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Displaying items by tag: beer

Sunday, 08 November 2020 20:03

A Beer Diet . . . Who’re You Kidding?

By Dan Clarke

Add a book review section to an online magazine and you’ll get pitches on behalf of a lot of stuff you wouldn’t want to read, let alone write about. 

Tuesday, 03 September 2019 20:43

Beer Pick of the Week


Tuesday, 04 June 2019 08:44

Soft Stinkers and Suds

By Rachael Lucas

Some cheeses are wallflowers. The ones with a great deal of volatility, with a stratum of aromatic implications, can be resistant to intermingling with a boozy counterpart. 

Monday, 25 February 2019 14:35

POINT OF BREW -- Michael J. Lewis

Why the World Loves Lager ….

Saturday, 10 June 2017 18:29

Grilled Cheese & Beer

Griled Cheese Beer cover

By Kevin Vanblarcum & James Edward Davis

Photography by Dylan Tucker


2016 Hatherleigh Press, Ltd.

Hobart, NY

ISBN: 978-1-57826-653-1

Soft cover, 150 pages $16.95

Thursday, 17 November 2016 14:59

Crooked Goat Opens Barlow Taproom

TASTE News Service, November 18, 2016 - Crooked Goat Brewing has opened a new tap room in The Barlow, a 220,000-square-foot culinary and arts center in the town of Sebastopol.

Bagby Beer food plates PicmonkeyThere's more than beer at Bagby

TASTE News Service October 24, 2014 - Located at the western end of San Diego’s “Hops Highway,” Oceanside’s craft beer industry is booming. In the last year, nearly a dozen new venues, from microbreweries and tasting rooms to gastro pubs with a craft beer focus, have opened in the city providing visitors and locals with numerous options for sampling the best brew of the region.

So fast and furious has been the growth in craft beer venues, that Visit Oceanside recently added a dedicated section to its website ( where visitors can view an interactive map of the venues and also be inspired by recommended “pub crawl” itineraries. These itineraries include the Coast Highway Crawl, which features hot spots that offer both sensational beers and delicious local eats; Brews on Shoes where visitors can explore the diverse beer scene in downtown Oceanside’s walking district; South O Swing that takes visitors to the charming neighborhood of South Oceanside, which sports a fun and eclectic vibe and is frequented predominately by locals; and Back Alley Brews featuring popular brew spots off the beaten path, but worth checking out.

“People have always traveled for great food and drink and, when it comes to craft beer, Oceanside is serving it up in spades,” says Leslee Gaul, CEO of Visit Oceanside. “Our map is like an insider’s guide to the area and makes it easy for visitors to decide which places they want to check out during their stay.”

Among the most ambitious of the newly opened beer venues, and destined to become a flagship destination for Oceanside, is Bagby Beer Company. Two years in the making, the 1,500 square foot facility is prominently located on Coast Highway and features two stories, outdoor gardens, a restaurant, private dining room and on-site brewing with special tasting areas where guests can watch legendary brew master Jeff Bagby in action. Formerly a brew master for the Pizza Port chain, Bagby is one of the most highly decorated brew masters in the country and recently took home a bronze medal at the prestigious 2014 Great American Beer Festival in Colorado for his Dry Stout Asphault Jungle, only the fourth batch of beer to be made at his new facility.

“Craft beer is the perfect fit for Oceanside’s laid-back surf culture and creative spirit,” says Gaul. “The quickly expanding Oceanside beer scene is being spearheaded by local entrepreneurs looking to create fun, one-of-a-kind experiences and a destination where locals and visitors want to hangout.”

Stone Oside PicmonkeyStone's outdoor barOceanside’s other homegrown beer labels with tasting rooms include the popular Oceanside Ale Works—Oceanside's first microbrewery, Legacy Brewing Company—which pays homage to the founding fathers of the United States, and Breakwater Brewing Company—a downtown gathering place since 2008. Although not technically a beer, Golden Coast Mead is another specialty drink made in Oceanside and also recently opened a tasting room to showcase its popular version of mead, a drink that dates back to ancient times.

