Flights Beer Bar


Damn You Dengue Fever Benefit for Helen Kral

If there is one thing I can say about the craft beer community in Los Angeles, it is a very tight-knit group. This goes beyond the brewers for the numerous breweries we have in the area, who are known for being eager to help each other out. It extends to those that own or manage bottle shops and gastropubs, people that write about craft beer and the sales teams for the various craft beer distributors in the area. This community and camaraderie was displayed again Saturday evening as friends and family of Firestone-Walker Regional Sales Manager, Shane Kral gathered in Huntington Beach for the ‘Damn You Dengue Fever Benefit’ for Shane’s wife, Helen.

During what should have been a dream vacation for Helen and Shane’s Hawaiian getaway last July, Helen apparently was bitten by a mosquito carrying Dengue Fever; an infectious tropical disease caused by the dengue virus. While the symptoms can be as minor as a fever or headaches, Dengue Fever can be life threatening. In Helen’s case, she became paralyzed. As time continued, Helen’s condition improved and she is now able to maneuver her wheelchair and last week she was able to stand with assistance. Prayer, positive thoughts and physical therapy are helping, but as Helen must stay in a nursing home and expenses are piling up. Saturday evening’s benefit was held to help alleviate the family expenses.

For a small donation at the door we were treated to food and drink with plenty of Firestone-Walker beers available. There was also a raffle and silent auction for the host of items that were donated to the cause. Some of the items donated included tickets to selected performances at Club Nokia from Yo Gabba Gabba to Mushroomhead, skate decks from Attic, artwork from Bernie Wire and Stork, gift certificates from restaurants and gastropubs from Manhattan Beach to Newport Beach, signed sports memorabilia, brewery tours and hard to find-one of a kind-blow your mind beers including Firestone X-XVII. Continue reading

The Ultimate Beerfest OC – The good, the bad & the ugly

On Saturday October 19, a fundraiser for Villa Chardonnay, a 501(c)(3) non-profit horse rescue operation in Temecula, CA was held at the Costa Mesa Fairgrounds in the form of The Ultimate Beerfest OC. The event was scheduled to have 20+ breweries, food trucks, a beer pong tournament and a Best of Show beer competition voted on by attendees that had VIP tickets. The Ultimate Beerfest OC was one of six scheduled beer festivals put on by the organizers with the others being scheduled for Los Angeles, San Diego, Pasadena, San Francisco and San Jose. The Los Angeles event was originally scheduled as the first but was postponed until 2014 due to logistical issues with the selected venue. When I first learned of the event, the Los Angeles venue was the one I planned on attending. When it was postponed I volunteered to cover the event in Costa Mesa.

The event was scheduled to be held over the course of two sessions; the first beginning at 11:00 AM for VIP entries and noon for general admission and running until 3:00 PM with the second session running from 6:00 – 9:00 PM with VIP getting in an hour early. While the Ultimate Beerfest website specifically stated to “plan on arriving up to one hour early for event check-in” I really did not pay much heed to that suggestion as I have yet to attend a beer festival that had that many people show up; I kind of figured it was wishful thinking. It turned out that this was going to be bigger than I imagined.

As the event was outside, I was able to look in the beer garden as we approached and even though it was about 15 minutes until the VIP admission was to begin it was readily apparent that not all of the breweries had arrived. As I was coming from the opposite direction that the line to get in was forming, I could see that there was a pretty long line forming. I attributed it to the fact that many people were there as general admission and they were arriving an hour early as suggested. After all, VIP admission was $75 and General Admission was $50; it never dawned on me that everyone in line had paid for VIP admission. Continue reading

Ultimate Beerfest OC October 19 at Costa Mesa Fairgrounds

As you are probably aware, we are deep into the beer festival season; with multiple local beer festivals, Oktoberfest and the Great American Beer Festival all going on this week, I have one more to add to your itinerary. The Ultimate Beerfest-OC will be held at the Costa Mesa Fairgrounds on October 19, 2013. They are having two 3-hourlong sessions; the first from noon until 3:00 PM with the second one running from 6:00 – 9:00 PM for general admission ticket holders. All ticket holders receive a commemorative tasting cup while VIP ticket holders get in an hour early and get to judge the beer competition.

