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Microbreweries

A visit to The Bruery

I know there are many that would consider it heresy for a craft beer fan to say this; but when it comes to sours, I have never been a huge fan. Truth be told, I was never much of a fan at any level. The first sour I recall trying was at a bottle share at Sophie’s Place I attended a couple years ago. I took one sip and immediately poured the rest of the taster into the spit bucket. Other attendees looked at me with shock and informed me that I had dumped the most expensive brew at the event. What can I say; obviously my palate was not refined enough to enjoy an expensive sour.

Probably a year later, Smog City Brewing introduced me to their Quercus Circus; I found that to be a very nice entry level sour. I even ventured away from my standard taster pours and ordered a couple full pours. I felt more comfortable with sours and I was going to do my best to develop my palate to the point that I could enjoy them. It wasn’t too much after this that I went back to Sophie’s and the bartender offered me something from a growler he had bought at The Bruery; I discovered that my palate was not quite as developed as I had hoped.

As I attended more beer festivals I started getting a sour or two; some I liked, others not so much. Eventually I got to the point that I got bottles from Three Floyds and Russian River. I could see that I was learning to appreciate sours a little more each time. I even found myself enjoying the pours I got from The Bruery, no longer was it too much for me. Continue reading

LA Beer Week comes to a close

Sunday, day 11 of LA Beer Week (LABW5) and congratulations to those of you that survived. While I did not attend the event at Union Station a week ago, I cannot imagine trying to do it at the end of an 11 day week. I started the day by heading over to King Harbor Brewing Company where I got the opportunity to meet their head brewer as he christened the location by brewing a small batch saison. A little later in the day I was informed that Smog City Brewing was hosting a panel, School of BJ’s Brewer Panel Discussion featuring Jonathan Porter of Smog City, Tyler King of The Bruery, David Griffiths of Ladyface Alehouse & Brasserie, Evan Price of Noble Ale Works and Owen Williams of Ritual Brewing Company. It turns out that the common denominator between the five of them is that they all brewed at BJ’s; who would have guessed? We decided to begin by going to Monkish Brewing to try their LABW5 entry, End of Summer, a Belgian Honey Ale. We then headed around the corner to Smog City.

As it turned out the event was not really supposed to be public as Beer Paper LA was using the opportunity to interview the brewers for an upcoming issue and they were concerned I would scoop them; so I bailed. You should be able to read about it and see any photos in their upcoming issue.

It really was a fun week and I had a great time. I would like to extend special thanks to The Brewery at Abigaile, Naja’s Place, Rock & Brews PCH, Monkish Brewing Company, Strand Brewing Company, San Pedro Brewing Company, Alpine Village and El Segundo Brewing Company for their hospitality and generosity over the past week. It was truly appreciated. Cheers! Continue reading

Beer, beer and more beer for day 10 of LA Beer Week

It may have been day 10 of LA Beer Week (LABW5) but the list of available events to attend gave no indication that we were wrapping things up as far as “beer week” was concerned. I could not help but think back to an article I read while researching American Craft beer Week; at one point it was actually American Craft Beer Month! I can understand why they decided to cut back to a week, but I had to wonder how long an LA Beer Month would last. Luckily, there were lots of great events in my own backyard, so I kept it local.

I started Saturday off at Smog City Brewing in Torrance and their Rarest of the Rare and event that pulled in beer geeks from all over the LA and Orange Counties. Their owner, Porter, has a reputation for “hoarding” beers and he brought out a good number of them Saturday. There were barrel aged, sours, and collaboratives; there were 19 or 20 different brews in total. As I knew I had a long day ahead of me, I stuck to taking photos knowing I would return later.

