JFA performing Johnny D at The Gaslamp in Long Beach, CA. Filmed on August 24, 2013.

The growth of craft beer continues to rise up a steep slope and sees no signs of plateauing any time soon. Like a snowball effect, the popularity of craft beer will not slow down, despite large corporations buying out many of the local microbreweries. Large corporations prefer not to compete with rising microbreweries, so instead simply buy them out altogether. This shows just how much power microbreweries have garnered on their own by sheer force of will and by catering to the local community. Local communities of craft beer fans function best when they congregate close to each other, and many microbreweries tend to open close to each other, such as Torrance, CA and Ballard, WA. Communities of microbreweries have popped up in many places, such as Redlands, CA. The craft beer culture in Redlands has grown substantially over the past few years, and it will continue to grow thanks to heavy hitters such as Ritual Brewing.

Last week, Redlands’ Ritual Brewing turned three years old, and to celebrate, they held a week full of festivities at their tasting room. Since their grand opening three years ago, Ritual Brewing has made a lasting impact on the Southern Californian craft beer market, appearing in countless bars & retail shops, and occupying space in numerous beer festivals. It goes without saying that through determination and hard work, Ritual Brewing has definitely earned their spot as one of the Inland Empire’s breweries to watch out for in the upcoming years. Their immense popularity contributed towards them having a full week of events as opposed to just one thing. Throughout the week, they had small events at the tasting room, such as preview tastings or bottle releases. The week culminated with a beer festival on Saturday afternoon with unlimited beer pours for the duration of the event. All attendees received an anniversary goblet and access to all beers, including all the special tappings such as their barrel-aged beers and the special blends. Unlike standard beer festivals, Ritual Brewing never had any worries about running out of beer – all of the special beers kept pouring the entire time.

Ritual Brewing threw an anniversary party the right way with all that occurred during the anniversary celebration. None of the brews ever ran out, so even when long lines formed, most of the guests could wait for the line to subside before heading up to get a pour. Out of all of the special blends, the Extra Red w/ Tangelo stood out the most – this brew had a pleasant aroma and did not taste too bitter, so it appeals to all palates. I would go so far as to say that they should make a candle out of the tangelo blend. Aside from the great beer, Ritual Brewing also had live music, mobile food vendors, beer ice cream, Jenga, cornhole, a dunk tank, and a high striker game, all of which prevented anyone from ever getting bored.

Looking forward to seeing Ritual Brewing around? Check them out on Facebook and Twitter to see what events they have coming up and what new beers they have brewing up.

Have you ever taken the time to fully comprehend your palate? I refer to more than just your taste buds and what you prefer to eat – your palate encompasses anything and everything you have or plan to consume. The human palate involves more than just taste – it involves the entire experience of sight, smell, temperature, texture, consistency, ingredients, and more. When you consider the possible ingredients, a plethora comes to mind. Having a variety of ingredients makes for a more pleasant experience, and the master crafters at Beachwood BBQ have capitalized on that notion.

Last week, Beachwood BBQ brought back their Meatloaf Night, following the success of their past food events that featured dishes like ribs, mac & cheese, and poutine. Unlike the mac and poutine nights, guests could not actually construct their own meatloaf. Instead, Beachwood offered a menu containing five different types of meatloaf: Beef, Duck, Venison, Wild Boar, and Elk. Torn between all the meats, Beachwood knew their customers would struggle to select one meatloaf, so they offered a “flight” of four types of meatloaf PLUS all the sides. Unlike the last time Beachwood BBQ held this event, they did not curate a specific beer-pairing menu that paired certain beers with each type of meatloaf, thus this menu did not mention any beer flights. Regardless, Beachwood BBQ still had a full lineup of beers available to choose from, including their Greenshift DIPA that had just released in draft and bottles the previous day.

How beautiful does that look? Beachwood took an ordinary white plate and turned it into a centerpiece. Every meatloaf paired with one of the sides and a craft beer creates a blissful serene experience for your palate. You may not witness culinary synergy like this again in a while. Human palates have to expand beyond everyday “comfort foods” that we all grow up to eat. With a world of foods you may have never even heard of, why settle for routine? Break out of routines that lead to nowhere, and find something new and interesting to eat, like these different types of meatloaf from Beachwood BBQ. Your palate will thank me later.

2015 Los Angeles Auto Show
9:00 am – 9:00 pm, November 20-29
Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles

Check out the newest and latest cars, trucks, exotics, and more. General admission costs $12 on weekdays or $15 on weekends.

