Eager For The Younger: Russian River Night At The Surly Goat Bar


eager for the younger
Behold: The Power Of Craft Beer

Last night, the line to get into The Surly Goat Bar in West Hollywood stretched nearly to Fairfax Ave. The doors opened at 6 PM, they were hosting 13 exclusive beers from the highly coveted Russian River Brewery in Santa Rosa. 13 beers that had never, ever been on tap in L.A before.

Eager masses of beerheads far and wide united outside and “started showing up since 3:30 [PM]!” said bar owner Ryan Sweeney in a frenzied rush as he expedited orders. Everyone was hoping to get just a small 4 oz. taste (max available per person) of River’s highest prized brew, the Triple IPA–cult favorite–know as Pliny The Younger.

    Russian Rivers On Tap

Pliny The Elder
Pliny The Younger
Blind Pig IPA
Russian River IPA
Damnation
Redemption
Rejection
Mortification
Perdition
Consecration
Temptation
Supplication
Sanctification

“I am leaving at 5 PM, whether you are here or not” says an eager as hell Chuy Tovar as I agreed to meet at his loft. “How the hell did they get 13 kegs?!?” said a flustered Neil Kwon, fellow beer enthusiast and owner of Biergarten
in Koreatown. Well, according to Chuy, they actually went up to Nor-Cal and brought all the barrels themselves!

Why was everyone so freaking eager for this beer? Well, I thought I wasn’t going to find out anytime soon. Not even half hour after opening, the doorman decreed the inevitable “We are out of the Younger!” Sweeney had only procured a 5 gallon keg of the stuff, apparently there is something that sells faster than hotcakes.

It didn’t matter. I also heard rumors that they were also bringing their elusive sour beers, which was good enough for me to wait 2 + hours like everyone else was doing. At just past 8:00 PM, we were finally inside.


Get Your Beer Here!
Get Your Beer Here!: Eager Patrons Were Trying Hard To Get Bartenders Attention

When you come to a tasting of this caliber with a dedicated beer connoisseur who’s real job is selling Tequila and an owner of a German-Korean Beer Bar, you bet your ass we were going to do the rounds.


russian river trio
Tasted 12 out of 13 Beers

Favorites included the fruity, full-flavored Temptation, a wild ale brewed in Chardonay barrels. Yes, it actually tasted like a Chardonay, light honeydew notes and all that stuff. Supplication, a wild ale that is brewed in Pinot Noir Barrels. Yes, that one also tasted lightly like a Pinot Noir. Consecration, another wild ale even a little more sour than the rest. And lastly, a crispy and caramel-yMortification, Russian River’s stab at a Belgium Quadrupel.

About 7 beers in…it happened. Owner Ryan Sweeney passed by and poured the homie Chuy a small tasting glass full of some mysterious golden brew from his personal growler. Could it be? YES…it was!


pliny the younger (fucked up contrast but oh well!)
Pliny The Younger: Triple Hopped = Triple Pleasure

The nose on it was simply peerless. Faintly herby, vegetal…damn right hoppy. And within those two meager sips I took, I understood just why people formed. The mouth feel was thick and buttery. It was the smoothest IPA I have ever tasted without being flat. And its taste? Well, I simply don’t know how else to put it other than…KUSH BUTTER! Not hash butter or canna-butter made with only the ends of cheaper quality stress. I’m taking the 5th here but it literally tasted like the many edibles I have had the pleasure of tasting in my younger days.

Shortly after sipping this, the bar play list started bumping The Buzzcocks – “Ever Fallen In Love (With Some You Shouldn’t)”.

…It was one one of the happiest moments in my life I have experienced thus far.


the surly fucken goat
The Surly Goat: Indeed

Check out Russian River Brewery Website:

http://www.russianriverbrewing.com

The Surly Goat
7929 Santa Monica
West Hollywood
CA 90046

323.650.GOAT

BierGarten: International Brew and Bites Moving Koreatown Forward

Introducing..
All Of A Sudden I Have A Green Thumb

So I’ve been finding myself in the same place out in K-Town every single day for the last two weeks–a surprising first for my usually attachment-free self. And no, I wasn’t eating seasonal banchan over at Mapo nor getting my Oaxacan fill at Guelaguetza but instead…sipping on some fine-drawn brews at a Bier Garten.

