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Congregation Ale House – Long Beach

Craft Beer LB Fest Photos

These photos were taken Saturday afternoon at the inaugural Craft Beer LB Fest, which was held at the Rancho Los Cerritos Historic Site. The event featured craft beer from 12 Long Beach breweries, as well as food from Long Beach restaurants The Red Leprechaun and Roe Seafood. The event also featured live music from several bands and a Kid Zone, making the event truly family friendly.

It seems that this is a great time to live in Long Beach if you enjoy craft beer. As someone pointed out, it is almost as if Long Beach has been watching what is happening in Torrance and has decided to get on board the craft beer revolution.

Featured breweries included old-timer Belmont Brewing Company, who has been open since 1990, as well as breweries that just opened within the last week or so, like Long Beach Beer Lab and Ten Mile Brewing. There were also a couple that have not opened yet, but hope to be open soon, such as Liberation Brewing and Hog Canyon Brewing. Other breweries in attendance included Beachwood Brewing, Beachwood Blendery, Ballast Point, Congregation Ale House, Smog City, Rock Bottom, Dutch’s Brewhouse, and Timeless Pints. Continue reading

Photos from the 2015 Pacific Brewers Cup

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

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

4th Annual Firestone Trilogy at Congregation Ale House

After the Euro Bierfest and Smog City’s Rarest of the Rare event, we went home, fed the dogs and relaxed a little before heading out to Long Beach for the 4th Annual Firestone Walker Trilogy Event at Congregation Ale House, Long Beach. Since Congregation is essentially next door to Beachwood BBQ & Brewing, the first few photos are from there; where we stopped for dinner. If you have not been to Beachwood Long Beach lately, prepare to be surprised. In the past they would have maybe 10 of their own beers and 25 guest taps. Now, because of their expansion, they are able to provide close to 25 of their in-house brews so the guest taps are closer to 10, but you know they will be good.

After enjoying some Macaroni and Cheese and a lamb burger we walked over to Congregation Ale House to join up with Firestone Walker’s own David Walker on the final stop of the 4th Annual Trilogy event. “The Trilogy” included stops at the three Congregation Ale House locations; Azusa, Pasadena and Long Beach. Each location featured core Firestone Walker beers and each had at least one special brew that was not readily available, if at all, outside the taproom. Those included Tequila Merkin at the Azusa location, Bravo in Pasadena and the Maltose Falcons collaboration in Long Beach.

The fact that this was going on during LA Beer Week was purely coincidental; this was the 4th Annual Firestone Trilogy and it always happens during June or July. The fact that it coincided with David Walker’s birthday may have been coincidental, I did not ask. The fact that it was a Firestone Walker event was enough to convince me to be there. It was a nice end to a great beer day. Cheers! Continue reading

Craft Beer Week Day One

Pizza Port

Pizza Port San Clemente

Welcome to Craft Beer Guy, it is not coincidental that this site is going live when it is as this is day one of the 8th Annual American Craft Beer Week. While I have been a craft beer fan for many years, I live in the Los Angeles area and to be blunt, we were sorely lacking on the craft beer scene. It seemed that Samuel Adams, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Fat Tire were about as much as we could hope for around here. Luckily, things have really changed around here which I discovered last year when covering the event. The craft beer scene in Southern California used to be limited to the San Diego area, but now things are catching up around here; and in my own back yard.

This year I decided to try to do something a little different; I am going to attempt to visit as many Great American Beer Festival (GABF) gold medal winners as possible in the area. In the event that I end up at a gastropub, I will attempt to purchase a gold medal winner. Should be easy, right?

Because I am somewhat limited by the hours in a day, I will be forced to limit my radius to about 60 miles. Most of the eligible breweries are inland of me, and it was close to 90 at home so I did not want to venture inland and opted for heading to Pizza Port in San Clemente, CA since it is a beach community. Pizza Port is a chain of pizza places that also brew beer. Unlike some chains, each location has their own head brewer and they are given leeway on at least some of the beers they brew. If you glance at the list of GABF winners you will notice that Pizza Port San Clemente, Solano Beach and Carlsbad have all been winners. I have never been to Pizza Port and I don’t recall ever trying anything from any of their locations prior to today; however, I have heard lots of praise about them so I was looking forward to the experience.

Congregation Ale House

Congregation Ale House, Long Beach

My hopes of a cool ride by the beach turned into a blast furnace ride with temperatures close to 100. Even in San Clemente it was 90 a couple blocks from the beach. I was really looking forward to the beers.

When we arrived, my girlfriend went up to the counter to order food. We got some “beer buddies” and a small pizza. While the attitude of the employees in that portion of the brewpub was helpful and upbeat, neither of us was particularly enthusiastic about the food. The beer buddies would have been better if there was some kind of garlic dipping sauce, but it wasn’t offered and I was there for the beer anyway.

I went over to the brewery portion and could not help but notice the sign that seemed to hint that if you did not know what you wanted, to step aside and let someone else order. That attitude seemed to be held by the beertender that did not seem to be into craft beer; he was there because it was a job. I told him, “Happy American Craft Beer Week.” His response was something along the lines of, “oh, is that happening now?”

I explained that it was, and that I was seeking gold medal winning beer and Pizza Port had won a few. He agreed that they had. I asked if they served flights. He said they did flights of four, so I asked for four gold medal winners. He told me there were only two available; so I asked for those and any other award winners they had. He then directed me to a very busy board and told me the award winners had emblems by their names. It took me a few minutes to figure out where the emblems were. Eventually I figured out what the third beer was and since I was not going to wait for any assistance from him, I just picked a fourth beer to complete the flight. My flight consisted of their Lightweight Lager (it was), Nerf Herder (San Diego World Beer Cup Bronze Winner), “Pseudo” IPA (2010 GABF Gold Winner) and Pier Rat Porter (San Diego World Beer Cup Gold Winner). The beers were okay, the experience was lacking.

On the way home I figured that we could stop by Beachwood BBQ & Brewing in Long Beach as they are gold medal winners and always have a great selection of beers available. To my dismay, they are not open on Mondays; luckily, Congregation Ale House, Long Beach is right next door. While they do not brew beer, they do have a very nice selection of beers on tap. I opted to go for a Firestone Walker Brewing Co. Wookey Jack (2102 GABF Gold Winner). Firestone makes a good product, so I was happy. The beer drinking ended at home with a Black Sand Imperial IPA from Strand Brewing Company in Torrance. All my photos from day one of the 8th Annual American Craft Beer Week can be found on GotBaddog.com.

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