Complementing Oceanside’s local beer labels are an eclectic mix of new restaurants, tasting rooms and tasting gardens that feature a wide selection of regional craft beer. Like Bagby, many of these venues have made their homes along Coast Highway near Oceanside’s downtown beach community. Some, like Surfside Tap Room, Stone Company Store Oceanside and Beer Brewing Company, are primarily places for beer tasting. Others, such as Local Tap House, Master’s Kitchen & Cocktails and Mission Avenue Bar & Grill combine a rotating selection of regional beer with delicious local pub cuisine based on fresh, seasonal ingredients.

“Craft brew is taking off throughout San Diego and Oceanside is defining its niche in the industry,” says Gaul. “Each of our local venues has a unique personality, but all are reflective of our city’s popular beach culture and welcoming spirit.”

About Oceanside

For more than 125 years, Oceanside has been known as an ideal place to stay and experience Southern California's casual spirit. Located along the beautiful Southern California coastline between metropolitan San Diego and Los Angeles, Oceanside boasts a number of important historical and cultural attractions such as Mission San Luis Rey (The King of Missions), California's longest wooden pier, vintage 101 Café, 1920's era Robert's Cottages, Top Gun House, California Surf Museum and the Oceanside Museum of Art. The city has served as a film location for dozens of Hollywood productions and was once the preferred getaway of many of Hollywood's elite. Bordering Camp Pendleton, Oceanside has long enjoyed a strong relationship with the U.S. military and a deep commitment to the men and women serving the nation. Today, with 3.5 miles of sandy beach, a quaint New England-style harbor and a stellar year-round climate, Oceanside is a highly sought after location for enjoying active pursuits including surfing, stand up paddling, kayaking, boating, fishing, bike-riding, skydiving and more.

Editor's note: If you're thinking of visiting Oceanside, or any of San Diego County, check out Taste California Travel's Resource Directory. There you will find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options, as well as sections linking to the sites of area wineries and craft beer specialists.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014 15:39

Super Brews, Super Bowl, Super Afternoon

Super Bowl Logo 

by Jim Laughren


There’s a school of thought that says events like the Super Bowl, gatherings of friends for food and drink and an afternoon of camaraderie, demand to be fueled by a good, solid session beer. We’re talking hours here, from the pre-game show (and accompanying barbeque, if you’re lucky) to the game itself (and all the eats and drinks laid out for nibbling through wolfing and back again) to the halftime show, the second half, and the post-game wind down. As if to support this point of view (and not merely rake in the obvious profits) every grocery store, supermarket, convenience and liquor store in the country will feature floor displays and end caps of one light lager after another. Even the sports bars will steer you in this direction: most will offer game day specials of America’s big name brews, whether by the bottle or by the bucket.

But not everyone goes to the same school. And I, for one, urge my fellow sports fans/beer drinkers to opt for a more adventurous play.

We all know the extreme and experimental brews out there can be a gustatory delight, for maybe half a glass. Then, let’s face it, the monster dose of hops or chilies or roasted barley or coffee or cocoa nibs or whatever wacked-out spices the brewmeister has thrown in to make his or her baby a triple imperial over-the-top ABV super brew begins to wear down the old taste buds. Palate fatigue, kids, it’s a fact of life.

These sometimes startling beers push the boundaries, a very fine thing to do. We need innovation, experimentation and a no-holds-barred approach to light the way. That said, there’s a reason these crafty creations are sold in single bottles and not six packs: it’s tough to drink more than one. Hence the call for quaffable session beers to get us through the daylong event known as Super Bowl.

But what a missed opportunity. The whole point, said one fan of extreme beer, is that a smaller portion suffices. A few good draughts of T3 (triple hot, triple heavy, triple ABV) Hops Like A Rabbit On Crack (IBU 350) and you’ve likely had your fill. Amazing stuff, makes you think about what beer can be. Now, let’s sample something else, shall we?

It’s so right, so the-way-it-oughta-be when I can take half a dozen swallows of something big and crazy and then move on to a new brew and see what the dude down the road is doing, without wasting half the beer I started with. And it’s usually only at a beer fest where a true aficiando can explore so many offerings.

So why waste all those fellow suds lovers one gets to drink with at Super Bowl? Sure, we’ll have some sessionable juice in the house, but the beauty of a group is that we can split those bottles and share a whole menu of brewus extremis and not get burned out. I’d much rather have a good taste of five or ten best efforts that I’ve always wanted to try than a mug full of something that becomes a chore halfway through.

Don’t waste your tasters. Super Bowl is the perfect time and place to invite that group of friends who savor their brew like you do.