Bier Gartens Signage
German And Korean Signage

I remember being dumbfounded every time I passed by the Korean-German facade as I drove down Western. An actual German style Bier Garten in Koreatown? Naaah, it couldn’t be.Well, it was. And apparently, its something that this part of L.A desperately needed.

Bier Garten is the four month old project of Neil Kwon, a guy who really–really–likes beer. He happened to go to school right next to Pyramid brewery, a brewery known for their unfiltered, full flavored Hefeweizen‘s. He tells me it was love at first sip. And like any other lovestruck fool, he fell hard. He actually went backpacking through Europe for the sole reason tasting beer. “I had a chance to go to Hofbrau haus and the Chinese Gardens in Munich, the classic beer gardens.”

Neil Kwon Loves Beer
Neil Kwon Loves Beer

According to Kwon, “I was betting on that Koreatown is changing. More Korean Americans and non-Koreans are moving into the area. Koreatown is pretty exclusive by nature and I wanted to create a place where anyone and everyone who likes beer can enjoy.”

tap into this!
Over 25 Beers On Tap At BierGarten

Well, he certainly did. At only four months old, Biergarten already holds over 24 international beers on tap and more than 4 readily available as bottles. They range from an almost equal selection from the two beer powers of the world: Gernany and Belgium. And if you must know, the Kostrizer Schwarzbier, a minimal hopped German black lager with a faintly flowery aroma, and the house dark wheat Dunkelweiss are what most likely will always be in my frosted stein (pictured on header photo above). Not to say that I won’t drink anything new that Neil gets in, which seems to be pretty freaking often. Last new beer I remember was a pretty damn impressive IPA from DogFish Head brewery.

Dog Fish Head IPA
I Love Head

Maybe it has something to do with the Nitrogen Mixer that has a custom ratio for each classification of beer. Neil had it installed when he first bought the place, he would not have it any other way. But all the beer here somehow tastes crisper, cleaner and more refreshing.

beer enhancer
As If Beer Couldn’t Get Any Better

But I digress, its time to get back on the Glutster track….the full Korean-Mexican-German menu here. I’ll start with the beer bite essential basics from both spectrum’s first.

PBR Rings And Fries w: Chipotle Dipping Sauce
Pabst Onion Rings And Tempura Fries: Don’t Even Trip!

So I was a late ‘bloomer’ to the Onion Ring world but I came, and better late than never. The onion rings here are leavened with the one and only Pabst Blue Ribbon lager, aka “PBR” for all you fucken hipsters, ha ha. And each ring is a divine dinner-vention in itself. As crispy on the outside–moist on the inside–as a freshly fried Krispy Kreme donut, well…only savory and well seasoned. The tempura fries are good too if you swing that way. The best thing of all is that 4 beers later, both will be just as crispy and good, a fried rarity indeed. But, no matter what you get, ask for the house made Chipotle Ketchup and Jalapeño Mayo as dipping sauces….trust.

The menu that ranges from a traditional grilled Wurst plate to quite the assortment of ultra traditional Korean-Japanese foods. I should mention that Neil’s dad who works the back of the house kinda ‘breathes’ fish, he’s been working at Japanese restaurants since he was in 6th grade. So you should not be offended when you see an ultra-fresh Seared Albacore Tuna Salad or Grilled Eel served with uncolored slivers of fresh Ginger on the menu. I’ve had both more than twice already and have noticed the vast improvement in each dish.

