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About five years ago, O.C.’s most notable beer writer (and an inspiration and mentor for yours truly) Greg Nagel came up with an idea. Imagine a beer festival focusing on cask beers. I’ll admit, I did not think it would work. But after a successful first show in 2014, Firkfest it is the last true and honest beer festival left in Orange County.

There has been an evolution of beer festivals turning into combinations of concerts and sporting events. And further still, aside from a couple of breweries, anniversary parties for breweries are turning into the same type of one-day concerts with “beer tasting” thrown in. They can be a lot of fun, no argument there. However, they are no longer considered “beer festivals” as we remember them. Firkfest is your cask-focused answer for the overcrowded, musical-performance focused, “give me the highest ABV-beer” tasting festivals.

What is a cask? Essentially, it’s a keg that has a to be tapped for dispensing real ale directly from the tap. The most common sizes are called pins (5.4 U.S gallons) and firkins (10.8 U.S gallons). Real ale is defined as: “a beer brewed from traditional ingredients (malted barley, hops, water, and yeast), matured by secondary fermentation in the container from which it is dispensed, and served without the use of extraneous carbon dioxide.” The world wars, taxes, and then the Pilsner shaped the British beer scene. A group of loyal pub-goers took notice and started a campaign to bring back what they eventually coined “real ale.” The Campaign for Real Ale, or CAMRA, was born and has helped revive the tradition of cask-conditioned beers that were basically on their last breath.

Cask ales are generally less carbonated and allow a brewer to get artistic by adding extra ingredients into an existing beer. The set-up is great for brewers: no gas, no extra serving equipment. Aside from the expectation of a “beer engine” (attend to see how one works!), beers are served via gravity directly from the cask. Brewers love how easy it is to set up, and drinkers will enjoy the creative beers. In fact, some beers might become an actual production beer. The Bruery is one example with Sourrento, a Limoncello sour ale first experimented with at the inaugural Firkfest. What beers might turn into a production product this year? Time will tell.

This year’s theme is a fiesta. There will be food vendors making imaginative renditions of nachos for your enjoyment. There will be music, sure. There will be games, of course. Theme or no theme, the cask ales are the focus and the purpose. Be on the look out for some tickling beer names, usually with some form of wordplay on Greg’s name or other general cheekiness. I recently asked Greg if he could be one of the past beers, which would he be. “Probably Tustin Brewing Company’s Dole Hole (IPA with pineapple) a couple years back. That way if some orders it they have a taste of Greg’s Dole … never mind.” Much laughter ensued.

My favorite memory of Firkfest happened a couple of years ago when Bravery’s Pink Lemonade brought me to tears. Aromas of Agua de Jamaica with lime triggered olfactory memories of when my grandma would make some Agua de Jamaica (hibiscus water) and fresh lemonade during the summer. Since a much-younger me didn’t enjoy Agua de Jamaica on its own, my grandma would mix the two drinks for me. Bravery’s Pink Lemonade’s aroma was so comparable to the Jamaica-Lemonade that I heard my grandma’s voice. I had to walk away to cry some happy tears.

That’s what beer is all about: the experience. And that’s the one experience I’ll never forget.

At the Packing House in Anaheim on June 29, this intimate, beer-focused gathering of friends is a great time. Bring a blanket to lay out on the grass. Talk to the brewers and reps. Enjoy some tasty food. Make new friends. Enjoy some creative, expressive, cask ales with some traditional ales in between. Let’s make some memories and get our firk on!

See you there, and cheers!

TICKETS & MORE INFO

Editor’s note: Charlie Perez is an Advanced Cicerone® who covers the Orange County beer scene for the Booze Blog.

The post Firkfest! O.C’s Only Surviving Festival Truly Focused on Beer appeared first on Orange Coast Magazine.

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Ah, the Pilsner. No beer style has been taken so far out of context by the beer giants than this one. Although there may be a hint of heritage in them, the 30 packs you buy with “Fine Pilsner” on the can is anything but. Orange County has more than a handful of true-to-style pilsners to seek out. Don’t get me wrong; those American pale lagers have their time and place and are well-done for their style.

I have my three amazing, true pilsners to seek out before they are gone (in no particular order).

But first, a history lesson on where Pilsner comes from and why it’s so often imitated but rarely replicated.

In the early 1800s, the beer in Bohemia (modern-day Czech Republic) was awful. It was so awful that in 1838 barrels of ale were ordered to be dumped in the streets of Pilsen to show how terrible the beer was. A Bavarian brewer, Joseph Groll, was hired to make things right. He brewed his beer on Oct. 5 and released it Nov. 11, 1842, to the residents of Pilsen. The Pilsner was born, and it changed everything.

