Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Beer Releases and Approximate Dates

Some have asked what we're coming out with in the future.  While I still want to keep some tricks under my sleeve (mostly just in case plans change), this will be what we're seriously planning to release.  

Saison De Lente-- Mid-February
Trade Winds Tripel-- Late April
Autumn Maple-- Late August
Two Turtle Doves-- Late October

Special Releases (Small, brewery only releases):

- Cuvee Jeune: A young blended sour beer, release sometime in Spring/Summer when ready
- Papier: Our 1st anniversary beer, tentative release date of May 9th, brewery only release in 2009 (Approx. 16%)
- White Oak: Early summer, this barrel aged wheat wine is coming out very nicely (12% ABV)

Special Draft Releases:
For those in Southern California, Hottenroth Berliner Weisse is coming back in late January!  We brewed this batch a bit differently this time around, so it's a bit more tart and a bit less grainy.  Same ABV of 3.1%, this is a great session beer.  I think we nailed it.

Around the same time we release Hottenroth Berliner Weisse, we'll be releasing Humulus Ambre.  It's a continuation of our hoppy Belgian-influenced beers, this time a moderate 6% and loaded with American hops.

Cask Releases:

We don't plan these ones so much, but I can tell you about what we'll be putting on this weekend and next month.  For the first Friday in January, we'll have Humulus Gold, loaded with extra hops.  Which ones?  I forget, so you'll have to come by and try it out.

In February, we'll have Orchard Mole Poblano, Black Orchard aged with roasted cocoa nibs, roasted poblano peppers (with seeds removed), and cinnamon.  Think Black Orchard meets the delicious mole poblano sauce.

We have some other beers on the horizon, but I know they won't be ready for some time.  We have an Imperial Stout aging in rye and bourbon barrels that's approximately 18% ABV.  It's coming along nicely but still needs quite a bit of age until it reaches what I'd consider it's peak.  Our Flemish Red is coming along well but the funk is still developing in this one.  We brewed a beer with about 30% Zinfandel grapes and a base blonde strong ale which is aging in barrels. My best guess is we'll release this around August or September.  I'd forget about these releases for awhile if you want to save your sanity, I certainly have.

For a few festivals and at the brewery, we'll soon have Melange #3.  This is a blend of White Oak, Imperial Stout and Papier.  I'm excited about this one-- I'm too impatient to try these barrel aged beers when they're good and ready to be released, so this release is totally self serving.

Monday, December 29, 2008

What should I be posting about?

When I was in the initial phases of starting The Bruery, this blog was a great way for me to bitch and complain.  Today, I don't have much to bitch and complain about.  Well... I always have things to complain about, but the blog isn't the greatest medium for my bitching these days.

Many people discovered The Bruery from this blog, and I want to keep it a source of information about beer and share how I started a brewery.  I'd like to gather some comments on this and see what you'd like me or anyone at The Bruery to write about.  Post away and let me know what you'd like to know.

Potential topics I was thinking about because they are relevant to what I'm currently doing (some may be interesting to a general audience, some are extremely dry but useful to aspiring brewery owners):

-- Choosing Distributors
-- Expansion (Space, capacity, and employees)
-- Barrel aging / approach to flavor
-- Merchandise
-- Guide to getting a job in a brewery
-- A Checklist to State and Federal Regulations
-- Taxes
-- A Guide to Successful Delegation (I wish I could find a good source on this right now!)
-- Importance of tasting rooms / tours in production breweries
-- The Bruery in 10 Years: How Big is Too Big?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Distribution in Oregon, Northern California, and Better Looking Website!

Lots of good things have been happening at The Bruery.  Our beers are now distributed in Oregon, and are making their way around Portland as we speak. In a few weeks, our beers will also be available in San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Solano Counties.  I'm very excited to have my beers in such beery destinations.

 Also, we have a new, redesigned website.  Soon we'll also have food pairings and recipes from The Homebrew Chef Sean Paxton.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tasting Room Update- 11/20/08

Thanksgiving is a week away, so let us give you some reasons to be thankful-

Autumn Maple- as important to Thanksgiving as the bird itself. Come by and pick up a few bottles for the big dinner, it will knock the socks off your crazy aunt/friend/grandma, etc. Why? You can use it in the actual cooking of your meal (stay tuned for recipe ideas). The bottle matches the autumn table decorations, so as the empties pile up, it just adds to the ambiance. Most importantly- the 10% abv ensures no conversation lull!

Tradewinds Tripel & Imperial Orchard White (IOW)- $5 a bottle
For to-go purchases only. This special deal is for THIS weekend only (11/21-22) so don't miss out!

Holiday Weekend Hours
Thanksgiving (11/27)- closed
Friday (11/28)- 2-8pm
Saturday (11/29)- closed
As you can see, we will be open on that Friday, so plan your weekend accordingly!


Chief Style Officer / Owner

Monday, November 17, 2008

BeerAdvocate Magazine: November and December

I've been very lucky to have some sort of content in three consecutive issues of BeerAdvocate Magazine.  

The first was in October, when Orchard White, Black Orchard and Saison Rue were given "A" Ratings.  

The second was in this month's issue (November 2008) where I write about "Why I'm a Brewer" on the Last Call article.  Thanks to Sean Paxton for the photo featured in this article.

The third will happen in next month's issue in Sean Paxton's excellent food article where he uses Orchard White and Black Orchard in creme brulee.  Thanks Sean for experimenting with my beers and making this delicious dish!
Both Photos: Sean Paxton

Sunday, November 9, 2008

LA Times Article: A craft beer revolution is brewing in Southern California

Pat Saperstein wrote an article highlighting Los Angeles' emerging beer scene, and thankfully included The Bruery!  Check it out if you haven't seen it yet:

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Patrick on The Brewing Network

Our own Patrick is up in No. Cal and is on the internet radio station The Brewing Network well, right now... 5-10pm. Listen in to hear that sexy voice! It will also be available post hoc via podcast.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Autumn Maple & Bourbon Barrel Aged Batch No. 1 - Levud's

Thank you all for being so patient with us on both Autumn Maple (in the bottles) and the rest of the Bourbon Barrel Aged Batch No. 1.  We're finally releasing both at the tasting room this weekend, and the Autumn Maple will be on store shelves and the finest of restaurants starting next week.  We anticipate high demand for the Bourbon Barrel Aged Batch No. 1 this weekend, so we're limiting each person to 4 bottles.  

