Pitch Black at the Beach (& I don’t mean the BP oil spill)

This time last week, I was drinkin’ at the Irish Mist in Sunset Beach, Califas, where I always enjoy my smooth, properly-poured pints o’Guinness and Kilkenny. But then my drinkin-at-the-beach-buddy showed and up and we relocated to Neptune’s (http://jkingneptune.com/). It was a good move. Although known as a good place to grub on seafood, as usual, I’m goin’ for the beer. Having never been, I kept an open mind and knew I’d find something worth drinking that could possibly follow such Perfect Irish Pints. I was curious to see something called W’10 Pitch Black IPA by Widmer Bros. (http://www.widmer.com/beer_w_series.aspx) in Oregon. Now most people recognize the big “W” on the pullhandle because Widmer Bros. is famous for their Hefeweizen, a style of beer I’m not particularly fond of. And now they’re making a black IPA!? WTF, IPAs aren’t black! Back to my mantra of the night: open mind, open mind. So with my mind open, I asked Juan, the guy workin there that night behind the bar, what is this Pitch Black IPA and what does it taste like? Juan told me that the W’10 Pitch Black IPA is a one-of-a-kind brewmaster release, which means it’s not brewed all the time and usually is experimental and new. When he poured it, it looked just like an imperial stout or a porter, but it tasted like a great IPA. They weren’t kidding by calling it “pitch black.” I was all excited about the W’10 that I had two pints because who knows if I’ll come across it again, being a limited release ‘n’ all. The W’10 Pitch Black is the kind of beer that is so unique and different in a way that’s actually good and drinkable, and it entices me to want to try the other line of ales offered by Widmer Bros. Too bad all we usually see in bars by Widmer Bros. is their hefeweizen because they have so much more to offer–at least 8 other styles, like a ‘regular’ IPA, an amber, and a pale ale. More of that good stuff, please.

Speakin of good stuff, yesterday I found myself at TAPS in Brea (yes, the OC) and had a pint of Brewmaster Vic Novak’s version of a Biere de Garde, a style of beer not widely popular stateside though it can be found. When the biere de garde is on rotation at TAPS, it’s a treat and I make sure to have one. Biere de garde means “beer to keep or to store” and comes from the northeast part of France (French Flanders). A seasonal beer, it was typically brewed in the spring and imbibed in the summer. Vic Novak’s biere de garde is 6.6% alcohol and is a nice full-bodied amber beer with nice malty flavors. Very easy to drink given its fullness and complexity. Other styles of biere de garde can range from golden to copper to brown colors with medium- to full-bodied flavor. A quick glance at Beeradvocate.com shows that two domestic breweries–Flying Dog in Maryland and Lost Abbey in San Marcos/San Diego, CA–make a biere de garde. I will find them and drink them. Not a bad homework assignment for next time.

Meantime, cheers! And checkout the latest beer finds at Queers & Beers on Facebook, a lil beer education&appreciation community-building effort put together by me, Mellie Von Bierbutch, and my two lovely partners in crime, St Luie Girl and Blue Luna. Our next event is at Eagle Rock Brewery, so stay tuned for more write-ups on some tasty local L.A. beer.

Til then,

mel.

A is for April, Ayinger, Avery, and mermAids!