The soft water in Pilsen was perfect for brewing. The new malting technique at the time created a lightly kilned grain. The native Saaz hops were purfumey and spicy. The result was a golden beer with soft, well-rounded bitterness, bready maltiness, and a clean and refreshing finish.

Side note: The Czech lager family are the only lagers where diacetyl (a compound, an off-flavor in most cases, usually referred to as buttery or popcorn-like) is acceptable in small quantities.

Germany — and the world — soon followed suit about the 1870s in creating golden beer to suit water conditions. The German Pilsner, sometimes spelled Pilsener, has two unofficial subcategories: Northern and Southern German Pils. The Northern style is drier, more bitter, and paler than the Southern versions. This is historically due to the higher levels of sulfates in the water. The Southern versions have a more pronounced hop aroma.

THREE LOCAL MUST-TRY PILSNERS

TAPS, Bohemian TAPSody

Photo credit: Charlie Perez

This is a traditional Czech Pils. TAPS will take you to the city of Pilsen with each satisfying sip. Soft noble hops, pleasant bitterness, and a sweet hay malty backbone. As refreshing as a beer should be yet with the character many beers wish they could achieve. TAPS may be running low on this beer, but not to worry. There should be a fresh batch in the tanks soon!

The Bruery, Ruekeller: Pilsener

Photo credit: Charlie Perez

This is a surprise! The second in their Ruekeller series is a perfect rendition of a Northern German Pils. Firm bitterness and water-cracker malt character.

Bottle Logic, Immer Erforschen

Photo credit: Charlie Perez

Translated to “Always Exploring,” Bottle Logic brings us this great example of a Southern German Pils. Perfumed with the floral and herbal aroma of German hops with a snap of bitterness alongside faint a doughy maltiness.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Stereo Brewing, Promised Land Pilsner

Photo credit: Charlie Perez

Made in collaboration with Piedmont Brewing in Macon, Georgia, this German Pils is bursting with floral, lemony, herbal hop notes. Give this one a try over the summer, because once it’s gone, it may never return!


Chapman Crafted, Pils

A beer that begs for another pint. Chapman’s German Pils is a fantastic example with notes of white bread and some crisp gassy notes. Not very complex but every bit satisfying.

Other Pilsners worthy of note:

Green Cheek, Short on Long Term Goals

An Italian Pilsner (basically a super dry-hopped Pils, in the most basic of terms), this beer bursting with hop aroma.

Artifex, Czech Your Citra

Technically a Czech Pils but it’s dry-hopped with Citra hops for an outstanding bed of sweet fruit aromatics.

Golden Road, Happy Pils

Photo credit: Charlie Perez

Another version hopped with nontraditional hops. This one is a bit higher in ABV than most and has a more tropical fruit character.

If you can take some of these beers home (each brewery will vary), pair these beers with fiery, traditional Mexican dishes, spicy Thai or Vietnamese plates, a classic Rueben sandwich, grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, or shellfish. If your Pilsner has some buttery notes, try it with lobster tail. No need to thank me.

Na Zdraví (Czech)! Prost (German)! Cheers!

Editor’s note: Charlie Perez is an Advanced Cicerone® who covers the Orange County beer scene for the Booze Blog.

The post Take Your Pils: The Cure for What Doesn’t Ale Ya appeared first on Orange Coast Magazine.

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Happy second anniversary, Asylum Brewing!

This small but growing brewery in Anaheim has just past its two-year anniversary, and it is only moving upward and onward from here.

Since opening in 2017 only a few steps down from one of Orange County’s most popular destination breweries, Asylum silently opened and treaded the waters of our river-rapids in the beer industry. Nestled on the western cluster of four breweries (five, if you include the soon-to-open Brewery X) of the “La Palma Beer Trail,” you’ll find its cozy and unassuming tasting room.

By the way, the “La Palma Beer Trail” is a name given to the collection of breweries off La Palma Avenue in Anaheim. There are eight breweries considered to be part of the trail. In order, from west to east, are: Phantom Ales, Hoparazzi, Asylum, Bottle Logic, Brewery X (opening soon!), Bruery Terreux, Stereo (technically in Placentia), and All-American Brew Works.

