Photo 27 Nov 41 notes Take 1: DavidDupont’s Avec Les Bons Voeux de la Brasserie III saison of 9.5%ABV is a classic saison to be reckoned with. Traditional in its saison flavor profile, this holiday special release saison is not the standard, nor classically boring. Its flavors are punched up and exceedingly hoppy, barnyard hay and chamomile flavors, sweet apple skin, bitter orange rind, cooling cardamom, yeasty warm spices, and some deep honey sweetness exude from this high ABV Belgian delight. This is one of the better Belgian saisons I have tried, maybe the best Belgian saison. Different than the Spanish Ovila, and Anchorage Love Buzz American counterpart, this saison holds its own regional flavor significance. Rating: 9/10

Take 1: David

Dupont’s Avec Les Bons Voeux de la Brasserie III saison of 9.5%ABV is a classic saison to be reckoned with. Traditional in its saison flavor profile, this holiday special release saison is not the standard, nor classically boring. Its flavors are punched up and exceedingly hoppy, barnyard hay and chamomile flavors, sweet apple skin, bitter orange rind, cooling cardamom, yeasty warm spices, and some deep honey sweetness exude from this high ABV Belgian delight. This is one of the better Belgian saisons I have tried, maybe the best Belgian saison. Different than the Spanish Ovila, and Anchorage Love Buzz American counterpart, this saison holds its own regional flavor significance.

Rating: 9/10

Photo 27 Nov 4 notes Take 1: DavidAnchorage Brewing Company’s Love Buzz Saison is simply spectacular. This is by far the best non-traditional saison I have tried. Brewed with rose hips, peppercorns, orange peels, tripple fermented with the use of Pinot noir barrels, this ale is phenomenal. The fermentation in the pinot barrels with the Brettanomyces yeast creates a slightly tart aftertaste that pairs beautifully with the perfumy rose hips, umami orange rind, spicy depths of the peppercorns and lastly, another fermentation in the barrel with Citra hops dry hopping. The ale is then given a third fermentation when bottled, so this ale is well carbonated, full-flavored and lively when opened. These are the marks of a well created bottled ale.Rating: 10/10

Take 1: David

Anchorage Brewing Company’s Love Buzz Saison is simply spectacular. This is by far the best non-traditional saison I have tried. Brewed with rose hips, peppercorns, orange peels, tripple fermented with the use of Pinot noir barrels, this ale is phenomenal. The fermentation in the pinot barrels with the Brettanomyces yeast creates a slightly tart aftertaste that pairs beautifully with the perfumy rose hips, umami orange rind, spicy depths of the peppercorns and lastly, another fermentation in the barrel with Citra hops dry hopping. The ale is then given a third fermentation when bottled, so this ale is well carbonated, full-flavored and lively when opened. These are the marks of a well created bottled ale.

Rating: 10/10

Photo 24 Nov 11 notes Take 1: DavidBrockhouse Esrum Kloster is the perfect spiced ale, no kidding. From Denmark, this Nordic abbey ale is made from the herbs grown at the garden of Esrum Abbey. No hops. This is a real ale, made with only grains-barley, wheat and rye. Lemon balm, lavender, rosemary, juniper and anise fuse seamlessly with the grain body to produce a sensuous and rich dark ale with an intoxicating aroma and flavor. Lightly sweet with burnt sugar and medium roasted grains, this is pure perfection. Pair with roasted lamb and fowl. Rating: 10/10

Take 1: David

Brockhouse Esrum Kloster is the perfect spiced ale, no kidding. From Denmark, this Nordic abbey ale is made from the herbs grown at the garden of Esrum Abbey. No hops. This is a real ale, made with only grains-barley, wheat and rye. Lemon balm, lavender, rosemary, juniper and anise fuse seamlessly with the grain body to produce a sensuous and rich dark ale with an intoxicating aroma and flavor. Lightly sweet with burnt sugar and medium roasted grains, this is pure perfection. Pair with roasted lamb and fowl.

Rating: 10/10

Photo 24 Nov 7 notes Take 1: DavidThe Bruery’s Orchard White Belgian style ale of 5.7% ABV is a massively frothy white ale with a lemon skin and lavender nose  and a taste to match. Wheat, bitter citrus rind, lemon essence and some crushed lavender mix with the yeasty light spice and biscuity flavors to meld into an above average white ale, but not enough to make it exemplary. The lavender aftertaste is the best quality of this ale. This ale should pair well with fowl. Rating: 7/10

Take 1: David

The Bruery’s Orchard White Belgian style ale of 5.7% ABV is a massively frothy white ale with a lemon skin and lavender nose and a taste to match. Wheat, bitter citrus rind, lemon essence and some crushed lavender mix with the yeasty light spice and biscuity flavors to meld into an above average white ale, but not enough to make it exemplary. The lavender aftertaste is the best quality of this ale. This ale should pair well with fowl.

