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Lloyd Brown

38 Degrees 4th Anniversary Party on June 8

pliny flight

Russian River Flight at 38 Degrees, Alhambra

It was a little over three months ago that I first heard about 38 Degrees Ale House and Grill; after all, they are all the way out in Alhambra and I am in the South Bay so there was not a lot of reasons that I had to be aware of them. On one particular evening I happened to be at a beer event in Hermosa Beach and someone I was talking to received a text telling him that there was going to be a Pliny the Younger release party at 38 Degrees in Alhambra. I had heard a lot of rumors by that point, so I called 38 Degrees to confirm the rumor and after talking to co-owner Clay Harding it was decided that I would come out and cover their event.

To be honest, I was not really sure what to expect; I certainly was not expecting what I found there. Looking past the 400 people standing in line to get in, one guy for more than three hours by the time I got there, I was pretty impressed. 38 Degrees Ale House and Grill is huge; it must seat more than 200 people. They offer 38 beers on tap or cask and I do not recall seeing any Budweiser or Miller there. In fact, I was a little disappointed that I had ridden my bike out there because there was a lot to choose from and a designated driver would have been nice. I did not eat, but it seems like everyone around me did. I asked a couple people about the food and they all spoke highly of it. When I left, I knew I would have to return to spend a little more time.

38 Degrees

38 Degrees Ale House & Grill, Alhambra

That time has come; on Saturday June 8, 38 Degrees will be holding their 4th Anniversary Celebration beginning at 1:00 PM to “celebrate four years of serving Los Angeles with some of the most delicious and unique craft beers and entrees.” There is no cost of admission; just pay for what you eat or drink. Speaking of drink, 38 Degrees 38 Degrees will be breaking out some very special archived beers; barrel aged beers, sour ales as well as fresh local ales. Their list includes: Continue reading

Visiting Two Hermosa Beach Gastropubs

On Sunday, Tanya and I headed to Hermosa Beach for the Fiesta Hermosa; an annual street fair they have had twice a year (Memorial Day and Labor Day) every year since 1972. It started off as an arts and crafts fair, but the food (and people watching) was always the big draw when it first started, as far as I was concerned. Tanya had never been so we walked along The Strand until we got to 10th Street, where we entered by the beer garden. I went in the beer garden with the intent of finding all of the local brewers in one spot; sadly, there were no local brewers represented. The closest thing to craft brew they had was Sierra Nevada and Angry Orchard, I was really surprised.

While we were walking around the food court I saw a booth for a place around the corner that offered 54 beers on tap; I made a mental note but headed over to Mediterraneo instead as I have heard about them for a while, but had never made it over for some reason.

When I first heard about Mediterraneo I was told that it was a tapas bar with a great craft beer list. When I looked at the tap list displayed outside it said they had Pliny the Elder, so I knew what I wanted. Tanya figured she could find something she wanted. When we got inside we discovered a family friendly restaurant with a very nice tap list; they did not have and Pliny, but I was told the outside menu is not kept up to date. While I kind of had my heart set on that Pliny, I was able to find a couple substitutes; primarily a Palate Wrecker and a Jolly Pumpkin Maracaibo Especial. We tried a few of their tapas; the hummus and caprice salad were good, the lamb skewer was kind of fatty. It was a pleasant experience though and I am sure we will return.

While walking around the fair, I saw a sign for Game Changers, the place that advertised 54 beers on tap. Game Changers is a sports bar that serves craft beer. They have 54 taps of quality craft beers available; and they serve what appears to be some pretty good food. We did not eat there so I can’t comment on it, but if you are walking down Hermosa Avenue, it is definitely worth stopping in to Game Changers; they seem to know what craft beer is all about. Continue reading

A Visit to the Torrance Microbreweries

I have always felt pretty fortunate to live in the South Bay with its great weather and lack of natural disasters, but the recent explosion of craft brewers in the area has made living here that much better. Earlier in the month, Torrance Mayor Scotto even cited craft beer as a new growth industry for Torrance. I will do all I can to help Torrance craft brewers succeed and look forward to the day that a tour of Torrance microbreweries will rival anything San Diego County can offer. Torrance currently has three microbreweries with tasting rooms, Strand Brewing Company, Monkish Brewing Company and Smog City Brewing. On Saturday my girlfriend Tanya and I had gone out to photograph flowers at the South Coast Botanical Gardens, which just happened to be around the corner from Strand Brewing Company, so we made a stop on the way home.