Tommy Sebestyen, founder of Asylum, has been pleased with the growth the company has experienced over the past two years. “Our goal one year ago was more capacity and more distribution. We achieved that,” Sebestyen said. In the past couple of months, Asylum has added a multiple fermentation vessels, restructured its tasting room to accommodate them, and is about to embark on a distribution commitment. It appears it has achieved that. “Now, the goal is more exposure followed by more space,” he added.

There are beers you must try. Rorschach is a coffee beer that deserves more recognition. It is similar to Phantom’s Kona Coffee Lager but with more body and more nutty character from the brown ale used as a base. Scurveza, a Mexican lager brewed with lime is my go-to and is rapidly becoming its best-seller and rightfully so. It is a refreshing beer with hints of lime zest and is perfect for warm weather.

Photo credit: Charlie Perez

Chris Brown, director of brewing operations at Asylum and former head brewer at San Diego County’s Burning Beard, takes pride in his creations. “Being so close to such a popular and amazing brewery one can walk to, I’m not here to compete,” Brown said, talking about the anniversary bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout, Ozymandias. “I approach my beers to be a mix of San Diego County, Orange County, and what Asylum wants to be,” he added, referring to his roots based out of our beer-loving county to the south.

Its anniversary beer, sold in convenient eight-ounce cans, should still be available to take home or on draft to enjoy at the brewery.

Asylum Brewing Company
2970 E. La Palma Ave.,
Anaheim

Editor’s note: Charlie Perez is an Advanced Cicerone® who covers the Orange County beer scene for the Booze Blog.

The post Asylum Brewing in Anaheim Celebrates Second Anniversary appeared first on Orange Coast Magazine.

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Sometimes, we unwittingly overlook breweries that might be causing ripples instead of waves. Although you may not notice them, they are moving the waters nonetheless. One such brewery is Phantom Ales in Anaheim. I bet you didn’t know it won a few awards in the matter of two weeks. No? Here’s the story.

Recently, during the OC IPA Classic at The American Dream in Huntington Beach, Phantom not only placed second with it Juice Jockey, they also took the People’s Choice award. First place was awarded to Chapman Crafted and third to Tustin Brewing Company.

I was fortunate enough to judge this competition. The first flights we judged that morning were quite stellar. There were several panels of two judges, each with their own flights of beers to judge. After talking with the other judges, we agreed it was difficult to choose two from each panel to move to the final 12. After another round of judging, we were down to five. From these five, we had to choose which were the top three. It is difficult to put into words how technical we had to get to even get to a top three, let alone then having to put those three in a sequential order. Phantom Ales placed second.

The top five beers were also served to guests as a flight without knowing what the beers were, just as we had judged them. The guest only had to choose which was their favorite overall. Purely subjective and based on personal preference, yes. However, when something tastes good, it simply tastes good. And this beer is mighty tasty.

That’s not all! In the Los Angeles International Beer Competition, Phantom won bronze in coffee beer (another panel I judged), and gold for American-style lager. The coffee beer placed out of almost 50 coffee beers my panel partner and I judged that morning into the early afternoon. After having so many wonderful, spice-infused this and vanilla/cocoa that, the Kona Lager stayed in our minds. It placed because it’s exactly what it says it is: coffee, amber, lager. That’s it. Simple. It’s beautiful!

I feel lucky to have judged two separate competitions, and in both serendipitously I awarded Phantom Ales. All judging is done blind with only entry numbers given for each beer. As a fan of the underdog, one can imagine my joy when I found out the results. It pales in comparison to the jubilation I sincerely felt from Jack Stimmler, general manager, and, Bryan Hendrickson, head brewer, upon telling them the news. “You made my day, Charlie!” Stimmler proclaimed while I handed over the ribbons. “I love brewing; it’s my passion,” Hendrickson said. “I am happy to do what I do, and this just make it even better!”

Phantom Ales also has a small kitchen serving up lovely grub. I’m a fan of the chicken nachos, at left, and they pair nicely with Juice Jockey. Bring your appetite along with your thirst for the award-winning beers. They may not be as popular as some of the other Anaheim breweries, but they are holding their own. Four medals/ribbons, three beers, two competitions, one Phantom Ale. Check them out!

1211 N. Las Brisas St.,
Anaheim

Editor’s note: Charlie Perez is an Advanced Cicerone® who covers the Orange County beer scene for the Booze Blog.

The post Anaheim’s Phantom Ales Wins People’s Choice Award with Juicy IPA appeared first on Orange Coast Magazine.

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With a loud and enthusiastic proclamation to the crowd, “O’zapft is!” the ceremonial first keg is tapped. The world’s biggest party is underway. In the Bavarian dialect O’zapft is translates to “It’s tapped!”

