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Carson

Lugosi Bottle Premiere and Halloween Celebration at Phantom Carriage

These photos were taken at the Lugosi Bottle Premiere and Halloween Celebration that was held Saturday evening at Phantom Carriage blendery and tasting room in Carson. The event featured the release of a bottled version of Lugosi, a high gravity dark wild sour ale aged in oak with Brettanomyces, lactobacillus, and Pediococcus; featuring sweet cherry, vanilla, and stone fruit.

Since it was also a Halloween party, Phantom Carriage played Universal Studio’s 1931 version of “Dracula” on a large screen in the back parking lot. As Dracula starred Bela Lugosi, and they were releasing the bottled version of Lugosi, it only made sense that this would be a good time to invite Bela Lugosi, Jr. to join the fun, which he accepted and brought along a good portion of his family. Continue reading

Phantom Carriage Celebrates One Year

When I left off, we had left the Froth Awards at Saint Rocke and headed to Carson to catch the tail end of Phantom Carriage’s One Year Anniversary party which was held Saturday afternoon. Phantom Carriage pulled out all the stops which required them to take over the parking lot as well as the blendery’s tasting room.

I got there pretty late, but even as it may have been clearing out you could tell that this sold out event was rocking as everyone was in full party mode. With the beer selections that had been available earlier, it is no wonder why everyone was in a great mood. They had cellar blends Volume 1 through 5 to accompany Oude Muis, Muis, Citra Muis, barrel-aged Centennial Muis, Broadacres, Strawberry Broadacres, Triple Berry Melange Broadacres, Dragonfruit Broadacres, barrel-aged Peach/Nectarine Broadacres, Bergman, Blackberry Bergman, Baskerville (clean and on Brett), Wit Zombie, Pineapple Wit Zombie, Amarantha, Lugosi, Dolores, Tagalong Dolores, Toasted Coconut Dolores, Fleet Street IPA, Tripel Curse and Fog Island. As soon as I walked in, brewer Brendan Lake approached me with the last of the Vermiste Kat which was their collaboration with Cascade, so even though a lot of the super-rare varieties were already gone by the time I got there, the Vermiste Kat was a great way to start off. Continue reading

A Visit to The Honest Abe Cidery

A couple weeks ago, Honest Abe Hard Ciders owner Spencer Chambers invited me to come down and visit The Honest Abe Cidery, as LA Beer Hop was bringing a group there and Chambers would be having a little soft open of sorts. I got there a little early and had a chance to talk with Chambers and his significant other, Kimberly.

While enjoying samples of his [current] four ciders, apple, pineapple, honey and blueberry (with Mosaic hops) I asked Chambers about how long he had been making ciders and what got him into it. It turns out the answer was rather simple and logical. Growing up in Kentucky and being surrounded by apple orchards, it was just something the kids did around there. Since Abraham Lincoln was from Kentucky, the name was a no-brainer.

When I asked Kimberly about her cider experience she confessed that she was more of a wine person but that palate has pretty much made her the official taste tester for Honest Abe. Chambers said his ciders are pretty much designed for her palate. Continue reading

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

Photos of the Samhain Ball at Phantom Carriage

These photos are from the Samhain Ball which was held Saturday evening at the Phantom Carriage blendery and tasting room. For those that would otherwise have to Google it, Samhain is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year. As you may have noticed, this is another culture’s celebration that falls within our Halloween season and Dia de los Muertos. Like visiting Bravery Brewing was the logical choice on the 4th of July, Phantom Carriage was pretty much made for these types of holidays. Besides, it was also co-owner and founder of Phantom Carriage, Martin Svab’s birthday so it truly was the logical choice.

We were among the first to arrive and there was a little stress because there was not a line outside, but it was pretty early, on a Saturday night and it was Halloween; there would be nothing to worry about. Within an hour the tasting room began filling up with TV and movie characters, ghouls, sexy Indians and the clamor of a few hundred people having a good time.

