I honestly didn’t think I would be able to attend the Great American Beer Festival this year. I didn’t realize I’d live in Colorado at this point, so I didn’t even bother trying to get tickets. Lucky for me, I know some awesome, ridiculously helpful people who found a members-only session ticket. 15 hours before the session began, I was in Fort Collins, doing a wonderfully shady ticket purchase inside a bustling brewery.
But let’s rewind to Friday.
I drove down to Denver for the Pink Boots Society meeting!
The founder, Teri Fahrendorf, hosted us at the Vine Street Pub and Brewery. The waiters came around with pitchers and we got down to business.
We enjoyed the Sweet Lady Collaboration Brew #3 – Whackalicious extra pale ale. The ladies get together to brew these beers and the proceeds go towards the PBS scholarship fund.
Jessica Heidrich, the head brewer at St. Erik’s Bryggeryi in Stockholm, was the first recipient of the PBS scholarship and spoke a little about her experience with the online Siebel course and her background.
Kim Jordan, the CEO of New Belgium, also stopped by to give a little insight to her position at the brewery and spoke highly of all of her employees. “Brand is the emotional connection with the consumer.”
Charcuterie plates were brought out, courtesy of the amazing Vine Street Pub.
The owners of the mobile canning service “The Can Van” spoke about their company based out of San Francisco and the benefits to owners of smaller breweries who either can’t fit or afford a canning line, as well as their ability to can smaller batches since they have a lower minimum purchase than other canning services.
We took our traditional group photo and then got to networking.
Lotsa ladies! It was wonderful to get to see half of the Beer Chicks, Christina Perozzi and Cambria of The Bruery again!
Lotsa swag for the raffle!
And some amazing brews brought for the bottle share. After the meeting ended, I headed over to TRVE Brewing to meet up with some of my California folk who were in town for GABF.
Ladyface Ale Companie! We enjoyed some heavy metal brews, talked to the female brewer who was on site, then headed over to yet another wonderful brewery.
Great Divide! I love this place.
And I love this woman! Katie’s my beer nerd soulmate with the happiest personality I’ve ever met. After I dropped them at their hotel, I sped up north for the aforementioned shady ticket deal.
NOW for the GABF recap!
On Saturday morning my bro and sis-in-law picked me up bright and early and we headed back down to Denver. I was given a roll of string and a bag of pretzels to create some beer art/necessary sustenance. We arrived at the convention center and I started to feel slightly panicky as we strolled past sign after sign that said “NO BACKPACKS ALLOWED.” I was wearing my CamelBak. We were miles away from the car.
Praise the Lord, the head security guard was kind enough to let me in. I had to empty all of the water into the street and show them that my backpack only contained camera equipment and they let me slide on by. We walked up the stairs through a band of bagpipers who played us into the hall, then picked up our glasses. Go time.
We headed straight for the far end of the convention center to beat the lines.
So. Many. Breweries!
Look who I found! Lauren is the writer of Me and the Mountains – a wonderful blog full of hiking, foods and craft beer that I’ve been following for about a year. I heard she was working at the GABF and had to swing by to say hi to her and Paige who were working the KIND bar booth.
Blog buddies! So wonderful to meet you in person, Lauren!
My group (we’d expanded from the three of us to about six) stocked up on the free KIND bars and continued on.
Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout. Possibly not the best beer to start on. We followed it up with a bunch of sours and basically wrecked our palates. We’re SMRT.
The lines started to get ridiculously long, but they moved through pretty quickly.
Ladyface and LAB repping Agoura Hills!
And I ran into LAB Brewing’s brewer, Roger! I’ve missed him and his Schwarzbier so very much!
I was hoping to record and document all of the beers that I tried, but got caught up in simply enjoying myself and hanging out with wonderful new friends.
The Liquid Poets Society – the homebrew club of Fort Collins, and soon to be MY homebrew club!
The session closed after 4 hours of delicious sips. After saying hello to friends at The Bruery, Kinetic Brewing and Bravery Brewing amongst many others, we left the building and went in search of food. Lots of food. Lots of Mexican food. And then we went to Falling Rock Taphouse, where it got even crazier.
Lost Abbey’s Red Barn. Yessssssss!
Matthew modeling awesome can art by Lauren of the beer blog Napa of Beer.
My fellow Verboten Sister Ingrid and Cy.
Travis, me, Bill and Bill. There were soooo many Chivers at the fest!
