Lindsey Stirling performing Crystallize at House of Blues in Anaheim, CA. Filmed on April 2, 2013.

Natural selection tells us that size matters. Among virtually all organisms, size determines the viability of any particular living thing, especially in males. Animals like fiddler crabs, lions, deer, and peafowl all sport an exceptionally large body part in order to attract females. In other species and cultures, size does more than flaunt a male’s viability to females – size determines strength and/or rank. This particular practice translates to human cultures, where men display size to broadcast their rank or strength. In ancient cultures, Vikings wore horns, with the higher-ranking Vikings wearing larger horns than the followers. In today’s world, this practice exists even in the kitchen, where the height of the chef hat determines the seniority of each staff member. What happens when you throw a Viking into a modern-day kitchen? You get the next chapter of The Viking Truck going brick & mortar.

The owners of The Viking Truck and Garlic Scapes truck have teamed up to open their own restaurant in Yorba Linda called Meat Up BBQ. Over at Meat Up BBQ, they serve West Coast barbecue with southern influences, plus each chef’s own spin on barbecue. With multiple different backgrounds converging into one location, the menu will likely see many rotations as each chef adds his own influence not only from the respective food truck, but from their culinary background as well. For example, we have already seen certain food truck items make their way into the menu at Meat Up BBQ. Some new menu items also have a story to tell behind them, such as the Rotten Richard burger. I cannot tell you the story behind the naming convention, as I will likely butcher the story. However, I can tell you what I know about this dangerously serious burger. The burger consists of a half-pound beef patty, which they top with a heaping mound of pulled pork chili verde & melted sharp cheddar, then they sit that all on a fried panko-crumbled garlic mashed potato patty. If this burger sound hearty and warming, just try ordering it on a cold night, and you will feel nice and cozy. The pork gives off hints of carnitas with salsa verde, but the cheese and potato patty take this to a brand new level. Left alone, the chili verde will slowly ooze down the sides of the burger, and when they reach the potato patty underneath the beef patty, you end up with a mountain of meaty happiness.

Although Meat Up BBQ claimed to soft open last month, I have yet to hear if they have already officially kicked off their grand opening. They open for business almost every day of the week, so if you find yourself in the Yorba Linda area, roll on over to Meat Up BBQ and slam the Rotten Richard for $11, which comes with your choice of side. While dining there, check out their rotating list of amazing craft beers, plus the rest of their great menu.

The intuitive originators behind the locally famous Orange County Brew Ha Ha brought forth the 3rd Annual Orange County Brew Ho Ho Holiday Ale Festival this past Saturday, a holiday-themed beer festival with several unique spins. Taking place at the Phoenix Club in Anaheim, following in the footsteps of its big brother, the OC Brew Ha Ha, craft beer lovers from all over journeyed to OC Brew Ho Ho for a festive day of drinking, dancing, eating, celebrating, and more. Over 40 breweries attended to serve various seasonal brews, with many of them hosting timed/scheduled beer releases that attracted huge lines. The previous years’ events featured a merchandise expo, where most of the breweries brought their own merchandise to sell to attendees during the beer tasting. This year, I did not notice as much of that – breweries mostly focused on their beer, while merchandise fell to other vendors not serving beer.

The calm before the storm:

The organizers do not beat around the bush – they ensure the utmost quality in the care of their events, and I have written about almost all of their events up to date. I alone can do so much to provide testimony to the success of the OC Brew Ha Ha series of events. Why not take a look at the countless guests all enjoying a great time at this past weekend’s OC Brew Ho Ho?

One may never find another beer festival quite like the OC Brew Ho Ho! It has everything a craft beer enthusiast can ask for, sans a little rain. For more events by the organizers, make sure to Like/Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news, such as ticket sale announcements and posts about other similar upcoming events. If you have yet to attend any of these events, I highly recommend going to one to indulge and immerse yourself in the culture of craft beer. You may learn something about beer that you may not have ever known!

