Tuesday, October 30, 2012

QUICK REVIEW #3: Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere Harvest 2012

I've had precious little time this fall for anything but work, but things are starting to ease up. Amanda and I will be off to Dublin and London in less than two weeks for a much needed vacation and I'm really looking forward to that trip both culturally and zymologically. This will be our first trip together in nearly two years, and it just so happens to be our fifth wedding anniversary and the celebration of a full decade together.

My schedule, the way it is, and the planning for this trip have left me finding the moments in between to sample new beers. I've also been pretty well stocked for homebrew, so I haven't really seen the need to overstock the fridge with new finds.

So here I find myself with five dollars in my pocket, a well-rested palate and a hankering to give something new a try. And to top that all off, I'm mustering the will to review it, with words, on my blog!


Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere Harvest 2012 - Wet Hop Ale

24 Ounce Bottle into Tulip Pint

The beer pours with a deep auburn body with enough fluffy off-white foam to nearly overtake the rim of the glass.  A quick sip takes care that none of the sticky head pours out onto the countertop and allows a cursory evaluation of the flavor and aroma. Excellent lacing with a steady cap of foam rising from the lazer-etched hop cone emblazoned at the bottom of the glass, an appropriate emblem to say the least.

The aroma is pine-like with a deep earthiness, almost pitch-like. Citrus fruit rind, grapefruit with just a hint of spruce.  The malt is also present with a mild caramel malt sweetness, that helps to balance the aroma without detracting from the main event.

The layering of flavors is extraordinary, starting with grapefruit pith, fresh grass and evergreen with that same earthiness in the finish and finally a lingering resinous sap-like quality. Again, in the flavor, the malt doesn't exactly take a backseat, present in just a hint of grain and balancing sweetness, yet it never overpowers, it carries the hops along in a wash of bitterness that lasts from beginning to end.

Just the hop kick I needed.


It's been some time since I formally reviewed a beer like this...it feels good. I'll have to remind myself to do it more often.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Emotional Drinking

Sam Adams Octoberfest is very dear to my heart (or should I say stomach). Back in 2002, I was fortunately enough to have been around individuals who cared less about falling down on the floor and more about having a good time with good drinks--some of them, anyway :^) Only a year before I had had my first experience with beer in Germany and I think it carried over into my drinking habits during college. I never did find myself on the receiving end of the ol’ red and white and I think I quickly found myself disgusted by anything light and in a can.

It also so happened that I had made the acquaintance of a young lady who seemed somewhat keen on this bright-eyed boy from the suburbs of Boston.  One evening during and outing with friends she asked me if I wanted anything from the “packie.”  I really had no idea…I think I ended up with some kind of whiskey and cola drink that was absolutely horrendous. The next time I was sure to get it right and asked her to pick up some beer, in bottles, that was good.  Again, I really had no idea what I was doing.

Group settings are always good for newly developing relationships.  You get to see the other person with their friends, it relieves the tension of having to talk one-on-one for an entire night and during this particular evening we were off to see a show and later a party, so there was plenty to do. The young lady who had graciously bought me drinks last time was kind enough to again pick up something for me to drink at the party.  This time it was Samuel Adams Octoberfest.

There was something about the beer, the time of year and the great memories associated with drinking it that has made it one of my all-time favorites and I look forward to it every year.

Five years later that same young lady and I would serve Sam Adams Octoberfest at our wedding and every year when it comes out we share the beer and the memories. So, cheers to Sam Adams Octoberfest and to emotional drinking!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Which Wheat Will Win?

One of my absolute favorite styles has to be the traditional Southern German wheat beer with its distinctive fruitiness and spicy notes. Unfortunately, my first encounter with the style was in the form of the “American Hefeweizen,” similar in almost no way to its Bavarian brethren, save for a grist of wheat and a stolen and abused name.  My first real Hefeweizen came many years later—I remember the deep, cloudy, golden colored beer with its lively white head of foam clinging gently to the sides of the glass.  The lightly tart and fruity flavors mingling with sweet clove-like notes pulled me in and didn’t let me go.