We'll start selling both on Friday at 2 PM.  Autumn Maple will be $11 per bottle, and Bourbon Barrel Aged Batch No. 1 will be $20 per bottle.

Now that we have bottles of Autumn Maple, we won't be filling growlers of Autumn Maple anymore as we only have a few kegs left and want to keep it on tap for tastings.  Sorry for the inconvenience!

Also, don't forget about the Beer Geek Show-and-Tell on Saturday!  Sorry for those who get offended by the term beer geek.  I call myself one if it helps.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Special Delivery- The Bruery Growlers

Stop all the presses- our growlers have arrived!

Growler price- $10 (not including fill cost)
If you bought a blank growler off of us, you can redeem it for a $5 credit on the new growler.

The bad news- we can no longer fill blank or other brewery's growlers.  Our new growlers are so pretty that you will be tempted to just display them on your fireplace shelf.

The good news- you don't have to deal with those pesky growler stickers any more.  No separate caps- hooray!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tasting Room Update: 10/15/08

Starting this weekend, there will be many exciting/delicious events in our tasting room.  Here's the DL-

OktoBRUEfest- this Saturday, October 18th
Break out those lederhosen or practice your Sprockets dance- we are bringing Bavaria to you!  Come this Saturday for The Bruery's take on Oktoberfest.  Snack on some delicious Bruery inspired German food prepared by The Bruery Chef Anthony Latteri.  We will be tapping our LAST keg of Hottenroth Berliner Weisse which will go down faster than the Dow Jones!  It will be uber (read: ooh-beer) cool.

Beer Geek Show-and-Tell Saturday, October 25th
We are no dummies- we know The Bruery's beer isn't the only beer you drink.   As much as we love our beer, we do enjoy partaking in the fruits of other brewery's labor as well.  Here at The Bruery, we strive to remind those of the principles and values expounded to us in grammar school, such as "sharing is caring."  Thus was the creation of Beer Geek Show-and-Tell.  On this day, if you are so inclined, please bring one bomber/750ml/ 2-12oz bottles of special craft/exceptional home brewed beer to share.  By the way sharing equals having the beer served by the tasting room staff- please don't just bring it for everyone just to look at and drool, that's not nice.   This is also a lesson in quid pro quo= only those who bring beer can partake in the sharing.  Don't worry, we will be bringing something special as well.

Halloween Night @ The Bruery- Friday, October 31st
Why should kids have all the fun trick-or-treating on Halloween night?  Come to The Bruery to get your treats on Old Hallow's Eve.  We will open at 2 like normal, for those of you who like to cut out early from work on Fridays.  However, the Beer-witching hours will be from 6-11pm that evening.  During that time, those who show up in costumes will receive 1 free pint of Imperial Orchard White.  Sorry- dressing up as a Bruery employee does not count.  
We may not put pumpkin in our beer, but we do put beer in our pumpkin.  At 6pm, we will tap a special pumpkin cask of the Autumn Maple.  A costume contest will occur at 8pm (you have to be there to win), with prizes for the winner.  There will be many more spooky surprises that evening, so be sure to make it!

First Firkin Friday (aka F cubed)- Friday, November 7th
Hopefully by now you have experienced F-cubed, and look forward to the first friday of every month like children do for Santa Claus.  Our next tapping in the series will be on Friday, November 7th.  The beer de jour?  Our Humulus Gold- a hoppy golden strong ale.  Yep, that's a new beer, so you better be the first to try it so you can be the cool kid and tell all your friends!

AHA Rally- Saturday, November 15th
I know this one is 1 month (or approc. 100 beers in beer-time) away, but this one is a biggie.  We will be hosting a crazy awesome rally for AHA- American Homebrewer's Association.  More info definitely to come on this one.  For now, just start the count down, OK?


Chief Style Officer / Owner

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hello from the GABF!

Blogging from my phone is no fun, so I'll keep it short. We're having
a great time at our first GABF, and people seem to be digging the
beers. The awards are this afternoon, so our fingers are tightly
crossed (I think mine are bleeding and blue at this point).
Categories that we thought would be low in entries actually have many
entries, so it'll take quite a bit of luck to bring home a medal.

Tasting room is open today-- please be gentle with Pete and Kevin, our
bartenders for today.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

First Firkin Friday!

  Tapping our second cask in the Melange series this Friday! Melange #2 is a blend of Autumn Maple and six week old Lambic, we're calling it Yambic! 

Creating the perfect blend for the cask, doesn't work just suck sometimes?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tasting Room Update: 9/18/08

Thanks to those of you who have visited The Bruery's tasting room.  Our opening weekend on September 5th was a great success.  Here's a heads up on what's going on this weekend at our tasting room-

Logistics (aka boring stuff that you should probably know)...
Credit Card Payments- You can go back to saving those dollar bills for the gentleman's club- we now accept debit and credit cards.

Growlers- We still haven't gotten our new growlers yet, so please continue to bring your own in to be "rebranded" and filled with our draft beers.

Sports Addicts- You don't have to miss your Friday and Saturday sports watching to come and visit us.  We have a large projection tv and are more than happy to put on whatever sports are on the boob tube.  We accept all sports and team affiliations, as long as you let us beat you at darts.

Now to Wet Your Appetite...
Humulus Bruin Draft Discount- due to overwhelming response, we are continuing our special on Humulus Bruin growler fills, at just $8 a fill.  Come take some home on Saturday for that Sunday Football!!  We will also have a special Frogs Breath cheese accompaniment to try with this beer.

Imperial Orchard White (IOW)- What's better than a glass of cool, crisp, Orchard White, the #1 rated wit beer on  How about one with more alcohol and a bit more malt?  Well we thought it sounded pretty damn good, so we created Imperial Orchard White.  IOW packs a pretty good punch, at 7.7% abv.  And since 7 is a lucky number, we predict that this beer will bring only good to those who drink it (or those football or baseball team picks, or stock market listings).  So replace that lucky rabbit's foot with a glass of this beer, and let the good times roll!  Only $12 a growler!

