Crawl_Square_4-29-15

Crawl4Nepal: A Recap

Crawl_FacebookEvent_4-29-15

It was a beautiful sight to be seen on May 9th. Across Southern California, from the South Bay to Redlands, 34 breweries and beer bars came together across three counties to support a great cause, the Crawl4Nepal. What started as a crazy “what if?” became a rapidly organized Day of Action in just two weeks. Thanks to the hard work of some terrific beer journalists, and the generosity and sheer will of the craft beer community, I can happily report that our combined efforts paid off.

We only have a couple participants left to donate, but for the sake of timeliness I think it’s only fair to let the numbers be known at this time. We raised, so far (drum roll please)…

$13,445.56

That’s HUGE! What a great showing of support for a worthy cause. I am also happy to announce we have a winner for largest donation. A big round of applause and thank you to…

Hangar 24

Who raised $1,950.00

 

It should be noted that everyone involved played a key roll. Each donation, regardless of size, made a difference. So in the spirit of that, I have to thank the following participants:

1642 • 38 Degrees • Alosta Brewing Co • Angel City Brewery • Barbara’s at the Brewery • Barley Forge • Beach City Brewery • Blue Palms Brewhouse • Bottle Logic • Bread & Barley • Cismontane • City Tavern Culver City • City Tavern DTLA • Eagle Rock Brewing • Far Bar LA • Golden Road • King Harbor • The Lost Knight • Mohawk Bend • Noble Ale Works • Out of the Park Pizza (Anaheim & Buena Park) • Phantom Carriage • Pizza Port San Clemente • Ritual Brewing Co • Rookery Ale House • Sanctum Brewing • Select Beer Store • Sunset Beer • The Bruery • Three Weavers • Tony’s Darts Away

A few points, you can still donate to Crawl4Nepal and Global Giving through this link. When you visit, you may notice that the total on the site is only about half of the amount we have recorded. This is because about half of our participants chose to donate via check, and these donations are currently on their way to Global Giving, headquartered in DC. The total should be reflected as these donations come in.

Lastly, some of you might be interested to know where this money is going. Global Giving is a fantastic, highly vetted non-profit. Unlike most other relief groups, their goal is to fund organizations on the ground that might not see US dollars. They have amassed a relief fund of over $3 million so far to help 65+ organizations on the ground currently working in Nepal. The immediate goal is disaster relief, and the fund will continue to be divvied out to assist these organizations in long-term recovery. We can say with certainty that the money we’ve raised is going directly to on the ground assistance.

So cheers to everyone that came out, had a few beers for a good cause, and again cheers to the fantastic Southern California beer community for making this possible. Drink local, think global!

Crawl_Square_4-29-15

Crawl4Nepal: On May 9 Beer Comes Together For a Cause

Before moving home to Los Angeles, I lived in Washington, DC working a a photojournalist. In 2011 I had the unique opportunity to visit and photograph in Port au Prince, Haiti for the one year anniversary of the earthquake that shook that country to its core, and then shook some more. On the ground, it was like nothing I had ever experienced. Buildings remained in ruin, hundreds of thousands remained in shanty towns and tent camps. An already fragile political climate had become volatile, and on top everything else a cholera outbreak had spread due to unsanitary conditions throughout the country.

I bring this up because I’ll never forget what I saw on that trip. I could keep focusing on the negatives, and trust me there were plenty, but to flip the same coin what I also saw on that trip was a country in healing, attempting to rebuild. And they didn’t do it alone. 1 in 5 people in Haiti at that time was a relief worker. I, myself stayed with a relief organization teaching emergency medical treatment. This should give us all hope that no matter how bad it gets we come together to help others on whatever scale we can.

Crawl_FacebookEvent_4-29-15

On Saturday, May 9th I invite you, yes YOU, to join in a community effort to help victims rebuild from another terrible disaster, the recent earthquake in Nepal. Myself, and beer writers Cleo Tobbi and Kelly Erickson have helped organized Crawl4Nepal, a Day of Action spanning over 25 beer locations in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Bernardino Counties. Each beer bar or brewery will have one designated “donation beer” on draft. When ordered, 100% of the proceeds will go Global Giving, a well vetted organization raising relief funds for both immediate relief and long term recovery.

I invite you to check out a couple links. Join our Facebook event, and if you can’t make it, you can still make a difference by donating directly to our Global Giving fundraising page. Spread it through social media as well, the more the merrier! #Crawl4Nepal

The support for this event has been nothing short of amazing, in the 2 weeks since we began organizing we’ve seen the craft beer community come together, like it always does, to do some good in the world. We just happen to do that by drinking, and really what a better way to reach our goals? Thanks to the breweries and beer bars that have joined us in this effort, and thanks to the craft beer community for getting to one (or three) of these awesome breweries and bars on Saturday and drinking your fill! Hell, bring your friends and make it a party. Cheers!