I don’t quite remember what brand I was drinking then, but if I had to guess, I’d say it was Weihenstephan. I year or two later I drank my first draught of Weihenstephan at a Cambridge, Massachusetts bar, and a day later with a bottle in my fridge and a vase-shaped glass in hand, I found myself properly dissecting the style. Over the ensuing years I’ve tried many others, but have never found the quality to be as satisfactory as that of my beloved Weihenstephan.  That’s why when I decided to do a blind taste test of four Bavarian Hefeweizen I was a little scared.  I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between what I considered to be the best and just another Bavarian Wheat beer, what if I liked another one better?

Putting my fear aside, I picked out four pretty common Hefeweizen to compare: Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr, König Ludwig and, of course, Weihenstephan.  I asked Amanda to label each cap with a number and pour them each into a corresponding stemmed tulip glass—I didn’t have enough Weizen glasses :^(

I assessed each beer on several criteria that I thought crucial to the perfect Hefeweizen. The color could range from light golden to dark golden orange. The head had to be white, light and fluffy, like frothy milk on a cappuccino. The aroma had to balance fruitiness and spice. Mild hints of noble hops where okay, and some smoke and/or bubblegum could be present as well.  The flavor had to have the same balance as the aroma with a light body, and a slight tartness that leads to overall refreshment.

Okay, go!

As you can see from the photos, number one and number two were the darkest with the other two on the lighter side of the color spectrum. Three clearly had the liveliest head and nice retention; it was also the most effervescent.  Number three was in the lead as far as appearance was concerned.

The first three all presented slightly varying degrees of fruit and spice in aroma; number four had a mild fruitiness with little spice. I was struck by number one’s almost banana-toffee aroma and assertive (for a Hefeweizen) hoppiness with some detectable caramel malt. Number three, however, outperformed the others in aroma with a fantastic balance of banana, clove, and a whiff of smoke.  You can probably see where this is going, with number three leading in both appearance and aroma, the flavor naturally followed suit and we had ourselves a winner.

I guess it was a foregone conclusion as to what the best Hefeweizen would be, after all, the criteria was based upon my all-time favorite, Sacred Stephan’s own and my ideal. With its intricate balance of flavor, aroma and appearance, Weihenstephan Hefeweizen wins hands down.  As the self-proclaimed “Oldest Brewery in the World,” I suspect they’ve had some time to perfect the recipe.  I’ll continue to explore potential successors, a number of domestic Hefeweizen have piqued my interest. I’ve tasted notable versions of the style from Sierra Nevada’s Kellerweiss to Tröegs Dreamweaver Wheat to a local favorite, Cambridge Brewing Company’s Hefe Weizen. But for now, with Weihenstephan plentiful on shelves almost everywhere, I’ll more often than not just reach for the best.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Summer Close-Out

Boy, has it been a while since I've thrown something up on the old Tippling House blog. The end of summer sort of slipped away and instead of spending time inside drinking beer and tip-tapping away on the keyboard, I was out and about drinking great beer, travelling hither and thither and soaking up the last rays of sun before the equinox takes them away.

I spent a great deal of time brewing this summer. I had a good five week run brewing every Thursday and bottling every Sunday. I managed to get in an Amber Ale, a Blueberry Wheat (for Amanda), a Belgian Session Amber, a Session IPA and a Belgian Dubbel. Abigail was a great help on brew days. While she crawled around in one half of the kitchen playing, Daddy ran around in the other half brewing. I found out that she's actually quite keen on the smell of hops--I can't wait until she's old enough to REALLY help me brew. It's always good to have an extra pair of hands on brew day, no matter how small they might be.

Beer at the Durham Bull's game.
In June I visited Los Angeles and I was also in North Carolina helping Reilly and Nicole move into their new place in Durham. Reilly and I visited North Carolina back in January 2011 and I was very impressed with the beer scene.  Since then, both New Belgium and Sierra Nevada have announced plans to build new facilites in the state, thus reinforcing my original assessment of the state as a new mecca for beer-lovers. The trip in June furthered my appreciation for the Tar Heel State as I enjoyed many a tipple from the likes of Foothills Brewing, Natty Greene's, Fullsteam and Carolina Brewing. Look for a post about North Carolina soon, 'tis a wondrous beerplace.

July was hot, but we had fun. Abby turned one and we had a pool party and cupcakes. This part isn't about beer, but it really meant a lot to me to see how happy Abby was and to see how much she's grown in a year.

