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Zymurgy Brew Works Guest Brewer Night with Graham Strong

These photos were taken Tuesday evening at Zymurgy Brew Works & Tasting Room in Torrance as they continued their series of guest brewer nights; this time featuring Graham Strong, an assistant brewer at Brouwerij West in San Pedro.

While the previous guest brewer nights I have attended brewed different versions of IPAs, last night we brewed Brouwerij West’s Saison. While IPAs may be “all about the hops”, Brouwerij West’s Saison is more about the grain bill and the yeast. A definite example of brewers make the wort, yeast makes the beer.

While there may have been a few people that were at Zymurgy for the first time, it seemed that almost everyone was a homebrewer with some experience; but that did not stop anyone from wanting to participate in the process, from adding the grain to stirring or adding the hops. In the dead time we were able to sample a finished example of the Brouwerij West Saison as well as their new IPA, Picnic Lightning. Continue reading

2nd Annual Jeff Sanders Memorial Homebrew Competition

These photos were taken at the 2nd Annual Jeff Sanders Memorial Homebrew Competition which was held Saturday at the Robert Gennaria Memorial Odd Fellows Hall in Redondo Beach. The event was put on by the Strand Brewers Club and was sponsored by South Bay Brewing Supply, King Harbor Brewing Company, Naja’s Place, Smog City Brewing Company, and Strand Brewing Company.

There were 47 entries judged, all of which were limited the Jeff’s favorite styles, which meant there were lots of barleywines, English-style ales, porters and such.

As of this writing, the winners had not been announced, so check the Strand Brewers Club website or Facebook page over the next few days for the announcement. Cheers! Continue reading

Pacific Gravity Monster Brew at Smog City Brewing

On Saturday morning, a few dozen members of the Pacific Gravity Homebrewers Club met at Smog City Brewing Company for the Fourth Pacific Gravity Monster Brew. Smog City co-founder, Brewmaster, and Pacific Gravity member Jonathan Porter, teamed up with Pacific Gravity member Carl Townsend to develop the base wort for this event with an English theme. In keeping with past monster brews, the recipe was made so the base wort could be used for whatever kind of beer the brewer wanted. The hard part was done, and participants brought the wort home to add hops, roasted malts, the yeast of their choice or whatever adjuncts they might want to experiment with.

After everyone got their allotment of wort, there was a barbecue out back for those that wanted some burgers or brats. It was a nice way to start out a Saturday afternoon. Cheers! Continue reading

Zymurgy Brew Works Guest Brewer Night with Phil McDaniel

These photos are from Wednesday evening at Zymurgy Brew Works & Tasting Room, when they held the third in a series of “Learn to Brew” guest brewer nights. Wednesday’s guest brewer was Phil McDaniel, the head brewer at King Harbor Brewing Company (KHBC) in Redondo Beach; the beer being brewed is one of my personal favorites from KHBC, Tiki Hut IPA.

About 15 people attended with a pretty even mix of homebrewers and those that had never tried brewing before; this was also the first time visiting Zymurgy for some with a few people that had yet to visit KHBC. This made for some interesting questions and McDaniel was more than willing to provide valuable answers; covering such subjects as various grain bills and their affect on a beer, as well how he decided on what hops to use.

McDaniel gave us a little background story on his brewing pedigree; including the fact that he started off by volunteering at Bootleggers Brewery (with about two hours notice), before moving on to such prestigious breweries as The Bruery and Stone Brewing Company. Continue reading

Zymurgy Brew Works Guest Brewer Night with Patrick Schulz

These photos were taken Wednesday evening at Zymurgy Brew Works & Tasting Room when they held their second in a series of “Learn to Brew” guest brewer nights; this time featuring Patrick Schulz, a co-founder and head brewer for Scholb Premium Ales, located in Torrance. Patrick would be showing the group how to brew his Dad’s IPA.

As I missed the first guest brewer event, I was not entirely sure how the event would be completed in the scheduled three hours; but like a TV talk show that has a cooking segment, they had that worked out by doing two brews. One brew had already had the grain added by the time I got there, and the second kettle was in the process of heating the water. When everyone arrived they started by adding grain to the second kettle and after sparging the grain in the first kettle, the hop additions began. Continue reading

Beer Label Designs by Brittany

cwris label

Cold War Russian Imperial Stout label

Hopefully you recall that back in August I went to Zymurgy Brew Works & Tasting Room to brew my Cold War Russian Imperial Stout. After a few weeks of fermenting Zymurgy Brew Works founder, Bill Baker, contacted me to let me know that the beer had been bottled and all they were waiting for was the design for my label. I was afraid this might present a problem as I have zero artistic skills beyond the camera and my resident designer and I had just parted ways.