In addition to the 20+ breweries represented there will be numerous food trucks and vendors (purchases not included with admission) and there will be the Ultimate Beer Pong Tournament, sponsored by Redhook Brewery. The beer pong tournament is limited to 64 entries per venue, so if interested in participating, I would recommend registering soon.

Among the breweries scheduled to attend are Redhook Brewery, Manzanita Brewing Company, Firestone Walker, Latitude 33 Brewing Company, Kona Brewing Company, Widmer Brothers Brewing, Fox Barrel Cider, Mission Brewery, Blue Moon Brewing, Back Street Brewery, Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, Rough Draft Brewing, Crispin Cider, Oggi’s Pizza & Brewing, Carlsberg Group, Crabbie’s Ginger Beer, Kronenbourg Brewery, Fireman’s Brew, Stadium Brewing Company, Surf Brewery, Old Orange Brewing Company, Aztec Brewing Company, Lost Coast Brewery, Batch 19, Oceanside Ale Works, and Tap It Brewing.

This is a fundraiser for Villa Chardonnay, a 501(c)(3) non-profit horse rescue operation in Temecula, CA. There will be no tickets sold at the door so if you want to attend, be sure to buy your tickets ahead of time. I hope to see you there. Cheers!

BAM Fest 2013: Another successful fundraiser for 18th Street Arts Center

On Saturday, October 5 the 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica held their 4th Annual Beer, Art & Music Festival, commonly known as BAM Fest 2013, a fundraiser for the 18th Street Art Center, a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. The beer festival featured close to 40 different craft breweries from around the country and it seemed like every brewery brought three or four different beers with them; suffice it to say, there was more beer selections than one could possibly go through in four hours. In addition to the beer tastings there was wine, craft soda, lots of gourmet food trucks and live music to listen to as we enjoyed another beautiful October day and wandered around the open art studios and listened to seminars by beer experts.

The breweries that I noticed in attendance included Ale Industries, Anchor Brewing Company, Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Angel City Brewing Company, Ballast Point Brewing Company, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing Company, Boston Beer Company, Bootlegger’s Brewery, Brasserie d’Achouffe, The Brewery at Abigaile, Brewery Ommegang, The Bruery, Deschutes Brewery, Dogfish Head, Drake’s Brewing, The Dudes’ Brewing Company, Duvel-Moortgat, El Segundo Brewing Company, Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Golden Road Brewing Company, Haven Brewing Co., Kinetic Brewing, Los Angeles Ale Works, Ladyface Ale Companie, Lagunitas Brewing, Liefmans, Monkish Brewing Company, New Belgium Brewing Company, Noble Ale Works, North Coast Brewing, Phantom Carriage, Pizza Port, Carlsbad, Port Town Brewing Company, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Smog City Brewing Company, Speakeasy Ales and Lager, Stone Brewing Company, Strand Brewing Company and Surf Brewery.

Music was provided by Ben Bateman, Cory Phillips & the Groove Orchestra, KoTolàn and Raul Pacheco & The Immaculate Conception. Sponsors included Buy a Dog a Beer, Wreck Check, Swoon and Taxi Magic. It was a fun day with lots of fun people that all seemed to be enjoying themselves thoroughly. I will admit, I am already looking forward to attending the 5th Annual Beer, Art & Music Festival. Cheers! Continue reading

Galaxy Defender: A great beer for a good cause

Since this is one of my newer websites, I understand that not everyone knows me as well as those that have been following me for a while You may have noticed that I am not in the habit of discussing or rating individual beers, primarily because I feel that is far too difficult a task to be done objectively and I would not want to have a negative influence on a particular brew simply because it was not my thing. That being said, I will make an exception to this self imposed rule when I find out the beer is part of a fundraising campaign and even more so if that fundraising effort has anything to do with kids. I am all about helping kids and have been for more than 30 years.

