Flights Beer Bar

Lloyd Brown

BeerFest for BeerGeeks at Stout Burgers & Beer

Sunday afternoon November 4, Stout Burgers & Beer gastropub held their second BeerFest for BeerGeeks at their Studio City location. This beer festival was truly one for beer geeks and aficionados as Stout gathered about 20 different craft breweries from around the country and even a couple from Europe; each featuring barrel aged, sours or unique one-offs. There were about 38 different brews available to attendees. Due to constraints imposed by the city, only 200 tickets were available which meant that lines were non-existent and there were no concerns of running out of great beer. The timing of the event meant that some people had to choose between San Diego Beer Week (SDBW) and Stout’s BeerFest for BeerGeeks but SDBW goes on for 10 days and this beer festival was only a few hours long, so it was not a tough decision for me. A look at the beers available proves that the event at Stout easily compared with most events you will find in San Diego.

A few of the brews made available included Weizen Bam Bière by Jolly Pumpkin, A Hoppy Lovin’ Christmas by Mikkeller, Stone 11.11.11 Vertical Epic Ale aged In Red Wine Barrels, Total Crystalation by Ninkasi Brewing Company and White Pomeranian (White Dog W/ Pomegranate) by El Segundo Brewing Company. I could go on but suffice it to say, there was something for every palate no matter how advanced and a few that a beer newbie could easily enjoy; like American Dark Lager by Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company. Breweries represented included Almanac Beer Company, Ninkasi Brewing Company, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, Shipyard Brewing Company, Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Hangar 24 Craft Brewery, New Belgium Brewing, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company, Drake’s Brewing Company, Mikkeller, Stone Brewing Company, Allagash Brewing Company, Phantom Carriage, Rodenbach Brewery, Boon Brewery, El Segundo Brewing Company, Valiant Brewing Company and Wolf Creek Brewery.

In addition to the fine beers, Stout Burgers & Beer provided some tasty treats free for attendees and their restaurant was open if you desired a little more than snacks. After speaking with organizers Joey and Jimmy it was evident that they are doing this for the love of the beer and to give craft beer more exposure. An event like this would have to charge $100 per person to come close to being a profitable venture so from one beer geek to another; if you see me post about another of these events, you might want to take a closer look. This was a great time for everyone that attended. Cheers! Continue reading

Red Car Brewery – the oldest brewpub in Torrance

To those that know me, the following is not exactly earth-shattering news; I am a pretty opinionated guy. That being said, while I may be opinionated, I do try to be open-minded as well; especially when it comes to beer. The fact is that palates evolve and when combined with knowledge a beer I might not have enjoyed a year ago might come across as more enjoyable today. That is what happened on Friday.

Over the weekend my dad celebrated another birthday, so I invited him to lunch at the location of his choice. I knew where he would want to go before I asked; Red Car Brewery, a brewpub in Torrance. I had been to Red Car two times over the years and really did not find either experience particularly memorable. Once was for a fundraiser, which may have just involved my stopping by and donating some cash and then again a couple years ago for another birthday with my dad. I do recall wondering why I was not enjoying any of the beers; I attributed it to an aroma in the air that was messing with my taste buds. While I personally never got into any of their brews I was aware that Red Car Brewery had a very loyal fan base, so there must be something I was missing.

A few weeks ago I was talking to Torrance City Councilman Pat Furey and he told me a little about the history of Red Car and how owner/brewer Bob Brandt had struck a deal with the City of Torrance to build the brewpub at their current location on Torrance Boulevard and Sartori. I do not recall all the details but apparently the city extended a loan to Brandt and he paid it back five years early. It reminded me of when the US implemented tariffs on imported motorcycles to help Harley-Davidson back in the 1980’s and H-D told them they could remove the tariffs about five years earlier than scheduled. This deal between Torrance and Red Car was back in 2000 making Red Car Brewery the oldest brewery in Torrance by a long shot. I knew I was going to have to give them another chance. Continue reading

BeerFest for BeerGeeks at Stout Burgers and Beer – 33% discount code

The other day I announced that this Sunday, November 3, Stout Burgers and Beer in Studio City was holding their second in a series of craft beer festivals, BeerFest for BeerGeeks. This beer festival will feature 20 different craft breweries from around the country, featuring some of our local breweries as well as a couple from Europe. Most breweries will be pouring two brews and all the beers will either be barrel aged, sours or unique one-offs. I have just been authorized to release a promotional code that will give you 33% off your online ticket purchase. You can order your tickets at and use promotional code ‘stoutpromo’ and your tickets will drop from $60.00 each to $40.00. With the list of breweries scheduled to attend, this is quite the deal.

Participating breweries include Almanac Beer Company, Ninkasi Brewing Company, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, Shipyard Brewing Company, Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Hangar 24 Craft Brewery, New Belgium Brewing, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company, Drake’s Brewing Company, Mikkeller, Stone Brewing Company, Allagash Brewing Company, Phantom Carriage, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Rodenbach Brewery, Boon Brewery, El Segundo Brewing Company, Rough Draft Brewing Company, Valiant Brewing Company and Wolf Creek Restaurant & Brewing Company. Ticket holders will receive unlimited two ounce pours, a souvenir glass and appetizer type foods. They have canceled the second session, so 1:00 – 4:00 PM will be the only session. I hope to see you there. Stout Burgers & Beers is located at 11262 Ventura Boulevard in Studio City, CA. Cheers.

Hand-Brewed Beer – A nano-brewery for Chatsworth?

As the Craft Beer Guy I try to stay on top of developments in the craft beer world, especially when it comes to new breweries in the area. It is pretty funny when I think back to the time not that long ago that I would have to ride down to the Stone Brewery in Escondido if I wanted to find a fresh craft beer; now I have breweries popping up so fast around me I can barely keep track. It seems like there is a new brewery or two opening every week within a 50 mile radius; which is less than half the distance I used to ride to Escondido. The most recent brewery to make themselves known to me is Hand-Brewed Beer; a new nano-brewery that is looking to open a brewery with a tasting room in Chatsworth, CA.

Founded by long time friends Anthony Castañeda and Brian Hand, the pair started their brewing journey like many; with their college roommates as a fun way to get good, inexpensive beers. All in all, they have been brewing for about eight years out of their homes. They currently have a 1.5 barrel custom built pilot-system with two 60-gallon conical fermenters. They are currently looking around for a location to lease for a small space to begin brewing and distributing to bars in the Los Angeles area. They are hoping to have a location by the end of November 2013. To this end they have started a Kickstarter campaign.

With a modest goal of raising $10,000 they are currently about $4,000 short with 11 days left on the campaign. The monies will be used to help obtain cold room storage, building a bar top and tap wall for their proposed tasting room and kegs for distributing to bars. While Chatsworth does fall under the authority of the City of Los Angeles and tasting rooms seem to take a lot of work there, they are confident that with the support of local elected officials, their dream will become a reality. Looking at the list of beers they currently brew I look forward to their success and I hope to run across their Incident Isotope IPA sometime soon. Cheers! Continue reading

BeerFest for BeerGeeks coming November 3

beerfest attendees

BeerFest for BeerGeeks coming November 3

This Sunday, November 3, Stout Burgers and Beers in Studio City, CA will hold their second in a series of craft beer festivals, BeerFest for BeerGeeks. This beer festival will feature 20 different craft breweries from as far away as Belgium and Denmark as well as many of the more popular craft breweries from around the country as well as some of our local breweries. Most breweries will be pouring two brews and all the beers will either be barrel aged, sours or unique one-offs.

Breweries scheduled to be featured include Almanac Beer Company, Ninkasi Brewing Company, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, Shipyard Brewing Company, Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Hangar 24 Craft Brewery, New Belgium Brewing, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company, Drake’s Brewing Company, Mikkeller, Stone Brewing Company, Allagash Brewing Company, Phantom Carriage, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Rodenbach Brewery, Boon Brewery, El Segundo Brewing Company, Rough Draft Brewing Company, Valiant Brewing Company and Wolf Creek Restaurant & Brewing Company.

BeerFest for BeerGeeks will be held over the course of two one three hour-long session with the first running from 1:00 PM to 4:00 and the second starting at 5:00 PM and ending at 8:00 PM. You can purchase tickets online for $60.00 each or you can take your chance and try to buy tickets at the door for $70.00 each. You should probably know that they are only selling 200 tickets for each session, so there is a good chance that they will sell out. Save yourself $10 and ensure your entry by buying your tickets today. UPDATE: USE PROMO CODE ‘stoutpromo’ AND SAVE 33%! JUST $40 PER TICKET. Continue reading

Homebrewing an Everyday IPA

For some reason a lot of people think that because I enjoy craft beer so much I must also be a home brewer; well, that is not the case. Primarily because when I first got into craft beer it was due to being on the road more than I was home, so I never really considered it. As time progressed to 2013 I knew I would eventually take the step, but it was not a priority and I was doing other things. In July some friends gave me a Brooklyn Brewshop Beer Making Kit. It was decided that I would write an article about the experience as a first time home brewer. Since it was July and they did not build homes with air conditioning around here, I knew I did not want to boil anything in my kitchen for a couple more months. I looked at the box with its five easy steps and figured “How hard can it be?” I would read the instructions a few times, hit up YouTube and breeze right through this. Not exactly. So, this is written from the perspective of a first time home brewer to a first time home brewer. Or should I say, a first time all-grain home brewer.

I might as well address this first; I am not sure that it would change my experience because I had no say in the matter. I am talking about brewing from extract or all-grain. To tell you the truth, people would ask which way I was doing it and I would say it was a kit. I seem to recall they all presumed it was extract; I did not know what the difference was until after I did my first home brew. If you do not know, I will summarize it for you. If you brew from an extract they have essentially made the wort for you and you just add water and boil. Sounds really easy, I could get into that. The other method is all-grain; it is more work but if you know what you are doing you have a lot more control. If your kit came with a bag of fluid, you are brewing from extract; if it comes with a bag of grain you aren’t. So, brewing from extract is fun; brewing from all-grain is almost work, at least for a beginner. For the record, the Everyday IPA is an all-grain mix; it never mentions that fact on the box although it does show you making mash, so they presume you know the difference.

Actually, while my beer is fermenting I have talked to friends that have suggested that Brooklyn Brewshop is presuming a lot of things, which I discovered a little too late in the process, so learn by my mistakes. On the box they do tell you that you are going to need a six quart pot (a second pot is handy), a fine mesh strainer and a funnel. Since all the instructions I have seen hinted that this was “as easy as making oatmeal” and since Tanya, my girlfriend, is pretty handy around the kitchen I was confident that whatever cooking supplies we did not own would not be a problem in obtaining. Continue reading

Ultimate Beerfest OC – Refunds are being issued

beerfest taster size

Size matters

It is Monday and since I posted my review and photos from Saturday’s Ultimate Beerfest I have been interviewed by a couple Orange County newspapers and statements have been attributed to me by others. Since this site seems to be the only one capable of seeing both sides of the situation, I went ahead and reached out to the event organizers, Karma Media Group, and offered to let them provide their side of things that went wrong.

From my brief discussions with them I have learned that at least some of the events paid staff was turned away at the gate; however, this may have been due to improper procedures with the credentials. Karma Media has stated that they really cannot talk about things at this point in time due to “politics.” What they have told me is that the fairgrounds played a significant part in the “debacle” when staff was turned away. They also assured me that they are already processing refunds for session two tickets issued directly through them and they are waiting for a determination from third party voucher issuers as to how to proceed. I would take that to mean that if you got your tickets through Living Social, you are going to have to wait until they decide how they want to handle the refunds. When I hear more, and I am sure I will, I will pass it along. Cheers! Continue reading

The Ultimate Beerfest OC – The good, the bad & the ugly

On Saturday October 19, a fundraiser for Villa Chardonnay, a 501(c)(3) non-profit horse rescue operation in Temecula, CA was held at the Costa Mesa Fairgrounds in the form of The Ultimate Beerfest OC. The event was scheduled to have 20+ breweries, food trucks, a beer pong tournament and a Best of Show beer competition voted on by attendees that had VIP tickets. The Ultimate Beerfest OC was one of six scheduled beer festivals put on by the organizers with the others being scheduled for Los Angeles, San Diego, Pasadena, San Francisco and San Jose. The Los Angeles event was originally scheduled as the first but was postponed until 2014 due to logistical issues with the selected venue. When I first learned of the event, the Los Angeles venue was the one I planned on attending. When it was postponed I volunteered to cover the event in Costa Mesa.

The event was scheduled to be held over the course of two sessions; the first beginning at 11:00 AM for VIP entries and noon for general admission and running until 3:00 PM with the second session running from 6:00 – 9:00 PM with VIP getting in an hour early. While the Ultimate Beerfest website specifically stated to “plan on arriving up to one hour early for event check-in” I really did not pay much heed to that suggestion as I have yet to attend a beer festival that had that many people show up; I kind of figured it was wishful thinking. It turned out that this was going to be bigger than I imagined.

