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
This year’s OC BrewHAHA will be happening on September 8th.
As they enter their 3rd Year, OC Brew HAHA has become one of the premier events for beer lovers! This year will be in a new location, but will be the same great event! The proceeds for this event supports the Orange County Fire Authority Fallen Firefighters Fund
This year there will be 70 breweries, Tons of foodtrucks and also Live music.
Get VIP access for the price of General admission by using the promo code OBBVIP. http://ocbrewfest.eventbrite.com/?discount=obbvip This is a must since this event get’s packed! Just see some of our pics from last year! There were literally 50 people in line just for Hangar 24!
Look forward to a great event, as always
On Sunday, August 12, 2012, Blue Palms Brewhouse celebrated its fourth year of operation. Blue Palms, located in the Henry Fonda Theater in Hollywood, CA features craft beer and a nice selection of menu items that pair well with beer.
Blue Palms’ fourth year was filled with anxiety due to problems with the sub-lease on their property. Earlier this year, they were forced to vacate the premises while searching for a solution. The craft beer community rallied behind the owner, Brian Lenzo, during those hard times. It took months for Brian to negotiate a new lease, and reopen the restaurant.
The celebration on Sunday included over 60 beers, which were available in the beer garden and inside the restaurant. Most of the kegs were collected during roads trips to San Francisco and San Diego during the beginning of the week. Marinated tri tip was grilled for sandwiches that were available for lunch. Specialty beers were released throughout the afternoon, including Dogfish Head 120, Southern Tier Crème Brulee Stout, Alpine Nelson, Firestone Lil Opal (barrel aged for 3 years), and Stone 16th Anniversary. And, Greg Koch was on hand to debut the release of the Stone 16th Anniversary beer. Brian also subjected himself to a dunk tank as a fund raiser for the Hollywood YMCA. Early in the afternoon Space Kyle and the Newtonians entertained the crowd with Jazz. In the late afternoon, DJ Chuck got the crowd dancing with a variety of music.
Following is a complete list of the beer served Sunday:
Stone Pouring Station
- Stone 09-09-09
- Eagle Rock Equinox
- Stone 15th Anniversary w/ Espresso Beans
- Avery Liliko’i Kepolo
- Avery Sam Oak
- Lost Abbey Red Poppy
- Lost Abbey Bourbon Barrel Angel Share
- Coronado DIPA Sock Knocker
- 4 Calling Birds
- White Oak
- Tart of Darkness
- Oude Tart
- Drakes Le Resistance Brandy Barrels
- Drakes Stygain Witches Barleywine 2010 10.5%
- Oskar Blues TenFidy Barrel Aged ~ NITRO
Firestone Pouring Trailer
- Firestone Walker Parabola
- Firestone Pivo Pils
- Firestone Union Jack IPA
- Ballast Point Dorado DIPA
- Firestone Double Jack DIPA
- Alpine Firing Squad Quad
“Jockey Box Alley”
- Ballast Point Sour Wench
- LadyFace Guillotine, Justin Cab. Sour
- Southern Tier XXIPA
- Founders Centennial IPA
- New Holland Barrel Aged Dragons Milk
- Pizza Port Dusk till Dawn
- Marin 3 Flowers IPA
- Lips of Faith / Lost Abbey Brett Beer
- Big Sky Ivan the Terrible
- Monkey Paw GOSE Bananas
- Noble Ale Musty Muck
- Strand Black IPA
- Anchor Zymaster
- Cask: Monkey Paw Buffalo Trace Oaked Imperial Choco Porter
- Trumer Pilsner
- Russian River Sanctification
- Sierra Nevada French Style Saison
- Russian River Redemption ‘11
- Karl Strauss 22nd Anniversary
- New Belgium Tart Lychee
- Sierra Nevada “THE DUDE”
- Speakeasy Massacre
- Pizza Port Capt. Farrell’s Revenge Irish Red
- Russian River Pliny the Elder
- Vicaris Tripel-Gueze
- Sierra Nevada Kolsch
- Golden Road Buffalo Trace Barrel Aged Brown
- Kern River TBA
- Sierra Nevada Kolch
- Russian River 2 Row / Hill 56
- LadyFace Blue-Belly Markers Mark Barrel Aged Barley Wine
- Beachwood Brewing Laurel IPA
- Rodenback Grand Cru
- 21st Amendment Watermelon Wheat
- Drei Fontaine Porter Zwet.be
- Green Flash Park West Porter
- Pizza Port El Camino IPA
- Ballast Point Barrel Aged Sea Monster NITRO
- Pizza Port OB Chronic
- Gentleman Scholar #1
- CASK: Ballast Point Lenzo Lollipop ~ Oaked Sculpin
On a regular basis, Blue Palms typically has 24 beers on tap and features specials during the week. For example, $4 pint night on Tuesday, 1/2 off canned craft beer on Wednesday, and 35 cent wing night on Thursday.
