Everything You Need to Know About Highland Park Brewing BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK!

I have been deferring on talking about this year old brewery for a multitude of reasons: first and foremost, the second I say anything even moderately favorable about any beer made south of Fresno, people have a shit conniption and accuse old DDB of favoritism despite ripping on the innumerable shitty California beers being pumped out.

Second, as a new brewery who seems to have a heavy emphasis on saisons, I wanted to tread lightly and get a wider idea of their offerings beyond the first couple non-BA forays into the realm. When I first had Nebraska, I was like “myeh, that’s pretty legit.” And it tasted essentially like Tank 7 and Saison Brett mixed.  Nothing to scoff at or go apeshit over.

But in the past four months they keep pushing into the interstices of “wait, damn” to “ok, this is really fucking good.”  So I have to say SOMETHING, even if it means a cadre of dipshits accuse me of favoritism from a brewery that couldn’t give a fuck less about an irrelevant beer blog. So let’s get into the anal fisting already:

Horn rimmed glasses galore, Portlandia sticky hot edition

Horn rimmed glasses galore, Portlandia sticky hot edition

The brewery itself is housed in this neo-hipster mecca, a faux divey bar that happens to have awesome food. If Silverlake is LA’s mission/Williamsburg, then Highland Park is the next hipster spawning pool for the budding fixie riding asshole carrying a Drive Like Jehu vinyl. That’s who you will be drinking saisons with.

PTSD every time i see an overhead projector.

PTSD every time i see an overhead projector.

So what is this, fucking ZillowAdvocate.com? Let’s talk about the beers.  At the outset: you want their saisons, you will want all of them.  However, this brewery has a sort of Sante Adairitis that makes them a spectacular one trick pony, for reasons that will become clear shortly.

The proud FG 1.000000002 lineup

The proud FG 1.000000002 lineup

The first thing you will notice is that every beer has been attenuated into decimation.  This makes their saisons intensely refreshing, dry, crisp like an anjou pear, but really fucks with every other style. Refresh is just that, but dialed down so far that it is insubstantial and if they used pilsner malt it has been drilled into the fucking primary pavement.  Greyhound Vacation has similar Kallista Flockhart thin body, but for a Belgian Pale it almost doesn’t have enough floorspace to demonstrate esters or a hop profile, the ultra svelte body is TOO lean.

I want you to ruminate on how highly attenuated a hoppy beer has to be for DDB to complain about a lack of malt underpinning.  They are still crushable and delicious, albeit lacking complexity. I would certainly rather have this problem than flabby midwest crystal malt “clean” offerings.

What about discernible problems?

More like singed eyebrows.

More like singed eyebrows.

With a brewery that has highly effective yeast that dismantles fucking everything, there’s gonna be some issues with packaging.  Raised eyebrows was tasty, clean and basically a less demanding Cuddlebug on draft.  The bottles were a 4th of July sparklers and sulphur massacre.  Your drunk uncle gripping his palms coughing up smoke. The taste was tasty, saharan, stone fruity goodness but the nose was straight bottleshock and clearly needed time to metabolize either the secondary refermentation going on, or just to rest to get its shit together.

Let's Talk About Their Other AMAZING SHIT

Let’s Talk About Their Other AMAZING SHIT

That’s not to say that all of their bottles are deficient in any way.  If you enjoyed Cellarman, this multistrain puncheon fermented beer has all the makings of a phenomenal saison classic.  It is creamy, orangey, juicy with tangerine and cut cardboard paper, a certain fabrics store musk.  If this is not the best thing they have made to date, I would be shocked.  This is absolutely incredible and your tradebuxxxx cannot find a better power to weight ratio.

Yeast infections are amazing when it is 6 at a time.

Yeast infections are amazing when it is 6 at a time.

So we have seen the worst, heard the stroke session about the best, what about those middle times? Those times when you are just watching Bachelor in Paradise because GOD BREWERY ARE WE SUPPOSED TO BE GOING ON AMAZING DATES EVERY SINGLE NIGHT? Those times.

