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Beachwood BBQ celebrates 7 years

Regular readers have probably figured out that I am a pretty big fan of Beachwood BBQ and Brewing, named Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) this past October. What you may not know is that they started off as a gastropub in Seal Beach, called simply, Beachwood BBQ back in 2006. It was not until 2011 that Beachwood BBQ owner, Gabe Gordon teamed up with brewer Julian Shrago to open their brewpub, Beachwood BBQ and Brewing, in Long Beach.

A friend of mine introduced me to Beachwood BBQ in November of 2010; at the time they were essentially a barbecue joint that served craft beer with 24 rotating taps. Beachwood had not even started brewing beer yet. When I look back at photos from my first visit I cannot help but admire the guest tap list which consisted of beers from breweries that I was not all that familiar with (a lot can change in three years). Fast-forward to present day and seven years have passed since Gabe Gordon first opened his Seal Beach location.

Yesterday, December 17, Beachwood started their week long commemoration of their 7th Anniversary by introducing Beachwood Seven Double IPA, a double IPA made with seven varieties of hops (Warrior, Citra, Amarillo, Nelson Sauvin, El Dorado, Galaxy, and Mosaic); one for each year they have been in business. They offered Beachwood Seven in bottles and on tap; but as expected, the bottles sold out within hours. I would highly advise heading to one of their two locations to try it on tap; it is delicious. If you are in the neighborhood, the Seal Beach location is celebrating Beachwood BBQ’s Anniversary Week, December 17-22, with a great line up of seasonal winter beers and food specials. Throughout the week, in addition to their standard food menu there are food specials such as Oysters Rockefeller, Crusted King Crab Legs and a special Dessert Sampler. Continue reading

Happy Thanksgiving from the Craft Beer Guy

Just a quick note to say Happy Thanksgiving to each of you and your families. Today, Tanya and I will head over to my dad’s for dinner with my daughter and a bunch of siblings. There should be about 15 people there. Since Tanya has been experimenting a lot with her baking, she got put on dessert detail which resulted in three pumpkin pies made from scratch; she even used fresh pumpkin instead of that canned stuff. She also made up some vanilla whipped yams, so the food should be delicious. Naturally, I was assigned beer duty, so Wednesday I traveled around to a few of my favorite places.

I started at Beachwood BBQ & Brewing where I picked up a growler of Annihilator, a 12% American Barleywine. I then moved along to Monkish Brewing where I brought home a growler of Magnificat, a 10.1% Belgian Strong Dark Ale, spiced for Christmas. My next stop was El Segundo Brewing Company because no meal is complete without an IPA. I walked out with a growler of Two 5 Left, an 8.2% Double IPA. For dessert we headed to The Brewery at Abigaile where I picked up a growler of Coconut Imperial Red; a 9.4% Imperial Red Ale. I think everyone should be able to find something they will like.

Have a safe day and appreciate all you have. Cheers! Continue reading

Photos from Alisha & Shane’s going away party

As I mentioned in a recent article, the craft beer scene around here consists of a pretty tight-knit community. Something about craft beer just seems to bring people together; perhaps it is because craft beer is really breaking out here and we are excited and happy to be part of it. Traveling to the various tasting rooms and brewpubs is like going off to visit friends and family as much as for the beer. This is especially true whenever we walk into Beachwood BBQ & Brewing in Long Beach; everyone that works there seems to like each other and they appear to really enjoy their jobs. Last night, the craft beer community met at Beachwood to say good-bye to two of the family; Alisha Inkrote and Shane Stewart.

Alisha and Shane are moving to Denver on Friday and they held a going away party last night at Beachwood’s Long Beach location. Even though Beachwood is normally closed on Monday, owner Gabe Gordon opened it up so a few of Alisha and Shane’s friends and family could gather for a final beer together. The kitchen was closed, so some people brought food and others brought bottles of their favorite brews to share. It really was a fun night; Alisha and Shane are going to be missed. If you were not able to make it last night, they will be there Tuesday and Wednesday if you want to stop by, say good-bye and wish them well.

Beachwood BBQ & Brewing is located at 210 E 3rd Street in Long Beach, California. Cheers! Continue reading

Discover Torrance presents: Shop, Hops & Slumber Fest

Shop, Hops & Slumber in Torrance

Shop, Hops & Slumber in Torrance

You may have noticed that I frequently write about the burgeoning craft beer scene in the South Bay; more specifically the influx of craft breweries coming to Torrance. Believe me; it is wonderful; especially since each of our breweries is so much different than the other. They may all be brewing beers, but their styles could not be more different from each other. Those of us that live in or around the South Bay know how good we have it and now Discover Torrance Visitors Bureau has set up a convenient way for you to experience it yourself.

