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Visits to Bottle Logic, Pacific Plate and Pac City Brewing

Saturday afternoon I decided to check out a couple relatively new production breweries that I had not visited yet and pay a return visit to the only craft brewery that has seen fit to name a beer after me. The tasting rooms I visited were Bottle Logic Brewing, Pacific Plate Brewing and Pac City Brewery; with a stop by Lucky Baldwin’s Delirium for a bite to eat.

Our first stop was Bottle Logic Brewing in Anaheim. Bottle Logic opened in February of this year and while this was my first visit to their tasting room, I did have an opportunity to try a couple of their beers at The Bruery’s Sucréversary event back in May so I had a fairly good idea of what to expect as far as their brews were concerned; I was not disappointed. On the day of our visit they had about 14 beers on tap, with the tap list being broken up to their five “Constants” which make up their flagship beers; and their six “Variables” which consist of their seasonal beers. There were also a few others that are experimental and one-offs. We started off with a flight of their Constants and their Lucky Panda; my fiancee really enjoyed their rice lagers, Hanamichi and Lucky Panda. For me, the Double Actuator Double IPA was my favorite, by far. I then tried the Dr. Strangematter Imperial Saison and immediately requested a bottle to go; it is delicious.

Bottle Logic founder and president Steve Napolitano gave me a little tour of the brewhouse and I have to say that for a brewery that is only six months old they have a pretty impressive setup with room to grow. Included in the growth plans is a barrel program that will soon include sours, which will require an additional brewhouse to avoid cross-contamination. I look forward to visiting them again in a few months to see how much they have progressed. Bottle Logic Brewing is located at 1072 N. Armando Street in Anaheim and is open Thursday through Monday. Continue reading

Stone Brewing Company: Pasadena and Escondido

The photos in this gallery were taken over the course of two days. On Tuesday we headed over to the Stone Company Store in Pasadena to check out the Enjoy By 08.16.14 and w00tstout 2.0 on tap before deciding how many bottles to buy. Unfortunately, the Enjoy By seems to fluctuate a lot lately but this batch is great. The w00tstout 2.0 was also worth bringing home. They had a couple Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Stations; The Sacred Druid Hot and Lil’ Miami Tart available that were quite fun. Between those and the stash we brought home it was well worth the drive. It has been a while since I have been to the Stone Company Store due in large part to the fact that my daughter moved out of Pasadena. It is always a good place to look for the new releases; especially if you want them on tap.

If you have never been, it is at the Metro Station on Raymond. They have a full tap room for pours and filling growlers; they sell kegs, bottles, t-shirts, mustard and anything else Stone Brewing makes. Their tap list has everything you might find at the brewery itself and it is about 70 miles closer than Escondido. It is a clean setup and if you want a wide variety of Stone brews on tap, this is where you want to be. Their 4 oz pours are less than $2.00. Stone Company Store is located at 220 S. Raymond Avenue in Pasadena, CA. They are open seven days a week from 11:00 AM until 9:00 PM.

The next day I was planning on going back to my son’s to check out his Glacier Summer Ale. That morning he said they wanted to take me to lunch for my birthday so it was decided that we would meet at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens in Escondido. While there was a time that Stone Brewing Company was the only real game in town for me, things have changed and it had been probably three years since the last time I was there. I looked forward to experiencing it again. Continue reading

Craft beer from Buellton to Paso Robles

Earlier this week my fiancee and I decided to take an overnight craft beer trip to visit some of the breweries and brewpubs that we missed when we did our tour back in February. The reason was two-fold; one was that I had some reward points from La Quinta Inns that were going to expire and my fiancee has developed an affinity for barrel-aged beers and there were a lot at Firestone Walker that she wanted to sample and purchase. Who am I to deprive her of such deliciousness; after all, happy wife, happy life.