Whether you’re the host or a guest, put together a Power Pack for the big game. Depending on the size of the crew, you might assemble a stunning six-pack or, for more folks in the group, a case, or two of the most interesting, far-out beers you can lay hands on.

And go local, dudes. There’s so many great breweries out there with tiny, as in “very small,” production that need your support. Look in your own backyard to start. I’ll bet you can find some Imperial IPAs, a bevy of barrel-aged options, some serious stouts, monster malts and heavy-duty hop monsters to bring along, maybe with some big ABV options among them. Open and pour and enjoy. It’s gonna be a long afternoon. Have a helping of one or two of the magnificent ones, then break it up with a nice lager. The session beers have their place, and the good ones are very good. But why let these lighter-weight popularity contest winners dictate the beverage list for the day?

While you’re at it, pick up a bottle or two of some down and dirty grape juice. Someone—a hubby, a honey, a tag-along or that very hot you-know-who next door—is gonna be a wine drinker and will greatly appreciate your consideration. Remember, hospitality is about making everyone comfortable and glad to be there, not just your inner circle.

You might try a big, red zinfandel from Cali or a meaty, peppery syrah from up Walla Walla way. And nothing beats a northern Italian white blend of four or five varieties, great complexity and excellent with food.

So whatever the specifics, the school of thought that’s in session this year (get it?) is more, bigger, blow me away, and hey, our guests over there need a refill on their wine. Go team!


Broncos Fans Might Want To Round Up:Hibernal viniferaStout Picmonkey


The Beast – Avery Brewing Co., Boulder, CO

As the brewer says, “The Beast is a seducer – complicated, powerful, dark, and created to last the ages.” Dark burgundy, a massive 15% ABV ale bursting with honey, nutmeg, orange, and run-soaked plums and raisins. Dude! 


Hibernal Vinifera Stout – Ska Brewing, Durango, CO

??? That’s right... vinifera. This crazy oak-aged beauty is chock full of malbec grapes, the kind they grow in Argentina, to go with all those coffee, chocolately stout-like elements for a double-on 7.5% ABV mountain high.


Fade To Black – Left Hand Brewing, Longmont, CO

Where do these things come from? 7.8% ABV and they call it a black rye ale, though it’s really a pourable fruitcake soaked in a solution of mezcal, molasses and crushed black pepper. Hello!


Rocky Mtn. Oyster Stout – Wynkoop Brewing, Denver, CO

Whoa, cowboy. You gotta be kidding me. Seven specialty malts, roasted barley, Styrian Goldings hops and every batch butched up with 25 pounds of sliced Rocky Mountain oysters, as in bulls’ testicles? That’s just nuts!


While Seahawks fans should cast a line for:The Sister IPA


Old Birdbrain – Black Raven Brewing, Redmond, WA

Wow! A monster mouthful of caramel, toffee, vanilla, and spices

(from its extended stay in rye whiskey barrels). A viscous 11.5% ABV world class barleywine. Find and drink.


The Sister Imperial IPA – Fremont Brewing, Seattle, WA

They’ve got a DIPA, The Brother, which apparently wasn’t hopped enough so they threw in tons more hops and now claim this 8.5% ABV beauty clocks in at a million IBUs. Can these people be trusted? Tap and growler only, kids.


Fat Woody – Silver City Brewery, Bremerton, WA

Hey, I don’t name ‘em, I just write about ‘em. And this oak-aged Wee Heavy is worth the ink. Coconut, raisins, butterscotch, big malty sweetness with a touch of peat, just because. 9.7% ABV


Fall Line Russian Imperial Stout – Two Beers Brewing, Seattle, WA

Here’s a heavy duty, Pacific Northwest 12% ABV cherry, chocolate, vanilla, coffee palate-buster, aged in brandy barrels for six months, just in case you needed more complexity. Ha!


May the best team win, and the best beer be enjoyed by many.

laughren headshot Picmonkey


Jim Laughren, CWE, wine and beer advocate and educator, is both a fun guy to drink with and the author of A Beer Drinker’s Guide To Knowing And Enjoying Fine Wine, which was recently reviewed in Taste California Travel's Book Section.



Wednesday, 04 December 2013 21:25

Repeal and My Great Godfather


Sunny Jim Rolph PicmonkeyJames Rolphby Dan Clarke


Sacramento, CA December 6, 2013 - I had a beer yesterday afternoon. That in itself isn't unusual, but communing with a dead politician might be.