Time for some certified whiptixxx in the SubbyDooBaru

Time for some certified whiptixxx in the SubbyDooBaru

Uncultured is in that realm of component blended/recent batches of Arthur.  It has a great grassiness, some rope and twine must to the nose, a long fernet meets clementines finish to the brett C and L profile.  Their “normal” shit is head and shoulders above most of the things that come across the desk inside of my liver.  These trade for nothing right now, you are wasting time reading this and not ISOing.

Did you enjoy Sante Adairius Fruit Punch 1? Well this is a 10% worse version, which is to say it is really juicy, fantastic, bursting with life and acidity.  It's like when diet Dr. Pepper is actually better than regular Dr. Pepper, because it is.

Did you enjoy Sante Adairius Fruit Punch 1? Well this is a 10% worse version, which is to say it is really juicy, fantastic, bursting with life and acidity. It’s like when diet Dr. Pepper is actually better than regular Dr. Pepper, because it is.

Pushin Carts, collabo with Monkish

Pushin Carts, collabo with Monkish

This is another spritzer farmhouse table beer meets a sort of Biere Du Pays, fucking drillable with lemon and lime zest, like a sort of zero calorie Printempts with a few years on it.  This type of spectacular beer is just sitting on draft, no one giving a fuck about top tier barrel aged, puncheon fermented saisons. For every Texas dipshit peddling JK 750mls hard, there are uncelebrated kegs like these being secretly enjoyed.

Posts like there ruin the fuck our of a brewery for a consumer base gentrifying the tits off of a proud Hispanic neighborhood.  The circle unbroken, you want artisan donut shops? That’s fine, prepare to enjoy them near entry level BeerAdvocate tier dumbfucks talking about how “brett makes the beer sour.”

Dishonorable mention: this grainy, boring, estery gem just kept throwing rocks in the lake while you are trying to fish for real saison tastes.

Dishonorable mention: this grainy, boring, estery gem just kept throwing rocks in the lake while you are trying to fish for real saison tastes.



I don’t feel like breaking down each and every one of their bigger and hoppier beers but let me state is succinctly this way: saisons and pales are their clear wheelhouse.  This is not some dynamic Prairie that rolls out adjunct stouts and weird farmhouse beers in tandem.  Their IPA/DIPA core is so so attenuated that they are intensely refreshing at the expense of complexity.  If you have had hoppy beers from Sante Adairius you know how something like a hard as fuck water recipe makes some styles great and other neglected.  They are like that, and I am totally fine with that. If these guys joined forces with Beachwood, the voltron of LA catalogs would be complete.

It's totally acceptable to shamelessly order 15 tasters from a bartender. They love that, you shouldn't feel like a self indulgent asshole at all.

It’s totally acceptable to shamelessly order 15 tasters from a bartender. They love that, you shouldn’t feel like a self indulgent asshole at all.

So what is the takeaway? Get every single bottled saison possible from this brewery.  You will not be disappointed, and I would be shocked if you weren’t outright impressed from a brand new upstart.  Their farmhouse game is just what the doctor ordered and they are lying silently in the 323 weeds sniping customers from comely Los Angeles terrain.

Knowing CA dipshits you will be getting extra-ed these 900 bottle brewery only runs, so buckle in, and be sure to send them some Daisy Cutter cans as a thank you.


Hey It’s Friday, Let’s Review Four @oxbowbeer Farmhouse Beers. WHY NOT.

Maine has this odd beer scene that at one pole is the Northeast innovator of older days, and also a reactionary to what Vermont is currently producing. You have the consistent top notch work from Allagash, but you also have the likes of upstarts Bissell Bros and Austin Street brew company doing their own mixolydian riffs on the hoppy farmhousey doric scales from Vermont.



Oxbow shines best when it focuses in its realm of clear influence: shredding the high neck with saison solos. Their barrel aged pale ale was prison shanking unsuspecting palates in the shower and their draft lineups often don’t make it past state lines. Let’s take a look at some of their recent offerings to see what them ‘Bow boys be brewin.

Oxbow Grizacca Grisette 5.2% abv

I love liter sized grumblers but this is one instance where a two liter needs to be the mandatory format. The 33oz feels more like a comforting back massage without the full table shower. It is intensely clean and drillable, the hop profile steps aside and lets the lemony rustic cultures impart a dry lemon aspect that pulls tight head spins on the cardboard. It is simple and doesn’t have any real grist or heft to the mouthfeel which would be nice if you had a touch of that creamy wheat character but, as it stands it is a lemon orange carbonated Gatorade that you can drill during your shift at CiCi’s pizza. No one expects you to be sober at that job anyway.




