Sunday, April 10, 2011


"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."

-Benjamin Franklin

My ongoing list of beers to remind me of what I've tried, what I've thought and what I should try again.

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale (2011) - Pours deep and dark.  Looks velvety with a creamy head.  This is a spicy, warm ale with a bit of fruityness.  It goes down smooth but with flavor and warms the belly.  This is the type of beer I picture monks sipping on a cold winters night.  It's seasonal and brewed annually.  Can't wait for next year already.  5 swigs.  

Flying Dog Double Dog Double IPA - Doggone Right! This one pours creamy and velvety with smooth nose. The taste is strong, bitter and hoppy but surprisingly, it doesn't linger. There are hints of fruits and spices and I am getting a bit of an aftertaste. 3.5 swigs.

Lagunitas Maximus IPA - Maximus is right! This brew has maximum nose, maximum flavor and maximum hops. It starts off with a fruity taste that hits right away. Then leads to a hoppy finish. Strong tastes but not overbearing. This is while tasting one, let's see what happens after 3 or 4. Not a beer for wimps. And I am no wimp. 4.5 swigs.

Coronado Islander IPA - I love to support the West Coast brewaries, especially those close to home. This smells of your traditional IPA and pours just the same. But when it hits your tongue, there is a crisp, bubbly pop of flavor followed by a bit of fruitiness and spices that finishes like an early surprise birthday present. Happy early birthday to me. 5 swigs.

New Belgium Trippel Ale Brewed with Coriander - I've been liking what New Belgium has been offering lately. This one poured golden and cloudy and had a very interesting nose. You can actually smell the coriander and spices that it is brewed with. It is for sure a Begian style ale and you get that right when it hits your tongue. Spicey yet sweet, it goes down nicely. It has quite a bit of flavor without being very hoppy. Not heavy but not light and packs a wallop. 3.5 swigs.

Firestone Union Jack IPA - For the most part, I'm a fan of Firestone so we'll see how it goes. This one pours very thick and caramelly but goes down a bit lighter than that. Probably not the most flavorful but also not super hoppy. I guess this one is right down the middle, average. Has hints of spice, etc. but the flavors don't come alive. We'll have to see how the other 5 treat me. 2.5 swigs

Avery Brewing Co India Pale Ale - Still hoppin. Nose is of slight citrus and maybe apples. Poured golden and medium thick with a decent head. Claims to be brewed by hop heads for hop heads and I guess that means they use the hops wisely. It tastes of citrus and caramel on the tongue but finishes very crisp and dry. Like it has tannins helping to cut back on the aftertaste. I think I like this one. It'll be interesting to see what it taste like from the bottle, just for fun. 4 swigs

Deschutes Brewary Inversion IPA - I've hopped on board the IPA band wagon. I figure I may as well have an opinion (get it, Hopped). This one is from Deschutes. Nose is fruity and spicy. It pours golden and caramely. The taste is nice. Very hoppy but still creamy and a bit fruity. I like it so far. 3.5 swigs.

Bootleggers Brewery Golden Chaos Golden Ale - This was a grab and go from surface. I grabbed it by the cash register as the colorful label and cool name shouted out to me. I popped it later in the night just after a big meal and was kind of blown away. It tastes like a mix between a Belgian Golden Ale and a thick wheat beer. The pour is cloudy like golden, muddy pond. The taste is..starts like a wheat beer, then goes to a strong golden ale with a semi-bitter after taste but not too bitter. After one sip, I went from zero expectations to gotta know what Bootlegger Brewery is all about. It's like going to a movie you never heard of and being blown away. 5 swigs!!

Achel Trappist Extra - Another of the certified Trappist Ales. Pours dark and deep and starts out with the great flavors of the Trappist Ales. Achel kind of hangs on to those flavors longer than the others and doesn't quite taste as refined and noble. Makes sense as per the label, it is the most recent to be certified Trappist and one of only two to have monks "actually work in the brewery." The label also calls itself "weighty and undeniably Extra"...Very true! 3 swigs.

Lagunitas Maximas IPS - Not usually a fan of IPA's but got this anyway for some reason. It's actually quite good. A bit heavy and bitter for me but the flavors, and there's lots of them, are well balanced. Golden in color, it has all the goods of IPA but a nice finish. 4 swigs.

