Posts Tagged ‘Tenaya Creek Brewery’

The age of the domestic beer monopoly in the United States shrinks with each passing day. The beer industry around the world dominates the alcoholic beverage industry, as consumers drink 3,500 bottles of beer for every one glass of wine – that makes 8,000 times more beer consumed by the liter. Annually, consumers worldwide drink 189 billion liters of beer, but only 24 million liters of wine. This veiled obscurity of wine slightly explains the phenomenon that more people drink, care about, and talk about wine, as the underdogs wanted to make a statement about the wonders of wine. We can thank the media for the different portrayals of each drink. The media portrays wine as a fine drink for educated folks, while the media portrays beer as a lazy or fat man’s drink. This old stereotype has shifted the portion of the population that drink each type. In the course of ten years in America, beer drinkers decreased 11% while wine drinkers increased 8%. The typical domestic beer brands (Budweiser, Coors, Miller, PBR, etc) dominate the market, and control distribution of beer in the United States. As much, this made it extremely difficult for small breweries to get their beers out very far from their origin, and in fact, 95% of all micro breweries in the United States cannot distribute beer outside of their home state. So when a brewery can finally venture beyond their state, beer lovers can rejoice over the presence of “new kids” in town. If you thirst for a great brew from outside of California, check out these breweries that have, in one way or another, landed their beers into Californian restaurants, pubs, and bars.

5. Elysian Brewing

Having officially lived through the Fall season for two weeks, we can already enjoy the perks of Fall. For example, the weather has changed from excessively hot to the kind of weather where you wear a jacket in the morning and a tank top in the afternoon. Also in the Fall, coffee lovers rejoice over the return of Pumpkin Spice Lattés from Starbucks. Fall in general reminds us all of pumpkins, yams, sweet potatoes, and other similar produce. At this time, I would like to thank Beer Advocate for their integral role in this year’s popularization of pumpkin beers with a simple innocent retweet that managed to infuriate their followers to the level of a headless horseman. When craft beer enthusiasts think of pumpkin beers, they immediately envision Elysian Brewing. Elysian has always had a penchant for pumpkin beers, as evident in their annual Great Pumpkin Beer Fest, which returns TONIGHT as its 9th year running in a row. As one of Washington’s micro breweries from their first wave, Elysian has solidified a legacy for themselves, especially in the Seattle area. Here in Southern California, Elysian does not yet actively distribute kegs for tap purposes. However, Elysian has collaborated with New Belgium to make a beer called The Trip XVI, a farmhouse rye ale, that you can find in select bars. If you can still find it, look up La Citrueille Celeste De Citracado, a collaboration beer between Elysian, Stone Brewing, and The Bruery, that you can currently find in bottles only. Check out the rest of Elysian’s lineup too, as they make more great beers than just pumpkin beers.

4. Uinta Brewing

Mainstream media has done quite a job over the past few decades of giving beer a negative connotation. Television shows like Married With Children or King Of The Hill show men lazily drinking beer and doing other manly activities, like gambling or standing around doing nothing. However, the media fails to show the artistic side of beer. The art of brewing requires intense studying and inherent knowledge of the industry or ingredients necessary to brew beer. In addition to the brewing, micro brewery owners need artists to give life and a face to their brand. Consumers will either see a bottle or tap handle first before trying the beer, so a good first impression can influence opinions of the beer. If you seek fancy beer art, take a look at some of the beers from Uinta Brewing. This Salt Lake City brewpub has had a foot in Southern California for at least a few years by now, but most people tend to overlook them for other prominent breweries like Deschutes, Great Divide, or Avery. Although Uinta’s distribution reaches California, they have yet to cement an image of their company in the minds of Californians. This all changed with the improvisation of their themed lines of beers. Their standard beers belong to their Classic Line, while their Organic Line, which contains tasty brews like Baba Black Lager, features a simplistic cover art for the beer that looks like a t-shirt design. Californians may best recognize beers from Uinta’s Crooked Line, home of the popular Tilted Smile bottle. The Crooked Line consists of Uinta’s odd or strong brews that do not fit in the other categories. Uinta strongly supports the local art community, and looks to them for inspiration for naming beers in the Crooked Line. The artwork for Tilted Smile in particular came from a local artist named Lea Bell. Explore all of Uinta’s beers, and see for yourself how they give back to the community more than just refreshing beers.