With the barrel aged pale ale, oxbow proved that they were competent Brewers and blenders in the Wallonian realm. This beer drags their catalog backwards into obscured mediocrity. It is by no means bad, but chances are you have some 10bbls local upstart doing this same shit.

Kool Mo Dee fade.

Kool Mo Dee fade.

It is wiped out, watery, not especially complex, bitter and herbaceous, with a mild tart sweet tarts aspect to the finish. You can live your entire life, miss this, and your wife will still have an Ashleymadison account. This beer changes nothing and is of little circumstance.

Shit was aiite.

Shit was aiite.

Saison dell’argosta

Alright time to romp into a strange salty realm not unlike a Craigslist casual encounter. This is a clean, Low abv saison brewed with maine lobsters. That is about as Maine as you can get just short of a used Stephen King condom filled with autumn leaves. If you have tried Jester King snorkel, you basically have already had this shit. It is insanely drinkable and the touch of salinity only lends to chain combos, cascading your palate into the sky with no recourse.

Shared this with the boys at Highland Park Brewing. Zero ragrets.

Shared this with the boys at Highland Park Brewing. Zero ragrets.

These beers made with exotic proteins make headlines but the vast majority of snails, oysters, bulls testicles, whatever, are just unfermentable solids that contribute calcium profile, some alkaline and salt. That’s about it. Drop an alka seltzer into a Stone saison if you need to approximate this bubbly crisp experience.

In sum this lobster pot is incredibly delicious and refreshing, get your CLAWS in one before it TAILS it out of here.

beer not for gardeing

beer not for gardeing

Liquid swords

For all their mastery of the traditional saison game, Oxbow has piss running down its leg when it comes to Biere De Gardes. This french style eludes so many breweries and it is even harder to define the realm of good and bad beyond pointing to “acetic bad” and “Sans culottes good.” This Amber affair doesn’t have the red wine vinegar trappings of some amateur shit, they knew what they were doing, it just didn’t turn out that well.

I mean, it's alite.

I mean, it’s alite.

First and foremost, the body is too watery, splishy splashy, lacking that candy caramel complexity and red delicious you probably are craving. Secondly I am assuming oxbow has a hard ass water profile because it is lightly copper and metallic.

To approximate this experience, get some BFM Abbaye du St Bin Chien, add water to it, let it sit for an hour. Or just ask OEC for one of their jankest barrels.

Oxbow is clipping along with some hits, some mediocre whiffs, but no clear failures.  That’s more than some breweries can say at this juncture.


DDB went to @absolutionbrewing and the facepalms were not insubstantial – LA BEER WEEK EXPOSE

With the craft beer bubble reaching the saturation point, the real fun these days lies in finding Johnny Come Latelies to the scene, or breweries that maybe are doing things in a highly questionable manner, jumping from plastic carboy to a 10bbl system because his father in law BELIEVES IN HIM.

Los Angeles has long had an anomalous relationship of being a second class citizen to San Diego and San Francisco.  Despite the massive population, Beachwood BBQ has largely been tasked with pulling the cart for the past half decade.  However, in the past 3 years we have seen several pop-ups in the South Bay from the rising star, Smog City, to the ultra-shitty Dude’s Brewing Company.

A large part of this culture is the gladhanding and backslapping that occurs from the local beer publications that massage the palms of some of the weakest new breweries, for the sake of reciprocal support.  OC Weekly and LA Weekly will regularly launder praise with amorphous “OLD WORLD STYLE WITH EXCITING NEW EXECUTION” and shit like that.  The fact is, some breweries are simply not that fucking good.  If every new brewery is exceptional, then nothing is exceptional.

I can unequivocally note that Absolution Brewing, while it may have an exceptional intent, donate to charity, and serve as a watering hole for Torrance residents: their beer is simply sub-par.

No taster glasses? I guess just serve me 3 ounces...in a pilsner glass?

No taster glasses? I guess just serve me 3 ounces…in a pilsner glass?