I visited both Samuel Adams and Harpoon. I have to admit, as much as I enjoyed drinking Sam Adams Octoberfest, it was a little strange doing so in the heat of the brewery's beer garden...and in August.  The Harpoon Brewery holds several tasting hours throughout the week, reserving tours to only the weekend.  The Seaport District on Boston's waterfront was teaming with life as I drove to Harpoon and it appeared that everyone had heard about Harpoon's tasting.  I managed to wiggling into the back for the one-hour sampling of half a dozen or so offerings on tap in the tasting room. They certainly give you your fill of beer for the low, low cost of absolutely nothing.

Amanda and I wrapped up the summer with a quick trip to New Hampshire and Vermont and a pop over to Waterbury for some ice cream and beer. After a quick tour 'round Ben & Jerry's, we pulled off Route 100 into The Alchemist Cannery for some fresh Heady Topper. That was a pretty good day. We ended up on a hillside outside Montpelier eating cheese and bread and drinking Vermont's greatest natural resource, Heady Topper. Special thanks to Grammie and Granddad for watching Abby for the day.

It looks like I'll have a bit of a busy fall at work (and play), so I'm not sure how often I'll be updating the blog. I'll do my best to post reviews of some of my favorite fall beers and I still have a couple beer travelogues to jot down.  So for now, happy journeys and good beer to you all.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

When in Rome, Brew as the Romans Brew

Amanda and I were in Rome and I was getting a bit tired of wine. The mass-produced Birra Moretti seemed to be prevalent at almost every restaurant, but that was absolutely not going to satisfy me.  The day before, we had walked until our feet were raw finding ourselves across the River Tiber in Trastevere. I had made a note about a beer bar in this area of Rome called Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fà that served Italian craft beer, so we made a point to visit that day.

It began to rain as we crossed the river and we ducked inside the Church of San Bartolomeo on the Isola Tiberina, the small island in the middle of the Tiber. As we often had during our visit, we toured the beautiful church, sat in the pews, and contemplated the ornate interior.  The rain had finally let up and we ventured back outside after making a modest donation, a small price to pay for asylum from the weather.  We walked the narrow streets of Trastevere popping in an out of a shop here and there taking in this quieter part of the city.

The troubled Tiber.
Down a small cobbled street we came across a lovely little bakery with dozens of treats in the window.  As we walked inside it was apparent that, although most of the metropolitan Italians we had met spoke impeccable English, this kindly baker and the woman shopkeep did not. We tried our best and pointed to the snacks we were after. The very animated baker scooped them up into a bag for us as he said something lively and laughed. And we laughed. Some confusion arose at the register when the women indicated that they had run out of change. We promptly held out the euros we had in hand and she picked what she need. Gratzie was the best we could do and we left with smiles on our faces as the baker waved us good day.

We ate our snack and strolled. A while later we found a nice comfortable restaurant with walls lined with wine bottles for a lunch of pasta and Frascati.  It was all quite lovely, but I was looking forward to trying some good Italian beer.  As the skies once again began to cloud over, we arrived at the bar on the other side of Trastevere. The street outside appeared to be empty save for a few old Italian women with umbrellas strolling about with bags. Oh no, I thought, I think it’s closed! I imagined myself pounding on the door. I did not (you’re welcome Amanda). I guess I would be drinking Chianti again that afternoon (I know, poor me). I would be saved, however. As we neared our hotel, we took a side street where, low and behold, there was a German beer bar serving Paulaner! Naturally, I drank a Salvator, I needed saving from all these crushed grapes.

Amanda's beverage of choice, cappuccino decaffeinato.
We did eventually return to Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fà when it was open later in the week. I enjoyed a few wonderful Italian beers served by a decidedly “Roman” bartender who was little in the ways of idle chatter, preferring instead to drive around on a scooter and smoke cigarettes, I supposed. No matter, the beer was excellent. I particularly enjoyed a Saison from a brewery called Extraomnes from the north of Italy.  Peppery spice notes enveloped in waves of yeasty fruitiness and a bready softness around the edges made this the best beer I had in Italy.

I realize I frame all these travelogues around the beers I drink.  That’s natural in a blog about beer, I suppose. But these are merely snippets of a total. The people I meet, the places I see and especially the lovely companions I choose to travel with make up a much larger part of the total experience.  This trip in particular could not have been made complete without my favorite travel companion who got to drink no beer, or wine for that matter, due to a little something that would present herself but several months hence.  Our next trip (two years since the former!) will be this November to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary and a decade of companionship, so…


I promise, I’ll buy the first round.