This was a great event and I look forward to next year! Victor
On Thursday, July 19th 2012, Total Wine & More in Brea, CA was the host of a very special Firestone Walker Brewing event. There were some great Beers, good Pizza and a nice group of folks in attendance. It was a very well-received event which most likely is attributed to the host for the evening, Cofounder – David Walker! In addition, Jason from Firestone and Daphne from Total Wine was in attendance helping with the logistics and pouring.
The event was held in the Total Wine classroom off to the side for the store. The cost of the even was 15 dollars which covered the cost of the beer, glass and pizza that was brought in for the evening. There were approximately 15 people in attendance. Two of which were Pat C and her husband Richard. (Pat, as you know, does a good bit of writing for this Blog as well) There was a great range of knowledge levels within the group which made for some great sharing and interaction between David and the rest of the attendees.
I have personally been drinking Firestone Walker beer since their inception in 1996 when they were operating out of the Firestone Winery in Santa Ynez, CA! (I actually brought up to David Walker “Windsor Ale” which was the 2nd beer they released as a company but later retired in favor of the Pale 31!) They have obviously come a long way since those days, but the thing has not changed; their commitment to putting our excellent beer! This has been further confirmed by the industry at large with the amount of awards and accolades they continue to collect every year!
David is a fantastic host and beer ambassador. He makes it a point to come to events and sessions like these to not only promote the Firestone product, but Craft brewing in general. He has an impressive depth of knowledge that was great to experience first-hand. Firestone Walker Brewing and David himself both earn high marks for the work they do in this area.
The event started at 5:30 and unfortunately ended at 6:30. I think it was a bit too short and should have been more like 1:30 to 2 hours long. It seemed a bit rushed towards the end but I understand that David is pretty busy and any time spent listening to him is always valued!
The lineup for the evening included Double Barrel Ale (DBA), Pale 31 , Union Jack, Double Jack, Wookey Jack, Solace and then ending with Walker’s Reserve. (Unfortunately no surprise beers we brought for example, Double DBA) All of the beers were poured into Firestone Logo’s glasses that we were able to keep. Many of the beers have some amount of Barrel ageing that leads to a great uniqueness to the taste. David was great at explaining not only what goes into making these beers but also the origin and history of the classic examples these beers try to follow. I can’t even do this justice by trying to repeat all of the amazing facts and figures that he covered in a short amount of time… Needless to say David knows his stuff!
Thank You to Total Wine and More, Firestone Walker Brewing, and especially David Walker for this great event. I look forward to a Paso Robles trip and some in depth analysis of their lineup (Especially the beers that don’t leave the tasting room!) in the near future.
Here are a few pics myself and Pat took during the event.
Redlands will be the site of one big party today! Hangar 24 is celebrating their 4th Anniversary in grand style. Many Special Releases, anniversary Beer, Food vendors and some great music! There will also be a shuttle service to alliviate the parking challenges around the airport! @hangar24brewery
Today is the Firestone Walker International Beer Fest located in Paso Robles, CA. This event is Sold Out! We look forward to some news from the event from our good friend and fellow Beer Reporter, Pat Callard and Husband Richard! Wish we were there! @gandolfcat @firestonewalker @fw_brewmaster
Official Beer Blog will be at the event. Hope to see everyone there! Cost is 30 dollars with unlimited pours! Starts at 1 and runs til 5PM! 15 Breweries, 3 Bands and some great food. All for a great cause as well. (Cops for kids!) Click the calendar link for more info. @CraftBrewingCo
St. Patrick’s Day is not only for celebrating the patron saint of Ireland, it is also to celebrate to culture of Ireland. One of the most popular ways of doing that is do enjoy one of the great beers of that country!