Autumn Maple Sneak Preview- What? Say it again yam?!?  We have a sneak preview of our Autumn Maple on draft.  Coming in at over 10% abv, Autumn Maple is quite malty with the spice background of pumpkin pie (yet not overdone like many other "pumpkin" beers). We won't be able to hide this beer for long.  Come by and try some off the tap, and see what 440 lbs of yams can do for a beer.  The bottles aren't ready yet, but we will keep you posted as soon as a release date is determined.

So hire the babysitter, feed the dog, and clean your growlers.  Then get your butt over to our Tasting Room!

Fridays- 2pm-8pm
Saturdays- noon-6pm

Full-time Chief Style Officer / Owner

Monday, September 8, 2008

Orchard White Clams

We might not be doing a great job at posting recipes to go with our beers (we're working on that, I promise), but Phil over at My Life as a Foodie is making up for it!  Phil featured Orchard White on his most recent episode, and used it as the base broth for cooking clams.  Now I know Orchard White goes with shellfish-- sounds good to me!  If you haven't listened to this Podcast, you really should.  It's funny, informative, and inspires me to try new recipes when I cook.  Thanks Phil!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

LA Times Blog Mention

Dana Parsons, a columnist for the LA Times - Orange County edition, wrote a piece on first year law students at Chapman University School of Law, my alma mater.  Joan, my Mom-in-Law, read Dana's article and wrote to him saying I went to Chapman, started homebrewing while in law school, and recently opened a brewery.  Dana interviewed me and wrote a nice piece on an LA Times blog "Down the coast with Dana Parsons."  

Thanks for helping to spread the word, Dana!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Tasting Room Opening Tomorrow!

We are very excited to be opening our tasting room tomorrow (Friday, Sept. 5th) for the first time! We'll have tastings, tours, beer to go, an amazing cask blend of very special beers, and nice people around who love beer as much as you do. There are a few details that you might like to know if you're planning on swinging by.

The big one: Cash Only! We don't yet have our credit card transaction equipment, so please stop by an ATM before coming by. Sorry for the inconvenience, but we'll be able to accept credit cards soon!

Hours / Days of Tasting Room Operation:

Friday: 2 pm - 8 pm (Tour at 6 pm)
Saturday: 12 pm - 6 pm (Tour at 4 pm)
or by appointment.

We plan to be closed on holidays and may be open on alternate days in the event of a holiday, but we'll let you know as these dates come closer.

Growler Fills:

For the first few weeks, we ask you to bring your own growler! Our own growlers aren't in yet, and we don't want to deprive you of fresh Bruery draft beer at home. We have stickers made which cover all the bases (legally speaking), and while it's not pretty, you won't have to pay for a growler for the time being. Not to say you won't want a Bruery growler, they're going to be pretty cool.

To celebrate our Gold Medals at the Los Angeles International Beer Competition, Humulus Bruin and Black Orchard will be only $8 for a growler fill!

Beers Available for Growler Fills:

Orchard White: $12
Black Orchard: $12 (Current special of $8)
Humulus Bruin: $12 (Current special of $8)
Hottenroth Berliner Weisse: $12

Beer Prices @ The Bruery:

Tasting Flight: 8 tasters for $6 ($6 of tasters can be applied towards a to-go purchase on the date of tasting)
Cask Serving: $5 (.4L)
Draft Beers (Orchard White/Black Orchard/Humulus Bruin/Hottenroth Berliner Weisse): $4 (.4L)
Keep the Glass: $8

Bottles To Go:

Orchard White: $8
Black Orchard: $8
Saison Rue: $12
Trade Winds Tripel: $9.5
Batch No. 1 - Levud's: $15


- T-Shirts (Black or Grey): $15 (M-2XL), $20 (3XL - 5XL)
- Ladies Bamboo T-Shirts (Blue, Green, Brown, Magenta): $20 (S-XL)
- Rastal Glassware: $5 per glass, $8 filled with draft beer

First Firkin Fridays & Our Mélange Series (Written by Tyler):

Start the first weekend of the month off right, every month, with the tapping of a new firkin (cask conditioned) at The Bruery. The first Friday of each month will commemorate the tapping of a "Bruery special" cask conditioned ale. To celebrate the opening of our tasting bar, Patrick and I created a special blend of Russian Imperial Stout and Flemish Red to kick off our Mélange Series of beers. The Mélange series (Mélange meaning blend) consists of the brewers' most prized blend and don't worry, we will be sure to keep it interesting for you! I'm really excited about this, as a brewer there is nothing more fun than sitting down with a couple of beers and creating something new, an art form in itself. Make sure you come out this weekend; this is an in-house only beer and who knows when we're going to see it again! No growler fills of cask beer, unfortunately.

We're at 715 Dunn Way in Placentia, CA, right off of the 57 Freeway at Orangethorpe. Click this link to get directions via Google Maps. Give us a call if you get lost (714-996-6258). Looking forward to seeing you this weekend!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Trade Winds Tripel

I just realized I haven't been plugging the Trade Winds Tripel as much as I should be, given that it's my new favorite beer and we released it about two weeks ago!

A very late summer seasonal, perhaps even an Indian summer seasonal (crap, why didn't I put that on the label!), Trade Winds Tripel is a Belgian-style Golden Ale brewed with the Asian-inspired ingredients Thai basil and rice.  For those of you who swore off drinking beer with rice, it's about time to consider your choices again.  Don't blame it on the rice, it's the boring beer the rice is in!

The Thai basil comes through in the aroma as a flowery, almost hop-derived, and the rice imparts a coconut-like quality.  In the flavor, the malt contributes a hint of sweetness, with the Thai basil delivering unmistakeable herbal and floral qualities, and the rice giving a hint of coconut-like creaminess in the finish.  The relatively high carbonation and the dryness of this beer keep it immensely drinkable.

I've heard several people call it a dangerous beer on various occasions for its high drinkability while maintaining a respectable 8.1% ABV.  Dangerously delicious, perhaps.  Dangerous after guzzling two bottles and deciding to drive around on Labor Day weekend?  Definitely.

