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Category: Interview

South Lake Brewing’s Nicole Smith at CCBA Summit

Calirornia Craft Beer Summit

It’s a long drive from Tahoe to Long Beach, but South Lake Tahoe Brewing hasn’t missed a California Craft Beer Summit since their inception in 2017. With the Summit kicking off this week they’ll be making the trek again soon! Co-owner Nicole Smith chatted with us before she hits the road.

Have you been to the CA Craft Beer Summit/Festival before? What were some highlights?

Yes I’ve been to the summit and festival since it first started I believe in 2015! A highlight for me was pouring our beer for the first time at the festival in 2017!!

What summit speaker are you excited about?

I’m most excited to listen to Virginia Morrison of Second Chance and Lynn Weaver of Three Weavers during the Pink Boots/CCBA inspiring women leaders session on Friday afternoon! I’ve personally met both women and have been so encouraged by them to keep crushing it in the beer industry!

Which summit educational sessions are you looking forward to?

The educational session on Thursday morning about setting the scene and Leveling Up your tasting room through design and customer experience sounds fantastic and super useful for my role at our brewery. I also think this is a new seminar for the summit or any CCBA conference so I’m excited to learn something new!

What do you hope to learn at the summit?

How to do my job better. How to be a better leader of my business and bring new ideas, tips and tricks of the industry back to my brewery to improve it!

What do you have planned for the fest?

I was pregnant during the last festival and both my husband and I are excited to enjoy ourselves and try super yummy beer during the festival this year. Especially since it’s in so-cal for the first time, we are looking forward to trying breweries that we do not normally get to experience.

What brewery are you excited to check out at the fest?

Beachwood Blendery! We have a friend that works there 🙂

How does this event compare to other beer events you’ve been to?

Besides CBC… the summit I think is the best networking, educational, and uniquely craft beer event to attend!! It’s not as crazy as GABF and it’s a 100% california craft beer festival. I think it’s the best festival in the nation for craft beer enthusiasts to attend.

What’s unique about the California craft beer scene?

The demographics and variety that’s offered. Over 700 craft breweries in the state – we have to differentiate ourselves. There are so many different styles and great beers being brewed by CA Brewers, it’s truly a scene that steers the industry as a whole.

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CA Beer Fest Preview with Smog City’s Laurie Porter

The California Craft Beer Summit and Festival is quickly approaching! Before heading south I checked in with Smog City‘s Laurie Porter to get her take on this exciting event.

Have you been to the CA Craft Beer Summit/Festival before? What were some highlights?

I have been attending the Summit since its inception. I was actually on the original CCBA Summit Steering Committee to decide if the inaugural event was a success (it was!) and if we should continue to grow the Summit (wholeheartedly said YES) and now here we are, in Long Beach celebrating CA craft beer!

As for what Im looking for, I’m a huge fan of the Tap Talk- industry people sharing their experiences and knowledge always gets me excited. I also love the Saturday beer festival. An entire beer festival dedicated to California craft beer is like a dream come true.

What summit speaker are you excited about?

I have not had a lot of opportunities to hear Garret Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery speak plus craft beer icons David Walker(Firestone Walker) and Kim Jordan(New Belgium) always have words of wisdom to walk away with!

What do you have planned for the fest? What will you be pouring?

We have a beer and food pairing that is really exciting. We’ve partnered with Chef Minh of Porridge and Puffs to showcase our love of fruit, smoke, and alternative approaches to beer and food reuse. We’re bringing Echo Echo Echo, a foudre aged sour blended with second use peaches and culinary lavender. Chef Minh created an Echo of our Echoes beer using the peach pits from our beer, smoked lardon, black eyed pea miso with ginger and negi, cinnamon-basil pickled peaches with a lemongrass porridge and seasonal flora…now that’s a mouthful! 

