Thursday, May 3, 2012


I've spent well over five of the past six years composing craft beer-focused blogs like Hedonist Beer Jive and Beer Samizdat, in addition to the non-beer one you're reading now. Hunting down and drinking the best beers of the world has been a passion of mine for some time and I've tried to popularize my favorite ales and whatnot via the internet since 2006. In 2010-2011, in the absence of a dedicated "beer blog", I occasionally used this forum as a place to discuss my beer reviews, beer travels and so on, though I knew that most of you folks could probably care less. So I started Beer Samizdat blog last year to cater to the beer dorks who used to read Hedonist Beer Jive, only to give that one up a month ago.

Truth be told, as much as I love beer, I'm not all that much of a drinker. I find maintaining a blog about beer to almost be a self-fulfilling prophesy: if I haven't had a new beer in 3-4 days, I make myself drink one if only to have something new to discuss on my "beer blog". The better angels of my nature have recently helped me to cut my fairly meager beer intake by a good 50% or so - and considering it wasn't all that much to begin with (3-4 beers a week, maybe?), it's done my waistline and my general ability to sleep, concentrate and save money some favors. It's here that I'll announce the official demise of the Beer Samizdat blog. It 'twas fun in the short time it lasted. I'll also seek to re-incorporate occasional beer reviews back into the Hedonist Jive blog, at least when I actually get the gumption to drink them. We're all over the map here anyway: film, music, books, sports, memories and so on. What's a few posts about great beer to ya? Hopefully it helps your personal forays into gastronomy and enables the discovery of beer that enhances the proverbial contours of your cultural life.

I decided to resurrect beer reviews on this site over not one, not two, but over three pints of beer partaken of at the Venice Ale House in Los Angeles, CA. Hey, when we fall off the wagon - it's been well over a week since any alcohol entered our bloodstream - we're all in! I'm down here in LA as I type on a business trip, and I often use my business-related trips as excursionary explorations of my host city's beer culture. I know "nobody walks in LA", yet I walked 3.5 miles from my hotel in Marina Del Rey to get to this place, past seedy adult book stores and drug addicts of all stripes in order to review for you the following three ales:

TELEGRAPH BREWING - "Los Padres Ale": (pictured above) After my epic walk through humanity's dregs I needed something to ground me again, and wow - this beer from our favorite Santa Barbara-based brewer delivered that in spades. It's a saison, but a super full-bodied one with incredible depth and flavor. Not only does it have a tingling hoppy aftertaste but it's devoid of the typical barnyard musk one expects from a saison, though it's still very much in that camp on all other dimensions. I tasted apricot and liken it to a saison-style version of Dogfish Head's "Aprihop". Totally in that league, and absolutely delicious. 9/10.

MONKISH BREWING - "Rosa's Hips": A Torrance, CA brewer dabbling in the Belgian arts with a dubbel, which is a hard beer to master even on a good day. It was served in a pint glass here at Venice Ale House instead of a pretentious goblet, which gave me more beer but sacrificed some style points. This dubbel is lighter in color and body than most, and is unfortunately a lot more watery than most, as well as being overly sweet. Really unimpressive overall and tastes like a homebrew version of the Belgian dubbel. I shan't drink it again. 4/10.

LAGUNITAS BREWING - "Waldo's Special Ale": One of the revelations of my beer layoff, in which I drank beer just for fun and stuff instead of to review it, was that I'd prefer to drink an IPA two times out of three - so I've stocked my garage beer fridge accordingly. So I wasn't going to walk out of this place without trying a new IPA. Lagunitas Brewing makes some good ones - Maximus, Freak Out and many other specialty one-timers. "Waldo's Special Ale", though, is not one of them. It's very sweet, not malty and has an unappealing thin body. I sorta liked it the more I drank it, but normally I'm really blown away by surprise beer from these guys and this one's pretty meh. 6/10.