8 Thrilling Ways to Tell if a Beer Bar is Serious

GNAG7776After peeking at this Thrillist article with the same title, I don’t think peeking in a beer bar’s cold box to inspect the lines is exactly a simple way to tell if a beer bar is serious. Here’s eight easier ways to tell if a beer bar is serious:

  1. A draft board or menu that is not current and/or has typos? Not serious.
  2. Has all shaker pint glasses? Not fucking serious.
  3. All beers from one or two distributors? Nope, not serious.
  4. Has domestic and imports? Not serious.
  5. Has a crap tap? Not at all serious.
  6. Servers that don’t speak beer? Not serious.
  7. See a keg in the dining room or back in the bathroom area? Tap it to see if it’s full or empty. Is it full? The bar isn’t serious. Beer should be kept in a cold box or cellar temp.
  8. Frosty mugs? Dirty glassware? 400 TV’s? Not serious.

That is one thrilling list.

OCBeerBlog Tips for Surviving the OC Brew Ha Ha (Just the tip)

Bootleggers Brewery

Beer poured passionately from Bootleggers at a beer festival somewhere.

After attending hundreds of beer festivals all around the country, I can safely say I have some good tips on how to survive a craft beer festival. Now, these are not your average “wear comfy shoes” type of suggestions. This is some serious punk rock boy scout shit right here. Pay attention, folks.

wahlStep one: Manscape (or get your Wax on). You’re at a festival with buzzed people who like beer. The odds of you having something in common with the opposite/preferred sex is HUGE. Don’t just get the digits, seal the deal with an after plan and make some craft beer babies. Hook it up, people. It’s a fact that beer tastes better with a properly trimmed situation and a mound just ain’t cool. Don’t forget your nose, ears, eyebrows and pits as well. (If you need some work: My haircut guy, my lady’s wax lady).

New-Logo-Vertical-DarkStep two: (Pre-fest) Drive to a closeby restaurant and Uber/Cab it to the festival from there. Around the Brew Ha Ha, I’d suggest Tustin Marketplace on Jamboree/Irvine Blvd. We all know drinking and driving is horrible, but doing so on Santiago Canyon Road is even worse. There’s only one way in and one way out. After the fest, cab/uber it back to your ride and catch a movie, grab a burger or snooze in your car. Bonus points if you hit Totes Wine for some continued debauch with your Step 1 friend. Extra bonus points if you leave yourself a pack of gum and a water in your car!

8layerveggieburritoStep three: and this is a OCBeerBlog exclusive: Eat a Del Taco 8-Layer Veggie burrito before any beer festival. No fries, no extra taco…just the burrito. This fest has some whalez this year. If you get in the VIP session and have to eat first, I bet you’ll miss all the delicious Cascade beers. The Veggie Works burrito has just enough beans, rice and deliciousness to provide you with a layer of nutrition that will last until the cheap-ass non VIP hoard comes in. Once they get in, grab some actual festival food.

Anne Hathaway getting hydrated

Anne Hathaway getting hydrated

Step four: Do the ALS Ice bucket challenge down your throat (hydrate like a bowse). See your festival glass? Isn’t it cute? How many ounces is it? A few? Yay. Every hour, find a water source and drink at least twenty ounces. “You mean I have to fill the tiny fucker up seven times?” Yes, mister math wizard.

Step five: Bring a portable phone charger. There is nothing worse than a drunk slut with a dead phone. Between Untappd check-ins, snapchat (manscaped) dick picks, Instagrams, texts, sexts, facebooks, Tinders, Vines, Tweets, LinkedIn’s, TasteMade’s, Swarms or whatever battery sucking app it is you use, your shit will be dead as fuck after a beer fest. I bought a charger thing for twelve bucks that fully charges my dead iPhone in 30 minutes! $12!!! Damn suckas. Get two, one for you and one for your slutty step 1 friend.

Also: Sunscreen, condoms, cash, comfy shoes, sunglasses, dirndl, pretzel necklace, etc.

I hope this helps. See you at the Fifth OC Brew Ha Ha! Use our Four Brewers Show Discount code that knocks $10 off VIP before it sells out. 


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!


Five Ways to a Better Craft Beer Bar

Recently I was sipping a beer (Taps Cream Ale if you must know) at The Playground in Santa Ana and met their extremely bright and knowledgeable staff.  Something hit me: This is pretty fucking near perfect. Jarred Dooley, the Playground’s “Director of Libations”, sets out an stellar line up of draft and bottles for guests. As they’re still extremely new and obviously strive for perfection, what could I suggest to push them way ahead of everyone else? With places like The Copper Door, Beachwood BBQ, The Globe, Selmas, Pizza Port, Haven Gastropub, Chapter One and Brü all pumping out nearly 100% craft, what could set your place ahead of the pack?