3. Ninkasi Brewing

Not one to shy away from keeping up with the rapid craft beer movement in California, the Pacific Northwest has rallied up some of the finest minds in the craft beer industry to open up shop in either Washington or Oregon. Breweries like Deschutes and Rogue have helped to put Oregon on the map, and Washington has the nationally-known Pyramid near Seattle. A recent magazine article claims that Washington has over 190 breweries; however, San Diego County alone has over 200! Any craft beer enthusiast should feel ecstatic over the growth of craft beer in other states, especially neighboring ones. It appears that Southern California has already felt that away about out-of-state breweries, especially Ninkasi Brewing. From Eugene, Oregon comes this powerhouse of a micro brewery with an amazing team of people dedicated to the company and its products. Anyone familiar with Golden Road in Los Angeles will definitely see a resemblance here. Although unrelated, they both share the same vision and path, and the customer fan bases prove it. Ninkasi brews a variety of beers, and releases many beers in different series based on its style or strength. For example, customers can only find the Radiant Northwest Pale Ale during the summer. Other series have to do with the ingredients or style of the beer, such as lagers or the single-hop series. Ninkasi has even gone far enough to devise food recipes utilizing their beers as ingredients. Of course, one could swap out their beers for something similar, but then you cannot call that an official creation of Ninkasi ingenuity. Check with your favorite local craft beer bar to see if they carry Ninkasi on tap, and grab a taste of the Pacific Northwest.

2. Tenaya Creek Brewery

Have you ever truly gotten stranded in the middle of a desert? What would you do if you could not locate any water or plants nearby? In the middle of the desert, life cannot exist without generations of adaptation to adjust for the climate. Somewhere in history, a genius decided to open a resort in the middle of the desert. Many decades later, we now have Las Vegas, proof that even in the middle of nowhere, one can still make something of it. Poor Las Vegas – fully a tourist destination, but never a place one would want to live in. To anyone it matters to, farm-to-table dinners cannot exist there, and neither can restaurants that use local sustainable ingredients due to no farms or naturally-occurring bodies of water. Today, we no longer have to worry about local craft beer in Vegas, thanks to Tenaya Creek Brewery. Located in northwest Las Vegas, Tenaya Creek makes the best of its location to crank out beers fitting for a Las Vegas audience. Sure Las Vegas has the Yard House with over a hundred craft beers on tap, but sometimes you just want something local, not flown in. Tenaya Creek’s beers fit the Las Vegas crowd – not too strong, but stands out from the crowd with some of the beer names or something on the cover art. For example, their Monsoon IPA depicts a white tiger-riding Vegas-style dancer on The Strip. Other beers, such as Old Jackalope, captures an audience based on taste and strength. You can now find Tenaya Creek beers at a handful of restaurants, bars, and pubs in Southern California, so reach out to your favorite local spot, and tell the bartender or server how much you love it so they can continue to order more.

1. Epic Brewing Company

A brewery’s name means everything. One cannot lead a successful brewery with a bad name, but with enough time, renaming the brewery can change the minds of those early birds. Breweries do not always need a fancy name – a simple name that evokes emotion will come in handy more often than big names. Remember the Three Caballeros from Disney? The red bird had seven names: Panchito Romero Miguel Junipero Francisco Quintero González III, just for the heck of it, in case the third did not count. Simply Panchito would have worked in his case, as fans would still remember him no matter what. A simple name should still symbolize a characteristic of the object, so logically, Epic Brewing should make epic beer. Thankfully, here in Southern California, we no longer have to guess if they earned that name or not. Hailing from Salt Lake City, Epic Brewing did not select that name for no reason. Their beers get more and more epic the higher in level you go in their beers. They keep a standard line of beers in their Classic Series, but from there, escalate it higher to an Elevated Series, then finally an Exponential Series. In this Exponential Series, you will find the top shelf beers, as this line caters to the adventurous and bold explorers out there. Of particular note, the Brainless Raspberries does not resemble a framboise, as it does not come off as a sour beer. This Belgian-style ale gets infused with raspberries, so as you drink this beer, the perfect balance of raspberries comes through – not too much, and not too little. The Exponential Series also bravely features a gluten-free beer, brewed with sweet potato and molasses instead of the traditional malts and barley. I like the way this series operates, and have not found any disappointments with any of Epic’s beers. Found both in bottles and on tap in Southern California, you can also find Epic at most beer festivals in Southern California, so you have multiple avenues for satisfying your epic thirst.

With all these big beer fests going on around this time of year, we tend to overlook the smaller crowd. A beer fest comes with a handful of objectives: provide lots of beer for attendees to drink (quantity), or invite micro breweries that need exposure (quality). Oktoberfest provides a prime example of the former – attracting thousands of people to one location to guzzle bad overpriced beer. When you want to find good beers but have no idea where to start, a beer fest makes for a great place to start, as it exposes attendees to a variety of local beers. Some larger beer fests get dominated by larger companies like Budweiser or Corona, so in order to seek out the locals, we have to look at smaller fests. In terms of any type of food & beverage festival, size does not always mean everything, and The Factory’s Drink Good Beer Fest proves just that.

