Tag Archives: Cicerone

Patty Melts and Beer Studies

Some of the random things I’ve been doing this past week:

One of my nostalgic favorite places to eat: The Waypoint Cafe at the Camarillo Airport.
My parental unit and I used to go here at least once a month when they lived here to enjoy a greasy meal and watch the planes taking off.
The place has been spruced up since the last time I was here. The interior was all gussied up with new tables and booths and a polished bar. Luckily, their menu was still the same.
The patty melt. A must-have to fulfill grease-laden desires with deliciousness. This pairs perfectly with a chocolate malt.
If your finger aren’t dripping butter after each bite, your patty melt just wasn’t prepared correctly. These don’t have that problem.

The only problem I had was that they also had a cheesesteak as a special on the menu… What’s one to do?
One of the many benefits of having a dining companion. Order both…
…and halvsies! When both diners are craving unhealthy sammiches overflowing with beef, everyone wins!
I’ve also created a Beer ‘n Wings group. I went with Kevin and John to scout out the place for our first meeting. Shockingly enough, the local Hooters has craft beer on tap! Stone, Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head were among the selection. The boys seemed to enjoy themselves there, so I knew it would pass with other members of the group. I enjoy awkward things – going here is one of said awkward things I enjoy.
I headed up to Santa Barbara to get some Cicerone studying done with my buddy Grayson. Of course we had to stop at Island Brewing since it’s on the way up.
Some very kind gentlemen at the bar bought me a Blackbird Porter on nitro, just to be nice. It MAY have been as an apology for telling me that I looked like I was sixteen. That could’ve been it too…
Grayson and I made a terrible mistake and stopped by Keg ‘n Bottle in Isla Vista. My wallet hurts. Those three in the middle would be the 08-10 Vertical Epic series. I have 11.11.11 waiting in my closet to join them in consumption at the end of the year. Black Xantus is simply an amazing robust barrel-aged Imperial Stout and Sucaba looked cool and got good reviews on BeerAdvocate. I repeat – my wallet hurts.
We finally buckled down and got to studying. Feel free to steal our supersecret study secrets.
I also got classy for dinner. Surprising discovery – Cup o’ Noodles pairs deliciously with Valkyrie California Alt!
After a night full of creating a syllabus, “tasting” delicious beers, mourning the sorry states of our respective wallets and studying the malt and hop profiles of different styles we kept it cheap and gourmet. Breakfast Burritos a la Grayson. Scrambled egg stuffed with sauteed bell peppers, onions and crispy bacon wrapped up in a warm tortilla with cheese. Simple and freakin’ delicious!
To restore some mental health after the busy night, we took a stroll along the beautiful Santa Barbara coastline.
Not too shabby of a place to live, Gray.
Not too shabby at all.


Filed under beer

CBC12: Part Three

The second day started off with a Pink Boots Society meeting!
Brie, Laina – owner of Wolf Creek, and I hustled to seats up front and grabbed a raffle ticket.
We had 101 women attending this meeting! As of Friday, there were 815 members worldwide of the Pink Boots Society – a group designed to educate and support women in the beer industry. Peek closely above and you’ll see the lovely Cyrena from Ladyface in attendance.
Raffle items! Brie and I scouted out the table and prepared for the sprint after the meeting.
SUCCESS! It was a wonderful meeting on top of getting the awesome shirts – everyone stood up and introduced themselves, told where they were from and what company they worked for. After the meeting broke, ladies magnetically drew towards those in similar job positions or met with others who could help them understand certain aspects they’d been looking into. I found the lead brewer, Alex Nowell, from Drakes Brewing and talked about participating in a collaboration brew they’ll be leading for the PBS to raise money for scholarships.
More gratuitous images of the SWAG (schwaaaaag!).
We then moved on to the Anchor Brewing hospitality suite, had a beer and chatted with the reps for a bit before we met up with the rest of the EBC crew.
On our way, we ran into Ray Daniels, the creator of the Cicerone program and talked for a bit about the certification exam.
I also went super creeper and snapped this pic of Jim Koch from Samuel Adams. Creepering is my specialty.