If you get the chance, I'd recommend enjoying one over this Labor Day weekend.  Be safe so you can go back to work on Tuesday!

LA County Fair Beer Competition

Last weekend Tyler and I judged some fantastic beers at the LA County Fair Commercial Beer Competition.  I entered several of our beers with the hope that we might be able to gain some recognition for The Bruery, and I'm very happy to report we did earn a few medals!

- Experimental Beers: Gold, Humulus Bruin
- American-Style or German-Style Sour Ales: Gold, Hottenroth Berliner Weisse
- French-Belgian Style Saison: Gold, Saison Rue
- Belgian and French-Style Ale: Gold, Black Orchard
- Wood and Barrel-Aged Strong Beers: Bronze, Levud's on Oak (more commonly known as Bourbon Barrel Aged Batch No. 1 - Levud's)

Full results are available at

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Stone 12th Anniversary

A recap on a festival that happened a few weeks ago, but is certainly not old news--

The Stone Anniversary Festival was pretty fantastic for us.  We brought every beer we've released so far (Orchard White, Black Orchard, Saison Rue, Trade Winds Tripel, Batch No. 1 - Levud's, Bourbon Barrel Aged Batch No. 1 - Levud's, Hottenroth Berliner Weisse, and Humulus Bruin).  We went through 84 gallons of beer; not a minor feat.

The reason this festival was so great was that many of the people coming up to our booth did not know about The Bruery.  We were able to meet them personally, explain who we are and what we do, and have them try our beers.  I think we might have a few new customers now.

It was also great to talk to people who have been supportive of us since we started-- old homebrewing friends, fellow BeerAdvocates / RateBeerians, and Southern California brewers.

The folks at Stone did an amazing job organizing the festival.  I was overwhelmed by the coordination and helpfulness of everyone working.  When we arrived, everything for the festival was unloaded from my truck onto a golf cart, and was driven off to my booth.  Not having to drag around a few jockey boxes, Co2 containers, and our fairly heavy new portable bar made the day all that much better.

We're looking forward to the 13th Anniversary!

The line for Barrel Aged Batch No. 1-- sorry to those who patiently waited and didn't get any!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tastings / Tours / On-Site Sales Approved!

This past Tuesday I had a hearing before the Placentia Planning Commission to decide whether The Bruery should be permitted to have a tastings / tours / sales at the brewery.  The Commissioners seemed very interested in the brewery, and it was approved!  It didn't hurt that the previous item on the agenda was a bit gloomy-- the revocation of a permit for a massage parlor (happy ending, anyone?).

We'll likely start tasting room hours on Friday, September 5th.  We'll do our best to be open every Friday (2 pm to 8 pm) and Saturday (12 pm to 6 pm).  As we get closer, we'll let you know for sure. 

I'm looking forward to having visitors and being able to share our beer and passion.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Vote Yam '08

Even though it is smack dab in the heat of summer, and our summer seasonal Tradewinds Tripel is about to hit stores, just like the grasshopper and office supply and clothing store commercials are telling us, it's time to start preparing for fall. Instead of stocking up on protractors, notebooks and erasers, we at The Bruery have decided to hoard a different sort of supply, namely yams. I am sure you are thinking that I must have misspelled yeast, or that I meant to say hops, with the hop shortage and all. But we like to think a little different here, and we have a yearn'in for the yams. 440 lbs of yams to be exact.

Tomorrow we will be brewing our fall seasonal- Autumn Maple. And for this beer, we have decided to abandon pumpkin for the OTHER fall favorite- yams. It's the year of the yam. Pumpkins are so over. They have no flavor of their own, carving them with those cheesy pumpkin carving knives is hopeless, and they always end up just getting that fuzzy mold on the bottom of them, well before Halloween. Now yams are the true friend- freshly available year round, , better nutrition than a regular potato, and just the right amount of phallic shape to warrant a snicker or two at the grocery store. Oh and those sweet potato fries that everyone loves so much? Really yams.

Pumpkins have had their day, so now it is time to give yams a chance. We will be hand roasting 440 lbs of yams on the barbeque, to be added to this special beer. Oh So Yammy! Maple syrup, molasses, and traditional pumpkin pie sort of spices will be added as well. We will report back with how it goes!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Saison Rue on TV!

Greg Koch, CEO of Stone Brewing debated with a sommelier the merits of beer vs. wine on Good Morning San Diego (KUSI San Diego), and in an obvious gesture of outstanding taste brought a bottle of Saison Rue with him.  The host thought a fast one was being pulled on him, "But, golly, that bottle looks just like wine!"  Very cool to see our beer getting TV coverage, and I hope it isn't our last!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Beer, Food and Tanks

Last Wednesday night I invited a couple of friends over for a little dinner party at my house, needless to say that The Bruery's beer was center stage. We started the night out at our local Belgian beer bar with bottles of Chimay White, Foret, and Fantome. After we were primed and ready it was time to start cooking. We had somewhere between six and eight different beer and cheese pairings that I wish I could remember (that's what alcohol does to you when you drink too much!).  I do remember I wasn't a fan of the extra aged gouda; it tasted like I was eating cardboard which I could have been doing after drinking all day! For dinner my friends and I grilled up three different types of chicken:  one beer butt chicken cooked with Orchard White and two others using Stone's grilling sauces (have to support our distributor!). We sauteed some asparagus with Trade Winds Tripel and grilled up some corn to compliment the chicken. This was the first time I have cooked with The Bruery's beer and it won't be the last!  The beer butt chicken was the favorite dish of the night along with the Tripel and Levud's. I never knew my friends had good taste in beer; I must be converting them over. It ended up being one of the most fun nights I've had in a long time and something I needed after that whole mash incident.

I almost forgot to mention the addition of a new bright beer tank to the Bruery! A few weeks ago my friend Kevin and I drove up to Woodland Hills and loaded up a 7 barrel BB tank in the back of my truck. All I can say is that loading a tank in and out of the back of a truck bed without any machinery was really fun! Thanks to Kevin for waking up so early to help me!

My friend Bryan helping cook dinner. I had to empty out a soda can to put Orchard White in it for the beer butt chicken.