And this is how the rest of the night went. After a few hours the remaining four of us wandered back to the hotel for one final beer and then I crashed in the hotel room that Ladyface graciously offered to share. I am beyond grateful for them and their kindness!
This morning was a little painful, I’m not gonna lie. I walked across the street to Caribou Coffee for a soy pumpkin chai and breakfast sammich. Travis and Kara picked me up in downtown and we headed out for breakfast (For them. I’d eaten my sammich soon after I woke up at 7:30am. Ugh) at Ale House before stumbling across Prost Brewing as we began our drive back north.
We were there before they were open, but the staff kindly allowed us in and gave us a tour of the 35bbl brewery. All German brews on a German brew system. I will be coming here on a future weekend, relax in the bright and open taproom and have a Maß of their Marzen Oktoberfest.
I don’t know why we did this, but we did. And this was less than an hour after Travis proclaimed, “I am never drinking again. Well, at least for today”. It felt rude to get a free tour and not support the brewery. You know that saying “hair of the dog”? It doesn’t work after the Great American Beer Festival. I will vouch for that, and I can’t wait to go back next year!
Have you ever attended GABF or any other awesome beer fest?
A few of the things that have transpired lately…
PLINY THE YOUNGER! Didn’t even have to wait in line! I was taking a different route home, got a call from a lovely lady from Ladies at Ladyface and was receiving a pour two minutes later. I’m glad that I tried it, but I’m very glad I didn’t wait in line for it. It’s a perfectly balanced beer. Someone at Tony’s Darts Away explained it the best way – “So perfect it’s forgettable.” I’ll remember it just because of the hype. And the jalapeno and bacon mac ‘n cheese I paired with it.
Enegren Brewing and El Segundo Brewing beer pairing night at Short Order!
Tom from El Segundo Brewing, Matt and Joe from Enegren Brewing.
Valkyrie California Alt in front of the fire on a warm evening.
Bad news for you guys – the food was so delicious that it was devoured before I remembered I should be taking pictures. My apologies.
Custom Melt visited the brewery for our St. Patrick’s Day event!
Green Mac ‘n Cheese with Bangers. Spinach blended into the cheese made it green. And healthy. That’s how that works.
Heavenly corned beef and cabbage melts. It was jam packed again, similar to Superbowl Saturday, so I was only able to snag a few bites of everything.
Irish Car Bomb bread pudding! Thomas of Custom Melt made Valkyrie beer bread to use in this recipe. Have I mentioned how Custom Melt is my hero/haven/love/dream?
We had the 21st meeting of Ladies at Ladyface! Irish brews were the theme.
Plenty of donations from the ladies.
Traditional examples of nitro Irish stouts.
And and “Irish Car Bomb” beer by Ladyface owner Cyrena. She used Ladyface’s Barleywine and threw in whiskey-soaked oak chips. Dangerously delicious, plus each glass had an oak chip or two gracefully floating atop the sweet nectar.
Corned beef and cabbage sliders to top off the evening!
I also designed and hosted a beer pairing at Cafe Fiore in Woodland Hills!
The things my job requires me to do… It’s rough, I’m tellin’ ya.
Chef masterpieces commence….NOW.
Ahi Tuna Tartar with fresh avocado, house-pickled cucumbers and crispy focaccia. I could’ve eaten just this all night and been content.
Citrus-glazed shrimp skewers with citrus wedges and spring greens.
House-made chicken and sun-dried tomato sausages atop sweet polenta, drizzled with a balsamic reduction. Again, heavenly.
Corned beef sliders – twas the season.
Awful picture, but possibly my favorite dessert EVER – caramel sauce, freshly sliced Fuji apples and asiago cheese atop freshly baked pizza crust. My boss, my boss’s boss and myself each ordered an additional one to take home and share with those who were truly deserving of such an abundance of deliciousness – that means I ate the majority of it. It’s THAT good.
I had a lovely girls’ night with Janelle and her little Avery last night as well! She made an amazing spread of stuffed peppers, roasted sweet potatoes and fresh salad to pair with the beers I brought.
Farmer’s Reserve No. 2 by Almanac Beer Company. Wonderfully tart and not overpowering with spices at all. This will be a repeat.
Avery was a little jealous of us I think. Only 20.3 years and then you can join us in appreciation of fermented liquids! She shall be trained well when the time comes, but for now I’m enjoying capturing her beautiful innocence.