We started off by heading to Solvang Brewing Company, a brewpub located in downtown Solvang. It has been a couple years since I went there but at the time they were just opening and were not yet brewing their own beer. I figured it would be a good stop because we could try some new brews while getting some food at the same time. When we do these craft beer tours we rely a lot on the Internet and there is nothing that irritates me more than to discover that a brewery has ignored the importance of the Internet. Especially since California is a craft beer destination; simple matters like ensuring the correct information is listed on Google Places as well as correct information on their websites. The reason I mention this with Solvang Brewing is that Google Places said they did not open until 5:00 PM whereas the Solvang Brewing website clearly stated that they are open seven days a week from 11:00 AM until 2:00 AM. I was more than a little irritated when we arrived around 1:00 PM to discover that on Wednesdays they do not open until 4:00 PM! It will probably be a while before I give them another chance. Continue reading

American Craft Beer Week 2014, Day 6: Smog City celebrates one year

Saturday was day six of the 9th Annual American Craft Beer Week and it was also the one year anniversary for Torrance production brewery, Smog City Brewing. To say that Smog City went all out on this event would be an understatement. I mean to say that Smog City’s previous events have always been well done with lots of special beers but their one year of experience combined with the experience gained by hosting large events made this one quite smooth. There were close to 700 attendees throughout the day, but with the use of three separate filling stations the lines seemed to move quickly.

The day started with a VIP session that allowed ticket holders to get a two hour head start on the general public thereby ensuring access to the small batch specials that were made available like Quercus Circus and The Tempest, two brews that tapped out fairly early. I made two visits to Smog City, so the photos begin with the VIP session and then a few hours later when I returned. Downtown Dogs provided a special menu for those that needed some food to soak up all the good beer.

Congratulations to Smog City Brewing on a great year; you are a great addition to the South Bay’s craft beer scene. I cannot wait to see what the next year brings. Speaking of which, one of the things the next year will bring is Smog City Brewing bottled beers. Tentatively scheduled for June 7, Groundwork Coffee Porter and The Nothing will be the first beers to be bottled. The only question is will the labels get there on time? We shall see. Cheers! Continue reading

Temecula: It isn’t just about the wine any more

While it may not be as well-known as the Napa-Sonoma wine region of California, the Temecula Valley area of the Inland Empire has at least 35 wineries and has gained considerable respectability with the wines they provide. Like Napa-Sonoma has exploded with craft breweries, the same can be said for Temecula and the Inland Empire; even if not to the same extent. This past weekend I headed out to Temecula and spent a little time checking out the craft breweries that have popped up since my last visit in 2012.

Wiens Brewing Company, as it turns out, opened a couple weeks before I did my 2012 brewery tour. My son lives in the area and he told me about a special anniversary ale that he had heard great things about. Unfortunately, by the time we got there it was all gone. I guess that is to be expected with a limited release. If the Wiens name sounds familiar, it could be because they also own Wiens Family Cellars, a Temecula Valley winery. Wiens had about 11 different beers on tap so we opted for a flight to do a major sampling. At $1.00 each for their flagship beers, it was a great deal. We sampled their Front Street Lager (nice maltiness), Far Post brown ale, Stout, Red Ale, Millennium Falconers IPA, Type 3 IPA (probably my favorite), Insomnia IPA and Descend Black IPA. For dessert we tried their Niflheim Russian Imperial Stout. All the beers were solid brews with the IPAs being my favorite. They offer a few other big beers so I am going to have to plan an overnight trip to Temecula so I can walk back to my hotel after experimenting more. Wiens does bottle many of their beers, so we did pick up one or two to try at home. Wiens Brewing Company is located at 27941 Diaz Road in Temecula.