My friend Jessica (my old room-mate) and I at the bar

Our 7Bbl BB tank waiting to be unloaded.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Beer From Hell

Yesterday was our toughest brewing day yet.  It was a day where nothing seemed to go right, and with brewing, you can't stop what you're doing and come back on another day.  

I arrived at 4:30 in the morning and started mashing in.  The batch was our Imperial Stout, which consists of 2500 lbs. of grain (our typical batches are in the 1000 lb. range), several different types of sugar, a long boil, and usually another batch from the second runnings.  While I was mashing in, I was milling because our grist case only holds 1000 lbs.  Ben (our part time brewing assistant) showed up at 7 and mashed in the other half of the batch.  Mashing in took a little over 3 hours, but it went smoothly. 

I then went to recirculate the mash and Ben discovered the pump was leaking.  I tightened the connection between the pump head and the motor, which resulted in bending the pump bracket and increasing the leak.  Meanwhile, a few people showed up to visit.  I forgot that the sparge was running, and the mash tun started to overflow from the top.  I started to hook up our grant to another pump, and then after ten minutes of trying to rig something together, I decided to back track and use the leaking pump anyway.  It's about 10 AM now.  To this point, the day had been hectic but tolerable.

The runoff of the Imperial Stout went fine, but a bit slow.  It was a 3 hour transfer that Ben masterfully supervised.  We then went to run off the second runnings, which went about as slow as the Imperial Stout.  It's now 3 PM, and on a typical brewday we're just about finished at this point.  About 6 BBL of the second runnings were in our whirlpool (we didn't have any place to put the wort) when the mash stuck.  After about two hours of Ben and Tyler trying to unstick it, I told them to forget the second runnings batch and lets just empty the mash tun.  

We stuck a 55 gallon drum under the mash tun (which is filled to the brim with water and grain) and opened the dump valve.  Nothing comes out, so I poke a hole in the grain bed with a stainless steel paddle and it starts flowing.  I go to check on how full the drum is, and decide to put a bit more in there.  I open the valve, and the mash forcefully falls into the drum.  It is flowing everywhere.  I try to close the valve, but it's jammed.  Mash and 170 degree water is flying everywhere.  It's a tidal wave of hot shit, all over my arms, legs, in my boots, and the brewery is a disaster.  I'm cussing, running around in frustration, and in pain.  Tyler gives it a shot to close the valve, and eventually the drum fills and the flow slows.  After a few minutes of trying to comprehend the situation (the brewery has a few inches of water and mash everywhere) Ben notices the stainless steel paddle is coming out of the valve.  Tyler and him fish it out of the mash tun, and we close the valve.

After several hours of cleanup, I leave the remainder of the batch for Tyler and Ben to complete.  Thanks guys for finishing up!  I have a few burn blisters on my hand and my leg, but nothing too bad.  I'd like to say I'm lucky, but the day was too horrid to say anything about luck.

I already hate this beer.  I'm condemning it to bourbon barrels for over a year, and hopefully I'll forgive it at that point.  The starting gravity is 31 P, and with the sugar additions during fermentation, should be around 37 P.  We're aiming for a 20% ABV beer, but I'm sure fermentation will stick, just because the beer despises me.

When you wonder why the beer costs so much, or why I hate it so passionately, you'll now know.  It doesn't have a name yet, but expect it to reflect my opinion about it and the day we had making it.

Some photos of the disaster:

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Getting Out There

A few days ago I received a list of the accounts that have ordered by beer, and I just added them on to our listing of retailers.  We now have 28 establishments carrying our beer!  I know of at least five more accounts that will be ordering next week, and there are many others that we have yet to visit.  All of the Stone sales reps. have been doing a great job getting our name out there, so thank you to them!  At least 75% of the accounts that have been opened in the last two weeks have been from Stone sales reps.  That's very significant considering I'm spending two-three days per week finding new accounts.

Check out the list at   If your favorite place to buy or drink beer isn't on there, let me know, and equally as important, let the establishment know!

Monday, June 16, 2008

San Diego Real Ale Festival

I spent Friday and part of Saturday in Carlsbad (Pizza Port) at the San Diego Real Ale Festival organized by Jeff Bagby, Tom Nickel and Tomme Arthur.  

This is a great festival with a focus on local beers served in an unusual way.  Real Ale is beer that conforms to the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) method of treating and serving finished beer.  To describe it briefly, the beers were mostly served from hand pump engines, where the beer is hand pumped out the faucet instead of forced out the faucet with CO2.  The beer is naturally carbonated, and tends to be low on carbonation, and the serving temperature is around 50 degrees F.  Bottle conditioned beers are also "Real Ale", so there was a small selection of bottle conditioned beers.

We had our Humulus Bruin on cask, which is a hoppy Belgian-style brown ale.  This is the second runnings of our Imperial Stout (which won't be released until late 2009), and I have to admit not a great candidate to be served on cask.  I really like this beer from the tap, and trying it at the festival was the first time I had it on cask.  It still had the intense hop aroma I enjoy in this beer, but without much carbonation, became a bit thin.  Carbonation is one of those things which can contribute to the perceived body of a beer.  It was fun trying it on cask, and enough people seemed to enjoy it, so no harm done I hope.

We also had bottles of Saison Rue for the VIP session.  The case we brought for this ran out within an hour and I received a lot of positive comments on it.  

The word about our brewery is getting out there.  I spoke with a lot of people who have recently tried our beer (besides those trying it at the festival), and heard a lot of great things.  We'll have many new accounts in San Diego over the next two weeks, so I'm hoping the positive attention grows!

I'll keep an eye out on other blogs for pictures.  As normal, I was too focused on people and beer and didn't take any!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Stone Brewing Co. Distributing Our Beer

This last Tuesday I met with Steve Wagner, President / Brewmaster of Stone Brewing Co. and signed a distribution agreement!  I cannot express in words how excited and happy I am about this.  

Stone is a great company, brewing excellent beers and distributing in Southern California for some of my favorite breweries such as Russian River, Avery, Port Brewing / Lost Abbey and Victory.  Their portfolio is limited to very high quality craft beer brands.  Their sales force is well educated about beer-- in fact, I'd say most of them are beer geeks.  Picking up distribution for us is a testament to the quality of our beers and our future potential.