3rd Annual Turkey Bowl
9:00 pm – 2:00 am, November 25
Character’s Sports Bar, Pomona

As they do every year, Characters Sports Bar will host a pre-Thanksgiving show in Pomona this Wednesday. The cover charge for this show costs $8. No one under 21 may enter. Guests can find plenty of free street parking nearby.

Long Beach Turkey Trot 5k/10k Run/Walk
6:00 am – 11:00 am, November 26
Belmont Olympic Pool, Long Beach

This fun run takes place on Thanksgiving morning. Participants should pick up their bib and packet from Belmont Olympic Pool prior to that morning – see the site for schedules. Four different runs start at 7am, 8am, 9am, and 10am. The registration fee now costs $40 per person for any run. As a fun run, participants do not receive any actual prizes – only bragging rights. Participants may park in nearby beach parking lots for free until the end of the event, upon which officials will enforce the parking meters.

38th Annual Dana Point Turkey Trot
6:00 am – 11:00 am, November 26
Dana Point Harbor, Dana Point

Another Thanksgiving fun run takes place in Dana Point. Registration costs $40 per person. As with any fun run, participants do not receive prizes for winning.

Turkey Trot Los Angeles
6:30 am – 11:00 am, November 26
Grand Park, Downtown Los Angeles

Moving from Santa Monica to Los Angeles, the Turkey Trot will combine a fair with a race, with a costume contest, turkey calling contest, potato sack races, and other fair-themed activities. Registration currently costs $35, but will increase to $40 starting Thursday.

Thanksgiving Extra-Noodle Challenge 2015
11:00 am – 10:00 pm, November 26
Shin-Sen-Gumi Hakata Ramen, all five locations

Looking for a feast this Thanksgiving without doing the cooking? Head to any of Shin Sen Gumi’s five ramen locations throughout Southern California this Thursday for their noodle challenge. For $10, get all-you-can-eat ramen for 30 minutes. This fee includes one bowl of ramen, one bowl of soup, then unlimited “EXTRA” noodles until time runs out. A free t-shirt goes to men who eat six EXTRA noodles or women who eat four EXTRA noodles. The men’s and women’s champion of each store will receive a $50 gift certificate after the day’s end.

LosCon 42
November 27-29
LAX Mariott Hotel, Los Angeles

I have very little information about this event, but it has something to do with science fiction/fantasy.

Escape From The Time Travel Lab
7:00 pm – 11:00 pm, November 27
12:00 pm – 8:00 pm, November 28-29
Edm Hall, Little Tokyo, Los Angeles

Put your brain to the test at this real-life escape game. Participants of this event have 90 minutes to solve multiple puzzles of varying difficulty, and combine the solutions to unlock additional puzzles, which will eventually lead to the final solution that will solve the entire game. Each session can only have up to 11 participants, and teamwork will get your group through the puzzle to the final answer. Registration costs $26 per person.

Guttermouth @ Soda Bar San Diego
8:30 pm – 1:30 am, November 27
Soda Bar, Normal Heights, San Diego

Punk rock band Guttermouth currently tours across the nation, and that tour swings through California this week with one show in Southern California. Tickets to this show in San Diego cost $15. No one under 21 may enter.

X – Live in San Diego
9:00 pm – 12:00 am, November 27-28
The Casbah, San Diego

Legendary punk rock band X will headline two shows in San Diego this weekend. Tickets to these shows cost $40. No one under 21 may enter.

9th Annual Rockabilly Extravaganza & Cavalcade of Beauty Pin Up Contest
9:00 am – 6:00 pm, November 28
Riverside Airport, Riverside

An all-ages rockabilly show takes over the Riverside Airport this Saturday. For $10 admission, visitors will find live music, classic cars, live entertainment, a pin up contest, arts & crafts, food, drinks, and more.

5th Annual We Heart Eagle Rock Block Party
11:00 am – 6:00 pm, November 28
Eagle Rock Blvd & Colorado Blvd, Eagle Rock

Several shops in Eagle Rock will participate in this local Small Business Saturday celebration with sidewalk sales and other specials. Every shop will host their own specials, and some will have public activities, such as bounce houses or arts & crafts.

1st Annual Adams Avenue Spirit Stroll
2:00 pm – 5:00 pm, November 28
Smitty’s Service, Normal Heights, San Diego

For $18, guests will get to sample holiday cocktails from 12 different locations along Adams Avenue this Saturday afternoon. No one under 21 may participate.

Shattered Faith @ The Karman Bar
8:00 pm – 12:00 am, November 28
The Karman Bar, Laguna Niguel

Punk rock band Shattered Faith will headline a local punk show in Laguna Niguel this Saturday night. The cover for this show costs $8. No one under 21 may enter.

