5 Signs You’re in a Relationship with Craft Beer

5. You use the term “road beer.”

4. You have BevMo on speed dial

3. You own a koozie, a shakoozie (shower koozie), and a personalized growler with your initials on it

2. Your food pantry is empty but your beer fridge is not

1. You’re saving up vacation time to visit the Cantillon Brewery


Happy Valentine’s Day! Cheers!

Award-Winning “Best Beer in Mexico” Comes to California

There are only three things that will make me drive 40+ miles from my mountainous seclusion that is “the valley:” a re-release of Duck Duck Gooze, the resurgence of Mother Funker, and a beer tasting by Mexico’s award-winning Ensenada Brewing Co.

All I heard was horchata, piloncillo, and red agave…small, but essential components of my childhood growing up Mexican, now in beer!!  Was this true?  Could it be?  I had to taste! 

On November 10, Colonia Taco Lounge, located in La Puente, CA and LA Beer Bloggers hosted a sampling, The Rise of Craft Beer in Mexico.  Ensenada Brew Co. and Cucapá Brewing Co., two of the best from Baja California, provided samples that were paired with smoked porter tacos.  And to think I was going to spend my Saturday color-coding my dish towels and alphabetizing my VHS collection…


I had the pleasure of meeting Ensenada Brew Co. husband-and-wife team Paul and Karla Woronicz, owners of the Old Mission Brewery and Woodfire Pizza Restaurant in downtown Ensenada, BC.  Having grown up with these ingredients herself and having direct access to fresh product, Karla knew they would have a unique-tasting selection of beer that would also implement a sense of community from the consumer.

As Karla explained, more important than hitting as many store shelves as possible, is the ability to provide freshly brewed beer in their restaurant for their customers and creating a sense of interaction, like that of family, with people.



 That day, I tasted three beers:

Horchata Obscura (made with brown rice, chocolate malt, roasted barley, and accents of cinnamon and locally-grown vanilla, 6%)


Smoked Piloncillo Porter (made with roasted malts and piloncillo, which is unrefined sugar, 6%)


 Red Agave IPA (made with two-row barley, crystal malts, and agave nectar, 6.8%)


It was an exhilarating explosion of flavors and scents unlike any other I have experienced to date; smooth and easy on the palette with plenty of flavor.  The kind of beer that makes you want to order one after the other, after the other.  Distribution to California is set for mid-December to early January 2014.


 For a full list of their beer and to find out more, visit ensenadabrewing.com





A Small Taste of Ratchet Brews

He doesn’t ride with Nina, Keisha, or Molly.  He doesn’t wear chains around his neck while brewing nor does he produce “brews-a-make-her-dance.”  His name is Jason Carpenter, known to friends as “Ratchet” for the last 18 years, and no relation to Juicy J or 2 Chainz.  By day, he is the office manager for a small law firm in Knoxville, TN where they can help “Turn Your Ex into Some Checks!” and a home brewer in his spare time.
Ratchet Brews was founded sometime between 1995 and 1996 after Jason learned to brew along with some friends from a homebrew kit.  It wasn’t until 2009 that he decided to delve into it full force.  Since then, Ratchet has continued to dedicate his time to perfecting his work and developing his brand in order to meet his ultimate goal: to open his own nano-brewery.
“My basic brew day is usually 6-8 hours, but this doesn’t include all the stuff leading up to it, like getting water, starting the yeast, and cleaning equipment.”  Not only is home brewing time intensive, but it can also grow quickly from just a hobby to a full-time job.  “It can easily become an obsession.  I’ve spent more on brewing equipment than I did on my first couple of cars.  Often, I will forgo grocery shopping to buy brewing ingredients.”
A Florida native, Ratchet now calls Knoxville home.  He can often be found in Downtown Knoxville enjoying a brew when he is not working on his own, which he describes as, “Clean, chaotic, and party!”  He is also a member of the Knoxville Beer Crew.
So what advice does Ratchet have for those looking to cook up their own batch?   “Buy and read every beer and brewing-related book you can get your hands on.  Join online homebrew forums like HomeBrewTalk  If you want to pursue the hobby, get the good equipment up front.  Also, anyone can make beer.  Don’t half-ass it; if you are not going to do your best to make a great brew, stick with the store bought stuff.”
Keep up with Ratchet Brews news on his website, or check him out on Facebook and Twitter @RatchetBrews.
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Beer Soup for the Coffee Lover’s Soul

Coffee lovers hold on to your toilet seat: a roasty flavored stout made with Chipotle peppers and Arabica coffee is upon us: The Black Phoenix! This Californian brew (6.7%)  has that mocha-latte scent, rich dark color, and ultra smooth taste, without the overwhelming menu and slew of “Hipsters” yapping about Kanye’s new album, that you might find at a coffee shop. Enjoy this in the privacy of your own home for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Note: If you get heartburn easily, you might want to have Tums nearby just in case…the pepper flavor starts to kick in after a few minutes.


Bootlegger’s Brewery, Fullerton, CA, 1 Pint

Beer Goggles Would Be Sold at Wal-Mart

Beer Goggles: slang term for the notion that, through the consumption of alcohol, an unattractive person becomes beautiful


Photo credit: andrewjrivers.com

 While this phenomenon typically occurs at a bar, there are a few other places where most of us wish we had them. For example:

3) The Beach – You find a nice spot in front of the waves, you set your cooler down, stretch out your towel, pop open a cold brew and you spot a handsome Richard Gere look-alike with a dazzling tan dashing out of the water. That’s Beer Goggles. In reality, it’s Hulk Hogan.

2) The Fitting Room – The dreaded 360 degree mirror and the horrible lighting in most fitting rooms suddenly stomps on a previous fantasy we had of how good we would look in skinny jeans, or a crop top, or a fitted tee or stripes. Suddenly, we look like Adam Sandler in “Jack and Jill.”

1) Wal-Mart –  See “Walmartians” below





Gotta Taste Frog’s Breath Before Finding Your Prince

Metaphorically speaking, I’ve kissed my share of toads and dated a few frogs.  Nonetheless, I chose to try Crown Series’ Frog Breath. Although citrus-infused (which are usually my least fave), the fact that it has lime leaf and lemon did it for me. Growing up within the Mexican culture helped ensure I put lime/lemon juice on EVERYTHING, so naturally, this was a plus for me.

I’m so glad I tried it. At 6.5% alc/vol., it’s not  as hoppy as other citrus-y beers like Dig. So, hopefully you don’t have to kiss any frogs and just go straight for the Frog’s Breath!