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What's Brewing

photo by David Mulvihill - Hand-Brewed Beer’s Drew Pletcher with HBB brewer Damien Hickel.

Cars & Casino

2017’s Cars & Casino, the annual benefit that raises funds for the GO Campaign, possessed a craft beer element again this year. Let’s talk first about the GO Campaign and its efforts. The GO Campaign was formed in 2006 with a goal of improving the lives of orphans and vulnerable youth around the world by “partnering with local heroes to deliver local solutions.”  These Local Heroes are typically grassroots projects and organizations dedicated to altering lives and transforming communities with each child they assist. GOCampaign.org is worth a visit to explore what it does and to donate, because there is no need to wait for the benefit to assist with its ongoing quest.

Jonathan and Jamie Ward and their ICON facilities in Chatsworth once again played host for Cars & Casino. Having the opportunity to walk among the many vehicles housed and in-renovation-process inside ICON is in itself worth the benefit admission price (icon4x4.com).

Some may recall last year’s recap in this column that included Adam Carolla’s debut of his Endless Rant IPA brewed by King Harbor Brewing Company. This year a brewery located in ICON’s neighborhood came to share a couple of its beers during the event. Hand-Brewed Beer’s Drew Pletcher was on hand to pour Erudite Wit, well-made and quenching in the traditional style, and Rocky Point, HBB’s rendition of red IPA. In production for about two years, HBB is hoping to have its tasting room open again soon once LA City’s bureaucratic permit hurdles have been overcome. 

HB

For those of you whose summer plans bring you to Huntington Beach, consider hopping on the Surf City USA Shuttle. Folks can explore HB with complimentary weekend service from May 27 through September 3rd. The coastal loop’s 5 stops include Pacific City, Beach Promenade, Downtown, Bolsa Chica and Sunset Beach-Peter’s Landing Pacific City. The Bolsa Chica stop at PCH & Warner is where you’ll want to exit and enjoy the fresh brewed beers of Riip Beer Co. Riip’s coming out of its new 10-barrel brewhouse.

Verdugo West

This reporter finally had a chance to visit and enjoy one of Burbank’s newest breweries. Verdugo West Brewing Co (156 W Verdugo Ave) has been brought to us by MCC Hospitality Group, Chipper Pastron and Sal Casola Jr’s collective that also owns nearby Market City Caffe (sic); Morels, D.Vino and Dragon Noodle Co in Las Vegas; Juice Farm juices; and Vanishing Point Winery in Oakville, CA. 

The team chose wisely in recruiting a brewer to become part of the new brewery.

Brewmaster Chris Walowski brings a great deal to the brewhouse. Some may remember Chris as the former head brewer at Smog City Brewing (Torrance), or from his time at Ohana Brewing. This experience, coupled with his scientific competencies (Chris possesses a Master’s degree in Biochemistry), transmit well into the competent, clean, fresh and vibrant beers crafted and served at Verdugo West. Look for a mix of more traditional ales in addition to those on the wild side. Beers included the clean and refreshing Gigil rice lager, Wax Wing blonde, Trustworthy IPA, What Plane Oatmeal Stout and Quarterly (black) IPA. Wild side beers during my visit included Lankershim Ranch, a sour blonde with peaches, and Providencia, a sour brown with cherries. True to Walowski-style, no beer left the palate wanting for anything more than presented.

OC Brewers Guild Invitational

The second annual Orange County Brewers Guild Festival had what appeared to be a very successful second year. This year’s festival was an invitational event. In addition to the 32 member breweries, most members also invited out-of-county brewery friends to attend and pour their own beers at the festival. This resulted in over 60 breweries dispensing some of their best beers. While it may have taken time to process attendees when the festival opened, there were virtually no lines for beer once in. With so many choices it was virtually impossible to make it around to all of the breweries and try everything offered. It would take pages to name and describe all the delicious beers flowing that day. Square Fruit was one of the beers Brandon Fender and Good Beer Company served. Brandon stated that this jammy, sour, dark mixed culture ale was aged in second run barrels that previously held Bottle Logic Brewing Co’s Dark Star November bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout. The beer was aged along with both sweet and tart cherries, raspberries, blueberries, boysenberries, cranberries, currants, mandarins, blood oranges and pluots. All of the ingredients married with the residual wood, DSN and bourbon notes to bring forth a complex flavor profile with characteristics reminiscent of Flanders red or an oud bruin. Beachwood’s Blendery offered four of its maturing Lambic-inspired brews. 

Brian Rauso and Evan Price were out with the first two beers from their soon-to-open Green Cheek Beer Co in Orange. One was a refreshing 3.2% Berliner weiss-style beer created with mixed culture fermentation. The other was a 4.8% American lager dry hopped with Amarillo. Jacque Fields and her OC Brewers Guild team’s hard work paid off in an enjoyable and flavorful fest.

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