Flights Beer Bar

2013 International Stout Day

In case you missed it, last Friday, November 8, 2013 was the third annual International Stout Day. I guess that is one of the advantages of utilizing social media; you find out about this stuff on a regular basis. I am not sure how I missed it last year; perhaps I just do not remember it.

Stouts were actually my first journey into beers other than Budweiser when I was a kid; the beer of choice was always Guinness on tap, but back then bartenders had to know how to pour it right or they could not sell it. Stouts also happen to be a major favorite of my girlfriend. Even before she was able to join me when we found new breweries around the country, she always liked to sip on my stouts. She loved our visit to Dublin and St. James’s Gate. When I told her it was International Stout Day it did not take much convincing and I began searching for International Stout Day events in the area. Apparently it is not as big a deal as International IPA Day as I could find anything happening; I was going to have to create our own event.

There is not much question that if you want a wide variety of craft beers of tap in the South Bay, Naja’s Place on the International Boardwalk is going to have more than anyone else. It was nice out, so we headed over to Fisherman’s Wharf to see what stouts might be available. I was treated to a Speedway Stout by AleSmith Brewing Company and Tanya had a Campfire Stout by High Water Brewing. I think she has a new favorite stout. The other day I was given a blend of Campfire with Old Rasputin; if you like stouts, this is a great combination. Continue reading

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

BeerFest for BeerGeeks at Stout Burgers & Beer

Sunday afternoon November 4, Stout Burgers & Beer gastropub held their second BeerFest for BeerGeeks at their Studio City location. This beer festival was truly one for beer geeks and aficionados as Stout gathered about 20 different craft breweries from around the country and even a couple from Europe; each featuring barrel aged, sours or unique one-offs. There were about 38 different brews available to attendees. Due to constraints imposed by the city, only 200 tickets were available which meant that lines were non-existent and there were no concerns of running out of great beer. The timing of the event meant that some people had to choose between San Diego Beer Week (SDBW) and Stout’s BeerFest for BeerGeeks but SDBW goes on for 10 days and this beer festival was only a few hours long, so it was not a tough decision for me. A look at the beers available proves that the event at Stout easily compared with most events you will find in San Diego.

A few of the brews made available included Weizen Bam Bière by Jolly Pumpkin, A Hoppy Lovin’ Christmas by Mikkeller, Stone 11.11.11 Vertical Epic Ale aged In Red Wine Barrels, Total Crystalation by Ninkasi Brewing Company and White Pomeranian (White Dog W/ Pomegranate) by El Segundo Brewing Company. I could go on but suffice it to say, there was something for every palate no matter how advanced and a few that a beer newbie could easily enjoy; like American Dark Lager by Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company. Breweries represented included Almanac Beer Company, Ninkasi Brewing Company, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, Shipyard Brewing Company, Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Hangar 24 Craft Brewery, New Belgium Brewing, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company, Drake’s Brewing Company, Mikkeller, Stone Brewing Company, Allagash Brewing Company, Phantom Carriage, Rodenbach Brewery, Boon Brewery, El Segundo Brewing Company, Valiant Brewing Company and Wolf Creek Brewery.

In addition to the fine beers, Stout Burgers & Beer provided some tasty treats free for attendees and their restaurant was open if you desired a little more than snacks. After speaking with organizers Joey and Jimmy it was evident that they are doing this for the love of the beer and to give craft beer more exposure. An event like this would have to charge $100 per person to come close to being a profitable venture so from one beer geek to another; if you see me post about another of these events, you might want to take a closer look. This was a great time for everyone that attended. Cheers! Continue reading

Red Car Brewery – the oldest brewpub in Torrance

To those that know me, the following is not exactly earth-shattering news; I am a pretty opinionated guy. That being said, while I may be opinionated, I do try to be open-minded as well; especially when it comes to beer. The fact is that palates evolve and when combined with knowledge a beer I might not have enjoyed a year ago might come across as more enjoyable today. That is what happened on Friday.

Over the weekend my dad celebrated another birthday, so I invited him to lunch at the location of his choice. I knew where he would want to go before I asked; Red Car Brewery, a brewpub in Torrance. I had been to Red Car two times over the years and really did not find either experience particularly memorable. Once was for a fundraiser, which may have just involved my stopping by and donating some cash and then again a couple years ago for another birthday with my dad. I do recall wondering why I was not enjoying any of the beers; I attributed it to an aroma in the air that was messing with my taste buds. While I personally never got into any of their brews I was aware that Red Car Brewery had a very loyal fan base, so there must be something I was missing.

