Tony’s Darts Away: Beer Class 101

Personally I like to yell and sulk around beer when I agitate it. Oh wait.

Last week, I was invited to Tony’s Darts Away for a special Beer Class with Paige from Tony’s Darts Away and Ting from Eagle Rock Brewery. We tasted 9 different craft beers and I learned quite a bit about the art of brewing beer.

barley for making pilsner

Now, we all know the Minty is a cocktailian. This means I drink cocktails. I drink wine on occasion and beer even less frequently. But every now and then I like to mix it up and I particularly love learning. The only time I’ve had a brewery tour was at Sam Adams in Boston. There, I learned beer was made with water, barley, hops and yeast. They they gave you a couple of beers to taste and out the door you go within an hour. With Paige and Ting, they went beyond “water, barley, hops and yeast” to provide a deeper understanding of why beer taste good.

c-120 malted barley

black malted barley

Then we delved deeper in the world of barley and malts. I had no idea it wasn’t just the barley I buy to make soup. They brought a few different ones for us to compare. From what goes into pilsners to c-120 (C stands for caramel) to even “black.” Later we would learn there are some who decry the practice of adding anything but the water, barley, hops and yeast to make beer. The flavors you taste mostly come from what kind of barley you’re adding. Hops is what gives beer its degree of bitterness as well as some flavor and aroma.

simcoe whole hops

cascade hops

We looked at whole  hops and also pellets (there was some joking about hops and cannabis being related plants).

Ting of Eagle Rock Brewery with Paige of Tony's Darts Away

We then learned after the basic four ingredients, there are “adjuncts.” These additions can be anything from rolled oats for an oatmeal stout or brown sugar for a scotch ale.

Craftsman 1903 Lager

Black Market Brown Ale

Russian River Blind Pig IPA

We started our beer tasting with Pasadena’s Craftsman 1903 lager. I am personally more of a fan of darker beers but this was a great beer to sip with the sausage I was eating at the time. I did like the Black Market brown ale more. And Santa Rosa’s Russian River Blind Pig IPA was very floral. I think it’s great Tony’s Darts Away serves only California craft beer.

pork sausage

Mm, sausage

Besides the sausage (pork, chicken or veg), Tony’s started offering two burgers bi-weekly this past Sunday. Look for ever-changing burger options including a vegetarian burger. Tony’s does an interesting vegan poutine.

vegan poutine

These fries were tasty! But it was obvious that our meat-lovin’ group  preferred the non-vegan one. We demolished the meaty poutine.

Cismontane/ Tustin Brewing El Toro Trio Hafer Weizen

Iron Fist Dubbel Fisted Belgian-style Dubbel

Eagle Rock Solidarity Mild

The Hafen Weizen is actually a collaboration between Cismontane and Tustin Brewing. The beer, El Toro Trio Hafer Weizen, tasted full-bodied yet crisp to me. Some asked about adding an orange or lemon wedge but it seemed frowned upon. Besides liking porters and stouts, I am fond of Belgian beer and Iron Fist Dubbel Fisted Belgian-style Dubbel was a fun beer as well as a fun name.  When I visited the Eagle Rock Brewery for my Craft Beer Crawl, I was a bit overwhelmed by the crowd and didn’t spend any time discussing what I liked with the counter guy. I probably should have so I would have ended up with something I liked better. Or I now know I like the Eagle Rock Solidarity Mild. It smells a bit like coffee and has a hint of that flavor to me.

The Bruery Trade Winds

Hangar 24 Orange Wheat

AVBC Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout

The final trio was The Bruery Trade Winds Tripel which I liked for its slight fizz. I didn’t expect to like Hangar 24 Orange Wheat at all but I can imagine this light beer on the patio with a plate of cheese and crackers. It’s the perfect late afternoon brew. But of all the things I tasted this night, my fave was AVBC Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout. I did say I liked porter and stouts! Also, I had a slight sore throat at the time and the somewhat slippery (gotta love oatmeal!) beer slid down easily versus the  more acidic beers (which is not to say they wouldn’t be great if I hadn’t been sick– but I do recommend NOT ordering oh, Hafer Weizen when you’re sick).

Eagle Rock Brewery

3056 Roswell Street
Los Angeles, CA 90065

Tony’s Darts Away

1710 West Magnolia Boulevard
Burbank, CA 91506
(818) 253-1710