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American Craft Beer Week

Old Tankard Ale: The First Canned Craft Beer Returns

As it is American Craft Beer Week and I really have not done any articles to acknowledge it, I thought this might be a good time to talk about re-release of the first canned American craft beer.

A couple months ago I got an email asking if I would like to try a new beer that was being released nationally by the Pabst Brewing Company, Old Tankard Ale, an English Mild Ale. Now let there be no mistake, I am not a fan of Pabst Blue Ribbon in any way but when I read that the re-release of Old Tankard Ale was using a 1937 brewer’s log recipe I was intrigued as it was the number two nationwide seller in the 1930’s through the 1950’s. I wondered what was killing it back in the day.

Since Old Tankard Ale was the first craft beer brewed by Pabst, and Pabst was the first brewery to utilize Keglined Cans [in 1935], it was the first craft beer to be put in a can and be distributed nationwide. Continue reading

Naja’s Place 7th Annual IPA Festival Begins

These photos are from opening day of the week-long 7th Annual IPA Festival which is being held at Naja’s Place in Redondo Beach. They are holding it a little earlier this year, which may be because they decided to coincide it with American Craft Beer Week; I will try to find out. It is safe to say that this event has become very popular and brought in people from at least as far as San Diego. Naja’s opened at 2:00 PM and by 4:00 I heard people asking, “Don’t these people have jobs?” The selection of IPAs ran the gamut from sessions to barrel-aged and there were plenty for a hophead like me to try that I only heard of; and some that I had not. It was a nice opening to what promises to be a week of great, hard to find IPAs.

The 7th Annual IPA Festival runs through Tuesday, May 19th. Today featured local IPAs from places like Strand Brewing, El Segundo Brewing, Smog City, Monkish, King Harbor, Phantom Carriage, Three Weavers and about 60 other taps from all over. Tomorrow, Thursday, will be their Ballast Point day featuring five different types of Sculpin; Saturday will be their Pizza Port day, always a crowd favorite, featuring at least 13 of their brews. They open at 2:00 PM on weekdays and noon on weekends.

If you like IPAs, and who doesn’t, be sure to head over to Naja’s Place between now and May 19th; you will be glad you did. Naja’s Place is located at 154 International Boardwalk in Redondo Beach. Cheers. Continue reading

2nd Annual Bite at the Beach May 16: Promo Code

beerfest

Come join your friends at Bite at the Beach, May 16

On Saturday May 16, the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce will host their 2nd Annual Bite at the Beach at the MBS Media Campus in Manhattan Beach. Bite at the Beach is a fundraiser benefiting the StubHub Center Foundation and the LA Galaxy Foundation. This event is a little different than most beer festivals you may have attended in that it is a food and craft beer pairing event; with 24 craft breweries being paired with dishes from 24 local eateries. I did not attend last year’s event but heard nothing but good things about Bite at the Beach, so when I heard it was coming around again, just in time for American Craft Beer Week, I knew I wanted to become involved.

The breweries scheduled to appear include ABK Beer (they have been brewing for over 700 years), Absolution, The Brewery at Abigaile, Aftershock Brewing, El Segundo Brewing Company, Firestone Walker, Strand Brewing, San Pedro Brewing, Port Town, King Harbor and many more. The foods will come from such places as Simmzy’s, Tin Roof Bistro, Little Sister, Sushi Akatora, Manhattan Beach Creamery, Cake Bakeshop and Paul Martin’s American Grill. Music will be provided by Vox DJs and The Lucky Ones. As you can tell, there is definitely going to be a wide variety of foods to go along with the beer options; it sounds like a very fun event. You can see a list all of the breweries, restaurants and sponsors on the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce website. Continue reading

The 2014 Craft Beer Guy Year in Review

As 2014 winds down I faced the question posed to me by a few people; “Will Craft Beer Guy be writing an article about the year?” Initially I thought I would do a Top 10 list and just discuss the Top 10 breweries and brewpubs in the South Bay. I figured it would be easy because there were only 10 craft brewers here, but in the last month so many new locations have opened that we now have 12 if you count Phantom Carriage that has not “officially” opened yet. The South Bay now has the following breweries and brewpubs in its confines; in order of seniority (I think) they are: Red Car Brewery, San Pedro Brewing Company, Strand Brewing Company, El Segundo Brewing Company, Monkish Brewing Company, The Brewery at Abigaile, Smog City Brewing, The Dudes’ Brewing Company, Absolution Brewing Company, King Harbor Brewing Company, Three Weavers Brewing and Phantom Carriage. 2015 should bring us a few more including Hop Saint, Brouwerij West and Port Town Brewing; and those are just the ones that come to mind. There will also be some moves and expansions among those listed above. With that I now present you The 2014 Craft Beer Guy Year in Review.