Moscow, land of strange and mysterious towers of pure gold cold as ice. Who could guess that a fire burns inside of Moscow so hot? Although that sounds like complete nonsense, they derive from the lyrics of a famous song dedicated to the glory of Moscow, or Moskau as the song refers to it. Despite the rough history behind the motherland, Russia has certainly influenced a great portion of the world. While the recent 2014 Winter Olympics took place in Russia, perhaps the world best regards Russia for vodka. Adults around the world love to soak themselves with this liquor, especially now with its universal availability. Does anyone ever pay attention to the beer from Russia? Perhaps not, since Russia has not come to the spotlight for their work in brewing. However, the Russian style certainly has influenced the creation of consumables, evident in not only Russian cuisine, but Russian beverages as well, such as the famed Russian Imperial Stout. If you seek a Russian Imperial Stout worth shouting Moskau over, look no further than the craft beer scene in Orange County.

The folks from Valiant Brewing and Black Market Brewing have teamed up to collaborate on a succulent winter’s brew known as Chernyy Medved (SHARE-nee MID-vid). In honor of the acclaimed winter beer fest, the OC Brew Ho Ho, these two breweries butted heads to devise this incredible creation that words simply cannot accurately describe. Clocking in at 13.0% abv, this Russian Imperial Stout gets its characteristics with smoked oak, pine, vanilla, and cherries. With a flavor like chocolate-covered cherries, this hearty brew fits right in with the cold winter season with its warming finish. Beer enthusiasts may want to consider attempting to cellar this bottle, as it lends itself to aging quite nicely.

Looking to savor this Russian beauty? Start looking at specialty craft beer retailers in Orange County, such as Total Wine & More or Hi-Time Wine Cellars. Act fast, as Chernyy Medved only exists in limited quantities, and once they run out, you probably will not find it on store shelves again!

Beachwood BBQ 8th Anniversary Week
5:00 pm – 11:00 pm, December 18-21
Beachwood BBQ, Seal Beach & Long Beach

Beachwood BBQ celebrates their eighth year in Seal Beach this week, and to commemorate, Beachwood Brewing releases Eight this week in bottles and at both locations on tap. When you visit either location, expect to find a plethora of seasonal beers on tap, plus an exciting menu full of exclusive items only found during this celebration.

Punk Rock Show in Long Beach
6:00 pm – 12:00 am, December 18
DeadRockers, Long Beach

Catch a bunch of great local punk rock bands at this all-ages show this Thursday night in Long Beach. The cover for this show costs $2 if entering prior to 8pm, or $4 afterwards.

Voodoo Glow Skulls – Live in Southern California
8:00 pm – 12:00 pm, December 18, Slide Bar, Fullerton
8:00 pm – 1:00 am, December 19, Romano’s Concert Lounge, Riverside

Skacore band Voodoo Glow Skulls will end their tour in Southern California this week. Each show has a different price and age limit, so click the link for more information.

The Brew House – Grand Opening
6:00 pm – 11:00 pm, December 19
12:00 pm – 11:00 pm, December 20-21
The Brew House, San Juan Capistrano

After over a year in the works, The Brew House will finally declare themselves officially open for business this weekend. This tap room has over 30 beers on draft and over 100 bottled beers for your drinking pleasure. They will also have food trucks in all weekend, so stop on by for a break this weekend.

Bootlegger’s Brewery Holiday Party
7:00 pm – 12:00 am, December 19
Bootlegger’s Brewery, Fullerton

This Friday night, visit the Bootlegger’s Brewery tasting room in Fullerton for drink specials, music, a food truck, prizes, and more.

The Vandals 19th Annual Christmas Formal
7:00 pm – 12:00 am, December 19
House of Blues, Anaheim

The Vandals headline their annual all-ages Christmas show at the House of Blues in Anaheim this Friday night. Tickets cost $20. Guests can park for free for up to five hours, so plan your arrival accordingly.

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones w/ The Interrupters @ House of Blues
7:00 pm – 12:00 am, December 20, House of Blues, Anaheim
7:00 pm – 12:00 am, December 21, House of Blues, San Diego

Get your skanking on this weekend with legendary ska band, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Tickets to these all-ages shows cost around $27.

Free Punk Show in Long Beach
7:30 pm – 12:30 am, December 19
Dipiazzas, Long Beach

Catch a FREE all-ages punk rock show this Friday night at Dipiazzas in Long Beach. Guests can find plenty of free parking in the neighborhood.

Luicidal in South Gate
8:00 pm – 12:00 am, December 19
American Legion Post 335, South Gate

A hardcore punk show comes to South Gate this Friday night. The cover for this all-ages show costs $6 if entering prior to 9pm, or $8 afterwards.

