drunken Irishman. This weekend, check out their new tasting room with Knuckle on cask w/Citra hops Friday and their  grand opening party on Saturday.

Ain’t no party like a Dublin party!

At the end of the rainbow in Brea, there’s GABF Silver waiting for you…grab a growler of TAPS Irish Red! Their Sunday brunch is no Irish Breakfast, but it’s VERY solid. Later in the day they have a special ‘Green’ menu that is worthy of a jig.


Petty Larseny

When I think Irish beer, I think session. My favorite local session beer right now is Cismontane Brewing’s Holy Jim Falls XPA. Huge hop aroma and low ABV keeps me happy! I plan on cooking my corned beef and cabbage with a bottle as well. Cismontane brewer David Larsen is 25% Leprechaun (I think) so it’s legit!

What are you drinking? Be sure to follow me on Instagram and Untappd!


1st Anaheim Brewery Oktoberfest and Chicken Dance

Every now and then the puzzle pieces of life seem to fit perfectly. When I saw the flyer for Anaheim Brewery’s Oktoberfest it was simply too perfect to pass up. For starters, it is stumbling distance from my house! I was also pretty jazzed that the proceeds of the event go towards the Anaheim Historical Society. As a previous member of AHS, events like this make me want to re-join! When I say jazzed, I was literally doing jazz hands like the West Side Story or something.

Digging into historic Anaheim and its beer culture I found something interesting. If you’ve ever been to Stone Brewery and World Bistro in Escondido, you’ll know what I’m talking about. An early proprietor of Anaheim Brewery in 1888 purchased 10 acres of land on Broadway in West Anaheim. On the west side of the brewery, there was a park, with trees, tables and benches, and a central pavilion. They named the park Tivoli Gardens and later changed it to Columbia Gardens. You could buy beer at the brewery and chill in the park with a picnic. I’m pretty sure people did some fun stuff in the bushes, thinking back to one of my blood relatives from the late 1800’s you’ll see why.

You just got eye fucked by my old relative, George Hanson.  Cool hair bro.

That’s all fine and good, how the hell was the Oktoberfest? Short answer? Good! Long answer, sit down on uncle Beer Blog’s lap and let me tell you a story.

The weather was perfect; Sunny and 75 outside. I spotted a big white puffy cloud that looked like two wiener dogs making sweet love on a sailboat with a pirate flag. I chuckled at precisely the same moment Devon Reeves of the Downtown Anaheim Association walked by. Great! Now she’s thinks I’m batshit insane. Wait! She might read this. Yipes. Clearly I have no idea how to delete words that I’ve typed. Fuck! She’s pretty cute with her lush head of red hair. MMM, red hair. Damnit! Back on topic!

Bradley Daniels of Peace Brewing and lovely wife Daira playing the tap handles!

Center Street Promenade is host to many events and is the perfect spot to host the Fest. Historically, this location is where saloons and breweries were located in Anaheim! Upon spotting the tent, I pitched my own. The blue and white striped tent housed a stage with a HUGE 17 person lederhosen clad band and twenty or so tables to drink at. The band smelled like a BenGay truck slammed into a suede leather factory! There were some serious old dudes on the horns taking oom-pah-pah to the next level. I wish there was a German Oktoberfest Rock Band video game!. Think of the possibilities…Lederhosen and Dirndl’s included! It would be fun for ze whole fam!

Outside the tent were several food vendors serving up tacos, brats, ice cream, etc. I was impressed with a live blacksmith on site. I commented that some of his wares look like medieval sex toys and torture devices in which the blacksmith said, “what?”. Nothing dude. Nice stuff.

Filled with yummy oktobery goodness

Two taps gushed Anaheim Brewery’s delicious fest bier. I filled my German made stoneware Anaheim Brewery stein with the stuff and quickly gulped it down. My only complaint about drinking from a ceramic stein is I can’t see my beer. I like to eyeball it and mumble “say hi to my urinary tract” before taking a sip…don’t judge! The beer has a bready aroma with some fruity esters and is easy drinking. The recipe is a modernized version of a 100 year old Oktoberfest recipe found in the basement of Paulaner brewery in Munich, Germany. I wonder if Pee-Wee’s bike was in there as well.

Barbara and Greg of Anaheim Brewery learning the proper polka!

Anaheim Mayor, Tom Tait tapped the ceremonial Keg as the band played Ein Prosit. Gemütlichkeit was had! I sucked down half of an overdone bratwurst and a couple beers while watching a polka instructor show the locals how to dance.

I certainly look forward to this being a yearly event. Stop into Anaheim Brewery for a pint or growler fill of the Oktoberfest beer before it’s gone! Check their site or facebook for details.

The Good:

  • Barbara and Greg in Dirndl and lederhosen!
  • The polka dance instructor was awesome.
  • The beer!
  • Small town neighborly atmosphere
  • Stein is super high quality and well done.
  • Price was spot on if you stayed a while.
  • Always fun to see the mayor tap a keg!

The Minor Gripes:

  • 17 person band was way too much sound and space. It was hard to have a conversation.
  • Smoke from a nearby food vendor was overbearing the tent. I smelled like was at a campfire when I got home.
  • Flyer had misinformation: 21 and over, yet there were kids. It also said $25 for the stein, but it was $15…sometimes typos are good!
  • Games at Oktoberfest are always fun; Beer drinking contest, Brat eating contest, etc. I had to leave early and I’m not sure if they did games; but that would be great for next time!

Youtube video from friends at Squeeze My Orange: