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Lloyd Brown

Crude Brew Crew Taste-cast at Smog City Brewing

According to the Brewers Association there are more than 2,400 craft and microbreweries around the United States. Even before craft beer became so popular there were home brewers experimenting with various hops, malts and yeasts to create their own special brews. One might ascertain that due in part to the Internet, these home brewers would start socializing with each other and soon there were home brewing clubs popping up where their members could brew together as well share their ingredients and ideas and drink the results of this social interaction. In fact, if you read the biography of many of craft beers head brewers; they started off as home brewers with many of them being members of home brewing clubs. One of these local home brewing clubs is the Crude Brew Crew which is located in Torrance, CA.

This past Saturday, June 22, the Crude Brew Crew (CBC) met for their monthly meeting and podcast at Smog City Brewing Company, also in Torrance. Head brewer and co-owner of Smog City, Jonathan Porter was at one time a home brewer and a member of a local home brewer club so it made perfect sense that the CBC hold a meeting at Smog City. They did a podcast, with an interview of Jonathan and Laurie Porter that was supposed to be followed with a Q and A session. Smog City’s building is large and there were a lot of people there, so they had to improvise on the Q and A portion but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves as well as enjoying the new releases the Smog City was pouring. They also brought out a Hop Rocket which infuses fresh hops to their Amarilla Gorilla IPA which made it almost creamy. The Little Bo Pils was quite refreshing.

While the podcast was not available at the time of this writing, it should be available on the Crude Brew Crew website before too long. Smog City Brewing Company is located at 1901 Del Amo Blvd, Torrance, CA. Continue reading

Game Changers, Hermosa Beach

Yesterday we were looking for somewhere to have lunch; we wanted to go somewhere that we do not frequent on a regular basis and would preferably have a large craft beer selection. Over the Memorial Day weekend, we had gone to the arts and crafts street fair in Hermosa Beach and had visited two places that fit that bill. One was Mediterraneo, where we enjoyed some of their food and beers, but I was not really feeling in a tapas mood. The other place we visited was Game Changers, a sports bar that advertised 54 beers on tap. Because it was a Sunday afternoon during the street fair, the place was packed. We did not bother eating but after seeing their tap list we knew we would have to return. We checked out their food menu online and decided that we would go to Game Changers for lunch.

While Game Changers was packed to the rafters at 2:00 on a Sunday afternoon, that really was not the case at 2:00 on a Wednesday afternoon. That gave me an opportunity to look around a little and get to meet and interact a little with a couple of the people that work there because I have found that the best beer places have people that seem to really care about craft beer. Taylor, Chloe and Will, their beer guy, each gave off that vibe. Looking around the spacious venue I could not help but wonder if there were more TVs than beer taps. I have to say, it was pretty close; it looks like they have about 30 TVs, each tuned to a different sporting event so no matter where you sit, you can watch the game you came to see. However, I was there for the beer and some food.

As advertised, they do have 54 taps available; as such, the written menu may not be 100% accurate because the taps blow and new ones swapped in. It is the nature of the beast. While I did notice a Rolling Rock, Bud Lite, Guinness and Shock Top taps the rest seemed to be craft beers, so that is 50 to choose from. They also carry bottled beer for those that still want the standard bar beer. What I had not noticed when looking at their online menu was that their Happy Hour runs from 2:00 PM until 7:00 PM. They have some two for one specials on a few of their taps and their Happy Hour food menu is quite reasonable. We ordered a couple food items, a corn dog wrapped in bacon and a hamburger, and while I don’t know that I would rate it at the gastropub level, but they never advertised themselves to be a gastropub. They are a sports bar and as far as the typical bar food I have tried in the past, this surpassed it and at a very good price. Continue reading

James “Tony Soprano” Gandolfini Dead

James Gandolfini

James Gandolfini
September 18, 1961- June 19, 2013

It was announced this afternoon, June 19, 2013, the actor James Gandolfini suffered a heart attack and died in Italy. While this is not really beer related, I happened to meet Mr. Gandolfini this past October at the 1st Annual Rocktoberfest at LA Live, benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project. I only spoke to him for a short while, but he came across as a very nice guy and posed for the photo with a humorous attitude. Rest in Peace, sir; you were one of my favorite actors. You can see all the photos from the 1st Annual Rocktoberfest at LA Live on GotBaddog.com

LA Beer Blogger Summit #5

When it comes down to it, there is only one reason why American craft beer is taking off the way it is and that is because the people love it. In these days of the Internet (believe it or not, it wasn’t always here) and social media, people write on their Facebook pages or Twitter to talk about their passions; some even start blogs or other websites to promote these passions to others. Craft beer is no different; for as many new microbreweries as there are popping up around the country, it seems that there are at least a dozen people writing about each one. Some of us try to write about all of them.