The Samhain Ball featured an evil DJ spinning Halloween-inspired tunes, a costume contest and haunted horror film screenings throughout the night both. Of course, they also had a special beer list including their own Haunted Dolores and Lugosi as well Alesmith’s “Evil Dead Red” and Tap It Brewing’s “No Soul Sour Red”. It was a fun night with good beer and imaginative people; congratulations to Phantom Carriage and happy birthday to Martin Svab. Cheers! Continue reading

A Review of LA Beer Week 2015

LABW7 schedule

Unity release at Smog City Brewing

It has been a week or so now since LA Beer Week 2015 (LABW7) and I think I am ready to give a review of the “week-long” event. I say “week-long” because LABW7 officially ran from June 20-28 but some venues started celebrating early and others ended on the 27th. Heck, Smog City Brewing held their Unity (the official beer of LA Beer Week) bottle release on the Wednesday before, and Absolution Brewing released their LA Beer Week brew, AD/JD on Thursday. No matter when you started, it was a very long week with some very good beers to be found. There are a few events I attended but did not write about; if you want to see those photos please visit my Facebook page.

The LA Beer Week Kickoff Party was held Saturday, June 20 at Exposition Park. I have to be honest, even though I have been documenting LA Beer Week since LABW4 in 2012 I have never attended any of their kickoff events. This was due primarily to preconceived misconceptions of what a madhouse it would be; plus I really do not like driving to DTLA. On the Wednesday before the kickoff party I happened to notice an email that came in from Absolution Brewing to members of their Mug Club in which they were offering VIP tickets to the first five “Muggers” that asked for them. I asked Tanya if she wanted to go and she responded immediately with, “No!.” This was because I had been saying we were not going for the past week, so I think she was just making sure I knew she was okay with it.

As I was going to the Torrance City Hall that night anyway for a Planning Commission hearing and Absolution was basically on the way home, it was decided that we would stop by after the Planning Commission hearing and see if any passes were still available. In other words, I was going to let others have an opportunity to score the passes before me. We showed up to Absolution shortly before they closed and no one had claimed any of the passes, so we decided to attend the kickoff.

Absolution Brewing staff

Thank you to Absolution Brewing for the VIP passes

Continue reading

LA Beer Week 2015: Father’s Day

Sunday was day two of the 2015 LA Beer Week (#LABW7) and it was Father’s Day. As my daughter wanted to take me out for Father’s Day and I wanted to take my dad out, we decided that we would all go together. My dad enjoys his craft beer but I know I have brought things over to the house that he just was not into; so I asked him if he had ever tried a wild ale or sour beer. He had not, but was willing to give it a try, so we decided that we would head over to Phantom Carriage for their Father’s Day Brunch and Vinyl Sunday.

I brought Elvis Costello’s “My Aim is True” which they put on the turntable while Tanya and I enjoyed Beer-Mosas with their Brewers Breakfast. In the meantime I introduced dad to Muis; it wasn’t his thing and he asked if they had an IPA. I brought him a Hoppy Birthday and his eyes lit up. After learning it wasn’t brewed by Phantom Carriage he said he wanted to try something else by them; I should just surprise him. Well, apparently his palate warmed up and he truly enjoyed the Dolores Nitro I presented.

We got there when they first opened and it had a decent group; by the time we finished eating, drinking and visiting the place was packed. It is good to see that they are continuing to grow. Speaking of which, they now have growlers of Muis available; bottles of some of their other brews will be there before you know it. Continue reading

Crawl 4 Nepal in the South Bay

On April 25, the village of Barpak in the Gorkha district of Nepal was hit with a severe earthquake with a magnitude ranging from 7.8 to 8.1. The earthquake was the most severe to hit Nepal since 1934 and killed upwards of 8,000 people with more than 14,500 injured. The quake literally flattened villages and left hundreds of thousands homeless. The earthquake triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest, which killed at least 19, making it the deadliest day on the mountain in recorded history. Needless to say, when I opened up my Facebook and Twitter feed that morning Nepal was definitely trending, to use the vernacular of the day.