The facility reminds me of a mix between Lost Abbey and TAPOUT CLOTHING. It has some odd religious underpinning and then old script and A FUKN NAIL BRO IN THE LOGO.  But plenty of breweries have shitty marketing and exceptional beers, look at the fonts on Russian RIver bottles for God’s sake.

They have 18 beers on tap but HOLY FUCK WAIT not one, but TWO barrel aged IPAs? Fully triggered.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the eight beers that I tried:

Penance Pale Ale: this was a dark, flabby, sappy, resinous pale malt that feels like it came from the Michael Jackson era of crystal malt and oversaturated vegetal cones from excessive dry hopping. Trifling, sticky malty kicks to the nutsack, not refreshing.

Guilt? What is this, i dont even

Guilt? What is this, i dont even

Trespasser Saison: this is a page straight from the predictable, wyeast, zero modification Dupont playbook.  Fermented a touch colder than you would want, a grainy boring closer.

STRAWBERRY TRESPASSER: oh wait, i hope you dont enjoy strawberries because this has none. It tastes almost identical to regular Trespasser. That grainy boring saison, but with an oily plastic “strawberry” aspect?

Purgatory Hef: this was their least shitty beer because, how do you fuck a hef up? It was fine, nothing to write home about but everyone in the tasting room seemed to be having a good time, a mixed demographic and my wincing reminded me how I am a huge asshole and beer is no longer fun to me.  In sum I have no business reviewing their beers because it simply isn’t designed for DDB.

Angel’s Demise: this was essentially a ramped up version of the mediocre Penance pale.  None of the offerings are clean and there is a bitter, coniferous bite like if you proofed down an American Barleywine.  I had the bourbon barrel aged version and it was not enjoyable, butterscotch greasiness and the clash of old hops and toffee was dissonant.

Pictured above: every. single. brewery's business model.

Pictured above: every. single. brewery’s business model.

Are there worse breweries in LA? Sure.  Dude’s Brewing just straight up sells beers riddled with diacetyl and tosses blood orange into them.  This isn’t quite like that, it is just not worthy of your precious beerbuxxx. This place unabashedly asks $40 for a two liter growler fill of 8% Abv dipa. That shit was funny when Societe pulled it with awesome beer and stainless growlers but here it is straight up laughable.

But this is endemic of the surge of new breweries opening left and right.  Very few are inspired beyond the scope of “I JUST GOT $250,000 TIME TO UPGRADE MY BLICHMAN AND START PUMPIN OUT SOME RED ALES!!!!”

It is L.A. Beer week, go see them for yourself.  Maybe I am just a curmudgeonous prick, not fit to comment on beer at this point.

Typical ddb shit, hyping up LA beers to trade



@councilbrewing Nicene Saison, an incredible Gewurztraminer BA Saison that drinks like musky vintage Temptation. Delicious.

I know what you are thinking, “Gewurztraminer? Why are you doing this DDB. We aren’t post-menopausal homies with subscriptions to Sunset magazine.” Just stay with me here. You don’t have to be an empty nester who watches Mike and Molly to appreciate this phenomenal beer, just dig in for this farmhouse ride. It’s a bumpy, musky lil pumpkin patch, don’t fall out of the truck.

Them holofoil labels got me dusting off my Charizard

Them holofoil labels got me dusting off my Charizard

Council Brewing Co., San Diego, CA
6% abv Saison


The commercial rub-down:

“650, 750ml bottles of Nicene were released on September 13, 2014. Nicene was brewed with traditional Saison ingredients to provide a rustic, bready malt backbone and paired with the tropical fruit forward wine and French oak notes achieved from the Gewurztraminer wine barrels. Over time, Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus will continue to develop the gentle sourness and earthy flavors. This Sour Saison was manually packaged with tremendous care and bottle conditioned with high carbonation for optimal enjoyment in a tulip glass.”


A: Whenever I pop a cap and then see a cork it’s like SORRY YOUR PRINCESS IS IN ANOTHER CASTLE. Once I got past the defenses, things got overridingly real. This cascades out with a silky fine carb that crackles forth like a broken washing machine and lingers with wispy frothiness not unlike those filipino foam parties you would attend in your youth. The malt profile looks like straight wheat + belgian pils, nothing too apeshit here. You have a mildly turbid creaminess to the appearance that looks like Sunny D, and everyone knows you want the D. Everyone already knows it.

