Check out Orange County’s newest home brewing staple, Windsor Homebrew Supply Co.

 Let’s talk about Orange County’s newest home brew shop, located in beautiful Costa Mesa, off of Baker and Randolph, Windsor Homebrew Supply Co. First of all, Scott is the man, Me being a newb and all to the vast world of home brewing, my insecurities based on my lack of experience, gave me some reservations about walking into his beautiful new shop, but Scott with his cool-as-a-cucumber bed side manner is a very mellow dude, and answered all of my questions in a very approachable way.  

 The vast amount of equipment from the small space alone is very impressive as well as inviting. Everything from 15 gallon fermenters to an array of glass bottles, numerous varieties of all-grain malts, extracts, hops, beer kits, wine kits, even multitudes of spare parts for the advanced home brewer. Needless to say I wish Scott all the best and will definitely be returning in the near future for all of my brewing needs, along with a barrage of rookie brewing questions. As an added bonus, he is conveniently located across the street from my recently most favorite place to get a crafty pint- Barley Forge Brewery! These two places are sure to get the ever growing OC craft beer scene a run for its money. The two businesses even have a great deal during the month of June where if you show your receipt of $20 or more Barley will take a buck fifty off your first pint! You can’t beat that…So I urge all of you local home brewers or home brew wannabes like myself, to stop by this great spot.

I should also mention while I was there I picked up a case of bottles, and a capper, for my soon to be bottled batch of Punk Ipa. Using an awesome one gallon kit from Brooklyn Brew Shop my first experience so far has been a thrill. Scott mentioned that they can convert any large kit into a one gallon batch however for those of us that don’t have the extra space. Definitely a game changer, at least in my amateur-hour home brewing endeavours. Go check it out then fill up a growler at Barley Forge. Until next time, cheers!

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I’m not an expert on beer nor do I claim to be. I don’t brew my own beer(yet) nor do I belong to an exclusive brewing society. I am however, like many people a fan. I show my support of craft breweries on an almost daily basis. As most fans of craft beer know, beer is seasonal and some beers are only offered during certain times of the year. This still being the early stages of the fall season, we as consumers are wandering in the calm of what will soon be the onslaught to a perfect storm of pumpkin flavored everything, “psl” for you trendier readers. I’ve had my fair share of of Pumpkin beers both good and bad. Here are five beers, all brewed in California, all brewed with pumpkin that I thought I would share with you. Why five beers? Because I couldn’t carry six…Why only California beers? I don’t know, because I live here I guess. Obviously there are hundreds of great breweries out there that make great pumpkin beers, probably better than the ones on this list. My suggestion, if you’re feeling festive, and want to indulge in the tastes of the season, pour that awful Shock Top garbage down the drain, and be a little more adventurous, or not, and try something new, it may not be a pillowcase full of chocolates, but as adults, it may be the next best thing to trick or treating…Happy Halloween!

A quick note, I’ll be listing the beers in order of my enjoyment, with the first being okay and the last being amazing. Also I’ll be including the descriptions from each breweries’ website. Cheers!

Black Market Brewing Co. Temecula CA
Superstition
6.8%abv

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Superstition is a Pumpkin Spice Ale brewed with the perfect amounts of malt, hops, spices and of course pumpkin. Nothing brings the comfort of Fall better than a nice cold glass of Superstition. If you are really daring, try Superstition by consuming it in a glass rimmed with pure maple syrup and cinnamon sugar. It’s like drinking pumpkin pie in a bottle.
score: 3 out of 5
Bootlegger’s Brewery Fullerton CA
Pumpkin Ale
6.1%abv

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Pumpkin Ale is our Fall Seasonal Release Beer. Brewed with cinnamon, nutmeg, molasses, brown sugar and real pumpkin juice to create this special beer. A beer that reminds us of coming home to family and getting the fresh pumpkin pies out of the oven. A perfect beer to sit back and relax with while watching the leaves change color in the fall.
score 3.2 out of 5. Of the five, this one has the most pronounced pumpkin flavor.

Coronado Brewing Company. San Diego CA
Punk’in Drublic
8% abv

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Brewed with brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and a heaping helping of would be jack-o-lanterns, Punk’in Drublic delivers autumn’s trademark flavors along with a hint of West Coast character, whether enjoyed in a pumpkin patch or on the beach.
score 3.5 out of 5. Great beer, bonus points for being named after punk band NOFX
The Bruery. Placentia CA
Ignis Fatuus
8.3%abv

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Ignis Fatuus is a special brew created just in time for Autumn activities. The base is a rich, robust porter that was brewed with an addition of puréed pumpkins. Like all great pumpkin recipes, we then added a subtle addition of seasonal spices to balance with the roasty character. We invite you to enjoy the nuanced flavors while telling ghost stories around an illuminating jack-o’-lantern.
score 3.6 out of 5. Hard to find, delicious and dark

Anderson Valley Brewing Company. Boonville CA
Pinchy Jeek Barl.
7.0%abv

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Aged for 6 months in Wild Turkey® barrels, this bourbon barrel-aged pumpkin ale is pleasantly creamy with a silky body and sweet caramel flavor. The aging process imparts notes of coconut, vanilla, and oak to compliment the tang of the spices and a hint of hops, all wrapped in a smooth, round finish.
score 4 out of 5. This beer was hands down my favorite. Easy drinking porter, smooth vanilla, with a hint of the barrels, I definitely recommend picking up a couple of bottles before they’re gone. Delicious, a must have at all costume parties this year.

The Great Pumpkin! Five pumpkin beers from California worth giving a try.

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Sweet & Spicy Drunken Almonds

I don’t know if you can relate, but for me, these last few weeks have been a complete blur. Summer has come and gone, although wedding season still seems to be lingering on, myself being a part of three just last week (congrats to Daniel and Courtney) School is back in full swing, I can hear a lot of you thinking thank God! And some of you screaming why God!? And most importantly football season is finally here! Its times like these that call for good (craft) beer and great food.

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Not only are these nuts delicious, but they are very easy to put together. In this recipe I chose Samuel Adams Oktoberfest beer, one of my favorites. I love the sweet malty taste of Oktoberfest style beers, which pair naturally with nuts. An amber ale such as Fat Tire will also work nice. Essentially you’re making a simple syrup with equal parts beer and sugar. As you boil the beer and sugar, it will form a caramel beer sauce, removing the alcohol, but keeping the beer taste, which will be the sweet drunken glue that will bind these hot nuts together. In this case I used raw unsalted almonds, but feel free to use any nuts you prefer, whether it’s mixed nuts, peanuts, or cashews. The seasonings are also optional, I love smoked paprika and cumin and I think they work great here.

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Here’s what you’ll need
2 cups nuts (your preference, I used raw unsalted almonds)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
Splash of Sriracha chili sauce
Dash of kosher salt
Dash of cracked black pepper
1Tb olive oil, (butter or veg oil work as well)
1/2 cup Sam Adams Oktoberfest beer, or any amber ale
1/2 cup sugar
Here’s what to do
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees
Combine nuts, spices and oil in a mixing bowl until nuts are well coated.
Spread the nuts on a lined baking sheet, lightly toast in the oven for about 10 minutes.
In a heavy bottomed pot, combine beer and sugar. Mix until sugar dissolves and bring to a boil.
Boil sugar for three to five minutes, undisturbed until syrup browns and thickens, remove from heat.
Carefully toss seasoned nuts with the beer caramel in a bowl until evenly coated.
Lay coated nuts flat on a sheet pan lined with foil or wax paper(use cooking spray to prevent sticking) let rest until, break apart any clusters. Grab a cold beer or two, turn on the game and enjoy!

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