Cask’s Not Dead Fest

Photos by David Mulvihill

Yorkshire’s U.S.-based cousin in Torrance, the cask-ale brewery eminently known as Yorkshire Square Brewery, held its second festival in mid-November. YSB partnered with Frances Lopes and the Los Angeles Country Brewers Guild team to present “Cask’s Not Dead Fest 2018.” 

Almost 30 breweries participated in what will hopefully become an annual event. Proceeds also benefitted the L.A. County Brewers Guild. It was remarkable to see an almost equal number of beer engines accommodate the proper pulling of so many cask-conditioned ales in one setting. Judging of the beers to be served took place prior to the festival. Trophies were awarded in two categories, “Lord of the Old School” and “The Magician of Weird.” As you may have guessed the titles awarded in the first category were for beers that most represented traditional British-style cask-conditioned ale. The second was for entries that may have been far from traditional, but presented extremely well in cask form. 

Nerf Herder, a dark mild crafted by Kane Christensen and Jon Eckelberger from Pizza Port San Clemente, took top honors in the Old School category. Both Kane and Jon were in attendance to accept the Yorkshire Sheep trophy.  Evan Price accepted the 2nd place Golden Chicken for his Fallen for Autumn Oatmeal Stout. Andy Black’s own Early Doors Pub Bitter took 3rd place for the home teak, Yorkshire Square.

On the weird side, first place and the Golden Pig trophy went to Jonathan Porter and Torrance’s Smog City Brewing for “Bloody Knuckle Fist Fight Adjunct Porter.” Both its name and ingredients (coconut, orange zest and vanilla) made this reporter a bit hesitant to try it. Any apprehension dissolved upon tasting, as the adjuncts came together to elevate its well-balanced flavor experience. “We put a pig on top of the trophy because pigs will eat anything,” Andy Black quipped upon presenting the trophy to Porter. Chris Walowski’s Trustworthy IPA from Trustworthy Brewing in Burbank took 2nd place. This West Coast IPA, typically formulated and dispensed in draft, transitioned well in its cask-conditioned form, endorsing all its citrusy goodness. Ocarina of Thyme Adjunct Pale Ale from Transplants Brewing in Palmdale was awarded third place. This adjunct pale’s ingredients also exemplified the category’s name. Brewed with sweet potatoes, lemon zest and spices, with marshmallows utilized in priming the cask, it served as a pleasant precursor to this season’s multifaceted holiday ales.

Other notable traditional formulations included Bagby Beer Co’s Single Party, a single-malt, single-hop Pub Bitter. Jeff and Dande Bagby made the trek from their Oceanside brewery to be a part of the festival. The lively flavor profile of The Best Best Bitter from MacLeod Ale in Van Nuys was confirming of brewer David Chaney’s continued growth as a brewer and his dedication to real ale. 

Far from traditional was Cellador Ales Australopithecus, a wild ale fermented with peaches and apricots. It also worked well in its cask conditioned form to bring forward a puckering stone fruit pop.

Lost Winds Turns Two

San Clemente’s Lost Winds Brewing Company celebrated its second year in business in early November. Founder Tim Thralls and the Lost Winds family put together a party that provided musical entertainment, food trucks and 20 Lost Winds beer formulations. Samplings and full pours were available from inside at the bar, a separate outside station and the Kombi Keg OC bus. Kombi Keg OC was onsite to dispense six Lost Winds beers from taps on the side of a beautifully restored classic 70s era VW bus. 

On the lighter end of the spectrum were the well-appointed Lot #1 Light American Ale, Unstable Table Beer and Trail 6 Belgian Blonde. A passion fruit version of Unstable Table was available from the inside bar. Other brews included Red Buoy Amber, two formulations of Single pHin Sour (one with peach and the other with blueberry) and six IPAs: Double Hop Dare Ya (double dry-hopped IPA), Stairway IPA, Tropi Clemente, Hop. Set. Spike. IPA and Whirlpool Galaxy DIPA. 

Belgian-styles included St. Lasuen Belgian Golden Strong, Survey Sais Mo’ Citra (a hoppy Saison) and Wit Me Baby One More Time (Blackberry Wit).  Happy Birthday Baby Jesus and a barrel-aged Lost My Bearings Imperial Porter and some special casks were also to be had.

Carla Corn

I often write about the pureness and simplicity of ingredients that classic beer styles, brewed right, possess. While enjoying one of those at Hand-Brewed Beer in Chatsworth last summer I met Peter Keefrider, friend of the brewery and husband to Carla Keefrider. He came to enjoy a beer and share samples of my first tastes of Carla Corn, unique small-batch caramel corn formulations from his wife Carla’s enterprise.

In tasting I found myself describing the experience much like I would a well-made, craft-brewed beer, “Crisp, clean, flavorful and satisfying without over-dominating in any one component.” Carla Corn’s website (carlacorn.com) says it best, “You’ll taste the difference from the very first bite!...Pure Ingredients, Pure Indulgence!”

It is made in small batches with simple (and pure) ingredients, utilizing hot-air popped popcorn, real butter, brown sugar and vanilla as the base for a rich, buttery caramel coating. And, it doesn’t stop there. Flavor infusions abound and could even include your favorite brewed beer! Yes, Carla can collaborate with your brewery to take one of your signature brews and infuse its flavor into the caramel corn. Custom labeling is also available for promoting your brand. 

Variants begin with Carla Corn’s original base flavor, “Brown Sugar.” It is prominent in its sweet buttery caramel crunch, with an extra pop provided by a touch of kosher salt. From this base, endless infusions take on various flavor profiles. “Chai” encompasses a blend of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, allspice and cardamom. “Spicy” provide a bit of cayenne pepper heat to complement the sweet. “Irish Beer,” an enjoyable representation of beer-infused corn, combines extra-stout ale into the mix, adding a complementary roasted malt component. “Anisette” imparts substantial amounts of sweet anise/licorice flavor reminiscent of Italian Sambuca. “Coffee” possesses a satisfying amount of roasted coffee balanced by the sweet caramel. Additional flavors have included lemon, orange, cinnamon bun and even pumpkin pie for the holidays.

Carla Corn products meld just enough of these natural flavors to provide a unique, balanced and satiating experience. They also pair well with many different styles of beer. Based in Moorpark, Carla and Peter are currently self-distributing their corn to a number of area breweries and possess a desire to increase their presence within Ventura, L.A. and Orange Counties. Packaged in 2-ounce bags, they are approachable snack alternatives for your patrons.

Carla Corn

Carla@carlacorn.com

805.328.4499

14711 Princeton #10

Moorpark, CA

Stay tuned next issue for in-depth coverage of the opening of GameCraft Brewing in Laguna Hills and a recap of December’s Brew Ho Ho in Anaheim. We’ll also have coverage of the many releases of Resilience IPA, a joint effort by breweries across the country. It was spearheaded by Sierra Nevada Brewing to raise money for those affected by the devastating fires in Northern California. Every dollar from the sales of the many variations of Resilience will go to the Sierra Nevada Campfire Relief Fund. Do your part to assist by purchasing a pint of this beer wherever you see it on tap. Support your local brewers who have taken the time and expense to produce Resilience by also having a pint or few their own beer.