Augustijn Ale - This poured golden and crisp. It was light and dry, almost like a champagne and still had a lot of flavor. I liked this a lot!!! 4.5 swigs

La Trappe Isid'or Trappist Ale - Amber in color and with a good head. It was fruity with caramel tastes. A little spice was in there as well. 4 swigs.

Skullsplitter Orkney Ale - Named after Thornton Hausakluif (Skullsplitter) 7th Viking of Earl Orkney. Around 1000AD. Poured thick and hoppy. Tasted of honey and caramel. It was bitter and hoppy but not overpowering. 3.5 swigs

Bornem Tripple - Golden and Bubbly. It was actually very light for a tripple. It was almost like a German ale without the skunkiness. Delightful! 4 swigs

Bornem Double - Darker than the Trippel. More malty though smooth. Lots of taste, kind of bitter. 4.5 swigs Kasteel Triple - This one is from Castle Brewery in.. Belgium!! A lot of brews on this list seem to come from that country. Not much nose but the flavor is a bitter, beery and hoppy. The 11% is my excuse for this poor review. But, with that said, it packs a punch and has a nice flavor to go along with it. 4 swigs.

Maredsous Abbaye-Abdij Triple - Described as a golden bodied Belgian Triple with festive sparkle, creamy body and luscious head...someone hired a good writer! A great description and was also noted that it was bottle fermented and aged for two months. The beer had surprising carbonation and a fresh nose. The taste on the tongue was fresh, bitter with slight hints of fruit. It finished very well a little on the bitter side but still very nice. 4 swigs.

La Fin Du Monde - This is a triple fermentation ale from Unibroue. The name translated means "End of the world." I'm not sure where they are going with that but I take it as this being the beer you would want to be sipping when all the s*%t goes down. I'm not sure this would be my Armageddon beer of choice but it is very well done. Not much nose but very good carbonation and bang of hoppy, fruity flavor as soon as it hits your lips. Finishes with a pretty hoppy aftertaste but it works well with this beer, especially if enjoying with food. 4 swigs.

Allagash Trippel Reserve - This poured nicely, like a Belgian gold and had a similar nose. The taste was fruity and spicy but then came little bit of a honey taste in the finish. But not super sweet, just enough to balance the hops. I wasn't expecting honey and was pleasantly surprised. The overall package made this one of the best beers I've tried in a while!!! 5 swigs and a smiley face.

Pranqster Belgian Style Golden Ale - It's from the North Coast Brewing Company, I first heard about this beer when it was chosen as beer of the month in the LA Times Food Section. This beer has a fruity nose and pours a nice cloudy, golden color. The flavor is crisp to the tongue with floral notes and a really cool, clean finish. It is very smooth for a 7.6% beer. Would and will go great with food, maybe a seafood dish!! 4.5 swigs.

Green Flash Brewing Co. Le Freak - "Extreme ale converging San Diego-style imperial pale and Belgian -style trippel." Green Flash is a brewery I like quite a bit so I was excited to try the freak. It had a very fruity nose, surprisingly fruity considering the taste. The taste was more along the lines of the IPA that is advertised on the label and very little Belgian-style trippel. If the BST is there, it is mostly lost. Actually there is a hing or fruitiness but it is lost in the extreme hop taste. I don't' think I cold recommend this one. The taste was just to severe. 2 swigs.

Marin Brewing Co. Tripel Dipsea Belgian Style Ale. - "A golden-colored monster of a ale. Coplex with fruit and spice derived from 3 Belgian Yeast strains." The Tripel Dipsea bottle lists a lot of awards to its credits. I must say, it lives up to most of the accolades!! It poured with nice caramelly color and a good nose. The taste, though, had a bit of burnt smokiness that I thought was distracting to an otherwise very well rounded beer. It's a strong one though...3 swigs.

LE MERLE saison Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale - This one is from the North Coast Brewing Co. and I wasn't sure what to expect. What I got as a brew that poured like gold from Midas. It had a fruity nose and medium carbonation. The taste was awesome. It started like a Belgian golden ale but then came a much more fruity taste that then went away. This beer really made me appreciate how fruity tones can be used to perfection to make a strong tasting Belgian ale a little mellower, like summer in glass without overdoing it. 4.5 swigs. I'll drink you again.

