Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.

menuHeres a little shout out to one of my new favorite CA breweries: Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. http://www.figmtnbrew.com/ They are located in Buellton California just outside of Santa Barbara. Now you maybe thinking to yourself, Buellton, why is that name sticking out in my head, perhaps you have seen a lil movie called SIDEWAYS? The Hitching Post https://hitchingpost2.com/sideways.html was used for the film. And its now a “must stop” place for any fan of the film. But ah well that’s a movie about wines…and although that area of California is a mecca for great wine its also the home to great beer!

So what’s their story? Straight from the interweb Figueroa Brewing Co is a father/son business: “Jim and Jaime Dietenhofer are a father & son team with a passion for quality beer. Both businessmen and entrepreneurs, they’ve grown their companies on hard work and quality products. Jim raised his family in the Santa Ynez Valley along with wife Judie, and have enjoyed its natural beauty and the character of its inhabitants for years. Starting this business has been a dream of the Dietenhofers for some time, and they feel fortunate to provide patrons the quality that they deserve. Jaime’s wife Meighan and sons Anders and Gray are also key supporters of the operation.”

If you haven’t tried their beers you should. I recently went to a TAP TAKE OVER at Story Tavern http://www.storytavern.com and found SEVEN beers that were amazing. No really I have never had a flight where I wanted more of every beer.photo 4 Now heres the thing. Some of these beers are only available in their tasting room. They don’t have them bottled for distribution. Which really only brings two words to mind “ROAD TRIP”! But in the meantime there are some beers that you can get and should try.

First the ones that just tempted Mr. Beerman and I and sent us into a depression that we couldn’t run out and buy more. These included their Big Cone Black Ale 6.8%, Sisquoc Bock 8% (I know the Bierlady doesn’t like the High ABVs but this one was so good, I couldn’t even tell it was high) Oktoberfest/Figtoberfest Lager 5.5% it had me at Oktoberfest but man this was my FAVORITE. It had that wonderful “bread” taste that I mention in a recent blog referring to New Belgiums Blue Paddle. http://www.newbelgium.com/beer/detail.aspx?id=5aec31cf-c34f-4344-8dbe-91a0a5db67ca That same beer taste I loved with Blue Paddle, its like the way a beer used to taste before everyone started getting fancy, just beer, a fine loaf of bread in a bottle, Surfliner Lager 4.4%, and a Munich Style Dunkel at 6%. That was our second favorite. Perfect for the new season!
hophurr
brstredNow the ones you can get. Hoppy Poppy IPA 6.5%. I finally found an IPA that I really really like. And good gawd if that name didn’t cause me to want to go running. Hoppy IPA, redundant much? but no I really liked it.. WHAT? Its true. And their Hurricane Deck Double IPA also great. Even at 8% and an IPA I still found it perfectly drinkable. Davey Brown Ale 6% is a great ale. I find it slightly malty for my taste but its one of Mr. Beermans new “go to” beers. Their Stage Coach Stout 5.6% is a smokey smooth chocolate like stout It’s a good’un. Im on the look out for their Danish Red Ale I loves me a good Red. I’ll report back as soon as I find it.

They have several other bottles that I haven’t tried. And Now I have to. After being exposed to the flight of magic I am a true fan. And how can you not support a Father/Son Brew team? That’s like my dream for Mr. Beerman and one or both of our boys.

So look for these guys. They know what they are doing. I anticipate being able to find all their beers in stores soon.

In the meantime next time you are in the Santa Ynez Valley skip the wine tasting and head to their brewery!

Just try it!

IMG_9355That’s my motto for LA BEER Week. Just Try it! Try a new beer this week. Something you wouldn’t normally drink and maybe you will love it!

So LA Beer Week which is more than a week is up an running with events all over the city. Check out the events http://labeerweek.com/event/. Or if you frequent a favorite bar Im sure something is going on.

Today I spent Day 2 of LA Beer week at two of my FAVORITE places. Story Tavern http://www.storytavern.com in downtown Burbank. And Tony’s Darts Away also in Burbank. http://tonysda.com/ Both places are huge craft brew havens.