Winter in Wilmore
1:00 pm – 6:00 pm, December 20
Drake Park, Long Beach

Bring your friends and family out to this snow day at the park this Saturday afternoon. At this free community event, find lots of things to see and do all in the real snow that will cover the park this Saturday.

Barb Wire Dolls @ The Whisky A Go Go
7:30 pm – 12:30 am, December 20
Whisky A Go Go, West Hollywood

Catch an all-ages punk show at the Whisky A Go Go this Saturday night. Tickets for this show cost $10 presale or $15 at the door.

OtaXmas 2014
8:30 pm – 11:00 pm, December 20
Anime Jungle, Little Tokyo, Los Angeles

Want to participate in some cosplay, or perhaps just want to watch others do cosplay? Head on over to Little Tokyo this Saturday night for OtaXmas. For just $5 admission, visitors will mingle with other cosplayers, view cosplay contests, participate in raffles, play trivia, take photos in the photo booth, dance to live DJ’s, and more.

Xmas Punk Hardcore Party
9:00 pm – 2:00 am, December 20
Redwood Bar, Los Angeles

Rock out to some local punk rock bands in a festive manner this Saturday night in Downtown Los Angeles. The cover for this show costs $8, or $5 if you wear an ugly sweater. No one under 21 may enter.

Punk Rock Xmas
9:00 pm – 2:00 am, December 20
Scotland Yard Pub, Canoga Park

Catch a FREE punk rock show in Canoga Park this Saturday night. No one under 21 may enter.

The 7th Annual Unique LA Holiday Market returned to the California Market Center in Downtown Los Angeles this past weekend. As one of the largest independent designer shows in the nation, hundreds of artists, crafters, designers, cooks, bakers, mixologists, and more gathered to exhibit and sell their wares to attendees. Unique LA emphasizes creativity in the United States, as every vendor hails from the United States and makes their products here. Taking place in the top floor penthouse, the show floor expanded to two full sides of the building, and the California Market Center consists of two buildings connected twice, looking like a hollow rectangle when viewing from the sky. Among the many art, apparel, and accessories vendors, some specialty vendors existed, such as cutlery or tupperware.

For the first time since I discovered Unique LA years ago, I attended this event on a Saturday, arguably always busier than Sunday. No surprise there – so many people attend and buy things on Saturday that dozens of vendors actually sell out of products and cannot attend Sunday with adequate inventory. I managed to stumble upon a handful of vendors that I recognized, which included Bad Pickle Tees, Donut Friend, Velvet Rope Bake Shop, MNKR, and Maya Brigadeiro. By the end, I interacted with countless diverse vendors, and I believe that anyone can find exactly what they want at Unique LA.

As one of the nation’s largest gatherings that caters to local independent artists and crafters, Unique LA grants an outlet to young entrepreneurs in a tough free market dominated by large corporations. Stay on the trail of Unique LA via e-mail, Facebook, or Twitter to find out when the next show returns.

This past Saturday, Pasadena played host to two different free holiday-themed events catering to visitors of all ages. Both events took place in the afternoon outdoors, allowing any visitor to mix and mingle with everyone and everything around.

For something completely different, Artisanal LA teamed up with Old Pasadena to transform their trademark designer food expo into a one-of-a-kind street fair. At this free and all-ages event,visitors to this European market-inspired local shopping experience encountered the latest trends in food, drinks, fashion, accessories, and more. Whereas the official Artisanal LA features hundreds of artists, chefs, bakers, designers, and more from across the world, this small event only had a few dozen set up what appeared to outsiders as a farmer’s market. Unlike a farmer’s market, this event did not have fresh produce, but it did have fresh goods!

Not too far from Artisanal LA, a Holidayfest took place over on South Lake Avenue. As another free and all-ages event, this celebration focused more on the businesses on South Lake Avenue, creating for a more corporate environment. Three separate locations held different activities, all with food, music, entertainment, games, and more. In between it all, visitors could ride on horse-drawn carriages for a small fee. Unlike Artisanal LA that blocked off the street, this event took place alongside an open street, creating for perilous walks from location to location.

With the holiday season in full swing, make the most of it and check out what goes on in your local communities – you may discover something new and exciting!