Rating: 7/10

Photo 24 Nov 11 notes Take 1: DavidRussian River Brewing’s Damnation Batch 23 ale aged with oak chips of ABV of 10.75% is absolutely spectacular. Sweet, burnt caramel, yeast spice, and oak vanilla profile add together to make a great ale. The light and sweet smooth golden ale body has an astonishing Belgian effervescence that adds to the vanilla oak flavors from the oak chips, so prevalent when the ale hits room temperature. A vast improvement over the standard Damnation ale.Rating: 10/10

Take 1: David

Russian River Brewing’s Damnation Batch 23 ale aged with oak chips of ABV of 10.75% is absolutely spectacular. Sweet, burnt caramel, yeast spice, and oak vanilla profile add together to make a great ale. The light and sweet smooth golden ale body has an astonishing Belgian effervescence that adds to the vanilla oak flavors from the oak chips, so prevalent when the ale hits room temperature. A vast improvement over the standard Damnation ale.

Rating: 10/10

Photo 24 Nov 4 notes Take 1: DavidWidmer Brothers Brothers’ Reserve Barrel Aged Brrrbon ale of 9.4% ABV is an interesting creature of an ale. It tastes like a red ale mixed with a bourbon ale. The floral hoppiness works well with the bourbon vanilla perfume flavor, but the red ale bitterness and yeasty foam flavor is an awkward partner to the ale body. The ale becomes more flavorful as it approaches room temperature, bringing out more of the bourbon to counter the red ale hop bitterness.Rating: 6.5/10

Take 1: David

Widmer Brothers Brothers’ Reserve Barrel Aged Brrrbon ale of 9.4% ABV is an interesting creature of an ale. It tastes like a red ale mixed with a bourbon ale. The floral hoppiness works well with the bourbon vanilla perfume flavor, but the red ale bitterness and yeasty foam flavor is an awkward partner to the ale body. The ale becomes more flavorful as it approaches room temperature, bringing out more of the bourbon to counter the red ale hop bitterness.

Rating: 6.5/10

Photo 24 Nov 19 notes Take 1: DavidOvila Quad by Sierra Nevada Brewing is a rich and smokey quadruple ale far superior than any other quad I have tried. First off, this is not a sickly sweet Belgian quad. Instead, this is a roasty, malty, smokey quad of burnt caramel, dark fruit, slight coffee bitterness and deep leathery smoke. Spectacular. The smell is almost of a smokey single malt scotch. Burnt dark Belgian rock candy sugar. Damn!! Pair with roasted lamb and smoked veggies. 10.4 ABV Rating: 9.5/10

Take 1: David

Ovila Quad by Sierra Nevada Brewing is a rich and smokey quadruple ale far superior than any other quad I have tried. First off, this is not a sickly sweet Belgian quad. Instead, this is a roasty, malty, smokey quad of burnt caramel, dark fruit, slight coffee bitterness and deep leathery smoke. Spectacular. The smell is almost of a smokey single malt scotch. Burnt dark Belgian rock candy sugar. Damn!! Pair with roasted lamb and smoked veggies. 10.4 ABV

Rating: 9.5/10

Photo 21 Nov Take 1: DavidLagunitas Brewing Company’s “Our Own Bavarian-Styled Doppel Weizen”  limited release ale is apparently flying off the shelf I was told, so I took the last one to try myself. This wheat ale has a wonderful nose of banana, caramel, light spice, vanilla  and a hint of sweet hay. The taste is first of vanilla and a hay-sweet wheat flavor that all come from the wheat (this was executed to perfection to exploit the powers of wheat flavor), then morphing into a banana and almost creamy flavor (banana-split?) with a slight grain bitterness, then leaving your plate with the perfume like vanilla wheat flavor once again. Allagash, watch out! This is a top-notch wheat ale. Pair with gourmet sausages, roasted meats and definitely, an angel food cake desert of some sort. Nice! Rating: 9.5/10

Take 1: David

Lagunitas Brewing Company’s “Our Own Bavarian-Styled Doppel Weizen” limited release ale is apparently flying off the shelf I was told, so I took the last one to try myself. This wheat ale has a wonderful nose of banana, caramel, light spice, vanilla and a hint of sweet hay. The taste is first of vanilla and a hay-sweet wheat flavor that all come from the wheat (this was executed to perfection to exploit the powers of wheat flavor), then morphing into a banana and almost creamy flavor (banana-split?) with a slight grain bitterness, then leaving your plate with the perfume like vanilla wheat flavor once again. Allagash, watch out! This is a top-notch wheat ale. Pair with gourmet sausages, roasted meats and definitely, an angel food cake desert of some sort. Nice!

