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Ballast Point Brewing

Taking a San Diego Beercation with Travelocity

I have traveled to breweries up and down the state and ventured east as far as Indiana and Louisiana but even though it is only a couple hours away, I have not covered much in the San Diego area. With more than 100 breweries in San Diego County, I had visited a total of two; Alpine Beer Company in Alpine, and Stone Brewing’s Escondido location. The main reason for this is probably because a trip to San Diego for a beer tour would pretty much require an overnight stay and a convenient time just never came up. About a month ago I received an email asking if I would like to join Travelocity on an overnight beercation in San Diego; my convenient time had arrived. The fact that it was during San Diego Beer Week was just icing on the cake.

Our group consisted of a variety of foodies, travel influencers and two beer writers; we would be staying at the Pearl Hotel and visit AleSmith Brewing, Ballast Point, Mission Brewing and end with dinner at Stone’s Liberty Station location. We were transported around the different breweries by HotShots Brewery Tours. The reason for the invitation was that Travelocity has realized how big craft beer is around the country and that people are traveling specifically to try craft beer; so they created a beer tourism index. Everything we did can be booked via Travelocity. Continue reading

Inaugural Long Beach Craft Beer Festival Photos

These photos were taken at the inaugural Long Beach Craft Beer Festival which was held Saturday afternoon and put on by the Forty-Niner Shops at California State University Long Beach (CSULB). Proceeds from the event went to help support student education through the growth and development of the Hospitality Management program at CSULB.

When I first started thinking about what I would write about this event, I was going to say that for an inaugural event it was very well run; but the fact of the matter is that would not really be a fair assessment. This may have been their inaugural event but you would not know it if you had not been told beforehand. Someone had done their homework; it was run like they had been putting on craft beer festivals for years.

I could nitpick and complain about the plastic tasting “glassware”, or maybe suggest that the food options be spread out a little more equally; but other than that I am not sure what anyone could complain about. One thing is for sure, the beer options were outstanding. Continue reading

8th Annual IPA Festival at Najas Place

It is that time of year again; Naja’s Place in Redondo Beach began their week-long 8th Annual IPA Festival on Wednesday afternoon. The event will feature well over 100 IPAs from around the country.

We headed there early Wednesday afternoon as this was not my first rodeo, and Naja’s fills up fast every year as hopheads descend upon the International Boardwalk at the Redondo Beach Pier.

Each day of the event will feature a special IPA; Wednesday’s was Russian River’s Pliny the Elder. Thursday will feature Dogfish Head’s 120 Minute IPA; Friday will have El Segundo Brewing’s Hop Plunge and their anniversary beer El Segundo El Cinco Del Segundo. Saturday will be Pizza Port day featuring more than 20 of their specialty IPAs. Sunday will feature Knee Deep’s Simtra Triple IPA, with Monday’s featured brew being Russian River’s Blind Pig and Tuesday will have Pliny the Elder again. Continue reading

Photos from the 3rd Annual South Bay Beer & Wine Festival

These photos are from the 3rd Annual South Bay Beer & Wine Festival, which was held Sunday afternoon at Ernie Howlett Park in Rolling Hills Estates. Presented by the Rotary Clubs of El Segundo, Palos Verdes Peninsula and South Bay Sunrise this charity event featured almost 40 craft breweries as well as 15 wineries and food from about 36 local restaurants. In addition to the beer, wine and food, music was provided by Detour.

Moving the festival to Ernie Howlett Park was a smart move as it is much more spacious than the South Coast Botanical Gardens, where the event was held last year, as there were probably 10 more breweries than last year and it allowed them to sell more tickets. When I asked how many attendees came out, I was told they sold about 1,400 tickets, which was almost double from last year. The additional space made it really difficult to judge the number of people in attendance because it was so spread out. The main thing is that there were no lines that had more than four or five people in them. Continue reading

3rd Annual South Bay Beer & Wine Festival Coming May 15, 2016

South Bay Beer & Wine Fest

Join Us Sunday, May 15

The 3rd Annual South Bay Beer & Wine Festival will be held on Sunday afternoon, May 15 from 1:00-5:00 PM at Ernie Howlett Park in Rolling Hills Estates. Proceeds from this charity fundraising event will go to support the humanitarian programs of the El Segundo Rotary Club, Palos Verdes Peninsula Rotary Club, and South Bay Rotary Club. The Rotary Club supports community programs focused on health and nutrition, high school Interact and leadership, education and literacy, vocational training, and community space restoration and renovation. A few of the organizations they support include El Segundo Teen Center, C.A.S.E. Food Pantry, Switzer Learning Center, Mychal’s Learning Place, Cancer Support Community, Caring House, ARC House, Norris Theatre and South Bay Mobile Medical Clinics.

The craft breweries were assembled by Beer Paper L.A.’s own Daniel Drennon; if you were there last year and thought he did a great job, wait until you see who is scheduled for this year’s event. On tap include Absolution Brewing, Anchor Brewing, Artifex, Avery, Ballast Point, Beachwood, Bottle Logic, Drake’s, Arts District, Brouwerij West, El Segundo Brewing, Firestone Walker, Fireman’s Brew, Founder’s, Ironfire Brewing, King Harbor Brewing, Ladyface, Mission Brewery, New Belgium, Phantom Carriage, Pizza Port Brewing, Red Car Brewery, Baja Brewing, Headlands, HopSaint, Sierra Nevada, Smog City, Stone Brewing, Strand Brewing, Tenaya Creek, Mother Earth, Ska and Three Weavers will all be providing brews to sample. Continue reading

Photos of the 4th Annual Alpine Kraft Bierfest

These photos were taken at the 4th Annual Alpine Kraft Bierfest which was held at the Alpine Inn Restaurant at Alpine Village in Torrance. The craft beer event featured beers from all over the United States with a couple very rare Belgian brews added for good measure. While I did not take the time to count each of the breweries represented or the number of various beers available for sampling, they advertised over 40 breweries and 100 beers. I know there were a couple other craft beer events going on in Southern California this past weekend, but if you drove away from the South Bay instead of towards it, you may have messed up.

