Just a Fella That Builds Breweries: Jim Mellem of The Bruery

Piece originally appeared in the Sept. 2015 BeerPaperLA.

Ten weeks ago, Jim Mellem walked through The Bruery’s doors. A/C blowing his almost Lyle Lovett-like hair to the side, he punched the clock on a new job with a million things to do. Ten weeks later, the old brewhouse is out, a shiny-new GEA system is installed, and the Bruery Terreux sits a pellicle away from going full force. Leaving a 12-year position at one of America’s most-respected breweries to work in Orange County couldn’t have been easy. I got a chance to check in with him late August and chat about his transition.


Sharing Black Tuesday 2015 out of the brite tank, Jim Mellem

Everyone always remembers their first Bruery beer, what was yours? Tradewinds Tripel. Beautiful beer.

How different are things at The Bruery compared to Sierra Nevada?

The resources here are a little bit different, in a lot of ways it’s a lot more fun. We get to roll up our sleeves. Patrick is really big on the people aspect of brewing, which is nice.  It’s a lot more manual at the Bruery. One similarity is the pilot system at Sierra Nevada is similar to our production brewhouse. At Sierra, it’s more for fun, over here, it’s what pays the bills.

How much are you going to miss dry hopping?

I was in charge of the cellar in Chico and that was like 60% of my job! I’d be organizing torpedos, dry hops, and managing the guys. I can safely move on from brewing IPA’s in my life. I love drinking them though. Now I’m getting more into ‘what kind of spices can we add to the whirlpool’. With our recent collab with Jester King, I had to organize the guys to get zest off of 400 pounds of limes; every week is something totally different.

With the unique operational requirements behind some of The Bruery’s beers, are there any techniques you’ve changed or plan on changing?

With Autumn Maple, we’ve moved to yam purée instead of hand processing them. We also bought a pump to add them directly into the kettle (ed: they previously used a forklift).  Anyway, it’s a lot easier than hand-roasting yams.  We still split vanilla beans individually and have to get the ingredients sack together for whirlpool, so it’s still a major operation in some respects.

You mentioned you came from the cellar side of things at Sierra Nevada, is there any knowledge to impart coming from years of bottle/can conditioning Pale Ale and other beers?

Sierra is probably one of the few breweries in the world that has the ability to take beer that’s 32 degrees and warm it back up to 60 at packaging/filtration. At Terreux, we’re pushing everything to be bottle conditioned as we find that it adds that je ne sais quoi. Right now, we take the bottles and stick them in a warm warehouse for a month plus, but if you can give that a bit of a jump start by getting the beer warm, then bottling, we’d be ahead of the game.  The question is how can we do that from an energy standpoint, using existing equipment and not trying to sink the Bismarck in cost.

Maybe convert the Jazzersize building a few doors down into a Bikram Yoga/Bottle Conditioning room?

I definitely have some cool ideas…it’s really interesting at Sierra though, as we will bottle condition with house yeast, with Cal Ale yeast, and we’d also do it with Brett. So there’s a lot more variation on bottle conditioning speed, what types of esters you’re producing, and what you’re trying to get in the bottle. It might be something that will help mop up the rougher flavors after barrel aging, diacetyl, making sure you’re getting a really great product out to the consumer, so we’re definitely trying to employ some of these options. Terreux is still very much a work in progress, in regards to how we’re going to finish those beers.

Sierra Nevada is built with efficiency and environment in mind. Will you be looking into any projects to do the same at the Bruery?

I think it’s a greater awareness, but the new brewhouse offers some benefit. The mash tun has rakes now, so we can get more water out which means we’re sparging less and using less water per barrel. We want to have a knowledge of how to count and quantify things first, then we can figure out how to improve. We’ve reset the bar with the new brewhouse. We’ll have to get smarter with transporting wort between buildings. We’ve also done some things different how we clean the bottle filler to save water. We’re doing a lot of risky beers here, and with that, there’s always going to be a lot more water use because you’re always going to have to clean, then clean again, and again.

Is manpower shared between Terreux and Bruery?

It’s really interesting. There’s two different teams within the different wort stream. Myself and Andrew Bell are the only two guys that bounce back and forth between locations. We do have pilot fermenters over there, so we’ll funk stuff up and see how it goes. It’s cool that it gives people more ownership of the projects.

The split brewhouse with The Bruery and Terreux was meant to primarily address quality concerns, is there anything else The Bruery is doing to enhance beer quality?

We have a nice quality department here. For a brewery of this size to have three people that are 100% devoted to quality is pretty damned good. Not too many breweries of this size can say that. Our next frontier will be dialing in package quality.

Were you ever part of the Ovila Belgian-style beers Sierra Nevada brewed, and if so, did it drive some of your interest down here?

It’s weird, when I interviewed, I asked, “you’re a Belgian-style brewery right?”, and they were like…nah, no not really…we sort of identify with that; but we more identify with the individuality of that. That’s ultimately what drove me to be here. I worked on the first five Ovilas; that was cool because we got to figure out what yeast strains to use and how to bottle condition. It was still very experimental at such a large phase. I think what really drove me here was that I have always been a fan of The Bruery’s beers, and being impressed that something this small can produce beers this high in quality, keep it interesting and keep it exciting. They take huge risks, which I kind of like.