A few weeks ago I was talking to Torrance City Councilman Pat Furey and he told me a little about the history of Red Car and how owner/brewer Bob Brandt had struck a deal with the City of Torrance to build the brewpub at their current location on Torrance Boulevard and Sartori. I do not recall all the details but apparently the city extended a loan to Brandt and he paid it back five years early. It reminded me of when the US implemented tariffs on imported motorcycles to help Harley-Davidson back in the 1980’s and H-D told them they could remove the tariffs about five years earlier than scheduled. This deal between Torrance and Red Car was back in 2000 making Red Car Brewery the oldest brewery in Torrance by a long shot. I knew I was going to have to give them another chance. Continue reading

BeerFest for BeerGeeks at Stout Burgers and Beer – 33% discount code

The other day I announced that this Sunday, November 3, Stout Burgers and Beer in Studio City was holding their second in a series of craft beer festivals, BeerFest for BeerGeeks. This beer festival will feature 20 different craft breweries from around the country, featuring some of our local breweries as well as a couple from Europe. Most breweries will be pouring two brews and all the beers will either be barrel aged, sours or unique one-offs. I have just been authorized to release a promotional code that will give you 33% off your online ticket purchase. You can order your tickets at and use promotional code ‘stoutpromo’ and your tickets will drop from $60.00 each to $40.00. With the list of breweries scheduled to attend, this is quite the deal.

Participating breweries include Almanac Beer Company, Ninkasi Brewing Company, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, Shipyard Brewing Company, Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Hangar 24 Craft Brewery, New Belgium Brewing, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company, Drake’s Brewing Company, Mikkeller, Stone Brewing Company, Allagash Brewing Company, Phantom Carriage, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Rodenbach Brewery, Boon Brewery, El Segundo Brewing Company, Rough Draft Brewing Company, Valiant Brewing Company and Wolf Creek Restaurant & Brewing Company. Ticket holders will receive unlimited two ounce pours, a souvenir glass and appetizer type foods. They have canceled the second session, so 1:00 – 4:00 PM will be the only session. I hope to see you there. Stout Burgers & Beers is located at 11262 Ventura Boulevard in Studio City, CA. Cheers.

Hand-Brewed Beer – A nano-brewery for Chatsworth?

As the Craft Beer Guy I try to stay on top of developments in the craft beer world, especially when it comes to new breweries in the area. It is pretty funny when I think back to the time not that long ago that I would have to ride down to the Stone Brewery in Escondido if I wanted to find a fresh craft beer; now I have breweries popping up so fast around me I can barely keep track. It seems like there is a new brewery or two opening every week within a 50 mile radius; which is less than half the distance I used to ride to Escondido. The most recent brewery to make themselves known to me is Hand-Brewed Beer; a new nano-brewery that is looking to open a brewery with a tasting room in Chatsworth, CA.

Founded by long time friends Anthony Castañeda and Brian Hand, the pair started their brewing journey like many; with their college roommates as a fun way to get good, inexpensive beers. All in all, they have been brewing for about eight years out of their homes. They currently have a 1.5 barrel custom built pilot-system with two 60-gallon conical fermenters. They are currently looking around for a location to lease for a small space to begin brewing and distributing to bars in the Los Angeles area. They are hoping to have a location by the end of November 2013. To this end they have started a Kickstarter campaign.

With a modest goal of raising $10,000 they are currently about $4,000 short with 11 days left on the campaign. The monies will be used to help obtain cold room storage, building a bar top and tap wall for their proposed tasting room and kegs for distributing to bars. While Chatsworth does fall under the authority of the City of Los Angeles and tasting rooms seem to take a lot of work there, they are confident that with the support of local elected officials, their dream will become a reality. Looking at the list of beers they currently brew I look forward to their success and I hope to run across their Incident Isotope IPA sometime soon. Cheers! Continue reading

BeerFest for BeerGeeks coming November 3

beerfest attendees

BeerFest for BeerGeeks coming November 3

This Sunday, November 3, Stout Burgers and Beers in Studio City, CA will hold their second in a series of craft beer festivals, BeerFest for BeerGeeks. This beer festival will feature 20 different craft breweries from as far away as Belgium and Denmark as well as many of the more popular craft breweries from around the country as well as some of our local breweries. Most breweries will be pouring two brews and all the beers will either be barrel aged, sours or unique one-offs.

Breweries scheduled to be featured include Almanac Beer Company, Ninkasi Brewing Company, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, Shipyard Brewing Company, Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Hangar 24 Craft Brewery, New Belgium Brewing, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company, Drake’s Brewing Company, Mikkeller, Stone Brewing Company, Allagash Brewing Company, Phantom Carriage, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Rodenbach Brewery, Boon Brewery, El Segundo Brewing Company, Rough Draft Brewing Company, Valiant Brewing Company and Wolf Creek Restaurant & Brewing Company.

