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Galaxy Defender: A great beer for a good cause

Since this is one of my newer websites, I understand that not everyone knows me as well as those that have been following me for a while You may have noticed that I am not in the habit of discussing or rating individual beers, primarily because I feel that is far too difficult a task to be done objectively and I would not want to have a negative influence on a particular brew simply because it was not my thing. That being said, I will make an exception to this self imposed rule when I find out the beer is part of a fundraising campaign and even more so if that fundraising effort has anything to do with kids. I am all about helping kids and have been for more than 30 years.

Anyway, Friday evening I stopped by Monkish Brewing in Torrance and as is my habit, I requested the brew I had never tried before which was Galaxy Defender on Friday. I am a hop head; and for that I make no excuses; I wear the tag proudly. The fact is that I have talked to Henry Nguyen, the owner/brewer of Monkish Brewing Company about the chances of his ever brewing an IPA and the response had always been the same: he is just not interested in brewing an IPA. I just learned to accept that as fact. When I first smelled the Galaxy Defender I could not believe what I was smelling; one taste had me hooked. This is a true Belgian Pale Ale, it borders on being a Belgian IPA; but like I said, I am not about reviewing individual beers. Suffice it to say, it was good enough that I drove home and picked up a growler to be enjoyed later.

Saturday afternoon I was out and about at the local South Bay microbreweries and during my travels I discovered that there was more to the Galaxy Defender than the great taste; it turns out that $1.00 from every pint is donated to the Los Angeles Galaxy South Bay soccer club, of which one of Nguyen’s kids is a member. They are trying to raise money for scholarships and Monkish Brewing is doing their part by donating money from every sale of the Galaxy Defender Belgian Pale Ale. I knew there were Galaxy Hops, so I presumed that the “galaxy” in Galaxy Defender referred to the galaxy hops; it turns out that the Nguyen’s son is a defender on the LA Galaxy’s soccer club, hence the name, Galaxy Defender. Continue reading

The 3rd Annual Taste of Brews, Long Beach, CA

The 3rd Annual Taste of Brews summer beer festival was held Saturday afternoon, August 24, at Lighthouse Park in Long Beach, CA. Featuring more than 40 craft and micro breweries from around the country along with a couple wineries, several gourmet food trucks and live music by Journey tribute band “The Journey Experience” and 80s cover band “The Pac Men” it was a beautiful day to hang out in the sun with the cool ocean breeze. The Taste of Brews is a fundraiser for the Long Beach Marine Institute and the AIDS Food Store of Long Beach.

Among the many breweries participating were Firestone Walker, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing, Sierra Nevada, Packinghouse Brewing, Woodchuck Hard Cider, Legends, Grand Teton Brewing, Belmont Brewing, Strand Brewing, Black Market Brewing, Big Sky Brewing, Ninkasi, Mendocino Brewing, Brewbakers and the Brewluminati Homebrew Club. The food trucks included Urban Pie, Dogzilla and Viking Truck.

While there were several hundred attendees, the number of breweries pouring made it so that none of the lines were too long and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves too much to worry about a little wait in between pours.

Lighthouse Park is located at 200 Aquarium Way in Long Beach. I would like to thank Firestone Walker for the pass to a very entertaining event. Continue reading

El Segundo Brewing Company okays blank growlers

blank growler

Blank growlers now accepted at El Segundo Brewing Company

The other day I was in El Segundo Brewing Company and as I was leaving I happened to notice something I have not seen in a California microbrewery tasting room, other than as a display; that was a stainless steel blank growler. Naturally, I had to do some investigating, especially since I had recently written an article with some facts and my opinion about the state of growlers in the State of California. Besides, I had a lot of people asking me about the growler pictured in the photo above.

Today I am happy to inform you that El Segundo Brewing Company (ESBC) is now accepting blank growlers. My unnamed, but reliable sources have informed me that El Segundo Brewing is indeed accepting blank growlers; but they do not currently have the ability to obscure the labels of existing growlers. There are plans to provide a wrap of some sort, but I am not at liberty to say much about it, plus I know very little about it. It is my understanding that there are qualifications for the growlers, but they have not been posted yet. Again, this is breaking news, so if you want to bring in a blank growler to El Segundo Brewing, make sure it is a quality vessel that is clean. You might even call them first to see if your growler qualifies.

Congratulations to El Segundo Brewing Company and their patrons. ESBC is located at 140 Main Street in El Segundo. They are open Wednesday through Sunday, normal tasting room hours. Cheers!