Oktoberfest in Munich is typified by the mouthwatering giant mugs of beer and mass consumption of the golden liquid contained within them. But there is more to this fest than beer. There’s history! A meadow (now a huge concrete slab) named after a princess, a wedding, and a beer named after the festival. Let’s dive into it!

In the 1550s, brewing in the summer months was outlawed the Bavarian government due to inconsistencies in the product. At that time, it was not understood why, but they knew fermentation and cold storage in the colder months resulted in higher-quality beers. Brewers stepped up production around March and brewed plenty of beer to be stored or “lager” away. These beers were quite strong, dark, and well hopped. Kept in cold caves, these old casked beers eventually smoothed out and were in prime condition with the extended aging. Eventually, these beers became known as Märzenbier (March beer). Fitting beer to end our March of Lagers.

Simultaneously with the new harvest, brewing would fire back up again in late September or early October. The remaining Märzenbiers were consumed in mass quantities to free up the casks for the coming brewing season. Not quite a celebration yet, but one could still imagine this was a fun time.

The first Oktoberfest is then linked to Oct. 12, 1810. Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. A grand wedding party was held outside the city gates. Thousands of Bavarians partied on a meadow and continued for several days. Ironically, documentation shows there might not have been any available, but there was a horse race on the last day of partying. The wedding anniversary eventually merged with agricultural festivities, harvest, and clearing out the casks for the new brewing season. By 1814, evidence shows substantial beer consumption at the anniversary celebrations continuously increasing to the 16-day party we are familiar with. The Oktoberfest grounds have since been named “Therese’s Meadow” to honor the princess.

That’s the party. Now let’s talk about beer. As mentioned in the March of Lagers: Helles post, in 1833, brewer Gabriel Sedlmayr of the Spaten Brewery and fellow brewer and friend Anton Dreher took a research trip to England. Applying what they learned, Sedlmayr released an amber lager during the 1841 Oktoberfest known simply as a Märzen made with his pale grain, Munich malt. A few months later, Dreher released an even paler amber lager made with his own pale grain, Vienna malt. These two beers are the precursors to modern-day Oktoberfest/Märzen and Vienna lagers.

Meanwhile, a brewer named Josef Groll released his pale golden lager to the public of Pilsen, Bohemia (modern-day Czechia) in 1842. It did not take long for this beer to gain footing with beer drinkers. Virtually all other breweries in the world, including Germany, would follow suit in creating paler beers.

Joseph Sedlmayr, Gabrial’s brother who split-off to purchase his own brewery, was aware of the growing popularity of pale-colored beers. He modified the Vienna recipe and released Franziskaner’s Ur-Märzen at the 1872 Oktoberfest. The copper-colored, toasty, crisp Oktoberfest beer we are familiar with was finally born! Spaten and Franziskaner would unify in 1922, bringing the Sedlmayrs back under one umbrella.

The development of refrigeration by Carl von Linde in 1873 (for Spaten) moved breweries to eventual year-round production. The Märzen evolved into a specialty product for the festival and slowly became a new style. As a result, the words Märzen and Oktoberfest are now interchangeable thanks to the synergy between the festival and history as “March Beer.”

Since 1990, the Oktoberfest style has divided into two versions: the traditional Oktoberfest/Märzen and Festbier. The traditional Oktoberfest/Märzen beers are copper-colored, very bright with a dense, creamy foam and rich, toasty aromas. Sweet and pleasantly bitter on the palate with a complex malt backbone, medium-bodied, and clean, dry finish. These versions are now produced mainly for export in Germany. Festbier (sometimes called Wiesn or Wiesnbier) are deep gold, brilliant clarity with a creamy white head. Pilsner malt dominates the aroma with grainy sweetness with a pleasant toasty flavor or aroma. Low bitterness with a well-rounded malt character.

As other lessons in beer anthropology has taught us, the popularity of the Pilsner forced brewers to adapt to keep their thirsty customers happy. Spaten introduced a Helles lager in 1894, and by 1990, it influenced Oktoberfest. The beers currently served at Oktoberfest in Munich, the Festbier, are essentially a supercharged Helles.

