"Beer in Colorado" is dedicated to that divine elixir born of the marriage of water, malt, hops, and yeast as interpreted
by those living in Colorado. Follow the author as he visits every brewery in the state, creates experimental homebrews,
attends beer festivals, tries interesting beers from around the world, and spreads the good word of beer. Prost!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Beer Not in Colorado: The Bruery

A beer enthusiast’s tongue was not meant to be monogamous.  I have cheated on you, Colorado, but you knew what you were getting into when we started this relationship.
The teaching profession is a tough one regardless of what too-many politicians say. But, one of the tiny perks that keep teachers from wrenching fistfuls of hair from their heads until they resemble Mr. Clean’s half-brother is a little something called “spring break.”  In past spring breaks I’ve headed to the wilderness to hike, camp, wax Thoreau-ian, and generally hippie out.  This year, however, Nicole and I decided to urbanize our trip.  We packed up the Jeep and beat cheeks to Los Angeles and San Diego.  Yes, the meditative solitude that one enjoys while sitting on a sandy embankment and listening to the roar of the Colorado River as it cuts the Grand Canyon inch-by-inch deeper would indeed be missed.  But for being denied my natural experience I was to be duly rewarded.  Beer would fill the void.  Oh, but not just any beer would do.  If I was going to forgo my wilderness pursuits then I was going to need some of America’s best and best known craft ales.  And that’s exactly what I got.
There were other things besides beer on the agenda, of course, and the first was to do the only thing I might enjoy just a little more than beer: ride roller coasters.  It is a deranged passion of mine, these rides.  I have a running tally of how many I have ridden (currently at 246, sucka).  I can name you the park, manufacturer, year of debut, and several “fun facts” about a coaster based on a three to four second clip I see from a commercial.  I know the next big thing coming to a park near you.  I assess my rides like I assess my beers i.e. I look for the things that the general public ignores or completely misses.  Shoot, this could easily be a roller coaster blog if roller coasters were as accessible as beer (also, I’d rather associate myself with beer culture than ride culture because, while beer nuts are usually cool guys with gnarly beards, the ride community and the comic book/video game/sci-fi/pathetic loser Venn diagram is basically a single circle).  For that reason, our first stop was Six Flags Magic Mountain, the mega-park that played Walley World in National Lampoon’s Vacation.  Unfortunately, I was going to end up more like Clark Griswold than I expected.
The skies opened up that day like it hadn’t since the Old Testament.  Magic Mountain, with so many rides yet un-rid by me, was closed due to inclement weather.  Needless to say, I was disappointed.  Hell, I was pissed!  I drove cross-country and they’re closed!  I didn’t even get to punch in Marty Moose’s fat nose or run across the parking lot in slow motion to the tune of Chariots of Fire.  I was seconds away from threatening John Candy’s life with a BB gun if he wouldn’t let me ride the Whippersnapper when a voice of reason (played by Nicole) suggested we visit a local brewery in substitution.  Yeah, I guess that could make up for it.
Inside The Bruery
Our brewery of choice: The Bruery in Placentia (yes, many a “placenta” joke was made) whose intentionally misspelled name derives from the fact that the owners’ surname is Rue.  The Bruery is an example of my favorite type of brewery; the brewery that’s no frills.  It’s just an open space at the end of a commercial/industrial complex and is nearly as hard to find as Shangri-La.  Very little announces its presence save for a bacon food truck parked outside (delicious) the garage-door entrance.  Once inside, the visitor is greeted by massive kettles on the left side, stacks of barreled beers aging to perfection on the right, a small serving bar in the middle, and recycled barrels serving as makeshift tables scattered about.  For me, drinking in this sort of environment—where the brewing process and the drinking experience share the same space—makes beer taste better than when tasted in a restaurant setting.

Inside The Bruery

I ordered the Humulus XPA (4.3% ABV, 40 IBU), “a delicious extra pale ale brewed with Brettanomyces, Centennial, Simcoe, and dry-hopped with Columbus hops.”  I quote The Bruery’s website because, at the time of my drinking, I had just been severely disappointed by Magic Mountain’s closing and I’ve just braved the L.A. traffic and I just needed a beer; I didn’t take the time to asses Humulus XPA to my fullest extent, I just drank it.  However, I can say that there was less hoppy bitterness than I expected.  A good session beer.  Nicole had the Orchard White and, hopefully, she can give her two cents about that beer in her comments below.

Orchard White and Humulus XPA
One beer would not compensate for Magic Mountain.  I had to go a get another.  The second time around I got Cuádruple (10% ABV), a Belgian-style quadrupel with a southwestern twist; the regular brewing sugars are replaced with dark agave nectar.  This gives the beer a very dark color and a somewhat molassesy taste.  Again, I did not go in depth with my analysis but I remember enough that I can recommend it for a dinner party or other higher-end social functions.
Cuádruple and food truck goodies
As this is the L.A. area, it isn’t too surprising to have a celebrity encounter and that’s just what Nicole and I had at The Bruery.  Not four feet away from our oaken table stood the head honchos from San Diego County’s Stone Brewing Co. (a lot more on them later) and Chicago’s Goose Island Beer Company as they filmed their latest Hop CastIf you have the slightest insight into the world of American craft beer then you know that these two companies are juggernauts of the field.  And there they were, just chatting and drinking as the cameras rolled.  If you happen to watch the Hop Cast focusing on The Bruery, know that Nicole and I are just right of the camera frame—stuffing our faces with delectable bacon cheese fries from the food truck.
We finished our beers, rubbed the stars from our eyes, got some information from the bartender about The Bruery’s subsidiary craft beer bar in old town Orange, and went to the Staples Center to see the Lakers barely edge out my second-favorite team i.e. any team that plays against the Lakers.  On another note, I know pro sports exist to make money but I think it's exceptionally tacky when the cheerleaders don't wear the team colors and name but rather corporate sponsors like Verizon.  That's L.A. for ya; always an advertisement no matter where you look.  The next day was wide open so we filled it by visiting the aquarium, checking out a few beaches, and popping into the aforementioned bar.
Cap art at The Bruery Provisions
The Bruery Provisions is located in a part of Orange that never seems to have abandoned that 1950’s ideal: old-timey storefronts, a small park in the middle of a roundabout, tin ceiling tiles, clean streets, well manicured flora.  I felt like Marty McFly stepping out of the DeLorean. 

