Love It or Hate It – Irish Day 2011 is Coming

The bag pipes and Irish limericks.  The dancing, celebrating, and sea of green.  The Long Beach-themed t-shirts.  The fights, the public urination, and the disorderly conduct.  Ah…. Irish Day is in the air.

I love Irish Day.  It’s a great way to see the whole City out, enjoy my Irish heritage – that the rest of you non-Irish get to share in for a day – and enjoy a few adult beverages.  I love the parade and the music.  But, I also don’t pick fights and urinate on private property.  Also, I don’t live in the West End.

Without a doubt though in skimming through some comments, I can see there’s a lot of negativity from West End residents.  I can see that it’s not just blanket negativity for the sake of negativity.  There are great points in there.

I don’t think anyone is against having a great parade that honors the heritage of many of this City’s Irish residents, what’s at issue is the excuse to be drunk and disorderly, and how that effects the residents of that community.

The bar owners love Irish Day because it is such a great hit for business and they have no economic motivation to intentionally irritate their neighbors with out-of-control patrons.  They certainly have to be part of the solution to help mitigate those effects.

West End residents – clearly, this is part case of “not in my backyard,” but even if you don’t live there you should understand their concerns.  And this is just another example of the sort of drama that happened leading into the Quiksilver Pro.  Complaints about rowdiness, fighting, and drinking next to people’s homes, without any real “approval” by each resident.  And of course, West-Enders have had to deal with this for years.

But so there it stands.  Irish Day attracts thousands of revelers in green tees: from families with kids, to those just looking to hit the bars and go wild.  It also attracts great bands and amazing music.  How to balance then the well-founded concerns of the West End residents, with the interests of the bars and restaurants in the area, and the desires of other residents and non-residents who want to just come down and have a good time.

I assume this is what the West End Neighbors Civic Association is all about – and I’m sure they’ve been working hard on it.  I’ve reached out to them to ask (actually, I can’t find an email for them, but the offer stands, Alright, now I found it – thanks commenters.  For future reference it is:  if they want to have some internet page inches to contribute to the conversation here.  I’ll update if they get back to me.

So:  West Enders, East Enders, “Central” Long Beachers, chime in.  How do we make sure Irish Day is fun for all, but residents are not negatively impacted by the irresponsible types that an event like this is bound to attract?

Irish Day is run by the Ancient Order of Hiberanians and will be held October 2nd, 2o11.  The parade starts at Washington Blvd.

Summer Review Round-Up (Long Beach Eats and Drinks a Lot)

We’ve spent most of the summer out and about, surfing, running, and beaching – but occasionally found time to eat.  Alright, realistically, we ate a lot.  Long Beach received a bunch of new places this summer so we felt obligated to head down and try them out.  Here’s a summary of this summer’s reviews – in no particular order.

First off, Biddy Mulligan’s.  This new pub on Park Ave had decent food, good atmosphere, and amazing specials.  Now that they’ve been there longer and settled down – any updates from the community?

Barrier Brewing Company:  Long Beach’s own brewery – though located in Oceanside.  A great duo making amazing beer.  Growler fills should be on everyone’s Saturday schedule.

Pop’s Seafood Shack & Grill:  Without a doubt, one of the most contentious reviews and most heavily commented articles on this site.  People love it, people hate it.  Jersey Shore on the bay of Island Park or the perfect complement to this City’s nightlife and eating choices?

Jake’s Wayback Burgers:  Our latest review from our newest contributor.  “Everything was decent” – though they don’t have bacon!

Bahia Social Club: This trendy tapas spot takes over the dingy Tiki Bar.  Some were up in arms that I considered it expensive.  Now that it sounds like every reader of this blog has gone – what do you think?

John Henry’s:  Though packaged as a wing throwdown, John Henry’s shined as the winner of the best wings in Long Beach

JAX Tacos and Dogs @ Sugo: Anthony went down to Sugo – the seller of so many different kinds of food that I’ve lost count.  The Tacos?  Amazing though!

Barrier Brewing Co. (The Best Beer on the Beach)

Barrier Brewing Co. might be ironically named, considering it’s in Oceanside, not Long Beach, but after one sip of their incredible micro brew, you won’t care.

I found out about this operation last summer at Swingbellys, who serve them on tap. When I asked the bartender where this came from, he said “Oceanside.” I said, “there aren’t any breweries in Oceanside.” He respectfully disagreed, and I didn’t particularly care at that point. Shockingly, after a few pints, I completely forgot about the whole experience, until later I asked some friends about it.

I was mocked, and told “you mean Oceanside, CA.”

Well, I did some googleing and talked to the neighbors, and sure enough. The brewery is here – and it is amazing.