Brewery Ommegang Three Philosphers - Created by blending a rich, malty Belgian Style Ale with authentic Kriek, a classic cherry-Lambic from Belgium. It poured carmelly and deep. I didn't really taste the cherry-Lambic at all. It had a deep flavor with mild carbonation. I enjoyed the beer very much. 4 swigs.

Cru D'Or Organic Belgian Style Ale - This one pours with a deep caramel/red color. Has a complex nose with notes of fruit and hops. The flavor packs a punch. Starts out with good carbonation and has a caramel taste and then ends with a little bit of citrus. The flavors are well put together and balanced. This is a complete beer! And being organic only helps the overall package. 4.5 swigs.

Yebisu All Mall Beer - Described as a rich and mellow premium beer, it pours golden with medium head. It's a very flavorful, somewhat bitter lager. Overall quite good. It's imported by Sapporo and tastes like an upgraded version of the Japanese classic. I'll give it 3.5 swigs.

Big Sky Brewing Co. Moose Drool Ale - This brew was listed in LA Times food section as a beer of the month so I had to try it, I mean, it's named after drool!!! When it comes to brown ale, Newcastle is my thing for the most part so I was eager to try this. Poured a deep brown, almost like Coke with a frothy head. Nose wasn't much to speak of but the taste was exceptional. Deep, nutty and slightly bitter but it went down smooth. I'd like to do the Pepsi challenge against Newcastle to taste the differences. The bright bottle and clever name is also an incentive to make this a beer to serve to friends. 4 swigs.

Koshihikari Echigo Beer - Listed as a premium Japanese import and price like one. This one poured gold, with a nose of...enough with that. It tasted like a mix between Asahi and Sapporo but with a fancy bottle. One swig.

Sam Adams Imperial White - Very interesting. Not much like a white ale so I was taken a bit by surprised as it didn't go the way I wanted with the moules I was making. Golden in color and poured with a nice head, the bier had nose of fruit, orange I believe. The taste was very full and more powerful than expected. So was the kick for the 10%!! 3 swigs.

Estrella Damn Inedit - Created by Damn Brewmasters and by Ferran Adria, Juli Soler and the El Bulli's sommeliers team. Quite a heritage!! It lists itself as the first beer specifically created to accompany food. Born from the conviction that a beer that could be paired with the utmost respect to the best cuisine was necessary. Per the instruction, it was poured in a wine glass to about half full. The appearance was golden and cloudy. It smelled aromatic and fruity. The taste was a pleasant blend of spices, yeast, and a little fruit. And it did go great with food. Anytime this much though is put into beer and food pairing, I'm in!! I give it 4 swigs out of 5.

St. Brendan's Irish Style Red Ale - From Marin Brewing Co. Not sure where the Irish or red come into this but overall it is nice beer. A lot mellower than most reds with a rich and malty taste. 3 swigs.

Yeti Ale - Tried this at Tara's Kitchen on Venice while waiting for some Himalayan take out food. Wow, very surprised. It poured with very little carbonation and was golden and creamy. Tasted smooth but with good hop and fruity tones. The taste was very smooth for a 7% brew. 4 swigs

Duvel - MY FAVORITE. Golden, flavorful and very Belgian. Quite strong so more of a sipping beer with food.

Chimay - Another favorite. Similar to Duvel but not quite as crisp.

Green Flash Brewing Co. San Diego - Trippel Belgian Style Ale Fruity and hoppy. Very nice for an American Belgian Ale. Though without snacks, it's a little over powering. One of the better American efforts at Belgian Ale. Price is right if you want a sturdy Ale with some good grub. Props. to Green Flash in PB if the owners made this beer!!

Westmalle Trappist Dubbel, Mall, Belgium Tried this at Rustic Canyon in Santa Monica. Beer Sommelier, Christina Perozzi, knows what she is talking about (and her reputation proceeds her). We sat in the bar and the very knowledgeable server set me right on Trappist Ales. They are brewed by monks and world renown for their quality and taste. Because of imitators , a council exists to legitimise anyone who wants to call themselves Trappist. Currently only 7 monasteries are legit. Sooner or later all seven will be reviewed here as they are the best!!!! This particular Trappsit Ale was similar to a brown ale with a full body, deep taste and very little after taste. It wasn't super strong but didn't lack in taste either. It went great with the meal and I can't wait to try it again. Oh yeah, the meal was the hamburger, also reviewed here!!!

