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Brewpubs

The Road to the Firestone Invitational 2016

If you asked me a week ago if I would be attending the 5th Annual Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival (FWIBF16), I would have hung my head and responded that I would not be there. On Wednesday afternoon a good friend of mine put out an alert on Facebook announcing that he was not going to be able to make it, so he had two tickets available to the first person that contacted him; I was that guy.

We headed out late Friday morning with the intention of visiting as many new [to me] craft breweries as possible. After two hours, in which we covered a mere 70 miles, we stopped for a Starbucks break in Camarillo; it was at this point that I realized that I had left my camera at home! I have to admit, this was a pretty depressing revelation because I knew that traffic was getting worse and it would likely take me five or six hours to get back to Camarillo.

While Tanya was inside the store I recalled the previous evening when I saw Tanya pack her Canon T1i Rebel in case we stopped somewhere that she felt like photographing. I knew she would not have any extraneous equipment, like an external flash or the Sigma lens I like but it would be better than trying to cover the event using my Smartphone … maybe. Continue reading

For your eyes only: HopSaint Soft Open Going on Now

Okay, I am going to make this short and sweet; the HopSaint Brewing Company brewpub in Torrance has unofficially begun their soft open. I say “unofficially” because they are not really advertising it quite yet; consider it a soft, soft open.

The photos were taken over 14 months, but primarily from their initial opening for investors and family and then again Saturday night. They are open seven (7) days a week, but right now food service will not begin until 4:00 or 5:00 PM and some items may be limited. Tonight was the first time I had an opportunity to look at the food menu and there are a few items that I cannot wait to try.

Currently, Brian Brewer has three of his brews on tap; Cacophony IPA, $1.00 from every pint sold goes to Ales for ALS, Eleven-Eight which is like an ESB and Bubble Butt Blonde which is as tasty as it sounds. They have a very extensive tap list so there are no worries about not finding something you will like. Continue reading

Beachwood BBQ & Brewing 4th Anniversary Photos

These photos were taken at the Beachwood BBQ & Brewing 4th Anniversary celebration which was held Saturday, July 11 at the Long Beach brewpub.

One of the best things about writing about my travels is that I am easily able to refer back to the first time I visited the Long Beach location or any of the three prior anniversary parties and easily see how much they have grown in just a few short years. I had to chuckle when I looked back and saw that they had nine beers available the first time I went there; yesterday they had over 40 on tap and even more on cask. And it is not even just about the number of beers they brew, but how well done and true to style they are. I feel really fortunate to have them so relatively close to home.

I initially went to Long Beach in the morning, but due to circumstances beyond my control, I got there later than I planned on and the line was just too long so I decided I would come back later. I watched conversations on Facebook and around 3:30 the lines were done. When we arrived it was still busy with their fans ordering up from the dozens of brews available. Since Beachwood staggered the tap times of their barrel-aged brews, just about everything was still available except for the big barrel-aged brews that were available early on. Continue reading

Belmont Brewing Company: Location, location, location

BBC - Belmont Shores

Belmont Brewing Company – All about the location

On Monday morning I had some business to do in Los Alamitos; as I was finishing up around lunch time and Tanya was hungry, I asked her to get on her Smartphone to find where I should take her while I finished up. When she suggested Belmont Brewing Company, a brewpub that was 15 minutes away, I remembered that I had tried a couple of their brews at a beer festival in the past but as we had never been there before and Beachwood was closed, why not?

BBC brewhouse

BBC Brewhouse

The first thing I noticed is that parking is close to impossible. Truth be told, I could not even tell you where the best place to legally park. I guess foot and bicycle traffic is the best for them. The next thing I noticed was that this place was literally on the beach! I mean, what brewpub can afford a piece of prime real estate like a Southern California beachfront? Not many that I know of; but Belmont Brewing Company has been at this location since 1990, property was a little cheaper back then. Okay, I don’t know if they own or lease, but I suspect they own the property.