For the Summit beer festival, we’re bringing California Love, an Imperial Red brewed with ingredients showcasing the best of NorCal and SoCal, From LA Wit Love, Better Weather Sweater South Bay IPA and Night Howler, a blend of dark saison aged in puncheon barrels with Brettanomyces blended with a yearling sour brown and a late black cardamom addition- it’s an exquisite beer from our Wood Cellar and I’m confident festival goers are gonna be super excited to try it!

What brewery/beer are you excited to check out at the fest?

I’m sure there will be a ton of lagers, so I’m going to work my way through all of them! We’ve been brewing Little Bo Pils for nearly 8 years now but this year we’ve seen a huge increase in “lager love”. We brewed 5 unique lagers over the summer and they have been very popular! Can’t wait to see what lagers CA breweries are brewing up too.

How does this event compare to other beer events you’ve been to?

The CA-centric approach to the Summit makes this a truly unique event. I love the focus on our industry and especially love highlighting CA beer. We’ve have such diversity of beers across the state and the Summit really showcases that!

What’s unique about the California craft beer scene?

The shear size of California lends itself to diversity of tastes plus we’re the nation’s agricultural center so many breweries in California love playing around with fresh fruits, herbs and food friendly beers. I’ve always enjoyed how wide ranging the craft beer palates are across the state and our breweries are a direct reflection of that range.

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Craft Beer Summit Preview with Moksa’s Derek Gallanosa

CA Craft Beer Summit

Beer Selfie will be at the California Craft Beer Summit and Festival in Long Beach this September! We’ve never been so we checked in with Derek Gallanosa, head brewer for Moksa Brewing, to find out what to expect.

This will be my first time at the CA Craft Beer Summit/Fest. What should I expect?

Be prepared to meet a lot of people in the industry. The majority of craft breweries will be in attendance so create a wishlist of who you would like to meet.

What are some highlights from past CA Craft Beer Summit/Fests for you?

I haven’t been to the seminars but the festival is definitely worth your time. You get to try breweries that normally do not travel outside of their areas.

What does Moksa have planned for this year’s Summit/Fest? Why should people stop by the Moksa booth at the fest?

We will be sending beer to the Long Beach Beer Lab for Thursday night and then Beer Belly on Friday. As far as our booth we always try to bring the best stuff we have. It’s no use attending a festival if you’re not trying to stand out.

How does the CA Craft Beer Summit/Fest compare to other beer events you’ve been to?

It’s more education and networking focused.

What do see as Moksa’s place in the California craft beer scene? How does California craft beer relate to the rest of the beer world?

Moksa is quite different from a lot of breweries in the fact that we receive over 90% of our revenue from our taproom sales allowing us to have more capital to put back into the business. Also the marketing plan is to “Market Globally, Sell Locally.” I travel to beer festival invitationals all around the world to promote Moksa and Sacramento and California. Basically I am using our platform to promote the beer communities that we are a part of.

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Pales in Comparison

Kim and Jeff Jaxon have been taking epic road trips across the country and back each summer for the past few years. Dubbed Pales in Comparison, in homage to their favorite hometown craft beer, they’re visiting dozens of breweries along the way. I checked in with them as they head east on this summer’s journey.

Kim and Jeff

Tell us about Pales in Comparison. What are some highlights from past trips?

In July 2015, we meandered across the U.S. in search of good beer, kitsch locations, and beautiful vistas. Our main goal–and the inspiration–was to go from Sierra Nevada Brewery in our hometown of Chico, California to Sierra Nevada Brewery in Asheville, North Carolina. But we got there via Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, Virginia…you know, the directionless route. We created Pales in Comparison as a site to share our road trip adventures and to create a hub for video blogs, Instagram, and other social media so we could more easily share with friends and family. We had such a great time and learned so much, we knew we needed to head out again. We’re now on our third cross country trip, increasing the travel time to 6 weeks on the road. 

Our favorite breweries in 2015 were Blacksmith Brewing Company in Stevensville, Montana and Laughing Sun Brewing in Bismarck, ND. Both places started as a labor of love, have deep ties to their community, and make great beers. 

