Karl Strauss Brewing- San Diego- BBC14

While the panels and speakers at the Beer Bloggers Conference in San Diego were very informative, it was really nice to get out and speak to some people from local breweries.

On Friday evening, we headed to Karl Strauss Brewery for some beer, tacos, and good conversation.


Beers on draft included the tower 10 IPA, Big Barrel IPA, Wreck Alley Imperial Stout, and my favorite, the Red Trolley Ale. The outdoor beer garden was nicely set up with strings of lightbulbs illuminating the sandy ground. I also thought it was great that there were games and things to play with scattered around. A box of dominoes and cards held court on one table, ladder golf was set up in a corner, and inside the brewery next to shelves of barrel-aged beers was the Karl Strauss cornhole set. The presence of the games as well as the communal picnic tables outside gave a friendly, party atmosphere.



After we filled up on tacos and beer, Chris Cramer, the CEO of Karl Strauss, came up to the front to speak. His talk was incredibly entertaining and also insightful. Contrasting solid facts with witty anecdotes really worked for the crowd. Although it did start to get loud towards the end of the speech, Chris did hold the crowd’s attention well.

What I thought was most interesting was the legacy of the man who was Karl Strauss, Chris’s relative that he lovingly referred to as “Uncle Karl”. Strauss was born and raised in Germany and studied brewing at the technical university of Munich-Weihenstephan, where he earned a degree in malting and brewing science and a Master Brewer certification. He moved to the US in the 1930s, where he settled in Wisconsin and got a job at Pabst and steadily moved up the ranks. He actually was a part of the team that reformulated the recipe for Pabst Blue Ribbon. Karl worked as Vice President of Production until his retirement after 44 years with the company.


Chris Cramer was inspired to bring good beer to San Diego through his travels. He tried Real Ale while in Europe, and at a brewpub in Australia, he saw the small production and how good the beer was and thought it could be feasible to take back to America. At a family event, he told ‘Uncle Karl’ about his idea, and Karl was delighted to pass on the brewing knowledge he has gained over his lifetime.


The story of Karl Strauss was a feel-good one, since it stemmed from family and hard work. Karl taught Chris and his partner, Matt Rattner, the quality control he had learned from his days at Pabst. The beer was held to a higher standard, with the independence and unique brewing recipes of a small batch, with the diligent quality control of a commercial brewery.


Karl Strauss Brewery opened in 1989, and celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.


Run To The Brews: Craft Brew Races Hit New England

Having a cold beer after doing some physical activity is pretty satisfying.

The Craft Brew Races are taking that satisfaction across New England this summer, offering a run with a beer festival that showcases local brews and other craft beers from around the area. The races will be stopping in New Haven this Saturday. I have never run a 5K before, and generally maintain the attitude that I only run if I am being chased. However, I’ve been training with the Couch to 5K app on my phone, as well as my own Outkast to 5k (where I made a playlist of Outkast songs with beats to go along with my intervals of running or walking- GENIUS). Working out makes the taste of beer that much more delicious, and it’s helping me get in shape, too. Luckily, if you are not 100% prepared to run a whole 5k, the Craft Beer Race calls itself a “relaxed” 5k, which encourages walkers as well.

The race takes place in Edgewood Park at 12 PM, and for non-runners, the beer festival drinking begins at 12:30 PM.


The post-race beer fest is free for runners, or if you’re simply someone enjoying the beer-drinking, you can get a ticket to the festival only for $45. Registration goes offsale online this evening, so be sure to grab them while you can!

If you live outside of CT or need an excuse for an end-of-summer road trip, the Craft Brew Races will be in Waterville Valley, NH on August 23 and Cape Cod on September 28.

Triple threat: Along with record, Tombs launches beer, coffee

Occasionally my penchant for beer and metal join forces and I write for Metal Insider.


Lots of bands have their own beer, or even make their own beer, as we saw last week from Within The Ruins. But launching both a beer AND a coffee brand? Expect nothing less from Brooklyn’s Tombs. They just released their new album, Savage Gold, and are launching a new beer this week with Ardmore, PA brewery Tired Hands.

Read the full article here.

