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Hermosa Beach

Happy Thanksgiving from the Craft Beer Guy

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

National Taco Day & craft beer in the South Bay

If you did not know that October 4 is National Taco Day, do not feel like the Lone Ranger; it seems that this is a rather well-kept secret. The fact of the matter is I did not know it was National Taco Day until almost noon when I saw it float by on my Facebook feed. I decided that since it seems every gastropub and sports bar in Los Angeles County has a Taco Tuesday, I would see what they had to offer for National Taco Day. I put out the question, “where can I get good tacos and craft beer” on Facebook and was given several suggestions. The problem was that a majority of the suggested locations did not see the value of having a website that provided a menu of their food or available beers. Since I was not about to drive 25-40 miles each way on a maybe, I decided that I would stay local.

One of the suggestions I got was Hot’s Kitchen, a gastropub in Hermosa Beach. Hot’s has a very good tap list with 56 craft brews available on tap at any one time. They have an extensive list of tacos but had no idea it was National Taco Day; we did not let that stop us. The initial intent of this journey was to visit three locations and split a couple tacos at each location. After splitting a Thai and Lamb Taco between the two of us at Hot’s Kitchen, we both had serious reservations about whether or not we could eat two tacos at the remaining locations. The tacos and beer (Anchor California Lager and Duvel) were great; they had a fly issue that took away from the experience. One of the problems of the beach I guess.

Since we were in the neighborhood and I was aware that they had a Taco Tuesday, we headed over to Game Changers sports bar. Game Changers has 54 beers on tap, so it is usually pretty easy to find something you might like; I went with a Levitation Ale. I forgot that they changed up their food menu and many of the tacos had shellfish which my girl, Tanya, can’t eat, so we were kind of limited on the choices. We went with a Buzzer Beater which was huge; tasty, but huge. We were going to have issues trying to have another taco at our third destination. Continue reading

LA Beer Week tasting dinner at The Brewery at Abigaile

Over the past year or so I have been invited to attend several beer events that involved pairing various foods with different beers. Sometimes it seems like there was not a lot of thought put into the combinations and then there are pairings like the LA Beer Week (LABW5) Beer Tasting Dinner put on by The Brewery at Abigaile brewpub on Wednesday evening. It really shows what can happen when you have a chef like Tin Vuong who not only prepares unique menus with global flavors; but also enjoys craft beers.

I will admit that there have been times that I have opted for an entree that conflicted with my choice of beer; primarily due to a sauce or seasoning that was so hot that I might as well be drinking Bud Light because my taste buds had lost all sensitivity; last night’s dinner eliminated all risks as Chef Tin’s menu melded perfectly with the beers provided by The Brewery at Abigaile’s Brian Brewer. Our menu included Wit Cured Wild Salmon paired with Tangerine Honey Wit, a Belgian-style witbier; Mary’s Chicken Milanese paired with Sir Charles Mild, an English-style brown mild; an amazing Duck Confit paired with Sticky Fingers IPA; Braised Oxtail with Flat Iron paired with their Nihilist DIPA; with Perfection in a Glass beer float for dessert. It was made with Sarsaparilla and their Black Mass Porter. Brian also brought out some of his Black Mass Porter that has been aging in rye whiskey barrels for the past four months and it is delicious.

If you enjoy beer and food tastings, I recommend following The Brewery at Abigaile’s Facebook page so you can be kept in the loop. They do these on a pretty regular basis and I know there are more planned for the near future. When you have an executive chef like Tin Vuong combining his skills with a brewer like Brian Brewer only good things can happen and you do want to be a part of it. Trust me on that one.

The Brewery at Abigaile is located at 1301 Manhattan Avenue in Hermosa Beach; that is the northwest corner of Manhattan Avenue and Pier Avenue. They even have free parking in the underground structure at their location. Cheers! Continue reading

LA Beer Week – “Meet the Brewer” Open House at Abigaile

A few days ago I was at the LA Beer Bloggers Summit and one of the panelist made a comment about how some beer blogs come across as “cheerleaders” and they never have anything negative to say about anyone. I thought about it and in retrospect, thought I did a pretty good job about spreading the love and not really showing favoritism beyond favoring IPAs. As far as negative reviews are concerned, I do not have time for them; it is that simple. That being said, it is really tough to not be a cheerleader when it comes to The Brewery at Abigaile, located at Abigaile in Hermosa Beach.

It is hard for me to believe that I have only known about The Brewery at Abigaile for a mere 16 months. I remember with specificity the first time I learned of them and my first visit there. The Brewery at Abigaile is the only brewery in Hermosa Beach and they set the bar when it comes to brewpubs. In addition to the five beers that will be brewed in-house, they have a very interesting food menu and a great guest tap list as well as offering a variety of wines and a full cocktail bar. In my opinion, it is one of the South Bay’s best kept craft beer secrets. If you have the opportunity to visit Hermosa Beach, I highly encourage you to visit The Brewery at Abigaile.