Trappist Rochefort 6 Picked this up at Whole Foods per the recommendation of our server at Rustic Canyon. This was a near perfect beer. It's a smooth Belgian, malty with hints of chocolate. The flavors are in perfect symphony. They hit your tongue, explode and just fade away. Makes me feel like a happy monk! Great with just about any meal or as a sipper on a cold winter night. The 8 is good as well. Stronger than the 6 and crisper. But the 6 is where it is at!!!

Trappist Rochefort 10 A little heavier and more booze than the 6 and 8. Poured nicely and smelled of a monastery:). Hints of fruit and carmel. Very strong but also balanced. Like the 6, the flavors go boom and then go away. Minimum bitterness and after taste. Hats of the the Rochefort Monks. They did it again

Deschutes Brewery Jubelale Billed as "a festive winter ale" this is a crisp beer with a lot of flavor and not too much of the pale ale aftertaste. Really enjoyed this as the flavor hits like it is going to be strong but then peters out at just the right time. I usually go for summer ales over winter ales but this is one I'll get again!!

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale Very festive Belgian Abbey Ale complete with a monk wearing a Santa hat on the bottle. Wasn't sure what to expect as it looked a little cheesy but this is a good beer from a great brewery. Dark in color but not too heavy. Full of flavor and velvety with a touch of fruitiness in the nose and aftertaste. Also very smooth. Even at 10%, it doesn't hit you over the head!!

Gulden Draak Vintage Ale 2008 This one is billed as a holiday beer and is housed in an attractive white bottle complete with pig shaped dragon w/ santa hat. I like it a lot. Mahogany color with ample head, the flavor of this Belgian ale is creamy with a hoppey hint. It also has some great spices, of which they are I'm not sure, but they add to the overall wealth of taste. The beer has flavor and strength but not too much of both. I'll get this one in 2009!!!

Avery Anniversary Ale Fifteen Self described as "refreshingly tart, funky farmhouse ale brewed with black mission figs, hibiscus flowers and white pepper. The only thing I got out of it was the funky part. Not good at all.

Roots Island Red Roots is the first certified all organic brewery in Oregon. A very good red. Tastes like it's organic which is a good thing. Red taste a little strong but good with food.

Westmalle Trappist Dubbel Another certified Trappist, this one is rich with hints of caramel. It is dark in color and starts of great but finishes with an almost burnt taste.

Bornem Tripple Abbey Ale Golden in color with tinges of fruit. Good tasting but not as crisp as a Duvel or Chimay. Not bad though.

Eel River Brewing Company Tripple Exultation. This is an organic beer so I feel like I'm doing my body good by drinking it. Poured without much head and had a deep red color. Tasted like a pale ale on roids. Very bitter and a taste of carmel. One is plenty!

Orion Premium Draft Beer This beer hails from Okinawa. I got it at Mitsawa Market to go with a Japanese dinner. Very nice beer. Poured like most asian beers and looked similar to a Tsing Tou or Asahi. But the flavor had much more to it. Crisp on the tongue and it had a fruitiness almost like a Summer Ale. Perfect beer for seafood outside on nice summer afternoon!!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Great Los Angeles Burger Adventure - The Oinkster

The Oinkster, where to begin.? For starters, I'm completely down with concept - Good, high quality, affordable, simple food done to perfection. The space looks like an old T-Bell or Der Weinerschnitzel. The slogan is "Slow Fast Food" and the menu reflects just that. Not surprising that it comes from an acclaimed chef - Andre Guerrero. Out of necessity, I did more than just burgers on this stop but we'll start this post with the burger. The Classic 1/3 lb. Burger came with house made thousand island dressing, house cured dill pickles, onions, tomato and lettuce. It was perfectly cooked, pink and juicy. The veggies were so fresh they tasted like they come straight from the farm. The bread straight from the bakery. It was well put together and a delight to eat. The burger was washed down with some piggy fries and an Oinkster Pastrami. The fries were crispy and tender piled high with chili, cheese and onions. The Pastrami came with Gruyere cheese, caramelized onion and red cabbage slaw. A great sandwich with plenty of flavor and fresh ingredients. Oh and it gets better, they serve local craft beers and, get this, an Ube Milkshake. Superb. The Oinkster is by no means close to us but for sure worth the drive.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Great Los Angeles Burger Adventure - Baby's Badass Burgers