When we were driving to Wiens some of the street names sounded familiar so I knew we had to be close to Black Market Brewing Company, which we had visited in late 2012. While we were looking for places we had never visited before we had such a good time the first time we were there I was okay with making a return visit. Besides, after a year and a half there had to be some brews we had not tried yet. Black Market Brewing is in a word, huge; they also appear to have a nice barrel aging program. The first time we visited them we had a room at the La Quinta across the street so we were able to take advantage by getting each of the 10 beers they had on tap. By take advantage I mean, they were giving six ounce pours for $1.00 so I could order one of each. This time I was driving, so we limited ourselves to a flight of four; Espionage on Nitro, Rotating IPA, Quadrophenia and Embargo. In my opinion, their big beers really show off Black Market’s brewing skills. Luckily, they bottle and can so we bought a couple bottles to bring home for later. Black Market Brewing Company is located at 41740 Enterprise Circle North in Temecula. Continue reading

Strand Brewing brings March Madness to Naja’s Place

It is that time of year again for collegiate basketball fans; March Madness is upon us. Now I have to admit, I do not really have the time to follow basketball of any type so “March Madness” really has little bearing on my life but when I heard that Strand Brewing Company and Naja’s Place were teaming up for a March Madness tap-takeover it did not take much convincing to get me over to the International Boardwalk to attend their event.

Now, I guess “tap-takeover” might be a little exaggerated since Naja’s Place has 88 beers on tap, but Strand Brewing Company brought eight beers on tap; Musashi Black IPA, White Sand DIPA, 24th Street Pale Ale, Atticus IPA, Batch 100 Stout, Harvest Ball Orange Wheat, Beach House Amber Ale and Black Sand DIPA as well as their White Sand DIPA with Chinook hops on cask. There was a large contingency of Strand Brewing Company fans on hand that made short work of the cask, but there were plenty of other Strand Brewing Company beers for them to enjoy.

Strand Brewing Company is located at 23520 Telo Avenue in Torrance and Naja’s Place is located at 154 International Boardwalk in Redondo Beach. Cheers! Continue reading

The Birth of Absolution Brewing Company, Torrance

I guess it was sometime in August or September that I was enjoying a beer at Smog City Brewing Company when I was approached by Wes McCann; “I was told I should introduce myself to you” was his opening comment. McCann was a partner and the head brewer for the soon to be Absolution Brewing Company, the latest production craft brewery to open in Torrance. Unfortunately, he did not have any business cards with him and it took me a while to remember the word “absolution” but eventually I was able figure it out and I worked my way over to the location that the brewery and tasting room were to be constructed. It was not long before I met and befriended the other co-owners, Nigel Heath and Steve Farguson.

As you may notice from the photos, the construction was a series of one step forward and two steps back as they discovered things like the floor not being suitable to support the weight of the brewing equipment they hope to eventually grow into. In fact, the building dwarfs the current fermenting tanks; it only takes a brief glance to see that Absolution Brewing Company has plenty of room for growth. Judging by the turnouts at the MUG Club soft open and their official opening on Saturday it will not be long before they grow out of their current system. Cheers! Continue reading

San Francisco Beer Week 2014 February 7-16

When I agreed to go up to Santa Rosa for Drew at Decoding the Craft, I really did not know or realize just how many events were going on at the same time as the Pliny the Younger release at Russian River Brewing. There was the Double IPA Festival and the San Francisco Beer Week 2014 (SF Beer Week 2014) started on Friday, the day of the Pliny release. I would have liked to go into The City to check out some events, but it was always raining and it would not be fair to the dogs to deal with city life in the rain. It was decided that we would do our own SF Beer Week 2014 tour; we just stayed on the other side of the bridge.

Since we wanted to start off with a destination that included food, we started off at Marin Brewing Company, a brewpub in Larkspur. I will admit, I was a little apprehensive at first because my limited experience with them wasn’t very positive; but when Tanya read the menu from their website we decided to head over there. I do not know if it is because it was raining or the weekend or it is just always like that, but parking was pretty difficult. I saw a sign for free valet, but with the dogs I did not think it would go over well. They are located in what I would describe as a boutique shopping center; as it was raining, I did not exactly look around, so just my first wet impressions.