We finally found the rest of the crew.
The happy couple! Congrats again on your engagement Christoph and Brie 🙂 Best. Picture. Ever.
Tyler Endicott – artist and brewer who’ll be opening up a 15bbl with his brother, Sean, back in Thousand Oaks where I used to reside, and Joe – Enegren’s brew chief as I’m sure you all know.
Peter/Sean – Joe’s brother or Tyler’s brother depending on whether or not you looked at his badge and if your name was Jim and you were a few beers deep before you stumbled into our table, and Commander Matt.
The beginning of our night…
The Tiki – the location of the 148 taps that was open EVERY SINGLE NIGHT we were there.
The Tiki is where I got this ring to try out from Creek Van Houton from Compass Rose Designs. I LOVE this ring!
We ended up going to Karl Strauss for the event they had there – free carnitas tacos, beer and a mechanical bull. I rode the bull. Then we made Brie ride the bull. It was epic, just trust me on that. There may be video footage coming up soon…
The next day after the boys had gone to their seminars, Brie and I hit up Little Italy for some brunch and to check out Monkey Paw. I had to try the beers to ensure that I would proudly wear the shirt I’d gotten from the raffle!
I liked their Oatmeal Pale Ale best (not pictured here) – full citrus on the nose, a rich body thanks to the oatmeal with a crisp end. I’d be more descriptive, but that beer was the first that I tasted at the Tiki. The rest is up for your interpretation…
We all got back together and ended the night at Blind Lady Ale House with chorizo and avocado pizza, egg and bacon pizza and taster flights. A gentle end to an insanely amazing four days!

After I catch up on sleep and detox for about a month or four, I’d so be ready to do it again!


Filed under Craft Brewers Conference

A Little Inspiration

Just stumbled across this the other day.
I absolutely love this. It’s a pretty accurate description of my life, actually! I was so dead set on acting – so much that I was centering my entire life around auditions, not taking any breaks or vacations just in case a really important audition came in, and really had no other interests or prospects in life. I began this blog partially as a distraction; something else to do instead of put all of my focus into filming auditions, scanning the breakdowns and reading sides, and I ended up falling in love with it.

I also began to gain respect for beer and explore the world of brewing: my blog was a way to document everything I learned and all the beers I tried. Then, last May, we went to the Small Batch Revival at Odell Brewing in Fort Collins.
I “got lost and found a better one”.
The countdown to my Cicerone test/aka my new dream has officially begun. Time to go lose myself in my beer books. Again.


Filed under beer

Draft Systems and Daydreams

I finally put together a study schedule from the master syllabus for my Cicerone exam! My day consisted of this:
Back to Monstas! Nothing like a liquid salad before 9am!
Study, study, study! Today was the beginnings of draught/draft systems and anatomy of kegs and couplers.
Lemony lentil soup with onions and spinach and Hi-5 Fiber bread from Great Harvest with olive oil and fig balsamic. Healthy, healthy, healthy!
All that topped off with a healthy dose of daydreaming.
Escaping back to Monday in Santa Barbara, celebrating my mumsie’s birthday!
Then I got back to studying. Kinda…
Another escape back in time to last week. But that’ll have to wait for another post…