As the event was outside, I was able to look in the beer garden as we approached and even though it was about 15 minutes until the VIP admission was to begin it was readily apparent that not all of the breweries had arrived. As I was coming from the opposite direction that the line to get in was forming, I could see that there was a pretty long line forming. I attributed it to the fact that many people were there as general admission and they were arriving an hour early as suggested. After all, VIP admission was $75 and General Admission was $50; it never dawned on me that everyone in line had paid for VIP admission. Continue reading

Alpine Village to host 2nd Annual Alpine Kraft Bierfest

2012 bierfest

Alpine Village 2nd Annual Alpine Kraft Bierfest

On November 17, 2013 the Alpine Village in Torrance will hold their 2nd Annual Alpine Kraft Bierfest from 3:00 PM until 8:00 PM inside the Alpine Inn, located at 833 West Torrance Boulevard in Torrance, CA. It is located right off the Harbor Freeway (110) and the San Diego Freeway (405). The Alpine Kraft Bierfest is not the same as their long running (46 years) Oktoberfest and is exactly the opposite as it focuses on “hard-to-find, one-of-a-kind and out-of-your-mind American craft brews” rather than the German and Czech beers you normally find at Alpine Village.

If you are thinking, “Second annual, I don’t remember the first one,” do not feel too bad, last year’s event was not very well promoted so it meant that more than 35 brewers providing more than 100 different beers and no lines. This year promises to be even better as the event is being moved inside to the Alpine Inn rather than the big tent that houses Oktoberfest. What this means to you is more beer, limited capacity of the Alpine Inn and the availability of their restaurant if you want to pause from your beer tasting and try some authentic German food. Since November 17 is a Sunday, they will be having their brunch, so you might consider attending their Sunday brunch before the bier fest begins.

Stone Brewing taps

Stone Brewing taps at Alpine Kraft Bierfest

So, what sets Alpine’s Kraft Bierfest apart from the others? Most of the beer festivals I cover are a fundraiser of one sort or another. As a result, most of the breweries are asked to donate a keg or two and you frequently find the flagship beers as the only options. Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that model, but if you attend a lot of beer festivals you eventually start running into the same beers over and over. The Alpine Kraft Bierfest is not a fundraiser; it is all about the beer. Alpine Village has gone out, sought and bought the beers that will be available at this event. Last year they purchased the last two kegs of Enjoy By 09.21.12 which was poured at the event; luckily, Alpine has a great beer cellar so beer that was not poured at the first bierfest was available for sale later at the Alpine Inn. For the next several months after the event, they had one of the better rotating tap lists in town. This year promises to be even better as there are some beers that have been aging a while, like Stone’s 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale. A few of the other breweries and beers I know about are Allagash’s Saison Rye, Hugh Malone and Bourbon Barrel; The Bruery’s Bryeian; Uinta Brewing Company’s Sea Legs Baltic Porter; Napa Smith’s Grateful Dog; North Coast’s Grand Cru; Mission Brewery’s Mission Armada; Manzanita Brewing Company’s 3rd Anniversary Ale; and North Coast Brewing’s Barrel Aged Old Rasputin XV. As you can tell, this is going to be a great event for craft beer aficionados. Continue reading

Beachwood BBQ & Brewing: Best Mid-Sized Brewpub 2013

Last Wednesday, as I became increasingly jealous of the people on my Facebook feed as they announced their arrival in Denver for the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), I decided to head over to Beachwood BBQ & Brewing in Long Beach, CA. I had just seated myself at the bar when Beachwood General Manager Brandon Halvorson came up and said, “You just cannot stay away.” I admit, when we want lunch and a great beer, it does not take much convincing to get me to drive the 15 miles to Long Beach. Yesterday, the beer world found out why when Beachwood BBQ & Brewing won five medals at GABF, making it the 2013 Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year! I was so happy to hear this I almost felt like I was a winner. I guess all of Beachwood’s patrons are winners because we are able to enjoy their food and beer six days a week.

Beachwood won gold medals for Foam Top for the Golden or Blonde Ale category and Kilgore Stout in the American-Style Stout category. They also got silver for Udder Love (Sweet Stout or Cream Stout) and bronze medals for System of a Stout (Coffee Beer) and Barrel-Aged Full Malted Jacket (Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer). I guess the big surprise for me is that none of their IPAs got a medal, but it is my understanding that they had over 250 IPA entries and it took two or three days to go through them all. Be that as it may, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing has made some tremendous beers and are definitely getting the recognition they deserve; and to think they are only two years old. Congratulations to Julian Shrago, Ian McCall, Brandon Halverson and all the staff at Beachwood BBQ & Brewing.

I guess it also shows that if it seems that I visit some places more than others, there is a good reason for it; the Craft Beer Guy would not steer you wrong. These photos were taken Wednesday October 9 and Saturday October 12 after the medals were announced. You can find a list of all the past and present Great American Beer Festival winners at Cheers! Continue reading

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