Pucker Up: Sour’d In September Is The East Coast’s First Sour Beer Fest

Tickets for Sour'd in September in Elmsford from BeerFests.com

Beer festivals are popping up everywhere. While many of them have a variety of breweries bringing a variety of styles, there are not that many that focus on one individual style. Enter Captain Lawrence Brewing. They will be hosting the east coast’s first SOUR beer festival on Saturday, September 13.

It’s a great opportunity to explore a style that is starting to become extremely popular. CLBC is bringing in lots of breweries as well, including:


Thirsty Dog


The Breury





Plan Bee


Great South Bay












For a Connecticut resident, most of these unfamiliar names alone are enough to make me want to grab tickets! Luckily tickets just went onsale and are available online for $65 which includes a sampling of all 50+ beers as well as a tasting glass. You can also go VIP for $85 which gets you in earlier, a specialty glass, and a SWAG BAG. Although the brewery and its grounds are quite spacious, tickets are limited so CLBC recommends picking up your tickets ASAP.

Unfamiliar with sours? It’s simpler than you may think. A sour is made by allowing wild yeast or bacteria into the wort in the brewing process. The different bacteria and other elements, such as fruit, that are added create different flavors and aromas. Three bacteria are commonly used, often in combination with one another. Lactobacillus converts sugars into lactic acid. Pediococcus is another lactic acid bacteria, which can be characterized in beer as giving off a buttery aroma. Pediococcus is similar to lactobacillus, but it is more aggressive in generating lactic acid. Pediococcus is also used in making sauerkraut, which pairs wonderfully with Belgian beers. Brettanomyces, often shortened to Brett, is found on the skin of fruit and can give beer a sour flavor when the wort is fermented in a wood barrel that was previously infected with the bacteria. Either of the first two bacteria are often used in conjunction with Brett, to give the beer a better, more balanced finish and cleaner consistency. The tell-tale flavor of Brett is often referred to as “barnyard”, “medicinal”, or even “horse blanket” which is caused by the level of the compound 4-ethylphenol that is produced by Brettanomyces.kriek met glas 2

Some common styles include the Belgian lambic (which are often seen with fruit added to them such as kriek, framboise, and peche), the gueuze (which is a blend of young and old lambics), and Flanders red ale which gets its name from the area of Belgium it originated as well as the red malt that gives it its trademark crimson color.

As a homebrewer, sours scare the crap out of me. It sort of reminds me of a horror movie, where no matter how much you clean and sanitize your equipment, the bacteria can still lurk. And the rest of the beers you brew could end up being sour. The folks at Maltose Express actually advised me to brew a sour ale at a non-homebrewer’s house to keep the bacteria out of any non-sours I might brew at my own place in the future.

Psyched for sours? Grab your tickets for Sour’d In September at Captain Lawrence. And check out the “post your infection” thread on Homebrewtalk. I never thought I’d link to a page titled that, so there you go.

Within The Brewin’: Within The Ruins’ Joe Cocchi Opens Brewery

Occasionally my penchant for beer and metal join forces and I write for Metal Insider.










Lots of bands collaborate with breweries on beers, but it is not that often that a band opens up a brewery. Massachusetts metalcore band Within The Ruins is changing the game. Guitarist Joe Cocchi started Tin Bridge Brewing with his brother and a few friends and family, and they are starting to make themselves known to the public.

Read the full article here.

Beer And Music Fest: Road Jam

Summer is brimming with festivals. If you live in Connecticut, there is one next weekend that is definitely worth checking out. Two Roads Brewing Company, out of Stratford, is holding its first-ever concert at the brewery. The festival of music and beer is called Road Jam Fest, named after their new raspberry wheat ale.


The festival music lineup includes Atlas Gray, a soulful, piano-driven band from Hartford, local funk favorites The What Up Funk Band, jam collective The Alpaca Gnomes, and the Boston reggae crew John Brown’s Body. They are all a little different, but they will all provide lots of good beats to get beer-lovers dancing.