It’s been a good beer month and with spring time upon us, get ready for the German bocks and domestic microbrew spring seasonals to start gracing the beer landscape, from Sam Adams in your grocer’s beer-cooler to the latest “saison” from Belgium on the taps at your local good-beer pub. I have to thank my Queers & Beers co-conspirator, St Luie Girl, for introducing me to this first beer I want to feature this month. The Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock, from Germany, is a fine, fine beer. (For those of you who read German or who just want to see pretty pictures of happy people drinking delicious beer against mountainscapes and grassylands, see http://www.ayinger.de) Brewed by the Privatbrauerei Franz Inselkammer KG / Brauerei in Aying, Germany, the Celebrator Dopplebock has the distinction of being Beer Advocate’s top Dopplebock, earning an “A” for all-around Awesomeness(http://beeradvocate.com/beer/style/35). St Luie Girl brought this to a tasting we held with a small group of friends, most of who were new to beer or never drank anything heavier than a “light (bodied) beer.” But when the tasters of the Celebrator went around, many of them loved its sweet malty brownsugarness, which pours a dark amber-hued brown and offered a nose that ranged from chocolatey to maple syrup. It struck me as a delicious dopplebock, which is a strong German lager (don’t let the high alcohol content fool you into thinking this is an ale!) The Celebrator was deeper and more complex than most of the other dopplebocks I’ve had, and it quickly replaced the Spaten Optimator as my favorite of the ‘genre.’ (Sorry, Spaten. But I still look forward to a big mug o’yeh when I go to Wurstküche.)I had it from the bottle the first time and on draught the second time. This might be one of the rare cases in which I prefer the bottled version of this beer instead of the draught. While the poured pint was great and reminded me why I liked the Celebrator to begin with, on draught it seemed to lack a bit of the creaminess I remember tasting the first time when it was poured from the bottle. Still, at 6.7% alcohol and currently available at great local places such as The Bottle Room in Uptown Whittier (http://www.thebottleroombar.com/), it’s definitely worth getting a pint (or a bottle) where you can find it. The Bottle Room owner Patrick Best is a friend to good local beer and those who appreciate the great rotating selection of local craft brews and international beers such as the Ayinger Celebrator Dopplebock. A big shout-out and thank you to everyone at the Bottle Room for their beer-lovin’ ways, great happy hours, and their generous pours and patience every time I show up and wanna taste like 10 things 😀

The second beer I’ve been meaning to write up and again, thanks to The Bottle Room, I finally had recently, is the Mermaids Red Ale from Coronado Brewing Co. in San Diego, CA (http://www.coronadobrewingcompany.com/) At first sip, this purdy red ale took me back to my tortured days at The Pub on the campus of UCSD. There, I first learned to appreciate the tasty offerings of the local San Diego local brewscene, and therefore drank many a pint of Mermaid Red because it was usually on ‘special’ for $2 a pint, and probably because of that, I stayed away from the Mermaid for awhile. But when I came back to it at The Bottle Room the other day, that first sip reminded me of that nice malty hoppiness that characterizes most SD beers and the Mermaid Red in particular. When held up to the light, it’s a beautiful deep amber with a faint head. I like to think of the mermaid as a California-style Irish red ale. For those of you who like the Murphy’s Irish Red or even the Jeremiah’s Irish Red from BJ’s Brewery/Pizzeria, then you’d probably really like the Mermaids.

Lastly, the silky Maharaja Imperial (triple) IPA from Avery Brewing in Boulder, CO (http://www.averybrewing.com). Mmmm…this reminds me when I first had the Russian River Pliny the Elder or the Dogfish Head 90-Minute IPA. This is one of those indelible IPAs that you actually want to look for. Here, I need to say hi and give a huge thanks to Mike Milan of the Verdugo Bar. On April 1, Queers & Beers paid our first unofficial visit as such an entity to The Verdugo Bar in Eagle Rock and, no foolin, Mike was very generous with the tastings of everything from O’Hara’s Irish Stout to Russian River’s Blind Pig to yes, the Celebrator Dopplebock. Queers & Beers were smitten. Mike recommended the Maharaja Imperial IPA, which is heavenly melt-in-your-mouth goodness. Ay, the imperialist origins still nag me and inspire me to write at the same time. But as a bierbutch, I have to say that this is the type of so-good IPA that will make you a fan of the style if you aren’t already. At a buzzworthy 10.4% alcohol, sip and enjoy the Maharaja Imperial, and don’t get mad if you get it served in a Belgian-style goblet. It’s not meant to be pounded! Again, I’d steer you all to Beeradvocate.com for their great information about this West-Coast style of a strong Russian imperial ale, which was historically brewed in England for export to the Russian imperial court. (So on the one hand, we have a classic IPA which was brewed in England for the British regiments stationed in/colonizing India, then on the other, a typically stronger version of it brewed in England expressly for the Russian royalty. History lessons abound!)