So I decided since it was super cloudy and a bit chilly today –by chilly I mean LA standards in September, so like 80– it seemed like Autumn was here.
I have gone into Autumn kicking and screaming. I think part of it is because I have a school aged child now. Gavin is in 2nd grade. So when school is involved the end of summer is that much harsher. For him and for me. School means PTA involvement, stricter bedtimes and of course homework. You wouldn’t think homework in 2nd grade would be that tough. And its not, but as he gets older and the homework goes from coloring to real studies, and I realize just how much I have forgotten, or perhaps never learned. I will be the first to admit I may have spent too much time at Trojan football games and tail gates then in the classroom (college is wasted on the young sigh). So now I find myself answering his questions with a “well lets go look on the computer” or I nod when he says “is this something we need to ask Dad?”.

I digress..so Summer is ending and its mid September which means Im ready for some new types of beers. Not the pilsners and lagers …although truth be told its LA in Sept. It will be 100 again next week and I’ll bust out a good “outside drinking beer”. But today since it was mildly cloudy I went for some darker beer choices.

Our first stop was Story Tavern.IMG_9352 Lucky for us last night they had a Tap Take Over by Eagle Rock Brewery.IMG_9350 http://eaglerockbrewery.com/page/beers I’m sure you know Eagle Rock but if you don’t They are the forefathers of Craft Beer in LA. They have fantastic beers and Mr Beerman and I are big fans. I was giddy to get the Revolution on tap.IMG_9346 Now normally I don’t like an extra pale ale. But this one is so smooth and tasty. I have to recommend it. Even to my friends reading this who don’t normally venture into the Pale Ale or IPA world. From their site: “Extra Pale Ale (XPA) is a variation on American pale ale–bright and refreshing with a substantial hop presence. Light-gold in color, Revolution XPA’s subtle malt backbone and medium body balance it’s hop bitterness. Dry hopping delivers big hop aromas with the essence of nectar fruit, citrus, and freshly cut grass. As these assertive flavors recede a hint of bready malt rounds out the finish.
Bitter never tasted so sweet! ABV 5.2%”
Mr. Beerman is more of a Unionist Fan, a Belgium Pale Ale, which from their site: “A combination of Belgian and English styles, this Belgian Pale Ale has the subtle spice characteristics of cinnamon and nutmeg, produced by the Belgian yeast. The medium body and biscuity malt backbone, common in English ales, support the subtle hop bitterness to make this beer a perfect blend of styles. ABV: 5.4%”

Im still not on the Belgium bandwagon. So I passed, BUT I did find which I think was the greatest find of the day. Their Solidarity which is a good beer to begin with, a black mild ale, “”Mild” refers to an English-style beer that is malt-accented yet light bodied and low in alcohol.IMG_9351 Depite it’s dark appearance Solidarity Black Mild is light bodied and refreshingly drinkable. A variety of roasted malts lend toasty, nutty flavors and complexity, with subtle notes of coffee, dark chocolate, and a hint of smoke”. But heres the thing, Story Tavern had THREE takes on this beer (the others had some different versions as well) they had the normal Solidarity, Solidarity on Nitro (which means creamer like a Guinness or Murphys) and a special Cask version made with Champurrado, mexican chocolate. Okay first let me explain. Cask is how beer drinkers used to drink beer, before the 20th century, far less carbonation it served without Nitro or CO2 and well a bit warmer than usually served. Ok this mexican chocolate addition is the freaking bomb! It was so good. And at 3.8% I could drink it all night. It wouldn’t fill you up and its low ABV makes it such a great beer.

I hear it was a small batch so if you can get some do it. Run don’t walk to Story Tavern this week!

My second stop was to Tonys Darts Away. Its sort of the go to place for Craft Beers. I ended up after several samples deciding on a Mocha Stout from TAPS. It was very tasty. I highly recommend. If you like a good stout and a chocolate coffee flavor this one surely fits the bill.

Tony’s is doing several events for LA BEER WEEK IMG_9357(see the pic posted). And just in general you should visit here if you want to try a good craft brew! Oh and order the home baked potato chips. You’re welcome.