Do you appreciate any other local breweries?

I go to Noble Ale Works a lot. I describe them more as my neighborhood pub. You look at the stuff they’re doing with hops with the single hop variety beers. It’s great! I can go there and get an idea of what 100% Mosaic tastes like. I’m like, thanks man, I appreciate that.

SN does two beers in open fermenters: Kellerweiss and Bigfoot. Would you ever try to convince Patrick to install something like that?

The cool thing about this place is nothing is off the table. If you look at the beers they’ve made over the years, truly nothing is off the table. We’re looking at a 2017 expansion project. I know with Wicked Weed, they’ve installed a nice 30 or 60 barrel open fermenter. The bigger question is ‘what are you getting off of it?’ You’re getting a nice non-pressurized fermentation. For the Kellerweiss yeast, I can definitely say it does make a difference. For Bigfoot, do you really pick up that up in the ester profile?  Maybe not so much. As long as I don’t have to clean it, I’d be happy installing one. I actually twisted my knee getting in and out of one, so my days getting in and out of open fermenters might be a job for the younger guys.

How is Orange County treating you thus far?

I still get lost going to the grocery store! Haha! I’m still GPS dependent getting around here.

Chico’s beer scene is run by Sierra Nevada. Asheville not so much. What was it like for SN to move into a thriving beer community?

It’s really weird, one gripe about Chico was trying to hire people, there’s no big beer culture there. Living in Asheville was that we have people making different beers down the road and so we’d be able to try new beers and be able to chat with the brewers, asking how they made it, then we’d get ideas of our own, and it would foster and grow.  And for me, seeing what Wicked Weed was doing, I was like, why don’t I go work for a brewery that does this? The cool thing is about those guys is, people see what they’re doing and think, “I should be raising the bar too.” There’s this step-ladder affect.


Hot ‘Buzz on Buzz’ Action – Portola Coffee Invades Iron Press Tap Takeover

6:42 PM on a Tuesday, The Iron Press, OC Mix, Costa Mesa, California, USA, Earth, Milky Way, dot on the back of a ladybug in an alternate universe.


Much how a car runs on oil, The Iron Press runs on beer. Each tap handle a piston, each waffle sandwich an airbag punching you in the face and each beer the gasoline that pumps through our sparkplugged-veins. Tonight, we’re getting lubricated with high-octane turbo caffeinated beers; all Portola Coffee Lab infusions from (mostly) local breweries.

After a flight, I find myself clutching the bar tightly with one hand and curiously tapping the drum solo to Rush’s Tom Sawyer with the other. Curious, because DJ LexaKhan’s turntable is spinning Depeche Mode’s “Just Can’t Get it Up.” “Can I get a Heyay! Can I get a Ho-oh!” he requests waving his hand in the air. The highly java-based beer buzz yields an immediate response from the tightly packed P-shaped restaurant; some found it proper to wave their shaky beers around in the air (like they just don’t care).

Portola lives and breathes just a few steps from The Iron Press in the OC Mix. Jeff Duggan, the owner/roaster is at this event; smiling, intense and looking like Rick Moranis in ‘Honey I Shrunk the Kids’. “What’s your favorite so far?” he asks, sliding his glasses up his nose fastidiously. “Smog City’s Fluffy Fuzz Buzz,” I reply, noting the Kongo beans blending well with the base beer. He nods, knowingly, “Hmmm, yes”.


Sitting in the blind spot.

The beer menu at this event is ripe with seventeen varieties, laid out with ABV’s ranging 3.8% to 13.8%. As I was expecting all stouts, I’m astonished with the variety of styles. Graetzer, Flemish Red, Cream Ale, Stout, Amber, Tripel and Porter are here presenting the range of choices that work with Portola’s beans to varying success. Some beers are production versions, such as Noble’s Naughty Sauce and the Bruery’s Mash & Grind. Others are one-offs for the event.

After sipping Epic’s Big Bad Baptist with a shot of espresso tossed in at serving, I take my light jacket off and lean back. Sweat forming on my brow, this beer is a real leg-crosser. I’m somehow channeling my inner-Italian Spiderman, sipping my beer like a freshly-fired macchiato…pinkie out and making subtle slurping noises.


My faves: Torrance’s Smog City and Monkish

The fruitiest beer of the bunch, Monkish’s Caffè della Vita melded dark fruit coffee notes, nutty pistachio, vanilla and Belgian yeast esthers behind a very well hidden 9.8% ABV. What’s with these Torrance guys killing it? Topping things off, I even got a shoulder massage from Monkish’s Brian White, claiming “you look tense.” You bet your ass I look tense. The Iron Press is tense with uppers and downers fighting for your soul like a tug-o-war. If terrorists were to attack the OC Mix, safe to say the people inside this restaurant would fucking roll their non-caffeinated sober asses like a pissed off beehive.

