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Gastropubs

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

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

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

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

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 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.

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