Today, I went to Schooner at Sunset, a gastropub in Sunset Beach, to attend the LA Beer Blogger Summit #5. As the name implies, it was a gathering of a group of craft beer fans that have decided to promote the American craft beer or local craft beer scene. Due to another obligation I was only able to stay for the first 90 minutes, but by the time I left I would guess that there were 30-40 people there and more arrived after I left. It was a pretty impressive showing with blogs, social media and print formats being represented. Some people had large networks of craft beer related sites while others were there to learn a little more and make some connections. With the motto of Collaborate and Educate the LA Beer Blogger Summit has a lot of potential to do just that.

The networking event featured guests Jerry Kolbly and Evan Price of Nobel Ale Works, from nearby Anaheim, and live music by Aloha Radio. While Schooner at Sunset has a very nice list of guest brews on their taps, they were enhanced by some additions provided by Nobel Ale Works; Rosalita (Hibiscus Lager, 4.5% abv), Breakaway (Pale Ale, 5% abv), Big Whig (IPA, 6.8% abv) and Too Darn Hot (Habanero IPA, 6.8% abv). Since the event I had to go to was a food event I did not eat there this time (yes, I have been there before), but the food smelled great and the couple I was sharing the table with were very complimentary of it. Continue reading

38 Degrees 4th Anniversary Photos

These photos are from the 38 Degrees Ale House and Grill 4th Anniversary Celebration, held today in Alhambra. 38 Degrees Ale House and Grill is a gastropub that I visited for the first time back in February when they had their Pliny the Younger release party. Even though it is a 30 mile ride out there, I knew that I was going to have to return; their guest tap list was pretty impressive and the food looked and smelled good. When I heard they were having their 4th anniversary celebration I knew that this would be an outstanding event.

We got there shortly after the scheduled start time and the 38 Degrees fans were already beginning to fill the place up and I could not help but notice the number of flights that were being purchased. Of course, when you look at the list of beers they had available it is easy to understand why. From their Facebook page, the taps were pouring: Continue reading

Smog City Brewing Ribbon Cutting

These photos are from the Smog City Brewing Company’s induction to the Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce (TACC). The event, better known as a “ribbon Cutting” was attended by numerous members of the TACC, a Torrance City Councilman representing Mayor Scotto’s office; as well as a representative from Assembly member Al Muratsuchi’s office. There were also many, many customers. As one first time visitor told me, “I think they are going to do pretty well here.” I have to agree; I think they are going to do very well. Continue reading

Silvio’s Brazilian Barbecue, Hermosa Beach

Sunday evening we decided that we wanted to go somewhere different for dinner with the requirement being that they have a nice beer list. We were somewhat familiar with Silvio’s on Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach due to our prior involvement with the Torrance Chamber of Commerce and were reminded about them when we were walking around the Fiesta Hermosa street fair last weekend. It was decided that we would head back to Hermosa Beach.

While I was aware that Silvio’s bragged about their available craft beers, I did not know it was a “Chicago” bar, which made it pretty interesting as we got there just as the Blackhawks vs. Kings game started. The place was packed and it seemed like 80% of the people were Chicago fans, 18% of the people did not care and four of us were rooting for the Kings. We did not have a lot to cheer about. That’s okay, I was there for the beer; Tanya was there for the food.