Strand Brewing Company is one of the original two microbreweries here that has a tasting room. While the tasting room has only been open for little over a year, Strand Brewing has been in business since 2009, supplying local establishments that serve craft beer. Probably best known for their 24th Street Pale Ale and Atticus IPA’s, Strand Brewing’s owner/brewmaster Joel Elliot has been releasing a few different styles including some outstanding Double IPA’s, with White Sand being a personal favorite. Their Second Sleep Imperial Stout is another standout. Strand has recently started bottling beers so it is becoming easier to take my favorites home and have them last longer than what growler can provide.

Tanya was getting a little hungry, so we decided to head over to Monkish Brewing Company because they seem to always have a food truck there on Fridays and Saturdays. Saturday they had Andy’s Cart, a gourmet hot dog and sausage cart. We tried their Chicago dog and a Reuben sausage sandwich; they were pretty good.

Monkish Brewing Company opened their tasting room about the same time as Strand Brewing and specializes in Belgian style ales. It has been a pleasure watching Monkish grow as owner/brewmaster Henry Nguyen expands his list of available beers. The first time I visited Monkish they had four taps available; their Oblate, Anomaly, Red Table and Feminist. When we stopped by Saturday there were a total of 10 taps pouring including his new lager, a Dubbel and a Tripel. Barrel aged is next on tap. Continue reading

BeerBoxer – Sounds too good to be true?

BeerBoxer box

BeerBoxer Assortment

The other day I saw an advertisement for BeerBoxer on Facebook; Beer Boxer is a beer club that will send you “beers you won’t find locally” in “a variety of craft beer styles, including less familiar styles like experimental beers and wild ales, and more well-known styles such as IPAs and stouts.” The advertisement was for a Father’s Day Sale and they were knocking $10 off the standard price; $49.95 for “12 oz bottles and cans” of “12 exceptional craft beers per month” or $69.95 for “6 highly sought-after craft beers” in 750 ml and 22 oz bombers. There were a few reasons I decided to give them a try; the first was that it had free delivery and I have been investigating shipping beer to do some trades so I knew that was not cheap. The $10 coupon sealed the deal, how could I lose? Their website says “BeerBoxer is the best way to get fresh, hard-to-find craft beers.” I decided I would go with the $49.95 “Discovery Box” since they said it “More Variety.” Well, one package had 12 bottles while the other had 6; would that be presumed? Maybe not. I figured this was going to be better than what I could do by walking over to Total Wine.

Today I received my first and last shipment from BeerBoxer; you can see what I got in the photo above. To say that I was a little disappointed would be an understatement. Yes, I got 12 beers, but they consisted of three bottles of four different beers; so much for the variety. As far as the “fresh, hard-to-find craft beers” claim, let’s look a little closer.

I received four different beers; Indica IPA from Lost Coast Brewery, Deschutes’ Black Butte Porter, Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ from Lagunitas Brewery and a Boulevard Brewery Double-Wide IPA. Hard to find? Maybe if I live in Arkansas, all four are readily available at my local Total Wine store. As far as freshness is concerned the “Best Used By” dates on the bottles that had that had them was October 2013. On the variety aspect I got an ale, an IPA, a DIPA and a porter.

Suddenly my “how can I lose” attitude became, how much did I lose? I went across the street to Total Wine because they allow you to buy individual bottles at a slightly higher price than buying a 6-pack; I figured this would be the fairest way to compare. The Indica IPA is $1.49/each, the Black Butte Porter is $1.99/each. Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ is $1.99/each and the Double-Wide IPA’s were $2.99/each. If I went to Total Wine I would spend less than $29.00. All I can say is I am really glad I opted for the least expensive option.