The Kraft Bierfest was held over the course of two sessions, beginning Friday evening and concluding with an afternoon session on Saturday afternoon. This was the second time they have split the event up over two sessions. Last year, to avoid the possibility of the best brews running out during the first session, Alpine’s event coordinators decided to split up the beers by day and put up a schedule of appearance for the brews so people could choose which day would have the most beers that they wanted to try. This time they made every brew available on both days but cut off serving brews that were limited on Friday so some would be available on Saturday. While there were people that were not too happy when the Agrestic or Winter Harvest ran out on Friday, the people that showed up on Saturday were quite grateful.

While I do not have the final numbers, it seemed like there may have been people in attendance on Friday night than Saturday afternoon; I doubt if either session had more than a couple hundred people in attendance. The only line I recall seeing that had more than four people in it were the first few people that arrived Saturday and headed straight for the Agrestic. I would not be surprised to see this event go back to being a one session deal. Continue reading

Photos of the 2015 BAM Fest

On Saturday afternoon Tap & Cheer Events presented their 6th Annual Beer, Art and Music Festival, lovingly known as BAM Fest, which was held at the 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica. The 18th Street Arts Center is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization and is the beneficiary of all the proceeds from the BAM Fest fundraiser. The event featured beers and ciders from more than 30 craft breweries as well as foods from six food trucks and live music provided by Nick Shattuck, Heaps N Heaps and Whiskey Sunday.

Considering the heat index was well over 100 degrees out when BAM Fest started, they had a very nice turnout. I am not really sure how the crowd size compared to previous years because people seemed to be seeking shade more than normal which probably resulted in more art being seen this time; it did appear that there were more art exhibits opened to the public this year and I am sure everyone that took advantage of them appreciated it. The weather pretty much forced everyone to get to know their neighbor since the parking lot had about three umbrellas that most attendees tried to fit under at some point. Continue reading

A Visit to STACKED Torrance

Regular readers of my site may recall that back in March I visited a STACKED restaurant in Cerritos for a beer tasting put on by Craft Beer Guild Distributing. While we had a very good time exploring the STACKED menu and trying the various craft beers that had been presented, Cerritos is almost 20 miles from my home so the likelihood of my returning just for dinner was not very good. While we were at the Cerritos location I was informed that STACKED has four locations; Cerritos, Thousand Oaks, San Diego and Torrance, which is about five minutes from my home, so I made a mental note to check it out sometime.

As a result of my article the public relations company for STACKED began inviting me to events at their other locations; but as the invites were always to Thousand Oaks or San Diego the distance was just too far to justify the drive. After the last invitation I reminded them that I lived in the South Bay; I was then invited to visit the Torrance location. After a few emails back and forth, I was told to head over to the Torrance location and was given a couple names to ask for when I got there. When we arrived yesterday I found out that the two names were managers at the Cerritos location. This was not a good start.

Tanya and I went outside to decide where we would eat when Ashley Brown, manager for the Torrance STACKED came out and asked what brought us there in the first place. After hearing that there must have been a mix-up somewhere and not wanting to lose the opportunity for some exposure, Brown invited us back in. Continue reading

Photos from Oktoberfest at Whole Foods Playa Vista

On Saturday evening, the new Whole Foods Market in Playa Vista held a mini-Oktoberfest at their Astro Pub bar, which is a full bar complete with 24 craft beers on tap; with 14 of them dedicated to local breweries. The Oktoberfest was the second in a series of tap takeovers, beer dinners and various beer events planned by Raul Moran, the beer buyer for Whole Foods, Playa Vista.

The evening consisted of Oktoberfest style beers featuring such breweries as Three Weavers, Sierra Nevada, Ballast Point, Goose Island, Spaten, Weihenstephan and Hofbräuhaus. Also included in the price of admission was plenty of schnitzel, sauerkraut, brats and giant pretzels. Piped in German music resulted in spontaneous breakouts of the ever popular Chicken Dance. There was also plenty of swag available for anyone that wanted it. They had a moderate turnout, and everyone that attended seemed to be having a good time making new friends while enjoying the food and beer.

The Astro Pub is located in the front of the Whole Foods Market, Playa Vista at 12746 W. Jefferson Boulevard. As I mentioned, Moran plans on having a series of beer dinners and tap takeovers every couple of weeks. I would suggest following the Whole Foods Facebook page to be kept in the loop. Prost! Continue reading

Coming Soon to El Segundo: Rubens Distilling & Brewing

Rubens street view

Rubens Distilling & Brewing

As you might imagine, I hear a lot of rumors about what may or may not be happening as far as the craft beer scene in this area. As a result, I get asked questions like, “What is happening with Strand Brewing Company’s old brewhouse?” Well, while the fermenting tanks are moving to their new Dominguez location, the brewhouse is moving to a new home in El Segundo; Rubens Distilling & Brewing. Yes, I said distilling and brewing. Wednesday morning I made a visit to the home of this future distillery and craft brewery and met Rob Rubens, the owner of Rubens Distilling & Brewing to find out a little more about what the plans are.

Rubens grew up in Illinois and he has relatives that opened a speakeasy in Chicago during Prohibition, so I guess one could say that whiskey is in his blood. Rubens Distilling & Brewing will be the first combination distillery and brewery in the Los Angeles area, and one of three in the state; the others being Ballast Point and Anchor Steam.

Rubens today

Future distillery and brewery

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