IMG_9360So my theme of the blog was to try something new. Even if you think you aren’t going to like it try it. I would have NEVER thought I would love a Mexican Chocolate Black Ale, but now I dream of it. You don’t need to order a pint, ask for a taste this week. Surely any server will hook you up. Maybe you will love a beer you never thought you would. It sort of reminds me of my aforementioned 2nd grader. He is horrible at trying new things. So when I want him to try something I said “remember the pumpkin bread”. He turned his nose up to orange bread last fall til he tried a piece. Now he thinks pumpkin bread is the greatest thing since well…sliced pumpkin bread.

Speaking of Pumpkin…I’ll be on a quest this week to find some good Pumpkin Ciders and Ales to report back on. For now Happy Beer Week..and remember “just try it, you may like it!”.

Craft Beer Week! Meet my friend Paul, a Homebrewer in So Cal

I guess it’s not a surprise that beer people like beer people. We tend to gravitate toward one another. One of my best friends from high school, Barbara, who also lives in So Cal, is married to a home brewer. Pauls LogoInitially I was a bit scared of home brews. Maybe it was the unknown of what’s in there. I don’t think it’s a sanitary thing. I mean I’m the first person to say “try this” and let people sip out of my beer. I guess it was just a new world to me. Pauls beerPaul’s been brewing a few years now and I’ve seen his set up. It’s grown from a small area of his backyard to a big portion of his backyard. Pauls Set upLooks a bit like a scene from a movie that has a mad scientist. But the results can’t be denied. He’s a guy with a normal banking job who does this as a hobby. Not even full time. Just for fun, and he’s already be awarded medals for his work. Safe to say that Paul and Barb are dedicated to their craft of…. craft beers. They will spend day and night tasting and refining…for the good of the art of beer making. Pauls dogEven their dog Billard gets into the action, he eats the left overs from the brewing process. They have figured out how to make them into tasty left over cakes for doggie snacks. Hmm.. guys maybe you should (c) that idea right now! Pauls dog treats

Paul initially started with bottles. Lots and lots of beers had to be drunk by family and friends so the old bottles could be sterilized and reused for bottling purposes. Pauls beer bottles. But recently a keg fridge was purchased and this is making the process a little bit easier!

Recently Paul won the Silver Medal in in the 2nd highest entered category this year for his Brown Ale at the Hangar 24 Home Brewers Competition. The competition entries jumped by 50% this year! Which says to me Home brewing is trending more than ever! Yay!

I had to ask Paul a few questions:

What made you start brewing? So I really had no interest in brewing until a friend invited me over to brew with him a few years ago. I’ve always enjoyed cooking, and gone brewing combines cooking with some science. So, I was bit by the bug. There is also a great DIY aspect to it. Many homebrewers make the equipment that they need. I made a mash tun out of a ice chest, brass valve, some copper tubing and the outside part or a washing machine hose. Fun stuff!

Tell me about the competition you just did.The competitions seem to start around March are go through September or so. This competition was put on by Hangar 24 brewery in Redlands. Every year there is a large beer “convention” in Denver called the Great American Beer Fest. Pro brewers enter a ProAm competition with amateur recipes. The best in show if the Hanger 24 competition is brewed by the brewery and entered in the GABF ProAm.
In the competitions, beers as separated by style and judged against the guidelines for that style (appearance, aroma, flavor, mouthfeel)

How long did the silver medal ale take?
Typically the beers take 6 weeks: 2 weeks to ferment, 2 weeks to settle/age, 2 weeks to carb up.
Last year I entered this brown ale and won a gold. This year there was much more competition. I was beat out by a pale ale. I also won a silver in the Pacific Brewers Cup last year for a Bock that I made.
The bock was one of the hardest beers I’ve made so far. It has a mostly malt profile, so there are no strong flavors to cover up mistakes. My favorites so far are the brown ale (a nice starter beer for those who aren’t ready for stouts or porters yet) and saison (a light colored farmhouse brew with some banana and coriander flavors)

Whats your Favorite of any craft brew? Craft beers: I like the local brews. Hanger 24 has a nice Alt Bier, Dale Bros does a decent California Common, and Claremont Craft Ale has a good Rye IPA.