Filed under Daily Life

Off-Flavor Tasting

On Monday, Cyrena Nouzille offered up an off-flavor tasting at Ladyface Alehouse to those who were serious about learning. Needless to say, I was in attendance in preparation for my Cicerone test and just because I love learning everything beer.
I came geekily-prepared.
Unfortunately, my notes were not enough to prepare me for the horror that was ahead. We began with oxidation in Ladyface’s La Blonde. Have you ever chewed on an old tube of lipstick? Well, why haven’t you? Do that and you’ll know exactly how this beer smelled and tasted. Horrifying.
DMS – This one was tough for me. I couldn’t really smell or taste the cooked-corn/canned vegetable when the beer was cold. After about ten minutes, the beer started to warm up and I got a disgusting facepunch of DMS.
Diacetyl was another one I had trouble with when it was cold. The only thing I could notice was a slickness on the tongue. Once it warmed up, the aroma of butter and buttery popcorn flavor was impossible not to notice!
The Siebel kit comes with 24 different off-flavor vials. We went through eight of the most common.
Acetaldehyde – an apple aroma/flavor: sign of a young or “green” beer. Mercaptan – sewage aroma/flavor: sign of autolysis (death of yeast). Metallic – metallic (durr) flavor: sign of minerals in the brew water/old brewery equipment. Isovaleric – sweaty socks aroma/flavor: sign of stale and oxidized hops. Microbial infection – slightly sweet/sour funk (actually similar to some saisons I’ve had): sign of nasty bacteria . Papery – stale lipstick aroma/flavor: sign of oxidization. DMS – cooked corn/vegetal aroma/flavor: sign of wort that’s been cooled too slowly/closed kettle during the boil. Diacetyl – buttery/butterscotch aroma/flavor: sign of weak or stressed yeast.
We had a group of about eight people for the tasting, plus another three who came in later to partake.
For some reason, the pitchers didn’t get finished. No idea why that was.

After the trauma had worn off a few days later, I worked an event with Enegren Brewing out in downtown LA.
Just for kicks, here’s a picture of me carrying a 50lb keg on my (now bruised) shoulder whilst wearing heels and a skirt. I’m bomb like that.
Happy Saturday! I’m off to a client’s house for gourmet food and red wine!


Filed under beer tasting

Ojai and Zombie Prevention

The lovely Allie and I went up to Ojai on Wednesday for a girls’ day. Our first order of business? Azu in Ojai.
I ordered the exact same thing as last time – the portabella sammich. Allie ordered the filet mignon tacos and we split. Those tacos majorly trumped the sammich this time. Filet mignon shall be my obsession of the week…
Afterwards we walked through town and then got into the car to get lost.
I got lost and found a place I’d been before. This meditation mountain is my favorite part of Ojai, besides the food of course…
Allie a la Meditation Mountain.
A beautiful, completely natural day…
This was a totally candid, natural pose… (I loves me some HDR and tone mapping!)

We spent the day wandering the town, exploring the hills and then went to Wades Wines for a beer tasting. Important zombie prevention techniques were discussed, diagrams were designed… It was a successful day.
Zombie Prevention: Don’t get caught without ammo.

In other news: I officially signed up for the Certified Cicerone Exam this afternoon. I’ve got plenty of time (NOT ENOUGH) before I take it, and I’m sure (COMPLETELY TERRIFIED) that I’ll do fine (FAIL MISERABLY)

I’ll be at Enegren Brewing all day tomorrey, for any of you locals who want to come by and say hello!


Filed under Travel

Vanilla Porter Brew Day

It’s been far too long, but I finally got to brew my own beer again! With the help of my genius brewer friends, of course. I went to the homebrew store, picked up 26lbs of grain, yeast and hops and lugged it all up to Santa Barbara for a day of brewing in the gorgeous weather.
Beckster’s Vanilla Porter! The spelling mistake was intentional, right Frank? Witty and all that? Let’s just go with witty…

This is how brew day began:
That’s a pretty accurate description for the entire day.
Laughing until I cry. Brewing is really, really difficult.
We mashed in around 4pm, only two hours later than planned!
Since I was busy taking pictures, Frank decided to portray me for a couple of shots.
The resemblance is uncanny.
We ended up sparging around 9pm.
Frank made burgers and Grayson manned the grill. It was a terrifying hour.
We made ten gallons, divided it into two boils, added separate additions to have a base and an experimental and then split it into two carboys.
My carboy, sitting next to about ten others in Frank’s closet. I SO ‘CITED!
Once the carboys were airlocked and resting comfortably, we had a tasting of ESBs (Extra Special Bitters) – a part of studying for the Cicerone test.
We tasted between Anderson Valley Boont ESB, Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery Pale Ale, Fuller’s ESB, and Shipyard Brewing’s Old Thumper ESA. I’m fairly certain we got a faulty Old Thumper – we were all disgusted by it, but it’s gotten relatively good ratings on Beer Advocate. I have so much homework to do to be able to pull out the different aromas and flavors and faults. Sigh, time to taste even MORE beer.
You better BELIZE it! Frank and Gray whipped out the beer pong table for a game (or many, many games) of death pong. I was challenged. I lost a few times. I retreated to the couch to cower as the games continued.
Brewing is really, really difficult.


