The various breweries in Los Angeles County are so spread out that it can sometimes seem like they are in different cities. On my recent trip to LA I drove out to Simi Valley to visit a friend and we decided to meet at Ladyface for an early snack and a few beers. Being early in the day and planning on visiting a few other places later I decided to stick to the four archival ales available. I tried the Barrel Aged Porter with Sour Cherry, Dérailleur Bière de Garde, Verrückt Weizen sour Weizenbock, and 5th Anniversary Ale Belgian dark strong ale aged in red wine barrels.
I started with the Bière de Garde. I found it quite nice with some mild funk, mild sour, and dark fruit flavors all smoothed out nicely by the oak barrels. Though I am not familiar enough with the style to say how well this represents the style I thought it was quite good. Next came the cherry porter, which I was not expecting to like much at all but thanks to the mild amount of cherry I found it pretty drinkable. The mild cherry blended nicely with the roasted malt flavors from the underlying porter, giving it a nice balanced flavor.
Next came the 5th Anniversary ale aged in wine barrels. It had a mild tart flavor from the wine barrels with some smooth dark flavors and mild sour cherry. This was surprisingly mellow considering the wine barrels it was aged in. Finally, I tried the Verrückt Weizen, a sour Weizenbock. This beer has won a few awards for the style. Though only mildly tart it puckered the mouth a bit. The tart flavors mixed nicely with dark fruit and malts. This was the most tart of the bunch though still not as tart as some I have tasted.
Some time I would like to come back and try some of the core beers they have available but I was glad I tried all of the archival ales this time around. Lady Face is a ways north of Downtown LA so it is an extra drive to get out there. If you are in the area, it is one you should hit for sure.
Even though tasting rooms can’t stay open until midnight, that doesn’t mean that they can’t have some fun celebrating the new year. Some breweries decided to celebrate when it turned 2014 in other parts of the country, while Alesmith decided to bring out some fun barrel aged beers. I have to admit I mostly went to try the Peanut Butter Cup Speedway Stout but sadly it was already sold out by the time I got there. Thankfully, there were plenty of good specialty options available to keep me satisfied.
Thankfully they weren’t out of the Pino Noir Barrel Aged Grand Cru, Bourbon Barrel Aged Speedway Stout (both on tap and on cask), and Rye Whiskey Barrel Aged Old Numbskull. I’ve been a big fan of barrel-aged beers since the first one I tried. Until recently though, I hadn’t tried many that had been aged in wine barrels. Now I have decided that I don’t like wine barrel aged beers, though I will continue to try them when offered to see if I am proven wrong. While bourbon and whiskey barrels tend to give a nice sweet taste, wine barrels tend to give a sour taste. Unless you like sours then you might want to stick to the bourbon and whiskey barrel aged beers.
The wine barrel aged Grand Cru was about what I should have expected. The wine gives it a sour flavor that sadly kept me from enjoying it. Other people with me did enjoy the sour taste though. The two versions of bourbon barrel aged Speedway Stout were quite delicious. The cask was smoother and you could taste the bourbon a bit stronger. The tap had a bit more of a chocolate flavor in it. Both were quite enjoyable and should satisfy fans of the regular Speedway. The whiskey barrel aged Old Numbskull was quite delicious, and my favorite among the bunch. The whiskey flavors came through strong and were mellowed out by the beer.
I was quite glad I made it out to check out Alesmith for these special barrel-aged brews even though I missed the Peanut Buttercup Speedway Stout. Make sure you stop by your local brewery when they have some barrel aged beers but keep in mind that wine barrels tend to give the beers a sour flavor.