The Factory Gastropub in the Bixby Knolls neighborhood of Long Beach has always had a penchant for supporting the local beer scene. Everyday, customers will find taps stocked only with craft beers in the dining room. Every month, they host various beer-related events, such as tap takeovers, bottle shares, beer pairings, and homebrew meetings. The Factory strongly supports the homebrew movement, encouraging locals to take up brewing beer at home. This notion to support homebrewers activated the invocation of the Drink Good Beer Mash-Up & Homebrew Competition. This event combined a homebrew contest with a small beer fest, which saw the launch of Ohana Brewing‘s flagship beer last year. Now running for the second year in a row, the 2nd Annual Drink Good Beer Fest has grown to include more homebrew entrants and micro breweries in this event. Following last year’s launch, Congregation Ale House launched their new beer at this fest. For as little as $25 for presale admission, attendees received up to four hours with ten 4oz beer pours at this fest – plenty of time to get through it all. I even bought more drink tickets since I had exhausted my original allocation with an hour left to go.

Breweries in attendance: Figueroa Mountain Brewing, Noble Ale Works, Dudes’ Brewing, Kinetic Brewing, Firestone Walker, Sierra Nevada, Cismontane Brewing, Strand Brewing, Congregation Ale House, Stone Brewing, The Bruery, Smog City Brewing, Pizza Port, Latitude 33, Iron Fist Brewing, Golden Road Brewing, Ohana Brewing, Los Angeles Ale Works, Eagle Rock Brewery, New Belgium, Monkish Brewing, Epic Brewing, Karl Strauss, Hangar 24, Ritual Brewing, Bootlegger’s Brewery, Valiant Brewing, El Segundo Brewing, Tenaya Creek Brewery

Of particular note, Los Angeles Ale Works decided to not only bring beer like everyone else, but also to bring craft soda. I have seen homebrewers and micro breweries head in the direction of craft sodas, so to see it in fruition here makes the vision appear more real. It also helps that, for an outdoors festival, they carried the only free non-alcoholic beverage. To sample at this fest, they brough Ketsara, a Thai Tea soda.

Nearly every brewery brought up to two different beers to try. For a small fest, one would expect to see standard beers available instead of the fancy stuff found indoors at popular establishments. However, a few of the breweries decided to man up and bring strong stuff. A handful of the beers floated around the 9% range, but Firestone Walker wins the strongest of the fest for bringing their §ucaba, a 12.5% barleywine. Other beers I got to try:

  • Hangar 24 Brewery – Kirschen, a 3.9% Berliner Weisse (not pictured)
  • Epic Brewing – Santa Cruz, a 5.8% brown ale
  • Eagle Rock Brewery – Unionist, a 5.4% Belgian ale
  • Monkish Brewery – Seme Della Vita, a 9.8% Belgian Tripel
  • Smog City Brewing – L.A. Saison, a 5.8% saison
  • Karl Strauss – Peanut Butter Cup, a 5.8% porter
  • Firestone Walker – §ucaba, a 12.5% American barleywine
  • Tenaya Creek – Old Jackalope, a 10.4% barleywine
  • Iron Fist Brewing – Dubbel Fisted, an 8.1% dubbel
  • Golden Road Brewing – Hudson Imperial Rye Porter, an 8.5% strong porter
  • Kinetic Brewing – Saison Été, a 6.6% farmhouse ale
  • Dudes’ Brewing – Grinning Face, a 6.2% American porter

At the start of the beer fest, The Factory’s owner Natalie welcomed Congregation’s owner Travis as he blessed the beer and the day for everyone to enjoy.

At the end of the beer fest, the homebrew contest organizers finally announced the winners of the competition. Their homebrew will receive limited distribution in the South LA/Orange County area for a limited time.

Who said size matters? We have not seen so much content in so little space since Slater’s 50/50 held a beer fest in the parking lot right outside their newest location. All the breweries brought so much beer, and most of them brought their strong stuff too, a rarity in small-size beer fests like this. A giant canopy provided enough shade for any attendee wanting to escape the hot sun, as well as the snacks table where attendees could purchase snacks, water, or food from the restaurant. Also, how often does a small beer fest last four hours? Most beer fests nowadays last only three hours, or four with a “VIP admission” that costs more than general admission. The Factory went in the right direction with this beer fest, as it serves multiple purposes, such as exposing people to new beer & breweries, and exposing people to The Factory, a gastropub in an otherwise family-friendly neighborhood. Stay tuned for this fest next year, and start thinking of beers to brew to enter into this competition!