Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. – Boozy Newsie News Flash

Figueroa Mountain

Over Valentine’s Day weekend, the Partner in Crime and I went to the sleepy, semi-Danish town of Solvang, which was a really nice trip. It’s deep in wine country (the southern part, not the Napa / Sonoma part), and had beautiful sceneryæbleskivers, and an ostrich farm, where I learned that ostriches are weird and emus are basically dinosaurs.

It also had a lot of alcohol. Of course wine, but also beer, spirits, and more. Of particular interest was the Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co., as I’d had a few beers from there in the past and enjoyed them immensely. We actually found it by accident; we were at Ascendant Spirits (a distillery right next door) and they mentioned it was nearby, so we went up.

They had an indoor tap room, but as it was 85° F or so, we sat outside at a cozy picnic table with a welcome sun umbrella, all on astroturf. Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of this. We got two flights of beer, four of their classics, and four seasonal / rotating taps, which were almost all really delicious.

THE CLASSICS

Fig Beer 2

Paradise Rd Pilsner
Very nice, easy drinking. Doesn’t taste like a pilsner to me which is a good thing, because I don’t like pilsners usually. It had a hint of hops, but only enough that you actually wanted to drink it, and it was a welcome bitterness (IPAs and such are too bitter for me, usually).

Danish Red Ale
It was too warm by the time we got to it, but that’s not the beer’s fault. I liked the caramel notes, and it wasn’t too bitter — I almost wish it were a little bit more bitter!

Davy Brown Ale
This is one of the ones I’ve had before. It has a richer flavor, good malty and chocolately notes. Very tasty.

Stagecoach Stout
A little coffee-y for me, but has nice flavors, velvety smooth texture, almost creamy. Also, still had a head on it after 30 minutes or so, which was impressive.

THE OTHER ONES

Fig Beer 3

Hüll Melon Saison
A little on the hoppy side, and doesn’t have much flavor to it other than the hops. A little lemon peel flavor too, but generally not that interesting… I liked the pilsner better (a phrase I never thought I would say).

Surfliner Lager
You could drink this for forever and never have any issues with it. Very light, almost like a beer-flavored juice. I wish it had been a little bit more carbonated, but that could have been the heat, as well. Easy drinking!

Mosaic Pale Ale
Tasted like an APA, which it was, and was actually sort of nice — the bitterness didn’t linger too long, unlike some other hops. Very floral aroma. As far as hoppy beers go, it wasn’t so bad — we didn’t love the taste, but we could definitely drink it and not feel sad about it.

5th Anniversary
A Doppelbock aged for eight months in rum barrels. This was the best. Smells and tastes like caramel. Very sweet, a lot of depth of flavor. Almost syrupy in texture, and 12% which doesn’t hurt either.

Overall, it was a great trip up, and only a few hours from LA. If you’re looking for a weekend getaway to travel, eat, and drink, Solvang is your place. And of course, you can definitely get the beer without even taking a trip, so definitely check it out!

¡Tepache! Pineapple Cider – Boozy Newsie News Flash

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Been a while since one of these, but the Boozy Newsie News Flashes are just quick reviews of drinks, places, events, anything that I’ve experienced recently. Here’s the latest!

I’ve had a lot of ciders, of varying types (hard, sparkling, regular, pasteurized, raw and probably dangerous…) and my favorite is still the fresh-from-the-press bottles you can get at Russell Orchards in Essex, Massachusetts. Not trying to be hipster and know about niche places — mainly it’s right near where I grew up.

Until a few weeks ago, though, I had never had cider made from anything but apples and a few pear versions. Until Reverend Nat came along with a pineapple one. Technically, it’s Padre Nat, just like Trader’s Joe’s Jose / Giotto / Ming / etc. variations for its foreign foods.

Called ¡Tepache!, exclamation points included, you’re instructed to mix 2:1 with a light beer (for best results). We tried both that concoction (¡Tepache!-Tecate is a mouthful) as well as drinking it neat, and it was definitely an interesting experience.

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Tasting Notes:

BN: The cider was very sweet and light orange in color, with only a hint of carbonation. It wasn’t as acidic as pineapple juice is, but still had a good flavor of the fruit. Honestly, it tasted a little more like juice than it did cider or beer. I suppose that’s why they want you to mix it. Putting it together with a can of Tecate we had laying around somewhere, it added the right body and bubbles to the drink, without overpowering the pineapple flavor. It tasted like an unusual shandy, and I liked it, though I’m not sure I would have it again. It could be good for mixing in other combinations, but by itself it didn’t really have the right kind of oomph that I would be looking for in such a drink.

