On September 8th, 2012 the OC Brew Ha Ha http://ocbrewfest.com/ held its 3rd annual event. This year marked a new location at the Oak Canyon Park adjacent to Irvine Lake in Southern California. This is a fantastic event for a great cause, the Fallen Firefighter Relief Fund. Every year this event gets bigger and bigger. This year saw over 3000 beer lovers come through the gates to help celebrate with Great Beer, Food and Music.
The day started out at 12 PM for those with VIP tickets. This is really the way to go if you want to hit your favorites without having to stand in line for too long! It also helps ensure you get any “special” releases before they run dry! Several brewers were Tapped Out before the end of the event and many late comers were literally left in line holding empty glasses! As we entered the new location, I noticed it seemed very open and well laid out. The one thing that might have been better would be the signage for breweries or a map of them to help the day’s logistics. With 75 breweries present, it made it very difficult to hit everyone to see what was new and happening! To be able to target specific ones early one would be priceless! Other than that, I think the new location is great!
As I mentioned, there were 75 breweries on site. (See below for the link to the entire list of breweries) Pouring over 175 brews, it is near impossible to get to everything between two guys and a camera, within four hours. (But boy do we try!) This also does not give us time to listen to the guest speakers either. I think this really needs a four man, full court operation to get to everything! That being said, there were some new breweries in addition to long time favorites! Most of the pouring was done by volunteers from the firefighter association! This year there seemed to be a few less than years past. I also appreciated that most of the brewery reps were in the booth as well to help answer questions!
Of the new comers, some of our favorites included I & I Brewing Company, http://iandibrewing.com/ , Ritual Brewing http://ritualbrewing.com/ and also Golden Road Brewing. http://goldenroad.la/ I & I has been in business for almost 1 year! They actually specialize in Small Batches which allow them to offer a huge variety out of their tasting room in Chino, CA (Last I checked they had 14 live tap handles!). My favorite from them is the Session IPA. It has a good amount of hops but the ABV is less than 5%! Ritual in Redlands, CA , which we be opening shortly, is hitting the ground running with a brewery that will rival Hangar 24 with respect to overall capacity. According to Steve at Ritual, they are going to really work on some special releases. The Red I tasted was fantastic, which is a good indicator they will be very successful! Golden Road located in Atwater Village founded also last year, with a focus on delivering via can’s. (No doubt due to one of the founders history with Oskar Blues!) have some great beers that the release year round as well as limited releases. They also have a great onsite pub at the brewery as well!
Some of the breweries from the past events that we stopped by included Maui Brewing http://www.mauibrewingco.com/ , Craft Brewing http://craftbrewingcompany.com/ and also Sierra Nevada http://www.sierranevada.com/ . From Maui, we were informed that there will be a collaboration beer happening with Dogfish Head in the coming months that will be featuring Breadfruit which sounds amazing! . At Craft, Kurt was serving up a special mix of the Raspberry Wheat and Stout creating a sort of Chocolate Raspberry Truffle (AMAZING!) and Sierra Nevada not only were pouring one of my favorite seasonals Tumbler, but also at 3 PM pulled out the BIG Guns with a session of Bigfoot! I ended the day with some beers being poured by BRU grill http://www.brugrill.com/ that included Dogfish Head Punk which is one of the best Pumpkin beers which they have been doing since 1994 and one of the breweries first beers!
In the food department, there was the awesome traveling fire truck pizza unit known as Company 77. http://www.company77.com/ I always look forward to the amazing Pesto pizza they put out. In addition, Stone Catering http://www.stoneworldbistro.com/ was onsite, Bru Grill and several other food trucks serving up great stuff. And for dessert… what is a better pairing with Great Beers than Brew Cakes. http://www.facebook.com/thebrewcakes This amazing creation uses locally sourced beer to concoct some wonderful cakes and cupcakes.
The OC Brew Ha Ha continues to be one of the premier events in Southern California. With their ever expanding number of breweries and food vendors, it will no doubt continue to grow and flourish! A big congratulations goes out to everyone on the team including Ed, Tiffany and Cameron for a job well done. We hope to expand our coverage a bit next year for better, comprehensive insight. We are already preparing for next year’s event, Cheers! El Hefe
Click to check out the great photos from the 2012 OC Brew Ha Ha Event.
Here is the entire list of breweries this year. http://ocbrewfest.com/breweries-2/
As the summer comes to a close it is about time to polish off the last Summer Solstice from Anderson Valley Brewing Company. (http://www.avbc.com) In addition to a standard review, I decided to do a comparison of Keg vs. Bottle vs. Can. Hence the late review, since I wanted to give the can and the bottle some time to sit in the fridge.
Review on Summer Solstice
History – My first experience with Summer Solstice was in the summer of 2006. Once I tasted it, I knew it was a winner! That summer I had a full 13.5 gal keg. Living in Southern California, that was my only keg choice. Now we have the availability of 5.3’s which helps if you get through two fresh kegs before the end of the run! This beer is the close sibling to the Winter Solstice, which is where some of the spice notes are influenced. Since its inception, it has gone through a bit of a transformation… This includes the dropping on the original tag line “Cerveza Crema” and the additional hops that have been introduced to help with longevity of the product!