010ee09f55a15b4d2e799062a203623b143e9a8612The Iron Press roped off the patio creating an outdoor space for Beer Savage swag and casks from Cismontane and Coronado Brewing. Blue Bridge Coffee Stout, one of my favorite easy to get $5/22oz coffee stouts. Sadly, it lacks any tickling of carbonation. Cismontane’s Roja I used to be a fan of, however this version has a funky acetobacter type sourness and hints of mildewy wood on the finish.

Overall, I consider Portola Coffee Labs to be among the brewing community and this evening proves it. Great beers, DJ Lex is always a pro, and the Iron Press continues to be the best place to grab a beer in Costa Mesa.

A Little Tuesday Morning Beerporn (and Beerporn Party)

With the wife at work and the kid at school, the two dogs and cat are ushered out of the office. The cat’s proclivity to cock-block the mouse and bite one’s wrist while pulling a mid-morning web sesh is astounding. The computer hums its way alive and I shamefully open an incognito internet window. With the windows drawn and the web page loading, I rifle through my jeans for that ‘special’ credit card…the one my wife knows nothing about.

Just like that, I’m drooling over one of my favorites. She’s thick, bubbly and curvaceous with a round dimply bottom. Having ‘had’ her a few times in the past, I know what she’s all about, and trust me, she’s worth the trouble. As the clock strikes 10, the show is live and I’m ready to rock out.

Feeling charged, my heart pounds with excitement in my creaky wooden office chair. Then…the screen freezes. “Sonofa…” I say while fingering my thin black refresh key over and over in frustration. “No data received” and “webpage not available” error pages fly by. I reboot…twice. Damn Black Tuesday always gotta play hard to get! Sheesh. All this for a beer! What did you think I was talking about? A few hours later I finally got it up (the website) and splurged on a few bottles (for his pleasure).

There’s no Beerporn in the Champagne Tasting Room


Eight hours later, I’m outside The Bruery near their red grain silo for session two of the Reserve Society exclusive Black Tuesday party. Being the last Tuesday of October, the air is surprisingly still and scentless. The Lime Truck sits off to the side, sizzling seasonal fall sprouts; their smoke plume sailing cluelessly over the 57 South.


Spinning pearls with Erin Hill

Inside, I’m always impressed with The Bruery’s Black Tuesday parties. The gals are dolled in pearls and hats; the dudes are dapper in ties and slacks. Even the tasting room is filled with festive balloons and streamers. The enigmatic 18% ABV Russian Imperial Stout sits patiently about to be sprung from bourbon barrel solitary confinement. This year, the addition of Glencairn glassware kicks this party to a whole new classy level. As if sipping plain Black Tuesday isn’t good enough, the Bruery is serving up seven different looks at the base beer like a fashion show. Notes on each:


1) Boysenberry Black Tuesday on Cask – Poured by a lovely debutante with angled eyebrows, this beer is a throwback to post-party IHOP flapjack sessions to absorb   whiskey and beer in our aching college bellies. Boysenberry Black Tuesday should be served in IHOP’s syrup containers…the one where you pull the thumb trigger back as it oozes all over your piping hot butter melting pancakes.


No one ever expects a local Boysenbrue collaboration.

The more you know about the Boysenberry:  The berries were developed by a local Anaheim horticulturist in the 1920’s named Rudolph Boysen. After an accident where he broke his back, he abandoned his vines. Walter Knott of Knotts Berry Farm was able to revive some of the dying vines and named them after the originator. Cheers to local collaborations!

2) Raspberry Black Tuesday on Cask – “What’s your name?” asks Sara while pouring a dose from the cask. “Greg”, I reply. “I like your feather, did you have to earn it?” “Nah” she says walking away to help someone else. Raspberry BT is very similar to Boysenberry with a Sees candy raspberry cream flavor (my favorite). After a few sips, I opt to dump the rest with a shocked “WHAT?, YOU’RE GOING TO DUMP THAT?” screech from an excited pony tailed guy named Kate here with his mom. “It’s not that I didn’t care for it, it’s just waaaay too sweet for my liking” I mention to him while he shakes his head in horror. Note that I rarely finish a >10% beer I’m not in love with. Don’t hate. There’s five more variations to get through, suckas.


Nitro? I couldn’t tell.

3) Nitro Black Tuesday – I had high hopes for Nitro Black Tuesday, like Niagara falls high hopes. Either I got a mis-pour or this beer wasn’t ready. I wanted to watch a cascading nitro waterfall show and lick Black Tuesday froth from my stache. I got neither. If I ever see BT on Nitro again, you bet your ass I’ll stab hobos to get a pour.

P1060833The Glencairn glassware choice blew me away. It’s a standard crystal whiskey glass consisting of a simple bulb and flute. The basic idea is to fill the bulb area halfway (~2oz) allowing aromas to develop in the other half. The flute concentrates the aromas, enhancing the nosing experience. The thick heel of the glass is ideal to slam on the bar to let your server know you’re ready for another hit. The stylish barbacks did a great job rinsing and pouring samples mid-bulb allowing the aromas to parfait beautifully. Although the glass isn’t generally purposed for 38 degree cold liquid, the small girth of the glass ensures your balmy mitts will warm it up to the recommended 55 in a jiff. The waiting is the hardest part!