BeerFest for BeerGeeks will be held over the course of two one three hour-long session with the first running from 1:00 PM to 4:00 and the second starting at 5:00 PM and ending at 8:00 PM. You can purchase tickets online for $60.00 each or you can take your chance and try to buy tickets at the door for $70.00 each. You should probably know that they are only selling 200 tickets for each session, so there is a good chance that they will sell out. Save yourself $10 and ensure your entry by buying your tickets today. UPDATE: USE PROMO CODE ‘stoutpromo’ AND SAVE 33%! JUST $40 PER TICKET. Continue reading

Homebrewing an Everyday IPA

For some reason a lot of people think that because I enjoy craft beer so much I must also be a home brewer; well, that is not the case. Primarily because when I first got into craft beer it was due to being on the road more than I was home, so I never really considered it. As time progressed to 2013 I knew I would eventually take the step, but it was not a priority and I was doing other things. In July some friends gave me a Brooklyn Brewshop Beer Making Kit. It was decided that I would write an article about the experience as a first time home brewer. Since it was July and they did not build homes with air conditioning around here, I knew I did not want to boil anything in my kitchen for a couple more months. I looked at the box with its five easy steps and figured “How hard can it be?” I would read the instructions a few times, hit up YouTube and breeze right through this. Not exactly. So, this is written from the perspective of a first time home brewer to a first time home brewer. Or should I say, a first time all-grain home brewer.

I might as well address this first; I am not sure that it would change my experience because I had no say in the matter. I am talking about brewing from extract or all-grain. To tell you the truth, people would ask which way I was doing it and I would say it was a kit. I seem to recall they all presumed it was extract; I did not know what the difference was until after I did my first home brew. If you do not know, I will summarize it for you. If you brew from an extract they have essentially made the wort for you and you just add water and boil. Sounds really easy, I could get into that. The other method is all-grain; it is more work but if you know what you are doing you have a lot more control. If your kit came with a bag of fluid, you are brewing from extract; if it comes with a bag of grain you aren’t. So, brewing from extract is fun; brewing from all-grain is almost work, at least for a beginner. For the record, the Everyday IPA is an all-grain mix; it never mentions that fact on the box although it does show you making mash, so they presume you know the difference.

Actually, while my beer is fermenting I have talked to friends that have suggested that Brooklyn Brewshop is presuming a lot of things, which I discovered a little too late in the process, so learn by my mistakes. On the box they do tell you that you are going to need a six quart pot (a second pot is handy), a fine mesh strainer and a funnel. Since all the instructions I have seen hinted that this was “as easy as making oatmeal” and since Tanya, my girlfriend, is pretty handy around the kitchen I was confident that whatever cooking supplies we did not own would not be a problem in obtaining. Continue reading

Ultimate Beerfest OC – Refunds are being issued

beerfest taster size

Size matters

It is Monday and since I posted my review and photos from Saturday’s Ultimate Beerfest I have been interviewed by a couple Orange County newspapers and statements have been attributed to me by others. Since this site seems to be the only one capable of seeing both sides of the situation, I went ahead and reached out to the event organizers, Karma Media Group, and offered to let them provide their side of things that went wrong.

From my brief discussions with them I have learned that at least some of the events paid staff was turned away at the gate; however, this may have been due to improper procedures with the credentials. Karma Media has stated that they really cannot talk about things at this point in time due to “politics.” What they have told me is that the fairgrounds played a significant part in the “debacle” when staff was turned away. They also assured me that they are already processing refunds for session two tickets issued directly through them and they are waiting for a determination from third party voucher issuers as to how to proceed. I would take that to mean that if you got your tickets through Living Social, you are going to have to wait until they decide how they want to handle the refunds. When I hear more, and I am sure I will, I will pass it along. Cheers! Continue reading

The Ultimate Beerfest OC – The good, the bad & the ugly

On Saturday October 19, a fundraiser for Villa Chardonnay, a 501(c)(3) non-profit horse rescue operation in Temecula, CA was held at the Costa Mesa Fairgrounds in the form of The Ultimate Beerfest OC. The event was scheduled to have 20+ breweries, food trucks, a beer pong tournament and a Best of Show beer competition voted on by attendees that had VIP tickets. The Ultimate Beerfest OC was one of six scheduled beer festivals put on by the organizers with the others being scheduled for Los Angeles, San Diego, Pasadena, San Francisco and San Jose. The Los Angeles event was originally scheduled as the first but was postponed until 2014 due to logistical issues with the selected venue. When I first learned of the event, the Los Angeles venue was the one I planned on attending. When it was postponed I volunteered to cover the event in Costa Mesa.

The event was scheduled to be held over the course of two sessions; the first beginning at 11:00 AM for VIP entries and noon for general admission and running until 3:00 PM with the second session running from 6:00 – 9:00 PM with VIP getting in an hour early. While the Ultimate Beerfest website specifically stated to “plan on arriving up to one hour early for event check-in” I really did not pay much heed to that suggestion as I have yet to attend a beer festival that had that many people show up; I kind of figured it was wishful thinking. It turned out that this was going to be bigger than I imagined.

As the event was outside, I was able to look in the beer garden as we approached and even though it was about 15 minutes until the VIP admission was to begin it was readily apparent that not all of the breweries had arrived. As I was coming from the opposite direction that the line to get in was forming, I could see that there was a pretty long line forming. I attributed it to the fact that many people were there as general admission and they were arriving an hour early as suggested. After all, VIP admission was $75 and General Admission was $50; it never dawned on me that everyone in line had paid for VIP admission. Continue reading

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