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craft beers

Silvio’s Brazilian Barbecue, Hermosa Beach

Sunday evening we decided that we wanted to go somewhere different for dinner with the requirement being that they have a nice beer list. We were somewhat familiar with Silvio’s on Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach due to our prior involvement with the Torrance Chamber of Commerce and were reminded about them when we were walking around the Fiesta Hermosa street fair last weekend. It was decided that we would head back to Hermosa Beach.

While I was aware that Silvio’s bragged about their available craft beers, I did not know it was a “Chicago” bar, which made it pretty interesting as we got there just as the Blackhawks vs. Kings game started. The place was packed and it seemed like 80% of the people were Chicago fans, 18% of the people did not care and four of us were rooting for the Kings. We did not have a lot to cheer about. That’s okay, I was there for the beer; Tanya was there for the food.

Tanya ordered some spinach and artichoke, tri-tip, potato salad and skewered veggies. Apparently they are all about the rock salt there and it shows; everything was extremely salty, to the point that I just had another beer. Our server, Jen, offered something different but my confidence level was not very high so I passed but she insisted and brought a plate of chicken that was their specialty. It was pretty good; I just wasn’t in the mood. We happened to be sitting next to a guy from Brazil and he said the food he ordered was pretty authentic (he had some rice dish). After he left another Brazilian came and sat by us, so apparently it is pretty popular in the community. Continue reading

El Segundo Brewing Company – No Kid Hungry

Established in 2010, El Segundo Brewing Company (ESBC) describes them selves as “THE hop-centric brewery for South Bay, Los Angeles and beyond.” There is no question that they have a love for hops at ESBC and they use them liberally, but without the bitterness one might find elsewhere. I am a hop head and for that I make no apologies and whenever I go into the El Segundo Brewing tasting room I am usually at a loss on what I should order. Their White Dog IPA, named after owner/brewer Rob Croxall’s dog, is off the hook with the use of 50% wheat instead of barley. Of course, if the Blue House IPA is available the decision on what to order is made easier by drinking a pint of one at the tasting room and getting a growler of the other to take home and enjoy. However, if the Two 5 Left DIPA is on tap, then I am in a real conundrum. First world problems I guess. Luckily, El Segundo Brewing Company is now bottling on a limited basis, so bringing bottles home (when available) is the solution. If you are not into IPA’s, they also make some very nice stouts and pale ales.

These photos were taken last Thursday when El Segundo Brewing brought out a keg of “White Dog Sittin’ on Simcoe cask” with 50% of the sales donated to Share Our Strength in conjunction with Taste of the Nation. That is just the way those guys are over there, always giving back to the community. I highly recommend visiting their tasting room; it is the freshest beer in El Segundo. Continue reading

The Rockefeller gastropub, Hermosa Beach

Rockefeller taps

24 Craft Beers on Tap at The Rockefeller

During American Craft Beer Week in 2012 we spent the week researching local brewers and locations to find locally brewer beers. As I had spent most of the prior few years on the road, I really did not know what was going on in my own back yard. When I think about it, the microbrewery tasting rooms I spend so much time at in the last year were not even around 18 months ago; Naja’s was really the only place I knew offhand. One of the discoveries we made was The Rockefeller gastropub in Hermosa Beach.

Hop Ottin

Anderson Valley Brewing – Hop Ottin IPA

The Rockefeller is located on Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach and is what I would consider one of the better gastropubs in Hermosa Beach. They have 24 taps with each one pouring a quality craft beer from as close as neighboring El Segundo to as far away as Belgium. The one consistent thing I can say about my experience with The Rockefeller is that they have always had a very nice tap list. They do offer flights, but they are preset; if it is slow and you are nice, you might be able to get a customized one.

Their food menu changes on a fairly regular basis; some things have been amazing, others have been okay. It has a nice atmosphere and children are welcome. The Rockefeller always has some kind of special going on, whether it is their Happy Hour or a special beer or wine and food pairing. They have a little parking in the back, but when I say a little, I mean a very little. Otherwise there are meters on the street.