Tickets are $25, which gets you into the show and your first beer. Although the brewery itself is large, if the happy hour crowds are any indication, the limited number of tickets are going to go fast. Luckily you can get them ahead of time, on BeerFests.com. Beer tickets will be $5 each, which is a pretty decent deal for a beer at a festival, especially when you’re buying it RIGHT WHERE IT WAS MADE.

Food trucks will be present. Despite the spacious lot, parking can be tough there when it’s busy. Two Roads encourages carpooling, and I agree because it’s a festival, and an important aspect of that is cramming a whole bunch of people in one small vehicle, right? Anyway, the party starts at noon on Saturday, June 28. See you there!

Intergalactic, Planetary Brewery: Bell’s Announces “The Planets” beer series

Sometimes, when several things come together, it’s described as cosmic. I can think of no better word to describe Bell’s Brewery’s latest beer series, “The Planets”. Music, beer, and astronomy combine for this series of seven beers inspired by The Planets.

English composer Gustav Holst wrote The Planets between 1914 and 1916. It is a seven-movement orchestral suite, with each part representing a planet of the Solar System that was known at the time, with the exception of Earth. Check out the whole thing below.

Bell says the composition “seemed to lend itself as a vehicle for commemorative beers,” Although they should be celebrated, however, the beers are meant to be consumed and enjoyed. Bell says, “We’re encouraging people to drink these; A double IPA to start with? You don’t want to save that for a year.”

This idea of drinking beer right away makes me very happy. Although I do have a few bottles aging away, I think it is great that Bell is encouraging good beers that are ready to consume at their best when they are released.

In keeping with the theme of this blog, I should mention that a few bands have been inspired to do their own take on The Planets as well. Check out King Crimson’s take on “Mars” from their 1969 performance at the Fillmore.

Bathory also arranged part of “Jupiter” on their song “Hammerheart” from 1990’s Twilight Of The Gods.

Mars, the Bringer of War, which is a double IPA, will be the first to arrive and be released in August. The schedule for the rest of the beers to be released is below. I think I am most looking forward to the Venus beer, and “Neptune, the Mystic” which is said to be inspired by one of Bell’s homebrews, “Dr. Bell’s Medicinal Stout”.


Check the Bell’s website for more info on where to find these cosmic beers!


Beer On The Gwar-bie: 5th Annual Gwar-B-Q Heats Up

As many of my reviews will show, I am a big fan of metal. It goes without saying that I love beer. I also enjoy barbeque. Lucky for me, there is an event coming this August that combines that sweet trifecta, and it is called GWAR B Q.

This year’s celebration is somewhat bittersweet. Gwar’s frontman David Brockie passed away in March. I myself wondered if the Fifth Annual Gwar B-Q would take place at all without the fearless leader. However, the show will still go on, and concert-goers will have the opportunity to party even harder in Oderus’ honor.


GWAR B-Q 2014 takes place on Saturday, August 16 at Hadad’s Lake in Richmond, VA. A public memorial will also be held for Brockie the day before.

This year’s lineup features BODY COUNT (Ice-T’s metal band!), Goatwhore, Connecticut’s own Hatebreed, the Meatmen, Revocation, and more. Check out the full lineup here. It’s recently been announced that Gwar will indeed be performing. The lead singer is up in the air right now, although rumors seem to suggest that Beefcake the Mighty will take up those reins.


As you may already know, Gwar has their own beer. According to their commercial above, the Gwar brew will be flowing copiously on August 16.

More awesome things? Well Hadad’s Lake is a waterpark, which has everything you would expect including a BLOB. A music festival at a waterpark is pretty much a summer dream- I can’t wait to see the red/brown water after everyone getting doused with Gwar Guts dives in. You can also dry off in the skate park, or not- and participate in the annual Spew-O-Lympics. Last year’s events included something called “Sperm and Slide and Die” and winners are determined by “obviously drunk judges”.

The barbeque is also sponsored by Slave Pit, Inc. as well as Ring Dog Rescue, which suggests that there may or may not be adoptable doggies there. Either way, I think it’s great that the sponsors are the group of artists and musicians that Gwar started from, and PUPPIES.