Recommendation to other homebrewers: it seems that controlling the fermentation temp is a hugely important part of brewing. I use an old frig with a digital temp controller and my brews have improved a lot since I’ve gotten that under control.

I’m just learning the whole competition thing. I entered a beer in a recent competition and the judges said I had it in the wrong classification. So making sure you classify it correctly is important. Also, it’s important to brew the beers so they incorporate all if the characteristics of the style you’re trying to create (an IPA can’t be malty or a stout amber)! I’ve also noticed that the Belgian styles seem to win Best in Show more often then other styles. Might be because they are harder to produce.

Thanks Paul! Keep up the good work.

I wanted to give a shout out to all the winners and to Hanger 24 for a great day!
Hangar-24-Logo

Congratulations to Best of Show 1st Place (and 2nd Place) winner Brad Nixon in the 4th Annual Homebrew Competition!
Here’s is the complete rundown of winners.

Best of Show
1st: Brad Nixon – “Schwarzbier” – Schwarzbier
2nd Brad Nixon – “Porter’s Porter” – Brown Porter
3rd: Dwight Mulcahy – “Blond Bells” – Belgian Blond Ale

Category 1: Light Lager
Gold: Jonathan Kissinger – “Fine Beer May Be Judged With Only One Sip” – Standard American Lager
Silver: James Hilbing – “Premium American Lager #2” – Premium American Lager
Bronze: Jennifer Jordan – “Munich Helles” – Munich Helles

Category 2: Pilsner
Gold: Dwight Mulcahy – “Busta’ Cap” – Classic American Pilsner
Silver: Jeremy Maldonado – “Bo-He-Man” – Bohemian Pilsener
Bronze: Dwight Mulcahy – “Pils Off!” – German Pilsner

Category 3: European Amber Lager
Gold: Brad Nixon – “Oktoberfest” – Oktoberfest/Marzen
Silver: Brad Nixon – “Vienna Lager” – Vienna Lager
Bronze: Jack Hilgendorf – “Amber Lager” – Vienna Lager

Category 4: Dark Lager
Gold: Brad Nixon – “Schwarzbier” – Schwarzbier
Silver: Brad Jefferies – “Munich Dunkel” – Munich Dunkel
Bronze: James Hilbing & Kurt Ramp – “Schwarzbier” – Schwarzbier

Category 5: Bock
Gold: Brock Hall – “Fredrick” – Maibock/Helles Bock
Silver: Dwight Mulcahy – “Bock Bock” – Doppelbock
Bronze: Dwight Mulcahy – “Big Nose MyBock” – Maibock/Helles Bock
Category 6: Light Hybrid Beer
Gold: Jeff Tudor – “Elmo Ale” – Cream Ale
Silver: Brad Nixon – “Cream Ale” – Cream Ale
Bronze: Randy Kading – “Katie’s Blonde Ale” – Blonde Ale

Category 7: Amber Hybrid Beer
Gold: Bob Reynolds & Ryan McHugh – “Toes on the Nose” – California Common Beer
Silver: Dane Bagley – “Mt. Asoutney Amber” – Northern German Altbier
Bronze: Kevin Margulieux – “North German Alt” – Northern German Altbier

Category 8: English Pale Ale
Gold: Stewart Holl – “Homegrown English Pale” – Special/Best/Premium Bitter
Silver: Michael Herron – “Very Ordinary” – Standard/Ordinary Bitter
Bronze: Dwight Mulcahy – “ESPale” – Extra Special Bitter

Category 9: Scottish & Irish Ale
Gold: Dan Romanowich – “Q” – Irish Red Ale
Silver: Philip Vieira – “Tartan Strong Ale” – Strong Scotch Ale
Bronze: Robert Wilson – “Maxwell’s 80/-“ – Scottish Export 80/-