When we entered, we were offered our choice of sitting inside or out on the extensive outdoor patio they have. I got the impression that the hostess was a little surprised when I said we wanted to sit at the bar. It was a little hazy that afternoon, so the view wasn’t that spectacular; and I wanted to get a little history of the place. Continue reading

Road to the Firestone Walker Invitational

This past Friday morning I decided to start working my way north for the 4th Annual Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival in Paso Robles. I left a little early as I was going to take the 101 and try to find a brewery that I had yet to visit. I had posted on the Craft Beer Guy Facebook page asking for suggestions and one of my followers and personal acquaintances, Charles Mumford, recommended a few, but the one that I knew would be open at the same time I was in the area was Rincon Brewery, a brewpub located in Carpinteria.

I arrived just before noon and their outside patio seemed packed with customers enjoying the warm sunshine. As I entered I noticed that they had about 10 of their own brews and several guest taps. It was a nice looking room with a surfer vibe, which should probably be expected considering the name Rincon and its proximity to the beach. To the left I noticed a large window that displayed the brewery on the other side. Since I was traveling solo this trip, I decided I would just get one flight and ordered their Bates Blond Belgian Style Blond, Indicator IPA, 17 @17 IPA and Rivermouth Stout. All four were solid beers and made me think they must have been open for years because things seem pretty dialed in, especially considering they were offering 10 varieties.

The beertender, who happened to be co-owner Alma Billgren, noticed I was taking photos and asked who I was shooting for. When I told her she suggested I meet their brewer, another co-owner, Shaun Crowley. He invited me back to the brewhouse and told me a little of their history and his own. Apparently they have only been open a little more than six months, which really surprised me. Crowley later informed me that he and Billgren had met while working at Island Brewing Company where he was the head brewer. While there, he took home medals at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival and got the desire to open his own place. Continue reading

Craft Beer in Tempe and Scottsdale, Arizona

For the past 12 years, at the end of March or beginning of April I have gone to Tempe to photograph an industry trade show. Last year I spent some time visiting Sun Up Brewing, Arizona Wilderness Brewing and The Perch Pub & Brewery. When I left LA I had full intentions of re-visiting Arizona Wilderness because I know a lot has happened in the past year; and I wanted to stop by The Perch because last year they had not begun brewing yet and I know they are now. But plans, like rules are frequently broken. By the time we arrived in Tempe the traffic in the area was so bad that I just did not have the willpower to head out to Gilbert or Chandler so I decided to visit breweries that I had not yet visited.

We started off at Four Peaks Brewing Company, a massive brewpub that opened in April of 1997. It is my understanding that they have three locations now; the brewpub in Tempe, another location in Tempe that brews for distribution only and a pub in Scottsdale. I would guess that their most well-known brew must be Kilt Lifter as it is found in almost every venue I visited in the area. The parking is pretty much non-existent but that did not keep them from being packed by 5:00 PM on a Wednesday; I suppose their proximity to ASU has something to do with that.

We split a flight which consisted of their Sunbru Kölsch, Kilt Lifter, Oatmeal Stout, 8th Street Pale Ale, Raj IPA, Hop Knot IPA, their Hefeweizen and Peach Ale; they gave me a taster of their Short Hop ISA which is their session IPA. Of the batch, Hop Knot was definitely my favorite. We also had a burger and fries which were okay, but the people sitting next to us had some very nice looking plates; since they were regulars I guess they knew the best meals to order.

Four Peaks Brewing Company is located at 1340 E 8th Street in Tempe and is open seven days a week; Sunday from 10:00 AM until 1:00 AM and Monday through Saturday 11:00 AM until 1:00 AM. Continue reading

Phantom Carriage Ribbon Cutting

These photos were taken at the Phantom Carriage ribbon cutting which was held Thursday morning at their brewpub in Carson. Typically, the ribbon cuttings I have attended have been later in the afternoon, so I was pleasantly surprised to see the number of representatives from the City of Carson and the Carson Chamber of Commerce in attendance. Two things were pretty obvious; the first was that this was the first time coming to Phantom Carriage for many of them; the second was that they all seemed to enjoy the experience.

The Mayor of Carson, Jim Dear, started things off with a small ceremony out front to sign a petition in support of building an NFL stadium that theoretically would be the new home for the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders. They need about 8,000 signatures but Mayor Dear expects that they will get far more than that. You must be a Carson resident to sign the petition, so if you live in Carson and this is important to you, you might want to keep an eye out for signature gatherers.