Love, MIKE

Thursday, August 2, 2012

QUICK REVIEW #2: New England Brewing 668 - Neighbor of the Beast

When I started drinking good beer, I would go to the local bottle shop and mix myself a six-pack of random bottles. I sort of fell out of that habit while I focused on trying the classic beers, the expensive larger format bottles, imported rarities, obscure styles and the like, but I recently started “sampling” again.

As I strolled into my favorite neighborhood beer shop I joyfully snagged an empty six-pack holder and began to fill it with this beer and that. One of the beers that I had in my sampler was New England Brewing Company’s 668 – Neighbor of the Beast.

The beer poured a slightly hazy, golden-yellow.  The large white head rose above the rim of the glass and settled into a craggy cap leaving plenty of sticky lacing as it fell.  The aroma reminded me of Delirium Tremens with sweet hints of tropical fruits, candi sugar and mild pepper and coriander-like spice notes. Unlike Delirium, however, the hops are much more aggressive with citrusy, pine-like aromas and flavors and a gentle earthiness through the finish.

I’m sad to see New England Brewing Company pulling out of Massachusetts, especially with beers like this in the market. I often have a hard time picking up beers from out of state on a regular basis. To be perfectly honest, I’d much rather drink a Mayflower IPA than Stone, and as a native New Englander, I don’t have a problem calling Connecticut “local.” I look forward to the return of NEBCO, I just hope it isn’t too long a wait.

Friday, July 20, 2012

QUICK REVIEW #1: Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat

About a year or so ago, Boulevard Brewing Company began distributing their Smokestack Series of beers in Massachusetts, much to my delight. Up until then, I hadn’t tried any of their highly acclaimed beers.  I think my first was Saison Brett, followed by Tank 7, Sixth Glass, Nommo Dubbel and my favorite Long Strange Tripel. I remember drinking Long Strange Tripel, turning to Amanda and saying something with a number of long pauses along the lines of, “this…might…be…one…of…the…best…beers…I’ve…ever…had.” For sure, they make some of the best domestic Belgian style beers I’ve tried. Long Strange Tripel might not be the best beer I’ve ever had, but it certainly ranks in the top 10.

Anyway, just this week, Boulevard started sending some of their year-round beers to the area and I, of course, had to give them a try.


Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat

Their website claims this is the most popular beer in the Midwest, I can see why.  It isn’t a blueberry wheat or an apricot wheat or even a wheat spiced with lemon and grains of paradise, no, it’s simply an American Pale Wheat Ale.  Those amber waves of grain? That’s what’s in this beer. Nothing too complicated and certainly a great brew.

It pours a light, hazy, golden-yellow with a lively white head. The aroma is incredibly bready with hints of citrus and a very mild tartness. Flavor is also bready, but less so, with a very mild hop contribution.  The finish is yeasty and bready and quite refreshing.

I picked up the other year-round beer from Boulevard: Single Wide IPA. It awaits my review, but if it’s anything like the other beers from Boulevard it should be nothing short of delightful.  Keep them coming!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Summerfest: Much more than just Saison

This passed weekend I had the opportunity to volunteer at Drink Craft Beer’s Summerfest. You may have seen me, I was passing out cups at the entrance during both sessions on Saturday.

Keeper of the Cups
From a volunteer's perspective I have to give a major thanks to Jeff and Devon and Jeff Lawrence for making it one of my favorites. I think it was the simple instruction to, “keep the brewers happy,” that made it such a great success.  Happy brewers make for happy patrons and happy patrons make for happy volunteers, so everyone wins!

Between handing out cups, emptying buckets and lugging ice, I had the chance to sample a few beers that have been on my list for a while, as well as a couple beers brewed specifically for the festival. Here are a few standouts:

#1.  Harpoon Saison. Brewed specifically for Summerfest with bananas, grapefruit and oranges, each of these ingredients added to the already fruity/citrusy Saison. I went back to try this one again later in the evening just to make sure I loved it…yup, I did.

#2. Night Shift Rose Au Poivre and Viva Habanera. Both of these beers were unique in their use of special ingredients. Rose Au Poivre is brewed with rosemary and aged on red peppercorns, which are both quite prominent in the flavor and Viva Habanera employs chili peppers, which provide flavor as well as a mild heat. Each time I try a new Night Shift beer I can’t help but think about pairing it with food.

