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!


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.


Another Chance to Name a Rare Beer Club Exclusive Beer crafted by Upright Brewing

Upright Brewing LogoSo we just closed out our last beer naming contest with Jolly Pumpkin and we know your brain is tired from the effort that went into coming up with so many killer names, but we need your help again!  We had so much fun allowing our members and the beer community at large to name several of last year’s Rare Beer Club® exclusives that we’ve decided to ramp up our game this year and have no less than three beer naming contests in the queue this year.  And since the beers we’re naming will be featured in July, August and September, we’re going to be running back to back contests for the next two months.  All in all, you’ll have 3 chances to name one of our up and coming beers and win a 6-month, 2-bottle membership to The Rare Beer Club. How cool is that?

This time we’re working with Upright Brewing up in Portland, OR.  I’m a big fan of Alex’s work.  I want to say they launched in 2009, about 3 years before we featured them for the first time, and I’ve been rattling his cage ever since to work with us again.  He’s a busy cat.  Straight up, one of the biggest challenges we face is planning far out enough to be able to feature the world’s best breweries.  Makes sense if you think about it. They make the best beer.  Everyone wants it.  Supply and demand baby. Supply and demand.  Anyway, we finally have liftoff Houston and it’s gonna be worth the wait.

Alex makes some of the best saisons in the country so we’re thinking it’s best to let him run wild with that and have some fun with hops and brett!  Here’s what he had to say about the project, “The more I think about it, I keep going back to a hoppy saison for an August feature. We have Five, which is kind of a pale ale crossed with European hopping and a somewhat clean “French-style” fermentation, but I’m thinking something way different, more like a Belgian IPA with some brettanomyces added at bottling, so it will start clean but get slightly earthy and a bit more tart over time.”

You know the drill by now, but just the same, here are the vital bits that you need to know about the contest:

You can submit up to three names by 2 pm PDT on Thursday, April 14th. Three finalists will be announced on Friday, April 15th at which time contest entrants, club members and the general public will be allowed to vote for their favorite choices. Contest winners will be announced on Friday, April 22nd. If your beer name is used, we’ll hook you up with a 6-month, 2-bottle membership to The Rare Beer Club.

To receive this RBC exclusive beer, you’ll need to be an active member of The Rare Beer Club in August of 2016 when it will be featured.

Alex’s only request on the name is to keep it short so that it works with his current label design…Like real short, preferably 10 characters or less so you’re gonna have to really get creative this time.  Have fun!


And we have a winner for the Jolly Pumpkin Beer Naming Contest!

rosie-in-windowThe people have spoken and we do in fact have a winner! There were over 1200 name submissions so it was pretty easy to find three finalists that I really dug and I’m quite pleased with the winner. The beer will be called “Rosie del Barrio” or Rosie from the hood which was submitted by Joshua Robinson. Congratulations Joshua! Well done. It’s really quite fitting. Rosie was definitely a neighborhood cat, always wandering into my neighbors open doors and windows, making himself at home. It was not unusual for someone to find him curled up on a couch or chair when they came home from work. He even set off my neighbor’s burglar alarm once when they were on vacation. Cops showed up, pistolas drawn, only to see an orange bolt of fur booking for the door when they arrived!

I’m a big fan of Jolly Pumpkin’s label art and I can’t wait to see the artwork on the label.

If you didn’t win this time, we’ve got two more contests coming right up. In fact we’ll be launching the next one in a couple days which will feature another Rare Beer Club® exclusive, this time crafted by Upright Brewing in Portland, OR. That beer will be featured in the club in August. After we name Upright’s beer, we’re going to need your help with our annual joint project with Pints for Prostates, an organization that promotes the importance of prostate screening though the beer community. This year we’ll be working with Elevation brewing and that beer will be featured in the club in September.

Thanks so much for all your help naming Rosie del Barrio everyone!