Tuesday was day two of the 9th Annual American Craft Beer Week and I really wanted an IPA. For those not in the know, we have been enduring a pretty bad heat wave and a couple cold beers were just what the doctor ordered. An IPA and some air conditioning would be even better. I decided to start off by heading to Long Beach for a visit to the Great American Beer Festival’s 2013 Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing.
While Long Beach sounds like it would be cool, it was actually 105 degrees which was 10 more than home so the beer and air conditioning were quite welcome. When it comes to IPA’s, most locals would have to admit that it is pretty tough to beat the superb options provided by award winning head brewer Julian Shrago. Like I usually do, I opted for a flight consisting of three IPAs, Laurel, Pole Position and The Falcon which are all three fine examples of the West Coast IPA style. I finished the flight off with their Onyx Imperial Stout. In addition to their own fine brews and good food, Beachwood has a pretty amazing guest tap list. This just shows the confidence they have in their own beers. I decided to try the San Clemente IPA (Artifex Collaboration) from Pizza Port San Clemente and it was great. While Beachwood is not having any planned American Craft Beer Week events (because every week is American Craft Beer Week there) they were have a special bottle release for their Jean-Quad Van Damme Bourbon Barrel Aged Belgian-Style Dark Ale that was to be held Tuesday evening. They only bottled 100 so there was a limit of one bottle per customer. While 100 bottles would not usually last very long, Beachwood only announced it on the Instagram account and I mentioned it last night on the Craft Beer Guy Facebook page so there was limited exposure. I just called and there are still some bottles left so head over and grab one; or bring a friend and grab two. Be sure to tell them Craft Beer Guy sent you. Continue reading
I am a firm believer that if one person suggests something, there is a good chance that dozens of others are thinking the same thing. Since I have had many people tell me that I should include maps of the craft brewery tours I write about, I have decided to add a new feature, maps of the various breweries and their relationship to each other. I have decided to use MapQuest since they allow you to plug in your starting point; Google Maps seems to eliminated that feature, so we will use MapQuest until something better comes along.
These maps will be set up to show the easiest way to visit each of the breweries visited and will usually form a circular pattern so you are not bouncing around from one end of town to another and back again. I am beginning with the South Bay area of Southern California for a couple reasons. The first, and most logical, is because that is where I live. The second being that there has been such an explosion of microbreweries around here that I know people from other areas would like to know the easiest way to see all that the South Bay offers. Whenever possible, these tours will begin with one freeway close location and end with another freeway close destination. If you are a first time visitor to any of these locations I recommend a purchasing a flight so you can sample what each brewery offers,
Since we have been on the road lately, I decided that this weekend we would stick around and give a little love to the South Bay’s craft beer brewers for the Valentine’s Day weekend. Friday, Valentine’s Day, we headed over to The Brewery at Abigaile, a brewpub in Hermosa Beach. Since it was Valentine’s Day and we had not made any reservations we took advantage of their Happy Hour seating and grabbed a couple seats at the bar where we were able to enjoy a flight of their brews; including their 002 2nd Anniversary DIPA and Dark Matter a Belgian dark ale that can only get better with age. One of the best things about the release of the 002 DIPA is that it means the anniversary party for Abigaile must be coming soon.
On Saturday I headed over to Smog City Brewing where they were hosting a fundraiser for the LA Derby Dolls Enforcers. The Derby Dolls are a Southern California, all-female banked track roller derby league. The Enforcers are the referees for the league. The fundraiser consisted of a raffle for Derby Dolls and Smog City swag as well as beer floats in four different varieties and a pie versus cake sale. Between the people that came out specifically for the fundraiser, the various beer tour buses and those that just wanted to come have a beer, Smog City was packed to the brim. After sampling a couple beers and Tanya’s Death by Chocolate (The Nothing with chocolate ice cream beer float) we headed over to Monkish Brewing.
We got there about the same time as the LA Craft Beer Tours van, so we found Monkish to be almost as crowded as Smog City. When I think back to when we first started going to Monkish and compare it to today it is pretty obvious that the craft beer scene in Torrance is really exploding. People frequently ask me if there are too many breweries here; when I visit multiple local breweries like I did Saturday I can’t help but think how crowded these locations would be if there were only one or two available. Continue reading
On Saturday, December 14, El Segundo Brewing Company (ESBC) held their Standard Crude Tapping and Bad Sweater Contest at their brewery and taproom. The craft beer event was held to acknowledge the bottling of the 2013 Standard Crude and to introduce ESBC’s latest offering, Mayberry IPA which will be available throughout the winter, at least. To mark the release and tapping, they opened up the back and middle bars and brought in Larry’s Tacos who provided tacos and quesadillas. To say there was a brew for every palate would be an understatement as El Segundo Brewing pulled all the stops. The front bar offered Standard Crude 2013, Hyperion’s Vanilla Stout, Two 5 Left DIPA, Hop Tanker DIPA, White Dog IPA, Blue House IPA and a cask of Standard Crude on bourbon soaked oak.