Anyway, Friday evening I stopped by Monkish Brewing in Torrance and as is my habit, I requested the brew I had never tried before which was Galaxy Defender on Friday. I am a hop head; and for that I make no excuses; I wear the tag proudly. The fact is that I have talked to Henry Nguyen, the owner/brewer of Monkish Brewing Company about the chances of his ever brewing an IPA and the response had always been the same: he is just not interested in brewing an IPA. I just learned to accept that as fact. When I first smelled the Galaxy Defender I could not believe what I was smelling; one taste had me hooked. This is a true Belgian Pale Ale, it borders on being a Belgian IPA; but like I said, I am not about reviewing individual beers. Suffice it to say, it was good enough that I drove home and picked up a growler to be enjoyed later.

Saturday afternoon I was out and about at the local South Bay microbreweries and during my travels I discovered that there was more to the Galaxy Defender than the great taste; it turns out that $1.00 from every pint is donated to the Los Angeles Galaxy South Bay soccer club, of which one of Nguyen’s kids is a member. They are trying to raise money for scholarships and Monkish Brewing is doing their part by donating money from every sale of the Galaxy Defender Belgian Pale Ale. I knew there were Galaxy Hops, so I presumed that the “galaxy” in Galaxy Defender referred to the galaxy hops; it turns out that the Nguyen’s son is a defender on the LA Galaxy’s soccer club, hence the name, Galaxy Defender. Continue reading

The 3rd Annual Taste of Brews, Long Beach, CA

The 3rd Annual Taste of Brews summer beer festival was held Saturday afternoon, August 24, at Lighthouse Park in Long Beach, CA. Featuring more than 40 craft and micro breweries from around the country along with a couple wineries, several gourmet food trucks and live music by Journey tribute band “The Journey Experience” and 80s cover band “The Pac Men” it was a beautiful day to hang out in the sun with the cool ocean breeze. The Taste of Brews is a fundraiser for the Long Beach Marine Institute and the AIDS Food Store of Long Beach.

Among the many breweries participating were Firestone Walker, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing, Sierra Nevada, Packinghouse Brewing, Woodchuck Hard Cider, Legends, Grand Teton Brewing, Belmont Brewing, Strand Brewing, Black Market Brewing, Big Sky Brewing, Ninkasi, Mendocino Brewing, Brewbakers and the Brewluminati Homebrew Club. The food trucks included Urban Pie, Dogzilla and Viking Truck.

While there were several hundred attendees, the number of breweries pouring made it so that none of the lines were too long and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves too much to worry about a little wait in between pours.

Lighthouse Park is located at 200 Aquarium Way in Long Beach. I would like to thank Firestone Walker for the pass to a very entertaining event. Continue reading

18th Street Arts Center’s 4th Annual Beer Art & Music Festival October 5

BAM Fest 2012

Good times guaranteed at BAM Fest

On October 5, 2013, the 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica will hold their 4th Annual Beer, Art & Music Festival, fondly known as BAM Fest 2013 and it is destined to be better than ever. I went to BAM Fest last year and every person I spoke to that had attended one or both of the prior events told me it was the best ever. Well, last year they had about 30 brewers with taps; this year they have 42 scheduled so far. The reason I say “so far” is that a couple weeks ago I wrote an article about this event and they were talking 30+. At this rate, they could have more than 50; I think space may be their only enemy; everyone wants to pour at BAM Fest.

In addition to the beer there will be three bands, wine and homemade soda tastings and lots of gourmet food trucks. BAM Fest is a fundraiser for the 18th Street Art Center, a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization, so while you are sipping beer and listening to tunes waft through the air you can visit the studios of most of the artists as they leave them open as a way of showing what you are supporting. Culture and beer with all proceeds going to the 18th Street Arts Center, and you can probably bet the farm that it will be a nice day in Santa Monica. Tickets can be purchased online for $45 each; they will be $50 at the door if there are still tickets available on October 5.

BAM Fest 2012

Come join the fun at BAM Fest 2013

The current list of participating craft breweries is: Continue reading

3rd Annual Brew at the LA Zoo

Thursday morning as I was perusing my Facebook feed I noticed an update made by Beachwood BBQ & Brewing that said they were giving two passes to the Brew at the LA Zoo to the first five people that came in and asked for them. I had initially thought it was happening on Saturday, which was a busy day for me, so I did not plan on attending. When I found out it was actually on Friday evening, I decided to ride down to Beachwood BBQ & Brewing in Long Beach for a beer and to see if there were any passes left; fortunately, there were.

