Loving LA @KingHarborBrew @AbsolutionBrewing

Seeking Absolution

Another trip to the U.S. means another stop in LA to visit a great friend of BotF – Geoffrey. G has been threatening to become BotF’s North American correspondent for some time now. Well he should, because LA offers no shortage of material. LA cops a bad rap for its apparent ugliness. “LA is the result you’d get If you tip the U.S. on its side and all the sh-t not nailed down rolled into one place”. It isn’t pretty, but if you dig in, there are plenty of nuggets to be found. On this particular Friday, G and I turned some beauties.

Wicked Beer

A search for some microbreweries revealed that a great percentage of them are in the suburb of Torrance, which is next door to Manhattan and Redondo Beaches. According to one proprietor, the local authorities are small business friendly and it is relatively hassle free for Brewers to set up. Our first stop was Absolution Brewing Co. These guys have a great space and a superlative range. Whilst G and I were visiting a constant stream of visitors came in for growler fills. They’ve nailed the religious theme with a string of cleverly named beverages. Hefe, Pale, Reds, IPAs, Porters – they’re all here. The standout was “The Wicked” – a stunning Double IPA, which was suitably resinous, but held its 9.6%ABV well. A good start.


Lunch beckoned and after a tourist stop at the Manhattan Beach Pier, we popped into the highly regarded Brewco for lunch. 50 beers on tap and a menu chockful of US classics. There was plenty of support for the local Brewers as well as some of the bigs like Victory et al.

Paddies Day misappropriation

 Two doors down from BrewCo is the distinctly old school Shellback Tavern. Amusingly decked out with kitsch and historical photos, Shellback is a must visit. We got a window seat and did some people watching as we sipped on a locally brewed Pale Ale (Strand Brewing). The appropriation of Paddies Day by Corona seemed odd to me, you can’t knock their marketing creativity.

Shellback Tavern

G reckoned Barney’s Beanery’s Santa Monica outlet is about the finest sports bar he’s been to, so we had to give the Redendo Beach version a go. Great views of the beach, but it’s on the inside where the action is. There was a mind blowing array of screens and the staff were extremely accomodating (though puzzled) when we asked to watch the Cavaliers for a bit. Definitely worth a visit during happy hour.

Our last stop before dinner was King Harbor Brewing Company. This great little place was nestled in amongst a row of suburban shops, as opposed to an industrial estate. It’s sparse with the gleaming brewing equipment dominating. For a feed, you can bring your own or hope a food truck pulls up. King Harbor was doing a brisk trade in growler fills and had a good buzz for a joint that had been opened for less than 12 months. I haven’t had a finer brown than their Abel Browne. The Swirly was a dark beer designed to taste like a Mr Whippy chocolate/vanilla soft serve. They succeeded, but I’d rather those flavours in a cone, not a beer. 

King Harbor Brewing

G’s family joined us for dinner and a very popular restaurant in Venice is Wurstkuche. Whether you are eating in or taking out, you order your food at the same counter. There’s apparently 24 varieties of sausage to be had. The rattlesnake and rabbit version I had was pretty good with a bit of zing in it. A Reissdorff Kolsch was the perfect match. A great range of German beers are to be had. So there you – LA delivers. Start writing G.

Beer Cans are Hypnotic

via @Airows

A New Zealand brewery made a video highlighting how they make their beer cans. It’s amazing to see something so complex and robotic act in such a beautiful and hypnotic way. The classical music adds an extra dose of amazingness to the whole thing, too.

The brew in question is called Hops on Pointe brewed at the Garage Project in Wellington NZ.

Vitals below:

  • ALCOHOL: 6.7%
Categories: Beers Tags:

Drumborg Sparkling Ale – another winemaker’s beery take

Drumborg Sparkling Ale

Drumborg Sparkling Ale

There’s no shortage of winemakers that have a crack at making a beer, with various degrees of success and scope. We’ve seen the blokes that make Yellow Tail and a small vineyard on the Mornington Peninsula put a variety of beers. Seppelt is a household name in Australian winemaking. The number of bottles of Great Western Sparking I sold in the 80s when working in pubs and bottle-shops was countless. They’re still making wines – but surprisingly they turn out a beer.