The back bar offered Blue House Pale, Blue House Citra Pale, Blue House Amarillo Pale, Blue House Simcoe Pale, Schot in Het Donker, Smoky Hollow Scotch Ale and bottle pours of the 2012 Standard Crude. Getting a flight of all three Standard Crude options provided an excellent means of seeing what difference a year of aging can do for a big beer like Standard Crude. The middle bar provided the Mayberry IPA; a Mosaic™ hopped brew. I have to say, I am quickly becoming a fan of Mosaic hops.
Since it is only a couple weeks until Christmas and it was the warmest day of the month, it only made sense to hold a Bad Sweater Contest. Visitors to the taproom that wore Christmas sweaters had their photos taken by the ESBC staff which were immediately posted on the El Segundo Brewing Company Facebook page. The photos that get the most likes will be declared the winners. The grand prize is a new growler with 10 fills, with the runner up receiving a tasting for four people. Voting will continue until 5:00 PM on Sunday December 15; there are 14 contestants so feel free to head over to the ESBC Facebook page and vote for your favorite “bad sweater.” Cheers! Continue reading
Just a quick note to say Happy Thanksgiving to each of you and your families. Today, Tanya and I will head over to my dad’s for dinner with my daughter and a bunch of siblings. There should be about 15 people there. Since Tanya has been experimenting a lot with her baking, she got put on dessert detail which resulted in three pumpkin pies made from scratch; she even used fresh pumpkin instead of that canned stuff. She also made up some vanilla whipped yams, so the food should be delicious. Naturally, I was assigned beer duty, so Wednesday I traveled around to a few of my favorite places.
I started at Beachwood BBQ & Brewing where I picked up a growler of Annihilator, a 12% American Barleywine. I then moved along to Monkish Brewing where I brought home a growler of Magnificat, a 10.1% Belgian Strong Dark Ale, spiced for Christmas. My next stop was El Segundo Brewing Company because no meal is complete without an IPA. I walked out with a growler of Two 5 Left, an 8.2% Double IPA. For dessert we headed to The Brewery at Abigaile where I picked up a growler of Coconut Imperial Red; a 9.4% Imperial Red Ale. I think everyone should be able to find something they will like.
Have a safe day and appreciate all you have. Cheers! Continue reading
El Segundo Brewing Company (ESBC), a hopcentric microbrewery nestled between the noise of LAX and the aromas of Standard Oil’s refinery, provides relief from the din and pollution with some of the South Bay’s most popular IPAs and ales. Last year at their one year anniversary, ESBC released their first Double IPA; Two 5 Left. With Simcoe, Citra, Cascade and Chinook hops combined with Two Row, Vienna, Crystal 15 and Crystal 40 malts it is easy to understand why it was so well received. It is delicious.
During LA Beer Week last September, El Segundo released their second DIPA, Hop Tanker. Using Two Row and Vienna malts with Nelson Sauvin and Citra hops this Double IPA was light in color and maybe a little smoother tasting, but the ABV jumped from the 8.2 Two 5 Left to a tasty 9.5 on the Hop Tanker. Once again, it was very well received and discussions around the taproom started being held over which DIPA was the best. It was actually a very valid question because El Segundo can only brew so much beer at a time, and it was time to brew a DIPA again; but which one?
On Saturday, November 16, El Segundo Brewing Company held a Dueling Double IPAs event at their taproom. Flights of Two 5 Left and Hop Tanker were sold and the drinker was given a vote which had a value of 50 points. They also used the volume of beer sold during business that day. All sales of pints, growlers, bottles and tasters of the DIPAs were tabulated with the winning brew to be started December 2 and would be ready after Christmas. Continue reading
These photos are from our Business & Beer gathering which was held Thursday evening at El Segundo brewing Company. Business & Beer is a local business networking group in the South Bay that was founded in July 2012 by my girlfriend and me. For the first year we met weekly at a different microbrewery, brewpub or gastropub in the South Bay. In July of 2013 we changed the format from weekly to monthly because the attendance numbers had started to dwindle a little, so now we meet on the second Thursday of the month at a different craft brewery or brewpub in the South Bay. With the recent explosion of breweries around here it will not be long before we have a location for every month. If you find networking to be a valuable part of your business and you enjoy craft beer, you really should check out BusinessNBeer.com. It is a nice group of people that really do want to meet you.
