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2015

The Craft Beer Guy 2015 Year in Review

HopSaint brewpub

HopSaint Brewing Company Now Soon!

Well, there are still a couple of days left in 2015 but I think it is safe to write my year-end review of 2015. To be honest, there has been so much activity in the craft beer world this past year that I would not be surprised to have something new pop up before Thursday night.(So, this is taking me a while to write, and yes, there have been updates since I started).

There were several beer buyouts that seemed to dominate most other craft beer sites, but the craft world in my immediate domain only seemed to increase. Yeah, Golden Road got bought, but I only went there for special events and I guess that means there will be fewer of them there in the future. In the meantime, the reach of this site seems to be increasing. In the beginning people pretty much pigeonholed this site as covering the South Bay craft beer scene only. This year I covered various local beer events from the Antelope Valley to Orange County. Attendees have come up asking if I am now covering the west side, or wherever we might be. I guess the answer is yes; and I will expand my area as long as it is requested.

2015 in the South Bay ended pretty much as it started, with the soft open of a new brewpub. In January Phantom Carriage officially opened, and at the end of December HopSaint Brewing Company opened their doors. While they are open daily, the official opening of HopSaint will be January 1, 2016 when they will start serving lunch at 11:30 AM. Continue reading

National Beer Day 2015 with Firestone Walker’s Traveling Oak

Tuesday, April 7 is National Beer Day which commemorates when prohibition on beer was lifted on April 7, 1933. To commemorate this milestone event, I accepted an invitation from the Yard House in Long Beach to attend an event they were having in conjunction with Firestone Walker. Firestone Walker had a very limited release of their Traveling Oak which is Parabola aged in oak barrels that originally aged Old Rip Van Winkle Bourbon for over 10 years and then were used to age Del Maguey Mezcal. After that, Firestone Walker’s Master Brewer, Matt Brynildson got a hold of them. The Parabola was added and aged for a year. To say it was different would be an understatement; pretty much everyone said they really enjoyed it.

Now, I visit Yard House at various times, usually because they are somewhere close that I know is going to have something I like. If I go to Staples, there is a pretty good chance I am stopping at Yard House. What I did not understand was why a limited release beer, that they say will never be made again, would only be made available at six locations in the country (Boston (Fenway), Denver (Downtown), Long Beach, CA, Portland, OR and Seattle), and they are all Yard House locations. Well, Yard House, in addition to having what must be a couple hundred taps of craft beers from around the world, also have a few house brews. While they are currently contract brewing with Uinta Brewing Company out of Salt Lake City, Firestone Walker brewed their beers beforehand.

To help welcome the Traveling Oak, Firestone Walker Master Brewer, Matt Brynildson was spotted serving snifters to customers while such beerlebrities as Firestone’s VP of Sales and Marketing, Dave Macon and Regional Sales Manager, Shane Kral chatted to the fans that showed up. As there is just a small amount of Traveling Oak available for each location, I do not know if they blew the keg or not; but I would not expect it to last past Wednesday if it makes it through the night. Like I said, they have a couple hundred taps so if it is gone, do not despair; I am sure they will have something you like. If you live in one of the cities I named above, check out your local Yard House to see when Traveling Oak is traveling there. Continue reading

2015 Taste of Brews’ Twilight Tasting Photos

These photos are from the Taste of Brews’ Second Annual Twilight Tasting that was held at Lyon Air Museum on Saturday evening. I have to start off by saying that this was one of the coolest, most photogenic locations for a beer festival that I can remember attending. As we walked in the door I told Tanya, “I will have to try to find some time to have a beer while I am here.”

While Lyon Air Museum was billed as a World War II museum, the first vehicle we were greeted by was a 1922 Ford Model T Roadster and it just got better from there. A beautiful 1931 Buick and the 1930 Cadillac V-16 Roadster were among my favorite cars; but there were military vehicles of all types and beautiful motorcycles. When you added in the aircraft it was pretty difficult to concentrate on the beer. But to be honest, I am not sure that craft beer was the number one thought of the attendees at this fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish Orange County/Inland Empire, The Little Red Dog out of Tustin and Ocean Education Outreach out of Newport Beach. I think it was one of those fundraisers that was priced so that it was more about the charity than the buzz. I don’t know, it just seemed a little classier than the standard local beer festival.

They did have some good food provided by Stonefire Grill, Rubio’s and Sol Agave; and some pretty tasty desserts from Nothing Bundt Cakes and Paradise Bakery to go with the various wines I saw being poured, so maybe that had something to do with it. So while I may have stayed for the cool museum pieces, I came for the beer. Continue reading

A Craft Beer Valentine’s Day in the South Bay

As I sat down to write this, I asked Tanya what we did last year for Valentine’s Day. Neither of us could recall off hand but after a little research we discovered that we may be becoming creatures of habit with traditions we did not realize we had.

Anyway, this year Smog City Brewing re-released their Death By Hops DIPA so we decided to start the day off there. They had a brisk business going on with many beerlebrity sightings as hop heads from near and far came to check out the latest release; they would not be disappointed. Regular readers of Craft Beer Guy have probably noticed that I do not do beer reviews on this site (you can visit my Untappd account if you want those) but I will say that this batch is amazing. If you enjoy a good in-your-face hop bomb you will want to get over there before it is all gone. One thing that came to mind as I enjoyed it was just how lucky we are to live in an area that turns out so many great brews and the double IPAs. When you stop to think about Smog City’s Death By Hops, Strand Brewing’s White Sand, El Segundo Brewing’s Hammerland, and The Brewery at Abigaile’s Beetlejuice, to name but a few, the South Bay is turning out some of the best brews around.

After enjoying a beer at Smog City and speaking with a few people we headed down Western to Mulligan Family Fun Center to race go-karts. They have gas powered karts and governors equipped to prevent them from going very fast but it was still a lot of fun. No photos of this part of the day are available because I have yet to figure out how to race and work the camera at the same time. Continue reading

Business & Beer Begins 2015 at Smog City Brewing

The Business & Beer business networking group returned to the Smog City Brewing tasting room on Thursday evening for their first networking event of 2015. The group of attendees included a couple of first timers as well as a number of people that have been attending since the group’s inception in July of 2012. As Business & Beer enters its third year we look forward to seeing additional growth for this informal group of like-minded business people.

In addition to the business networking and beer, co-founder Tanya Martin provided some of her locally renowned cookies and crackers that were made with flour she made from some spent grains provided by Smog City. While her two versions of crackers were well-received, the homemade peanut butter cookies were definitely a crowd favorite.

The group was also treated to a tour of the Smog City Brewing operation by Assistant Brewer Chris “Sour” Walowski, who not only explained the brewing process but also told us a little of Smog City’s future plans as well as his own personal preferences when it comes to beer. Everyone that took the tour seemed to appreciate the insight; thank you Chris. Continue reading

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