Here in Orange County, the Oktoberfest/Märzen or Festbier available for your enjoyment start popping up as we approach autumn. Chapman Crafted, Unsung, Backstreet, Barley Forge, Green Check, and Tustin Brewing Company are only a handful of locations that usually have an Oktoberfest/Märzen, Festbier, or similar variation. Currently, Chapman Crafted has a toasty and crisp Festbier, Old Towne Fest (not to be confused with Old Town IPA from Tustin). Speaking of, Tustin’s version is very nice; copper tin appearance, bread crust aromas with plenty of Munich malt sweetness that finishes quick and dry. Pair it with the available sausage platter with all the fixings. Fingers crossed that Tustin gets a chance to brew it this year. Be on the lookout for these and other breweries to release an Oktoberfest/Märzen or Festbier later this year.

Oktoberfest celebrates the anniversary of a royal wedding, beer, harvest, and agriculture. Although this is correct, understanding the rich historical context brings depth to this remarkable style. The history of Oktoberfest is impressive and personally one of my favorites to talk about. Serve in a traditional dimpled mug and enjoy with some bratwurst, schnitzel, or other Bavarian dishes for the best experience. This applies to both versions, Oktoberfest/Märzen or Festbier.

Prost!

Editor’s note: Charlie Perez is an Advanced Cicerone® who covers the Orange County beer scene for the Booze Blog.

The post March of Lagers: Experience the Influence of Oktoberfest Style at Several Local Breweries appeared first on Orange Coast Magazine.

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Pronounced sh-vahts bee-uh, this beer style is named after its appearance, similar to other German lagers. Schwarzbier translates to black beer and may seem unapproachable, but the reality is quite the opposite. Never judge a beer by its color. This week in March of Lagers, we took a look at this interesting malt-forward lager with a linage found in two German cities. Let’s dive into it!

Kulmbach located in Northern Bavaria has strong evidence of brewing all the way back to the 9th century BCE. Even more interesting is the 1935 archeological discovery of some grain residue in an ancient tomb a few miles outside the city. Although this is not a clear linage to Schwarzbier, it does show that grain harvesting and possibly beer making was being made. Over the ages, through many squalls and even outlasting Roman rule, Kulmbach brewers remained steadfast with their love for bread and barley. Modern brewing dates back to the 1100s with monastic brewing at its roots.

Moving to was used to be known as Eastern Germany to the city of Bad Köstritz, monks settled and found this city in the 1540s and brewed some dark beer of their own. Geographically, it makes since that the monks were making a black ale, as lagering was not the norm. Lagering was not incorporated until 1878. After World War II, progression into more modern brewing techniques were slow to trickle over from the West. This could have helped keep the style from becoming a footnote in a book. To this day, Köstritzer continues to exemplify the style.

Over time, both cities developed synergy with the history of Schwarzbier. Although they are quite far apart, both lay claim as the origin of the style.

The grain bill usually is arranged with a healthy dose of heavily roasted malted barley that has been dehusked, usually one called Carafa, and either light Pilsner or Munich malt or a combination of the two. The roasted malt is what makes this beer stand out. Not having the husk and using malted barley instead of roasting raw barley imparts a soft, rounder roast character as opposed to the assertive coffee-like notes you’d see in a stout. Soft German hops and clean lager yeast complete the package. The beer is usually never jet-black, either. Opposite to what its name implies, it tends to deeply a deep mahogany color with ruby highlights. Usually around an average 5 percent alcohol by volume, with medium bitterness.

Closer to home, TAPS has arguably the best, most readily available example for you to try. It has many awards to its name, as well. Flavors of bitter chocolate, a slight toasted bread crust at the core, and a soft roasted note on the finish. Crisp, flavorful, and not even close to cloying. Be on the lookout for a collaboration between Bottle Logic and GameCraft Brewing. Word on the street is they have a Schwarzbier in the fermenter.

Enjoy Schwarzbier with jambalaya or some backyard grilled burgers. Perhaps the best paring could be a juicy steak. You might never think about red wine and steak again.

Prost!

Editor’s note: Charlie Perez is an Advanced Cicerone® who covers the Orange County beer scene for the Booze Blog.

The post March of Lagers: Don’t Judge Schwarzbier by Its Color appeared first on Orange Coast Magazine.

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Visit any traditional bierstube (beer hall) in Munich and you’ll be treated to the testament of Bavarian brewing tradition. Centuries of brewing expertise, science, and beer history come together to bring us the next beer style in our March of Lagers: the Munich Helles. Helle in German means bright or light. Similar to a number of beer styles in Germany, a Munich Helles is named after its appearance. To understand how this beer came into fruition, we’ll need to take a brief look at the history of the golden lager.

