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Flights Beer Bar

Lloyd Brown

Northwest Indiana: Pikk’s Tavern and Three Floyds Brewing

These photos are from Pikk’s Tavern in Valparaiso, IN and the Three Floyds Brewing Company brewpub in Munster, IN. My real introduction to American craft beer came about due to the fact that I was constantly traveling which resulted in my visiting many small towns across the United States. I got into the habit of seeking out microbreweries and brewpubs in the areas I would pass through. To be honest, I probably tried more beers from outside of California than those brewed here. One part of the country that I spent an inordinate amount of time was northwest Indiana (NWI), specifically, Valparaiso aka Valpo.

I remember the day well, it was Flag Day 2011 and I was visiting my girlfriend in Valpo; she had something to do that evening so I had her drop me off in downtown Valpo because our favorite Spanish restaurant had a special event going on that I wanted to attend. The problem was that the restaurant did not open for another hour so I walked down the street to Pikk’s Tavern because I had read that they carried some beers I was unfamiliar with.

When I sat down at the bar I asked for something that was brewed locally and was immediately offered an Imperial Hatter Imperial India Pale Ale from New Holland Brewing. I knew I had found exactly what I was looking for; a gastropub in Valparaiso. After finishing it I was introduced to Gumballhead from Three Floyds Brewing Company. From the first taste I knew that I needed to learn more about Three Floyds. I had subsequent visits to Pikk’s and used the opportunity to try their food. It was all very good, but I think it was the attitude of all the employees that made me want to return. If you ever find yourself in Valparaiso, I have no problem recommending visiting them. I looked at their current menu and while they do not currently have Three Floyds on tap, they are still pouring locally brewed beers and they have Three Floyds and other craft brews available in bottles and cans. Continue reading

2nd Annual Waves of Grain Beerfest at Shade Hotel

Sunday June 30 the Shade Hotel in Manhattan Beach, CA hosted the 2nd Annual Waves of Grain Beerfest benefiting the Richstone Family Center in Hawthorne. The Richstone Family Center is dedicated to preventing and treating child abuse. Co-sponsored by Brewco Manhattan Beach, Rock & Brews El Segundo, LA Car Guy and NW Real Estate Brokers approximately 400 people enjoyed food, music and close to 100 beers provided by more than 40 craft brewers.

In addition to the ticket sales for the event, which sold out, there were raffles for dinners, massages, hockey and more. I think it is safe to say that the Richstone Family Center was very happy with the results of this fundraiser. Judging by all the smiles seen in the photos I am not the only one that had a great time and I look forward to attending next year’s event.

The Shade Hotel is located at 1221 N Valley Dr Manhattan Beach, CA 90266. Continue reading

Beachwood BBQ & Brewing 2 Year Anniversary Celebration

These photos are from the Beachwood BBQ & Brewing Two Year Anniversary Celebration which was held Saturday, June 29 at Beachwood’s Long Beach location at 210 E 3rd St. in Long Beach, CA. For those that have yet to experience Beachwood’s craft beers, you really need to do yourself a favor and if possible, head to Long Beach and check them out. On any given day, except Mondays when they are closed, Beachwood will have seven or eight beers brewed on location available for pours. In addition to their own brews, they have a guest tap list that would be pretty tough to beat with 25-30 guest taps also available. For the party yesterday they brought out 27 or 28 of their own brews which a pretty amazing number considering they have only been brewing for two years.

As you can see from the list of Beachwood’s craft beers that they published, there was a wonderful list of options available.

Alpha Bomb – American Pale Ale
Annihilator – American Barleywine
Barrel Aged Full Malted Jacket – Scottish Style
Wee Heavy aged in Bourbon Barrels
Beachwood Six – Smoked Black Saison
Beyond a Reasonable Stout – Imperial Stout
Clear & Present Manger – Winter Warmer (collaboration brew with Pizza Port San Clemente)
Dank Matter – Double India Pale Ale (brewed special for this 2nd Anniversary)
Dubbel in Paradise – Belgian Style Dubbel
Fahrenheit 342 – Rye India Pale Ale
Full Malted Jacket – Scottish Style Wee Heavy Continue reading

Los Angeles Brewing Company, a new gastropub in DTLA

Over Father’s Day weekend my daughter was up in San Francisco running a half marathon so we were unable to spend the day together and she asked me to pick somewhere for us to have lunch on the following weekend. She lives out in the Pasadena area and I am in the South Bay, so I started looking for somewhere that was midway between the two of us; preferably somewhere I had never been before. I have to admit, I was a little surprised when I came upon the Los Angeles Brewing Company (LABC). I was even more surprised to hear that they had 100 beers on tap; how had I missed hearing about them?