After the petition ceremony we all moved inside for the ribbon cutting. Apparently, Dear is a fairly regular customer of Phantom Carriage and he made it clear that he has enjoyed his visits to Phantom and spoke of the success that their great brews and food have brought. One thing is quite certain, the City of Carson is very happy to have Phantom Carriage in their city and Mayor Dear looks forward to “several more” craft breweries calling Carson home. If the success of Phantom Carriage thus far is any indicator, Carson seems willing and able to become the latest craft beer Mecca of the Los Angeles area. Cheers! Continue reading

Phantom Carriage Grand Opening Photos

When Phantom Carriage first announced that they would be opening in Carson and specialize in sours, saisons and barrel-aged brews I know I was not alone in wondering if the City of Carson could sustain a brewery/blendery seeking such a niche audience. When we made our first visit there for the Media Day Soft Open Tanya was less than enthusiastic about even going because their style of brews is just not her thing but she discovered that she pretty much enjoyed everything we tried.

A month later we returned to see what kind of progress had been made and discovered tweaks to the beer and food menus, as well as seemingly small adjustments to the interior lighting and longer hours. It was then that co-owner and founder Martin Svab informed me that the Phantom Carriage grand opening is “now until early March.” Well, it is now early March and Phantom Carriage has officially had their Grand Opening which was held on Saturday.

As we drove down Main Street towards Phantom Carriage we could not help but notice cars parked all along the normally empty street; we had a feeling that these must be Phantom Carriage customers. This was confirmed when we pulled into their parking lot only to be greeted by a “Lot Full” sign and a long line of people waiting to get into the brewery itself. As I had another event to cover later I decided to just grab some photos then return later for close-ups; so if the photos look like they are from two different days, that is because they are. Continue reading

Moab Brewery: Moab, Utah

I feel quite fortunate in that I have been able to drive around most of this country with Alaska and New England being the only areas I have not visited yet. I am a fifth generation Californian and I am very proud of this fact and I think California is the most beautiful of all the states I have visited. That being said, Utah definitely ranks as the second most scenic state and I could spend weeks at a time traveling through it. We have spent days just trying to get out of Utah but there is something amazing around every turn that always seemed to keep us around a few more hours.

In April of 2011 I had an event to photograph in Tempe, Arizona and since it was close to Tanya’s birthday we decided we were going to spend a few more days in Utah, specifically in the Arches National Park area. We decided to stay in Moab the night before entering Arches and that is where we discovered Moab Brewery. Continue reading

Snake River Brewing – Jackson, Wyoming

When I left off the other day, I was reminiscing about a cross-country tour I took with a cousin in July 2011. After leaving Red Lodge Ales we drove through the Beartooth Mountains before dropping down into Wyoming where we were able to attend the Cody Nite Rodeo, then onto visit the Buffalo Bill Dam, Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Teton National Park. I had not been to Yellowstone in well over 40 years and happened to get to Old Faithful a few minutes before it erupted, so that was pretty cool. By the time we got to Grand Teton National Park we were losing daylight so we could not wander too much. We decided to call it a day when we arrived in Jackson, Wyoming. After finding a place to stay we were guided to Snake River Brewery & Restaurant.

One thing I failed to mention was that my cousin has Celiac disease; this means he is one of the people that really cannot have anything with gluten in it. As you might imagine, having a severe reaction to gluten does not make it easy when it comes to enjoying the craft beer experience. Snake River Brewery offers gluten free pasta, which was pretty tasty and my cousin enjoyed it a lot. When I look through the Snake River Brewing list of beers past and present I see that they list a gluten free beer but it was not available the night we were there.

I had a flight of the eight beers they had on tap that night; Guido’s Kolnerbrau (a Kölsch), Golden Buck Ale, Hoback Hefeweizen, Danimal’s Farmhouse Ale, Snake River Pale Ale, Pako’s IPA, Snake River Lager and Zonker Stout. If I am honest with myself, my craft beer palate was still pretty uneducated but I enjoyed everything I tried. Continue reading

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