January 2014

Noble flight

Noble Ale Works Flight

As I look through my articles from January I see that it was a pretty mellow month or the calm before the storm if you prefer. I would have to say my personal highlight of the month was a Sunday afternoon that we spent visiting several of the Orange County craft brewery tasting rooms and brewpubs. The day included stops at Bootlegger’s Brewery, Taps Fish House & Brewery, Noble Ale Works, Tustin Brewing Company and Brewbakers. Each of these stops were first time visits and I would not have a problem recommending any of them. The thing is, in the past year Orange County has opened so many new tasting rooms and brewpubs that it is getting tough to try and keep up with them all; but I will try. Continue reading

American Craft beer Week 2014, Day 7: Bikes, beers & burgers

Sunday was day seven of the 9th Annual American Craft Beer Week and it was a fine ending to a fun week of some really nice craft beers. Since my theme for this year’s ACBW was local production breweries, brewpubs and locations that specialize in American craft beer and there were only two production breweries with tasting rooms in the South Bay that I had not visited yet, I decided to start off with Strand Brewing Company and Monkish Brewing Company; the first two production breweries in Torrance.

Before I left the house I saw on Facebook that there was a bicycle race going on in the industrial complex that Strand Brewing is located in. Strand Brewing fans are probably aware that co-owner and head brewer Joel Elliott is an avid cyclist, so it was not surprising that his backyard would be used for a cycling event. Unfortunately, Telo Road (the street they are located on) was blocked off and I suspect many people did not work around it as there tasting room was a little slower than normal; so there was not a lot to photograph. My girlfriend and I had our Expression Session pale ales then headed out to our next location.

You may have noticed that this past week I have been adding a little something to the end of each brewery visit, primarily advising you of any upcoming events they might want you aware of. When I asked co-owner Rich Marcello if there was anything he wanted me to make you aware of, his response was typical of Marcello; “Just that we are so thankful of the support we have received from the loyal fans. Such a big part of the fabric which makes it worth all of the hard work and effort. It makes getting up and doing what we do (7 days a week) feel worth it. Truly a humbling experience.” Anyone that has had the pleasure of knowing or talking to Rich knows that this is a very sincere attitude. Strand Brewing Company is located at 23520 Telo Avenue in Torrance. Continue reading

American Craft Beer Week 2014, Day 6: Smog City celebrates one year

Saturday was day six of the 9th Annual American Craft Beer Week and it was also the one year anniversary for Torrance production brewery, Smog City Brewing. To say that Smog City went all out on this event would be an understatement. I mean to say that Smog City’s previous events have always been well done with lots of special beers but their one year of experience combined with the experience gained by hosting large events made this one quite smooth. There were close to 700 attendees throughout the day, but with the use of three separate filling stations the lines seemed to move quickly.

The day started with a VIP session that allowed ticket holders to get a two hour head start on the general public thereby ensuring access to the small batch specials that were made available like Quercus Circus and The Tempest, two brews that tapped out fairly early. I made two visits to Smog City, so the photos begin with the VIP session and then a few hours later when I returned. Downtown Dogs provided a special menu for those that needed some food to soak up all the good beer.

Congratulations to Smog City Brewing on a great year; you are a great addition to the South Bay’s craft beer scene. I cannot wait to see what the next year brings. Speaking of which, one of the things the next year will bring is Smog City Brewing bottled beers. Tentatively scheduled for June 7, Groundwork Coffee Porter and The Nothing will be the first beers to be bottled. The only question is will the labels get there on time? We shall see. Cheers! Continue reading

American Craft Beer Week 2014, Day 5: Beers of Summer & Fine Dining

Friday was day five of the 9th Annual American Craft Beer Week and the day consisted of some ups and downs and twists and turns. I started off at the Total Wine in Redondo Beach because my friend Shane Kral, the local face of Firestone Walker, was hosting a Beers of Summer beer tasting. The beers being featured were the 805, Pivo Pils, Opal and Easy Jack. These are all great beers for the hot days we have been experiencing lately, with the Easy Jack being a personal favorite. I heard that Easy Jack has gotten so popular that Firestone Walker has to scale back on it due to a lack of hops. This is terrible news and could mean trouble for us hopheads if the shortage is getting that bad. Anyway, all four are fine beers and I drink them frequently; and Shane is a great guy and I see him frequently but neither of those was the main reason we went there. I had been informed that bottles of Firestone’s Stickee Monkee were going to be made available for purchase before anywhere else. At the last minute the distributor changed their mind; there were several disappointed faces in Total Wine at hearing this news.

As we walked around the store looking for some bottles of beer to buy one of the store employees approached and informed us that there was another beer tasting going on in the back room. We headed over and discovered that Omission Beer and Goose Island were both offering pours. Omission Beer is a new [to me anyway] brewery from Oregon that specializes in gluten free beer. It was pretty good. While we were sampling a third beer rep showed up representing Fruli, Fuller’s and Paulaner breweries. Continue reading

American Craft Beer Week, Day 3: Visits to the new guys

Wednesday was day three of the 9th Annual American Craft Beer Week and in keeping with my theme of visiting our local production breweries, brewpubs and gastropubs I decided that I would visit the two new tasting rooms that were not even in their construction phase last year at this time. Our first stop was at Absolution Brewing Company in Torrance.