So here’s to raising many pints to historically-grounded beer-drinking fun! And stay tuned for more about this Queers & Beers.

cheers!

mellie von bierbutcha.

Story time at the Surly Goat

A few days ago, I finally made it to the Surly Goat (http://www.surlygoat.com/) in West Hollywood after hearing so much good buzz about it from trusted friends and family who love great beer. If you especially appreciate the locally-crafted-with-love brews, then go to the Surly Goat and tell Ryan to keep ‘em coming. I was fortunate enough to meet Ryan Sweeney, cicerone and part owner of the Surly Goat, when I went to the bar to order a stout. I liked the chalk-board menus bursting with rainbows of beer flavor…what to pick? I was happy to see some of my local favorites from places like Taps in Brea, Bootleggers in Fullerton, as well as a good range of international and domestic craft and microbrews. But I knew I wanted that stout from Lagunitas, so when they were out of it, they suggested I try the other one, Class V Stout from Kern River Brewing Co. (www.kernriverbrewing.com). They guys sitting at the bar were enthusiastic about the Class V Stout, and one in particular proceeded to tell me the best story about how the Surly Goat even got around to carrying it. He first explained that their name “Class V” refers to the different kinds of stout that comprise this one—it’s a wonderfully complex hybrid of an oatmeal, milk, imperial, and American stout, and on nitro so it pours smooth, settling beautifully like a Guinness. I feckin’ loved it. He tells me proudly that this is the first and only keg of Class V in L.A. because it’s a limited release, and that the two guys from Kernville even drove it down themselves, from three hours away! Just threw the keg in the back of their pickup truck and brought it down here! Whoa! I said. That’s some local beer love right there! I was totally fascinated and decided I loved this stout (and the SurlyGoat) even more. This guy seemed to know a lot about this beer, and it turned out to be Ryan-one-of-the-owners. Awesome! Great to finally have met Ryan Sweeney. He was generous with his knowledge and even showed me the beer cellar, the envy of any beer devotee. I’m a big fan of his work. He put together the beer list at Bo-Ho bistro in Hollywood (go eat there! go eat there!), which I’ve also written about here, and he’s also behind the awesome beer list at Verdugo Bar (http://www.verdugobar.com/) in Eagle Rock. The Surly Goat’s relaxing vibe, good energy, and spacious set-up make it a great place to sit-n-talk with good people and explore tasty beers both new and familiar. At any given time, you’ll find more than 25 draught beers that rotate; the next 5 “on deck” are always listed so you know what’s coming up. And pints start at just 5 bucks! Very reasonable for some of the best beer around. The Surly Goat, open evenings, is located on Santa Monica Blvd near Fairfax in WeHo. Go! And tell ‘em the beer butcha sentcha.

 mel.

***

 Happy St Paddy’s day, everyone! Raise a pint to friendship, love, and loyalty.  SLAINTE!

FeBREWary!

Hello beer lovers! I realize it’s been way too long…between dissertating (yes, it’s a verb and often as painful as it sounds) and now play-writing (exploring my creative faculties), I’m lucky to find a few minutes each month to update this blog and write up the beers and good places to drink them. (Burger King certainly is not one of those places. Have you all heard that there’s a BK in South Beach, Miami, that will start serving beer with those Whoppers? The “beer” in this case is predictably in the form of Bud and Miller…does that count?) I have no idea where January went and now that Febrewary is nearly 1/3 over, I figured it’s high time to write about beer!