The “Don’t Sue Us, Matt Groening” Show
8:00 pm – 1:00 am, November 28
The Observatory’s Constellation Room, Santa Ana

Enjoy a local ska-punk show this Saturday night in Santa Ana featuring bands with names inspired by The Simpsons. Tickets to this show cost $10. Arrive early to park at the venue’s parking lot for free, as the main concert hall has a large show that starts an hour earlier.

Naked Aggression @ Soda Bar San Diego
8:30 pm – 1:30 am, November 28
Soda Bar, Normal Heights, San Diego

Punk rock band Naked Aggression will headline a local punk show this Saturday night in San Diego. The cover for this show costs $8 presale or $10 at the door. No one under 21 may enter.

Patchwork Indie Arts & Crafts Festival
11:00 am – 5:00 pm, November 29
2nd & Sycamore, Downtown Santa Ana

This semi-annual arts & crafts fair consists of a series of Sunday fests at different locations: Long Beach, Oakland, and Santa Ana. As with any typical arts & crafts fair, Patchwork will feature many traditional forms of art and merchandise, but also mixes in alternative art – thinking outside the box, or Rebel Art. Featuring clothing, accessories, home goods, jewelry, pet items, and more, this FREE fest caters to a wide & diverse crowd. Food trucks will serve guests during the fest. Always remember to carry cash, since most vendors only accept cash. The surrounding neighborhood contains plenty of free street parking.

2nd Annual La Habra Tamale Festival
11:00 am – 6:00 pm, November 29
La Habra Community Center, La Habra

Free to attend for all ages, this event will have various food vendors, arts & crafts, merchandise vendors, live music, live entertainment, a churro-eating contest, Santa Claus, and more.

History has shown us that certain food ingredients go very well together. For example, resources show that the idea of the sandwich originated in the 18th century. The simple notion of using bread to hold meat and other fillings in place led to a massive food revolution of using some solid ingredient to hold in various other ingredients that typically do not hold on its own. These fillers include meat, vegetables, sauces, and seasonings. Over time, the sandwich has evolved and branched out into various other means of holding food, such as hot dogs, wraps, tacos, burritos, (pita) pockets, filled pastries, and more. While historically these forms have mainly applied to savory foods, these forms can also apply in a dessert manner. The ice cream sandwich has appeared the most common, while we have also seen desserts like cannolis, ice cream tacos, cookie sandwiches, among others. If you want to know more about these “others,” look no further than Churro Borough.

Here to deliver something new to the millennials that crave unique finds, Churro Borough has the goods to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth. As their name suggests, Churro Borough specializes in churros, that sweet cinnamon dough stick that many children across the country recognize as an awesome warm affordable treat. Churros exist almost anywhere, especially at Costco food courts where each one costs only a dollar and measures almost two feet long. Churro Borough makes their churros fresh to order, so customers know that they will receive a churro made just for them. Even better, Churro Borough does more than just make traditional churros – they can weave the churros into shapes, which lends well to their Churro Ice Cream Sandwiches. Since Churro Borough makes their churros fresh, they can tuile the churros into a circular spiral shape to create what looks like a churro cookie. From here, one can guess how they form the next step: a heaping scoop of your choice of hand-churned ice cream meets two of the aforementioned churro cookies. This creates a sweet, soft, messy treat sure to please anyone’s dessert cravings. Take note: fresh churros means heat, so these sandwiches cannot sit very long until the ice cream starts to melt, so enjoy these treats immediately!

Does your sweet tooth feel tempted by now? Head on over to Churro Borough in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles to see what everyone has raved about. You can score your own Churro Ice Cream Sandwich for just under $5. To see what else Churro Borough has concocting in their kitchen, check them on out Facebook and Twitter for further news and photos.

This Saturday afternoon, the Old Town Seal Beach Chili Cook Off returns for its third year in a row. This chili cookoff used to coincide with Seal Beach Restaurant Week, but so far it appears that the organizers have cancelled the week due to low turnout, so they will host only the chili cookoff. Occurring similar to a strolling event, visitors will pay $10 to receive a stamp card listing all participating restaurants on Main Street in Seal Beach. Visitors will then take this stamp card to the restaurants to receive a sample of chili, so essentially each sample costs a dollar. Last year, ten restaurants participated in the chili cookoff – who knows how many restaurants will participate this year.

Personally I would like to see the restaurant week return, but these restaurants need a greater turnout for the week to return. Perhaps the organizers need better marketing? In any case, show up this Saturday and show your support for the local community, and show Seal Beach that old town charm always wins our hearts.