Here’s five suggestions that will put your place in the Beer God level:

1) Temperature controlled draft zones. Have you ever ordered a nice Barlywine or Imperial Stout on draft, only to have it be colder than a dead Eskimo on Uranus?  I look like a severe alcoholic coddling my freezing cold beer like a baby until it warms up, “rockabye beerby, on the treetop…”. What would it take to get a smaller cooler for kegs that should be served at slightly warmer temps? Also, don’t be a hater if you see me with a laser thermometer at a bar. It makes a great pick up line as I point the beam on a shapely waitress, “this is my hotness meter baby, you’re off the charts!” <slap>

2) Carry as much signature glassware as possible. If you highlight a certain brewer or beer, why not have some of their glassware in stock? Example: The Bruery. I see a lot of crafty beer bars have them on tap; why not have some of their sexy glasses to serve their beers in? It’s super classy and it shows you care. I can understand where it might get crazy with so many offerings, so at least use proper glass styles for their beer styles. Nobody wants a stout in a pilsner glass, or a schooner full of a sour; well, maybe. I’d still drink it. <shrugs>

3) Have a daily or weekly beer menu. At the minimum, include style! Not everyone knows what a Old Orange Brewing ‘Old Dummy’ is. Bonus points awarded if you include ABV, IBU, SRM, and tap date! Inform servers when a tap is dead and what a good replacement is! Extra super manbabies if you throw in teasers for up and coming beers coming in the future: “We are tapping Angel Share next Tuesday!”. Geeks read beer menus like baseball cards.

Use the smartphone barcode scan app and keep a simple list online where guests can scan the barcode and get an updated tap list! Geek just got geekier. Go an extra step on that and make some Untappd badges for your establishment! If you earn a certain Untappd badge, give away some promo items for your place! 

3) Have a certified beer geek or Cicerone on staff. Have this person suggest a beer (or style) for each appetizer and entrée on your menu! Offer a special price if ordered together! Have the Ciserone train the wait staff what to say if someone orders a Corona; “Sorry, we’re all out of Corona right now, I heard their delivery truck went off the side of the freeway and hit a schoolbus full of children, it was horrible!! Let me suggest this Belgium Wit instead, it’s super easy drinking, let me bring you a taster.”  Changing people’s drinking habits doesn’t have to be difficult or snobby!

4) The dreaded huge bottle list. Have a huge bottle list? Yay for you! We of course love you for it! All I ask is keep it updated. If I see something I want, my heart is dead set on it. “sorry we’re out of that right now” is like breaking up with me after a ten year bromance.

Bottle conditioned beers, be sure an leave the yeast dregs in the bottle and deliver the bottle to the table. If it’s corked, be sure to uncork it at the table, and give me the cork. Some corks are dated, dry, or wet and I like to geek out on that!

5) Pliny Bait! Russian River fanboys flocking to your establishment is probably a good thing for business. Now, I’m not knocking it, all I’m saying is there are other A+ beers in the world. If you have Pliny on tap, yay for you! Keep in mind everyone else in town gets it the same time you do. Last week Tustin Brewery, Oggi’s Pizza, Beachwood BBQ, Selmas, Hollingshead and others all had fresh kegs of the greatly hyped Simcoe® nectar bomb. Can we hype something else? Please?

Now, that’s not too much to ask is it? Sure, you’re probably saying to yourself, “this guy is fucking nuts…our place is packed already.” That’s fine! 1000 status quo points for you! In the meantime I’ll keep searching for perfection! Got suggestions? I’d love to hear them here or on facebook.


Fall Seasonals

Ah, Fall is here. As the weather cools and the leaves begin to change…WAIT, WHAT? The leaves stay green and it’s hotter than Anne Hathaway in a cat suit! That doesn’t seem to stop local brewers from putting out Autumn seasonals. Nothing satiates on a hot day like a thick frosty nut brown ale in your mouth! GULP.

Thankfully we have Oktoberfest Märzen beer within the season which has natural drinkability™. Crisp German-style Lagers are great lawnmower beers on a hot day or if Anne Hathaway were to make a surprise visit.

"Look at the beer Miss Hathaway, you're a tiger, rowr!"

Note: If you are Anne reading this: I’ll keep some Vegan Kielbasa in the freezer if you decide to swing by as I heard you like polish-style things in your mouth. Wow that sounded creepy! I’m really not that creepy Anne! They don’t call me “King Kielbasa” for nothing! Okay I made that up, nobody has ever called me that. Just the voices in my head! HAHAHA!!! I’m totally joking of course. I’ve never been arrested like that Follieri jerk you were dating. We can unleash your inner-nerd and play some scrabble! I can even show you my home-made Anne Hathaway inspired doll collection I made entirely out of maple bar donuts and bacon strips!