18th Street Arts Center’s 4th Annual Beer Art & Music Festival October 5

BAM Fest 2012

Good times guaranteed at BAM Fest

On October 5, 2013, the 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica will hold their 4th Annual Beer, Art & Music Festival, fondly known as BAM Fest 2013 and it is destined to be better than ever. I went to BAM Fest last year and every person I spoke to that had attended one or both of the prior events told me it was the best ever. Well, last year they had about 30 brewers with taps; this year they have 42 scheduled so far. The reason I say “so far” is that a couple weeks ago I wrote an article about this event and they were talking 30+. At this rate, they could have more than 50; I think space may be their only enemy; everyone wants to pour at BAM Fest.

In addition to the beer there will be three bands, wine and homemade soda tastings and lots of gourmet food trucks. BAM Fest is a fundraiser for the 18th Street Art Center, a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization, so while you are sipping beer and listening to tunes waft through the air you can visit the studios of most of the artists as they leave them open as a way of showing what you are supporting. Culture and beer with all proceeds going to the 18th Street Arts Center, and you can probably bet the farm that it will be a nice day in Santa Monica. Tickets can be purchased online for $45 each; they will be $50 at the door if there are still tickets available on October 5.

BAM Fest 2012

Come join the fun at BAM Fest 2013

The current list of participating craft breweries is: 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

Wicks Brewing Company, Riverside

One of my favorite things is to happen upon a new brewery that I am unfamiliar with; if they brew good beer that is just icing on the cake. This happened yesterday when I found myself stuck in traffic out in the Inland Empire. I had my roommate break out her iPhone to see if there were any microbreweries in the area when she discovered Wicks Brewing Company in Riverside, CA.

Wicks Brewing is a brewpub located at 11620 Sterling Avenue in Riverside and has only been open for a little over three months, but a sampling of the beers brewed on-site make it clear that their head brewer has been doing this for a while. It is my understanding that he spent a few years as a brewer at the former Riverside Brewing Company which has turned out several great brewers, including Brian Brewer from The Brewery at Abigaile. When we were there they were offering five of their home brews; Sir Gordon’s Pale Ale, Red Headed Belgian, West Coast Strong Ale, an IPA and their Imperial Porter. They advertise that they also brew root beer which Tanya was eager to try, but they were all out. We got an order of their Pretzel Bites which were quite tasty and high on demand as it seems we bought the last order of the day and I heard at least two other parties ordering the same thing. I guess growing pains are in effect; selling more than you have available is a good way to start. I am sure we will return now that we know they are there.

Something a little different about Wicks Brewing is that they have six brewing stations available for home brewers that want to try their hand at brewing beer or soft drinks. This system, known as a Brew on Premise or BOP, provides you with various recipes and all the ingredients you will need. You pick the recipe and they will walk you through the brewing process using one of their BOP stations. I wish they were not so far away or I would definitely try that out. Continue reading

2nd Annual Drink Good Beerfest Coming September 14

Drink Good Beerfest

The 2nd Annual Drink Good Beerfest

The 2nd Annual Drink Good Beerfest, hosted by The Factory Gastrobar in Long Beach, CA and sponsored by Cismontane Brewing and Beer Paper LA will be held September 14, 2013 from 1:00-4:00 PM at The Factory Gastrobar, located at 4020 Atlantic Avenue in Long Beach, California. This is actually a two-part event, so hopefully I get all the information correct.

This craft beer festival begins with their 2nd Annual Drink Good Beer Mash-Up Homebrew Competition which is an AHA, BJCP sanctioned event. Thursday, August 22 is the final day for entries if you want to participate. The cost is $5.00 per entry and you must provide ten (10) 12oz bottles. Not all categories of beer are being accepted, so if you want more information, I suggest visiting The Factory website for all the rules. The winner gets to brew his entry with Evan Weinberg at Cismonte Brewing so that is pretty cool. The AHA/BJCP judging will take place on Sunday, August 25.

On Monday, September 9 they will have their Best of Show judging and Craft Beer Guy was invited to be a judge for this, so I am looking forward to this opportunity.