The bar itself is a hybrid between an upper-end liquor store (with Colorado craft beer rightfully represented) and a tasting bar.  After admiring their impressive bottle cap artwork, I bellied up and ordered flights of Saison Rue (8.5% ABV), Mischief (8.5% ABV), and Imperial White Orchid (9% ABV).
Saison Rue is a cloudy orange/yellow with a vaguely sour smell.  There are spices in the beer that warm the back of the throat as you drink.  It is a sweet tasting beer with a cherry-esque flavor.          
Mischief is a clear, light yellow that has a woodsy, hoppy aroma.  The flavor is complex; I catch hints of pear, black pepper, and hops.  As the beer warmed, these flavors became more apparent. 
Imperial White Orchid is a clear, pale yellow that smells a bit like Big Red gum which may be a result of the nutmeg and coriander present in the beer.  Imperial White Orchid finishes dry.

Saison Rue, Mischief, and Imperial White Orchid
The Bruery makes some fantastic beers.  Not only that, they make some fantastically complex beers; it took all my snuff as a beer enthusiast to muster up the relatively sparse descriptions you just read.  With their high quality beer and the success they’ve already garnered in just under three years of operation, don’t be shocked if you see Bruery beers popping up at your neighborhood liquor store in the near future.
Oh so much beer and oh so little attention spans.  More California beers coming soon!

My dad warned me about the possibility of rain in California in March, but Spring Break is Spring Break. With a week off of school, I didn't really care if it was rainy, I just wanted to be somewhere else. After a 12ish hour day of driving and a second day of getting up in the dark to finish the drive to Magic Mountain, I was a little disappointed to arrive in L.A with a fear that it was going to be washed away by a crazy downpour. Well, to be totally honest, my heart skipped a little when I saw the coasters and my nerves started to kick in. But then I was bummed that we had to find an alternate plan to our day. Good thing I have my Blackberry (aka Crackberry), which I am thoroughly addicted to using to find information.

My standby website for brewery information, Beerme.com, doesn't seem to work anymore on my phone, so I had to find another means to search for info. I Googled "breweries in Los Angeles.”  Simple enough right? Well, Google was somewhat useless and it lead me to articles that had little substance. Finally, I found some info on The Bruery. I had heard the name, but was not familiar with their beer since we don't have that in our liquor stores here. We decided to give it a chance, which turned out to be a great idea. After driving in more L.A. traffic (due to the crappy weather and the L.A. marathon), we made our way to The Bruery. I enjoyed the Orchard White which is a Belgian wit bier with coriander, citrus peel and lavender. It also has spicy fruit yeast and is brewed with rolled oats. I could taste hints of the lavender, which is an interesting ingredient for beer. As we sipped our beer, I noticed that they had some bottle caps floating around. Chris and I are always looking for new bottle caps to add to our collection for our art projects. Chris has completed one project; however I have more ideas than I do time. When I asked the bartender for some caps, he told me about the bottle cap art at The Bruery Provisions, the liquor store/cheese and meat shop/tasting room that is a secondary location for the brewery. So, we put that on our agenda for the next day.

Before heading to the Lakers game, we stopped by the Angels Stadium of Anaheim. Chris has a passion for beer and coasters, I have a passion for baseball. I have visited 9 major league baseball stadiums, some to watch games, some to just take pictures. But, I enjoy seeing different stadiums and experiencing what each one has to offer. Since baseball season hasn’t officially started, I wasn’t able to watch a game. But I am counting down the days until Rockies opening day. Buy me some peanuts and cracker Jacks…I am ready for some sunshine and the boys of summer. Baseball was on my mind even at the Lakers game. They have a cheer with the same rhythm as the “Tulo” cheer, and every time I heard it I quietly murmured “Tulo” at the end. I didn’t want to anger the Lakers fans too much. The fact that they almost lost was enough to send the guy next to me into a major temper tantrum. But in the end, the Lakers pulled out a win for Jack Nicholson and Bruce Willis, who were in attendance, and the fans behind us were excited to get some free Jack in the Box tacos.
When we woke up to gloomy clouds and drops of rain spitting at as, we decided to go the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. I guess that is the animal lover/science geek in me. I had a great time and was probably as giddy as all the little kids that were there for a field trip. After a quick lunch with a view of the Queen Mary, we headed to Orange. It seemed like a quaint little town, with lots of antiques stores, a cool store with hundreds of types of bottled soda, a cupcake shop (which was closed that day…bummer), and a handful of other shops and restaurants. As we drove through Old Town Orange, I found myself thinking that I could live there. It would be a perfect place if they had a yarn shop. But then I snapped back to reality and remembered all of the reasons why I love living in Colorado. To complete the day, we went for a stroll along Huntington Beach. It was nice to see the sunshine and listen to the ocean waves as well as to people-watch.

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