Absolution Brewing opened their doors unofficially on March 1 with the official ribbon cutting taking place on April 25. Unlike most of the production breweries around here, Absolution brews in a more European style which really translates to lower carbonation. Some people that are only accustomed to “west coast” styles of craft beer like to suggest that the beer may be flat. If they ventured out of their comfort zone they would realize this is not the case at all. I have to think that Absolution Brewing has become very welcome as they are the one tasting room I visit that seems to constantly have a large number of customers. In the short time I was there they must have sold five kegs to go! I know some people complain that Absolution ran out of too many from their selection of 10 brews on the unofficial open but they do not realize that this was due primarily to Daily Breeze writer Nick Green being unable to stick to the facts and writing an article that appeared on the front page of the Breeze announcing that Absolution was opening two hours earlier than what it should have been. This resulted in a long line of people at the Absolution doors two and a half hours early. Naturally, they opened the doors and many brews were tapped out within minutes of when the actual opening time was supposed to be. I don’t know that the Absolution team realized just how popular their beers were going to be.

For American Craft Beer Week Absolution will begin phase two of their MUG Club, R U Feelin’ Wicked division. I joined the initial Founders division of the MUG Club and I have spoken with several other MUG Club members and I have yet to meet anyone that regretted their decision. The merchandise received, including t-shirts and a custom growler, combined with discounts and special events makes this a steal. You should stop by and sign up before they all sell out as there is a limit of 125 memberships. Absolution Brewing Company is located at 2878 Columbia Street in Torrance. Continue reading

American Craft Beer Week 2014, Day 2: It was an IPA kind of day

Tuesday was day two of the 9th Annual American Craft Beer Week and I really wanted an IPA. For those not in the know, we have been enduring a pretty bad heat wave and a couple cold beers were just what the doctor ordered. An IPA and some air conditioning would be even better. I decided to start off by heading to Long Beach for a visit to the Great American Beer Festival’s 2013 Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing.

While Long Beach sounds like it would be cool, it was actually 105 degrees which was 10 more than home so the beer and air conditioning were quite welcome. When it comes to IPA’s, most locals would have to admit that it is pretty tough to beat the superb options provided by award winning head brewer Julian Shrago. Like I usually do, I opted for a flight consisting of three IPAs, Laurel, Pole Position and The Falcon which are all three fine examples of the West Coast IPA style. I finished the flight off with their Onyx Imperial Stout. In addition to their own fine brews and good food, Beachwood has a pretty amazing guest tap list. This just shows the confidence they have in their own beers. I decided to try the San Clemente IPA (Artifex Collaboration) from Pizza Port San Clemente and it was great. While Beachwood is not having any planned American Craft Beer Week events (because every week is American Craft Beer Week there) they were have a special bottle release for their Jean-Quad Van Damme Bourbon Barrel Aged Belgian-Style Dark Ale that was to be held Tuesday evening. They only bottled 100 so there was a limit of one bottle per customer. While 100 bottles would not usually last very long, Beachwood only announced it on the Instagram account and I mentioned it last night on the Craft Beer Guy Facebook page so there was limited exposure. I just called and there are still some bottles left so head over and grab one; or bring a friend and grab two. Be sure to tell them Craft Beer Guy sent you. Continue reading

American Craft Beer Week 2014, Day1: Good, Better, Worst

Monday May 12 was day one of the 9th Annual American Craft Beer Week, and it is the third consecutive year that I have covered the event. In 2012 I participated by trying to find as many American craft beer locations as possible in the South Bay. In 2013 I set out to visit as many Great American Beer Festival gold medal award winning breweries as possible. Since there has been such an explosion of growth in the craft beer sector around here, I decided that this year will be devoted to the local craft breweries, brewpubs and gastropubs.

I started off by visiting San Pedro Brewing Company (SPBC), a brewpub that has been around for close to 15 years. They have won more than 40 medals at local county fairs, commercial beer competitions and international beer festivals. They have not entered competitions such as the Great American Beer Festival because they have a small brewing system and do not currently have the capacity to brew enough beers to handle the increased demand winning a competition like that would bring. That may soon change though as they are in the process of dealing with the paperwork to open a new location around the corner which will be called Port Town Brewing. SPBC Head Brewer Jason Welke will likely do the brewing for SPBC and Port Town with the SPBC system being used for experimental batches. The hope is to have Port Town Brewing open by next American Craft Beer Week. For those that like bourbon barrel aged brews, Wednesday evening at 6:30 SPBC will have their 2nd Bourbon Barrel Aged Beer Night featuring their Blitzen Belgian Winter Ale and Sunken City Imperial Stout. I went to their first barrel aged event in February and they had some delicious brews. If you are looking for something to do, you really cannot miss by attending this event. San Pedro Brewing Company is located at 331 W. 6th Street in San Pedro and is open seven days a week. Continue reading

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