They distribute in San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, so you'll be able to find our beers all over Southern California within the next few weeks.  Perhaps the best news is I won't have to deliver beer anymore!

Cheers to the great people of Stone!

Tyler took a picture of the signing ceremony:

Friday, June 6, 2008

Excessive Carbonation?

Bottle conditioning (natural carbonation) should be pretty straight forward, right? Add a certain amount of a simple carbohydrate (sucrose) to the tank of finished beer, mix it, bottle, and the yeast does it's job. I wish it were this simple!

We were going for a high level of carbonation in most of our beers, but not this high! Our super attenuative yeast (meaning it eats everything it possibly can) had produced the right amount of carbonation when we initially released the beers, and has since continued to add more carbonation than was intended in the first batch of several of our beers.
For the first batches (usually indicated by a gold crown cap and a slight overfill level), I recommend chilling the beer well before opening, and gently pour your beer right after popping the cap. Just like champagne, right?

Luckily, not very much of this beer went out as most of it went towards draft.  New batches (with lower carbonation) have been bottled and have been sent out to a few of our accounts already. We have two dozen cases of the first batch of Black Orchard in inventory, which we won't be releasing to accounts and instead drinking it ourselves (what a tough job!). You might have a tough time finding it until the release of the new batch, which will be on shelves in late June.

If you've popped open one of our bottles and lost beer due to overcarbonation, I sincerely apologize. We are refining our processes to insure the carbonation is appropriate. If you've had a problem with our beers because of this (or any reason, for that matter), please give me a call (714-996-6258) and we'll fix it. These are the first batches coming from our brewery, and while we set ourselves to the highest of standards, we didn't know what the standards were for the first batches!

Batch No. 1 - Levud's is now being released, and luckily is not overcarbonated!

Thanks for supporting us!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Super Secret Grand (Yet Restrained) Opening Party

Yesterday we had a party to celebrate our opening.  From my perspective it went extremely well-- I was amongst my favorite people, everyone was enjoying themselves, and the word is getting out about what we do.  Approximately 140 beer lovers came throughout the day.  I couldn't have asked for a better opening.

To those who didn't get the invite, I apologize!  I sent it to as many friends and supporters as I could think of at the time, and I know I missed some important people.  Next time I'll be more coordinated, and hopefully it won't have to be an invite only affair!

Thanks to all those who came!  I'm looking forward to having more parties already.

Thanks to Steve Sage for the wonderful write up in his Summer of Beer blog and for taking photos:

Also, thanks to Spence and his helper (forgot her name, sorry!) for taking photos.  Spence will be sending over the photos, which I'll post in the news section of the website.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Finding Our Beers

Last week Tyler and I spent a bit of time going around to different potential accounts, and I'm pleased to report that beer is available around town.  A few more will be added next week, and hopefully dozens more once we have a distributor (we're working on it).  Here's the list now:

Beachwood BBQ - Rotating keg selection, had on Black Orchard as of Thursday
Hollingshead Deli - Everything we bottle, perhaps Black Orchard is still on tap
Hi Times Wine Cellar- Everything we bottle, delivering on Tuesday
Tustin Brewing Co- Saison Rue in bottles
Lone Hill Liquor- Everything we bottle
Walnut Liquorette- Everything we bottle

These are some of the great beer institutions in Southern California, so I'm very excited to see our beers here.  For the great beer places you don't see on this list, I'm working on it!  Having the beer distributed by someone else will make my life much easier.

A full list is maintained at

Our Website is Up!

A few days ago I uploaded our website.  It still needs quite a bit of work, but I thought we needed to have something up since our beer is now in stores.  We're working on a fairly extensive food pairing section and a store with our merchandise and possibly beer sales.  All these things and more will take shape over the next few months.

Boonville Recap

Rachel, Tyler and I went to Boonville for the Boonville Beer Festival put on by Anderson Valley Brewing Company last weekend. We spent two nights on the grounds of Anderson Valley, which is a beautiful place.  We plan on distributing in Northern California in the next few months, so we thought this would be a great opportunity to get our name out there.  While we had many fun and interesting experiences on the trip, it seems like it was ages ago since so much has been going on so I'll spare the details.  I do have a cold right now so that's probably a souvenir from the trip.  

Here's a photo of us at the festival serving our beer (thanks to Jay Brooks, Brookston Beer Bulletin):

Selling Beer and Being Reviewed

When Tyler and I brewed our first batch, he asked me with excitement something along these lines: "You gotta be so excited right now!  We're finally brewing!"  He hadn't brewed anything in a few months after leaving BJ's West Covina to become a glorified handyman at The Bruery, so he was feeling great about getting back to his normal routine.  I quickly agreed, it was a great feeling after the previous ten months, when so many days I felt like The Bruery wasn't going to happen.  I told Tyler, "I can't wait until I sell my first beer.  That's when I'll know this is really happening."  

I'm very happy to finally have my beer out on store shelves.  Cash flow is great, but I'm most excited about sharing my beer and hearing what people have to say.  So far, the reviews (to my face) have been glowing.  That's to be expected-- not too many people are going to tell me directly that my beer sucks.  It still feels good.  There's also reviews that are not for my purposes, but for those interested in tracking their beers and sharing with others whether a beer is good or not.  I've been told by many brewers to ignore reviews of my beers on beer rating sites such as BeerAdvocate and Rate Beer.  Most brewers do look at the reviews from time to time, and it can lead to frustration and anger.

Of course, I check my reviews several times a week.  I can't resist.  So far, they've been very good.  The positive reviews reaffirm my own taste in beer and validate I'm achieving what I set out to do.  The negative ones are not easy to read.  Reviews that are less than glowing often show me where things are going wrong, so it gives me information to improve the way we make our beer.  So far, they have largely been a result of poor servings (yeasty dregs from kegs of Saison Rue being a big one), so we're changing our approach to avoid this in the future.  Don't expect to see much in the way of "keg conditioned" beers from us anymore.  