Appearance – A very inviting beautiful medium copper color with bone white head that retains for good while with its tight bubble pattern. Nice glass lacing as well.
Aroma – Carmel and Malt goodness play a key role in this easy drinking summer beer. Vanilla as well and it has some nice bread and grain notes. Very pleasing and inviting aroma that makes you almost salivate for that first sip!
Flavor – Sweet Carmel and Vanilla notes ring through. These are flavors are not as subtle as in years past but still are very inviting and acceptable to my tastes. Detectible citrus flavors give it the summer spin that finish of with some hints of clove and possibly cinnamon (Or maybe that is the vanilla working!). The flavor profile of this beer is complex and changes as the beer warms up. You will also get some different flavors if you are coming straight from the can vs. pouring it in a glass or cup. The sweetness my be a bit surprising for some people, but for me I enjoy something multidimensional and it is somewhat deceptive with everything going on in this beer.
Mouth feel – Creaminess is excellent. Very good medium carbonation with a light-medium body. Nice mouth coating with a clean finish.
Overall Impression – A very enjoyable, easy drinking summer beer. At 5.0 ABV you can chill with your pals by the pool and keep pace with the festivities. I always look forward to this beer and start asking for kegs around April 1st. With any luck I am able to get atleast two kegs in before summers end!
Now for the Vessel Comparison – Keg vs. Bottle vs. Can!
The Keg along with the can and the bottle were purchased at around the same time at Bevmo in Chino Hills, CA. (The cans and bottles were out on the floor so they were at room temp up until I purchased them!) I let them sit for about 3 weeks in the kegerator along with the keg to keep roughly the same temp before I cracked the first set for the comparison!
All three examples were poured into pint glasses. Again this helps to keep the playing field level. This also helps to get the aroma out of the beer and is needed in order to get key indicators like head retention, color and overall appearance.
Of all the examples, the most head retention was the bottle. This may have been due to the pour! But for the most part, the product in the bottle seemed to break down a bit. Versus the other examples, it seemed not as balance and the sweetness was more evident. It did not seem as fresh as the other two examples. The age of this been was maybe close to 3 months on this comparison, so that could be the reason!
Of course, the freshest and best tasting beer comes from the Keg. I can really taste the difference. Head retention is good and the overall balance of the beer is great. Of course the carbination from the keg delivery system helps as well! But, for the most part, many people will not have this choice, especially if you are not within the key distribution areas.
So this gets me over to the Can vs. Bottle debate.
Canned beer has been around for a long time, but this is not your grand fathers can of Olympia! The technology that has been put into cans has improved greatly since then. Each can has a special lining (Actually a water based polymer in the case of Ball Manufacturing that produces the majority of the cans for the industry) http://www.ball.com/beverage-containers/ that is designed to prevent any contamination or affect the overall taste of the product.
Overall shelf life.
Sept 3rd tasting. Of course the Keg did not last until this date. I did notice a tailing off at the end of about early August. (Which is about the 3 month period)
The bottle example I tried today had a date of April 13th, 2012. (Julian dates are on the bottles only currently, it is a bit hard to detect and it is located between the collar and main label at the bottom of the neck. It is best to shine a light or hold up to an open window to let the daylight shine through the glass! Calculation can be done via this website http://www.longpelaexpertise.com.au/toolsJulian.php ) which puts it at 4.5 months. My personal pallet would say it about 3 to 4 months should be the breaking point for the bottle.
The can on the other hand was still really good. Unfortunately, I did not have a date to go with, I am hoping at some point AVBC starts this practice. Other craft can makers already have this technology! I am assuming the same batch so equal age to the bottle! The can was opened and poured into only cups this time. (A couple of friends would not let me finish the last one alone!) Aside from maybe some of the spice notes dissipating, it was really good. (I am looking for more to try again)
It also has a tad bit more bitterness in its flavor. (But not over powering) Some of this has been done to help extend the shelf life of this beer.
This year examples are very close in most aspects. There are some very slight nuances that I detected about each one of the methods. Just to prove the difference in batches, one year my keg had much more citrus and lightness in the color versus the much sweeter bottle. This year was not the case.
Head retention – Good retention on Can and Keg versions. The Bottle seems to dissipate pretty quickly.
With the addition of the cans, you can really extent your months of enjoyment of the beer. (Although, maybe it is a mind trick, but it seems much more refreshing coming from the can and obviously will retain more chill for that hot summer day rehydration ration! From the keg, a chilled glass will also keep it cool or pour it into a pitcher with and ice cavity. (Like the one from Kegworks.com) The moral of the story is to keep it cool! The first examples will for the most part be very close, as time goes on, the actual clear winner will be the can. I plan to do this same test with Winter Solstice as well. Including some cans from last year!
You might be able to still find some of this, as the summer seems to be extending itself for us this year! If you see both cans and bottles, you now know which one to grab!
Cheers! El Hefe