Re-enacting an awkward wedding moment with Cambria.

Re-enacting an awkward wedding moment with Cambria.

4) Some Mo Black Tuesday is German chocolate cake in liquid form. As my favorite cake, this beer is packed with coconut, caramel and chocolate all up in your face…just like a wedding where the bride and groom smears cake all over each others faces.

Hottenroth – Palate cleanser of the Gods!


the paparuetzi

5) Grey Monday – Holy hell, this is nice. Not just drinking it, but inhaling it…then exhaling it after a sip. Nice Nutella note that rides over the chocolate. This beer makes me want to eat hazelnuts with chocolate and drink bourbon to wash it down. Grey Monday is a food pairing in a glass.

P10608516) Melange #1 – (Basically Black Tuesday blended with Oude Tart) As my palate is basically destroyed from the stock market crash of 1929, this beer is a time machine. Pouring cloudy dark brown with a effervescent body, the fruity tart zing gives me some much needed mouth to mouth resuscitation. I’m kicking myself for not buying a bottle of this!

P10608307) 2013 Black Tuesday – My tongue is like a piece of beef jerky at this point, but I can’t physically leave without sampling the pep pep of them all: The bubbly and curvaceous 2013 Black Tuesday. Expecting nose-hair frying booze, I’m treated with two nostrils full of my favorite things: bourbon, chocolate and some sloppy dark fruits. Black Tuesday’s flavor is decadent, sublime and surprisingly smooth. Perhaps it’s the booze talking, I think 2013 is the smoothest day zero release yet. Normally I don’t like to open Black Tuesday until it’s slept a year in the cellar, but this girl is ready to twerk her dimply round bottom all up in my face, like NOW.


Not a reserve society member? Memberships are on sale now via their website. Know a member? Make sure and have them buy tickets to get you in to their Barrel Aged Beer Party on 11/16! Login to your Bruery account and visit this site for tickets and info: https://www.thebruerystore.com/p-121-barrel-aged-beer-party.aspx 



The Initiation Situation – The Bruery’s Reserve Society Party 2013

P1050126Thanks to craft beer, the smell of nearby horse stables makes me salivate. “Smells like a brett beer out here!” I say to the guy behind me. “Nowhere else in the world would that make sense” he says with his hands folded in his armpits. I snicker nervously wiping sweat from my brow and move up two steps. The long line to get in Patrick Rue’s Big Top Cirque du Biere are barking like blood-hounds in search of a killer. Today, they’re anxious to sniff out some serious boozy barrel, funk, horse blanket, and other sour beverages on this warm afternoon.

Rico Nolan of 21 Gigawatts. Gigga WHAAA?

Rico Nolan of 21 Gigawatts. Gigga WHAAA?

Members lay down 80 cents a day to be a member of the Bruery’s Reserve Society; a buck-ninety a day for the Hoarders Society. Each one nets the member a full list of benefits. The Initiation party is a means for members to sample aging rarities, one-time cask ales, and preview some things to come. I’m here to try things I’ve never had.


“What’s on cask Barney?”

Inside the big tent, the cask of Hottenroth with Fruity Pebbles catches my eye for beer #1. “Yabba Dabba Doo!” I yell in my best Fred Flintstone voice. For a ~3% beer, this thing freaks my tongue out with some fake funky fruit, then drowns my mouth with a dry sour bath. On a side note: If you ever get the chance to sample Leinenkugel’s Summer Wheat, it tastes EXACTLY like Fruity Pebbles!

Perhaps it’s my traditional German upbringing or the hundreds of times coming to the Phoenix Club for Oktoberfest, but this is perfect place to host a beer fest. The festhalle tent, sprawling tables and grassy area offer more than enough room for the average beer savant RS member to sauce it up comfortably…weather permitting. Last year’s party was cozy and leaky like a sorority bathroom. The playground at the club even offers recess for those members wishing to relive their drunken father childhood.


Almost as good as Brats, Kraut and Potato Pancakes at the Phoenix Club.

Needing food, I chicken dance over to the Haven EZ-UP. Scored a potato roll the size of DAS BOOT, Inglorious Basterds ale braised scalped beef, Run Lola Run beer beans and Saving Private Ryan’s cumin coleslaw. Knock knock! Who’s there? Cumin! Cumin who? Cumin Coleslaw in your mouth! The real star of the offerings are the handmade BBQ sauces and mustard. I nearly went back for seconds to get additional pump-squirts like a dirty little German boy! I chose the beer Anniversary in Rum (formerly held 5 Golden Rings) to pair and it did a nice job bringing out some bold BBQ flavors. The beer’s big time coconut boozy rich rum matched intensity, heightened the sweet meat and warmed my bitter soul. This is easily the best beer festival food I’ve had. Hopefully a sign of things to come in the now abandoned Bruery Provisions spot that Haven will take over soon.