To be honest, I am not really sure where I saw it first, or whose suggestion it was, but someone in the local craft beer community suggested that the beer community should do something to raise monies to help the relief efforts in Nepal. It was not long before Kelly Erickson and Nick Gingold of Craft Media Solutions teamed up with Global Giving and more than 30 craft breweries, brewpubs, gastropubs and bottle shops to form Day of Action: Crawl 4 Nepal OC/LA. Each location had a selection of beers that you could purchase with a portion of the proceeds being donated to the Global Giving account.

I decided to visit three of the South Bay locations that were participating, beginning with Phantom Carriage in Carson. Phantom Carriage tapped a one-off keg of Muis, their 100% Brett wild blonde, with organic blood oranges. When I was talking with Phantom Carriage co-owner, Martin Svab and Assistant Brewer Brendan Lake they both relayed the same story to me in that the day before they were not sure how the blood oranges were going to work as the flavor just was not coming out the way they hoped. By Saturday morning the flavors had settled and it was delicious with subtle blood orange flavor at the finish. It was so good that the keg tapped out in a couple hours; 100% of the proceeds from this keg were donated to Crawl4Nepal. Continue reading

Phantom Carriage Ribbon Cutting

These photos were taken at the Phantom Carriage ribbon cutting which was held Thursday morning at their brewpub in Carson. Typically, the ribbon cuttings I have attended have been later in the afternoon, so I was pleasantly surprised to see the number of representatives from the City of Carson and the Carson Chamber of Commerce in attendance. Two things were pretty obvious; the first was that this was the first time coming to Phantom Carriage for many of them; the second was that they all seemed to enjoy the experience.

The Mayor of Carson, Jim Dear, started things off with a small ceremony out front to sign a petition in support of building an NFL stadium that theoretically would be the new home for the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders. They need about 8,000 signatures but Mayor Dear expects that they will get far more than that. You must be a Carson resident to sign the petition, so if you live in Carson and this is important to you, you might want to keep an eye out for signature gatherers.

After the petition ceremony we all moved inside for the ribbon cutting. Apparently, Dear is a fairly regular customer of Phantom Carriage and he made it clear that he has enjoyed his visits to Phantom and spoke of the success that their great brews and food have brought. One thing is quite certain, the City of Carson is very happy to have Phantom Carriage in their city and Mayor Dear looks forward to “several more” craft breweries calling Carson home. If the success of Phantom Carriage thus far is any indicator, Carson seems willing and able to become the latest craft beer Mecca of the Los Angeles area. Cheers! Continue reading

Phantom Carriage Grand Opening Photos

When Phantom Carriage first announced that they would be opening in Carson and specialize in sours, saisons and barrel-aged brews I know I was not alone in wondering if the City of Carson could sustain a brewery/blendery seeking such a niche audience. When we made our first visit there for the Media Day Soft Open Tanya was less than enthusiastic about even going because their style of brews is just not her thing but she discovered that she pretty much enjoyed everything we tried.

A month later we returned to see what kind of progress had been made and discovered tweaks to the beer and food menus, as well as seemingly small adjustments to the interior lighting and longer hours. It was then that co-owner and founder Martin Svab informed me that the Phantom Carriage grand opening is “now until early March.” Well, it is now early March and Phantom Carriage has officially had their Grand Opening which was held on Saturday.

As we drove down Main Street towards Phantom Carriage we could not help but notice cars parked all along the normally empty street; we had a feeling that these must be Phantom Carriage customers. This was confirmed when we pulled into their parking lot only to be greeted by a “Lot Full” sign and a long line of people waiting to get into the brewery itself. As I had another event to cover later I decided to just grab some photos then return later for close-ups; so if the photos look like they are from two different days, that is because they are. Continue reading

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