In 2018, we stumbled upon an incredible nano brewery in Darby, Montana called Bandit Brewing. They didn’t have a bad beer in the list, and they are making clean, hoppy, delicious beer.

route map

What are some of the highlights of this trip so far?

By far, Palisade Brewing Co in Palisade, CO has been one of our favorite stops so far. We were able to sit with both brewers, try beers right off the line, including a farmhouse ale brewed with beets, which was so much better than it sounds. We also found Lost Cabin in Rapid City, SD and they had one of the best Pale Ales (Bruce Banner Pale Ale) on the trip so far. Just last night, we were at Devil’s Kettle in Athens, Ohio and had some amazing sours and an Imperial Blonde called Spider Silk that was full of honey-flavored goodness. 

What are you looking forward to on this trip?

As always, we’re looking forward to a return to Sierra Nevada in Mills River and trying out a few more of the 60+ breweries in Asheville. If you could only drive to one place in the USA and wanted the most beer selection, Asheville should be top of the list. 

What are some of the challenges of a long road trip and visiting so many breweries?

You really do have to do your research: there are a lot of variables like making sure the one brewery in a small town is open on the day you’ll be there (Mondays and Tuesdays are challenging). Finding a brew pub that’s the right driving distance, with a place you can stay nearby, and a brewery that is open and has beers you want to try can be a fun puzzle to solve. We start planning months before with multiple windows open: brewery map (which lets you search a route), google maps, Airbnb, hotel sites, camping sites, and of course, brewery sites. And the weight gain struggle is real; we try to walk or hike each morning, but when you’re drinking beer for 6 weeks with a side of cheese curds…you know, pounds. 

How can people follow along?

You can find links to Instagram, our YouTube channel, and Vlogs from each year on the website: palesincomparison.com

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Beer Selfie Interview: Latiesha

Latiesha Cook is the co-founder of Beer Kulture, introducing craft beer to urban communities and bringing a fresh take on the beer world.

Beer Kulture is a lifestyle brand that merges urban culture with beer. For years – inner cities have been bombarded with malt liquors and flavorless beer. The people, ultimately, think that this is what all beer is. Let me enlighten you; it isn’t. With close to 100 different styles and thousands of different brands that all have different aroma’s, flavors and hues, beer is much more than just a “yellow”, “flavorless” and “nasty” beverage.
 
As one of the oldest beverages in the world we strive to paint a new narrative on what beer is, isn’t and what it can be while showing our communities that  “This ain’t the beer that you’re use to.”

How did you get introduced to craft beer?

It’s quite funny how I got introduced to the craft. My partner was on his own journey which you will be able to read about in our new book “This ain’t the beer That You’re Used To”. But he also introduced me to beer as he was on his own journey. It started with Guinness. The first taste…. I thought it was disgusting. Dom was determined to find beer that I would like, so he started introducing me to fruit beers since I liked beverages that were sweet and fruited. I loved fruit beers, I progressed into really enjoying sours. The more I drank beer, the more my palate changed and as I tried new things I began to really enjoy beer and the different styles all together.

What are your goals with Beer Kulture?

Our goal with Beer Kulture is simple. We are inviting new drinkers to the party. There are People who don’t know about good beer, we want them to know that good beer is out there. And more than that, we want to make good beer available to them.

What has been the highlight of Beer Kulture for you so far?

The highlight with Beer Kulture for me so far is the facial expression of a new beer drinker every time we put them on to new beer. Our slogan so to say is “This ain’t the beer that you’re used to”. So every time we expose a new drinker to good beer and they express delight, shock and /or pure excitement – it’s almost endearing. It feels like a great accomplishment whether it’s one person or many.

What’s in the new book? Who’s the target audience?

“This ain’t the beer that you’re used to” A beginners Guide to Good Beer is written by my partner Dom “Doochie” Cook. The name explains it all. It’s a beginners Guide/ Memoir for folks who don’t know much about beer.
Because Beer Kulture focuses on “inviting new drinkers” to the party, we wanted to create something that they would be able to learn from, identify with and grow their beer knowledge.

What beers have you enjoyed lately?