Visiting Two Hermosa Beach Gastropubs

On Sunday, Tanya and I headed to Hermosa Beach for the Fiesta Hermosa; an annual street fair they have had twice a year (Memorial Day and Labor Day) every year since 1972. It started off as an arts and crafts fair, but the food (and people watching) was always the big draw when it first started, as far as I was concerned. Tanya had never been so we walked along The Strand until we got to 10th Street, where we entered by the beer garden. I went in the beer garden with the intent of finding all of the local brewers in one spot; sadly, there were no local brewers represented. The closest thing to craft brew they had was Sierra Nevada and Angry Orchard, I was really surprised.

While we were walking around the food court I saw a booth for a place around the corner that offered 54 beers on tap; I made a mental note but headed over to Mediterraneo instead as I have heard about them for a while, but had never made it over for some reason.

When I first heard about Mediterraneo I was told that it was a tapas bar with a great craft beer list. When I looked at the tap list displayed outside it said they had Pliny the Elder, so I knew what I wanted. Tanya figured she could find something she wanted. When we got inside we discovered a family friendly restaurant with a very nice tap list; they did not have and Pliny, but I was told the outside menu is not kept up to date. While I kind of had my heart set on that Pliny, I was able to find a couple substitutes; primarily a Palate Wrecker and a Jolly Pumpkin Maracaibo Especial. We tried a few of their tapas; the hummus and caprice salad were good, the lamb skewer was kind of fatty. It was a pleasant experience though and I am sure we will return.

While walking around the fair, I saw a sign for Game Changers, the place that advertised 54 beers on tap. Game Changers is a sports bar that serves craft beer. They have 54 taps of quality craft beers available; and they serve what appears to be some pretty good food. We did not eat there so I can’t comment on it, but if you are walking down Hermosa Avenue, it is definitely worth stopping in to Game Changers; they seem to know what craft beer is all about. Continue reading

BeerBoxer – Sounds too good to be true?

BeerBoxer box

BeerBoxer Assortment

The other day I saw an advertisement for BeerBoxer on Facebook; Beer Boxer is a beer club that will send you “beers you won’t find locally” in “a variety of craft beer styles, including less familiar styles like experimental beers and wild ales, and more well-known styles such as IPAs and stouts.” The advertisement was for a Father’s Day Sale and they were knocking $10 off the standard price; $49.95 for “12 oz bottles and cans” of “12 exceptional craft beers per month” or $69.95 for “6 highly sought-after craft beers” in 750 ml and 22 oz bombers. There were a few reasons I decided to give them a try; the first was that it had free delivery and I have been investigating shipping beer to do some trades so I knew that was not cheap. The $10 coupon sealed the deal, how could I lose? Their website says “BeerBoxer is the best way to get fresh, hard-to-find craft beers.” I decided I would go with the $49.95 “Discovery Box” since they said it “More Variety.” Well, one package had 12 bottles while the other had 6; would that be presumed? Maybe not. I figured this was going to be better than what I could do by walking over to Total Wine.

Today I received my first and last shipment from BeerBoxer; you can see what I got in the photo above. To say that I was a little disappointed would be an understatement. Yes, I got 12 beers, but they consisted of three bottles of four different beers; so much for the variety. As far as the “fresh, hard-to-find craft beers” claim, let’s look a little closer.

I received four different beers; Indica IPA from Lost Coast Brewery, Deschutes’ Black Butte Porter, Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ from Lagunitas Brewery and a Boulevard Brewery Double-Wide IPA. Hard to find? Maybe if I live in Arkansas, all four are readily available at my local Total Wine store. As far as freshness is concerned the “Best Used By” dates on the bottles that had that had them was October 2013. On the variety aspect I got an ale, an IPA, a DIPA and a porter.

Suddenly my “how can I lose” attitude became, how much did I lose? I went across the street to Total Wine because they allow you to buy individual bottles at a slightly higher price than buying a 6-pack; I figured this would be the fairest way to compare. The Indica IPA is $1.49/each, the Black Butte Porter is $1.99/each. Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ is $1.99/each and the Double-Wide IPA’s were $2.99/each. If I went to Total Wine I would spend less than $29.00. All I can say is I am really glad I opted for the least expensive option.

To be fair, I did voice my disappointment to BeerBoxer on their Facebook page and Susie Hindle Kher, their marketing and PR person, wrote asking what the problems were. I told her that the primary issues were that I was expecting hard to find beers and three of the four breweries were practically neighbors; and that there was no way I was expecting three bottles of the same beer. Continue reading

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