Tanya ordered some spinach and artichoke, tri-tip, potato salad and skewered veggies. Apparently they are all about the rock salt there and it shows; everything was extremely salty, to the point that I just had another beer. Our server, Jen, offered something different but my confidence level was not very high so I passed but she insisted and brought a plate of chicken that was their specialty. It was pretty good; I just wasn’t in the mood. We happened to be sitting next to a guy from Brazil and he said the food he ordered was pretty authentic (he had some rice dish). After he left another Brazilian came and sat by us, so apparently it is pretty popular in the community. Continue reading

El Segundo Brewing Company – No Kid Hungry

Established in 2010, El Segundo Brewing Company (ESBC) describes them selves as “THE hop-centric brewery for South Bay, Los Angeles and beyond.” There is no question that they have a love for hops at ESBC and they use them liberally, but without the bitterness one might find elsewhere. I am a hop head and for that I make no apologies and whenever I go into the El Segundo Brewing tasting room I am usually at a loss on what I should order. Their White Dog IPA, named after owner/brewer Rob Croxall’s dog, is off the hook with the use of 50% wheat instead of barley. Of course, if the Blue House IPA is available the decision on what to order is made easier by drinking a pint of one at the tasting room and getting a growler of the other to take home and enjoy. However, if the Two 5 Left DIPA is on tap, then I am in a real conundrum. First world problems I guess. Luckily, El Segundo Brewing Company is now bottling on a limited basis, so bringing bottles home (when available) is the solution. If you are not into IPA’s, they also make some very nice stouts and pale ales.

These photos were taken last Thursday when El Segundo Brewing brought out a keg of “White Dog Sittin’ on Simcoe cask” with 50% of the sales donated to Share Our Strength in conjunction with Taste of the Nation. That is just the way those guys are over there, always giving back to the community. I highly recommend visiting their tasting room; it is the freshest beer in El Segundo. Continue reading

New Indiana law brings new rumors

Three Floyds Brewing

Three Floyds Brewing flight

Yesterday morning I was perusing my Facebook feed and saw a notice that Three Floyds Brewing would be suspending brewery tours until further notice. Now normally this would not even cause me to raise an eyebrow, but as my girlfriend is going there next week I thought I should look a little deeper.

I followed the link and found a lot of input from a lot of people, a lot of it inane, but someone made the suggestion that that brewery tours were being suspended due to upgrades being made at Three Floyds because of a new Indiana law that had just been signed which would allow for increased production of beer by Indiana microbreweries. The law, House Bill 1293 (http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2013/HB/HB1293.1.html), states in relevant part: “Creates an artisan distiller’s permit for a person who desires to commercially manufacture not more than 10,000 gallons of liquor in a calendar year (excluding the amount of any liquor sold through a liquor wholesaler).” This will become effective July 1, 2013. So, what might this mean for us?

From what I am reading, while microbreweries might be limited to producing 10,000 gallons to be sold in their brewpubs and tasting rooms, if they get a distributor their only limitation is how much they can brew. Who knows, maybe one day we will be able to find Zombie Dust at the local Total Wine. That would be the nicest thing Indiana has done in a while.

The Rockefeller gastropub, Hermosa Beach

Rockefeller taps

24 Craft Beers on Tap at The Rockefeller

During American Craft Beer Week in 2012 we spent the week researching local brewers and locations to find locally brewer beers. As I had spent most of the prior few years on the road, I really did not know what was going on in my own back yard. When I think about it, the microbrewery tasting rooms I spend so much time at in the last year were not even around 18 months ago; Naja’s was really the only place I knew offhand. One of the discoveries we made was The Rockefeller gastropub in Hermosa Beach.

Hop Ottin

Anderson Valley Brewing – Hop Ottin IPA

The Rockefeller is located on Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach and is what I would consider one of the better gastropubs in Hermosa Beach. They have 24 taps with each one pouring a quality craft beer from as close as neighboring El Segundo to as far away as Belgium. The one consistent thing I can say about my experience with The Rockefeller is that they have always had a very nice tap list. They do offer flights, but they are preset; if it is slow and you are nice, you might be able to get a customized one.

Their food menu changes on a fairly regular basis; some things have been amazing, others have been okay. It has a nice atmosphere and children are welcome. The Rockefeller always has some kind of special going on, whether it is their Happy Hour or a special beer or wine and food pairing. They have a little parking in the back, but when I say a little, I mean a very little. Otherwise there are meters on the street.

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