Filed under brewing, homebrewing


In order to weasel my way into the hearts, and into the brewery of Enegren Brewing (speaking of which – check out the latest, most amazing blog full of epicness written by Joe, Enegren’s brew chief), I willingly accepted their challenge to give Surf Brewery another try.
The verdict? It was okay… The carbonation has definitely mellowed out since the last time I was there. I didn’t drink the first two – both a little too close to water for my liking, but the Surf Patrol Black IPA was not bad! Pretty low on the IBU, but passable. After finishing most of the sampler, we ordered a pint to split amongst the four of us. I jokingly asked the server for straws. She brought straws.
That server is my hero. Naturally, we didn’t want to let this precious moment go to waste.
How could I not?
Matt, Chris and Brie – willing to go the extra step for the sake of beer. Awesome.

While I’m still not officially a fan of the brewery, I am slightly more willing to go back and try some of their new brews. They have improved since their soft grand opening.

Since it was still semi-early, and since we’re real people who can’t solely subsist on beer, as much as we’d like to believe, we went over to what used to be a creepy old abandoned restaurant in the Channel Islands Harbor – now refurbished into a Toppers Pizza.
When Toppers first destroyed the beautiful destitute remains of the brick building – complete with shattered windows, dead leaves littering the faded carpet, and wooden booths with cushions ripping at the seams, I was bummed out. But then we ordered a “Fire in the Hole” pizza – pepperoni, jalapenos and pineapple.
Toppers, you are completely forgiven for destroying the history of the crumbling restaurant formerly known as “Harbor Lights”. You are TOTALLY forgiven. I may have dreamt about this pizza last night, and talked nonstop about it today. Maybe…

After that deliciously cheesy, sweet and painfully spicy pizza, we went over to the old mental institution to walk around. Seriously, how can you end a night WITHOUT trespassing into old abandoned courtyards littered with old cafeteria chairs and balconies that have ominous ropes dangling from them at midnight? Pictures to follow:
I couldn’t believe I got a picture of that! Seriously creepy, right?Yeah, I didn’t actually take any pictures there… I’ll put my ridiculously fancy camera at risk at midnight at an old mental institution sometime soon though, I promise. Matt, Chris and Brie – good luck getting rid of me. Anyone who’ll gorge on pizza, drink craft beers with straws and then traipse around creepy abandoned buildings in the dark is… well, just plain awesome.

Something beautiful came in the mail today…
My official Certified Beer Server pin! I’m officially official now!
That sums up my life about now. And what a wonderful life I lead!


Filed under brewery

Wolf Creek Restaurant & Brewing Company

I took the test yesterday morning and passed with flying colors! WOOHOO!!!! In order to celebrate, I figured it was time to get something I’ve been drooling over for a long time.
I GOT A DigiSLR!!! A Nikon D3100 to be precise. After lots of research, I was deciding between the D3100 and the D5100. Since I won’t be focusing on video, I figured this one would be perfect. I’m in love!

After snapping dozens of photos around the house, I decided to take Nikita aka Nikki aka my new beloved camera, for a test drive.
Allie and I went to Wolf Creek Restaurant & Brewing Company in Calabasas.
The interior is bright, cheery and earthy. I love the rustic wood and gorgeous streaks of ruby paint racing across the walls.
I love the floor to ceiling windows! If you need natural light to test out your beautiful new camera, this is the perfect place for it!
They immediately brought out piping hot fresh bread with a funky purple dipping sauce. I forwent the sauce and just shoveled hunk after hunk of scorching sourdough into my mouth. Drool.
They brew their own beer on site. Awesome!
And the beer! From the top left: Golden Eagle – their blonde ale, Howlin’ Hef – self explanatory, Wolf Dog – A hoppy amber, Wild Angels – a sweet tripel, Midnite Howl – a mix of IPA and stout, and Oatmeal Stout – their guest brew on tap from Anderson Valley. Wolf Dog was my favorite – a nice, dry, beautifully hopped amber that finishes with a healthy bite of citrus hops.
SO good to have more options in local brews!
Allie and I split the Chicken and Brie sandwich – grilled chicken breast, gooey brie cheese, guacamole, sundried tomatoes and chipotle mayo on ciabatta bread. We subbed the sweet potato fries for the regular chipotle. DROOL AGAIN! Any place that has sweet potato fries is a win on my list.
Dessert was – COMPLIMENTARY! The waitress brought out this amazing sculpture of maple ice cream studded with vanilla beans, sandwiched between sweet waffles, drizzled with a maple cream and fresh berries. They served maple syrup on the side, but it was sweet enough without. This definitely cemented my adoration for Wolf Creek.