Coming up this week – a new restaurant review. I did a beer education at this amazing place with an eccentric/genius chef and have been dying to sit down and have a full meal there. Tomorrey is that day.
This month’s Ladies at Ladyface: The Fermentables and Comestibles Education and Tippling Society meeting came at the perfect time for me. The past few weeks have put me in a wonderful tailspin and all I wanted and needed was a good beer, delicious foods and a night with a bunch of fellow beer-geek ladies.
We had a beautiful view sitting outside on the patio, drinking up the last rays of sunlight that streamed through the screens on the warm end-of-summer day.
That view was okay too.
Janelle brought a loaf of spent grain bread she’d made using the remnants of an imperial stout and black IPA. The bread was soft, dense, chewy and had a subtle sweetness that tasted like more. I grabbed the recipe from her – look for it in an upcoming blog! I feel a baking binge about to occur.
Speaking of Janelle – she brought little Avery to join as well. She’s getting so big!!! I caught this picture right before she completely zonked out at the table. Avery is fitting right in with our group.
It was Oktoberfest/German beer night! Everyone brought a German-style beer and a little info or history about that style or beer.
Cyrena brought out an alestake – Alewives (women brewers/pub owners back in the middle ages) would hang a pole with brush attached to the end would hang over their doors to signify where the brewery was.
They were also sometimes called witches for their “potions” they brewed. Add that the the broom above the door and you’ve got a Grimm Brothers’ tale in the making!
I’d ordered a Blind Ambition amber before I’d seen the array of beers on the table and pretty much stuck to this glass with a few 1/2 ounce tasters of the German beers here and there.
Franziskaner Weissbier – my second favorite weissbier to date next to Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier. I’ll miss the heat of summer only for the memories of sipping these sweet, musty wheat beers tinged with hints of banana and bubble gum.
To balance out the booze I ordered Mary’s Farm Chicken from Ladyface’s new fall menu – ale-brined and roasted chicken with potato puree, glazed cipolline mushrooms, oyster mushrooms and natural ale juice. Drool. Delicate, bursting with flavor and falling off the bone. I’ll be finishing the other half of this tonight. Hooray for take-home boxes!
I ended the evening by splitting the bread pudding with Janelle, but was too busy shoveling it down my gullet to take a picture. It was awesome. That’s all you need to know.
Another successful meeting with the ladies! Next month will be all things pumpkin – pumpkin beer, baked pumpkin goods, pumpkin everything. It’s tradition to overdose on everything pumpkin in the month of October – get cliche and stereotypical and join in on the fun!
Life has been crazy busy lately. In addition to working at Wolf Creek Brewery, I’m also doing social media and writing their blog.
You can check out the purpose of this crazy photo over at the Wolf Creek blog. On top of real work, I also volunteer at Enegren Brewing Friday through Sunday.
I got a little refresher from Red Mango on my way over to Moorpark Friday afternoon.
And then I got another little refresher at Ladyface on the way. Sweet Cherry Porter on cask? How could I not?
Definitely glad I treated myself before this huge pallet arrived! Those would be 356 two liter growlers from Italy. The caps were in the same shipment. That’s right – caps were not attached to the bottles.
I spent Friday afternoon and all of Saturday assembling the tops and attaching them to the bottles – this time with help from the EBC crew. My hands and wrists still ache.
While I was there on Friday, the owner/brewmaster from Hangar 24 happened to swing by with about seven other employees/sales reps. Ben Cook recently had an article written about him in the New Brewer magazine which his coworkers made sure to point out, much to Ben’s dismay. I immediately jumped on the bandwagon and insisted on a personalized autograph and cheesy picture just to humiliate him a little more. The entire group of guys were a much needed fun breath of fresh air in between unloading and assembling growlers. Now I need to get to the Redlands and visit the brewery!
Friday night was brew night – Chris and Matt mashed in and brewed overnight and then Joe and I came in the morning to relieve them and finish up the brew. Saturday was a long one full of pain and growlers and cursing at growlers that created pain, but with this schedule we had all of Sunday free!
We went on a 16.7 mile mountain bike ride on Sunday morning then ate back all of the calories we’d burned at the local greasy diner, Cactus Patch, before heading back to work.
And then the week started again. Normally this would be tragic (or at least it would be if I had a normal job and didn’t brew beer for a living), but I had the fifteenth gathering of Ladies at Ladyface: The Fermentables and Comestibles Education and Tippling Society to look forward to on Monday night!