A little later I headed over to El Segundo Brewing Company (ESBC) for their Hop Tanker DIPA Release Party. To celebrate LABW5 and the addition of Hop Tanker to their tap list, they brought out many of the different beers head brewer Rob Croxall has produced over the years. As expected, they had a great turnout so they opened up the entire brewery, utilizing taps in the front and rear as well as a separate filling station for growlers. Making special on cask appearances were Melon Collie, White Dog on Ogen heirloom melons; Blue Cubed, Blue House IPA with Sugar Cube heirloom melons; and Blue House IPA on peaches. Continue reading

LA Beer Blogger Summit #7 at Angel City Brewery

Saturday afternoon I headed out to Los Angeles and visited Angel City Brewery as they were hosting the LA Beer Bloggers Summit #7; a networking event made up of beer bloggers from all over LA and Orange County. This is the third one I have attended and each gathering seems to be larger than the last. This particular event we were treated to a short talk by head brewer Dieter Foerstner who told us a little about his LA Beer Week (LABW5) release, Honey Chrysanthemum Ale, and how he was able to purchase the tea at the Japanese market across the street from the brewery and how he got his honey from a local source that never considered using honey in beer. After Dieter’s talk and some samples of their Scrumdiddlyumptious Brown Ale they had a panel moderated by John Verive of Beer of Tomorrow with panelists Tomm Carroll, LA correspondent for The Celebrator; Sarah Bennett, a writer for LA Weekly and Beer Paper LA; and Whitson Gordon, the Editor in Chief of Lifehacker.com. It was interesting and I know I got some ideas on the direction I should take with this craft beer adventure.

It was my first time visiting Angel City Brewery and I must admit I was not expecting what I discovered. The place is huge and quite photogenic, I could spend some time wandering around and catching interesting sights. My one disappointment was self inflicted; for some reason I did not even ask about flights until after I ordered a pint, so I only got to try two of the eight they had on tap. I guess I have no choice but to go back there and try again. Angel City Brewery is located at 216 South Alameda in Los Angeles. They do not serve food, but they have food trucks that stop by; you might want to look around at one of the nearby restaurants though as they allow you to bring food in and have plenty of tables to enjoy your food and beer at.

On the way home we stopped by to check out the crowd at Smog City Brewing. Cheers! Continue reading

Day two of LA Beer Week #5 – Drinking local

Friday was day two of the 5th Annual LA Beer Week (LABW5) and since I knew that there would be plenty of driving involved over the duration of LA Beer Week (which runs through September 29), I decided I would take the bike and dedicate today to the Torrance microbreweries, Strand Brewing Company, Monkish Brewing Company and Smog City Brewing Company. However, I did make one exception; this morning King Harbor Brewing Company (KHBC) had some of their tanks delivered so I popped over to get a few shots. I can only guess the move went smoothly because when I returned an hour or so later, they were gone. KHBC is really making progress; just a few more months until it is beer.

I began my tour of the Torrance microbrewery tasting rooms with a visit to the oldest of the Torrance microbreweries, Strand Brewing Company. While they are probably best known for their Atticus IPA and Beach House Amber Ale, I think their Second Sleep Imperial Russian Stout is one of their best beers. Today they tapped a cask that has been oak barrel aged for the last six months; it is delicious. If you are in the neighborhood I highly recommend it (if it is still available).

I then headed over to the second oldest microbrewery in Torrance, Monkish Brewing Company. Monkish Brewing specializes in Belgian style ales and has 10-12 different varieties with everything from singles and saisons to dubbels and tripels. He has a new single hopped Belgian pale called Galaxy Defender that I, as a hophead, find amazing. They now have something for everyone.

I ended my journey at the newest of the Torrance microbrewery tasting rooms, Smog City Brewing. The one thing I can count on about Smog City Brewing is that even if I go there every week, every week they will have something new to try. There is always an “experimental” on tap and today it was their Grape Ape IPA. The grapes really made it different from any of the IPAs I have tried from Smog City thus far. They are also offering their Bloody Knuckle porter which is the base beer for their award winning Groundwork Coffee Porter. I would like to try the two of them in a blind taste test; it was very good. Cheers! Continue reading

Coastline Brewing Name Change: King Harbor Brewing Company

KHBC Logo

King Harbor Brewing Company

Some of you may recall that back in July I mentioned that Redondo Beach was getting a new microbrewery, Coastline Brewing Company; well, Redondo Beach is still getting their microbrewery, but the name has been changed to King Harbor Brewing Company.

