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Redondo Beach approves new microbrewery

I remember it like it was yesterday; okay, it was only three weeks ago but I remember the event vividly. It was the 4th of July. But wait, I am getting ahead of myself; allow me to back up.

There has been a lot of activity with businesses in the neighborhood of Hawthorne Boulevard and 182nd Street over the last couple of years. First on the northwest corner there was a lot of construction with new stores put in like Total Wine and Sprouts Farmers Market; that took care of most of my needs. On the southeast corner they tore down the El Pollo Loco which is probably my favorite fast food. Tanya (my girlfriend) would ask what I would like to come in its place but they replaced it with a Chick-fil-A instead. Across the street, on the northeast corner there a gas station that was there before I moved in in 1985; that was torn down. As we walked by it daily, Tanya would ask what I wanted to be built, and again my request was ignored and they put up a Chase Bank. It seemed nobody cared what the Craft Beer Guy wanted; and then it happened.

It was the 4th of July, my favorite holiday of the year. We were taking the dogs on their morning walk which includes walking down 182nd Street and through the small commercial strip mall at Kingsdale. Even though I walk through the complex on a daily basis, I rarely notice any activity other than the guy that owns the batting cages putting out his advertising or reading his paper while drinking his morning coffee. But this morning there was something different; something we had never seen before. Truth be told, Tanya is the one that noticed it first; a Public Notice of Application to Sell Alcoholic Beverages. I knew immediately what it had to be, no one was going to be putting in a bar or restaurant here; it had to be a new microbrewery! As I read the application and saw Coastline Brewing Company I realized that someone had been paying attention to my requests. Continue reading

Fun in the Sun with Dry River Brewing

Last week I attended the LA Beer Bloggers Summit at Haven Gastropub and among the people I met were Dave and Vanda of Dry River Brewing Company in Los Angeles. Dave and Vanda are currently brewing out of their home on a pretty limited basis, but they have been making appearances with their beers at various functions and generating chatter as well as a fan base. When I met Dave and he told me about Dry River Brewing, you could tell this was a guy with a vision. He explained how Dry River Brewing had partnered with the LA River Revitalization Corporation to help with the redevelopment and revitalization of properties along the LA River corridor in accordance with the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan. This caught my interest because it seems that I have been seeing a lot more talk about the LA River lately and when I stopped to think about it, I had never really seen the LA River beyond passing it on the freeway or when it was included in some chase scene for a movie. I had already made a mental note that I had to do something about that. Dry River Brewing took care of that.

Sunday afternoon, Dave and Vanda held a little get-together at their home for friends, investors, supporters of their Kickstarter program and beer aficionados. I knew they lived in the general vicinity of the LA River, so I figured I would head out a little early and see what I have been missing; was I ever surprised. The first portion of the photos were taken by Marsh Park on the LA River. There is so much more to see that I am planning on making a special trip to explore more of the river. The rest of the photos are from the Dry River party. Dave and Vanda presented two of their beers, their Rio Seco Pale dry-hopped with Amarillo hops and a yet to be named porter which seemed to be a crowd favorite. I look forward to seeing Dave and Vanda’s vision come to fruition and I have to thank them for introducing me to the LA River. 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

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

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.

Craft Beer Week Day One

Pizza Port

Pizza Port San Clemente

Welcome to Craft Beer Guy, it is not coincidental that this site is going live when it is as this is day one of the 8th Annual American Craft Beer Week. While I have been a craft beer fan for many years, I live in the Los Angeles area and to be blunt, we were sorely lacking on the craft beer scene. It seemed that Samuel Adams, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Fat Tire were about as much as we could hope for around here. Luckily, things have really changed around here which I discovered last year when covering the event. The craft beer scene in Southern California used to be limited to the San Diego area, but now things are catching up around here; and in my own back yard.

This year I decided to try to do something a little different; I am going to attempt to visit as many Great American Beer Festival (GABF) gold medal winners as possible in the area. In the event that I end up at a gastropub, I will attempt to purchase a gold medal winner. Should be easy, right?

Because I am somewhat limited by the hours in a day, I will be forced to limit my radius to about 60 miles. Most of the eligible breweries are inland of me, and it was close to 90 at home so I did not want to venture inland and opted for heading to Pizza Port in San Clemente, CA since it is a beach community. Pizza Port is a chain of pizza places that also brew beer. Unlike some chains, each location has their own head brewer and they are given leeway on at least some of the beers they brew. If you glance at the list of GABF winners you will notice that Pizza Port San Clemente, Solano Beach and Carlsbad have all been winners. I have never been to Pizza Port and I don’t recall ever trying anything from any of their locations prior to today; however, I have heard lots of praise about them so I was looking forward to the experience.

Congregation Ale House

Congregation Ale House, Long Beach

My hopes of a cool ride by the beach turned into a blast furnace ride with temperatures close to 100. Even in San Clemente it was 90 a couple blocks from the beach. I was really looking forward to the beers.

When we arrived, my girlfriend went up to the counter to order food. We got some “beer buddies” and a small pizza. While the attitude of the employees in that portion of the brewpub was helpful and upbeat, neither of us was particularly enthusiastic about the food. The beer buddies would have been better if there was some kind of garlic dipping sauce, but it wasn’t offered and I was there for the beer anyway.

I went over to the brewery portion and could not help but notice the sign that seemed to hint that if you did not know what you wanted, to step aside and let someone else order. That attitude seemed to be held by the beertender that did not seem to be into craft beer; he was there because it was a job. I told him, “Happy American Craft Beer Week.” His response was something along the lines of, “oh, is that happening now?”

I explained that it was, and that I was seeking gold medal winning beer and Pizza Port had won a few. He agreed that they had. I asked if they served flights. He said they did flights of four, so I asked for four gold medal winners. He told me there were only two available; so I asked for those and any other award winners they had. He then directed me to a very busy board and told me the award winners had emblems by their names. It took me a few minutes to figure out where the emblems were. Eventually I figured out what the third beer was and since I was not going to wait for any assistance from him, I just picked a fourth beer to complete the flight. My flight consisted of their Lightweight Lager (it was), Nerf Herder (San Diego World Beer Cup Bronze Winner), “Pseudo” IPA (2010 GABF Gold Winner) and Pier Rat Porter (San Diego World Beer Cup Gold Winner). The beers were okay, the experience was lacking.

On the way home I figured that we could stop by Beachwood BBQ & Brewing in Long Beach as they are gold medal winners and always have a great selection of beers available. To my dismay, they are not open on Mondays; luckily, Congregation Ale House, Long Beach is right next door. While they do not brew beer, they do have a very nice selection of beers on tap. I opted to go for a Firestone Walker Brewing Co. Wookey Jack (2102 GABF Gold Winner). Firestone makes a good product, so I was happy. The beer drinking ended at home with a Black Sand Imperial IPA from Strand Brewing Company in Torrance. All my photos from day one of the 8th Annual American Craft Beer Week can be found on GotBaddog.com.

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