I appreciate that someone would take the time out of their day to write about my beer.  It's invaluable information and I plan on continuing to read the reviews. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Counting Cells

Here's local home-brewer Dan learning how to count cells on a second runnings beer that he and Brent (Brewcommune) helped out with. Thanks guys!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

While I'm Working On The Budget...

Tyler just sent me this picture of the BrewCommune / The Bruery booth at the Southern California Homebrew Festival in Lake Casitas, happening right now.  I was supposed to go, but instead I'm sitting on my couch, working on The Bruery budget for future years.  I'm trying not to pity myself, but not doing a very good job at it.

The banner looks pretty sharp though.  Thanks to Tyler for representing us at the festival.

May Already?

Sorry for the lack of updates.  Here's a brief list of everything that's been going on:

- Craft Brewers Conference / World Beer Cup: We had a great time here, and I still feel like I'm recovering from my week in San Diego.  I started seminars at 8 or 8:30 AM, and went non-stop (networking / more seminars / hanging out with friends / drinking great beer) until 1 or 2 in the morning to start all it over again the next day at 8 AM.  We didn't win any medals at the World Beer Cup, but I don't think my ego could handle actually winning a medal at the WBC at this point, so perhaps it's for the best.  We're looking forward to participating in the San Diego County Fair, Los Angeles County Fair, California State Fair, and of course the Great American Beer Festival.  Maybe we'll pick up a few in those competitions.

- Distributor News: We are currently selecting distributors in Southern California and Northern California.  We are now negotiating with a few different distributors, so I'll give more info once we have signed an agreement.

- Hollingshead Tasting: Last Monday we had our first official roll out of our beers at Hollingshead's Deli in Orange.  This was a great tasting-- about 54 people showed up and I heard lots of great things about the beer.  Thanks to everyone who showed up!  If anyone took any photos of the tasting, could you send them my way?  I never remember to bring the camera anywhere.

- Official Roll Out: I had committed to having the tasting at Hollingshead's a few weeks back, thinking we'd have all of our labels applied and our packaging would be ready.  The packaging won't be ready until next week, so that's why you can't find our beer anywhere else besides Hollingshead at the moment.  Look for our beers at other places around Orange County (and perhaps San Diego and Los Angeles) starting the week of May 12th.

- Orange County Brewers Cooperative: A few brewers in Orange County (including us) have started a local brewery organization to help promote craft beer in Orange County, as well as provide a venue for us to better communicate with one another.  As the new brewer in Orange County, it is important to my business that the public knows there is good beer to be had here, so I've spent a lot of time with the planning of the co-op.  We started up about 3 months ago, and are currently planning a beer festival.  I'll post more info as dates are confirmed.

- Opening Party: We are hoping to have an opening party at The Bruery on Saturday, May 24th, but I need city approval before it becomes official.  Leave the date open for the moment, and I'll let you know as soon as I find out.

- Website: I've been holding off on putting the website up until our official roll out, so look for it the week of May 12th.

Right now I'm supposed to be at the Southern California Homebrewers Festival, but I gave Rachel the stomach flu, so we decided to stay home.  Tyler is there with BrewCommune and will be serving Orchard White and Black Orchard.

Next week we'll be serving our beers at the Boonville Beer Festival, and will hopefully be meeting with a few Northern California distributors.  We'll also be meeting with my brother-in-law Matt and our good friend Ali, who will soon be our Northern California Sales Reps.  Matt will cover San Francisco, and Ali will cover Oakland / Berkeley.  

Thanks to Rick Sellers for writing about The Bruery on his blog:
I read Rick's blog every few days, and was shocked when I saw my logo on his page.  Very nice write up, Rick!

I'll try to post more frequently.  See you around, hopefully drinking our beer!  Cheers!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Promoting and Selling Ourselves

As Tyler posted, we have finally bottled and kegged our beers, and we are currently nurturing them (i.e. bottle conditioning and petting them daily) and preparing them to be shipped off and sold... well, hopefully sold!  I'm really pleased how all of the beers have turned out, and I hope you are too.  I was nervous that the jump from 10 gallon batches to 465 gallon batches the first time around would not end up being remotely the same beer, but in most cases, they are spot on, or perhaps a bit more to our liking, than the pilot batches.  

The one exception is Batch No. 1 - Levud's.  This is a very fine beer, don't get me wrong.  This was the first batch, and I didn't know what our mash efficiency would be.  I was shooting for a 19.0-19.5 P beer, which when it finishes around 2 P, would end up being around a 9.5% beer.  Loren and Mark brewed it to this strength, and I wanted to be as close as possible. We brewed this over two days (15 bbl each day) to fill the 30 bbl fermenter.  The first 15 bbl batch came out to be 22.1 P, about a 13% overshot.  I scaled back the second batch of it by a few hundred pounds of base malt in order to hit around 17 P, but instead the gravity was 19.9.  The combined gravity of the two batches ended up being 21 P, and I wasn't about to water it down.  It attenuated to around 1.2 P (94.4% apparent attenuation!!!).  Instead of the 9.5% Golden Strong Ale, we have an 11% Golden Strong Ale.  I'm not complaining; it still tastes damn good!  Those bottles are slow to carbonate right now, so there's a chance we'll be delaying their release by a few weeks.  From what I've tasted so far, it has a very similar flavor profile to the outstanding beer that Loren and Mark brew, but with a bit more of an alcoholic punch.

Speaking of releasing beers, we plan on having all of our labels approved and hopefully printed within two weeks time, so keep an eye out for them (I'll post where we're selling though, so don't look around too hard).  The label for Saison Rue has been approved, and we anticipate Batch No. 1 - Levud's will be approved in the next few days as well.  Orchard White and Black Orchard are currently delayed because the TTB required a formula due to the spices we add to the beers. None of the ingredients are controversial, so I'm hoping their approval moves along quickly.

We'll be kicking off our first releases at Hollingshead Deli, currently scheduled for either Monday, April 28th or Tuesday, April 29th.  In early May, we'll be going to beer bars, beer friendly restaurants, and good beer stores in Orange County, Los Angeles County, and San Diego County letting people know we're around and open!

If you'll be at the Craft Brewers Conference next week, our beer will be served there at some point.  We also entered the World Beer Cup, so please cross your fingers for us.