#3 Pretty Things Meadowlark IPA. What else can I say that hasn’t already been said about this magnificent specimen of an IPA?  You’ll die and think you went to Citra heaven. Flavorful, juicy, Citra hops attack the palate with a monsoon of tropical fruit and citrusy flavors. I need to find bottles of this as soon as possible.

#4 Slumbrew Rising Sun. A little-known and under-produced style, Slumbrew’s take on German Dampfbier employs the same wheat beer yeast as their Happy Sol. Caramel malty with hints of earthy hops and subtle toastiness, man, am I a sucker for obscure styles!

At the end of the night the stage at the Armory was filled with pizza and Idle Hands and Night Shift opened their taps to the volunteers.  Cleanup was pretty quick with a lot of the staff remaining and I think I managed to get home well before midnight. I’d say “I can wait for next year,” but I hope Jeff and Devon don’t wait that long to host another festival…Winterfest anyone?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

In Search of Burgers and Beer

I love flying westbound over the United States. Whenever I can, I book a window seat and an early flight so that I can entertain myself by watching green hills turn into golden plains turn into white-capped mountains turn into dusty red, brown and orange-colored deserts.

This flight was extremely early. The Cisco Brewery Brewpub in Terminal B at Logan Airport wasn’t even close to opening—not that I was looking for a beer at 5:15am. The only thing I would be drinking was a very large Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee. I was headed out to Los Angeles to visit with my friends Mike and Katie, but as is almost always the case, I was also on the lookout for good beer.

Of course I shared.
The flight was lovely with my window seat and blue skies clear across the country.  The six-hour flight had put a hunger in me that no $7 snack box would satiate, the only cure coming in the form of made-to-order, all-beef patties from, what should be everyone’s first stop in LA: In-N-Out Burger. Luckily the closest is located just a few minutes from the airport where Mike and I met up with Katie.  The plan for the day, that was hatched from this bastion of burgerdom, was to spend a little time at Venice Beach, take a quick hike up Runyon Canyon to work up a thirst, culminating with happy hour at my favorite watering hole in LA, Barney’s Beanery in West Hollywood.

There are a number of satellite Barney’s in Los Angeles that play on the same theme as the original: magazine clipping collages on the tables, breweriana on the walls, a tap selection of a several dozen domestic and imported beers and a mile long list of bottles. The satellite locations are fine if you can’t get to the original, but with a storied 90-year history that includes a gallery of Old Hollywood legends and notoriety for having been the last place Janis Joplin sipped a drink, Barney’s position near the end of old Route 66 just has a different vibe.

Katie and I ordered up a first round that, for me, had to include a West Coast IPA. Bear Republic Racer 5 was up first: juicy, mouth-watering, citrusy hops balanced by a 7% ABV maltiness really hit the spot after that hike up Runyon. Next up was Stone Brewing Company’s Arrogant Bastard. I remember my first time trying this beer was on a trip several years ago to LA and Barney’s Beanery. I’m not sure I was worthy then for the, frankly, arrogant amount of hoppage…but I might be now. I finished the night at Barney’s with another Racer 5 and despite my jetlag and my better judgment, Mike, Katie and Katie’s roommate Matt and I ended up hanging out well passed midnight at her apartment where I sipped on some Firestone Walker Pale 31, a dry-hopped beauty of a California Pale Ale. Having been up for something like 26 hours I was, shockingly, remarkably chipper but fading fast. The next day we had plans to meet up with former London pub-crawl champion Alex, who had moved to LA shortly after our meet-up in England, so we gulped our last sips and packed it in just before 2am.


With temperatures in the low 70s and a breeze all week, I couldn’t have picked a better time to visit. Mike and I stumbled out of the house just before noon with plans to meet Alex at the newly established Golden Road Brewing just off Interstate 5 (I know, The 5). Beer industrialists Tony Yanow and Meg Gill opened Golden Road Brewing in 2011 and it seems that it’s already garnered quite a loyal following. The place was packed at lunch, but Alex, Mike and I found some room at the bar. I ordered up a round that started with one of two flagship beers: Point the Way IPA. Citrusy, slightly earthy with hints of grapefruit pith and tangerine, the hops are not overly aggressive, but they certainly make their presence felt. 