It doesn't need to make sense.  It's a sub 1000 count barrel aged saison.  Ask questions later.

It doesn’t need to make sense. It’s a sub 1000 count barrel aged saison. Ask questions later.

S: This has a phenomenal nose to it and presents a sort of riesling spilled on Berber carpet. There is a musk of leather and saddle but nectarine and a sweet Chardonnay oakiness. I had never tried a GERWERTEZMENDER barrel aged ANYTHING before and I was suspect from the outset. I didn’t know if a saison would be the based candidate just because the overridingly sweet profile from the grapes COULD TAKE SHIT OVER LIKE WHEN DRAKE DROPS A LACKLUSTER 16 BUT THAT’S THE ONLY VERSE ANYONE REMEMBERS. This just soars on the olfactory profile and presents a welcoming peach pie cooling in the barn, straw and faint acidity while you do whip its and lay in the hay bales. Things are ultra cutty.

This is odd, but unquestionably welcoming.  Franch approved.

This is odd, but unquestionably welcoming. Franch approved.

T: Again, the G-spot barrels are phenomenal and present just the right balance of sweetness for the incredibly balanced acidity to make this drink like aged Temptation. If you have opened a batch 4 large format Temptation you will have an excellent idea of what I am talking about. This doesn’t go ultra lactic, it doesn’t put its pedio foot forward, it opts for a massive drinkability and leaves your gumline unmolested. The creaminess and anjou pear leaves a sort of fondue muskiness on the gumline that is difficult to approximate. It just works so well.

M: Again the cheesy creaminess and silky carb just makes this whole thing gentle as a basket of laundry fresh out the hamper; because that musk, homie. It doesn’t wipe out your jaw or recede your bitter zones, or give you rumble guts after a 750ml. If you have had some of the more nuanced american Farmhouse beers: Florence, Bernice, Jester King Biere de Miel; you will know exactly what I mean. It doesn’t need to hit you with a throbbing blue veined shaft of acidity or his that sub 3.0 ph to make its point. The whole experience is intensely pleasant and refreshing with a faintly alkaline hardness to the water profile that is awesome, gypsum on deck throwing up B’s and C’s.

Might as well spend your time drinking rare BA saisons, there are worse ways to defend your virginity

Might as well spend your time drinking rare BA saisons, there are worse ways to defend your virginity

D: This is highly crushable and a 750ml is easy to take down. If you have ever opened anything from Blaugies and then been like “where dafuq did all the ounces go?” you will know the saison sitch. Their base saison was tasty, a touch sweet and presented a pretty standard high ferm temp Dupont strain sort of profile but this takes things to a whole new realm. If this is characteristic of GERWAMSTRAINER barrels, then god damn, breweries need to start sourcing them hard, like Galoob ripping off NES code with Gamie Genie: THIS IS NO DERIVATIVE WORK.


Narrative: It had been so long since the four arbiters of the canonical saison world had met. The yeast harbinger so adaptive, ever changing and immutably difficult to locate would seemingly never find time in his schedule to discuss the earthy matters and gristy concerns of the wheat delegate. Even less likely would be the union of the diplomate of Water, hard and pure, with the porous affiliate from the Barrel kingdom. Dire circomstances required a clarification of the saison creed. So many faiths and splinter sects had denatured the Wallonian teachings from the initial farmhouse apostles and the populace was crying for clarity and canonical guidance. The musky gavel rapped the wood lightly and Water brought the counsel to Order, “ggeetttnnnllleeemennn, weee neeedd too dessshcccieeddeee-” he began and was immediately interrupted by Yeast, “oh for fucks sake, can anyone but Water preside over these proceedings? Listen to him. COME ON.” The gathering had begun with a glacier paced discussion of monoculture additions to secondary fermentations, enough to put even Barrel to rest. The faith in Farmhouse Culture was dying, and people were increasingly converting to a acetic faith. Something needed to be done to restore the Wallonian truths set forth some 325 years prior. Finally, after days of grueling work, and the interjection of sweet servant grapes, the Council of Saison had developed an immutable creed for the masses to adhere to without question:

“We believe in one Saison, the Farmhouse almighty, fermenter of all things visible and insoluble
and in one strain, the Son of yeast, the essence of the Father, wheat of wheat, water of water,
housed in earthly sanctity of oak, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the first Saison.