Lately I’ve been crushing New Belgium’s Fat Tire, Amber Ale, Voodoo ranger IPA, Belgian White and Pilsner. They have a variety pack out and don’t judge me but after a long days work I want something good, clean and crushable. This variety pack has been doing the job for me lately.

Aside from my daily drinkers….. sign me up for anything Kolsch!

What do you think about the current state of craft beer? What’s going well? What needs improvement?

Like any industry, the craft industry can use some work. When I think about the beer that we all know and love, I think about variety, complexity, layers on tops of layers of flavor and depth. I’d like to think that the face of craft beer appears the same way. Unfortunately, it hasn’t always. But that’s changing.

As more and more Brewery’s and places of business open up, craft needs to start broadening the demographic of drinkers and those they employ. That’s where Beer Kulture has come into play ; and not just us but the collaborative efforts of many who have been putting in work on the ground level to push leadership, ensure growth and success of the craft.

So back to your question of “What needs work?”. The answer to that is, everything! But when you asked “What’s going well?”. The answer to that is also, everything!

Hard conversations are being had and work is being done. Shout out to the people. The owners, the workers and the consumers who make up the Kulture. We are shifting and shaping the look of craft beer and I’m loving it!

What is your favorite beer and food pairing?

Does dessert qualify as “food”? Haha Because if so, My favorite beer and food pairing is going to be Lindemans Kreik Cherry Framboise with chocolate cheese cake. Dom and I created a cherry lambic sauce for our Guinness cheesecake recipe and in short…. It’s freaking delicious!

But if we’re talking “food food” then give me a Lager and a set of fried wings any day to seal the deal! I’m easy to please!

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Beer Selfie Interview: Eric

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? Day job? Non-beer related hobbies?

I’m Eric. If you’re here and reading this, you may have seen my Instagram @ipas_suck where I shit on the things you love. Hiyeee! I’m a native New Yorker from Rockland County, living in Brooklyn for the last 12 years. I spend the majority of my time as a Paralegal at a corporate law firm. I love Metal, Hardcore, and Punk music and have a thrash/hardcore/whatever band named Zombie Apocalypse (@zonbiapocalypse) that has a new album coming out early next year. Check us out on Spotify, iTunes, etc. I also write beer themed songs for my Instagram (available for free download). That doesn’t really have a name but I’ve been referring to it as Alcoholicore.

How did you get started in craft beer?

During college, and for a short while after, I lived in CT and was fortunate enough to get a job at a wonderful place in Middletown called Eli Cannon’s (@elicannons). It was around 2006 or so and is where I cut my teeth on craft. I’d always had an affinity toward German beers and that didn’t change, but Eli’s taught me about all of the other styles. There weren’t a ton of solely craft beer bars around at that time, much less one with 40 taps and things like North Coast Red Seal and Old Rasputin, Xingu, Lagunitas, Otter Creek, and smaller breweries like Opa Opa, etc. It was a great place to learn, taste, and be. It still is and I try to go there whenever I visit CT.

How did your instagram get started?

My two friends (and partners in @ipas_suck) were going on a road trip leading up to my 35th birthday. They invited me along, reluctantly because they were going to breweries that focused on IPAs (Treehouse, Trillium, Nightshift, Hill Farmstead, and Alchemist) and they knew I wasn’t in to that. I agreed to go, and when we pulled in to the old Treehouse location, my mind was blown that so many fucking dolts were waiting in line outside of this shit shack. I asked my friend something like, “yo, what the fuck?” and he explained. He then said, “yeah…it’s real bad” and showed me IG and YouTube reviewers and joked that I should start one where I give my opinion on IPAs. We came up with IPAs Suck on the spot, went to BT’s Smokehouse and started filming. I thought it’d be funny for our 5 friends to follow for the trip and then I’d end it. Here we are…

I’m trying to understand your Instagram, but I may be too old and boring. Is “the Colbert Report of IPAs” a fair description?