To be fair, I did voice my disappointment to BeerBoxer on their Facebook page and Susie Hindle Kher, their marketing and PR person, wrote asking what the problems were. I told her that the primary issues were that I was expecting hard to find beers and three of the four breweries were practically neighbors; and that there was no way I was expecting three bottles of the same beer. Continue reading

Business & Beer welcomes Smog City Brewing

These photos are from the Business & Beer networking event which was held at Smog City Brewing Company on Thursday evening. While Smog City just had their grand opening last Saturday and are still figuring out what days and hours they are going to be open, they were gracious enough to experiment with the idea of being open on Thursdays, at least for now. We had a pretty nice turnout last night with this being the first time trying Smog City beers for most; judging by the number of flights being purchased, most were eager to try out the various options available. In addition to the great beer, Urban Pie, a mobile pizzeria was there with their word burning oven and four variations of pizza available; I think their Bee Stinger (named so for the honey they drizzle over it) was my favorite. I may have to start adding honey to all my pies; it was good stuff at a fair price.

For those of you that live or work in the South Bay and find business networking to be important to your business growth, you are invited to join the Business & Beer networking group. We have been around since July 2012 and meet every Thursday at a different microbrewery, brewpub or gastropub in the South Bay area. There are no dues, no mandatory meetings and no restrictions on joining us. Just show up when you can. The upcoming schedule can be found on the Business & Beer website, BusinessNBeer.com. There you can sign up for the mailing list or Like on Facebook to be sure you are kept in the loop for our upcoming gatherings. Next week will be at The Rockefeller gastropub in Hermosa Beach. It is a fun place with lots of great craft beer to choose from. Continue reading

8th Annual American Craft Beer Week, Day 7

The 8th Annual American Craft Beer Week (ACBW) came to an end on Sunday, but not before I got an opportunity to track down some more award winning breweries. As it happened, I had a wine festival to cover on Sunday; it was a fundraiser for a non-profit, which is why I let it cut into my beer time. Since the event was out in Santa Monica, I took advantage of my geographical location and took a break from the wine event to seek a local craft beer spot that I was unaware of. I was pretty surprised when we found Westwood Brewing Company because Westwood is a high rent area which means it had to have been there for a while; why had I never heard of it?

Turns out that Westwood Brewing Company (WBC) has been around for about 20 years, stopped brewing about 9 years ago and won some awards at local beer shows. Sadly they will be closing in August to become a crab restaurant. Not sure if they are using the kettles to boil the crabs or not. Anyway, there was no WBC beer to be had, so I had a Chainbreaker White IPA by Deschute’s (2012 GABF Silver Medal) which was perfect on the hot summer day. Not much to say about the place since they are closing other than I am sure they will be missed by the UCLA students.

Later that day we headed to Sophie’s Place in Redondo Beach. Sophie’s Place is a nice little gastropub, located in the Riviera Village section of Redondo. They have 8 rotating taps and about 50 other craft beers available in bottles and cans. It is hard to believe that I only started going there 10 months ago because it sure seems like I am there a lot. It is owned by three brothers, one of which, Bobby, is a big fan of craft beer and does some home brewing. Bobby takes pride in the beers he has available and frequently hosts events to promote our local microbreweries. For day 7 of ACBW, Bobby divided his taps between two Central California craft brewers, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company and Firestone Walker Brewing Company; both of which are GABF award winners. Since I was not ready to do a flight of eight, I opted for a 2nd Anniversary Grand Cru, a Hurricane Deck and Big Cone Black Ale from Figueroa Mountain; and a Sucaba from Firestone.

It was another fun American Craft Beer Week; I am going to have to figure out something different for next year. Continue reading

Day 6 of American Craft Beer Week 2013

beer menu

Smog City Beer on Tap

Saturday was day six of the 8th Annual American Craft Beer Week (ACBW) and to be honest, it was a day that I had been waiting for like a kid at Christmas; Smog City Brewing Company finally had their grand opening. It is not like the South Bay is lacking in microbreweries, but Smog City is geographically the closest to me (by about two blocks) and Jon Porter(owner/brewer, goes by Porter) brews the widest variety of beers for miles. On their tap list Saturday, they had Smog City XPA, Groundwork Coffee Porter, Sabre-Toothed Squirrel(Red Ale), Quercus Circus (Sour), Bourbon Red (Barrel Aged), Penumbra Stout, Amarilla Gorilla (IPA) and Weird Beer (Saison). The plan is to eventually have 20 beers available on their taps, so in my opinion, Smog City Brewing is a great addition to the South Bay craft beer scene. Oh, and Porter won a gold at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival for his Groundwork Coffee Porter.

