Wineification and the Passion of Good Beer

wineificationSo I got invited to this special event last night hosted by a third generation CEO of a hundred year old company that was put on by the USC Marshalls Family Business Program to guide folks on the trials and tribulations of running a family business.  My girls are just about to turn seven so I may be jumping the gun a bit here, but I figured there could be some good stuff for me to think about and indeed there was.

But that’s not what I want to write about today.

So I’m heading out to a pretty amazing home overlooking Cameo Cove in Laguna Beach thinking I should bring the hosts a bottle of wine or something.  I’ve never met either of them.  Have no idea if they like wine or if they drink at all, but then I get to thinking, everybody brings wine and I’ve got a lot of really good beers to share so why not bring something cool from a local brewery thinking they more than likely will never have heard of them, but if they like it, they can get more.  Well I’m lucky enough that The Bruery is one of our local breweries so I grabbed a bottle of 7 Swans a Swimming, a big ass Belgian Quad that would do well with some age on it.  When I met one of the hosts and shared the beer with him, he proceeded to tell me that he was good buddies with Patrick, the owner of The Bruery, that Patrick had just been over the other week hosting a beer tasting, and that he had nothing but beers from The Bruery over at the bar for the event!  How cool is that?  And best of all, he didn’t have 7 Swans in his cellar so I turned him on to that one.

Ten minutes later, as I was laboring over the selection and which beer to try first, I’m introduced to what had to be the biggest beer geek at the event who not only knew about The Rare Beer Club, the owner of the company he worked for was a member!  It wasn’t long before he offered up a glass of The Bruery’s Wineification, a 15.7% glorious beer made by taking Black Tuesday, their landmark Imperial Stout, and fermenting it with late harvest Syrah grapes before aging it in French Oak.  Man, it was nothing short of a religious experience.  I sent a note off to my guy at The Bruery this morning seeing if there was any way to score a few cases of a future run for an RBC special offer.


Jolly Pumpkin’s Rosie del Barrio Lives!

Rosie front 1How cool is this label?  I couldn’t be more pleased with this project. From start to finish, Ron Jeffries, co-founder and head brewer for Jolly Pumpkin, has been super cool about creating a beer to pay tribute to an old friend of mine, Rosie, my 19 year old Maine Coon cat that passed last October.  We wanted to make a big and unique red ale to match his personality and have the beer community and our customers name the beer.  The people chose “Rosie del Barrio”, loosely translated to Rosie in the hood, which is pretty appropriate as he always pretty much made himself at home in my neighbor’s houses and was always largely considered a neighborhood cat.

Ron just sent over the label design today and I absolutely LOVE IT!  It actually really looks a bit like the neighborhood I lived in when we were just starting the business and where Rosie spent his rowdy teenage years.  In fact, the label is pretty much the view from my old bedroom window and front porch. Tom’s house is on the left, Jerry’s on the right.  Rosie in fact did used to jump from Tom’s roof to Jerry’s roof all the time (Not until this day did I note the irony of my neighbors being named Tom & Jerry).  He’d get up on Tom’s roof by climbing a big avocado tree we had in the courtyard.  It was a solid little community and Rosie was a big part of it.

Adam Forman is the artist behind Jolly Pumpkin’s labels and is a longtime friend of Ron and Laurie Jeffries.

Nice work Adam!  Thank you!


Pints for Prostates Elevation Rare Beer Club Beer Naming Contest

Elevation BrewingThat’s right, we’re doing still yet ANOTHER beer naming contest! It’s just that we feel really bad for all the folks that still haven’t taken home the grand prize of a 6 month, 2-bottle membership to The Rare Beer Club, so we’re giving you still another chance…Make it count because there’s a good chance that this may be the last one this year. Don’t hold me to it. We still have slots in October and December to fill and I’d like to get as many exclusives in the club as possible this year.

This contest is our annual collaboration with Pints for Prostates, and this year Rick has secured Colorado’s Elevation Beer Company to be the honored brewery to create a beer to help PFP help educate dudes about getting properly screened for prostate cancer. Suffice to say…It’s a really worthy cause, people. The last time Elevation participated in this effort, they brewed an 8.5% smoked Dopplebock and the name that won the contest that year was one of my all-time favorites…Prostator!