We would like to thank El Segundo Brewing Company for hosting our event and many thanks to Brett & Travis for keeping their delicious brews flowing. If you have not visited El Segundo Brewing Company in a while, you really should. In addition to the pale ales, IPAs and stouts you are familiar with, head brewer Rob Croxall has included a saison, a lager and a Scotch ale to his ever expanding list of beer styles he is brewing. If you have never been, they are now open seven days a week; you will enjoy it. I suggest getting a flight. El Segundo Brewing Company is located at 140 Main Street in El Segundo, CA. Cheers! Continue reading
In case you missed it, last Friday, November 8, 2013 was the third annual International Stout Day. I guess that is one of the advantages of utilizing social media; you find out about this stuff on a regular basis. I am not sure how I missed it last year; perhaps I just do not remember it.
Stouts were actually my first journey into beers other than Budweiser when I was a kid; the beer of choice was always Guinness on tap, but back then bartenders had to know how to pour it right or they could not sell it. Stouts also happen to be a major favorite of my girlfriend. Even before she was able to join me when we found new breweries around the country, she always liked to sip on my stouts. She loved our visit to Dublin and St. James’s Gate. When I told her it was International Stout Day it did not take much convincing and I began searching for International Stout Day events in the area. Apparently it is not as big a deal as International IPA Day as I could find anything happening; I was going to have to create our own event.
There is not much question that if you want a wide variety of craft beers of tap in the South Bay, Naja’s Place on the International Boardwalk is going to have more than anyone else. It was nice out, so we headed over to Fisherman’s Wharf to see what stouts might be available. I was treated to a Speedway Stout by AleSmith Brewing Company and Tanya had a Campfire Stout by High Water Brewing. I think she has a new favorite stout. The other day I was given a blend of Campfire with Old Rasputin; if you like stouts, this is a great combination. Continue reading
It may have been day 10 of LA Beer Week (LABW5) but the list of available events to attend gave no indication that we were wrapping things up as far as “beer week” was concerned. I could not help but think back to an article I read while researching American Craft beer Week; at one point it was actually American Craft Beer Month! I can understand why they decided to cut back to a week, but I had to wonder how long an LA Beer Month would last. Luckily, there were lots of great events in my own backyard, so I kept it local.
I started Saturday off at Smog City Brewing in Torrance and their Rarest of the Rare and event that pulled in beer geeks from all over the LA and Orange Counties. Their owner, Porter, has a reputation for “hoarding” beers and he brought out a good number of them Saturday. There were barrel aged, sours, and collaboratives; there were 19 or 20 different brews in total. As I knew I had a long day ahead of me, I stuck to taking photos knowing I would return later.
A little later I headed over to El Segundo Brewing Company (ESBC) for their Hop Tanker DIPA Release Party. To celebrate LABW5 and the addition of Hop Tanker to their tap list, they brought out many of the different beers head brewer Rob Croxall has produced over the years. As expected, they had a great turnout so they opened up the entire brewery, utilizing taps in the front and rear as well as a separate filling station for growlers. Making special on cask appearances were Melon Collie, White Dog on Ogen heirloom melons; Blue Cubed, Blue House IPA with Sugar Cube heirloom melons; and Blue House IPA on peaches. Continue reading
Sunday was day 4 of LA Beer Week (LABW5) and as I did not feel inclined to go out to Union Station I decided to take a little ride around the South Bay. My friends at Alpine Village in Torrance told me about a Street Toys car show they were having in conjunction with Sunday’s Oktoberfest festivities, so I pointed my bike out that way. After an hour or so of photographing cars I headed into the big tent they hold Oktoberfest in.
Alpine Village has been having Oktoberfest there for the past 46 years which makes it the largest and longest running Oktoberfest celebration this side of the Rockies. If you have never been, it is a lot of fun. They sell Warsteiner Oktoberfest and Pilsener as well as PBR in the big tent as well as brats and pretzels and other good German snacks to go along with your beer. They have oompah bands, the Chicken Dance and lots of general insanity on Friday and Saturday nights. These photos were from early Sunday, so you can see it is okay to bring your kids, they will have a good time too. You can find out more about the 46th Annual Oktoberfest and purchase tickets online by visiting the Alpine Village website.
Since it was a nice day and it was LA Beer Week, I decided to take a ride out to El Segundo and see what was happening at El Segundo Brewing Company. I had to try that Casa Azul again. Cheers! Continue reading