A close friend of Back of the Ferry bought a six pack from the cellar door. Drumborg Sparkling Ale is named after a Seppelt’s vineyard famous for Riesling. The label is a classic throwback to a black label Great Western champers. The beer itself is nothing special. Beer label hyperbole states that the beer is “delicately flavoured with hops grown between rows of grapes” in the Drumborg. Hard to imagine a more bucolic setting for growing hops. Delicate is one of saying subtle, which is another way of saying bland. There’s a pleasant sweet finish – but the hops flavour is remote. Very easy drinking, but not worth a trip to the vineyard.

Categories: Beers Tags: ,

Everything You Need to Know About Trading Beer

via Mike Newman @ Cool Material

Trading Beer

Location, location, location. The adage doesn’t just apply to real estate; it applies to the world of craft beer. Some of greatest beers being produced might simply not be available anywhere near you. So what’s a hophead to do when he wants to try some Heady Topper or Pliny the Elder but he lives in Texas?

Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of beer trading. The slightly shady movement has made acquiring rare and delicious beer possible for the masses. Want to start trying some of the finest brews America has to offer without leaving the comfort of your home? Here’s everything you need to know to get started:

Where to Start?


Have a bunch of good friends who all happen to live near awesome breweries? Great, you’re all set, and the rest of this article is completely unnecessary. Since that’s probably not the case, you’ll need a forum where other traders interact and negotiate deals. It goes without saying that the more active users there are, the better the chance you’ll find someone with the beer you’re looking for. Here are a few places we recommend:

All Those Abbreviations:

So you clicked through to one of the sites above and it looked like it was written in another language. When it comes to trading beer, shorthand is king. The two basic terms you need to know are: ISO (In Search Of) and FT (For Trade). So when you post your first trade, type ISO and then the beer(s) you’re looking for, followed by FT and then the beer(s) you’re looking to trade. Outside of that, the rest of the abbreviations you’ll pick up over time. Breweries get abbreviated often (FW – Firestone Walker, RR – Russian River, CCB – Cigar City Brewing), beers get abbreviated (BCBS – Bourbon Country Brand Stout), and so do other terms (BA – Barrel-Aged). It takes some getting used to, but you’ll pick it up.

How Much Is Your Beer Worth?

Now that you know where to go and how to decipher what people are saying, you’ll want to set up a trade, but how much is that beer you have worth? You’ll need to do a little legwork. Supply and demand is the name of the game. But fear not, you don’t always need the latest release from Hill Farmstead or this year’s Bourbon County Vanilla Rye to make a trade happen (although it doesn’t hurt).

First, determine what’s distributed in your area and not everywhere else. To do this we recommend Seek-a-Brew. Consider the best and rarest beers from these breweries your ‘locals.’ These beers will hold some value since people far from the distribution area would have a harder time getting them. The highest rated and rarest of these locals will probably fetch you some nice beers in return. Second, get familiar with special bottle releases. When something new and good pops up, it usually dominates the trade forums for a while. Knowing ahead of time to get your hands on it if it’s in your area, or to get a trade together to attempt to snag a bottle yourself, will put you ahead of the game. For this, we recommend signing up for Beer Served Rare, which will send you updates via email.

When beers are equally rare and equally desired by both parties, many traders will go dollar-for-dollar with you.


But Wait, Is This Legal?

Yeah, about that. First off, don’t ship USPS. Even though it’s unlikely, that’s the quickest way to get into some trouble. After that, yeah, you’re breaking some rules. Even with UPS or FedEx, you’re not supposed to be shipping alcohol without a license, and certain states are completely off-limits even with one. It has to do with taxes and possibly shipping to a minor. That said, you probably won’t run into any issues if you’re smart, but you didn’t hear that from us.

First, pack your beer well. A quick way to spot someone shipping beer would be a soaked cardboard box that smells of hops and malt. Go bubble wrap, ziploc bags, filler material, and maybe even wine bottle inserts if you want. Pack it well! To counteract the sound of liquid moving around, you can also include a sort of homemade noisemaker in the package using rice or beans and an empty little box. If anyone asks, you’re shipping olive oil and vinegar as a gift. This is the part where you decide if it’s worth it. We won’t say you can’t get in trouble, but we will say it’s unlikely.