I’m ashamed that up to this point, I have not written anything about Wurstküche (http://www.wurstkucherestaurant.com), one of my favorite spots to drink in downtown L.A. The dudes who work there are very cool, and I have to give a big shout-out to Juan, who always knows that I want a big mug of the good stuff as soon as I pull up to the bar and hunker down, usually during the day and usually poring over a draft of a dissertation chapter that I have to go through and revise. The big mug o’good stuff, otherwise known as Spaten Optimator Dopplebock, definitely makes this sometimes painful process of dissertating much less painful, and dare I say, even enjoyable! At 7.2% alcohol, the Spaten Dopplebock is more than enough mental lubrication to get those thoughts rolling. I usually follow that up with a nice goblet of Houblan Chouffe (pronounced “hoo-blon shoof”), a Belgian-style india pale ale. The Houblan Chouffe is 9% alcohol and delicious. As a recent convert to good IPAs, I like the Houblan a lot because it’s hoppy but finishes slightly malty. It reminds me immediately of Pliny the Elder, an IPA made by Russian River Brewery in Northern Cali. Wurstküche serves about 50 beers, half on tap and half in bottles, and they specialize in Belgian and German styles (a few North American beers also made it on their list, including Pabst Blue Ribbon–and at $2.50 a pint all day, every day, it’s always happy-hour there with a PBR!) The beers nicely complement their gourmet sausages (Wurstküche means “sausage kitchen” in German) and it’s pretty clear that the guys who put the beer list together know what they’re doing.

Down the street within walking distance from Wurstküche is a brand-new spot called The Lazy Ox Canteen in Little Tokyo (http://www.lazyoxcanteen.com). It’s billed as a “casual dining spot” and from what I hear, the food there is awesome. But I went for the beer. The day I went, I got there between 3 and 5pm, when they are closed between lunch and dinner. But the staff was great and when I told them I just wanted to drink a beer because I’d heard so much about the place, they graciously let me in to have what turned out to be TWO beers (never just “a” beer with me…!) I met Jarred Tosto, the guy in charge of the beer list there.  I wish I woulda written stuff down because it was a great list, populated with craftbrews from up and down the West Coast and from Across the Pond. He told me he’d like to rotate taps, so maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t write down the beer list because by now, I’m sure it’s changed. But I was happy to see that the Lazy Ox was pourin a beer from Bootlegger’s Brewery in Fullerton, the OC. (http://www.bootleggersbrewery.com) I had the Palomino Pale Ale and it was so good that I had 2 pints. The Palomino is Bootlegger’s version of a classic “American” (U.S.) Pale Ale, 5.1% alcohol and hoppy, but not too much, a nice floral nose and crisp finish. Thus far, I’ve been impressed with the beers I’ve had from Bootleggers. It makes me happy that really good beer is being brewed just down the street in Fullerton, and I have plans to visit the brewery soon. I’m not finished drowning my SuperBowl sorrows, and any minute now, I plan to crack open the big bottle of Bootlegger’s Golden Ale I have chillin in my mini-fridge. When I do, I’ll write about it. (The beer, not the Colts’ loss…)

Alas, around this time last year, I was poppin open the batch of what I called “Mel’s Birthday beer,” my third stab at homebrewing and not bad, I might say. I saved a bottle of it for my cousin, who graduated last June. When we drank that bottle that was cold-conditioning for 6 months, it tasted like a different and better beer, much improved with age.  Que sad that I don’t have time to brew right now (I barely have time to beerblog!), pero I’m makin up for it by drinkin more good local stuff and (eventually) writing about it. I hear there’s a new brewery opening up in Eagle Rock/Glassel Park, L.A., and a recent trip to San Diego reminded me of just how good we have it here in SoCal. Get out there and enjoy your FeBREWary!

Cheers n beers, mel.

Yay for IPAs!

For a long time, I didn’t like IPAs. I lived in San Diego for 3 years while in grad school and had access to all kinds of wonderful, locally-brewed bliss. Yet I found that most of the SD IPAs were pretty hyper-hopped, to the point of being offensive. They didn’t taste the like the traditional British IPAs, which I find to be a little more mild. I’ve heard many people, for example, describe Green Flash IPAs as a “punch in the face.” And my first foray into Stone’s IPA felt the same. Ay. I couldn’t hang. Lots of people like IPAs, and IPAs are quite popular. The highly-hopped and thus usually more-alcoholic IPAs are pretty ubiquitous in SD and California, but up until recently, I stuck with my tried-and-true stouts, British-style ales, and the occasional sweet Belgian ale.

