Brewing With Cannabis

Written by Tom Becham

Please note: Neither PGA, the Professor’s staff, nor any of the image providers, condone making “pot beer.” This article is provided as an information only source for those curious regarding past tense use of this federally illegal ingredient in brewing. Any attempts to use this information illegally, well, you’re on your own kid!-PGA

Besides drinking, critiquing and writing about beer, I also occasionally brew my own at home. Inevitably, since I live in California, someone will ask me if it’s possible to brew a beer with cannabis (pot, marijuana, chronic, etc.) in it. More specifically, cannabis in the beer AND retaining the effects cannabis is known for among those who partake of it. For the longest time, I had no clue how to answer that question.

A couple years ago, I got the answer. Continue reading “Brewing With Cannabis”

Tom Becham on Local Beer

Written by Tom Becham

Recently, I went on a local brewery mini-tour, near my home in Ventura County, California. While the places in question were not in Ventura County, proper, they were still very close.

First was Ladyface Alehouse in Agoura. I have written about them before, and am always pleased with their beer. They have achieved enough success that their beer is now bottled and for sale in local beer specialty stores. They specialize in Belgian styles, but also produce the standard range typically found in a brewpub (IPA, Pale, Porter, etc.). The food offered is also excellent.

This latest visit saw no dropoff in the quality of their beer. In fact, they are now producing genuine cask ale for sale on premises. Cask Ale (or Live or Real Ale, according to our British counterparts), is basically a living creature. It contains live yeast, has very little carbonation and must be kept at a very specific temperature, usually quite different from everything else on tap. It requires a lot of fussing and care, and any brewer selling it has to be both very skilled, and extremely confident in their skills. Ladyface is justifiably confident, as their cask Trebuchet (a wine-barrel aged Golden Sour ale) is excellent from go to whoa. Ladyface has also continued to develop their food menu, with delicious items like poutine (not entirely authentic cheese curd, but still excellent) and braised beef cheeks. Their best beer offerings are probably Picture City Porter (made with coffee), and Trois Filles Belgian Tripel.

In short, Ladyface Alehouse is a beer geek and foodie’s dream. If you are in the Ventura County or Northern Los Angeles County area, do yourself a favor and stop by.

Our next stop was Figueroa Mountain. Fig Mountain (as called by locals) has its main production facility far to the north in Buellton, Santa Barbara County. But they have opened another facility in Westlake Village, California. This one, unlike their production brewery, also sells food, including perhaps one of the ten best burgers I have ever had. But they don’t skimp on quality beer, either.

Figueroa Mountain, like so many craft breweries, displays a light-heartedness about their product insofar as the names of beers. But don’t mistake that for a cavalier attitude toward brewing. Their Lizard’s Mouth Double IPA is one of the best made in Southern California, which is saying something. Likewise, despite the lurid names, offerings like Bust a Nut Brown Ale, and I Dunkeled in My Pants Munich dunkel lager not only are true to style, but really raise the standards for their respective styles. In fact, I would say I haven’t had a Munich dunkel as good as I Dunkeled in My Pants that wasn’t made in Germany. Yes, it’s *that* good.

We had a third stop planned for Dude’s Brewing in Thousand Oaks, but couldn’t manage to get to it in the allotted time. But it’s still on the list, and I will let you all know my impresions when I go.

Tom Becham, esq.This is Tom Becham. He is a great writer. What, you expected us to say more?

Tom Becham Reviews New Belgium’s Blackberry Barley Wine Ale


Written by Tom Becham

Southern California has odd weather patterns. October through December is generally marked by Santa Ana winds and heat. Rain – what little we get – is generally January through April. And local weather forecasters have coined terms for our weather in May and June; May Gray and June Gloom. In fact, due to the humidity on the coast, I’ve had in-laws, who lived through severe Utah winters, state that California is too cold for them.

So, seasonal beers do still mean something here. Just not in the sequence that they would in other parts of the country. Continue reading “Tom Becham Reviews New Belgium’s Blackberry Barley Wine Ale”

Beer in the Conejo Valley Corridor


Written by Tom Becham

figThe recent birthday of a long-time friend was the occasion of a nice beer field trip this past Martin Luther King holiday.

Our first stop was Figueroa Mountain’s new brewpub in Westlake Village, California. Figueroa Mountain’s main production facility is in Buellton, about 100 miles away. But Fig Mountain has been aggressively expanding, despite only recently celebrating their 4th Anniversary in business. They have other brewpubs and taprooms from San Luis Obispo down to Los Angeles.