Category 10: American Ale
Gold: Erik Debellis – “Pale Ale Six” – American Pale Ale
Silver: Paul Happach – “Big Bill’s Brown” – American Brown Ale
Bronze: Christian Scholte – “Single Track Pale Ale” – American Pale Ale
Category 11: English Brown Ale
Gold: Brett Gent – “Brown Ale” – Northern English Brown Ale
Silver: Robert Hemphill – “Mild Side” – Mild
Bronze: Randy Kading – “Chocolate Lab Brown Ale” – Northern English Brown Ale

Category 12: Porter
Gold: Brad Nixon – “Porter’s Porter” – Brown Porter
Silver: Brice Jarvi – “Mayan Doomsday” – Robust Porter
Bronze: Jack Hilgendorf – “Porter Robust” – Robust Porter

Category 13: Stout
Gold: Jonathan Smith – “Oatmeal Stout” – Oatmeal Stout
Silver: Jim Jorgensen – “RIS #2” – Russian Imperial Stout
Bronze: Mike & Cyndi Malsed – “Black Sand” – Foreign Extra Stout

Category 14: India Pale Ale
Gold: Sean Frates – “CS IPA” – American IPA
Silver: Pete Heringer – “739 IPA” – English IPA
Bronze: Matthew Rose – “Rye Heaven” – Imperial IPA

Category 15: German Wheat & Rye Ale
Gold: Jim Jorgensen – “Jim’s Weizen” – Weizen/Weissbier
Silver: Stephen Le Duc – “Hogan’s Roggen” – Roggenbier
Bronze: Greg Pleiss – “Dunkel-Pleissen” – Dunkelweizen

Category 16: Belgian & French Ale
Gold: Matt Irmscher – “Saison Du Clue” – Saison
Silver: Jim Jorgensen – “Sais Off” – Saison
Bronze: Brian Holter & Kingsley Toby – “Spring Forward” – Saison

Category 17: Sour Ale
Gold: Jerry Marshall – “Flanders Red” – Flanders Red Ale
Silver: Laura McCabe-Patke – “Sour Orangeberry” – Berliner Weisse

Category 18: Belgian Strong Ale
Gold: Dwight Mulcahy – “Blond Bells” – Belgian Blond Ale
Silver: Jerry Marshall – “Belgian Strong Dark Ale” – Belgian Dark Strong Ale
Bronze: Jefferson Loftfield – “Grapevine” – Belgian Dark Strong Ale

Category 19: Strong Ale
Gold: Dwight Mulcahy – “Grany Booze” – American Barleywine
Silver: Robert Wilson – “Old Orthogonal” – Old Ale
Bronze: Jerry Marshall – “English Barleywine” – English Barleywine

Category 20: Fruit Beer
Gold: Jesse Cancel – “White Nectarine Kolsch” – Kolsch w/ White Nectarine
Silver: Robert Carter – “Razz-Ma-Tazz” – Sweet Stout w/ Raspberry, Coconut & Chocolate
Bronze: Kai Karlson – “Apricot Ho” – Wit w/ Apricot, Coriander & Orange Peel

Category 21: Spice/Herb/Vegetable Beer
Gold: Jim Jorgensen – “Vanilla Hazelnut Stout” – Spice/Herb/Vegetable Beer
Silver: Brian Holter & Kingsley Toby – “Tahoba” – Spice/Herb/Vegetable Beer
Bronze: Jesse Cancel – “Jacolantern Ale” – Christmas/Winter Specialty Beer
Category 22: Smoke Flavored/Wood-Aged Beer
Gold: Patrick Schulz – “Smoked Brown” – Brown Ale w/ Cherry Smoked Wood
Silver: Jacob Kleespies – “Bourbon Barrel Porter” – Wood Aged Beer
Bronze: James Hilbing – “Oaked Old Ale” – Wood-Aged Beer

Category 23: Specialty Beer
Gold: Jonathan Smith – “Heart of the Sun” – Wheat Wine w/ Blood Oranges
Silver: Ramiro Vejar, Antonio, Gary – “Black Rye River IPA” – Black Rye IPA
Bronze: Dave Bagley – “Peanut Butter Porter” – Robust Porter w/ Cacao & Peanut Butter

Congrats and thank you to all these brewers. We who like to drink a good beer salute you!

Paul Beer