The history of IPAs, or India Pale Ales, has always fascinated me. They’re a style of Pale Ale, which ranges in color and alcohol content. I’m sorta a British lit nerd and get all excited about the fecked-up imperialist history of the India Pale Ale. We have the Brits’ insatiable appetite for thirst-quenching ale to thank for the IPA, as well as the fact that they were, well, occupying India (and other places.) They needed beer that would survive the long shipping trip around the subcontinent to India, as well as the much hotter climate. The added hops increase the alcohol content, acting as a natural preservative. The colonizers would have their beer and drink it, too, even in India. 

Ay, what is a critical-thinking, anti-colonialist academic-beerlover to do? Just like I did when I learned about the Austrian-German-Czech colonialist influence on Mexican beers: drink it, but with consciousness! Pliny the Elder, Dogfish Head 90-minute IPA , and Stone IPA are among my favorites. This week, I found a new favorite at Heroes in Fullerton.   (http://www.heroesrestaurant.com.) I have to give a big thank you to my two new beer friends, Michael and Chad, the bartenders who were very kind and generous to me at Heroes. I first had a pint of Alaskan Amber IPA, which I thought was pleasant. Then I asked Michael for a second look at their beer list, and my inadvertent tasting began! Michael has a deep appreciation for IPAs and generously poured me four samples of what he thought were much better IPAs: Anderson Valley Brewing Co.’ Hop Ottin’ IPA (Boonville, CA), Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA (Healdsburg, CA), Lagunitas IPA (Petaluma, CA), and Longhammer IPA (Red Hook). [I didn’t get to taste the Bootlegger’s IPA, which is made down the street in Fullerton, CA.] He was right. They were much better. I fell in deep like with the Hop Ottin’ IPA. I knew Anderson Valley wouldn’t disappoint, as I generally like their consistently good beers. Hop Ottin’ IPA is creamy goodness, very much like the British-style IPAs. I highly recommend that one, especially if you find yourself not a big fan of the more aggressive, spicy IPAs.

 At 38 Degrees Ale House & Grill in Alhambra (http://www.38degreesalhambra.com), owner Clay Harding has put together an impressive selection of draught and bottled brews from all over. I counted 38 (rotating) taps and 60+ bottles, as well as a seasonal beer list. I had a pint of “Life and Limb” American Strong Ale, a tasty and wonderful ‘hybrid’ beer brewed by Sierra Nevada (Chico, CA) and Dogfish Head (Milton, DE) craft breweries. If you find it, get one. Dark, brown, lovely. Brewed with maple syrup and warms you up at 10% alcohol. I also tasted the Coronado Island Islander Pale Ale IPA (Coronado/San Diego, CA), and Alesmith IPA (San Diego). The Coronado poured more towards the lighter side, a hazy golden color, and had a piney and citrusy flavor. It was okay, but I really liked the Alesmith. They’ve always been one of my favorite San Diego breweries (along with Port), and their ESB (Extra Special Bitter) is also worth looking for. The Alesmith IPA poured more of an amber color and emitted a nice floral nose. The malty sweetness of this IPA also made it a little smoother to drink, very enjoyable with my sliders. Look for the Alesmith IPA and support good, local beers while you’re at it. And while you’re at it, drink those good, local beers at good, local spots, like Heroes and 38 degrees. Certainly not the Yard House.

‘Tis the season to eat, drink, and be merry. Cheers to all and remember that life is too short to drink bad beer.

mh.

Drinkin’ in DC

Checking my West-Coast beer bias at the proverbial door, I went to Washington, D.C., determined to find some good East-Coast/regional beer. I admit that I didn’t do as much tasting as I wanted to. Darn ASA conference kept me wonderfully occupied for most of the time. But I did manage to sneak away from time to time to sip a lil here, taste a lil there. The hotel I was staying at was around the corner from D.C.’s toursity Chinatown district and happily across the way from Capitol City Brewing Co., which I took as a sign from the beer goddesses.