beer taps

Every party should have 15 taps

After leaving Smog City I headed over to a birthday party for the president of one of the local home brewing clubs, Strand Brewers Club. I felt it appropriate that I include was able to include a home brewers gathering in this celebration of American craft beer. It seems that every biography I read about a respected brewer includes science and/or engineering and being a home brewer. In fact, Porter of Smog City started off as a home brewer and was a member of the Pacific Gravity home brewers club and won many competitions as a home brewer. The host of the Strand Brewers Club party was Rives Borland, the current president, because it was his birthday. A look around Rives living room shows he has several ribbons and plaques from brewing competitions under his belt, so you never know; someday I may be writing about his new brewery, only time will tell.

You can see all the photos from day 6 of the 2013 American Craft Beer Week on GotBaddog.com.

American Craft Beer Week, Day 5

San Pedro Brewing Company

San Pedro Brewing Company

Friday was day 5 of the 8th Annual American Craft Beer Week (ACBW) and I am fortunate enough to have two award winning brewers within a few miles of my home. The first being San Pedro Brewing Company and the other being Smog City Brewing.

As legend has it, in the beginning there were three microbreweries in the South Bay; Manhattan Beach Brewing Company, Redondo Beach Brewing Company and San Pedro Brewing Company. Manhattan Beach Brewing gave up on brewing and became a gastropub (Brewco Manhattan Beach), preferring to sell a wide variety of craft beers brewed by others. Redondo Beach Brewing Company continues to brew at their Riviera Village brewpub, but they do not experiment much and the beer recipes seemed to stay the same, batch after batch; it is a good entry level brewery to visit, but nothing exciting. Rumor has it that they will be discontinuing brewing there soon, preferring to go the route of Manhattan Beach Brewing. Of the three, San Pedro Brewing Company continues to brew and is opening a subsidiary of sorts, Port Town Brewing which has already won numerous awards.

Smog City Brewing

Smog City Beer on Tap

San Pedro Brewing Company (SPBC) is a brewpub that has been at their current location for 13 years. They have won more than 43 medals in local county fairs, commercial beer competitions and international beer festivals. In addition to award winning beers, they have some pretty good food. SPBC gives tours on Friday afternoons, so if in the area, you might want to check it out. I was given a mini-tour and have to admit, I was quite surprised at the quantity and quality of beers they brew with such a small operation. When I was taken downstairs I fully expected to see a massive operation; as you can tell by the photos that was far from being the case.

While there I tried a flight of all seven in-house brewed beers that were available: Bruin Blonde Ale (2012 Silver Medal, California Commercial Beer Competition), Longshoreman Lager (2009 Gold Medal American Style Lager, Los Angeles County Fair), Port Town Hefeweizen, Mai Bock Spring Lager, Iowa Battleship IPA, Beacon Street Barleywine (2012 American Style Barleywine, Los Angeles International Beer Competition) and Sunken City Imperial Stout.

When I left San Pedro I headed over to Smog City Brewing as they just got their growlers in and I wanted to be among the first on my block to own one. While there I had a Quercus Circus Sour and an Amarilla Gorilla IPA; we picked up a growler of the 2012 Great American Beer Festival gold medal winner, Smog City Groundwork Coffee Porter. Smog City’s grand opening was held on Saturday, so that will be the subject of my ACBW day 6 report. All my photos from day five of American Craft beer Week will be found on GotBaddog.com.

Day 4 of American Craft Beer Week 2013

Alpine Inn beer menu

Alpine Inn Beer List

Thursday was day four of the 8th Annual American Craft Week and due to prior commitments I had to miss a day of visiting an award winning craft brewery. We have a business networking group, BusinessNBeer.com that meets every Thursday at a different microbrewery, brewpub or gastropub in the South Bay area. This week we met at Alpine Inn at Alpine Village in Torrance, a German gastropub that has a pretty nice craft beer selection.