I put it out on my Facebook page that I was looking for someone to design a logo for the beer and it was not long before I heard back from Kim and Brian who have been Craft Beer Guy supporters for quite a while; and coincidentally, Brian is the best friend of one of my brothers. Kim and Brian have a son that has a girlfriend, Brittany, that is a designer and I was told that she would be come up with a label for me. I offered no advice as to what I was looking for, just the name of the beer. You can see the results in the accompanying photos. Continue reading

Cold War Brewing at Zymurgy Brew Works & Tasting Room

On Wednesday evening, Tanya and I headed over to Zymurgy Brew Works & Tasting Room where we met up with co-founder Bill Baker to try out their new Do-It-Yourself craft brewery which is slated to begin their soft-open on September 10, 2016. My brew would not only add some beer to my collection, but it would give Zymurgy an opportunity to dial in their system and it would provide samples for future brewers to enjoy during subsequent brews. I opted to brew a recipe my son has for his Sochi to Stanley Stout; a delicious Russian Imperial Stout. The reason for this was primarily because I did not want to power drink five gallons of an IPA; I would much rather open one bomber every few months and this beer would be just perfect for that.

I had sent the recipe to Baker ahead of time in order to ensure that all the ingredients or applicable substitutes were available. One substitute was replacing the pound of Special B malt with a pound a Crystal 120 which was presented to me as C-120; I thought that sounded like an explosive so I changed the name of the beer to Cold War Russian Imperial Stout. Homebrewers will acknowledge that a Russian Imperial Stout is a pretty ambitious beer for the average homebrewer; Zymurgy was excited to do it as it was a pretty safe bet that this would be one of the biggest beers they will brew there. Continue reading

Dia de los Muertos Party with Strand Brewers Club

These photos are from the Dia de Los Muertos party Friday night that was hosted by Chris and Alexis Remensperger and co-hosted by the Strand Brewers Club. For those of you unfamiliar with Dia de los Muertos, it is Spanish for Day of the Dead and is a three day festival celebrated throughout Mexico to remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey. Since the Strand Brewers recently lost one of their own in August, this year Dia de los Muertos took on special significance for many in attendance.

Dia de los Muertos is celebrated from October 31 through November 2, so the party included costumes for those so inclined (as you will see by the photos, many went all out). As it is a predominantly Mexican holiday, it only made sense that a taco cart would be made available serving delicious pollo, carne and al pastor tacos with all the fixings. For the kids, and some adults, a big screen was set up in the backyard showing The Nightmare Before Christmas. And there was beer, lots and lots of homebrewed beer along with a few commercial varieties.

As I mentioned before, the South Bay’s craft beer community is a lot like family at times and this was really shown last night when one looked around and saw just how many families are involved with the Strand Brewers. And while they may have lost Jeff in August, judging by the number of babies and youngsters at the party, the Strand Brewers has a build in membership that should last for decades. Cheers! Continue reading

Photos from the 2015 Pacific Brewers Cup

These photos are from the 2015 Pacific Brewers Cup homebrew competition which was held Saturday afternoon at Four Points by Sheraton at LAX. The event was hosted by Strand Brewers Club, Long Beach Homebrewers, and Pacific Gravity. There were 458 entries consisting of beer, mead and ciders.

While these photos were all taken Saturday, the fact of the matter is that with 458 entries, the judging portion actually started two weeks ago when members of the Strand Brewers Club had to sort the 1300 plus bottles into categories and get all the information entered in the competitions database. I helped out on the sorting by scanning in the entries with their assigned competition number; this gave me an opportunity to see where the entries came from. I have to admit, I was pretty surprised at how far and wide they came from; with several entries coming from out of state. Because of the substantial number of entries, there were a couple judging sessions done ahead of time.

As you might think, it is quite the task to judge 458 beers, mead and ciders and it truly takes a lot of work by an organized team to pull that off. The team yesterday consisted of 70 judges and 42 stewards. I met one of the judges yesterday that came all the way from Chandler, Arizona “for the love of beer” as opposed to trying to escape Chandler’s 100+ weather. While the judges were truly put to the test, I doubt that the event could have moved as smoothly as it did without the efforts of the stewards. Head Steward Barbara Bovee is to be congratulated for keeping things as organized as they were. Continue reading

Photos from Strand Brewers Monster Brew at Monkish Brewing

These photos were taken at a Monster Brew put on by the Strand Brewers Club and hosted by Monkish Brewing Company. While this was a Strand Brewers Club event, home brewers from Crude Brew Crew, Pacific Gravity, Maltose Falcons and Long Beach Homebrewers were also in attendance.

For those unfamiliar with a “monster brew”, typically, a brewery will create wort then sell batches of it to home brewers who will take it home and add their own preferred yeast and additional malts, extracts, hops or whatever they desire. Since Monkish Brewing does do Belgian-style brews I was not surprised to hear that Belgian-style pale ales were a popular goal for many.

The grain bill consisted of:

78% Domestic 2-Row Malt
12% Flaked Oats
5% Vienna Malt
4% Acid Malt

The goal was a 1.051 OG wort at 25 IBUs. I did not hear how close they were, but I suspect it was very close if not dead on.

As you can see by the photos, they had a very large turnout; I left before they finished doling out the wort so I am not sure if they had extra or not. I have seen times that gallons had to be dumped because it wasn’t all sold. The point is, if you are just getting into home brewing you should watch out for these events. Getting the wort right is the toughest part, so if you can get 5-10 gallons done professionally you have a great start to a good homebrewed beer. If you are a homebrewer and haven’t joined one yet, seek out a homebrew club in your area, you will find a community of people with a willingness to help you be the best you can be as a home brewer. Cheers! Continue reading

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