Although I was sorta limited to what a few blocks’ walking had to offer, I was very happy to come across Fadó Irish Pub (http://www.fadoirishpub.com/), where the Guinness was beatifully poured and where they served Kilkenny Irish Ale! Ordinarily serving an Irish ale in an Irish pub wouldn’t be cause for celebration. I mean, duh, right? However, this particular Irish ale hasn’t been exported to the States, so even Irish pubs here don’t have it. The bartender noticed my salivating excitement when I exclaimed in my best unintended California-valley-girl accent, “Omigod! You have Kilkenney here! I so need a pint of that!”  In a bemused smile, she told me that they’re one of only a few pubs in DC and Boston that pour it, and they’ve only had it for a couple weeks. OMG, Fresh Kilkenny! The Irish beer goddesses and gods were smiling upon me. Watching that beatiful pint settle (it’s on nitro, like Guinness) into its lovely creamy amber hue reminded me of being in Ireland, the last place I had a pint of it. Look how purdy it is!

Kilkenny Irish Ale

It tastes as good as it looks. Creamy. Soft. Slightly malty with sweet hops subtlety in the Irish style, not unlike a Smithwick’s Ale (which also brews Kilkenny.) Kilkenny is a little sweeter and creamier than a Smithwick’s though, and a little easier to drink because the nitrogen smooths out the finish. If it weren’t for the perfect pints of Guinness also to be had, I would have stuck with this beer all weekend in DC, getting my fill because it can’t be had anywhere in these parts. It looks like you can order cans of it online, but nothing’s like a fresh pour from the keg. If you’re in Boston or DC, it’s worth finding those spots that feature Kilkenny on draught.

Before I found Fadó, though, I drank at two other spots: Matchbox (also in Chinatown) and Capitol City Brewing Company. I was a happy Cali-butcha at Matchbox (http://www.matchboxdc.com/beer-list.shtml) because among their offerings was a “Rotating Rogue” handle, which guaranteed that they would be pouring at least one Oregon beer on a regular basis. Matchbox’s beer list had a nice variety of beer, all stuff that goes very well with their pizzas and burgers. I ordered a pint of Oregon and some sliders. Mmm…but I made two mistakes: 1, not writing down the name of this Rogue beer I had 2 pints of, because it was so good and I want to look for it here, and 2, drinking the Rogue before sampling the local and regional favorites. The kind waiter let me sample the Yuengling (Pottsville, PA) amber lager and the Brooklyn Brown Ale (Brooklyn, NY). Ehh. They were alright. Easy drinking, but not bursting with too much flavor or complexity. Maybe if I’d sampled those two before having the Rogue…

In general, I find east-coast beers to be a little flat and anemic compared to the west-coast heavies. I will continue to sample and appreciate them as beers, but so far, I’ve had a hard time finding an east-coast beer I can get excited about, not even one from Yuengling, “America’s Oldest Brewery” (http://www.yuengling.com/ index.htm). Que sad because I try (and so do they!) But I wasn’t ready to give up on the local brews, so I was very happy that the grad student social hour was across the way at Capitol City Brewing Co. (http://www.capcitybrew.com/) All of their “Signature” house brews sounded good, so I ordered a sampler of the 5: Capitol Kölsch, Pale Rider Ale, Amber Waves Ale, Prohibition Porter, and their Seasonal, this time, and Oktoberfest style lager. I had high hopes for the Amber Waves Ale, but it fell pretty flat to me. The taste was there up front but seemed to lack staying power. I did like the Pale Rider Ale and Oktoberfest, but not enough to go back for more. Ay. I know, I feel bad even writing that. I really wanted to like the local and regional beers that DC had to offer. I had one last chance at a bar in Dulles airport while waiting for my flight back to L.A. I saw a local beer from Old Dominion Brewing Co. (fomerly of VA, now in DE) called Dominion Ale (http://www.olddominion.com/ales.shtml) and quickly ordered a pint. Eureka! Wooo! An exciting east-coast beer! And it’s an English-pub-style ale, to boot! I’m sad I didn’t get to the airport earlier because I only had time for one pint, but it was a fine way to conclude an awesome trip. Cheers to Old Dominion Ale.

mh.