The place itself is huge and looks pretty upscale. We got a flight to share and I was immediately glad we made this stop; their flights offered a wide selection from their Broken Cherry sour ale and E.S. Chi spiced beer to their San Quentin’s Breakout Stout and Brass Knuckle Double IPA. They all ranked from good to amazing; the food was not bad either. We should have ordered more chili. Continue reading

Absolution Brewing Company MUG Club Private Launch Party

Friday evening, Torrance’s newest production craft brewery, Absolution Brewing Company, held a private launch party for members of their ABC MUG Club. The MUG Club is an exclusive membership for fans of Absolution Brewing Company that has many perks, one of which was being invited to last night’s launch party. They had a very nice turnout with about 75-100 people showing up. MUG Club members received Absolution Brewing Company t-shirts, caps and custom stainless steel growlers; and beer, lots of good beer.

The craft beers offered included their Tribulation Cream Ale with both the house yeast and an experimental; Sinner Stout, Wanderin’ Possessed Porter; Cardinal Sin Red Ale, again with both the house yeast and an experimental; and Angel’s Demise IPA with both the house yeast and an experimental yeast. In addition to the beers there was Forbidden Cider, Sweet Reformation Dry Strawberry Mead as well as their Redeemer Root Beer and Confession Cream Soda. For a launch party they really had a lot to offer and I think it is pretty obvious that Absolution Brewing Company is going to be a great addition to the South Bay craft beer scene.

While membership to the ABC MUG Club is limited to 125 the first year, there are still some openings left. As a member of the ABC MUG Club you will get to experience all of Absolution’s new beers before they are released to the general public and you will be invited to their exclusive MUG events and cask nights. In addition to the above you will receive an Absolution Brewing Company t-shirt, cap and a custom 64 ounce growler with a free first fill. Members also receive $1.00 off every full pour at the tasting room as well as $1.00 off every subsequent growler fill and receive 20% off any additional ABC gear purchased. You can find all the details on the Absolution Brewing Company website or by calling them at (310) 490-4860. If last night was any indication of things to come I think it is safe to say this is going to be a great investment. Cheers! Continue reading

A visit to Orange County microbreweries and brewpubs

At the beginning of the month I paid a return visit to Anaheim Brewery during which time I happened to get into a conversation with a couple that came into the tasting room. While our conversation naturally began with discussing the beers we were sampling, it did not take long for it to switch to our favorite local craft breweries. It was during this discussion that it dawned on me that I had barely skimmed the surface when it came to how many craft breweries in Orange County I had visited. This past weekend I decided to do something about it by visiting a few production breweries and brewpubs in the OC.

Tanya and I started off at Bootlegger’s Brewery, a production microbrewery located in Fullerton, CA. I must admit, I was a little surprised when we pulled up to the tasting room because it appeared to be extremely small from the front. When we went inside I saw close to 20 beers available on tap; it was then that I figured out that the brewery and the tasting room were at two different locations. Since I knew we would be making several stops over the course of the day, we opted to share a flight of four for a very reasonable $6.00. The flight consisted of a Sucker Punch IPA, Miss Double D Pale Ale, Double Dry Hopped Palomino Pale Ale and a Spiced Black Phoenix on cask. Bootlegger’s Brewery is open seven days a week and have bottles and growlers to go. While they are a production brewery they do not offer food, but you are welcome to bring food in. I noticed a pizza place next door. They have a very large patio area and there was a private party going on in one section so I think it is safe to say that if you want to have a party there, it can be arranged. The Bootlegger’s tasting room is located at 130 S Highland Avenue in Fullerton.

After enjoying Bootlegger’s we headed out to Brea and Taps Fish House & Brewery. As can be guessed by the name, Taps is a brewpub; in fact, it is a huge brewpub. The first thing I noticed, besides the large number of guests, was the number of awards that Taps Brewery has on the walls. Apparently Taps opened in 1999 and it looks like they have been consistently winning medals for their beers ever since. Since football was on, the place was packed and finding seating for two at the bar was not going to happen. We found a couple seats at one of the bars community tables and sat down to enjoy a Reuben sandwich and we split another flight. The flight was made up of an MJoe mead, Seaward Pale Ale, Azacca IPA and a Neo-Colonial Stout. I am becoming a big fan of Azacca hops, that is for sure. Taps Fish House & Brewery is located at 101 E Imperial Highway in Brea and they are also open seven days a week. Continue reading

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