We went “back to the basics” and had a brewery tour where we were walked through the brew process and got to munch on milled malts and sip Blind Ambition straight from the fermentor. There were many new faces, all eager to learn and imbibe and get tippled in the necessary fashion it takes to be a L@L.
We had a nice big group of ladies attending – not a single keg was left un-sat-upon. We spent the evening sipping homebrews and socializing before grabbing some foods to ward off the dizzying effects of beer on empty stomachs.
Sweet potato fries – suicide style. Could you need anything more in life?
For recaps of our past Ladies at Ladyface meetings, check out the links below:
Ladies at Ladyface: 1
Ladies at Ladyface: 2
Ladies at Ladyface: 3
Ladies at Ladyface: 4
Ladies at Ladyface: 5
Ladies at Ladyface: 6
Ladies at Ladyface: 7
Ladies at Ladyface: 8
Ladies at Ladyface: 9
Ladies at Ladyface: 10
Ladies at Ladyface: 11
Ladies at Ladyface: 12
Ladies at Ladyface: 13
Ladies at Ladyface: 14
Last night was our monthly meeting of Ladies at Ladyface: The Fermentables and Comestibles Education and Tippling Society. On the agenda – beer and chocolate pairings!
I absolutely love spicy chocolate. I also love IPAs. I also love how IPAs make spicy chocolate seem even spicier!
(Photo credit to Stacey P.) We brought along some fiery chocolate from my favorite little chocolate shop in Ventura, Trufflehounds, to pair with Ballast Point Sculpin IPA (an AMAZING IPA, by the way!). The bitterness of the hops amplify the spice of the chocolate by tenfold, so if you like spice, you’ll love this combo! For those attendees who don’t enjoy the pain of spice as much as I do, I brought La Trappe Quadrupel. The creamy maltiness of this beer still allows you to relish the spice in the chocolate, but also acts as a mellowing agent after the first sip. The majority of the ladies seemed to prefer the quad pairing over the IPA.
I began the night with Ladyface’s Blind Ambition, which I haven’t ordered in over a year but was feeling nostalgic for. This was a flashback to the first time I tried it – a nice floral aroma, hints of malty sweetness and a clean, crisp ending. I also got a taster of the cask of the week, Beer Pancakes – Russian Lullaby Imperial Stout with maple syrup and vanilla beans. The vanilla aroma really emanates from the beer, even in a taster glass, while the maple hides right beneath it, finishing the beer with an extra layer of smooth, sugary goodness. This beer is like a delicious, boozy chocolate milkshake. Love!
We had a full house of ladies, with other pairings like C7 (homemade cashew brittle with cumin, cinnamon, chocolate and three other “C”s) with a homebrewed pale ale, homemade spicy peanut brittle drizzled with 67% dark chocolate paired with Ladyface IPA, dark chocolate sprinkled with lavender salt paired with Ladyface’s smoky Midnight Special scotch ale on nitro, and a handful of others. I was too busy enjoying myself to get more pictures, so here are a few random ones from my weekend.
Sweet potato tater tots at Lazy Dog Cafe.
Spicy buffalo sauce chicken nuggets, also from Lazy Dog Cafe.
Grilled pizzeti with goat cheese, prosciutto, fresh basil and garlic with a red wine sangria from Roman Holiday.
Random sighting in my town. CHIVE ON!
Tonight, I head back to Ladyface for yet ANOTHER off flavor tasting. Wish me and my poor taste buds luck.
I spent most of yesterday making beer flashcards and studying aroma notes, so I decided it would be good to put that studying to practice and see what I’d truly learned. And by that, I mean I went to Ladyface for the evening, had a flight of beer and enjoyed a long afternoon.
Since I’ve tried all of Ladyface’s beers, I went for their flight of the week.
Sierra Nevada has taken over the guest taps! My flight was served right to left. I’m not a huge fan of sweeter beers, but I’m slowly learning to like tripels and quads! I’m finally getting out of my hopheaded stubbornness!
In between tasters, it’s necessary to cleanse your palate. Bacon and jalapeno stuffed mac ‘n cheese topped with salt and vinegar chips probably isn’t the best way, but man, was it worth it!