Participant Breweries

Eagle Rock Brewery • Golden Road Brewing • Mohawk Bend • Tony’s Darts Away • Sunset Beer Company • The Rookery Ale House • Cismontane Brewing • Ritual Brewing Co • Barley Forge Brewing Co • Sanctum Brewing Co • Bread & Barley • Beach City Brewery • Bottle Logic Brewing • Phantom Carriage • Blue Palms Brewhouse • Three Weavers Brewing Co • King Harbor Brewing Co • Far Bar Little Tokyo • Noble Ale Works • The Lost Knight • Select Beer Store • City Tavern DTLA • Hangar 24 • 38 Degrees Ale House & Grill • Barbara’s at the Brewery • Alosta Brewing Co • Angel City Brewery • The Bruery

(please be sure to ask which “donation beer” they’re pouring! There’s some good ones!)

CBM_Greenbar_Web_011

A Truly Organic LA Growth: Distiller Profile with Greenbar’s Melkon Khosrovian

CBM_Greenbar_Web_011

Today we take a break from craft beer to focus on something equally important: craft spirits. I confess that I am just as much a fan of a fancy $15 cocktail as I am any craft beer. Put a Negroni or Old Fashion in my hand and the look on my face will probably reside somewhere between satisfied and elated. Find me three to four hours later in the same room, and that look will have changed only slightly; to satisfied and sleepy.

My love of cocktails aside, we take a break from beer today because there are equally intriguing characters harnessing the same can-do mindset that we’ve come to observe so often in beer; and I for one believe that spirit-makers deserve equal representation. For that reason I’d like to introduce you to Melkon Khosrovian, founder of LA’s Greenbar Craft Distillery.

Read more

CBM_TomTait_Web_001

Being Beer Friendly: An Interview with Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait

CBM_TomTait_Web_001

I’ve interviewed plenty of brewers since starting California BrewMasters. If you haven’t noticed by now, it’s kind of my thing. I’ve spoken to brewers in depth about primary and secondary fermentation methods, and listened closely as they pontificated the philosophies of good recipe formulation. For me this information is thought provoking, but as someone that has never brewed, either at home or on a commercial level, these pieces of brewing knowledge are not why I got into craft beer journalism.

I got into beer because of the community that was every bit as intriguing as the beer itself. The nuances of my favorite farmhouse saison are every bit as interesting to me as following the rise of a new brewery in an untapped neighborhood. And just as beer doesn’t make itself, a beer community is only as strong as those that foster and create it. As journalists and fans our appreciation most likely begins after the doors have opened, but we should take into consideration the incredible determination by each brewery to pry the doors open in the first place. It takes months and years, and the process is oftentimes fraught with red tape due to a lack of information or misinformation by the city and county it hopes to call home.

Read more

NGingold_LA2FW3_WEB_054

No, Thank YOU Firestone Walker: LA Bloggers Take Acid and Drink in Barns

   a photographic perspective 
NGingold_LA2FW3_WEB_054

Last weekend I took advantage of an incredible opportunity. Like a story involving a Nigerian Prince and his bank account, someone approached me months ago and said, “Nick, we’d like you to join a group of beer savvy, like minded individuals on a weekend excursion to Firestone Walker in Paso Robles, to build relationships with their staff and gain an inside look at some of their programs. There will also be multiple parties which take place in barns.” Fighting off a first response of, “Get the fuck outa town!” I followed up on the off chance that his could, possibly, maybe, be true.

Fast forward to the sunny afternoon of Sunday, April 12th in Venice Beach. It was the sort of day where if you were a productive member of society, you’d be wearing your Sunday best, skipping around to farmers markets and indulging in the newest brunch spot with a French Bulldog in tow. I, however, required sunglasses and Panda Express to give my body the relief it so desperately required. The weekend had taken its toll.

I rolled off the bus, our weekend chariot manned by mustachio bus driver Frank Frankowski (real name). I collected my things and gave hugs and hand shakes to new friends and old. I left slightly smelly, slightly hung over, and a bit buzzed. I climbed into my girlfriend’s car, gave her a smooch, and settled in for the ride home. A fat grin slid across my face.

Read more

NGingold_HowBrewersTaste_WEB_preview

Train Your Tongue Like a Brewer

Please note: an annotated version of this article appeared in the April edition of BeerPaperLA – be sure to pick up a copy! 

NGingold_HowBrewersTaste_WEB2

The human tongue is a thing of evolutionary beauty. An organ equipped with the working force of 10,000 taste buds, we owe countless palatable fads throughout history to a complex series of receptors that respond to whatever chemical make up it encounters. When a stimulus activates these receptors, neurons send the information to our brains, registering its interpretation in the form of taste. The ability for human beings to understand the complexities and nuances of what we taste is nothing short of spectacular. What’s even more amazing is that this feature comes standard. So whether we choose to use this tool or not, make no mistake that it is in everyone’s toolbox. The question then becomes this: are you doing your tongue justice? Read more

NGingold_Terreux_web_001

Inside Bruery Terreux: Meet Jeremy Grinkey

NGingold_Terreux_web_001

I have a storied history with The Bruery. In many ways I owe my inroads to the craft beer industry to their generosity, as well as their beer. It was Oude Tart that gave me my “a-ha!” moment while attending the first Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival. As I’ve written before, it sent a mushroom cloud through my brain (I must have gotten in line at least three more times for that beer, trying to define what hit my taste buds). It was Tyler King, former head of brewing operations for The Bruery, that granted me my first interview for the California BrewMasters book. Lastly, it was thanks in part to a sizable donation by The Bruery to my Kickstarter campaign that California BrewMasters was published in the first place.