In 1833, brewers Gabriel Sedlmayr of the Spaten Brewery and Anton Dreher of the Dreher Brewery in Vienna made a research trip to England. Their goal was to witness and study a revolutionary hot-air kiln, which kilned green malt to a relatively pale consistency. They might have had a hunch this would forever change malt production.

Armed with their new-found knowledge, Sedlmayr and Dreher went to work at their respected breweries. Sedlmayr released an amber lager during the 1841 Oktoberfest known simply as a Märzen made with his pale grain dubbed Munich malt. Likewise, a few months later, Dreher released an even paler amber lager made with his own pale grain, dubbed Vienna malt. These two beers were the precursors to what we know as the Oktoberfest/Märzen and Vienna lagers. (More on these styles in a couple of weeks!)

Then, the world would change forever.

On Nov. 11, 1842, a Bavarian brewer, Josef Groll, released his pale golden lager to the unsuspecting public of Pilsen, Bohemia (modern-day Czechia). It did not take long for this beer to dominate the world. Virtually all other breweries in the world, including those in Germany, had to follow with their own version of this golden, clear, crowed-pleasing favorite.

Sometime in the month of March in 1894, the Spaten brewery (now operated by Sedlmayr’s three sons) sent a test cask of their creation to the port city of Hamburg. Over a short time, this golden brew gained more footing on the testing grounds. Spaten decided it was time to release its creation to the citizens of Munich. The Munich Helles was released on its home turf in the summer of 1895, and it has never lost traction.

To this day, Helles remains one of the most consumed styles in Bavaria. Even most of the beer consumed during Oktoberfest is either Helles or a modified, slightly stronger version slowly but surely replacing the very beer that bares the festival’s name: the traditional amber Oktoberfest.

Accurate replicas of this style are quite difficult because the beer is essentially a blank canvas with any flaws or imperfections having nothing to hide behind. Pale gold in color, brilliant clarity with a creamy white head. Pilsner malt dominates the aroma with notes of grain-like sweetness. Balanced flavor where malt and hops do not overpower each other, rather keep one another in perfect harmony, with slightly sweet finished and just enough balanced bitterness. Medium-bodied brew that is sure to keep your mouth watering for another sip.

Photo credit: Charlie Perez

Although Bruery is not known for producing lagers, it has recently released a Helles, the first in their Ruekeller series, and it is spot on! “Whether it becomes us or not, I don’t know,” Darren Moser, director of brewing operations, said during a recent conversation regarding luster The Bruery has with sour and barrel-aged beers. Not exactly known for making lagers, let alone perfect examples. “We just wanted to make a good, clean beer, and I think we got that,” he added.

Besides Bruery, you can try Unsung’s Kinetica or Golden Road’s Go to Helles. Other Orange County breweries that have had wonderful examples of Helles in the past: Green Cheek, Bottle Logic, TAPS, Asylum, and Chapman Crafted. Give them a friendly reminder to make these beers again! Also keep an eye out for other O.C. breweries to release a Helles.

Elegant, subtle, and clean are some of the most common and appropriate descriptors used to identify a Helles. Usually brewed using only a single type of malt (generally Pilsner malt) and one noble hop variety, extremely soft water, and southern German lager yeast (along with near-perfect brewing execution!) create this balanced and delicate beer. Arguably the crown achievement of Bavarian brewmasters and a talent showcase for our local brewers.

Serve in a traditional dimpled mug or perhaps in a footed cylindrical vessel for some flare at 40 degrees and enjoy. Pair with simple pressed panini sandwiches, fruit salads, and leafy salads with bacon, delicate fish dishes, unsweetened ham or most pork dishes, and, of course, weisswurst or bratwurst with sauerkraut. Go ahead, have another. At a range of 4.7 to 5.4 ABV, you’ll find it difficult not to order noch eins (one more).

Prost!

Editor’s note: Charlie Perez is an Advanced Cicerone® who covers the Orange County beer scene for the Booze Blog.

The post March of Lagers: Helles is Far More Than Just a Light Beer appeared first on Orange Coast Magazine.

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We’ve all heard beer referred to as liquid bread once or twice. This analogy can fit many styles such as a Bavarian Weissbier. But Doppelbock has a greater affinity to liquid bread than any other.

Lent begins this week (for those who participate), and this beer has a direct connection to that monastic practice, too. This beer style is often said to have originated in Munich, and monks are credited for its creation. Although technically true, the origin story begins in northern Germany, and the monks were from another European country.

