These photos are from the 2015 Pacific Brewers Cup homebrew competition which was held Saturday afternoon at Four Points by Sheraton at LAX. The event was hosted by Strand Brewers Club, Long Beach Homebrewers, and Pacific Gravity. There were 458 entries consisting of beer, mead and ciders.
While these photos were all taken Saturday, the fact of the matter is that with 458 entries, the judging portion actually started two weeks ago when members of the Strand Brewers Club had to sort the 1300 plus bottles into categories and get all the information entered in the competitions database. I helped out on the sorting by scanning in the entries with their assigned competition number; this gave me an opportunity to see where the entries came from. I have to admit, I was pretty surprised at how far and wide they came from; with several entries coming from out of state. Because of the substantial number of entries, there were a couple judging sessions done ahead of time.
As you might think, it is quite the task to judge 458 beers, mead and ciders and it truly takes a lot of work by an organized team to pull that off. The team yesterday consisted of 70 judges and 42 stewards. I met one of the judges yesterday that came all the way from Chandler, Arizona “for the love of beer” as opposed to trying to escape Chandler’s 100+ weather. While the judges were truly put to the test, I doubt that the event could have moved as smoothly as it did without the efforts of the stewards. Head Steward Barbara Bovee is to be congratulated for keeping things as organized as they were. Continue reading
When I was a young speed demon, racing fast cars and motorcycles, we had a saying; “there is no substitute for cubic inches.” I have come to the conclusion that in the craft beer world, specifically when it comes to tap takeovers, there is no substitute for experience. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy each of our local craft breweries and I attempt to go to as many of their tap takeovers as possible; but the oldest production brewery in the South Bay is Strand Brewing Company and they will be celebrating their fifth anniversary in December. Last night we headed to Brewco in Manhattan Beach for a Firestone Walker tap takeover and Firestone Walker Regional Sales Manager Shane Kral pretty much pulled all the stops with this one, featuring brews ranging from their 2011 Parabola to their XVIII Anniversary Ale.
This was a tap takeover that drew people from near and far as the tap list was something that you would have difficulty emulating without taking a trip to Firestone Walker’s Buellton or Paso Robles locations; even then it might prove difficult. In addition to Firestone’s core beers on tap, DBA, Union Jack, Pivo Pils and Velvet Merlin, they also offered 2011 Black Xantus, 2013 Double DBA, 2014 Agrestic, 2014 Velvet Merkin and the Firestone XVIII Anniversary Ale. For good measure there were bottles of 2011 Parabola and 2013 Sucaba also available. As if these were not enough, for dessert they offered Pazookis (a hot brownie cake) topped with Velvet Merlin Ice Cream crafted from Sweet Rose Creamery in Santa Monica. To say it was delicious would be like saying Union Jack is hoppy.
Since the main problem with an event like this is how to sample all these wonderful [and somewhat high-octane] brews in one sitting, Brewco created a couple flights for the occasion. The Lion and Bear Flight consisted of Pivo Pils, DBA, Union Jack and Agrestic. Their Vintage Flight was made up of tasters consisting of 2011 Black Xantus, 2013 Double DBA, 2014 Velvet Merkin and the 18th (XVIII) Anniversary Ale. Those that opted for full pours also got to bring their Firestone Walker glassware home with them. Rumor is that there are only one or two kegs of the 2011 Black Xantus left on the face of the earth, so that beer alone pretty much made this a one-of-a-kind event. Continue reading
Saturday evening I joined a few dozen others for the South Bay Progressive’s second “pub crawl” which included five South Bay venues that specialize in craft beer; each of whom showcased a different American craft brewery. The five venues and the breweries they featured were Brewco, Manhattan Beach featuring Smog City Brewing; The Brewery at Abigaile featuring Stone Brewing Company; Silvio’s Brazilian Barbecue featuring Modern Times Beer; Naja’s Place featuring The Bruery; and Select Beer Store who featured Great Divide Brewing Company. Transportation for the event was provided by LA Craft Beer Tours.
We started our tour at Naja’s Place since it was the closest with the best parking options; the fact that they were showcasing The Bruery made the decision process a little easier. I have to admit, I was a little shocked when I saw the Naja’s tap list as it was emptier than I have ever seen. I was then reminded that Naja’s is having their 6th Annual IPA Festival this coming Wednesday so they are in the process of cleaning all their lines. If you enjoy IPAs you will want to head to Naja’s Place for this week long event.
My intent was to visit The Brewery at Abigaile next with a stop by Silvio’s on the way back but a scheduling conflict resulted in Silvio’s closing at 7:00 PM for a private party so we headed to Silvio’s first then walked up the street to Abigaile. After grabbing a beer, some food and photos we headed to Brewco in Manhattan Beach. As one might imagine, Saturday night in Manhattan Beach meant a pretty large crowd but the service was fast and the people were friendly. After enjoying a beer most of us got back on the bus and headed back to Naja’s Place which was now jumping with live music and an even more lively audience.
South Bay Progressive is a collaboration between the five South Bay venues with a cross-promotion of some of the production breweries that have helped make the South Bay a craft beer destination. The event started last September for LA Beer Week and included four of last night’s participating five venues, with The Brewery at Abigaile joining in the fun this time around. This was the first time I have participated in an event like this but I have to say, if South Bay Progressive continues I will do my best to be there next time as well. Cheers! Continue reading