I got super fired up when talking to head brewer and co-founder Christian Koch about the beer he has in mind this year. He said something like, “I’m thinking about a blonde barleywine kinda beer made with a shit-ton of wheat and aged in Sauvignon Blanc barrels…What do you think of that?” Just kidding. He didn’t say “shit-ton”, but I wouldn’t have been offended if he did. Anyway, I was thinking to myself, “Self…That sounds mighty fine to me! I’ve never heard of such a thing. Tell me more!”

So we’re calling it an American Wheat Wine. It’s being aged in freshly emptied Sauvignon Blanc barrels for six months. Been in barrels for a little over a month now and the nose is currently showing fruity white wine, light oak, and a mild hop bitterness. It’s going to pick up more of the barrel remnants, of course, as it rests longer. He’s making it with 50% malted white wheat. It’s gonna be pretty full bodied with a starting gravity of 25 plato (1.106 SG). Here are the tasting notes so far, straight from the brewer, that were no doubt composed when he snapped the photo in this post (what a sweet back porch, ya?): “This beer pours a beautiful golden color and has aromas of fruity white wine, light oak, and a mild hop bitterness. The flavor of our Wheat Wine is extremely complex. With 50% malted white wheat, is a full bodied beer with fruity notes of peach, lime, and passion fruit. This beer will age extremely well and flavors will meld and mellow over time.”

It’s gonna be cool.

Here’s what you need to know to play kids.

Entering the Beer Naming Contest

Although the new beer will only be available to members of The Rare Beer Club, both members and non-members are invited to enter the contest and submit up to three names for the new beer. The contest officially begins on Thursday, April 28th, 2016. Entrants will have until 2 pm PDT on Thursday, May 12th, to submit up to three names.

Finalists will be chosen by The Rare Beer Club, Pints for Prostates, and Elevation Beer Co., at which time contestants, club members, and the general public can vote for their favorite name. The winning entry will be announced on Friday, May 20th, and the contest winner will receive a 6-month, 2-bottle membership to The Rare Beer Club.

To receive this special beer, and many more, join the Rare Beer Club online or call 800-625-8238. Be sure to start your membership by September 2016, or earlier, to receive this exclusive beer from Elevation Beer Co.

Have fun!


Rare Beer Club – Upright Brewing Beer Naming Contest Finalists

Upright Brewing LogoOnce again, we’re giving you an opportunity to vote for something where you might actually like one or more of the candidates…Upright Brewing Company’s hoppy, brett spiked Belgian IPA which will be made exclusively for members of The Rare Beer Club!

We thought that perhaps, just maybe, your creative juices where tapped out after the 1200+ submissions we received in our last beer naming contest, but alas, you did not let us down and we received another solid response. Thank you for that.

It’s always a challenge to whittle down a sizable list of great beer names to just three finalists, but Alex, his team and I spent a couple hours laboring over our favorites and now you and your friends get to pick the winner!

Cast your vote here and make sure to do it before the contest ends a week from today on 4-22-16 at 10 am Pacific.


Celebrating Sunday with one of the World’s Best Gueuzes… Cantillon does not disappoint

cantillon-kc-aI’m getting better at doing nothing. This last Sunday, I did just that for a glorious 3 hours. Just listened to some Cajun music in the sun while enjoying what many consider to be one of, if not the best, lambics the world has to offer, Cantillon’s Classic Gueuze 100% Lambic. This one’s a rare bird to be sure which I’m fairly confident contributed to the whole experience. Only about 50 cases enter the US each year and we were able to score a few from one of our favorite importers, Shelton Brothers.

It was pretty hazy with a golden, tangerine hue. Very tart and funky. I enjoyed it even more once it warmed up. The oak was there with hints of barrel contributions (vanilla/tannins). In the end, I dug it very much and decided to selfishly set aside a few more bottles for later as Ken suggests in our tasting notes.

I think I’m going to work on doing nothing more often.