Rating: 9.5/10

Photo 21 Nov Take 1: DavidNew Belgium Brewing’s Lips of Faith Series Prickly Passion Saison  is at hand. At first I thought this was a saison for girlies, jokes aside from the name if you cover up the LY, but the sweetness of the fruit can overpower the other qualities of the ale as well. This is a decent saison. Reason being, the French saison yeast provides a strong yeasty cinnamon/allspice spice and fruit rind flavor to the ale while the desert prickly pear and passion fruit add a slight sweet edge that is delicate and does not interfere with the overall ale flavor. 8.5% ABV. Pair with turkey, stuffing and all the fixings. Rating: 7.5/10

Take 1: David

New Belgium Brewing’s Lips of Faith Series Prickly Passion Saison is at hand. At first I thought this was a saison for girlies, jokes aside from the name if you cover up the LY, but the sweetness of the fruit can overpower the other qualities of the ale as well. This is a decent saison. Reason being, the French saison yeast provides a strong yeasty cinnamon/allspice spice and fruit rind flavor to the ale while the desert prickly pear and passion fruit add a slight sweet edge that is delicate and does not interfere with the overall ale flavor. 8.5% ABV. Pair with turkey, stuffing and all the fixings.

Rating: 7.5/10

Photo 7 Nov While I missed this year’s LA Beer Week Festival, I did not miss all of its spectacular events, including the Downtown Beer Crawl. Nine breweries represented at nine different bars in and around Little Tokyo. With the hub being Far Bar, boasting 18 beers by Stone, that’s where my night began. I had tried most of the Stone beers on the list or incarnations of them, except for one: La Citrueille Celeste de Citracado (The Heavenly Pumpkin of Citracado”). In a collaboration between Stone, the Bruery and Elysian brewery, this beer is made with pumpkins, grown by Stone, which is located on Citracado Road in Escondido, CA. In addition to pumpkin, the Heavenly Pumpkin also employs yams, toasted fenugreek, lemon verbena, and birch bark in its recipe. This all creates a nicely balanced elegant dark ale, similar in body to something like Lost Abbey’s Gift of the Magi, but at only 5% ABV. There was not an overpowering flavor of pumpkin or any other ingredient here, and that’s a compliment to this beer.
After a strong start to this crawl, I headed over to Spice Table, which featured beers by Alesmith. A representative from Stone pleasantly greeted me as I entered (Alesmith is distributed by Stone). I went for Evil Dead Red, a lovely hoppy red ale released yearly, around Halloween (and only in the keg). The Stone rep approved. This is the type of florally hoppy red ale I have had now and again but never consistently. I had a similar ale at the terrific Thai restaurant Pok Pok in Portland, OR and a stronger version at Four Peaks in Tempe, AZ. And while I can’t have this one consistently either, at least I can have it once a year. And apparently Alesmith’s Bloody Valentine Ale, released near Valentine’s Day, is nearly the same beer. 
Next up: Weiland Brewery, around the corner from Spice Table (by the way, the bar at Spice Table is constructed around a fire grill. Everything thrown on that grill looked terrific, including the pig’s tail. I’ll be returning soon to eat as well. Maybe on Valentine’s Day?). Weiland featured Port Brewing’s beers. Still overjoyed by Evil Dead Red, I stuck with the same theme and ordered a Shark Attack Red Ale. This was quite different than Alesmith’s version. Shark Attack is a much more bitterly hopped ale. It is still very good, but I could drink Evil Dead all night long. 
When you visit nine bars in an evening you have certain choices to make. Since the previous weekend I had attended Avery Brewing night at Blue Palms in Hollywood, I only poked my head into Senor Fish, which featured Avery beers (I couldn’t leave without first checking the tap list). Nothing too crazy, but their lovely White Rascal was on tap. Will power prevailed though, and I was on my way to the next destination. Below a random sign off the main drag surrounding Japanese Village Plaza you’ll find a stairway leading to a basement dwelling. Take the stairway and you’ll arrive in Fu-ga, a Japanese izakaya-style restaurant, hang, and bar (the subterranean entrance is not so different from New York’s Sakagura, a gastronomic wonderland of both traditional and rare Japanese plates, best washed down with a near encyclopedic selection of sake, but I digress…). The beers of Great Divide graced Fu-ga. My choice was the Belgian Yeti. The Yeti loses that all too familiar scowl and mandible with a little Belgian yeast. That is to say Yeti is not so thick and syrupy in its Belgian incarnation, but is really pretty damn good. I like the other Yetis, but I like the Belgian Yeti best of all. Maybe it’s because I’m part Belgian. Whatever the reason, I have to grab a bottle of this soon, and return to Fu-ga for a bite and a sip. The day after Valentine’s Day?