Located in the warehouse strip right over the hill in Oceanside on Lawson Blvd (photo here so you don’t blow past) is Barrier Brewing Co.  Coming from Long Beach, when you make the right turn onto Lawson, you’ll want to take the immediate first right entrance possible, and turn hard right and drive (slowly) down the alley.  They will be the last warehouse on the left.

Founded by Evan Klein in 2009 and later joined by Craig Frymark, these guys have prided themselves on just how little beer they make – claiming to be “one of the smallest breweries in the world.”  It’s a title they wear proudly.  As their motto states, they are brewing for quality, not quantity – a motto they deliver on.

Just this June they celebrated the one year anniversary of their first public batch of locally brewed greatness.  And in one year they’ve been awfully busy.  They’ve worked out more than 20 varieties of beer – 26 as their Facebook update stated on Wednesday – from dark to light, ale to stout, American to German.  They were recently featured in Beer Advocate, have been at a number of major brew fests, and even took the title of Best Craft Brewery in New York State at Hunter Mountain’s TAP NY festival.

How it works: about two weeks out, the guys figure out what they want to brew, and begin the laborious, but rewarding process.  Fast-fowarding two weeks later, you find yourself in an industrial park wondering where you are as you walk into Barrier’s headquarters.  You’re barraged by a mix of oversized kitchen hardware and a what looks like a chemistry experiment gone wrong.  Now begins the fun part.

They run a growler fill session once a week, usually Saturdays, from 12PM-4PM.  Here you either bring your own growler (a standard 64oz sealable glass bottle) or buy one for $5 (which is then reusable and yours for life).  Generally, there are around 8 freshly made brews tapped from their wider – and ever growing – range of beers.  You’ll be able to sample everything, learn about the different beers, and then fill up your growler.

When I went last week and noticed something new on the big board, Klein had to explain the Frau Blücher Smoked Helles in language I could understand.  Saying basically, it’s bacon beer.  And sure enough, after pouring a taste, it was a light and crisp beer, that had the unmistakable smell of bacon – an affect he claims comes from smoked beech wood, among other things.  Give it to them for continuing to try new things – while also bringing back certain craft brew styles that may have gone by the wayside.

They say they’ve also already reached the capacity of their small brewery – selling the maximum amount of beer they can make per cycle.  Just to emphasize how you’ll never get an old beer, two kegs, that were just tapped at the beginning of the session kicked while I was there (Greenroom Pale Ale and Oil City Black IPA).

I think a complaint many may have against some craft and micro brews is brewers’ inclination to make the hoppiest, strongest, darkest, and most alcoholic beer possible – not necessarily the most drinkable or enjoyable.  And don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a strong hoppy beer.  Frymark highlights the difference that I’ve tasted here as compared to other microbrews well: “our simple philosophy with all our beers is make [beers]  that are tasty and people will like them.”  And to me, they succeed without question.

They are doing all sorts of great stuff with the beer, from wild flavors, to high alcohol contents, and  classics done right.  But at the end of the day, you can actually sit down and drink them – and even convince your girlfriend to have a sip and not cringe – no matter how much of a Mike’s Hard Lemonade girl she is.  The Belgian1 is an example of this.  With an ABV of 7.1% 7.5% you’d except that you’re going to be tasting more burning than beer, but instead it is smooth, citrusy, and spicy.  I don’t recommend drinking an entire growler of that in a sitting though.

My personal favorite, barnone has to be the Greenroom Pale Ale.  I find it to be the perfect beer to match any situation – whether having a beer with dinner, or perhaps a few (or more) while enjoying the Mets blow it, it goes down cleanly, but with full flavor.  It’s a beer I could see at any bar, or bottled and sold at any supermarket.

Oil City Black IPA is obviouslly a dark beer – that I’ve been assured does not use the water from the Oil City canal in the brew process – but doesn’t have any of the burnt taste or heaviness you may be used to with similiar offerings. Lights Out Stout and Bulkhead Red are also musts if they are on tap.

The first growler purchase will run you $5 (or you can always bring your own from another brewery) and fill-ups are around $10-12 per growler.  Beer-drinkers, mark your calander on Saturdays, because this place is a must.  Even as hard as it is to give up your prized Saturday parking spot, it is well worth the short trip away from the beach.

For the most up-to-date info on what the guys are up to and what beers will be available when, tune into their  Facebook page which is frequently updated.  If you want to know even more about these guys and their operation without just heading down, check out this great show on them:

Biddy Mulligan’s Comes to Town (With the Best Specials in the City)

Rejoice residents…. another bar – excuse me, Pub – in Long Beach that claims to have Irish proclivities.

A month or so ago, Biddy Mulligan’s opened on East Park between Riverside and Edwards (22 East Park to be exact).  Living close by, I was quite excited to take a stroll and see what the new establishment had to offer.  Another knockoff Irish bar or a good time, read on for my impressions.

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