As Mike and Alex got in line to order lunch, I considered trying their other flagship, Golden Road Hefeweizen. But since I had already seen this beer a few other places I opted to try something of a rarity on their menu, a Berliner Weisse. I can count on one hand how many different Berliner Weisse style beers I’ve had over the years.  It simply isn’t a style produced with any regularity these days. With only a few breweries still producing this style in Germany it’s the type of beer that when I see I have to try it. Golden Road’s Berliner Weisse is very low in alcohol (2.8%) with an assertive tartness in the aroma and a balanced tart/bready flavor.  I chose to try it straight up with a sidecar of woodruff syrup that I added after the first few sips. The woodruff takes the edge off the tartness while contributing a mild herbal character. As I’ve mentioned before, this style was one of the first beers I ever tried and it brought me back to that sunny summer in Deutschland when I was 17.


Mike was a fantastic tour guide.  When I told him I was looking to sample the best new beers that LA had to offer, he mentioned Eagle Rock Brewery. I had to admit that this brewery hadn’t been on my radar, but when we arrived at their tasting room, I could tell that it was the type of place that I’d enjoy. Several tables and benches throughout with a bar serving beer brewed only 100 feet from the taps. I tried a sampler of four beers including a roasty English Dark Mild and a perfumy Witbier that was light on both orange peel and spice. That evening we caught the midnight screening of what has become know as “the worst movie ever made,” Tommy Wiseau’s The Room.  If you’ve never experience this gem I highly recommend seeing it. The viewing didn’t make for an early night, but this was a vacation after all and I was going to make the best of every minute.


Another late night found us in late afternoon at Tony’s Dart Away in North Hollywood, another beer venture by Tony Yanow. This California beer centric home of draught-only, full-pour pints provides food and drinks at the bar and board games and beer books along the walls. I was told that it can get pretty busy during the evening, but on this early Saturday afternoon we found ourselves amongst a smallish crowd at the bar. We ordered a round of root beer-braised pulled-pork sandwiches as well as a couple pints of Golden Road’s Hefeweizen.


The rest of my time spent in LA was filled with an equal amount of good times and good beer.  Katie, Mike and I spent Sunday afternoon in the backyard of Mike’s Van Nuys apartment grilling up burgers In-N-Out style and chatting. The burgers were accompanies by a mix 12-pack of New Belgium beers: Dig Pale Ale, 1554 Black Ale and of course Fat Tire, each one of these Colorado beers a new taste treat for this New Englander. Later in the evening we caught a show at Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and enjoyed a couple Ranger IPAs from that New Belgium 12-pack as we watched.

After the show, while cruising around Hollywood, I was somewhat disappointed that I hadn’t been able to find any Russian River beer, in particular Pliny the Elder. I had tried it a number of years ago at Monk’s Café in Philadelphia on a vacation with Amanda, but I was eager to drink it in its native land.  We had just missed the tapping at Tony’s the day before and I was unsuccessful in my search for any bottles. I figured it was a lost cause but I had one more place to try before giving up the hunt so Mike and I parked the car just off Hollywood Boulevard and strolled the Walk-of-Fame until we came to The Blue Palms Brewhouse.

It was nearing last call and I thought for sure that I’d end up drinking a Stone something-or-other, especially this late on a Sunday night. As we walked in, I glanced up at the large screen that was projecting the current tap list, and there it was!  I couldn’t believe it! This nearly empty pub on a late Sunday night was serving Pliny the Elder. I’m sure you California-types don’t get as excited, but I was rather stoked. “Pour me your freshest pint of Pliny my good man,” I thought, “right away sir,” I imagined. With the frothing glass down on the bar and my bill settled, I sat down with Mike at a high-top table in the corner. Golden with just the slightest of haze, Pliny the Elder is the epitome of a hop-forward Double IPA.  Where some versions tend to leave a bit of sweetness from the malt to balance, Pliny the Elder packs in the hops for a citrusy, piney, resinous bitterness that dries in the finish and lingers for the rest of the evening.


This account is nowhere near exhaustive, there were many beers snuck in between, almost too numerous to mention. I’m always impressed that each time I visit Los Angeles I find something new and interesting and I’m not just talking about the beer. The culture of Los Angeles is variety, as evident in its people and neighborhoods as in its beer. My very sincere thanks to Mr. Michael Tocci and Ms. Katie Curley for their hospitality and their skill in driving me around some of the most hazardous highways in the country, your metering skills are sharply honed, I’m sure it won’t be too long before I return.