My first burger truck review. Bet it won't be the last!!! From the start I like this truck just based on attitude alone. Can't go wrong with a giant pink truck turning out burgers from attractive girls. They had me at Badass Burgers!! As this is a truck, the burgers were munched a two different locations. This was done for reasons of necessity and to check consistency. Well, mostly this is just the way it happened. The first sample was the Original Beauty slider tasted at The LA Street Food Fest (a post for another day). The OG came with swiss cheese, grilled onions, sauteed mushrooms and baby's special sauce. It was a nice slider! The cheese, onions and mushrooms worked, the bread nice but the sauce, the sauce was fantastic. Like the Dude's rug, it brought the whole thing together. The meat was a little overcooked for me but it seems that's they way they serve em here. I'm not going to argue with the Badass Babies. After the food fest, we hunted down the truck at the Brig on a beautiful President's Day afternoon. There we started with the All American Girl. Built with smoked cheddar, lettuce, tomato, pickle and special sauce. This was also a very tasty burger! Needed some more sauce for my taste but next time I'll ask for it. Next up was the Cougar - Growl!!! This one had aged beef, St. Andre cheese and black truffles. Fancy!! This one was also a very tasty burger! The truffles blended nicely with the cheese and meat. Couldn't tell the diff between the aged beef and the beef on the others but I'm not going to take points off for that. All of these were ordered as sliders which come in pairs. I will visit the babies again to tackle one of the Maneater size burgers and wash it down with the sweet potato fries.

The Great Los Angeles Burger Adventure - La Grande Orange

Chill vibe - check. Great decor - check. Located on one of the best streets on the west side -check. La Grande Orange was practically a winner before I even walked through the door. It didn't take much to make me enjoy this meal as a whole. But as these things happen, the burgers were pretty darn good too! We went for one of The Cheeseburgers and a California Griddle burger with fries, a beer for me and a sangria for DD. Sounds like a good lunch. The Cheeseburger is as sounds - A cheeseburger with tomatoes, pickles onions and cheese. Simple but done very well. The meat was ample, juicy and tasty. The veggies tasted like they were picked that morning and the bun was soft and fresh. They did a great job with the cheese tossing it on shredded and then letting it melt. The California Burger was similar but with a different cheese. The fries were a standout for sure. Maybe not the best burger in LA but it was good and the overall experience was excellent. I'll be back at La Grande Orange to try the rest of the menu!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Great Los Angeles Burger Adventure - 8oz. Burger Bar

Our next Burger Adventure is from Govant Armstrong who switched out the high end Table 8 to 8oz. Burger Bar. Located on Melrose, the setting was upscale and comfortable. The playlist hit the mood just right. Then the servers opened their mouths. From that point on, it was a tough night. We sat at the bar so I'm talking specifically about the bartenders (though we sat there because the hostess wanted to squeeze next to a table in an otherwise empty bar). Let's just say they were not knowledgeable about the food or the beer or necessarily helpful. That was a downer but I'll move on and get to the reason for coming...The Burgers. I ordered the signature "The 8oz." and DD ordered the infamous Short Rib Grilled Cheese. On the side, Onion Rings and Truffle Potato Skins. The burger came with house blend, iceburg, pickle, tomato, white onion and 8 oz. special sauce. For cheese, I selected the Bel Paese. I liked the burger. The meat was well cooked and veggies fresh and plentiful. The cheese was also quite good. The only recommendation that was correct!! It was juicy and easy to handle. DD felt it came out a little cold and she was probably right but it was one of the best parts of the meal. The Shortrib Grilled Cheese came with onion marmalade and Bel Paese cheese. It was pretty good but I was glad I only ate half cause it was super rich. The onion rings were very good - crispy and flavorful and went great with the ketchup. The Truffle Potato Skins on the other hand were kind of dry and under seasoned. They could have used a salty dipping sauce. Overall, the burger was pretty good but the experience as whole wasn't on par with some of the other burger joints in LA.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Great Los Angeles Burger Adventure - Umami Burger