Alpine Inn is probably best known for their annual Oktoberfest that they have held every year since 1968 making it the largest and oldest Oktoberfest celebration in Southern California. A lesser known event is the Alpine Village Bier Fest which was held for the first time in September 2012. There were 100 beers from 50 different breweries, many of them very hard to find. It was a great event, but it had a very low turnout; luckily Alpine Inn has a couple nice cellars so the beer that was not consumed was stored for safe keeping.

While Alpine Inn did have a couple award winning breweries represented on draft last night, Firestone Walker and Uinta Brewing, I do not particularly care for Firestone’s Solace and I was not really in a mood for a Kölsch (I might have made an exception if they were from California), so I opted for a White Dog IPA from El Segundo Brewing Company and a Manifesto from Eagle Rock Brewery. You can see all the photos from our Business & Beer gathering at Alpine Inn on GotBaddog.com.

beer menu Hot's

Hot’s Kitchen Beer List

It was still early by the time our meeting ended and I wanted to find an award winning beer to drink, so we headed to Hot’s Kitchen in Hermosa Beach. I have been to Hot’s Kitchen a couple times, so I knew they had a pretty nice beer tap list. While their beer list is extensive and the beertender said she was a fan of craft beer, she did not know it was American Craft Beer Week and she really had no clue which brewers might be award winners much less if any of the beers were. The point is they have a very nice beer selection, but don’t expect much in the way of advice; however, they are good about giving tasters to try some if you are unsure what you want. Luckily, we had Internet with us, so after a little research I settled on an Epic Brewing Hopulent IPA (2012 Australian International Beer Festival Silver medal). While there I also tried a Hangar 24 Palmero and a Mor Mor from Brouwerij West.

You can find all my photos from day four of the 2013 American Craft Beer Week on GotBaddog.com.

2013 American Craft Beer Week – Day 3

Stone Brewing Taps

Stone Brewing, Company Store – Pasadena

Wednesday was day three of the 8th Annual American Craft Beer Week (ACBW), and I continued my quest to visit as many Great American Beer Festival (GABF) gold medal winners from Southern California as possible. For day three we drove out to Pasadena to visit the Stone Brewing Company Store that opened the middle of last year. I have visited the location a couple times and I will admit that if I had an office job that required I commute, there would be nothing better that I can think of than to have something like the Stone Brewing store waiting for me at the end of my work day. Besides beers on tap, they offer growlers and bottles and extremely good prices. It is worth the trip.

Rated as one of the best brewers in the US and the world by two of the largest beer enthusiast websites, RateBeer and BeerAdvocate, I would be remiss if I did not include Stone Brewing in my quest for GABF award winning breweries from California. While I went to Pasadena yesterday, if you have an opportunity to visit their brewery in Escondido you should do it. Good food and great beer in a very scenic setting. It is appropriate for the entire family.

For my award winning flight I opted for a Stone Ruination IPA, a Stone Levitation Ale (2007 GABF Gold Medal), a Stone Sublimely Self Righteous Ale (2010 GABF Bronze Medal) and a Smoked Porter (2010 Asia Beer Award Gold Medal).

Haven Flight

Haven Gastropub Flight

After sampling at Stone for a while, we went around the corner to Haven Gastropub and Brewing. I have been there before, but as I recall they were just starting to brew on location. I had forgotten about that, but knew I could find some award winning beers on their guest tap list. As it turns out, Gastropub Brewing has a new Head Brewer, Brian Thorson, an award winning brewer formerly with Drake’s Brewing and yesterday they released his new brew, so I included it on my flight. My flight consisted of Haven Simcoded American Pale Ale, Firestone Walker Velvet Merkin (2010 & 2011 GABF Gold medal), Eel River Acai Wheat, and The Bruery White Oak. While the beers from Haven, Eel River and The Bruery were not medal winners, the breweries and brewers have won numerous awards.

All my photos from day three of the 2013 American Craft Beer Week can be found on GotBaddog.com.

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