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MacLeod Ale Brewing Company – Cask-Conditioned Ales

A frequent question that is asked with the proliferation of craft breweries in the Los Angeles area is, “Are there too many breweries now”? Well, as a consumer I am not sure that there will ever be too many, even if visiting my favorites is becoming a little more difficult due to the “so many beers, so little time” aspect. One thing that prevents there being “too many” is when breweries start producing beers that are different than what everyone else in the area is doing; MacLeod Ale Brewing Company would be one of those that are doing things a little differently with all their brews being cask-conditioned and serving them at the traditional cellar temperature of 54°.

I had only visited MacLeod once before back in June, but they were not officially open yet and only had one ale on tap. MacLeod Ale Brewing Company was recently named Best Local Brewery by LA Hot List voters which has brought them additional exposure including being noticed by Last night I saw the MacLeod Ale needed some photos taken for the Time Out article so I decided I would lend a helping hand and use the opportunity to see how much has changed in the last four months.

The most obvious difference was that not only did they have customers in their tasting room; they are now offering six different taps to chose from. Last night they had two versions of their Session Gap ordinary bitter, The Little Spree Yorkshire Pale Ale, The King’s Taxes 60/- and two versions of Jackie Tar Brown Stout. If you have ever visited a pub in London you will definitely recognize the taste and style as being authentic. Continue reading

Stunning upset at Smog City Brewing’s Battle of the Casks III

Saturday was an afternoon of great beer and stunning upsets as Smog City Brewing held their Battle of the Casks, Part 3. The concept was started back in December, 2013 with Battle of the Casks, a friendly competition began which featured five beers on cask, each using Smog City’s Bloody Knuckle Porter as the base beer the five Smog City team members; Jonathan and Laurie Porter, Chris Walowski, Mike Freeman and Ryan Trousdale each created their own tweaks. It was a tight competition with Walowski’s Raspberry Chocolate Sticks Porter Cask getting the most votes; thus entitling him to the coveted Budweiser Belt and bragging rights.

Fast forward four months to April 2014 and the Battle of the Casks, Part 2. In four months Smog City Brewing had grown; plus when there is a champion in town, more people want to take a shot at the title. There were supposed to be six contestants but a couple of casks had technical difficulties and had to be disqualified. This time Amarilla Gorilla IPA was used as the base beer and the result was the same, Walowski wowed the crowd again with his recipe consisting of Merlot Concentrate, Mosaic and Simcoe hops. To be honest, he was looking invincible … until Saturday afternoon. Continue reading

Walowski retains title at Smog City Battle of the Cask – Part 2

Saturday afternoon, Torrance production brewery Smog City Brewing held their second Battle of the Cask at their tasting room. Initially the competition was to be between the six Smog City employees, with each of them making their own little tweaks to the Amarilla Gorilla IPA that all used as the base for their cask recipes. As sometimes happens during fermentation, a couple of the casks “exploded” so they had to be disqualified. Luckily, they were able to put them on tap so we could at least try them. They were both amazing.

Anyway, we had five casks to sample and I have to say, this was a really tough decision and that was reflected in the final tally which was a mere five votes between the first and second place choices. Assistant brewer Chris Walowski, who won the Battle of the Casks in December, wowed the crowd again Saturday with his recipe consisting of Merlot Concentrate, Mosaic and Simcoe hops; narrowly edging out Smog City Brewing co-owner, Laurie Porter’s Mango and Muscat Oolong Tea, Peach Puree and Simcoe hops recipe. This made Walowski the undefeated holder of the coveted Budweiser Belt. All the entries were very good and I look forward to the third Battle of the Cask.

By the way, Smog City Brewing Company will be holding their first anniversary party on Saturday, May 17 from 12:00 PM – 8:00 PM. They will be releasing another new beer and they will have their first bottle release. You know there will be more surprises as the date draws closer, but you should probably mark it on your calendars. Cheers! Continue reading

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