Seared Ahi Tuna Salad W: Maraschino Cherry Dressing
Hey! Eating Salad With Beer Cancels It Out!: Seared Tuna Salad

I managed to sneak into the kitchen last time and see the masterful technique behind BierGarten’s enticing Drunken Chicken. A full bird that is cooked from the inside out via the flavorful vapors of a mixture consisting of mostly some Oktoberfest Marzen, Sapporo and Asahi when I was there. The juicy fowl is cut table side and served with a duo of mustard dipping sauces and a razor thin cabbage salad. Most of the fat seeps out the side of the bird during the cooking process and results in some surprisingly lean, moist flesh. I’ve seen people eat almost one joyously whole chicken like if somehow was all dark meat or something.

beer chicken
Cock-A-Doodle-Beer!

bier gartens drunken chicken about to roast
The Way Every Chicken Should Go

table side bier chicken
Table Side Drunken Chicken

But after all this, I am a beaner and no matter how cool all this other stuff is, the Korean Tacos will always be closest to my heart. Unlike their intense–sweeteer–Kogi predecessors, these are refined and subtle and balanced. Its served with less garnishes to interfere in the way of the flavorful filling and an emulsified smoky-spicy-sweet sauce that is made from two of the best heats in this world: Chipotle and Gochujang. And well…on a homemade Tortilla that I kind of taught them myself how to make. And that alone right there will warrant any taco a cut above the rest

handmade tortilla korean taco trio at bier gartens
The New Best Korean Taco In Town: On A Glutster Inspired Handmade Tortilla

The Kalbi is tender, the spicy pork rich and not too far from its Al Pastor brother from another mother. But my favorite is and shall always be the spicy tofu. The spicy sauce somehow adheres to the coarse grained tortilla just like the adobo does from the traditional al pastor ones. And yes, it has made me swoon one a many times.

The menu is still in its rough draft, but thanks to the selfless efforts Eddie Hah of 8 oz Burger and I, it is only getting better and better. Expect things like American style Corn Dogs with Korean Seafood Sausage and a Wasabi Mayo and Sliders made out of traditional Korean seasoned ground beef and pickles.

D.I
D.I.Y Beer Floats

And for dessert, there are glorious beer floats made with the most O.G of ice creams: Thrifty Brand. Don’t deny the fact that its bomb, we all grew up with it.

If you’re really down, ask for a Makgeolli float. The latest and greatest of contemporary Korean food fusion that Pulque-like unfiltered sweet, sparkling rice wine with a fat scoop of citrusy sherbert.

Now, if you excuse me I have to roll out to make their Pabst Pitcher 1¢ Happy Hour!

Makgoli Freaking Float!
Makgeolli Float With Orange Sherbert: You Don’t Even Know…

Bier Garten

206 N Western Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90004
Neighborhood: Wilshire Center

(323) 466-4860

Open Everyday
5PM-12AM

Price of Food Beer $6-15

$1.50 Valet

So it finally came, I’m 21 (Booze, Blood and Punk Rock)

So it finally came, I’m 21. Who would of known I would of made it this far? I swore and lived by the punk Manisfesto of “Live Fast, Die Young”, albeit a little bit more responsively than most of my friends apparently.

What does this mean for a burgeoning young foodblogger?

THE WORLD IS MINE.

No more getting sadly turned away from food events for being “underage”, no more ordering drinks with know-it-all terminology to better the chances of not being checked ID, no more using “I’m not 21” to rationalize from not going out and the most significant for me…no more having to depend on a passerby bum or guy with a beard to buy me some craft beer at Ramirez Liquor.

And what better rite of passage than throwing my own backyard gig in my house in East L.A?

the hb strut
Punks Not Dead

Almost every single weekend since 6th Grade, I’ve been coming to these in and around East L.A. They have served as the ultra-thin lifeline that has kept the local punk scene stable since the 1970’s.

For my shindig, I had gotten the evolved, bluesy sounds of The Shag Rats, old friends from Middle School, these guys broke out of the stereotypical power-chord punk rock rut and have developed a mellow, groovy beat of their own.

groovin shag rats
Dance Inducing and Fun Producing: The Shag Rats

And my nephew, DJ H1N1 spinning all classical and requested genres of punk.

dj h1n1 spinning puro pinche punk
Spinning It Up

Declaring it BYOB (Had food rather, not common in gigs but then again it was me!) I found out I had some really generous friends…

Chuy Nomas showed up with three bottles of Real De Mexico Tequila, two Blancos and the other Reposado. He works for them so he hooked it up like no other, setting up an impromptu cocktail bar out of my backyard shambles. He just happened to always carry Jalapeños, Cilantro, Pineapple Juice, Simple Syrup and Limes I guess, constructing their signature cocktail, The Real Mexican, an authentically spicy, tangy sweet drink that my dad even loved. Muddling the ingredients and everything, he came through profusely for the first half of the night.

chuy nomas hooking it up!
Hookin’ It Up Sick!: El Compa Chuy Nomas

A gift from the blue-haired homie Lance Thomas, my second drink of the night was a pint of an Imperial IPA from Rogue Brewery, the ceramic bottle and nifty, metal hinged top had caught my attention back at Ramirez Liquor.