P1050154In the end, sour beers win my best in show. Maybe it’s the nice weather that makes me swoon over the tart goodies. Maybe my palate is changing. One thing is for sure, The Wanderer, Griffon Bruxellois and Sour in the Rye with Peaches easily win my best in show. Sure the Black Tuesday’s of the world are great, but these beers offer a glimpse of what the Bruery is capable of: a family complex living beers. As Bruery Provisions closed, I hope the focus on a more robust barrel program yields many beers like these for years to come. Great party by the way! Cheers!

Beers I enjoyed:

  • Hottenroth with Fruity Pebbles
  • Anniversary in Rum (Formerly held 5 Golden Rings)
  • Food from Haven Collective
  • Imperial Loakal Red
  • Griffon Bruxellois
  • The Wanderer
  • Mocha Black Tuesday
  • Nottenroth
  • White Chocolate
  • Sour in the Rye with Peach
  • Riesling Sour Blend
  • Saison De Lente


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 bottled..now. 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!

The Great American Beer Festival is Decadent and Delicious

gabf lineA human shield surrounds the Colorado Convention Center as if to protect the building’s precious liquid contents. 2,700 beers sit inside; cold, vulnerable and perhaps a bit nervous to be percolated into their final transformation: Pee.

The Great American Beer Festival’s landscape sits before us like the Grand Canyon. In true American fashion, Scottish Bag Pipers squeeze their bags and blow to commence this epic three-day beer festival. I wipe the sheen of sweat from my brow and clench my butt cheeks in anticipation. What the hell am I going to drink first?

Goldilocks better not be drinkin’ my beer in there!

The parade of festival goers is as diverse as the beers inside. There’s the sportos, motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebes, and the dickheads* – all here for one reason: Craft Beer. Mini-Pilsner plastic cups in hand, people prance in to find the perfect beer to wet their fest-whistles. Most have a plan in mind, but fuck all that. I choose to bounce around the festival like a shiny pinball, letting the occasional flipper bounce me back into action. With more than a quarter of all American breweries in this titanic-sized room, I like my odds!

Noble Ale Works head brewer Evan Price busts me taking an incognito shot.

A hundred people make a bee-line for Russian River Brewing Co’s booth. “It’s all about the Pliny”, says the guy next to me, sheepishly. Many people in the long line scope out breweries nearby like magazines in the grocery store checkout. My hometown brewery Noble Ale Works benefits from this as a number of people duck out of line for a pre-emptive strike.

Finally up front at Russian River, “I’ll take a number two, extra pickles” I say. The volunteer rolls her eyes. I clear my throat and ask for a Toronado 25th Anniversary (American Wild Ale) for my first beer. Despite my lame humor attempt, she levels my sample dead-even on the 1oz mark while squinting. My first sip makes me smile and sigh. I close my eyes and thank my Fairy Beer Mother. “Bippity, Beerpity, BOO!”, I say to Pliny guy. We tap our plastic festival glasses and part in different directions, thankfully. There’s nothing worse than a Pliny fanboy at a beer festival. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great beer…FOR ME TO POOP ON! JK OMG, calm down. You’re such a touchy reader, geez.

Credit Cambria Griffith, Golden Road Brewing

Kendra isn’t a fan of head. (thanks for the awesome pic, Cambria of Golden Road Brewing)

My first drinking buddy of the fest is Kendra Birdwell, GM and Cheesemonger of the Bruery Provisions in Orange. We graze over to the American Cheese Society’s booth and she vouches for the lineup. Feedin’ time at the cheese booth is slow like a bunch of heifers chewing cud. With fifty people in line, we move three feet in five minutes. “Ever milk a bull?” I ask. Thankfully it’s so loud she replies, “What?” while batting her alluring Zooey Desschanel-like eyes. “This line is nuts! Let’s drink some beer”. Indeed. We bolt like a bulls at a rodeo, aiming for the annoying clowns.

I thought for sure the line for Dogfish Head would be crooked, zig-zaggy, or shaped like an infinity symbol, considering their ales are for off-centered people. Nope. It was military straight. Sam Calagione is up front, high fiving, hand-shaking, kissing babies and posing for pics. Garrett Oliver at Brooklyn Brewery is doing the same! My new strategy while out of my region: skip the booth if it’s manned by all volunteers (unless they’re hot). If the brewers are there, stop in for a chat and a beer. If I like the first beer, get another. Repeat. If there’s a line > 10 people, hop in it and get whatever looks good.(Skipping ahead a blog post: this strategy worked out great! Many of the beers I sampled this way ended up winning awards!)

Golden Road’s Kissing Booth

My tasting strategy: With a 1oz pour, beer evaluation is basic. After a complete glass-rinse, I drink the rinse water to refresh my palate and to hydrate on a 2:1 water/beer ratio. I then take a whiff and a small sip to evaluate aroma, then swish the rest in my mouth to evaluate flavor and mouthfeel. I ask for a second pour if something gives me chub! I front load my non-hoppy beers for the first couple hours, then increase IBU’s as the session wears on; although palate fatigue didn’t seem to be an issue with 1oz pours.

Like a crazy man, I attend all four sessions of GABF. Here’s notes on each:

Joslyn Ellstrom opens her throat for Goose Island’s White Truffle Sour, a beer that turned my palate upside down.