We begin around the mid-1500s in the city of Einbeck in northern Germany. Einbeck was a thriving trade city, and its specialty trade item was beer. This ale was made with lightly kilned barley and wheat, and was generously hopped. Einbeck’s beer made its way into many cities, including Munich. The ruling family of Bavaria were particularly fond of the Einbeck brew, and they spent plenty of money on it. By the 1540s, some Einbeck brewers were brought to Munich to teach brewers a thing or two.

In 1612, Duke Maximillian persuaded Elias Pichler, a well-regarded Einbeck brewer, to move to Munich to improve the Einbecker clones. Pichler refined the brew to fit some specific parameters. This meant the Einbecker no longer contained wheat malt, as this was reserved for special beers made for the royal family, and lagering techniques were used because they were law by then and were well-established by Munich brewers. The resulting beer was released at the famous Hofbräuhaus in 1614, and it was referred to as brewed the “Einbeck way.” We now have the birth of what eventually evolved into what we know as Dunkles Bock, or Bockbier.

Now to discuss the monks. In 1627, they came marching in from Italy (yes, Italy!) over the Alps and took home near Munich. These monks were from the order of St. Francis of Paula. They began brewing shortly after arriving. These Franciscan monks established the Paulaner Brewery in 1634 and lay claim to the Doppelbock style. However, it went by another, more divine name.

A quick note on how Bockbier got its name. It is widely believed and accepted that it is a manipulation of the word “Einbeck” in the Bavarian dialect. This would make the word sound like “Ayn pock” and eventually evolving to “ein bock” (one bock). “Bock” is also the word for “buck” or “goat” in German, explaining why so many versions of Bockbier display goats on their labels. That is quite ironic when you consider the development of the Doppelbock style was a byproduct of a testament of faith, yet the goat has some satanic symbolism. Now, that’s metal! Moving on …

As with most devout Catholics, Lent was taken very seriously. During this time, the monks would not eat solid food, and only liquid could be ingested. With Lent being the longest period of fasting for these monks, plenty of liquid would be consumed, most of which was the bockbier they were already masterfully brewing. Over time and after receiving blessing from the pope himself to consume this during Lent, the bockbiers got stronger. This was literally liquid bread for the Paulaner monks. It was natural the stronger bockbiers were referred to as “Salvator,” as in “The Savior,” for obvious reasons. In 1780, Paulaner was finally brewed commercially.

After the brewery came under Napoleon’s control in 1799, it lay in shambles until 1806 and ultimately was privately purchased by 1813. After a stretch of legal battles, in 1837 Paulaner was finally was given permission by King Ludwig (we will learn more about him in the coming weeks) to brew “Salvator” without obstruction. Clones were soon being produced by other breweries. Paulaner trademarked “Salvator” in 1896 and is now the only brewery that can use the name “Salvator” for its Doppelbock. Therefore, we see other Doppelbocks with names keeping the “-ator” suffix because they cannot use the original name. Celebrator and Optimator are German examples, and here closer to home we have The Bruery’s Rueminator or Game Craft’s Goat Simulator.

If fasting isn’t your thing, pair your Doppelbock with game meats such a venison or wild boar. Fruit sauces are great complements to both the meat and the sweet malt character of the beer. For an interesting combination, try Doppelbock with earthy, smoky Mexican dishes such as Oaxacan mole. Don’t stop with the main course; try a caramel flan for dessert. Reach for Swiss gruyère for a cheese pairing.

Doppelbock at GameCraft. Photo credit: Charlie Perez

Doppelbocks are amazing and flavorful. With an ABV of 7 percent to 10 percent, these beers are made for slow sipping. Colors range from mahogany to deep garnet to almost black in some examples. Aromas are almost like rising bread in the oven. On the palate, you’ll get toasty, bready notes, slight caramel, and toffee sweetness, finishing with a moderate bitterness and a clean lager character. The darker versions have some chocolate flavors, too.

Both The Bruery and Game Craft’s Doppelbock exhibit these characters, with some slight variation between them. Ruminator is oak-aged, so it has a vanilla component, while Goat Simulator is a tad fruity compared to others. Serve in a traditional dimpled mug at 40 degrees, take your time, and enjoy what the monks gave us.

Prost!

Editor’s note: Charlie Perez is an Advanced Cicerone® who covers the Orange County beer scene for the Booze Blog.

The post March of Lagers: Doppelbock – The ‘Savior’ for Lent-Practicing Monks appeared first on Orange Coast Magazine.

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Turn just one block off I-5 in south Orange County and you’re transported into the European modern flair of Wineworks for Everyone restaurant and wine shop in Mission Viejo.

