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Firestone Walker

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

L.A. Brewers Beer Week 2015 Kickoff Party Photos

These photos were taken at the LA Brewers Beer Week Kickoff which was held Saturday afternoon, June 20 at Exposition Park. The kickoff was the official launch of LA Beer Week 2015 (#LABW7) and was a fundraiser with a portion of the proceeds being donated to L.A. Kitchen. The event featured more than 75 breweries pouring a reported 200+ beers, ciders and home brewed sodas. I did not count them but I can assure you there were so many outstanding options that it would have been virtually impossible to try them all in the five hours we had available. There were numerous times I headed off to try a beer that I wanted only to be distracted by something else on the way. I was pleasantly surprised at how many of the available options were brews I had yet to try.

In addition to the massive quantities of beer, there were eight food trucks, four bands, educational panels and a few games. There were about 3,000 people including attendees, volunteers and the breweries but there was very little in the way of lines. I think the longest line I saw was for people waiting to buy tote bags that were being offered there.

As it is Father’s Day and there are a lot of things going on, so I will go ahead and post the photos now and give an in-depth review later in the week. Suffice it to say, it was a great time with very little to find negative about the entire experience. The LA County Brewers Guild did a great job and is to be commended on putting on a great event. Of course, I am extremely appreciative of Absolution Brewing Company for sponsoring me at the LA Beer Week Kickoff. Cheers! Continue reading

Photos from the 4th Annual Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival

These photos are from Saturday at the 4th Annual Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival (FWIBF15) which was held at the Paso Robles Event Center. The festival included craft beer of 53 breweries from all over the United States, Europe and beyond. This was my first opportunity to attend and I did not attend as any type of “official media” so my experience was probably similar to that of any other first time attendee; except I probably waited in line longer to get in. On Friday night I had heard stories of lines just to get in reaching down the street and around the block, so I walked over to the event center and was there before 9:00 AM. If you are taking notes, the event did not start until noon and there was nothing to be gained by being among the first 20 to be there. If you get there at noon you will be fine.

To be honest, I was not aware that this was only the fourth Invitational and it is definitely run like they have been doing it a lot longer. I had the opportunity to speak with individuals that had attended multiple times before and the one thing that became obvious is that Firestone Walker listened to the feedback they received after each event. For example, in the beginning, attendees had to buy food and water. As the event evolved it now has free food from 26 restaurants and multiple free water stations with enough filtered water to hydrate the 3,000 plus attendees. Now, I have to say, I am not really sure how many tickets were sold but between comments I heard, articles I read and a personal guess, I would guess between 3,000 and 4,000. The thing is, the location can hold a lot more than that and when you divide them between 80 booths there was not much in the way of lines. Naturally, there were some breweries like Three Floyds and Alchemist that had long lines all day; and when breweries like Beachwood or The Bruery had their special pours people started waiting; but most of the lines that I experienced moved rather quickly. Continue reading

Road to the Firestone Walker Invitational

This past Friday morning I decided to start working my way north for the 4th Annual Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival in Paso Robles. I left a little early as I was going to take the 101 and try to find a brewery that I had yet to visit. I had posted on the Craft Beer Guy Facebook page asking for suggestions and one of my followers and personal acquaintances, Charles Mumford, recommended a few, but the one that I knew would be open at the same time I was in the area was Rincon Brewery, a brewpub located in Carpinteria.

I arrived just before noon and their outside patio seemed packed with customers enjoying the warm sunshine. As I entered I noticed that they had about 10 of their own brews and several guest taps. It was a nice looking room with a surfer vibe, which should probably be expected considering the name Rincon and its proximity to the beach. To the left I noticed a large window that displayed the brewery on the other side. Since I was traveling solo this trip, I decided I would just get one flight and ordered their Bates Blond Belgian Style Blond, Indicator IPA, 17 @17 IPA and Rivermouth Stout. All four were solid beers and made me think they must have been open for years because things seem pretty dialed in, especially considering they were offering 10 varieties.

The beertender, who happened to be co-owner Alma Billgren, noticed I was taking photos and asked who I was shooting for. When I told her she suggested I meet their brewer, another co-owner, Shaun Crowley. He invited me back to the brewhouse and told me a little of their history and his own. Apparently they have only been open a little more than six months, which really surprised me. Crowley later informed me that he and Billgren had met while working at Island Brewing Company where he was the head brewer. While there, he took home medals at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival and got the desire to open his own place. Continue reading

Photos from the 2nd Annual Bite at the Beach

These photos are from the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce’s 2nd Annual Bite at the Beach which was held Saturday at the MBS Media Campus in Manhattan Beach. The event was a fundraiser benefiting the StubHub Center Foundation and the LA Galaxy Foundation and featured 23 craft breweries and one winery paired with foods from 24 restaurants. Most of the breweries brought two different beers and the restaurants did likewise.

The breweries represented included Wolf Creek, Eagle Rock, MacLeod Ale, Saint Archer, The Dudes’, Stumblefoot, Mission, Lagunitas, Firestone Walker, Coronado, Aftershock, ABK Beer, El Segundo Brewing, Strand Brewing, Sapporo, Samuel Adams, Traveler Beer Company, Port Town Brewing, San Pedro Brewing, Bootlegger’s, King Harbor, Absolution Brewing, Phantom Carriage and Ballast Point. Strand Brewers Club was also in attendance with Pacific Gravity.