From the near hidden underground world of Fu-ga I found the Escondite (literally “hiding place”). Here were the beers of Black Market Brewery. Unfortunately, the two beers I tasted here were wholly unremarkable, so to spare you the details, I’ll hide the rest of this experience… Spitz… home of the Doner Kebob… featuring Eagle Rock Brewery. Say no more. And Craftsman Brewery. Pardon me, go on! Unity Tamarind Saison. A collaboration between my two favorite local breweries. At first taste, this was somewhere between a slightly sweet honey ale and a Boddington’s cream ale. But then again my taste buds were more like cream ale at this point in the night. There’s certainly tamarind, apple, a forkful of saison grass, and the whole range of the four tastes (maybe even a little umami, but who knows, as my brain is turning to cream ale here)… stumble stumble…
To Xlixe (pronounced “slice”). It’s a pizza place. And might I mention there are just two other customers here, though they leave shortly after I enter. I grabbed a xlixe of oxtail pizza. It’s wonderful. And a glass of Mad River (Xlixe’s featured brewery) Bourbon Barrel Aged John Barleycorn Barleywine. Oh. My. God. My brain is no longer cream of corn… or ale… and my taste buds certainly are not. This is a huge beer. Style aside, the best beer of the night. Wow. This is a beer to be seduced by (“John Barleycorn, is that you?” “No, it’s me, your wife,” says the beautiful lady opposite me…). There are few barrel aged beers I put on a pedestal. Firestone Parabola and Abacus. North Coast Rasputin XII. Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron. And Mr. Barleycorn. How are my wife and I the only two in this place? Shame on you, Los Angeles! No matter. It just makes it more special. What a way to end the night. I’m done.   
Or am I? What better way to top this than slink on over to lovely Wurstkuche, where I famously took a good friend from out of town only to listen to the results of his food poisoning all night long… and feel mine… and my wife’s. But I was not going to eat there, just go straight to the bar. D’Achouffe’s beers were on tap. Much to my surprise, there was a new Chouffe on tap: D’Achouffe Golden Ale. I like McChouffe best of allbecause of its warming cocoa flavor. But the Golden Ale was neither as flavorful as McChouffe, as delicate as Houblon Chouffe, or as rich as the original Chouffe. But I’m always a sucker to try something new. But anything else would have to wait, because my night was now officially over. So I tipped the bartender and off I went. Into the night. Nine bars and brews later. Into my car. Because it’s LA. And into the passenger’s seat. Because my wife was driving. Because she schlepped with me to nine bars. Because I’m damn lucky.
Would I recommend this crawl? If it’s ever offered again, you would be so lucky.

While I missed this year’s LA Beer Week Festival, I did not miss all of its spectacular events, including the Downtown Beer Crawl. Nine breweries represented at nine different bars in and around Little Tokyo. With the hub being Far Bar, boasting 18 beers by Stone, that’s where my night began. I had tried most of the Stone beers on the list or incarnations of them, except for one: La Citrueille Celeste de Citracado (The Heavenly Pumpkin of Citracado”). In a collaboration between Stone, the Bruery and Elysian brewery, this beer is made with pumpkins, grown by Stone, which is located on Citracado Road in Escondido, CA. In addition to pumpkin, the Heavenly Pumpkin also employs yams, toasted fenugreek, lemon verbena, and birch bark in its recipe. This all creates a nicely balanced elegant dark ale, similar in body to something like Lost Abbey’s Gift of the Magi, but at only 5% ABV. There was not an overpowering flavor of pumpkin or any other ingredient here, and that’s a compliment to this beer.

After a strong start to this crawl, I headed over to Spice Table, which featured beers by Alesmith. A representative from Stone pleasantly greeted me as I entered (Alesmith is distributed by Stone). I went for Evil Dead Red, a lovely hoppy red ale released yearly, around Halloween (and only in the keg). The Stone rep approved. This is the type of florally hoppy red ale I have had now and again but never consistently. I had a similar ale at the terrific Thai restaurant Pok Pok in Portland, OR and a stronger version at Four Peaks in Tempe, AZ. And while I can’t have this one consistently either, at least I can have it once a year. And apparently Alesmith’s Bloody Valentine Ale, released near Valentine’s Day, is nearly the same beer.