Beautiful California: a state unlike any other. From the luscious weather to the so-called California Girls, California almost represents a unique country of its own. As one of the major metropolitan states of this nation, California has one of the largest populations of virtually all demographics, but especially young adults. As society can guess, young adults sure love their hard beverages, and California has no shortage of festivals featuring hard beverages. Practically every week of the year, a festival occurs that features either craft beer, wine, or cocktails/spirits. When adults think festivals that include alcohol, they immediately think about what other activities and forms of entertainment to expect at the events. The days of simple tasting events have long gone by the wayside, and now people expect to find more than just drinking at such festivals. Typical events may include some games or live music, plus some some of food either included with admission or at a separate cost. The more these events feature, the more they feel like they bit off more than they could chew. Some events promise everything yet deliver underwhelming content, while some events promise the best of a few specialties and deliver all they can to satiate the attendees, such as at the 1st Annual Cali Uncorked Festival.

The organizers behind OC Brew Ha Ha, Orange County’s biggest beer festival, have delivered a new festival unlike anything ever before: the 1st Annual Cali Uncorked Festival. Benefiting the Local 3631 Firefighters Union, this festival combines Californian craft beer, wine, food, music, and comedy all in one location. With over a hundred different beers and wines to sip on, attendees had a plethora of options to get their buzz on. Cali Uncorked took place at Oak Canyon Park in the hills of Silverado in east Orange County, which lends well to these sorts of events with the massive area of the venue. The park represents an oval centered around a lake, with each side housing something different.

  • East: Attendees entered from here, and this side held the dozens of Californian breweries, picnic tables, and a row of vendors.
  • North: All the wineries set up at the north row.
  • South: The south section housed all the vendors, including merchandise, food trucks, food booths, and the pairings stage.
  • West: This side contained the music stage, comedy stage, and VIP area.

With so much to do in so little time, one would expect to try to rush around to see everything before the event ended. The drinks stopped pouring at 4pm, while the entertainment continued to 7pm. This created an unpleasant crowding effect by the 3pm hour, as the people who attended primarily for the entertainment instead of the craft drinks continued to arrive even after 3pm. At this time, all the wine and beer booths had ridiculously long lines, and almost everyone in those lines no longer cared about the drinks pouring – they simply wanted to get drunk. This created a culture divide with the attendees of this event: those who care about the quality of the drinks, and those who attended for the entertainment that cared less for the drinks. Anyone who arrived early enough certainly got to enjoy any drink without needing to wait in lines, and could take time to discover the different types of drinks. However, as time passed, the type of attendees present quickly became apparent that no one cared for the drinks. At one point, I asked a worker about the types of beer available, but someone quickly cut in front of me and said to just fill her cup. Also, the rampant stench of marijuana gradually increased over time. With the lines for beer getting longer, people caring less about the drinks they received, the smell of marijuana growing, and the uneasy feeling of getting lost in a crowd rising, I ended up leaving before 4pm. In fact, the band performing as I left continued to goad the crowd into smoking and getting high, asking everyone in the crowd to share with someone nearby that did not have anything to toke.

For the first Cali Uncorked ever, the notion and intention of the event seems aspiring. Combining multiple different types of events into one represents a mammoth task that one person cannot possibly undertake. The Brew Ha Ha crew teamed up with music festival production company Synergy Global Entertainment (SGE) for this event, and I can see the stark contrast in the types of people they invited: the craft people, and the music people. This strongly reminds me of why I started this blog in the first place: to bridge the gap between the punk rock crowd and the gourmet crowd. The stereotypical punk rocker lives a frugal life and consumes cheap products, such as mass-produced beer and fast food, while the stereotypical gourmet person lives the opposite way, a life of luxury. I attempt to shatter those stereotypes by introducing the worlds to each other, and I see how Cali Uncorked attempts the same by introducing the craft beer crowd to the reggae crowd. However, a large scale event such as this probably lacked the proper execution to do that, as the reggae crowd just wanted to get high and drunk and listen to music, while the craft crowd had to deal with the smell all over the area.

Can the organizers behind Cali Uncorked come back next year with a bigger and better festival? I believe that the genre of music had a large effect on the people who showed up. Consider that the entrance still had a massive line in the final hour of drinks, and that the 420 culture eventually overtook the craft side of the festival. Perhaps Cali Uncorked can bring on a different genre of music, since reggae seemed to invite all the stoners and skinheads to the entertainment side. Despite having The Aggrolites as the headlining band, OC Brew Ha Ha did not have this stoner problem back in September. What if Cali Uncorked goes with either country or alternative rock? For now, we leave it in the hands of the organizers to decipher how next year’s event will run. In the meantime, check out Cali Uncorked on Facebook and Twitter for future updates, and for news about upcoming events.