On Saturday, the Drink Good Beerfest takes place and the winners of the Mash-Up Homebrew Competition will be announced then. If that was not enough, they will also have more than 60 rare and unique craft beers from over 30 local breweries! Now it’s a party. Among the breweries slated to participate are Ballast Point Brewing, Breckenridge Brewing, The Brewery at Abigaile, Bootlegger’s Brewery, Cismontane Brewing Company, Congregation Ale House Chapters Brewing, Dales Bros. Brewery, Drake’s Brewing, Eagle Rock Brewing, El Segundo Brewing Company, Epic Brewing, Firestone Walker, Golden Road Brewing, Hangar 24 Craft Brewery, Iron Fist Brewing, Kinetic Brewing Company, Latitude 33 Brewing Company, Lightning Brewery, Los Angeles Ale Works, Monkish Brewing Company, Noble Ale Works, Pizza Port – San Clemente, Ritual Brewing Company, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Strand Brewing Company, Stone Brewing Company, Smog City Brewing, Triple Voodoo, Trumer Pils and The Bruery. Continue reading

Strand Brewers Club at South Bay Brewing Supply

I have a confession to make; I have never tried home brewing beer. That is about to change as I received a beer making kit for a birthday present last month. Since I plan on doing a pictorial on the process I have been reading and re-reading the instructions and I have been asking questions of those that I know that have been home brewing for a while. I want my first time to have positive results so I will feel comfortable breaking away from the beer making kit so when I received an invitation to visit the Strand Brewers Club at their monthly meeting last night I accepted and headed over to South Bay Brewing Supply in Old Torrance for the Strand Brewers’ August meeting.

While I only knew a person or two, I was made to feel quite welcome. The first hour or so was spent networking with other home brewers and sampling the many home brews that were brought in by members. To say that there was a wide variety of beers being brewed by this group would be an understatement; you would be hard pressed to find as many different styles of beer at your favorite gastropub. That is not to suggest that Strand Brewers Club is only for experienced brewers. While many of their members have been brewing for a couple years, there are also those that have 20 years of experience and one of last night’s attendees had only started drinking craft beer two months ago. The current president, Rives Borland, told me that when he joined Strand Brewers Club he was quite new to brewing and told me that coming to the monthly meetings had a lot to do with his current brewing success (he has won a few awards for his beers).

After the networking, there was a presentation given on Oxygenation as part of their continuing efforts to include educational discussions at their meetings. On occasion they do brewing at their events, so if you are interested in learning to brew or you are a home brewer and want to hang out and exchange ideas with other home brewers, you should probably consider looking for a home brew club like Strand Brewers Club. Visitors are welcome to join them and if you like the group, then join. Dues are only $37 a year ($48 for couples) which I think is quite reasonable considering the wealth of information you can gain just by hanging around and listening. 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

3rd Annual Brew at the LA Zoo

Thursday morning as I was perusing my Facebook feed I noticed an update made by Beachwood BBQ & Brewing that said they were giving two passes to the Brew at the LA Zoo to the first five people that came in and asked for them. I had initially thought it was happening on Saturday, which was a busy day for me, so I did not plan on attending. When I found out it was actually on Friday evening, I decided to ride down to Beachwood BBQ & Brewing in Long Beach for a beer and to see if there were any passes left; fortunately, there were.

Brew at the L.A. Zoo is a fundraiser for the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Los Angeles, California. There were 23 Southern California craft breweries represented and one winery. In addition to the beer there was live music from Ivory Deville and Strangeheart, karaoke, DJ MORNINGSTAR and something I have never been able to do before; an opportunity to wander Zoo grounds after dark. As it turned out, most of the zoo was not available to us, which I suppose is understandable. We did have access to the elephants, gorillas and other apes as well as the new LAIR (Living Amphibian, Invertebrates, and Reptiles) exhibit. It was pretty cool.

The breweries in attendance were Widmer Brothers Brewing, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Blue Moon Brewing/Batch 19/Leinkugels Summer Shandy, Rock Bottom Brewery Long Beach, Heretic Brewing Company, Mad River Brewing Company, Stone Brewing Company, Fireman’s Brew, Golden Road Brewing, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, Hangar 24 Graft Brewery, Crispin & Fox Barrel Cider Company, San Pedro Brewing Company/ Port Town Brewing Co., Angel City Brewery, Karl Strauss Brewing Company, The Lagunitas Brewing Company, Beachwood BBQ and Brewing, Inland Empire Brewing Company, I & I Brewing, Barefoot Wine, Surf Brewery, Old Orange Brewing, Tap It Brewing and Firestone Walker Brewing Company. There were far too many people and not enough time to try them all so I spent my time trying brews I had yet to experience. Continue reading

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