Fig Mountain’s success is not an accident. They produce very good, commercially successful DIPAs like Lizard’s Mouth and Hurricane Deck, as well as the more standard American brewpub offerings like Brown and Pale Ales, IPA (Hoppy Poppy is likely the best IPA I know to please both hopheads and malt guys alike), Porters, Stouts, etc. While they share the same small town with Firestone Walker, they have taken a markedly different approach to growing their business.
Continue reading “Beer in the Conejo Valley Corridor”

Let’s Go Brew Through Hawaii with Tom Becham! (Part 1)


Written by Tom Becham for PGA

Having just returned from almost two weeks in the islands, it’s been a shock returning to reality (although reality in California is much less harsh than, say, in Buffalo).

But now, I am ready to comment on some of the beer to be had in the Hawaiian Islands.

konaThe situation is far better now than it has been in years past, since my first visit. Formerly, Kona Brewing was the only craft choice to be had, and it wasn’t as widely available as it is now. Since then, Maui Brewing has started up, smaller semi-craft outfits like Mehana have improved their game, and even local watering holes that attract a predominantly Bud Lite crowd will at least have Kona brews on tap as well. And there are more new players in the game, too.
I was clued into the beer of Big Island Brewhaus by the lads on the television show Brew Dogs. I nabbed some of their Secret Sabbath Belgian-style Golden Ale, and Overboard IPA, in bottles at local markets on Kauai. Both beers were excellently made and worth the price. Overboard is a classic American IPA, with a hefty malt backbone, and gorgeous floral and tropical hops, which show their character in both aroma and flavor. Balance is perfect for the style. Secret Sabbath brings all the Belgian yeast fruitiness one expects from the style, combined with both some sweetness and dryness from a generous use of local Hawaiian honey. Beer geeks and novices alike will love this one. All in all, I heartily recommend seeking out anything made by Big Island.
TomBTom Becham lives in Oxnard, CA. He’s been writing for PGA for many years now. We really should pay him but we’re poor here at PGA. Tom’s a great writer and contributor to PGA. He loves good beer, and has a great palate. Notice how much we’re sucking up to him? Maybe he should pay US?

Reviews by Tom Becham: Modern Times’ Blazing World

Reviewed by his Royal Highness Tom Becham, esq

Modern Times Blazing World 4 packModern Times Beer has quite the buzz in the craft beer community of Southern California right now. They can all of their offerings (a trend, at the moment), and have some catchy retro style art on the cans. But I found one of their beers, Blazing World, to be sadly lacking and unworthy of its own press. But in fairness, I cannot and will not judge the rest of their beers on this one example.

Okay, on to the review. Sorry, but cans still throw me for a loop. Yes, I know they are more eco-friendly than bottles, and I know they protect the beer from being light-struck far better than bottles ever could. Still, they just strike me as tacky. Points off for the “presentation”.
Continue reading “Reviews by Tom Becham: Modern Times’ Blazing World”

Beer 101, Session 3

Written by Tom Becham for

tbecham and sibsIn my long-ago first installment, I discussed the first ingredient of beer: water.

Now I wish to discuss grain.

Grain is what differentiates a beverage as beer. A fermented fruit beverage is a wine, a fermented honey beverage is mead, and fermented grain is beer. (So, technically, sake’ is not rice wine, but rice beer.)

Generally, the grain used in beer will be barley. To be most useful in beer, the barley must be malted. (And is often simply referred to by brewers as “malt”.) Malting, specifically, refers to the process whereby barley grains are soaked in water just to the point of germination. The barley is then dried with hot air, and any sprouts trimmed from it. The malted barley (or malt; remember?) is then roasted to a degree that will produce the effects on a beer that a brewer desires.

Why is any of that important? Because….
Continue reading “Beer 101, Session 3”

Beer 101, Session 2


Written by Tom Becham for Professor Goodales

TbechamAfter a long hiatus from writing for Professor Goodales (due to some personal circumstances I won’t recount here) I am back with my second installment in the Beer 101 series. I had promised to detail the different ingredients of beer, how they affect the final product, and even describe the tastes. I will start with the most basic and overlooked of all beer ingredients: water.

Water makes up 90% to 95% of the volume of most beers. Obviously it plays an important role. But what does a brewer want as far as the qualities of water for his beer? It isn’t necessarily all about purity. Sure, chemical contaminants are a huge no-no in brewing. In fact, chlorine – found in most tap water – will tend to kill yeast. And with dead yeast, you don’t get beer, but merely a strange barley tea. (It should be noted that some brewers – most notably Anchor in San Francisco – will take advantage of particularly good tap water.) Continue reading “Beer 101, Session 2”