And to finish, I had to share (with Allie’s permission of course) – Allie (not a fan of bitter beers) tries her first sip of a black IPA.
I love my cousin. And my new camera that was able to capture, in succession, this amazing piece of history.


Filed under brewery

So. Much. Beer.

I have my Cicerone test to become a Certified Beer Server on Saturday, so my day was spent like this:
Healthy monsta to start! We had a peach that was about to pass its prime, so I threw it in the Vitamix. Nothing like getting two cups of spinach in before 9am!
Then I got down to business.
My plan was to start studying at 10am, and not stop until all fifty-six of these styles’ ABVs, IBUs and SRMs were memorized!
But then I started posting pictures of what I was preparing to study for on my Bites ‘n Brews Facebook page and forgot to actually BEGIN the studying part… (I was even wearing my Odell IPA sweatshirt to mentally prepare!)

Eventually, I DID get down to business! I spent a good three hours learning about the off-flavors you can encounter in beer, how adding oats to the brew creates an oily or silky texture to the mouthfeel, that lowering the mash temp will create a thinner, crisp finish, that umami surfaces in beer with a taste of soy sauce, that having DMS (Dimethyl Sulfide) present in the beer creates a canned corn taste…
Yeah. And that’s just a small part of the perception of flavor section.

Luckily for my sanity, I had plans to meet up with Janelle and her hubby, Andrew at Wades Wines for a beer flight night!
There wasn’t a style setup this night, unlike the previous beer tastings we’ve been to, but an introduction to some new beers they have on tap. I’d already tried both of the Heretic brews at Ladyface with Janelle last month, but needed another look.
Any brewery that has their own coasters AND temporary tattoos has made it!
Of all the four beers, the last two stood out most to me. Heretic’s Evil Twin is HOPPY! The Bruery’s Humulus Lager is… different. Big hops on the nose and taste, but they fade immediately after the swallow. Here’s the confusing part: Evil Twin = 45IBU. Humulus = 70IBU. Whaaaa? There’s a HUGE difference in the bitterness of the Evil Twin vs. the Humulus. Evil Twin almost bowled me over, but Humulus seemed pretty tame. I had to come home and find out how IBUs are rated.

I came home, ready to research how IBUs are determined, but I opened my fridge to this:
That’s not including the Dogfish Head Sah’tea and Labyrinth Black Ale I picked up after the tasting tonight… Needless to say, I opened a Boont ESB and promptly forgot about IBUs. Until tomorrow…

Random catch-up time! I asked on Twitter yesterday if pairing a CoCoNut PorTeR from Maui Brewing Company with a super spicy butternut squash and leek soup was a bad decision. Two people responded to me, recommending that I stick with an ESB instead…
I received those recommendations halfway through the bowl of soup and glass of porter. Oops. I’m happy to report that the coconut porter does NOT overwhelm the soup! In fact, I couldn’t detect any of the “hand toasted coconut” in the porter. It smelled like a dense, rich coffee porter stuffed with chocolate malts. I enjoyed a can (or two) to soothe my blazing mouth while I watched Black Swan.
It was an intense night.

And now, I’m going to retire to the soft couch that beckons me from the living room, and rot my exhausted, beer fact-riddled brain and watch a stupid comedy. G’night!


Filed under beer, beer tasting