PiC: I definitely liked it better with the Tecate, but it was a little too sweet without it. It should taste more alcoholic.

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The All-American – Independence Day

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One of my two favorite movies is Independence Day. This has nothing to do with that.

When I started to think about making a drink for the 4th of July, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. And then I found the perfect concoction, to represent our country through the lens of alcohol. Also, something that you can make quickly and easily, and go back out to your BBQ, beach, or however you’re choosing to celebrate the Fourth.

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The All-American

  • 1 can Budweiser
  1. Open can.
  2. Pour can into a tall glass.
  3. Enjoy, while contemplating our country, and watching some big ol’ Amurrican fireworks.

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Tasting Notes:

BN: This really should be called the President of Beers.

PiC: Tastes like beer. And AMERICA.

I was not compensated for my opinions in this post. But hey, Anheuser-Busch, I certainly wouldn’t complain if you chose to send something my way!

The Silverlake Craft Beer & Cocktail Expo – Boozy Newsie News Flash

On a rainy day back in April, I visited a new event held in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles, showcasing local bars, restaurants, and breweries, and what they had to offer in the line of food and drink. This had a pretty awesome lineup, and I both ate and drank too much… What better way to relive those memories than to tell you about it!

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The host of the event, the 4100 Bar, had two house cocktails. On the left, the gin-based one, with TRU organic gin, cucumber, basil, lemon, and sugar. On the right (I got a little carried away drinking it before we took the picture), the scotch-based cocktail – scotch, agave, ginger, lemon, topped with Island single malt (I believe it was Oban but I don’t quite remember). Both of these were good, although the gin one pretty much just tasted like lemonade, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Next, we braved the outside tents in the surprisingly powerful rainstorm.

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The Thirsty Crow offered up a classic Old Fashioned, nicely mixed and not too sweet, including a real Maraschino cherry and juice (not the bright red stuff) and a ton of bitters, just the way I like it.

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Next stop was Angel City Brewery, where we “sampled” (full glasses) their IPA and West Coast Wheat. Angel City tends to be a little hoppy for me — I know, I know, I should appreciate the bitterness, but I don’t — but I imagine if you like that sort of thing you’d be happy with these.

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The Black Cat was churning out these nicely spicy cocktails — Ancho Reyes ancho chili flavored mescal, Lillet, grapefruit, lime, and a pinch of salt on top. Depending on the sip, the salt was a little strong but the flavors were great.

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Malo had not only some delicious cocktails (we didn’t have three, I swear) but also amazing, seemingly deep-fried tacos and chips. The cocktails had Mexican Squirt soda, simple syrup, lime, grapefruit juice, tequila, and a pinch of chili salt, and were called “The Paloma.” Yay for names! I blacked out from how good the tacos were so I don’t remember what was in them, specifically.

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We also got far too much to drink from Golden Road, a brewery I love. The 329 was an easy-drinking, not too flavorful lager, and the IPA was, well, an IPA. Sorry I can’t be more specific about that, but so it goes.

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Doubling up at this point, Akbar had a Moscow Mule (left) that included the surprising addition of Chinese bitters, which apparently just tastes like anise. I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not, which is usually the case with anise-flavored liqueurs. Mohawk Bend, my favorite restaurant of all time, had essentially a vodka lemonade with California poppy bitters. I was sad that you couldn’t taste the bitters very much, as it sounded like a cool touch.

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After all the alcohol, we needed a break — and Garage Pizza delivered. I know this is a drink blog, but this pizza was great, so you should go there. Perfect balance of grease and cheese.

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The Virgil was giving out “The Caravan,” with rye, lemon, ginger, honey syrup, and angostura bitters on top. Nicely sweet and easy to drink.

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A very similar-looking drink was made by Barbarella, with Makers 46, chipotle honey syrup, lemon syrup. Nicely spiced and the lemon cut the honey well.

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Charcoal BBQ gave out some delicious pork ribs, pickled cauliflower and normal pickles. We went back later in the day and told the chef we really liked the pickles and he dumped out literally the entire container (at least a quart) onto a plate for us. This was slightly excessive, but we still ate it.