Brew at the L.A. Zoo is a fundraiser for the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Los Angeles, California. There were 23 Southern California craft breweries represented and one winery. In addition to the beer there was live music from Ivory Deville and Strangeheart, karaoke, DJ MORNINGSTAR and something I have never been able to do before; an opportunity to wander Zoo grounds after dark. As it turned out, most of the zoo was not available to us, which I suppose is understandable. We did have access to the elephants, gorillas and other apes as well as the new LAIR (Living Amphibian, Invertebrates, and Reptiles) exhibit. It was pretty cool.

The breweries in attendance were Widmer Brothers Brewing, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Blue Moon Brewing/Batch 19/Leinkugels Summer Shandy, Rock Bottom Brewery Long Beach, Heretic Brewing Company, Mad River Brewing Company, Stone Brewing Company, Fireman’s Brew, Golden Road Brewing, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, Hangar 24 Graft Brewery, Crispin & Fox Barrel Cider Company, San Pedro Brewing Company/ Port Town Brewing Co., Angel City Brewery, Karl Strauss Brewing Company, The Lagunitas Brewing Company, Beachwood BBQ and Brewing, Inland Empire Brewing Company, I & I Brewing, Barefoot Wine, Surf Brewery, Old Orange Brewing, Tap It Brewing and Firestone Walker Brewing Company. There were far too many people and not enough time to try them all so I spent my time trying brews I had yet to experience. Continue reading

Cacophony IPA: Ales for ALS

I have been fortunate enough to spend a considerable amount of time traveling around the United States and in that time I have found numerous brewpubs. For definition sake, a brewpub is a brewery that also serves food. Some of brewpubs serve pretty basic fare, like cheese or hummus and pita; others are pretty upscale and rival any restaurants in their price range. Of all the brewpubs I have visited, The Brewery at Abigaile in Hermosa Beach is the brewpub that sets the bar for brewpubs in my opinion.

I first became aware of the Brewery at Abigaile during American Craft Beer Week in 2012; the manager of The Rockefeller (a gastropub up the street from Abigaile) knew that I was seeking new local beers and Abigaile had just undergone some changes, including a name and menu change and they decided to utilize the brewing equipment that had been sitting as a decoration for 10 years when the restaurant operated under a different name. Brain Brewer, who had been home brewing since high school was working construction when Abigaile owner Jed Sanford asked him to revive the brewing system. The timing was right and the South Bay has been better for it as a result. As I do not do beer reviews because I do not feel they can be subjective, I will just urge you to buy a flight if you are a first time visitor. Brewer’s selections of brews never fails to satisfy, as evidenced by his current options of his Orange Blossom Blonde Ale, Polyrhytm Pale, Cacophony IPA, Black Mass Porter and Sugar Daddy, a Belgian style strong ale. Their head chef, Tin, does some amazing things in his kitchen and you are encouraged to stop by for their happy hour as they call it their R&D Hour and there is always something special that Tin has thrown together as an experiment; it is pretty darn good. Continue reading

2nd Annual Waves of Grain Beerfest at Shade Hotel

Sunday June 30 the Shade Hotel in Manhattan Beach, CA hosted the 2nd Annual Waves of Grain Beerfest benefiting the Richstone Family Center in Hawthorne. The Richstone Family Center is dedicated to preventing and treating child abuse. Co-sponsored by Brewco Manhattan Beach, Rock & Brews El Segundo, LA Car Guy and NW Real Estate Brokers approximately 400 people enjoyed food, music and close to 100 beers provided by more than 40 craft brewers.

In addition to the ticket sales for the event, which sold out, there were raffles for dinners, massages, hockey and more. I think it is safe to say that the Richstone Family Center was very happy with the results of this fundraiser. Judging by all the smiles seen in the photos I am not the only one that had a great time and I look forward to attending next year’s event.

The Shade Hotel is located at 1221 N Valley Dr Manhattan Beach, CA 90266. Continue reading

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