With foods coming from places such as Pitfire Pizza, Simmzy’s, Tin Roof Bistro, Little Sister, Sushi Akatora, Manhattan Beach Creamery, Cake Bakeshop, Rubio’s and Silvio’s there was literally everything from pizza to sushi, ceviche to beef skewers and bread pudding to ice cream sandwiches. There really was something for every palate; if you left hungry that was a personal decision. Music was provided by Vox DJs and The Lucky Ones. Continue reading

2nd Annual Bite at the Beach May 16: Promo Code

beerfest

Come join your friends at Bite at the Beach, May 16

On Saturday May 16, the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce will host their 2nd Annual Bite at the Beach at the MBS Media Campus in Manhattan Beach. Bite at the Beach is a fundraiser benefiting the StubHub Center Foundation and the LA Galaxy Foundation. This event is a little different than most beer festivals you may have attended in that it is a food and craft beer pairing event; with 24 craft breweries being paired with dishes from 24 local eateries. I did not attend last year’s event but heard nothing but good things about Bite at the Beach, so when I heard it was coming around again, just in time for American Craft Beer Week, I knew I wanted to become involved.

The breweries scheduled to appear include ABK Beer (they have been brewing for over 700 years), Absolution, The Brewery at Abigaile, Aftershock Brewing, El Segundo Brewing Company, Firestone Walker, Strand Brewing, San Pedro Brewing, Port Town, King Harbor and many more. The foods will come from such places as Simmzy’s, Tin Roof Bistro, Little Sister, Sushi Akatora, Manhattan Beach Creamery, Cake Bakeshop and Paul Martin’s American Grill. Music will be provided by Vox DJs and The Lucky Ones. As you can tell, there is definitely going to be a wide variety of foods to go along with the beer options; it sounds like a very fun event. You can see a list all of the breweries, restaurants and sponsors on the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce website. Continue reading

Photos from the 2nd Annual South Bay Beer & Wine Festival

These photos were taken at the 2nd Annual South Bay Beer & Wine Festival which was held at the South Coast Botanical Garden in Rancho Palos Verdes on Sunday afternoon. This outstanding event was hosted by Toyota and South Bay Equity Lending and sponsored by the Rotary Clubs of El Segundo, Palos Verdes Peninsula, and South Bay Sunrise. 100% of the proceeds from the event will go to support the humanitarian programs of the El Segundo Rotary Club, Palos Verdes Peninsula Rotary Club, and South Bay Rotary Club. Live music was provided by Detour.

While this was the 2nd Annual South Bay Beer & Wine Festival it was the first one that I attended, so I cannot compare it to last year’s event other than to say that I overheard a couple people that suggested that yesterday’s festival was bigger than their inaugural event. As a first time attendee I have to say that the stars must have been in perfect alignment as it appeared that Sunday’s event went off flawlessly.

I do not know how many people were in attendance, but when divided up between almost 30 breweries, close to 10 wineries and more than 20 restaurants lines were pretty much non-existent. There were not even lines for the restrooms. Continue reading

2nd Annual South Bay Beer & Wine Festival Coming May 3

botanic garden

A beautiful outdoor venue

I recently crossed paths with Beer Paper L.A.’s head writer and man-about-town, Daniel Drennon, who suggested that I might want to help promote the upcoming South Bay Beer & Wine Festival that is going to be held at the South Coast Botanical Garden in Rancho Palos Verdes. I had seen flyers posted at various tasting rooms around town, but it was not until I visited the South Bay Beer & Wine Festival website that I realized what a great event was being planned literally right up the street from me.

The 2nd Annual South Bay Beer & Wine Festival is hosted by Toyota and South Bay Equity Lending and sponsored by the Rotary Clubs of El Segundo, Palos Verdes Peninsula, and South Bay Sunrise. Proceeds from this event will go to support the humanitarian programs of the El Segundo Rotary Club, Palos Verdes Peninsula Rotary Club, and South Bay Rotary Club. The Rotary Club supports community programs focused on health and nutrition, high school Interact and leadership, education and literacy, vocational training, and community space restoration and renovation. They also support international projects such as worldwide eradication of polio, clean water projects, and wheelchair purchases and distribution. Continue reading

National Beer Day 2015 with Firestone Walker’s Traveling Oak

Tuesday, April 7 is National Beer Day which commemorates when prohibition on beer was lifted on April 7, 1933. To commemorate this milestone event, I accepted an invitation from the Yard House in Long Beach to attend an event they were having in conjunction with Firestone Walker. Firestone Walker had a very limited release of their Traveling Oak which is Parabola aged in oak barrels that originally aged Old Rip Van Winkle Bourbon for over 10 years and then were used to age Del Maguey Mezcal. After that, Firestone Walker’s Master Brewer, Matt Brynildson got a hold of them. The Parabola was added and aged for a year. To say it was different would be an understatement; pretty much everyone said they really enjoyed it.

Now, I visit Yard House at various times, usually because they are somewhere close that I know is going to have something I like. If I go to Staples, there is a pretty good chance I am stopping at Yard House. What I did not understand was why a limited release beer, that they say will never be made again, would only be made available at six locations in the country (Boston (Fenway), Denver (Downtown), Long Beach, CA, Portland, OR and Seattle), and they are all Yard House locations. Well, Yard House, in addition to having what must be a couple hundred taps of craft beers from around the world, also have a few house brews. While they are currently contract brewing with Uinta Brewing Company out of Salt Lake City, Firestone Walker brewed their beers beforehand.

To help welcome the Traveling Oak, Firestone Walker Master Brewer, Matt Brynildson was spotted serving snifters to customers while such beerlebrities as Firestone’s VP of Sales and Marketing, Dave Macon and Regional Sales Manager, Shane Kral chatted to the fans that showed up. As there is just a small amount of Traveling Oak available for each location, I do not know if they blew the keg or not; but I would not expect it to last past Wednesday if it makes it through the night. Like I said, they have a couple hundred taps so if it is gone, do not despair; I am sure they will have something you like. If you live in one of the cities I named above, check out your local Yard House to see when Traveling Oak is traveling there. Continue reading

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