“Sunny Jim” Rolph died in 1934 during his third year as Governor of California. Prior to his election to statewide office he spent nearly 19 years as Mayor of San Francisco. It was during that time that he became my Dad's godfather. Rolph lived at 21st and Guerrero Streets in San Francisco, my paternal grandparents' house was at 23rd and Guerrero. How well they were acquainted, I don't know.

My grandfather had a good job, but wasn't in Rolph's league, as the hard working Mayor had already become a millionaire—mostly from the shipping business—before starting his political career. Maybe he was godfather to all babies born to voters in the Mission District, an Irish enclave in those days. For all his business success though, he billed himself as “Mayor of all the people” and was regarded by most San Franciscans as one of their own.

As Governor of California, Rolph publicly condoned a pre-trial lynching of two men accused of the kidnapping and murder of the son of a San Jose businessman. It sullied his reputation forever and I won't celebrate that, but I have heard and read enough about his earlier life to know that he had his good points, too. A successful businessman at the time of the city's earthquake and fire, he was reported to have been a tireless worker to help displaced fellow citizens and to contribute to the rebuilding of San Francisco. After his election as mayor in 1911 he led efforts to make the 1915 Pan Pacific Expostion—in effect, a world's fair—a reality. It is said that on the way to City Hall his limo tended to stop for citizens at street corners to offer a lift if they were going his way. Kind gestures to fellow San Franciscans or canny PR? Who knows, but I'm inclined to believe he was basically a good-hearted guy.

Gary Sleppy and Sunny Jim PicmonkeyGary Sleppy, proprietor of The Shack, salutes Gov. Rolph James Rolph was also a man who enjoyed a good time. Or so it would seem. His “Sunny Jim” persona came from a popular song adopted as his campaign anthem, “There are smiles that make you happy.”  By 1917 he had purchased a shipyard in Humboldt County and celebrated the "largest 4-masted wooden ship ever built on the West Coast" by throwing a party that lasted two days and two nights on a chartered 12-car train. The costs ran to $25,000--this at a time when the Mayor's salary was $6,000 per annum. Though first elected on a platform that promised to clean up the notorious Barbary Coast neighborhood, not too much changed in that regard during his long tenure as Mayor of San Francisco. In the words of writer Daniel Steven Crafts, Rolph's administration “was characterized by the not so unlikely combination of populism and debauchery.” In his latter years as Mayor, the married “Sunny Jim” was dogged by rumors of an affair with a movie star named Anita Page. Crafts writes that Rolph brought along San Francisco's most notorious madam as his escort to one of the city's Policemen's Balls. If that isn't laudable behavior, it certainly is colorful.

The 18th Amendment to the Constitution (The Volstead Act), which forbade the production, sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages went into effect in 1919. Its restriction on the liberty of American citizens was bad policy from the beginning, but even if you allowed for “good intentions,” its “unintended consequences” caused terrible damage for the nation. To his credit, I believe, Dad's godfather wasn't much of a fan of Prohibition and apparently tended to ignore it as much as possible in his personal life, as well as in his official capacities as Mayor and, later, Governor. These days I often have a beer at The Shack, located on the corner of 52nd and Folsom in Sacramento. Upon the repeal of Prohibition—eighty years ago yesterday—Governor James Rolph enjoyed a glass of Ruhstaller's Gilt Edge, his first legal post-Prohibition beer, at that same spot, then known as “Docs.”

On that anniversary I raised a glass in toast to you ,“Sunny Jim,” and to your godson.

by Jim Laughren

Just as beer drinkers are wise to bolster their knowledge and appreciation of fine wine, so too are wine lovers well served by opening their palates (and possibly snooty attitudes–hey, if this isn’t you, cool, but if the shoe fits... ) to embrace the attributes of great beer. And with the hot and muggy season upon us, what better time to begin the exploration?

Before you get your grape-stained cargo shorts all in a twist, no one’s saying that summertime wines aren’t marvelous.cups on coasters Anchor Plaza PicmonkeySan Francisco Giants fans can grab a couple of cold ones inside the park at Anchor Plaza. A bright, lively albariño between dips in the pool is just right, and lobster with white Burgundy is clearly one of life’s great pleasures. But after scooping divots on the back nine or powering the two-stroke around that precious carpet of green, who in their right mind is going to upend a 750ml of pinot bianco to cool off?