Shop, Hops & Slumber Fest,” a holiday campaign spearheaded by Discover Torrance Visitors Bureau has decided to take advantage of the craft beer craze in Torrance by combining our numerous tasting rooms with the ability to shop at the fifth largest shopping mall in the country and providing numerous locations for you to relax and get some sleep before doing it again the next day. The concept is pretty simple.

Book a room during the promotion which runs from November 4, 2013 through January 6, 2014 and automatically receive a “Shop, Hop & Slumber Fest” kit that includes a shopping tote for trips to the Del Amo Fashion Center, a beer mug and a sleep kit with eye mask, ear plugs and more. Participating hotels are offering special rates and added value to make an overnight shopping stay a no-brainer. I was looking through some of the hotel rates and I would have no problem referring a friend to any of these locations and the prices were very reasonable.

As far as the hops portion of this deal, Torrance is home to Strand Brewing Company, Monkish Brewing Company, Smog City Brewing and the Red Car Brewpub. LA Beer Hop is participating with a discount special of $20 off. If you spend a night or two, I would suggest reviewing my South Bay Beer Guide of local breweries, brewpubs and gastropubs and make it a very special visit. Continue reading

Two Mid-Size Champions Party at Beachwood BBQ & Brewing

As you undoubtedly know, the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) was held again last October and California craft breweries pulled in close to 50 medals. More locally, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing out of Long Beach won five medals which made it Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year. A couple hundred miles north in Paso Robles, Firestone-Walker won four medals which made them Mid-Size Brewing Company and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year. Last night they held a Colossal Party for Two Mid-Size Champions at Beachwood BBQ & Brewing featuring 10 Firestone-Walker taps, including three of the four medal winners; Wookey Jack, Union Jack and Pivo. Of course, Beachwood had their standard multitude of house brews available, including three of their five medal winners; Foam Top, Kilgore Stout and Udder Love.

In addition to the great beer, Beachwood smoked up some of their delicious barbecue on wood from retired Firestone-Walker barrels. It was a great way to spend an evening and their fans were not going to let a little rain get in the way of the fun. Congratulations to Beachwood BBQ & Brewing and Firestone-Walker Brewing; we look forward to next year’s party. 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

Beachwood BBQ & Brewing: Best Mid-Sized Brewpub 2013

Last Wednesday, as I became increasingly jealous of the people on my Facebook feed as they announced their arrival in Denver for the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), I decided to head over to Beachwood BBQ & Brewing in Long Beach, CA. I had just seated myself at the bar when Beachwood General Manager Brandon Halvorson came up and said, “You just cannot stay away.” I admit, when we want lunch and a great beer, it does not take much convincing to get me to drive the 15 miles to Long Beach. Yesterday, the beer world found out why when Beachwood BBQ & Brewing won five medals at GABF, making it the 2013 Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year! I was so happy to hear this I almost felt like I was a winner. I guess all of Beachwood’s patrons are winners because we are able to enjoy their food and beer six days a week.

Beachwood won gold medals for Foam Top for the Golden or Blonde Ale category and Kilgore Stout in the American-Style Stout category. They also got silver for Udder Love (Sweet Stout or Cream Stout) and bronze medals for System of a Stout (Coffee Beer) and Barrel-Aged Full Malted Jacket (Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer). I guess the big surprise for me is that none of their IPAs got a medal, but it is my understanding that they had over 250 IPA entries and it took two or three days to go through them all. Be that as it may, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing has made some tremendous beers and are definitely getting the recognition they deserve; and to think they are only two years old. Congratulations to Julian Shrago, Ian McCall, Brandon Halverson and all the staff at Beachwood BBQ & Brewing.

I guess it also shows that if it seems that I visit some places more than others, there is a good reason for it; the Craft Beer Guy would not steer you wrong. These photos were taken Wednesday October 9 and Saturday October 12 after the medals were announced. You can find a list of all the past and present Great American Beer Festival winners at http://www.greatamericanbeerfestival.com/the-competition/winners/. Cheers! Continue reading

LA Beer Week visit to Library Alehouse & San Pedro Brewing Company

I have some friends that just flew into LA from Paris, France to begin a road trip around the southwest; as they are fans of Craft Beer Guy and LA Beer Week (LABW5) is still going on they expressed a desire to go somewhere that served craft beer. Since they were staying in Santa Monica and I am not all that familiar with the gastropubs in the area, I put out a request for suggestions on my Facebook page; one of the suggestions was Library Alehouse, located at 2911 Main Street in Santa Monica.