Imperial IPA
Bitter, Syrupy with Hints of Raw Cacao Without The Exclusive Heaviness of a Traditional Stout: 9.5%

scotch whiskey
At 86 Proof, This Was By Far The Most Complex Whiskey Ingested Thus Far (Sorry Jack): Smooth and Smoky Taste Reminiscent of Mezcal

Third of the Night was a shot of Lagavulin, a Single Islay Malt Whiskey given to me from the infamous Noah Galuten of Squid Ink blog.

straffe hendrik
Fourth was a pint of Straffe Hendrik, this heavy Belgium Bruges Triple Ale. At a bold 9% proof, this was remarkably bitter since its made with a few different Hops, A nice winter brew for sure.

Fifth of the night was a Leffe longneck, a Blonde Belgium Ale with an interesting light bite, notes of toffee mostly with aromatic hints of chrysanthemum. A gift from Angel Rodriguez, we used to drink Popov vodka in water bottles during lunch back in High School.

leffe
Smooth: 6.6%

Ok, by this point I was pretty much thrashed and plastered, double fisting strangers bottles and doing the H.B Strut nonchalantly by myself in the circle pit.

But I kept on going of course.

Sixth of the night was half a bottle of this Malbec that my yoga buddy Blair Whittington had gotten me from Fresh N Easy. But I have no idea what year nor what vineyard, I could only tell you it was smooth enough to be drank by swigs…l would of drank all if Bricia hadn’t fortunately taken it away from me and refilled it with water.

Mezcal
Seventh of the night was a couple of cringing swigs of Ulises Ruiz, a snazzy bottled complex Mezcal from Oaxaca with the most elegant of burns and deep of tastes, courtesy of the Oaxacan Restauranteur, Bricia Lopez.

And last but certainly not the least, a pint of the beer that started it all for me: Delirium Tremens. Chocolaty and robust, this cork-topped Ale is bottled from a family brewery in Belgium. Fernando Lopez, the other power behind the Guelaguetza restaurant dynasty, was responsible for this tasty night clincher.

delirium

After all this drinking, The Shag Rat’s were done and another friend’s band wanted to play: Informal Society. Their music is probably the complete opposite of the Shag Rats, hard, fast, loud and proud that warrant a little more vicious chaos in the pit. And these sort of pits are no mans land for lanky, intoxicated, Spaghetti framed people like me…

alcohol!
Bloody and Boozed: Christening Adulthood

All I remember is a sudden colorful flash like those
made famous in loony toon cartoons and people wrapping bandana’s around my head. Sure enough someone had knocked me down, probably the local gangbangers not understanding the friendly concept of slam dancing.

I was not about to let that ruin my Birthday night in the least though, within ten minutes and half a hydrogen peroxide bottle later, I was back down and dancing again. With those same gangsters giving me hard high-fives and saying, “you’re pretty down”. They left shortly after that.

no rest till you're dead
Bad Influence: Bloody, Boozed But All In The Name of Punk

The singer from my old band kept badgering for us to play, so we made drunk fools out of ourselves trying to stay in sync. I played both bass and guitar for the night since our bassist had already passed out earlier, surprisingly enough, some random people actually know how to play our songs on the guitar and volunteered.

And I am happy to say I woke up with NO HANGOVER, but only a bloody pillow and a bunch of leftover love…

my life now (blur)
Responsible Adulthood…Here I come

Addendum:

I totally forgot to add a pint of Pulque I babied all through the night, I had smuggled it into the states and had been saving it for this big day. Stayed true to my roots…