Thursday: Great session! Not crowded, lots of rare stuff. Brewers linger at their booths and answer questions. Note to self: Go for lower ABV and IBU on the first day due to elevation change. You got shitcanned! Eat food before leaving for after-parties! Don’t choose a drinking buddy that will be there for only one day. They are running a 5K and you’re doing a marathon!

Nico and Shaun of 21st Amendment tidy up for the session.


Friday: Same as Thursday, but SUPER crowded. I had two drinking buddies tonight! The lovely LeAnn Hubbard (Selmas Pizzaria & Taproom Manager RSM) and beer blogger friend Joslyn Ellstrom (pic above). Note to self: Hit the cheese first. Ramp up ABV and hoppy beers here, or don’t, you charming, sexy man.

Saturday Afternoon: This is the members only session where they have real glassware. Pours get a little looser. Brewers are at the awards show and grabbing lunch during the first half, so expect a lot of volunteers. After the awards show, look for award winning beers to sample!

No happy endings at the DD lounge.

Saturday Night: Holy shit. Even the volunteers are drunk at this session! People are dropping glassware at a rate of three a minute. Full pours on whatever is left! Most of the good stuff is gone. On the way out, I ask a girl dressed like Nintendo’s Mario if she wants to jump on my mushroom.  She hums the Super Mario theme as I walk away into Denver’s cold, crisp night.

Overall: If you had to choose one session: go Thursday. If you want two, add Saturday afternoon. If you want to get barfed on, go Saturday night. With so much going on around town, there’s no way you will be disappointed.

Family Feud: “What smell is most likely after 3 hours at GABF?”

Other stuff! This festival is the biggest and best out there. Where else can you say, “I’d like to sample Berliner Weiss’ from all over the country, then DO IT in one hour? I did! Where else can you sample Pliny the Elder, Bootleggers Knuckle Sandwich, Stone Brewing Co Enjoy By 11.09.12, Alpine Duet, and other beers back to back? I did! Where else can you discover Gruits, Cheecha, and a bulls balls Stout under one roof? Nowhere but the MF GABF. I went on a brett bender. I went on a sour bender. I went on a hop bender. I went on a barrel aged bender. I came and I conquered the Great American Beer Festival.

Gripes: The lighting. It’s bad enough you’re in a room with heavy drinkers with possible liver problems…the lighting made everyone look like stage three Jaundice. On Thursday, the lighting spiked up for a minute to normal levels showing it was option to dim them horribly. Environment Shmenvironment. Give us some light so we don’t look like Oompa Loompas!

Presentation on how not to drop one’s cup.

The cup droppers. Every time someone dropped a cup, a hundred Andrew Dice Clay’s pop out of nowhere and yell, “OHHHhhhhhhh”. I heard someone drop their cup on purpose and yelled “Ohhhh” on his own! Joslynn said a girl dropped her cup in the restroom! Ewww. Put the damn cup in your cleavage, you butterfingered dingus!

Overall: This was my first time at GABF and won’t be my last! I can’t wait for the next one! Denver (and Colorado) is a craft beer utopia! So many great food options, gastropubs, and beer loving locals. “Craft Beer has changed how beer is perceived and America’s role as a brewing nation.” – Julia Herz, Brewers Association.

I caught the Brothers Allstrom straightening their magazines.


Dave and Don of Haven Brewing, Natalie and Vinnie of Russian River and Patrick of the Bruery.


Ladyface Ale Companie’s GM Cyrena Nouzille! Such a pretty lady, too.

Get up off that arm butt! Social Spitfire Cambria Griffith of Golden Road has super human arm strength, btw.

I asked if they “tea bag” the bull testes in each keg, or how that worked.

Any now, sleeping old dudes at GABF:

*quote from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; John Hughes (There’s the sportos, motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebes, and the dickheads) CHEERS. Thanks for reading. In case you missed it, here’s my pre-GABF post that is so raunchy my work’s net-nanny blocks it.

Top 10 Reasons To Visit the Bruery’s New Tasting Room

Sometimes the Dyson vacuum cleaner of life sucks incredibly hard, rarely losing its suction. Luckily, there’s beer. Fresh, liquidy beer. Bubbly, delicious, colorful, aromatic and tasty beer. Some breweries have a dozen or so of these beer-type beverages on tap, some up to twenty at any given time. The Bruery in Placentia said, “fuck that sucky Dyson son of a bitch” and built a new tasting room with 40 taps next door to their exisiting brewhouse.

 A few key features:

  1. Air Conditioning. Over-ripe bearded dudes won’t fog up your nose-space in the hot summer months!
  2. Flights! I’m having kittens over the flights!
  3. Poofy ceiling. Dampens noise and will come in handy if Newton’s law gets revoked.
  4. Two new flatscreen TV’s. Patrick Rue couldn’t confirm or deny People’s Court marathon Mondays. Maybe we can talk him into that Storage Wars show everyone is talking about.
  5. 40 taps plus one cask pump. Pumpers like to pump! All Bruery beers too.
  6. Sealed off from brewhouse. No more fog bank of yeast mist. No gnats flying in your eyes like Sally Struthers in Africa. “For less than the cost of a tasting flight a day, you can make the difference in these children’s lives”.
  7. No crazy artwork. Although a few Thomas Kinkaid and Wyland prints would really bring the space together. I kid, although I am strangely inspired to paint a Wyland style painting of a Whale getting eaten by yeast cells in a carboy of beer.
  8. Reserve Society allocation pick up zone. Bigger cooler = more space for allocation. No more getting stuck driving around the Orange traffic circle for hours on end!
  9. Open 7 days a week! More than double the open days? Beer Farfegnügen! Check their website for hours.
  10. Drive through growler fill window off the side of the 57 freeway. I’m kidding about this one, as if anyone is still reading past #4.

