January 2007

Beer Reviews

By: David Gadd

I know you’ve been waiting as impatiently as I have, but the latest word is, they have no plans to release Mannix on DVD. This sixer of winter warmers should help ease the disappointment.

Firestone-Walker Eleven
Brewmaster Matt Brynildson has compiled eleven individual brews into this library-like masterwork. The process that found its footing in last year’s highly impressive Firestone Ten, but there’s an even wider world of flavor at work here, from cardamom to caramel, all slathered with generous doses of Firestone’s signature oak. The deep cocoa-and-vanilla tones rise up front and center, making this one a super substitute for before-bed hot chocolate.

Avery Salvation Belgian-Style Golden Ale

This monstrous 9% bruiser will either save your soul or kick your ass, depending on your attitude. It’s creamy, rich and loaded with succulent fruit-and-smoke flavors, with a dollop of vanilla ice cream with caramel topping thrown in just for sheer cheek. A religious experience, for better or worse.

Daleside Monkey Wrench Dark Ale
 From Harrogate, the Victorian spa town in Yorkshire, a new favorite reminiscent of Newcastle Brown, but with a jazzier, hopsier flavor profile that sends it above and beyond. With its creamy mouthfeel, nut-like tones and a bitter but not-too-bitter finish, it’s not your typical winter warmer, but I had to include it simply for its awesome taste.


Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout
Blacker than a caffeine junkie’s diary and as daring as a macchiato at midnight, this beer is made for those who crave the dark. But the hops component is also kicked up several notches to compensate for all the angst, making this evil brew a masterpiece of dynamic balance. Finally, a beer for emos.

Port Brewing Old Viscosity Ale
As thick as 10W–30 straight from a Camaro crankcase, this tenacious ten-percenter from San Marcos, CA, is aged in bourbon barrels. Its broad and mighty flavor panorama—bittersweet chocolate, bacon, oak and crude—does a good job of obscuring the high alcohol content, so slow sipping is recommended.

Unibroue Maudite
Searing nose of dried white fruits—nectarine and apple, peach and pear—with an overlay of white pepper, cardamom and clove. The symphony of aromatics follows right through on the palate, but with added chords of rich eggnog and VSOP cognac. Without a doubt one of the world’s best beers.

What’s Brewing
“I started brewing beer in college,” says Kris Morningstar,Executive Chef at Blue Velvet, a cutting-edge poolside restaurant in Los Angeles’s revival-poised Westlake District. “I’d been into cooking since a very early age, and when I began, I just considered beer-making another type of cooking,” the chef says.
After serving stints in some of L.A.’s top kitchens— One Pico, A.O.C. and Patina among them— Morningstar was tapped
to open Blue Velvet, located in a former Holiday Inn, now converted into one of downtown L.A.’s trendiest residential buildings.

Guests had the chance to try three of Morningstar’s own brews, along with some selections from the Wine Warehouse portfolio, at the fi rst of
what promises to be a series of beer-and-food pairing dinners on January 7 at the restaurant. (At present, legal issues prohibit Blue Velvet from selling Morningstar’s beers on their own.)
Chef Chris Morningstar enjoys some of
his house-brewed beer at Blue Velvet.
The current house-brewed beers include a seasonal holiday ale with cherries, juniper, nutmeg, and cloves; a Belgian-style saison with coriander, chamomile, and bitter orange; and a classic English bitter. The restaurant also stocks a selection of imports from the Wine
Warehouse portfolio, including the unusual Chouffe Houblon, a Belgian triple IPA.

“While wine pairs well with food,” Morningstar says, “there are many ways in which beer pairs even better.”

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