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Flights Beer Bar

Lloyd Brown

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.

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

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