Jesse’s California Beer-Cation Part 3
Our Arizona intern Jesse shares with us, the third part of his California Beer-Cation, a young mans journey through the dozens of amazing craft breweries in Southern California. Follow the link below to read part 1. Cheers!
We woke up at Chris’ house in Temecula on day three to a wonderful breakfast served by his mother. It’s been a while since I lived at home (not too long, though) and the home cooked meal was a wonderful diversion from the fast food and grease-ridden offerings I had been ingesting up until that point. Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Clark, for the gracious hospitality.
(To recap, the group consisted of myself, Jesse, my neighbors Connor, Cameron and Chris, as well as Connor’s cousin Phil, who is from West Virginia. Connor, Chris and I geek out hard on beer, while Cameron as less fervor yet adequate appreciation. Phil knew practically nothing about craft beer at the beginning of the trip.)
After securing a second, decidedly larger cooler (huzzah!) from Chris’ parents, and playing yet another game of “car tetris,” as we had taken to calling it, we headed out for the greater Los Angeles area and our first stop: The impressively young and relatively well-know, the Bruery. Needless to say, some of us were giddy (in fact, as I write, I am appropriately drinking a Melange No. 3 that we purchased from the tasting room).
When we arrived in Placentia, Calif. and finally found The Bruery, I was elated to see yet another food truck parked outside. I was really taking a liking to the idea, as food trucks are all but vacant in Flagstaff, and dammit if they didn’t offer up some really incredible eats. I had heard that the tasting room was relatively new since the shut-down of the Provisions shop, and it definitely had a clean and classy vibe, indicative of newness.
I’ll get this out of the way first. Being at the Bruery was somewhat alienating. To the point where long after departing my fellow trip-goers and I discussed the feeling we had while visiting. Maybe it’s simply because all the Reserve Society beers are on display, or maybe it’s simply because I’m too broke to be a member of the Reserve Society, but I felt left out. I saw things like Black Tuesday and Filmishmish just sitting on shelves behind the counter, completely inaccessible to me. It sucked, but I’m probably just being a baby.
Forbidden rare beers aside, a trip to the Bruery is highly recommended. They have a very satisfying amount of their own fantastic fresh beers on tap, as well as an impressive bottle list of their own vintage beers. Considerably pricey, but it’s worth it if you get the right thing. We had a 2009 Oude Tart that was $70. That price tends to make me feel silly but at least we all split it.
However, to be honest, it was not $70 worth of awesome. The four years mellowed the Oude Tart considerably, but there wasn’t that intangible “wow” factor that I love so much in cellared beers.
I can safely say the rest of our time spent at the Bruery was a complete success. We really settled in, which is more than any of the other breweries had going for them. The flights are really fun, as they give you a sheet a paper with their entire tap list for you to write down your selections, and it’s served in beautiful two ounce snifters all corralled in a custom-looking wooden rack.
Melange No. 3, Tart of Darkness, Imperial Loakal Red, Hottenroth (with Woodruff, it was St. Patricks Day after all), Grant Is Pale (with hop oil, fantastic!), Rueuze, BeRazzled, Sour in the Rye, Mrs. Stoutfire, Smoking Wood and Old Richland were all sampled and loved by each and every one of us. It really is something else to have so much impressive beer in one sitting.
After enough gushing, and a really awesome bratwurst from the food truck outside (The Viking Truck), we realized that we should leave in order to make the four hour drive to Firestone Walker Brewing Company before they closed. However, like I mentioned in early parts of this story, getting five guys to move in a coordinated fashion (while drunk) is no easy task.
By the time we were all done buying Bruery merchandise, we realize the tragic truth: we had taken too much time at the Bruery and would not be able to complete the drive before Firestone Walker closed. It was devastating. But, we chose to look on the bright side, as the turn of events gave us an opportunity to check out Bootlegger’s Brewery.
Bootlegger’s was smaller than I imagined, harkening back to the original theme of the trip that I identified. However, they had a large variety of their own styles on draft all available in convenient taster sizes, including the illustrious Knuckle Sandwich DIPA. I had never had it before and I was blown away. It has a larger malt base than I am used to in California IPAs, but it was exceedingly delicious nonetheless.
All the beers we sampled were impressive, including the double dry-hopped Palomino Pale Ale and Lupulin Thrill IPA, both of which I enjoyed immensely. However I will say their Mint Chocolate Porter wasn’t very good and seems to miss the mark of what a mint chocolate beer should probably taste like, and all it did was make me want a Stone/Ken Schmidt/Iron Fist Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout. It didn’t matter though, as being able to score a growler and a few bottles of Knuckle Sandwich would have been enough for me.
We got that indeed, as well as many other fine beers, and the chance to witness one of the most epic games of giant Jenga ever (seriously, the whole place was going out of their minds over this giant Jenga game, it was a sight to see).
Day three may have been paltry in comparison to our previous exploits, but rest assured the quality level was still there. Unfortunately, we were on a rush to make it to the Bay Area to spend enough time there, and this was all the time we had for in Los Angeles. I would have loved to check out El Segundo Brewing Company, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing and Hangar 24 Brewery, but we simply didn’t have enough time. Onward to San Francisco.
Five-and-a-half hours later we arrived at our hotel in downtown San Francisco, and trudged up to our room like a pack of buzzed zombies. I honestly can’t remember what we did (probably drank) but I do know that I was extremely excited for the next day, which included Lagunitas, Russian River and City Beer Store. Needless to say, I was stoked. After finding (yet again) a spot on the hotel floor to crash out, sleep came quick, along with beer fueled anticipation.
Tune in next time for the exciting conclusion of this whirlwind beer trip!