By whom all saisons were made, in primary and secondary fermentation, Heaven and Earth,
who for us, Saisons were made incarnate and sent to earth for man

Through high fermentation temps, which would kill or denature ordinary Sacchromyeces, yeast suffered and after the 21st day, rose again

From thence all saisons shall come to judge the quick and the dead ales, the impure libations, those weak of spirit and character

and in the holy fermentation Ghost.”

Less than 60 years later brewers would again engage in sectarian violence over the meaning of “fermentation Ghost,” but that is a tale for another tome.


Barrel Aged Blackout Stout, Great Lakes Brewery, If Anyone Needs to Blackout, It is Ohio.

Guess what, knock knock, who’s there? Another top 100 beer. No punchlines here, just sick brews brah. 12 days of Christmas are delivering so hard.

Ohio is bringing their A game with this one, sending over something besides FIDM students for a change.

Barrel Aged Blackout Stout, Great Lakes Brewery, Imperial Stout, 9.5% abv

A: This is on the mid-range in absolute Satanic murkiness. It would place somewhere admirably amongst the ranks of Beezlebub in darkness, but not as pure black as Abyss or Black Tuesday. A bit of mahogany shines through at the edges. The carbonation is a bit disappointing, with tiny bubbles that escape quickly. There is very little lacing as well. Ho hum.

Dont like this beer? Well first off...

S: This beer smells like toffee, raisins, burnt vanilla, and bourbon. There’s chocolate in there as well but it feels like an overpower quad given the complexity of the dark fruits, AND THAT’S PRETTY OKAY!

T: The tone of the beer in my mouth is like ringing a perfect major chord of chocolate, raisin, oak, and bourbon in pure harmony. It isn’t overpowering it just resounds with a pure deep sustain that is very pleasurable. This is strange in the world of high octane stouts in that it doesn’t try to go balls to the wall with flavor it just hits an amazing balance and each flavor works in harmony. I wasn’t expecting much from the smell and appearance but the taste is incredible.

Shockingly good. I will be on the lookout for this little gem.

M: If the taste didn’t knock it out of the park, this prickly tiny carbonation makes this beer fantastic on the palate with just enough coating to remain but not enough to both you. I can see how some people wouldn’t “get” this stout but the interplay of the elements is just great. This dark horse really impresses and delivers a subtle performance. The John Malcovich of the Barrel Aged stout world, indeed.

D: The lack of aggressive carbonation and the mellow bourbon and dark fruits make this beer incredibly drinkable and pairable with plenty of options. I don’t think it is universal enough to win over the Delta Gammas of the world, but it is pretty solid when it comes to anyone who has an inkling for the darker side. I feel that if more people tried this beer, it would gain a stronger notoriety but the small batches have this beer being judged by extremely critical parties and it receives a lesser reception as a result.

Similar to other stouts, but with a strangely unique feel to it. Nicely done, crazy, but accomplished.

Narrative: “Steve? Steve, I cant OW!” Jessie fumbled looking for the flashlight in the darkness. “Steve, do we have any candles? Are you there?” Steve was there. A solitary ember from an Argentinian cigar glowed not unlike Daisy’s dock in the darkness. “I am here. Now tell me, who was it, in this household of two that forgot to pay the power bill?” Jessie stopped fumbling for matches and flashlights and stared intently upon the glowing cigar. “You know damn well it was me Steve, that’s not the time for this.” “OH REALLY? Is it the time to make a sweet currant pie? Perhaps we can eat all these figs and 85% dark chocolate? IS THAT WHAT TIME IT IS?!” Jessie dropped to her knees in the darkness and unknowingly crushed a rare Timewalk Magic: the Gathering card. “YOU MONSTER! You know about my condition, I just love, dark fruits so much, now look at us, alone, in the da- myenm. The dark, nom, mmyean there’s nothing we can horm-” “ARE YOU EATING PLUMS AT A TIME LIKE THIS!?” She wailed a sticked pit fruited wail that would be at home in a Tennessee Williams play “IT’S THE ONLY FRUIT I HAVE ANYMORE!” End scene.