Ah, so you think I’m a caricature? Presumably because what fucking idiot who purports to hate IPAs this much would drink them all the time and spend money/trade for whalezzz (bro) and “fire,” right? Well, sorry to break the 4th wall but I am that idiot.

I guess “the Jackass of IPAs” is more appropriate. It’s sheer, self-inflicted punishment for humor’s sake. How many ways can you think of to say something is awful? It’s not easy, so we do reviews, characters, skits, all while getting hammered and cracking up. It’s an awesome way to be close with my best friends.

You’ve been banished to a desert island…which three beers are you bringing with you?

Schneider Weiss (Original Tap 7), Boon Kriek Marriage Parfait 2014, Jester King Grim Harvest

What beer are you drinking right now?

I have a couple of really nice bottles that I’ve been looking to break in to for a while. I have a De Cam Oude Lambiek, a few bottles of Spon from Jester King (a 3 year blend and another Syrah and Sangiovese), and some Cantillon on the way. Other than that, normal German: Andechs Dunkel, Agustinerbrau, Hacker-Pschorr Munich Gold, and Rothaus, plus whatever good Oktoberfest are out.

What’s the next trend in craft beer?

Brut IPAs from the looks of it because, sure…why not. But realistically? Closing breweries. It feels like it’s at a tipping point and the herd is going to thin out a little. Every town has 10 breweries, it just feels unsustainable.

What local brewery should we know about?

It’s no “secret” but Interboro is great. I’m biased because I love the people that work there (shout out Mike and Dove), it’s not far from my apartment, and they make much more than IPAs. They make a solid range of beers and also have a full suite of spirits.

Tell us about your drinking buddies.

Everything IPAs Suck related is always with my two friends Mike (@mvsalerno) and Matt (@dumpsterdive). We live in 3 different states but are usually hanging at Matt’s house in CT. We’ll get together with 30 or so different IPAs for a weekend and try to review as many as possible. Mike’s a video producer/editor and has been filming our bullshit since college. He is the real talent behind IPAs Suck: filming, directing, editing, etc. Matt is the funniest person I know and usually pushes me to be my worst (in the best way). He’s my comedic counterpart. It makes me laugh that through their love of IPAs THIS is what got created. IPAs may be pure dog shit, but they’re what gave us an opportunity to hang out more and regress as people at the same time.

What’s your favorite beer festival/event?

Zwanze Day at Spuytin Duyvil. I went for the first time this year and had a blast. It’s part bottle share, part rare tap list, part gueze and lambic orgy, it’s great. I’m actually doing a write up of my experience for beerselfie.com that should be out next week. Make sure you check it out.

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Beer Selfie Interview: Mandy

Introduce yourself. What’s your name? Where do you live? Day job? Hobbies?

Hi! I’m Mandy, I ‘gram (and sometimes blog) under @beerswithmandy. I’m a writer living in NYC. My hobbies are eating and drinking, wait is that just living? My hobbies are cooking, homebrewing, and restaurant hopping!

What’s your relationship to craft beer? Do you work in the industry? Homebrewer? Beer tourist? Beer trader? Other?

Ah, me and the craft beer, our relationship is a close and loving one. I’ve been homebrewing for several years and in 2016 was thrilled to win a gold medal at the National Homebrew Competition. I’ve had to take a little time off of competing because of scheduling but I’ll be back at NHC in 2019. Can’t wait to meet more homebrewers. I’m also a Certified Cicerone, I loved studying for the taste and taking my love of and curiosity about beer in a more structured format.

Tell us about your instagram/blog/website/etc.

I love telling stories of the breweries I’ve visited, the beer dinners I’ve eaten, and fun facts about beer. My friends encouraged me to write it all down (writing is what I do, after all) so I started beerswithmandy. I’ve only had the Instagram for about a month now, and I’m loving it! I want my Instagram to be more than cool beer snapshots, hopefully it teaches people something or gives them a fun fact for their next dinner party. My big goal for the next couple months is to do more long format pieces on the blog.

Favorite Beer style?