I tell you all this for a couple reasons. Might I have an inherent bias? Quite Possibly. But the point I’d also like to make is that as an Orange County native, The Bruery always stood out as a beacon of what was possible in craft beer. In those beginning years, a focus on sours and the use of 750ml wine bottles seemed niche and innovative. And it was. Today, just a mere three years since my first interview in Placentia, sour beers like Oude Tart are booming in popularity. Anaheim and the surrounding area has made itself a beer city well worth talking about. How quickly the tide of craft beer rushed through our lives, changing not only the way we drink but also shaping our thought process as educated consumers. While I don’t think The Bruery can take all the credit, I have no problem calling them pioneers. That’s why, when I heard they were starting Bruery Terreux, a new brand that will, in their own words, “focus solely on farmhouse-style ales fermented with wild yeasts as well as oak-aged sour ales,” I had to stop by and see what all the fuss was about.

Read more

NGingold_PhantomCarriage_004

Spooky Meets Funky at Phantom Carriage in Carson

Meet the Boys Behind LA’s Phantom Carriage

NGingold_PhantomCarriage_004from left, Head Brewer Simon Ford, Founder Martin Svab, and Assistant Brewer Brendan Lake

Phantom Carriage was a little hard to find initially, but the good stuff usually is. Tucked into an industrial space in the city of Carson, I found my destination and parked my car at a spot drenched in sunlight. Tinted shades still on, I walked through the entrance, doing away with the expected brightness of a Southern California day and stepping into what can only be described as utter darkness.

It took me a minute to set my course. Adjusting my eyes to the dimness, shapes began to converge creating my first impressions of a brewery that, while only a few months old, I’m sure to experience again and again. For a brewery that doesn’t have its grand opening until this coming Saturday, Phantom Carriage was raucous in the best way. A brisket sandwich and homemade pickles (fermented with lacto, of course) scooted past me and caught my attention. The place was packed. I made my way past the horror-film screening room, and up to the bar. Towards the back of the tasting room, two walls stacked with barrels four rows high took my attention away from the tap list.

I was greeted by head of brewing operations Simon Ford and was immediately handed a Muis, a 100% brett fermented wild Belgian-blonde ale. It was crisp and light despite a full flavor and a wildness that I hadn’t expected. It was the first beer they put out, thanks to a past collaboration with Monkish, and it was a great introduction to their line up. In the back I met founder / general manager Martin Svab and assistant brewer Brendan Lake. Martin, as you’ll read, has been in the craft beer industry in some capacity for the last decade, and after three years finally gets to witness the fruits of his labor with the upcoming grand opening.

Read more

NGingold_Noble4th_web_001

Noble Ale Works Turns 4 in Anaheim

NGingold_Noble4th_web_001

Happy 4th Birthday to Noble Ale Works in Anaheim! One of my favorite breweries PERIOD, I always get giddy when the opportunity arises to hang out with good people drinking seriously good beer. If you missed the fun on Saturday, fear not, for I have documented a bit of the party to share with you now. A few highlights included the musical stylings of brewers like Mitch Steele (Stone), Jeremy Raub (Eagle Rock), Julian Shrago (Beachwood BBQ) and of course Noble’s own Evan Price, pictured above, as well as over 30 tasty beers spread across the parking lot in front of the brewery. Several variations of Noble’s signature Naughty Sauce, a golden stout, were being poured, as well as beer cocktails (thanks to Santa Ana restaurant Playground), making this a truly enjoyable event filled with friends and beer-quaintances. Check out some shots below.

NGingold_Noble4th_web_015 Read more

NGingold_GRVictor_web_002

The Golden Road to Anaheim: Victor Novak Interview

Brewer Victor Novak discusses his time in LA and his return to OCNGingold_GRVictor_web_002

Golden Road Brewing announced earlier this month that they’d be launching their first major expansion brewery in Anaheim. The Los Angeles based brewery found 56,000 square feet of prime real estate just a few steps away from Angel Stadium. This second location not only solidifies Anaheim as a beer town to be reckoned with, but also brings home Victor Novak, acclaimed brewer from TAPS in Brea who has been working for Golden Road for the past six months; and who will be running the show at this new location. In Victor’s own words, taking charge of this new facility “couldn’t be more perfect for an Angel’s fan.”

I’ll spare you too many of the details of this new brewery because, first off, it’s been discussed in many other articles and blog posts, and secondly, I want to focus on Victor and let you hear him talk about this new opportunity in his own words. I sat down with Victor last week to discuss what he’s been doing with his time in Los Angeles, and found out how he’s going to approach the task he’s been given; putting the Golden Road stamp on a town already buzzing with terrific breweries.

Read more