They had a sausage plate featuring pork, duck and rabbit. Turns out I’m not a big fan of rabbit. I just couldn’t get the image of our trail bunnies jumping through my path out of my head. I had a bite of each and then felt too weirded out to continue…
We enjoyed a relaxing two hours inside, soaking in the ambiance and slowly sipping through the flight. As I was walking out I was stopped by a couple enjoying their dinner who recognized me and said they follow my blog! So sorry I didn’t get your names or formally introduce myself, but thank you so much for the sweet comments – you really made my night!
Ladyface will be celebrating their two-year anniversary starting next week! You can bet I’ll be there supporting them!
I’m heading up to Santa Barbara today for a little Cicerone study session and porter tasting with Grayson! Have a wonderful Tuesday!
Happy New Year to all! I hope you all had a wonderful, safe holiday! I spent my evening sipping a homemade hot toddy, coughing up a storm and watching In Bruges. Not quite the successful evening we’d planned, but we were miserably comfortable.
I’m attempting to sum up some highlights of this year with pictures, and I’ve realized that I have had a WONDERFUL year. If you thought 30 pictures was bad, prepare yourself for a visual onslaught.
The first of many, many nights at Ladyface, TRULY appreciating beer.
Learning all-grain brewing with Grayson and Frank.
Watching my first polo match in Indio.
Staying in a hotel in Indio where someone was possibly murdered…
Multiple trips to Ojai.
Opening my first brew: Dos Beckis!
Recording ADR for a film that has yet to surface… C’mon, Scott!
Enjoyed my first (of many) sangrias at Sofrita!
Created a recipe for Newman’s Own!
Had a blogger meetup at Ladyface.
Made Oatmeal Stout Brownies with Caramelized Bacon – this has gotten me recognized in the brewery and at the homebrew shop: “Hey, you’re the one who made the brownies with bacon!”
Attempted to resign, and then officially resigned from my retail job.
Went to Colorado for two weeks…
Was so sick that every time I inhaled I had to cough. (Seriously, I didn’t sleep for a week thanks to this horrible illness as I’m sure you can see in that picture!)
Went to the Odell’s Small Batch Revival. I jokingly told my brother that once he and his wife opened their brewery, I would be pouring in their taproom. They said, “We’d really prefer a sommelier for beer.” I went home, researched, and found the Cicerone program.
I became a Cicerone Certified Beer Server. I’m scheduled to take the exam to become a Certified Cicerone in the next few months…
Became a member of the American Homebrewers Association.
Was featured on The Chive three times!
Went to Breckenridge for a show and got to meet/interview the head brewer, Matt Darling.
…and enjoy Breckenridge in all of its chilly glory.
Purchased a MacBook Pro with my own earnings.
Purchased a camera. Then immediately upgraded to an even better camera!
Visited Wades Wines new tasting room. Then visited again and again and again. Then was interviewed by The Beer Wench.
Tried mussels for the first time. Tried mussels for the last time.
Visited Island Brewing Company.
Got a tour from the brewer.
Brewed my second batch of beer with the Maltose Falcons.
Finally trespassed and got a closeup look at an old abandoned water park.
Became a founding member of Ladies at Ladyface. Haven’t missed a meeting since.
Went to the second concert of my entire life with my friend/cousin Allie. She owled.
Went to Seattle for the first time in my life.
Visited Elysian Brewing Company and became obsessed with their Avatar Jasmine IPA.
Learned how to use the bus and visited Deschutes Brewery on our way down from Seattle.
Made a pit stop at Sierra Nevada Brewing in Chico to try all SIXTEEN of their brews.
Met the brewers at Enegren Brewing Company.
Weasled my way into the brewery and started volunteering there so I could be a Cicerone Certified Beer Server who’d actually served beer to people instead of just passed an online test. Then they threw me into a brewniform, let me help with a brew day and got stuck with me.
I learned how to lift 50lb kegs over my shoulder while wearing heels. Enegren will seriously have a hard time getting rid of me.
I visited TONS of breweries. The few I’ve featured are only skimming the top…
I created some delicious recipes for the autumn season…
Some boozy autumn recipes as well.
One of my recipes was featured on Taste Terminal and was their second most popular post of 2011!
Discovered a program for HDR and went slightly beserk with that. Consequently, I realized that food doesn’t always do so well with HDR.
Brewed again with Frank and Grayson up in Santa Barbara.
Met the Beer Chicks at the latest Ladies at Ladyface.
And that’s barely skimming the surface. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to all!
Raising a glass to 2012 being as good, or even better than 2011.
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!