Oktoberfest starts in Märch

In 1810 apparently, some Bavarian king got married and wanted everyone to celebrate. The marriage’s first product was what turned out to be the first Oktoberfest celebration that became an annual thing the following year. Now I’m no German/Bavarian history scholar, so I’ll leave the details to those who are. And its heteronormative origins notwithstanding, I’m sure glad ol’ Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese because I love Oktoberfest biers.  

Beer Advocate (http://beeradvocate.com/beer/style/29) does a nice job of getting to the characteristics of a typical Oktoberfest, or Märzen style, beer, as well as the history of the beer itself. It was typically brewed in March and because of the altitude of Bavaria, was able to be cold-stored without spoiling through the spring and summer. The kegs were then tapped and beer a-flows from the end of September through the first week of October. These days, there are a lot of breweries that make a Märzen beer year-round, such as Gordon Biersch (Palo Alto, CA), though I’m sure there are some in Germany that follow the traditional brewing seasons and other purity laws for Oktoberfest beer. Style-wise, look  for maltier beers that pour a nice copper or caramel color and range from medium-to high-alcohol content, something like 5.0%-7.5% or so. A lot of  Märzen beers remind me of a good Vienna-stye Lager.

I drank a few Oktoberfest beers at Weiland Brewery in Downtown L.A. (Little Tokyo), but I’m sad to say I lost the flyer that listed all the beers they were featuring and my notes about each one. Yes, I nerded out that night (even while the Dodger game was on!) but now I have nothing to show for it. All the Oktoberfest beers they featured were in bottles, and I did have the Spaten Oktoberfest and the Paulaner Oktoberfest, pretty well-known and widely circulating beers.    

I had to go to Vinatero in Uptown Whittier to get my favorite of all Oktoberfest beers. They had Hacker-Pschorr Märzen Original Oktoberfest on tap, and it was lovely. Sweet, caramel flavors, fresh malt, slight herbal hop with lots of depth and character, and listed at 5.8% alcohol. It’s a nice beer, much like the Spaten Doppelbock, another one of my darker German bier faves.

When I was down in La Jolla recently, I stopped at the Karl Strauss and drank a couple happy hour pints of their Oktoberfest offering. The Karl Strauss Oktoberfest was pretty good on tap.  (http://karlstrauss.com/PAGES/Brews/OurBeer/OKT.html) It’s one of their seasonal brews, and I like that it’s made in San Diego. It pours a lighter caramel and was medium-bodied. Slightly sweet and easy to drink, it’s on the lower end of alcohol content at 5%. It’s also in bottles. It’s lighter than the Samuel Adams Oktoberfest which I find is a little bit closer to the kinds I like, a little heavier, maltier, and a deeper amber color. ( http://www.samueladams.com/world_of_beer.aspx?jump=styles) Heck, go get a 6-pack of both and have yourself a little blind taste-test to see which one you like better. Either way, you’ll feel alright 😉

On a non-Oktoberfest note, I’m slowly becoming a fan of Stone Brew’s porters. Last night, I had a pint of their Smoked Porter with Vanilla Beans. This is the ying to the Thirsty Bear Golden Vanilla Ale’s yang. It’s so smooth, like creamy vanilla coffee. But colder and without the cream and more alcoholic. I had mine at  Setá in Uptown Whittier, CA. If you come across a place that serves the Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla Beans, you’re a lucky gal/guy. Get yourself a pint before the keg runs dry on that one.

So although October is coming to an end, you can find many places that still serve or carry Oktoberfest beers, either in bottles or on tap. If you get one in a bottle, may I suggest you pour it in a glass and savor the color and aromas. Enjoy it ’cause it only comes around once a year. Mmmm…Oktoberfest!

Raising my stein,

mel.