Grand Opening on Wed July 4! Check their FB for details. 

SNIFF ~ MMM, that new tap smell.

Say “CHEESEMONGER“. Kendra, still puts the “cute” in “charcuterie”.


Fact: Yeti like to rake leaves and drink Bruery beer.

I tried to get artsy here. Note the non-flip top growler.

After too much Black Tuesday (aka “The BT’s)

Kings of the Orange Cicle. Chef Greg Daniels of Haven Gastropub and Patrick Rue

Grand Opening on Wed July 4! Check their FB for details. 


Disneyland California Craft Beer Adventure!


Tower of Terror? Nah, Tower of great food and local craft beer!

As summer is once again upon us, visiting a theme park is probably in your plans. Living a mile from Disneyland, I usually direct out-of-towners to nearby breweries and craft beer friendly gastropubs (read a piece I was featured in All About Beer Magazine May 2012 issue about the subject page 1 / page 2). As Disneyland California Adventure (DCA) re-opened with new rides and food options, a true imagineer had the forethought to add fresh local beer to the menu, some of which is brewed a mile away!

Upon entering DCA, you now enter Buena Vista street, a classy throwback to an era when Walt first arrived in California. Street cars ding-ding, newspapers sit on a newsstand, and cast members taunt about with 20’s style costumes. At the end of the street becons the Carthay Theatre, which is actually a lounge and restaurant. The lounge offers moderately priced tapas style snacks and a modest local craft beer selection. Upon opening, here what was available:

Salted Nuts in a flight of Anaheim Gold, Hefeweizen, and 1888.

On Draft: A flight of Anaheim Brewery – Gold, Hefeweizen, and 1888 (California Common) / Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA and Karl Strauss Red Trolly Ale.

In Bottes: The Bruery Loakal Red and Saison Rue  / Stone Brewing Co. Smoked Porter / Lagunitas Pils and Censored Ale (shocked Disney let that one in) / Lost Coast 8 Ball Stout / Firestone Walker DBA / North Coast Red Seal, Pranqster, Brother Thelonious, and Acme Pale Ale.

Although it’s great to have all California brewed options and a good variety of styles, the North Coast beers are head scratchers. I don’t necessarily dislike that brand, but more love could have been given to SoCal. I would have put Noble Ale Works Alpha Red instead of Red Seal, Bootleggers Golden Chaos instead of Pranqster, A Lost Abbey beer in place of Brother Thelonious, and Hangar 24 Orange Wheat or Stone Pale Ale instead of Acme Pale Ale. Lost Coast 8 Ball Stout I would have tossed in Green Flash Double Stout. The Bruery Loakal Red is a nice addition as it’s only available in Orange County. This may sound like I’m complaining, and I’m not, it’s just that out of towners may prefer actual local beer, and I don’t consider northern California as part of that. Firestone Walker is my cut off point. Shitty light-American lager IS available, but not advertised or displayed anywhere. I love that they bootlegged the macro in the back…well done, Walt. The prices were similar to an average bar, shockingly not theme park high. ($7ish)

Inside the Carthay Lounge

The Carthay Lounge itself is a classy bar. Along with the CA Craft beer, custom mixed cocktails and various n/a crafted beverages are available for the wee ones. Sitting in there enjoying a flight I didn’t feel like I was sitting inside of Disneyland.

Elsewhere in the park, Craft beer is still available at the Karl Strauss Beer Truck, which serves 5 drafts. Red Trolly, Windansea Hef, Tower 10 IPA, Endless Summer Light, and a Seasonal. Currently Pintail Pale Ale is the seasonal.

Bayside Brews (Previous blog post here) has a couple Karl options as well as Sierra Nevada Torpedo. Ariels Grotto has the Cove Bar with a few Samuel Adams, Widmer, and Guinness type options.

If you happen to be coming in from out of town, I still would be happy to give recommendations!

Other Photos:


Initiating the Society | The 2012 Bruery Reserve Society Party

Pulling up to the Phoenix Club at 10:20 A.M. while listening to Spoon’s 10:20 A.M. is a sobering reminder of how much synchronicity I deal with on a daily basis. Even freakier as the song ends right as I turn the car off. Don’t you love that?

It’s raining mash paddles and beards as I puddle-trot to the non existent line outside the huge German festhall tent typically used for the Phoenix Club’s Oktoberfest. I wander around the lines of people like I’m stumbling through a corn maze of mid-morning groggy beer geeks. The most recognizable person in the crowd I spot is Phillip Macnitt, the bearded “Indoctrination Specialist” from Stone Brewing Company. Super Cool beard, bro.