According to King Harbor Brewing Company co-owner Tom Dunbabin, they recently learned that there is a winery up north in Santa Rosa, Coastline Cellars, and they did not want their beer brand confused with Coastline Cellar’s wine brand. If you recall the issues in the recent past between Magic Hat Brewing and West Sixth Brewing with their logos and earlier in the year between 38 Degrees Ale House and Grill in Alhambra and 38º Carlsbad this makes perfect sense; eliminate any potential problems before they become real problems.

KHBC construction

Ongoing construction at King Harbor Brewing Company

When it came time to come up with a new name, Dunbabin states; “We went back to our source of inspiration – the beach. Not just any beach, but the beaches of the South Bay. This is the area that we love – from our favorite craft beer bars, breweries, and restaurants, our friends, families, to the unique history. We quickly realized that while we loved the Coastline name it lacked a specific tie to this area, something that is very important to this brewery.” Continue reading

Lots brewing at El Segundo Brewing Company

The problem, if you want to call it that, with all the new microbreweries popping up in Southern California is that even with the increased beer production there are still only 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week. In other words, there is a lot more beer available but the same amount of hours to drink it in. As a result, sometimes it takes a while for me to make a return visit to a specific microbrewery, even if it is one of my favorites. Such is the case with El Segundo Brewing Company (ESBC), a microbrewery in El Segundo, CA.

I first visited the El Segundo Brewing tasting room in May of 2012, on that day they had three varieties of beer available; White Dog IPA, Blue House Pale Ale and Hyperion’s Stout. When I visited yesterday they had eight varieties on tap (although they were sold out of two of them). El Segundo Brewing has grown a lot over the last 15 months with as many as four different IPAs being available at any one time, as well as a stout or two and even a (recently added) saison. Recent expansion has enabled them to increase production allowing ESBC to not only offer more variety, but they now sell bottles that can be found at places like Total Wine, Whole Foods and any bottle shop worth its salt in the Greater Los Angeles area. Of course, the best gastropubs also pour El Segundo Brewing Company’s beers with their Citra Pale Ale and White Dog IPA being the two I see around most frequently.

El Segundo Brewing Company is located at 140 Main Street in El Segundo and they are open Wednesday thru Friday from 5:00-9:00 PM, Saturdays from 2:00-9:00 and Sundays 2:00-7:00 PM. They do not serve food but you are welcome to bring food in with you. If you have never visited El Segundo Brewing before, I recommend getting a flight; it is a great way to try all ESBC has to offer. Continue reading

Dry River Brewing Crew-members Reception

These photos are from the Dry River Brewing Company Crew-Members-Only Reception which was held at Namaste Highland Park in Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon. The reception was held to thank the backers of their recently funded Kickstarter campaign. Attendees were treated to several of co-owner/brewer Dave Hodgins’ creations; Horchata Cream Ale, Jamaica-Weisse, Arnoldo Palmero and Hop on Board IPA. They were all good, with Hop on Board being my favorite.

Congratulations again to Dave Hodgins and Vanda Ciceryova and we cannot wait to see Dry River Brewing begin producing at a commercial level. Continue reading

The Dudes’ Brewing Company: Hard to call them a microbrew

I was out and about Saturday morning, taking photos for a project, when I suddenly found myself around the corner from one of Torrance’s newest microbreweries, The Dudes’ Brewing Company. I had several invitations to drop by and Saturday morning I happened to show up while they were preparing to start brewing a new IPA. Head brewer, Jeff Parker had a Kolschtal Eddy poured for me, then took me on a tour of The Dudes’ brewing operation; it is quite impressive.

The Dudes’ launched over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend with several kickoff parties, two of which I attended. It was clear that their local roots were paying off as both events were packed. The Dudes’ are a little different than the other microbreweries around here in that they do not have a tasting room yet, preferring to begin by providing kegs to local taverns and eateries. They have been very successful at that and now can be found all over central and Southern California. Their plan is to start up the canning line in early August with a tasting room being added by the end of 2013. Continue reading

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

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