Of course there are many great Irish beers to enjoy, but the goto beer seems to always be Guinness! For me, I always enjoy a great dark beer. And of course, Guinness is one of them. I have yet to find a dark beer that is able to deliver so much creaminess! And it is very unique in the fact that it has a nitrous capsule to kick in the carbonation, only after cracking it open! But for some time, I have been wanting to try my hand at making a black and tan.
(Yes, I know only half of this is Irish and Harp was no where to be found!) So here it is! For the most part it seemed pretty simple. I did cheat a bit by searching Youtube for a clip, but it really did not affect my strategy. One of the key things you will need is the Spoon! A co-worker of mine actually hooked me up with an official Guinness Pour Spoon one that I think is the whole key to a successful pour! The other think is to BE PATIENT!
The pour of the Bass is pretty fool proof. You just want to make sure you hit it half way up the glass and keep the head to a minimum. The pouring of the Guinness is a bit more complex. First off, when you crack the Guinness, you will get some overflow of the can due to the nitrous discharge. In addition, the beer is a bit volatile, so I would give it about 30 seconds to a minute to let it
settle down. Then when you do the pour, You need to have the spoon in place. You should carefully pour it over the spoon to get the layer to happen! Then you are done!
Don’t get all worked up about blended beers on me! This is a classic, and I am really not one to do such a think! But every so often, there comes along a blend that is deserving of a try!
I hope everyone had a great weekend, I know I did! I look forward to next year and some more experiments with Irish Beer!
What do you get when you combine a Chemist and a Computer Programmer and add 10 years of homebrewing experience? A dream come true for two very inspired guys with a great love of beer! I&I Brewing is now in full swing and so far they are off to a great start! In a little over 7 months, Eric and Chuck have been able to get this operation off the ground and they are going full steam ahead!
Last night, their new brewery was packed to the walls with beer loving folks like myself. I would estimate there was atleast 100 people that came to visit this newest brewery in the Inland Empire. This is the first brewery opening I have attended that had 14 beers on tap, right off the bat! (And they can grow to 18, and probably will in the very near future) This includes Honey Cream, Imperial Pale Lager, Belgium Cranberry Wheat, Coconut Porter, Black IPA, Irish Red, Session IPA, IPA, Double IPA, Peach Wheat, Pale Ale, Extra Pale Ale, Amber Ale and Pekoe Tea Pale Ale. Of the 14 available, I was able to sample 7 of them. Honey Cream, Imperial Pale Lager, Belgium Cran, Coconut Porter, Black IPA, Irish Red and the Session IPA. All of these brews had there own unique flavor and were very well done. There are usually some first brews that just dont turn our right, but due to the attention to details these guys have, everything was spot on. Of the samples, I must say my favorite of the night was the Session IPA with comes in at just under 4.9% Alc. (Which was confirmed by having a full pint at the end of the event!)
I&I intends to focus on Small Batch Brewing (1/2 to 1 1/2 barrel) in order to be able to deliver many choices to it’s new found fans! The varieties will of course continue to change and rotate as they come up with more great ideas. They plan to primarily serve their beer out of the tasting room and in addition provide growler refiills. (The growlers are still are in route, we will keep you posted once they arrive!) Eventully, we could see them exand to Keg sales for both individuals and restuarants. I know there is already interest for this after just one night of business!
I apprecate the guys taking some time to chat on such a busy night. The will not doubt be successful in this venture! I look forward to a followup visit and to see the new ideas they come up with in the future.
For more info you can visit their website at http://www.iandibrewing.com or better yet, take a trip down to Chino and meet the crew and have a brew!
See our Gallery for additional photos of the event! http://officialbeerblog.com/?page_id=102&wppa-album=6&wppa-cover=0&wppa-occur=1
14175 Telephone Ave
Friday’s 4-9, Saturday 1-9. Also by appt for large groups!
If you are around the Inland Empire area tonight, I & I breweing will be having their Grand Opening. It should be a great event. Looking forward to trying to new brews and supporting some hard working local brewers with some great ideas! Hope to see you there!
We will post a recap in case you dont make it.
For more information, see our events page post.