That’s right... no one. Beer has many qualities in common with wine but on one count at least, it stands head and shoulders above the sacred juice. Refreshment. Pure and simple restoration of body and spirit after a sweaty, grueling encounter with just about anything.

So if you’re willing to concede at least a nugget of truth in what I’m saying, let’s wrap our parched lips around some top-notch, steamy day beer options.

The simplest approach to good warm weather guzzling is to look for anything with bitter, white, wit, weisse, weizen, wheat, Kölsch, lambic, summer or seasonal on the label. “Your list is like, totally incomplete,” the beer geeks will shout; that may be my friends, but we’re trying to bring a few folks over from the grape side, so cut me some slack here.

Bitter, as in English bitters or special bitters, is a traditional ale style with a good but not overwhelming dose of hops, nicely balanced with some malty goodness and showing a touch of fruit. They’re typically on the lower side in alcohol (a plus in the summer heat), light in body and gold to copper in color. Think of them like an IPA’s little brother who can’t quite hop like the monster but who still delivers tremendous drinkability and refreshment.

White, wit and weisse (or weiss), all meaning, duh... white, are made with wheat, as in weizen or wheat (and maybe a dollop of oatmeal) and often sport a complex, citrusy spiciness, rendering them stone-cold delicious and exceptionally refreshing. White beers may come from Belgium or Germany and are increasingly beloved by American craft brewers.

Straight wheat beers are likewise a mainstay of American brewers and are perfect for summer enjoyment, though for a step up in flavor and personality turn your sights to the original European versions. What’s more, in a good beer joint you can expect to get a show to go with your order for a classic weissbier or hefeweizen.

Properly served, a very tall glass is placed over the bottle and the duo is inverted in a single, smooth motion. As the beer fills the glass the bottle is slowly raised until it leaves a marshmallowy two or three inch head, at which point the bottle is removed and either swirled wine-style or rolled back and forth on its side. This little trick gathers up all the remaining yeast (these babies are bottled sur lies) mixing it with the remaining foam, which concoction is then used to top off the glass, often followed by garnishing with a slice of lemon. Once served, dive into this gorgeous brew in all its orange, banana, and clove ester-ness for a singular beer experience.

Moving from “show” beers back to our list, Kölsch describes a golden ale produced in Cologne, Germany, and, well... anywhere outside the EU, like the U.S., that makes this soft, hoppy, kinda fruity, kinda bitter, kind of not, easy and delicious, summer sipper. And then we have the lambics.

These Belgian throwbacks are open fermented with wild yeast (something any true vinophile can appreciate) after a convoluted mashing process that leaves even beer folks scratching their heads. The result is a sour, somewhat earthy, carbonated brew that in overly simplistic terms is called “gueuze” when unflavored and “fruit lambic” when made with cherries, raspberries, cassis or peaches. Though it can be a love or hate proposition, the fruit flavors are rich and pure, and the higher acidity makes these summer quaffers a perfect match for any number of foods.

Finally, we have the summer or seasonal variants. A common bit of nomenclature among North American craft brewers, these are typically dosed with spice or fruit or a particularly interesting strain of hops. They’re made to refresh and encourage you to enjoy more than one. And most are excellent, a cut above the everyday pale ale or light lager. You may find rye ale or blueberry lager or any number of possibilities.

Now that you have some worthy options, trade in the wine stem for a beer tulip now and again. There are terrific beers out there, and if there’s one thing wine drinkers love, it’s finding the next new taste. If you’re not sure which ale or lager, which witbier or lambic to try, put together a mixed six-pack. One of the beauties of beer is that it’s generally inexpensive. You can mix and match and hold your own tasting of half a dozen possibilities for the cost of a single bottle of good wine. Exploration and economics, a summer combo that’s hard to beat!laughren headshot Picmonkey


Jim Laughren is a Certified Wine Expert and has been distributing wine and educating consumers and businesses about the basic and finer aspects of wine selection and enjoyment for several decades. He just published A Beer Drinker’s Guide To Knowing And Enjoying Fine Wine which is written so as to educate without being patronizing in comparing beer to wine. A review of the book can be found in Taste California Travel's Book Section

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