Tickets go onsale Friday June 6 on the Gwar B-Q website, with 3 price levels. $45 is the single ticket, which is honestly a pretty good deal for an all day concert. $65 gets you a ticket and the official Gwar B-Q 2014 T-shirt. I am always kind of surprised that the shirts are black, because you can’t see the fake blood stains. If you are feeling like a serious baller, there are also VIP tickets for $150 which get you into the show with a shirt, as well as access to the official pre-party and after (Gwafter?) party. You also get a meet and greet with Gwar, Ice T, Hatebreed, and Bam Margera. Seriously, it’s kind of worth it just in case there’s a possibility of seeing all those guys in the same room and maybe even getting photo evidence.

So get your meat on- make Oderus Urungus in that bloody pit of horror in the sky proud, and get your tickets to the 5th Annual Gwar-B-Q when they go onsale June 6!



ConNEWticut: New Brewing In The Nutmeg State

The Internet has been buzzing with a bunch of new breweries opening up in Connecticut. Here’s what you need to know about a few of the up-and-comers.

Overshores Brewery of East Haven has a unique spin on their brewing. They are dedicated to Belgian-style brewing, which is a refreshing sight to see against all the super-hoppy IPAs that seem to be so popular in the beer scene right now. So far, I have tried their Belle Fermiere, which is a saison. Super tasty and light, and the bottle conditioning gives it an interesting flavor. The hops are a blend of the noble European varities, as well as American Simcoe, so it gives a nice combination of both continents. Belle Fermiere is already available at a whole bunch of bars and liquor stores across the state, and more styles will be released as the summer goes on.


Black Hog Brewery is opening this summer in Oxford, and is owned by brothers Jason and Tom Sobocinski. Their name may be familiar to cheese-lovers in the New Haven area; they own the restaurant Caseus, which has a great menu and beer list. OmnomCT caught up with the brothers, as well as head brewer Tyler Jones.


Oxford will also be the home to another new brewery. OEC, which stands for Ordinem Ecentrici Coctores (Order of the Eccentric Boilers). OEC comes from the folks at B. United, who distributes some really interesting beers, ciders, and meads, from all over the world. OEC’s grand opening is this Saturday, June 7. Six of their beers will be on tap, and growlers will be available for fills.

A few other new breweries of note:

The CT Beer Trail and CT Beer and Wine both have running lists of all the new breweries opening up, so stay tuned!

CT Beer Week 2014- Best Bets

Last year’s CT Beer Week went so well, 2014 will bring not just one, but TWO weeks celebrating locally brewed beer. May 12-18 is the first week, and October 13-19 is the second.

The spring beer week has plenty of events going on across the state. The week kicks off with the 4th annual Rising Pint Brewfest, which takes place May 10 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, CT.

Culminating the week is the 20th Annual CT Craft Brewers Fest at Jesse Camille’s Restaurant in Naugatuck.

There are a LOT of events going on during the week, which you can see a full list of here. My local picks during the week are below.


Cask Republic in New Haven will kick off the week by devoting all their draft lines (there are 56 of them!) to Connecticut beers on Monday, May 12.


The Outer Space in Hamden will have a CT tap takeover on Tuesday, May 13. Tuesdays are also Honky Tonk Tuesdays at the OS, so expect to hear some awesome bluegrass tunes while you’re enjoying the brews.


Knuckleheads is one of my new favorite places to get a beer and dinner in CT. It’s in Wallingford, the menu is awesome (they have macaroni and cheese pulled pork sandwiches), the beer list is great, there’s live music in the back room a few nights a week, and there are random Misfits and Iron Maiden references on their staff’s shirts and flyers. Wednesday, May 14, they will be celebrating CT Beer Week by tapping some locally brewed beers.


Coalhouse Pizza regularly has homebrewing competitions, so it’s clear that they love craft beer. They will have a different event each night next week. I am most excited for the Rare Beer Night on Thursday, May 15, and their beer brunch with mead-mimosas on Sunday, May 18!


Southport Brewing Company has been around and brewing for awhile, and they will be celebrating CT Beer Week with a collaboration with Half Full Brewery. The Southport location will have it on draft Thursday, May 15.
This year is looking to be even bigger than last year, so definitely check out these events and others in your area, and keep the craft beer love flowing!