They opened about a year ago and are located in the old Broadway theater district of downtown Los Angeles; it would be pretty easy to pass LABC if you were not looking for it. Once you find parking (there is paid public parking just north of LABC) and enter the building it becomes readily apparent that the building has been around for a long time, with lots of marble and the type of construction you just do not see any more. Since I had to wait for my daughter to join us I decided to try and take a few photos on the interior; unfortunately, whoever it was working behind the bar did not seem to like the idea so I went back out front to wait for my daughter to get there. Los Angeles Brewing Company is huge inside and because of the decor, it is pretty loud. I will let that be the excuse as to why it took so long for the hostess to notice that we were ready to be seated.

While LABC has a reported 100 beers on tap (I saw 96 taps) they do not brew beer there. They do have a few LABC beers, but it looks like it is currently being brewed by Firestone Walker. I read that they plan on brewing there in the near future. They have a nice tap list but I got the impression that the staff were not really beer people. The food was good and I suppose my only concern is whether or not they have enough business to justify having 100 beers on tap. It was a Sunday and they seemed to have a decent brunch crowd, but it was pretty empty by the time we left. I hope that their weekday crowds are larger or there are going to be some kegs that are going to take a while to go through. Continue reading

Waves of Grain Beerfest coming June 30

Waves of Grain flier

Waves of Grain at Shade Hotel benefiting The Richstone Family Center

The second annual Waves of Grain Beerfest will be held this Sunday, June 30 at the Shade Hotel in Manhattan Beach. This is a fundraiser benefiting the Richstone Family Center whose efforts are concentrated on preventing and treating child abuse.

This second annual beer festival will feature more than 40 craft brewers and a barbecue with a whole roasted pig. Among the breweries attending are Anchor Brewing, Beachwood, Ballast Point, Cosmic Ales, El Segundo Brewing, Monkish, Strand Brewing, Smog City, Stone, Dogfish Head and The Dudes’ Brewing. I went to this event last year and had an absolute ball. Considering last year had 25 breweries represented and this year has 40; that sounds like a whole lot more fun. You can find my photos from last year’s event at http://www.gotbaddog.com/waves-of-grain-beerfest-2012/.

Waves of Grain is Sunday, June 30, 2013 from 3-6 PM. You can purchase tickets online ahead of time for $40 each (there is a $3.19 fee per order, not per ticket); or you can buy them at the door for $50. There is no guarantee there will be tickets at the door though, there is limited space so I highly advise buying your tickets ahead of time. The Shade Hotel is located at 1221 N Valley Dr Manhattan Beach, CA 90266. I hope to see you there; be sure to smile if you see my camera pointed at you.

The Dudes’ Brewing at Nelson’s Beer Garden

A pretty major advantage to living in Southern California is that the weather is pretty awesome at any given time; in fact, you can schedule an outdoor event almost any day of the year and there is a good chance it is going to be nice out. Saturday afternoon, June 22, we headed up to Palos Verdes and Nelson’s new beer garden at the Terranea Resort. They are having their annual summer concert series, this time with a beer garden. When we were there, a solo guitarist Wise Katubadrau was performing. The reason I was aware of this event was that Torrance’s newest microbrewery, The Dudes’ Brewing Company, was the guest tap of the week this past weekend. When they put out the notice of this event I knew I would have to go, because the scenery would be great; and as predicted, it was very nice out.

Nelson’s is a restaurant at the end of the Terranea Resort; looking over the cliffs. It is very scenic and pretty kicked back for being at an upscale resort. Parking is kind of a hassle unless you are lucky enough to find some free parking; otherwise they have paid self parking and valet options starting at $10 and going up to $25. You might find value in the $25 parking though because you can catch a ride on their shuttle down to Nelson’s. The walk down might be pleasant but I suspect the walk back up the hill would become tiresome, especially after a few beers.

The Dudes’ Brewing Company just opened about three months ago, but are already making a name for themselves in the South Bay. They have yet to open a tasting room due to growing pains and some unforeseeable circumstances, but they hope to have one open by the end of summer. The Dudes’ had four taps pouring at Nelson’s with their Day One Pale Ale, Grandma’s Pecan Brown Ale, Grinning Face Porter and the most photogenic of them all, their Double Trunk DIPA. As this was my first time to Nelson’s I cannot tell you how the crowd compared to other events but by the time we left there was a pretty long beer line. I guess Dudes’ did abide at nelson’s Beer Garden.

Nelson’s Beer Garden is located at 100 Terranea Way, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA Continue reading

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

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