Final Tips:

Everything above covers the basics. That said, there are some unspoken rules you should be aware of:

  • On your first trade, it’s common courtesy to offer to ship first. Sites usually have a section for users who were reported as bad traders (avoid them, obviously), but since you don’t have a track record, shipping first is the norm when you’re a newbie.
  • It’s not necessary, but many people toss in an extra beer or two. It’s a nice little aspect of the craft beer trading community, and it can make you a few friends and future trading partners in the process.
  • Leave feedback on the trade. Did you trade with someone who packed your brews perfectly and sent them out quickly? Let others know. Building up your own good rep will help, as well.
  • Use CellarHQ. Trust us, as your collection grows, you’ll need a way to stay organized. CellarHQ will help you keep tabs on what you have to trade and what you have to drink.
Categories: Beers

Back to Back of the Ferry’s roots

10/02/2015 1 comment
2 uniques? Next to each other?

2 uniques? Next to each other?

When Back of the Ferry debuted as a blog over 5 years ago, its ambitions were modest at best. Write a couple of tales about bars between work and the ferry and maybe talk about a different beer imbibed on the Back of the Ferry that had been purchased at Mr Liquor at Circular Quay. Things have moved on a little. Back of the Ferry embraced the social media age. We’re on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and UnTappd. For a while there there were as many as 10 correspondents contributing at various times from many parts of the globe. Business trips became beer travelogues and we made plenty of friends all over the beer world. Lately though, the posting has declined (except when one of us is lucky enough to go OS and a flurry of beer and bar stories burst forth). (Don’t worry – this isn’t a eulogy).

The full BotF Beerp0rn treatment

The full BotF Beerp0rn treatment

Tonight it was my turn to purchase the beverage for the voyage home and amazingly Mr Liquor had two beers in its wonderfully cold fridges that were Untappd uniques for Back of the Ferry. It’s been a long time since Mr Liquor stocked anything remotely unusual. It was like the good old days. Well before the UnTappd days, the posting rule was that you couldn’t write about the same beer twice. Based on Mr Liquor’s purchasing policy, we ran out of story beers from there after about two weeks. Every now and then something new and sh1te would come in (I think Mr Liquor was the first in Australia to stock Hooten), but we changed the posting rules and then you could post about different beers consumed on the way to the ferry. Soon after, it was just about different beers consumed anywhere. That unique beer per post rule has been rarely broken except when the imbibing location has been absolutely exceptional (Great Wall comes to mind).

A classic BotF shot

A classic BotF shot

So tonight was a return to the early days of Back of the Ferry. Remarkably the MOA Session Pale Ale and the Emdbräu Premium Lager were side by side on Mr Liquor’s shelves. Our Untappd did not need consulting – these were two uniques. Stocking MOA is a little unusual for Mr Liquor, however the Emdbrau is right up his alley. A six pack of unusually sized bottles for less than $11. illiards and I were quite thrilled to be stepping back in time and we gave the beers the royal BotF Beerp0rn treatment with the stern photo and the Opera House photo et al. The MOA was quite good. We both agreed that MOA tends to be quite fizzy, no matter the variety. This was no different – but there was good bitterness to be had. It was dialled down from say 4 Pines Pale Ale in terms of robustness, but that would be the Session angle coming through. The Emdbräu “Premium Lager” was nothing more than malty Euroswill and we expected nothing less. The twist top size (albeit with a Crown Seal) took us back to University Days and the Emdbräu was sufficiently cold and wet to take the edge off the heat on another sun drenched journey home. Emdbräu is made by Brauerei Nemo Namenlos, which is a German brewer that has made beer for sale in IKEA’s UK shops.

There’ll be a far less time between domestic postings – promise.

Emdbräu Twistie

Emdbräu Twistie

Eponymous beerp0rn

08/01/2015 1 comment

Went to Halong Bay. Magnificent. Found another Vietnamese pale lager before boarding.

Haven’t done much beer photography this trip. That changed, much to the amusement of the crew.

HaLong Bay is very important to the Vietnamese and features on their 200,000 dong note.


oompa’s back!!

Categories: Beers

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