As this is an initiation party, I expect to see Patrick Rue in a hooded cloak wielding a flame-branded mash paddle while barking orders at the new recruits. “Bend over you slime!” <whack> “What’s my name?!?” <thwack> “Wrong! It’s Professor Snicklefritz!” Unfortunately there was nothing of the sort. This is a typical Bruery party where everything is meticulously planned, organized and no drama of any sort. These guys do parties almost too perfect after learning some things from last year’s Reserve Society party that had members in cattle lines for just about everything.

Right out the gate, Bottle Station 1 nabs of 3 out of my 10 precious drink tickets. I kick it off with 2009 Papier, 2010 Coton and 2011 Cuir. What a start! Pulling a Bruery Anniversary Ale vertical tasting at 10:30 A.M. on Saint Patrick’s day is what this is all about. Each beer is different, yet related like sisters. One gives no head, one smells like bourbon and gives substantial wood and of course there’s the Cuir of the bunch that swings both ways. Each beer paints such a clear picture of what the Bruery is all about. Rich, complex sophistication that makes my eyes roll and taste buds melt. These beers make me glad to be alive and I’m rolling only three deep.

Bottle Station 3 burgles two more of my precious wrist-tickets. Batch 50 and Melange #1 get the nod. My pour of Batch 50 was completely flat, but still an interesting taste of a Geuze. Melange #1, a blend of Oude Tart and Black Tuesday, made me smirk with its deep, dark, tart funkyness. With only a 2.5oz pour, it left me wanting more. Melange is such a tease like that.

Halfway done with my tickets, I trade my food ticket for some catered Beachwood BBQ. Pulled pork, brisket, beans, bleu cheese grits, portabella mushrooms and slaw were the options. Having eaten at Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach, the catered version is a mere shadow of itself. The Spicy BBQ sauce was so thin it ran around my plate like I was panning for gold. That, mixed with the brisket grease made my plate look like Kim Kardashian sat on it. Edible? Yes. Pretty? Hell no. Better than a food truck from last years party? I suppose. The slaw and grits were the true stars of my plate. As all of the seating was taken, many stood around or had a pow wow on the cold, damp floor. For a $50 party, the lack of adequate seating was baffling.

As I start on the second half of my drink tabs, I visit with Jonas of the Bruery who is manning Draft Station 1. I fetch a firkin pour of Sour in the Rye with Kumquats which is a refreshing surprise. Such a perfect piquant beer as the kumquat’s natural sour citrus elevates the ale in a bright and sunny way. I’m temped to steal some Kumquats from a neighbors tree and squeeze them in my beer with a lemon press when I get home. Maybe I’ll try Kumquats in a homebrew Wit or a sour of my own. We’ll see. I love inspiring beers and this was one of those.

Four Tickets left I hit the brakes and decide to chat with guest tap hosts. Nate Squillace from Hangar 24 was out of Pugachev’s Cobra and refused to break into session B’s supply. Hangar 24’s Barrel Roll series has eluded me once again! I sneak up on Jeremy Raub of Eagle Rock Brewing and he cons me into trading a drink tab for a Deuce. Well worth it too, their second anniversary brew “Deuce” is an ultra-imperial version of Solidarity, their black mild. Having had Solidarity at their brewery a month back I was blown away that so much flavor and complexity could be squeezed in a mild. Deuce is a Bigalow beer! I also ran into Jarred Dooley, former Bruery employee, current Playground “Director of Libations” in Downtown Santa Ana. I wish I had a cool title like that! We chat about their recent tap take over from Ballast Point, who really brought their “A” game with rare stuff one can only get at their brewery in San Diego.

The Draft truck outdoors nabs two more of my tabs. Despite my blog post from yesterday proclaiming that green beer is unfiltered leprechaun urine, I was curious to try the Bruery’s take on it. Green Centennial Hop Oil added to my Humulus Lager made a great on-the-spot dry hop. Others were more adventurous getting Bootleggers Knuckle Sandwich with the hop oil, making a murky green swamp water looking concoction. Should I be worried that I pee’d green after drinking this? I hope not. Other tab? Einer’s Folly. Not sure who Einer is, but I really liked this beer. The draft truck treated me right!

One ticket left. It reminds me of being at a dance at the end of the night, frantically trying to get the hottest lady left. Otiose would be that lucky broad. If it were a real lady, I would have struck out having figured the name is French and pronounced it “oh-TWAH”. The server corrects me rather astutely with “OH-shus”. Bearded guy behind me orders one as “OH-tee-us”. The guy after that simply says “OH-uh, the third one down.” “It means Idle Hands”, the smug gal tells us as we simultaneously say “Ahhhh!”. Apropos name for being out of drink stubs.

I head out and I’m greeted by a faint rainbow as Craic Haus (local Irish Rockabilly band) plays ‘Bottom of a Guinness.’ I swear there’s a Leprechaun in my car stereo today. If Tay Zonday’s Chocolate Rain came on, I would shit a pot of gold.