The Library Alehouse looks pretty small from out front, but they have a pretty spacious patio in the back; if you have a party of more than two, that is probably the direction you want to head. They have a pretty respectable tap list and they do offer flights of four for $10; well, it is theoretically $10, but you have to be careful about the beers you choose as they can easily hit the $15 range. Our French guests both had the bison burger and really enjoyed it; we had the All-American and it was okay. It’s a burger, what can I say. I don’t spend a lot of time in Santa Monica, but I would not hesitate returning or recommending it to someone that wanted a good craft beer.

Since it was Friday and I had visited two of LA’s gold medal breweries the day before, I decided that I would head over to San Pedro and visit another award winning brewery, San Pedro Brewing Company (SPBC). SPBC is a brewpub nestled on 6th Street in San Pedro that has been in business since 1999. Back then there were a lot of “Brewcos” in the area with Manhattan Beach Brewing Company, Redondo Beach Brewing Company and San Pedro Brewing Company as just three of our local examples. It seems that most of them that opened back then either threw in the towel as far as brewing was concerned and became gastropubs, or they settled into a comfort zone and kept producing the same beers using the same recipes for years and years. SPBC is different in that they kept changing it up, being innovative and experimental, and the list of awards they have won under head brewer Jason Welke since they brought him on in 2006 shows that this is working for them. Continue reading

LA Beer Week tasting dinner at The Brewery at Abigaile

Over the past year or so I have been invited to attend several beer events that involved pairing various foods with different beers. Sometimes it seems like there was not a lot of thought put into the combinations and then there are pairings like the LA Beer Week (LABW5) Beer Tasting Dinner put on by The Brewery at Abigaile brewpub on Wednesday evening. It really shows what can happen when you have a chef like Tin Vuong who not only prepares unique menus with global flavors; but also enjoys craft beers.

I will admit that there have been times that I have opted for an entree that conflicted with my choice of beer; primarily due to a sauce or seasoning that was so hot that I might as well be drinking Bud Light because my taste buds had lost all sensitivity; last night’s dinner eliminated all risks as Chef Tin’s menu melded perfectly with the beers provided by The Brewery at Abigaile’s Brian Brewer. Our menu included Wit Cured Wild Salmon paired with Tangerine Honey Wit, a Belgian-style witbier; Mary’s Chicken Milanese paired with Sir Charles Mild, an English-style brown mild; an amazing Duck Confit paired with Sticky Fingers IPA; Braised Oxtail with Flat Iron paired with their Nihilist DIPA; with Perfection in a Glass beer float for dessert. It was made with Sarsaparilla and their Black Mass Porter. Brian also brought out some of his Black Mass Porter that has been aging in rye whiskey barrels for the past four months and it is delicious.

If you enjoy beer and food tastings, I recommend following The Brewery at Abigaile’s Facebook page so you can be kept in the loop. They do these on a pretty regular basis and I know there are more planned for the near future. When you have an executive chef like Tin Vuong combining his skills with a brewer like Brian Brewer only good things can happen and you do want to be a part of it. Trust me on that one.

The Brewery at Abigaile is located at 1301 Manhattan Avenue in Hermosa Beach; that is the northwest corner of Manhattan Avenue and Pier Avenue. They even have free parking in the underground structure at their location. Cheers! Continue reading

Wicks Brewing Company, Riverside

One of my favorite things is to happen upon a new brewery that I am unfamiliar with; if they brew good beer that is just icing on the cake. This happened yesterday when I found myself stuck in traffic out in the Inland Empire. I had my roommate break out her iPhone to see if there were any microbreweries in the area when she discovered Wicks Brewing Company in Riverside, CA.

Wicks Brewing is a brewpub located at 11620 Sterling Avenue in Riverside and has only been open for a little over three months, but a sampling of the beers brewed on-site make it clear that their head brewer has been doing this for a while. It is my understanding that he spent a few years as a brewer at the former Riverside Brewing Company which has turned out several great brewers, including Brian Brewer from The Brewery at Abigaile. When we were there they were offering five of their home brews; Sir Gordon’s Pale Ale, Red Headed Belgian, West Coast Strong Ale, an IPA and their Imperial Porter. They advertise that they also brew root beer which Tanya was eager to try, but they were all out. We got an order of their Pretzel Bites which were quite tasty and high on demand as it seems we bought the last order of the day and I heard at least two other parties ordering the same thing. I guess growing pains are in effect; selling more than you have available is a good way to start. I am sure we will return now that we know they are there.

Something a little different about Wicks Brewing is that they have six brewing stations available for home brewers that want to try their hand at brewing beer or soft drinks. This system, known as a Brew on Premise or BOP, provides you with various recipes and all the ingredients you will need. You pick the recipe and they will walk you through the brewing process using one of their BOP stations. I wish they were not so far away or I would definitely try that out. Continue reading

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