I had been hearing tid bits about this new burger joint for a while and these bits were so good that I had to move Umami to the top of the Burger Adventure list. Glad I did!!! But, I got tied up and didn't write up this review immediately after the visit so this is done on pure memory. That only means I'll have to go back for round two. Umami is situated on LaBrea Ave near the stuffed tiger stand. The name, Umami, is a Japanese word for the fifth taste, You can learn a little more about it here: Umami Burger, opened by Bottle Rock founder Adam Fleishman, aims to feature the concept of Umami by way of ridiculously good burgers. As an added bonus it is a BYOB joint for just a small corkage fee. Diners seemed to enjoy this aspect, coming prepared with wine, beer, scotch and other libations. Some started these in the parking lot while waiting for a table - good show there!!
The signature burger is, naturally, the Umami Burger. The ingredients and toppings are not listed on the menu and we couldn't figure out exactly made this up, but it was goood! T
he meat was juicy and perfectly cooked. The bread bun was soft and delicious. As far as the rest of the toppings, I think there was some roasted tomato or pepper, Parmesan or Asiago and probably a few more things in there. Next up for us was the Triple Pork Burger - fresh ground pork spiced with chorizo and cob-smoked bacon, aged manchego and pimento aioli. The meat definitely tasted of pork with just the right amount of chorizo. The aioli and cheese brought the whole package together into a juicy, porky delight. And then...SoCal Burger - butter lettuce, oven dried tomato, spread, house made processed cheese, and caramelized onion. Another success. Very different from the previous burger but equally enjoyable. Once again, all the flavors blended nicely and each bite was a delight. We finished up wanting the MidEast Burger but were extremely disappointed to learn they weren't serving that one, even though it was on the menu. We got talked into the special Scallop Burger. It wasn't a great way to end things after three powerhouse burgers. The "burger" was a blended patty of scallop and had a very thick crust of salt and seasonings on top. It was served open face though I'm not sure why. The salty seasoned crust needed a cover over it to mellow it out and without a cover, each bite was way too salty and dominated the taste. While I was disappointed with the Scallop Burger, the other burgers were some of the best in the city. The sweet potato fries and onion rings with dipping aioli were very good as well. What you read about the service is mostly true so just be prepared to deal.
I'm looking forward to round two a Umami Burger...Stay Tuned!!

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Two great things that taste great together. No, I'm not talking about peanut butter and chocolate. Even better - beer and ice cream...The Beer Float!! I've been reading some great things about restaurants and pubs doing a beer floats and recently had one at Golden State. Naturally I had to do some experimenting myself. It was a very fun project. I got a selection of different beers and tried them each with both Haagen-Dazs vanilla and chocolate ice creams. I kept the the beers selection along the heavier types, stouts and porters. Though I've read you can do some great things with Lambics and sorbets I figured I could try only so many in one night. What made this so interesting was that the flavor of each changed dramatically with the different ice cream flavors. Probably doesn't sound surprising that adding vanilla as opposed to chocolate would produce a different taste but in this case, it brough out different flavors in each of the beers. Can't wait to try some more combinations!!
St. Peters Cream Stout - This was both of our favorites. With the vanilla ice cream the beer was a perfect compliment. The chocolate was also good but the vanilla was just a tad better
Youn's Luxury Double Chocolate Stout - The idea here was to get a chocolate beer that would go with both ice creams. It didn't quite work out. It wasn't bad, but it just tasted bitter and the chocolate in the beer tasted weird (sorry but no more descriptive terms come to mind).
New Belgium Brewing Co. Belgian Stout - I chose this one specifically to go with chocolate ice cream. The idea was that a dark belgian beer should mix well with creamy chocolate ice cream. It worked!!! The ice cream brought out the best flavors of the beer and vice versa.
I still have a few more beers to try, but a person can only have so many beer floats on any given day. I don't even want to know what the calorie count of this adventure was!!!