Photo by Greg Nagel When it comes to brewing west coast IPA, California breweries talk a mean game. If you consider for a quick minute the historic beers that got us here, Alpine’s Nelson, Noble’s I Love It! IPA, and Russian River’s iconic Pliny the Elder, west coast-style IPA is what put California beer in the history books for further generations to glean inspiration from: clear and dry golden sudsy beer with a rainbow of Mosaic, Citra, Simcoe, and whatever the hop du jour may be. Without starting some New England vs. West Coast Biggy vs Tupac debate, the LA IPA Fest just happened at Tony Yanow’s Mohawk Bend, where a hundred or so clear west coast hoppy beers battled with IPAs most notable brewers blind judging several…View Original Post
I get so excited for St. Patrick’s Day. I must be a wee bit Irish given my penchant for drinking and obsession with potatoes. A big glitch with my St. Patrick’s Day fervor is my distaste for Guinness and whiskey. Yes, I know how lame that sounds. But to me Guinness tastes like the murky waters of southern Idaho’s Snake River, and whiskey tends to fry my esophagus. I love Irish food and celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, but would rather have wine in my glass. The perfect solution—Dublin 4 Gastropub and sister restaurant Wineworks for Everyone in Mission Viejo. I am utterly captivated by the decor and love the heart put into the wine and food menu. I phoned Dublin 4 to see about specials…View Original Post
On a seventeen-day vacation road-tripping counter-clockwise around Ireland’s emerald isle, by day eight I was completely burned out on nitro stout and needed a change. Love the Irish as I do, but finding a proper cocktail in a pub consists of boiled water, a packet of instant coffee, airplane bottles of Jameson and Baileys, and dab of fluffy Irish cream on top. Although a proper Irish Coffee can warm the soul, I was craving something stirred with one of the many whiskeys on offer. In a modernized Dublin castle hotel, I broke down to the bartender, “I need a cocktail. …can you make me an Old Fashioned?” “Can I, absolutely I can. …how about a Wilde Oscar?” After seeing historic Newgrange, stepping in sheep dip…View Original Post
Dilbert’s Pickle at 320 Main My uncle once told me about his award-winning family-secret margarita recipe. “Just add a little bit of pickle juice and you’ll blow everyone’s minds!” he would say. The thought of citrus, tequila, and pickle juice may seem like an odd combination on paper, but it actually shores up a nice sea-like brininess, enhancing the citrus and agave, bringing the whole drink to a weirdly higher level. But craft cocktails that use pickle juice or dill, I hadn’t seen one until recently and thought this must be some sort of 2018 cocktail trend. At 320 Main in Seal Beach, co-owner Jason Schiffer just gave me a flashback with his latest drink menu featuring a new whiskey sour called the Dilbert Pickle…View Original Post
A Hidden Vine on the Lake is a quaint wine shop with a patio and sunset views on Lake Mission Viejo. Locals pop in to restock their wine fridge and enjoy a cheese plate alongside a glass from the new arrivals list. Some Saturdays, Hidden Vine hosts wine tastings featuring their favored pours, like Plumpjack and Robert Foley wineries. However, at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 17, there will be a special tasting not to be missed. The shop will be showcasing the premium wines of renowned winemaker Benoit Touquette. Wine critic Jeb Dunnuck calls him “unquestionably a rising superstar in California.” Touquette is the winemaker for many Napa Valley wineries, including Hartwell, Kata, Jack Quinn, Teeter-Totter, and his own label, Fait-Main. French born and a…View Original Post
Five years ago, a few nerdy guys approached me at a random brewery, handed me a swing-top bottle of homebrewed beer and said, “Hi, we’re opening a brewery in Anaheim next year, let us know what you think.” It’s not often you’re handed a homebrew that tastes professionally brewed. I recall it being malty, boozy, and hopped like mad. They replied that this was their double IPA pilot batch for what would later become Double Actuator IPA, and that brewery would soon become Bottle Logic Brewing. Photo courtesy Bottle Logic Brewing, 2014 It’s now strange to think of Bottle Logic as the underdog just a few years ago. The original lineup of She Shot First Pale Wheat, Tattered Prince Saison, and Double Actuator IPA were…View Original Post
Photos courtesy of Bourbon Steak OC Bourbon Steak Orange County opens today at Dana Point’s Monarch Beach Resort. It replaces the former Stonehill Tavern and is chef Michael Mina’s sixth Bourbon Steak in the U.S. Stonehill Tavern was highly regarded in its day for fine dining and a deep wine cellar, securing the Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence from 2007 to 2012. The Mina Group smartly procured the highly regarded Michelle Morin as the new restaurant’s sommelier. Morin, an Advanced Sommelier, was most recently at Montage Laguna Beach. Knowing Stonehill Tavern’s quality wine inventory and considering Bourbon Steak’s different menu, I was curious how she approaches wine pairings and her new role. Are you pouring solely from the Stonehill Tavern inventory or are…View Original Post
Grass-fed Chimichurri Steak and a Trestles’ Sunset – photos and story Greg Nagel “Hey man, this place opened by our house that has $9 drinks that are all fresh juice and booze…you should come check it out,” was the text I got from my non-cocktail geek friend that lives in Aliso Viejo. Although my skeptic-o-meter was space-x rocket high, I was eager to hang out with a friend from old jobs past. We planned a bro-date and set out to see what budget drinks look like at a place called Urban Plates in Aliso, a new chain that brings locally sourced, cooked-from-scratch food and drinks to the table at surprisingly low prices. The 19th Hole Turns out, these drinks are fire. The concept is somewhat like jungle…View Original Post
I am a creature of habit. I love a pre-dinner cocktail, which is always a gin and tonic. Recently, I was introduced to white Port wine as a replacement for my gin. Skeptical, the white Port sat unopened for weeks. Seems silly that I’ll try all types of wine, but won’t mess with my boring gin-and-tonic moment. After these winter months of big red wines and crappy tonic (WHO buys all that Schweppes??), I was ready for a palate refresher. This brave buckaroo tried the white Port cocktail—and I’m HOOKED!! White Port hails from the Douro district of Portugal, like its famous red counterpart. It’s a fortified wine from a blend of approved white wines. Port wines, red and white, are higher in alcohol and…View Original Post
Calling out what machine to dominate, Mike Miranda from The Bruery. Photos and story, Greg Nagel If I were to tell you about a gathering of brewers and used the words plunger, balls, bumpers, and beer you would assume they were on some sort of backwoods off-roading cabin adventure. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Turns out, they’re at the brewery tap takeover pinball tournament in downtown Santa Ana’s Mission Control, where four breweries compete on vintage pinball machines to see who has the best set of flipper skills. To add a little spice, they also compete on who sells the most beer during the event. Now on their third tournament, Unsung Brewing, Karl Strauss, The Bruery/Offshoot/Terreux, and Bottle Logic are squaring off on Presidents’ Day for…View Original Post
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