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The last drink of the day came from El Condor, which gave out a perfectly normal but perfectly good margarita. Sampled this with some good old Mexican coke (or cola, in this case).

And then for the sad part of story. Apparently there was a pizza-eating contest at this event but SOMEONE (who will remain nameless) did not inform me of this fact until it was too late and it had already begun. Now how will I claim my pizza eating crown? I suppose I wouldn’t be able to compete with at least the beard of the winner (last picture) so it’s okay.IMG_4579 IMG_4600 IMG_4616

The Ale-Pril Fool – April Fools’ Day

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Happy April Fools’ Day! That’s all I have to say on this one. It looks like a drink that it isn’t! Get it?! Also terrible puns are awesome. Due to the quantities, this is a drink to share. But you could also obviously make less of it.

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The Ale-Pril Fool

  • 4 oz dark rum (Kraken!)
  • 16 oz cream soda
  • 2 egg whites, whipped (may be hazardous to your health, &c., &c.)
  • 4 dashes cinnamon

Whip the egg whites, and when almost ready add in the cinnamon. You want them to still be fairly liquid-y (see below) but with lots of foamy bubbles. Pour the rum and the soda into a stein glass, and top with the egg white cinnamon foam, like a head of beer.

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Tasting Notes:

BN: I mostly liked this, but I was upset when I was told that it was basically butterbeer because what am I, a hack? Ah well. It was kinda sweet, and also gigantic but it looked great and that was mainly what I was aiming for. Maybe do it yourself in a smaller glass and it will work out better. I also whipped the egg whites too much and while they looked great, they were kind of solid, and unpleasant to drink. Make sure they’re still a little liquid.

PiC: This was good. It kind of reminds me of what butterbeer would taste like but I like the cinnamon in the foam. It’s kind of a giant drink which isn’t necessarily bad but maybe it could stand to be a little less sweet. And yes you were right, we should have whipped the egg whites less.

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The Autumn Mix – Halloween

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My favorite candy is, shockingly, candy corn. Well, maybe not my favorite. But at least the one that I find most addicting. In any case, I like it so much that I thought I should make a drink out of it. In honor of Halloween, I made some candy corn vodka out of, you guessed it, candy corn and vodka (recipe below). It was bright orange, and not actually all that sweet (surprising, given that the beet vodka I made a year or two ago was super sweet, and yet this was made out of pure sugar), but it certainly tasted like alcoholic candy corn.

I made a drink, tried it out, and then thought — well, one just isn’t enough. The only thing that vodka is good for (at least the easiest thing) is shots, and it seems lame to write a post about only a single shot. So, I made three! I mostly did them for looks, not taste, and although two turned out surprisingly well, the third was terrible. I’ll still put the recipe here, but word to the wise — skip the Pumpkin. It’s disgusting. But, it does look cool.

Here is the autumn mix. I took a bag of good old mixed candy corn (not as good as the original standby, but hey) and made a drink for each one. Enjoy! (Except, again, the Pumpkin. Don’t enjoy that.) Note: these measurements will all be in “parts” instead of actual ounces, etc., because they’re shots, and it’s up to you how big you want them to be. Most of it’s pretty easy to tell by looks, anyway.

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The Autumn Mix

Candy Corn Vodka (stolen from various places on the internet)

  • 1 part candy corn
  • 3 parts cheap vodka

Combine ingredients in a sealable glass container. Close it up and shake it a little, just to loosen the corn. Let sit for anywhere from 3-4 hours to a couple days, but really you just need to wait until all the candy corn dissolves. Strain any remaining bits out and store — it’s ready to drink!

The Bad Seed

  • 1 part candy corn vodka
  • 1 part dark beer (a stout or a porter, something thick and chocolatey/coffee-flavored. I used Guinness but would have liked something a little thicker)

Pour the vodka into the bottom of a shot glass, half way up. Pour the beer in slowly over the back of a spoon. This is super important to do for layering, and we’ll be using this technique for all three recipes. It’s pretty easy, just put the spoon as close as you can get it to the top of the liquid, and kind of dribble the new ingredient over it. I touched the spoon to one of the sides of the glass, so it fell down there too, but I’m not sure that was necessary.