It is a huge relief and very exciting to finally be at the point where The Bruery is a commercial brewery.  If you would have told me two years ago that I'd be running my own brewery in two years, I wouldn't have believed it.  I probably would have said "No, I'll be running my own brewery in a year!"  Delays and reality aside, I'm excited and optimistic about the adventure I'm embarking on.

Last but not least, the obligatory pictures:

The very manual bottling line (Thanks to Lyn Davidson for the picture)

Five pallets of Batch No. 1 (Thanks to Tim Reissmueller for the photo).

Monday, April 7, 2008

99+ Bottles of beer on the...pallet

This past week Patrick, I and several helpers bottled and kegged our way through 75 barrels (approx.) in three days. Thanks to everyone who helped us! Without you, Patrick and I would still probably be bottling. On a more exciting note, we filled up four oak barrels: two bourbon barrels with Batch #1-Levud’s, and two wine barrels with Saison Rue w/ brettanomyces. In the next week or two our anniversary beer will be ready to rack into its pretty cool new home or should I say homes. I’ll let Patrick tell you more about the details later. We will be attending Newport Beach Brewing Company’s 13th Anniversary on April 10th; if you plan on attending make sure to say hi and try our beer! Well, it has been a long day of cleaning at The Bruery and I just realized this isn’t very interesting. Hopefully I’ll see some of you at one of our tastings! (we’ll let you know when everything is locked in!)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

What's Bubbling Away

I was going to keep tight lipped about the beers we'll be brewing, but since we're getting somewhat close to releasing them (about 3-4 weeks or so), I'll tell you about what we've brewed so far.  We're brewing next week, so this won't be our complete lineup.

Batch No. 1 - Levud's (discussed in the last post) is a Belgian-style Golden Strong Ale.  This beer showcases the pear-like fruity esters from our yeast, as well as the herbally, refined hop flavor and aroma from Styrian Goldings and Czech Saaz.  It'll weigh in around 10.5% ABV.  This is a one time release, so we made a healthy amount of it.  We'll produce a little over 300 cases total.

Orchard White is our Belgian-style witbier.  We brew it with unmalted flaked wheat, oats, malted barley, corriander, orange peel, and lavender.  This is a thirst-quenching beer that will be a year-round offering.  This is one of the few beers we'll offer on draft.  We brewed a 15 bbl batch and hope it sells quickly so we can brew it again!

Black Orchard is a Belgian-style Black Wheat Beer.  This is an unusual beer, but we think this will be a popular one.  Like Orchard White, it's brewed with unmalted flaked wheat, oats, and  malted barley.  Unlike Orchard White, we have a proprietary mashing method of adding a lot of color without adding much of a roast flavor.  This beer lives up to the name-- it is black!  We also add different spices than we add to Orchard White.  This is one of my favorites, as it's refreshing and session-able but has some complexity and intangible qualities.  We brewed 15 bbl of this one as well.  With Orchard White, about 50% will be for draft, and the other 50% bottled.

Next week we'll be brewing Saison Rue and our Anniversary beer.  A little premature to be brewing an anniversary beer?  You'll change your mind when I describe what we'll be doing with it.

Batch No. 1

Batch No. 1 was brewed on Friday, March 7th by Tyler and I, and on Saturday, March 8th with the help of Loren Miraglia (one of the winners of the homebrew competition, along with Mark Graham who unfortunately could not make it), and our friend Brent Rahn.  Both days we had visitors who were eager to see the first batch being brewed.

The batch didn't go perfectly, but I'm confident the end result will meet our high expectations.  The burner system for my boil kettle was acting up a bit, so we had to watch for boil overs and occasionally turn the burners off.   I'm learning how to keep it under control so the burner has been less of an issue for the past few batches.  Our efficiency /extraction from these batches were a bit higher than we expected, so this beer will come out to 10.5-11% ABV instead of the 9.5% we were shooting for.  I even subtracted about 25% of the grain bill for the second day and still overshot my target.  I guess this was meant to be a big beer!

Thanks to Loren for making the trek out here from Encinitas, and to Brent for all of his help!  Also, a special thanks to Tyler for bringing his brewing and sanitation skills to The Bruery.  He's a very talented brewer, and the beers wouldn't be what they'll be without him involved.

Thanks to Spence Coleman for photographing the brew session!  These photos are much better than what I've been taking!

Bourbon / wine barrels and our bar.
The brewhouse / fermenters.
Brent, me, Loren and Tyler.
Tyler peeking into the whirlpool.

Vince, Heather and Kevin enjoying the humid, wort filled air, and perhaps a few beers.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Progress of the Past Year

Note: I wrote this about a week ago and haven't had time to finish up and post it until now. We have three batches in the fermenters (approximately 1,860 gallons of beer/wort) fermenting away. I'll fill you in on the last week in a day or two when I get a chance to catch my breath.


Last year around this time I was dealing with real estate brokers trying to find a place to lease. I didn't know where I was heading at that time-- I just knew I wanted to start a brewery somewhere in Orange County and I'd accept just about any building to brew in (given a few modest requirements). I had no idea how much work starting a brewery would be, and just how great it would turn out. I'm very excited about the future of The Bruery, and I can't wait to share it with you. We're on the brink of brewing Batch No. 1, which is finally happening tomorrow. We brewed our yeast propagation batches last Friday and Saturday, which went surprisingly smooth, and now have healthy yeast to brew a bunch of beers in the next two weeks.

The following are some pictures from the nine months, from empty warehouse to functional brewery:

My brewhouse in January of 2007 when I was deciding on whether to purchase it.

The picture I took of 715 Dunn Way before I leased the space.

Empty warehouse, soon (or not so soon) to be a brewery.  Taken in May of 2007.

Moving the equipment from Windsor to Placentia in June or July of 2007.

Some Pliny the Elder to celebrate moving the equipment inside the warehouse.

Cutting the concrete.

Removing soil / grading.

Vestibule framing.

Flooring installed.

Moving and mounting the glycol chiller to the roof.

Setting the tanks upright.

My beautiful wife Rachel bringing us lunch during our brewing of the propagation batch.

Under the mash tun / grant.

Finally, getting to mash in!