Next up: Weiland Brewery, around the corner from Spice Table (by the way, the bar at Spice Table is constructed around a fire grill. Everything thrown on that grill looked terrific, including the pig’s tail. I’ll be returning soon to eat as well. Maybe on Valentine’s Day?). Weiland featured Port Brewing’s beers. Still overjoyed by Evil Dead Red, I stuck with the same theme and ordered a Shark Attack Red Ale. This was quite different than Alesmith’s version. Shark Attack is a much more bitterly hopped ale. It is still very good, but I could drink Evil Dead all night long.

When you visit nine bars in an evening you have certain choices to make. Since the previous weekend I had attended Avery Brewing night at Blue Palms in Hollywood, I only poked my head into Senor Fish, which featured Avery beers (I couldn’t leave without first checking the tap list). Nothing too crazy, but their lovely White Rascal was on tap. Will power prevailed though, and I was on my way to the next destination. Below a random sign off the main drag surrounding Japanese Village Plaza you’ll find a stairway leading to a basement dwelling. Take the stairway and you’ll arrive in Fu-ga, a Japanese izakaya-style restaurant, hang, and bar (the subterranean entrance is not so different from New York’s Sakagura, a gastronomic wonderland of both traditional and rare Japanese plates, best washed down with a near encyclopedic selection of sake, but I digress…). The beers of Great Divide graced Fu-ga. My choice was the Belgian Yeti. The Yeti loses that all too familiar scowl and mandible with a little Belgian yeast. That is to say Yeti is not so thick and syrupy in its Belgian incarnation, but is really pretty damn good. I like the other Yetis, but I like the Belgian Yeti best of all. Maybe it’s because I’m part Belgian. Whatever the reason, I have to grab a bottle of this soon, and return to Fu-ga for a bite and a sip. The day after Valentine’s Day?

From the near hidden underground world of Fu-ga I found the Escondite (literally “hiding place”). Here were the beers of Black Market Brewery. Unfortunately, the two beers I tasted here were wholly unremarkable, so to spare you the details, I’ll hide the rest of this experience… Spitz… home of the Doner Kebob… featuring Eagle Rock Brewery. Say no more. And Craftsman Brewery. Pardon me, go on! Unity Tamarind Saison. A collaboration between my two favorite local breweries. At first taste, this was somewhere between a slightly sweet honey ale and a Boddington’s cream ale. But then again my taste buds were more like cream ale at this point in the night. There’s certainly tamarind, apple, a forkful of saison grass, and the whole range of the four tastes (maybe even a little umami, but who knows, as my brain is turning to cream ale here)… stumble stumble…

To Xlixe (pronounced “slice”). It’s a pizza place. And might I mention there are just two other customers here, though they leave shortly after I enter. I grabbed a xlixe of oxtail pizza. It’s wonderful. And a glass of Mad River (Xlixe’s featured brewery) Bourbon Barrel Aged John Barleycorn Barleywine. Oh. My. God. My brain is no longer cream of corn… or ale… and my taste buds certainly are not. This is a huge beer. Style aside, the best beer of the night. Wow. This is a beer to be seduced by (“John Barleycorn, is that you?” “No, it’s me, your wife,” says the beautiful lady opposite me…). There are few barrel aged beers I put on a pedestal. Firestone Parabola and Abacus. North Coast Rasputin XII. Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron. And Mr. Barleycorn. How are my wife and I the only two in this place? Shame on you, Los Angeles! No matter. It just makes it more special. What a way to end the night. I’m done.  

Or am I? What better way to top this than slink on over to lovely Wurstkuche, where I famously took a good friend from out of town only to listen to the results of his food poisoning all night long… and feel mine… and my wife’s. But I was not going to eat there, just go straight to the bar. D’Achouffe’s beers were on tap. Much to my surprise, there was a new Chouffe on tap: D’Achouffe Golden Ale. I like McChouffe best of allbecause of its warming cocoa flavor. But the Golden Ale was neither as flavorful as McChouffe, as delicate as Houblon Chouffe, or as rich as the original Chouffe. But I’m always a sucker to try something new. But anything else would have to wait, because my night was now officially over. So I tipped the bartender and off I went. Into the night. Nine bars and brews later. Into my car. Because it’s LA. And into the passenger’s seat. Because my wife was driving. Because she schlepped with me to nine bars. Because I’m damn lucky.

Would I recommend this crawl? If it’s ever offered again, you would be so lucky.


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