Saison! I won my NHC medal for a french saison and it is by far my favorite style. Drinking Saison Dupont Bio on a sunny day in Belgium is one memory I really treasure. My favorite saisons are Tank 7, Saison Dupont, and Seizon Bretta.

What is your favorite beer and food pairing?

Duvel and sushi! There is a BYOB Omakase spot in NYC that serves playful nigiri made with fresh ingredients (some flown in from Japan). My favorite Friday night is hitting it up for the last seating with two bombers of Duvel.

Have you met any craft beer celebrities?

A few years ago, I saw Garrett Oliver across the room at Brooklyn Brewery. Before I could work up the nerve to say hi (I needed at least two more beers!) he was gone. I’m a huge fan girl for Garrett, he’s been an absolute innovator in beer and speaks about brewing and tasting eloquently. I’d like to think if I saw him today I’d go tell him that. Every brewer I’ve met has been kind, interesting, and generous with their time. I spent a long time chatting with David Walker once, he’s a celebrity to me!

What’s your favorite brewery to visit?

Jester King outside of Austin, Texas. It’s in the Texas hill country so you can’t beat the scenery of rolling green hills, wild flowers, and low trees. The vibe of the staff very relaxed and welcoming both at the brewery and at Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza which is on the brewery grounds. Jester King also serves beer from other breweries which I really like, I want to taste a bit of everything while I’m out. It’s a bit of a pricey Uber ride back to the city, but well worth it for a day of drinking and eating pizza under the Texas sun.

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Jeff Eaton, 21st Amendment

Meet Jeff. He’s a brewer at 21st Amendment, and there may be a 40’ mural of him down the street from the brewery.

Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started brewing.

I am the third generation in my family to join the brewing industry. My grandfather owned a Coors distributorship in Northern California so my dad got an early start in the beer industry. Eventually, the distributorship was sold, and my father moved into corporate sales with Coors. He later left the industry all together. Although, I can thank my dad for talking me out of attending culinary school, yet he still encouraged me to pursue food science. It wasn’t until I was attending Colorado State University that solidified my decision to pursue a brewing career. I fell in love with New Belgium’s Fat Tire & Tripel and Odell Brewing Co.’s 90 Schilling.

What’s your favorite beer and food pairing?

  1. Pils while shucking oysters outside enjoying the sun on a nice day…or mussels & frites…can’t I enjoy them both?!
  2. Any beer with tacos anywhere anytime.

What’s a common misconception about your job?

Some people just assume I’m drinking beer all day. They assume it is just a big party at work each day and do not consider the amount of cleaning necessary to brew quality beer. I tell people that we practice the ABC’s at work each day…Always Be Cleaning.

What’s your go to music in the brewhouse?

Velvet Underground, early 90s grunge, Queens of the Stone Age, Brian Jonestown Massacre…or some 80’s music to sing-along with.

What trend in craft beer are you excited about?

I think the most important trend in craft beer is the focus on quality and how to improve it. In craft beer our collective knowledge is greater when brewers freely share their experiences with each other. Everyone has a chance to learn and improve. I don’t care what hops you used or what crazy processes you did or how much ABV and BU’s are in the beer. In the end, how does it taste?? Is it free of defects? Will a customer want to order a second round? The owner of a previous employer did not care about selling 1 beer or 2 beers. He said it is about selling 4, 5, 6 (and so on) beers; actually creating repeat customers. Poor quality of beer does not help out any brewer. If someone new to craft beer is trying a new style and that beer happens to have a quality defect, is that person likely to try the same style from a different brewery? Probably not. Therefore, the improvement in quality for all breweries benefits us all.

What’s your favorite non-21A beer?

Favorite everyday beer: Trumer Pils…full disclosure, I brewed Trumer prior to joining 21st Amendment.
Favorite special occasion beer: New Belgium La Folie

Tell us two truths and a lie about yourself.

  1. I won a karaoke contest while traveling in the Philippines.
  2. I broke my hand when it was crushed by two falling ¼ bbl kegs.
  3. There’s a 40’ mural of me painted on a wall down the street from the brewery.
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