Speaking of maple bar donuts with bacon strips, did you hear Deschuttes Brewery might be doing a collaboration beer with Portland based Voodoo Doughnuts? Yep, a beer that will have notes of their famous maple bacon doughnut. A rauch maple porter sure sounds delicious “donut”? I also love Voodoo’s “Gay Bar” doughnut; seriously. “Donuts are gay bagels” – Rob Delaney

Voodoo's Gay Bar. So yum.

Also, dumb gripe: Why is Oktoberfest beer Märzen style? Märzen translates to March in German. Why not name the beer for when it is ready to drink instead of when it is brewed? Crazy Germans, putting beer in caves with huge ice blocks.

Orange County Breweries with Fall Seasonals:

*contains Yams

Other CA breweries

  • Sierra Nevada Tumbler: Autumn Brown
  • Hangar 24, Redlands, Oktoberfest
  • Alpine, Alpine SD, Ichabod: Pumpkin Ale
  • Alesmith, Mira Mesa SD Evil Dead Red. I love the ABV is 6.66% (tap only)
  • Russian River Hoptime Harvest – October
  • Lagunitas Brown Shugga’
  • If I left out one, let me know in the comments with a link!

Crafty Beer Hype – Cambria Griffith is Awesome Edition

  • Step 1: Make a really good beer.
  • Step 2: Make a small amount of it.
  • Step 3: Profit.

Viral Marketing with craft beer is in full swing as craft brewers don’t spend a dime traditional advertising. In the case of beer, the product must speak for itself, enough in fact, to let beer enthusiasts and social networking to do their bidding. Orange County is home to a couple cases of beer hype, with Bootleggers Knuckle Sandwich, and The Bruery’s Black Tuesday. What exactly is beer hype? Follow along with a few examples.

This man has duck lips, and bottle of Black Tuesday with a Jesus halo. (Credit Cambria Griffith)

Beer hype is a common practice with craft brewers nationwide as shown on Discovery Channel’s “Brew Masters” featuring Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA with a stalled fermentation. If you haven’t watched it, DFH’s 120 Min IPA is by far their biggest and most expensive beer to produce. They were forced to dump a whole tank. Beer nerds everywhere cried as they watched it go down the drain. The hype of the beer and it’s inability to be procured only throttled its value and made beer junkies want more. DFH recently shipped another batch, and as you can see on Twitter, it’s quite the pub draw.

Also speaking of Dogfish Head, their beer “Bitches Brew” (also featured on the Brew Masters show) instantly flew off shelves upon airing. Rancho Santa Margarita Selmas Tap Room bought a few cases, cellared them, and is currently selling bottles for $40. Fair game? Sure. Will people pay it? Yep. Will I? Hell the fuck no.

Thanks for the Bitches Brew, Wilbur.

The Bruery’s Black Tuesday got the hype engine started this past week with a super secret Reserve Society email. Beer geeks got out their super secret decoder rings and got to work. I saw the news posted on five different sites. 750ML of 19.5% ABV? Hell, I’m going to join the reserve society, buy as many bottles as I can, resell them on ebay to pay for the reserve society subscription ($195 a year for 2011). With a shortage of such a big beer, why not break tradition and use smaller bottles? (ala Avery Mephisopheles) In this case, the hype ruins my experience as I’m not willing to spend the money to be in a beer club and I’m not willing to wait in huge line for the chance to get a taste. I sure as hell am not going to drop a Benjamin on eBay. I’m sure its delicious, but there are other remarkable beers I can walk my happy ass into a store today and buy with no lines or jacked up prices.

Courtesy of Trouble Brewing, TheFullPint.com

The last example I’ll use is Russian River’s Pliny the Younger, and hell, the Elder too. I’ve had the Elder on a few occasions and marvel at its deliciousness, never tried the Younger. The Younger is driving the hype-mobile to the extreme. Last month someone told me of a spot in fucking February 2012, at 7AM where you can get a pint of 2012 Pliny the Younger. At 7AM? I’m sure there will be people camping out overnight. I’ll let you know the location for $100.

On tap “this hour” would have been more appropriate.

I didn’t want to come off as if I’m whining about Beer Hype, as I’m not. I think it is good for the industry if the beers live up to it. It gets people talking. It creates a draw to the pubs that carry good beers. It helps viral marketing of the breweries. Chances are, you see other beers that these breweries put out and are sometimes more inclined to try something new that is widely available. The only real problem I have with it is I will never try these beers as I don’t have the time or money to invest getting them. Sour grapes on my part, and I’m only furthering the hype by hyping them more here.

I think Jimmy Fallon said it best (via Twitter): “Thank you, microbreweries, for making my alcoholism seem like a neat hobby.” And that is just it… baseball cards, comic books, stamps, coins, now beer. I’ll stick with the latter as it’s the most delicious. Cheers.