The Candy Corn

  • 1 part apple juice (I used apple “nectar” because it was thicker than normal apple juice, but ended up less yellow which was disappointing. So up to you!)
  • 2 parts candy corn vodka
  • 2 parts whipped cream

Pour the apple juice in first. Layer on the vodka, but go super slowly because these guys do not separate on their own. I had to try a few times before I got it right. Finally, top with whipped cream, which I thought was going to mess up the layering but it was really fine, so don’t worry about it too much.

The Pumpkin

  • 1 part creme de menthe
  • 4 parts candy corn vodka

These “parts” are obviously smaller than the parts above. Also, don’t make this drink. But if you do, pour in the creme de menthe first, then layer the vodka on using the technique above. Don’t worry if you mess up, this one separates out pretty quickly by itself. Final step: after you’ve finished layering, throw it in the trash.

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Tasting Notes:

BN: Let’s go through these in order. The Bad Seed was my first idea, which is why it has the best name. I actually liked this a lot; the beer flavor complemented and tempered the sweetness of the vodka. A nice, easy shot. And, to be perfectly honest, I didn’t realize it looked like the chocolate candy corns in the mix until after I made it. Happy coincidence! The Candy Corn was great too, though I wish I could taste the apple a little bit more. The flavors matched, and, like the beer, the whipped cream tempered everything else and brought it together. I also wish the apple was more yellow. Come on Jumex, fix my shot for me. Finally, The Pumpkin was god-awful. But, it really did look like those little pumpkins. Even so, the creme de menthe was heavier than the vodka so I couldn’t even get the green on top. Ugh. Well, two out of three ain’t bad. And the candy corn vodka mixed overall a lot better than I thought it would, so I’m not as worried about still having a massive quantity left over.

PiC: The Bad Seed: Eh, ok. It’s not terrible as a shot but neither is it something I’d hardcore try to be drinking (cause I hardcore try to be drinking shots at all times, clearly). I’d take the Candy Corn over this, but I wouldn’t straight up run from this (see The Pumpkin) either. The Candy Corn: My favorite. This is a great shot because it’s sweet and pretty much kills the taste of alcohol, plus it’s cute! And whipped cream is always tasty. The Pumpkin: Nope. Tastes like a combination of Robitussin and Listerine. NOPE.

Happy Halloween everyone!

The Naked Homer – Simpsons World Launches

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Tomorrow is a great day for humanity. No longer must we resign ourselves to watching pirated versions of old episodes of The Simpsons online. No longer do we need to mourn the lost 4th season box set that somehow didn’t make it to California (ahem ahem). For tomorrow, we dine in Simpsons World! That’s a weird 300 reference, in case you didn’t catch it. FX and Fox are releasing a website where you can watch every Simpsons episode ever, as well as all sorts of other content. And I think it’s available to anyone with a subscription to that channel, though I’m very unclear on that at the moment (I’ll have to find out tomorrow!)

As with the Safina, the drink in my head did not quite match the drink I could create in reality. Doh! I could not find blue cotton candy to put on top, to make Marge’s hair, so I had to settle with naming it Homer. Naked. Still, it’s got donuts and beer, and what else do you need in a Simpsons drink? Obviously, the yellowness is for the Simpsons’ skin. Hence the nudity. It’s pretty simple, just a basic shandy, but I’ll take it. Enjoy!

(N.B.: The Flaming Moe has already existed for a while in real life, in various forms, so I chose to avoid it for that reason. Also it sounds horrible.)

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The Naked Homer

  • 8 oz mango juice (Because it’s yellow!)
  • 8 oz Bud Light (Because if Duff were a real beer, it would be that.)
  • 1 donut (Because donut.)

Mix the liquids together in a glass. Top with a donut, the best garnish ever. I cut a circle into the bottom of the donut so it would fit onto the top of the glass. In retrospect, this was a horrible idea – it fit so perfectly that the bottom went into the drink and got really gross. Just keep it as a side, maybe.

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Tasting Notes:

BN: I like this! Simple, but good. Would probably be even better if, you know, the beer was actually a good beer. Still a lighter one, certainly, not a stout or anything, but something with a little more flavor. Also, you should stir it every now and then because it’s starting to separate, as I write.

PiC: I like it – it’s a good twist on a shandy and you can actually taste the beer which I didn’t think you’d be able to. It maybe could use a little bit of acidity, but it would be good with Indian food [N.B.: APU!] because it’s almost like a mango lassi.