Wineworks is the essence of cool, chic, and fun. Deemed the best wine shop a few years ago and noted for its outstanding wine service, the Wineworks viewpoint has sharpened even finer as you’ll see in its Instagram feed, @wineworksforeveryone. Wine director Ali Coyle has a distinct, thoughtful wine palate showcased in her personal tastings while curating for the restaurant and in the events she plans.

Coyle’s first event of 2019 is Just Act Natural, a natural wine tasting from 6-9 p.m. March 6, featuring the wines of Amy Atwood Selections. A perusal of Atwood’s portfolio showcases a quick “who’s who” of renowned small production, environmentally friendly wineries such as Wilde Farm, Donkey & Goat, Cruse Wine Co., and Holden Wine.

Natural wines can run the gamut of minimal intervention, from pesticide-free to biodynamic farming and native yeasts. Natural wines focus on Mother Nature’s art of the natural wine production sans a heavy hand. Given my own personal choice for organic foods, natural cleaners, and a small footprint, these wine values speak to me. Granted, I’ve had some very funky and weird organic wines. However, given the quality of the Atwood small-production clientele, you’ll experience quality pours and interesting, correlating stories. Sommelier Anne Estrada of San Diego’s Rancho Valencia and Amy Atwood Selections will be on hand to explain the producers’ point of view and their distinct pours.

This is a very cool way to spend a Wednesday night for just $25. I like that the event isn’t a rushed hour-long tasting, but a relaxed several hours to truly experience the variety of natural wines and engage with Estrada and Coyle. If I were you, I’d slip in early for the grilled flatbread and brie fondue and a glass of Cruse sparkling wine to brighten your palate.

Just Act Natural, $25
6-9 p.m. March 6

Wineworks for Everyone
26342 Oso Parkway
Mission Viejo

The post Just Act Natural Event Highlights Artisan Wines at Wineworks for Everyone appeared first on Orange Coast Magazine.

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If I’m spinning through TV channels and stumble upon any of “The Godfather” movies, I’m immediately locked in, pouring wine, and on the couch for the duration. Francis Ford Coppola’s Oscar winning showcase of an Italian family’s love of food and wine is drool-worthy, albeit with a bit of Mafia drama and angst mixed in. In addition to film, Coppola has built a namesake in the wine industry with his many California brands, including Director’s Cut, Diamond Collection, and Sofia.

When I hear Coppola speak of his family and heritage, I am inspired and love his grandfatherly touch, which is reminiscent of the tender side of Vito Corleone playfully rambling through the tomato garden with his grandson. These traits of connection and dedication were perfectly captured in Anthony Bourdain’s treasured interview in Italy with Coppola. It is dripping with respect for food, wine, history, and family.

Coppola has integrated that family love into his wines, such as his sparkling wine grown in Monterey County titled Sofia after his only daughter. I love the adjectives circling the Sofia label clearly demonstrating his sparkle for his daughter, including “revolutionary, poetic, reactionary, and ebullient.” His Eleanor red blend wine is a tribute to his wife, Ellie, of more than 50 years. The Eleanor wine’s label is artistic and artisan with the contents containing the deep character wines of syrah, petite sirah, and cabernet sauvignon.

Lucky for Orange County wine lovers and perfectly timed with Oscar season, Catal Restaurant in Downtown Disney is hosting a Coppola Wine Dinner at 6 p.m. March 12. For $95, excluding tax and gratuity, you’ll savor five courses built to complement the Coppola family of wines. Reservations for the dinner are available online.

Coppola Wine Dinner at Catal

Scallop crudo of coconut milk, tomato water, young pickled ginger, mango, crispy garlic, and fish-skin chicharron
Pairing: Director’s Cut 2015 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley

Poached halibut with white asparagus, rhubarb, brown-butter radish
Pairing: Diamond Collection 2017 Pinot Noir, Oregon

Maple Leaf duck breast with tangerine, Peruvian potatoes, and lavender sesame vinaigrette
Pairing: Director’s Cut Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Alexander Valley

Ribeye with confit potatoes, wild mushrooms, and truffle puree
Pairing: Eleanor Red Blend 2013, Sonoma County and Napa County

Apple rose tart with diplomat cream, and rose water consommé
Pairing: Sofia Brut Rose 2017 Monterey County

Catal Restaurant
1580 S. Disneyland Drive
Anaheim

The post An Oscar-Worthy Coppola Wine Dinner at Catal appeared first on Orange Coast Magazine.

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