For LA Beer Week (LABW5) Abigaile held a “Meet the Brewer” open house on Monday evening. Abigaile usually has a couple open houses every year as owner, Jed Sanford put it, to show his appreciation to all those that spend time there. The free food and beer samplings were enjoyed by all; including a couple of gentleman that came all the way from India to join the festivities. Yeah, The Brewery at Abigaile is that good. Continue reading

LA Beer Week 5 Begins!

Today was day one of the of the 5th Annual LA Beer Week (LABW5) which runs from September 19 through the 29th, which is a little longer than a week, but the LA craft beer scene has some catching up to do, so a couple extra days here and there cannot hurt. LABW was founded in 2009 by beer enthusiasts from the LA and Orange County beer communities to help promote this wonderful time that we are living. Indeed, when it comes to craft beer, there is no better time to be an LA area resident.

Since it was day one of LA Beer Week 5 (LABW5), I wanted to start the week off with something special. I read on Facebook that Mediterraneo in Hermosa Beach had gotten a keg of Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA, so I decided I would start off big; with a really big beer. I guess an 18% beer would qualify.

A little later I headed over to Naja’s Place in Redondo Beach for their LA Beer Week Kickoff Locals Night. While I have been to Naja’s Place when it was more crowded, I am not sure I have been there when more of the South Bay’s “who’s who” of the beer world was gathered. I have to admit, I was wondering who was tending the farm as it seemed everyone that was anyone in the South Bay craft beer world was at Naja’s. Everyone was having a great time.

For those interested in finding LA Beer Week events, I recommend visiting LABeerWeek.com for some of the official events. If you live in the LA area, your favorite microbrewery, brewpub or gastropub is probably having some kind of event. Go support your local brewer at a local business; it is good for your community. Cheers! Continue reading

Business & Beer meetup at The Brewery at Abigaile

These photos are from the Business & Beer networking event for August 2013 which was held Thursday evening, August 8 at The Brewery at Abigaile brewpub in Hermosa Beach. Business & Beer is a small business networking group that my girlfriend and I co-founded in July 2012. When we initially started it we met every Thursday at a different microbrewery, brewpub or gastropub in the South Bay area. After a year of weekly meetings we decided that it would be easier to maintain the group if we changed it to once a month and so far, it looks like this was the right move as our attendance levels are back up again.

If you live or work in the South Bay, enjoy craft beers and find networking valuable to the success of your business or it is one of your responsibilities you should check out BusinessNBeer.com. We meet on the second Thursday of every month at a different microbrewery or brewpub in the South Bay area. We have no dues, no restrictions and no mandatory meetings. Since it is held after normal work hours you are more than welcome to invite your significant other. It is a nice group of people that want to meet you; so bring your business cards and willingness to mingle and you will have a good time. 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

Another visit to Game Changers, Hermosa Beach

One of my favorite recent discoveries in the South Bay is Game Changers, located at 1220 Hermosa Avenue in Hermosa Beach. Game Changers is more of a sports bar than a gastropub, but when I first saw their banner at the Hermosa Fiesta stating they have 54 beers on tap I knew I would have to check them out. We returned a few weeks later and had an opportunity to get to know a few of the staff; we had a great time and since we had been told they had a new menu, we returned Wednesday to check it out.

Since I had only looked at their last menu briefly I was not readily familiar with what had changed, so I cannot tell you if what we had was new or not. There were fewer taco options this time and I was told that we because they were not big sellers or contained ingredients that were used only on one particular taco. That makes sense. I will say their appetizers are huge; they definitely filled us up. If I had known I probably would have ordered just one and tried the rib-eye; it looked pretty good and at a bargain price too.

Of course, I was really there for the beer. I opted for an initial flight consisting of a Matilda, Wipeout IPA, Ruination and a Stone Smoked Porter. Our server, Kim, asked if she could create a flight for me and presented me with a Tripel Karmeliet, Great White, Racer 5 IPA and an Allagash Four. I am usually apprehensive about having strangers picking my beers, but she did a pretty good job; thanks Kim!

Game Changers has some interesting things going on with daily happy hour specials and special events like their 80’s Ladies Night; you can learn more by stopping in or visiting the Game Changers website. These photos were taken July 17, 2013. Continue reading

Game Changers, Hermosa Beach

Yesterday we were looking for somewhere to have lunch; we wanted to go somewhere that we do not frequent on a regular basis and would preferably have a large craft beer selection. Over the Memorial Day weekend, we had gone to the arts and crafts street fair in Hermosa Beach and had visited two places that fit that bill. One was Mediterraneo, where we enjoyed some of their food and beers, but I was not really feeling in a tapas mood. The other place we visited was Game Changers, a sports bar that advertised 54 beers on tap. Because it was a Sunday afternoon during the street fair, the place was packed. We did not bother eating but after seeing their tap list we knew we would have to return. We checked out their food menu online and decided that we would go to Game Changers for lunch.

While Game Changers was packed to the rafters at 2:00 on a Sunday afternoon, that really was not the case at 2:00 on a Wednesday afternoon. That gave me an opportunity to look around a little and get to meet and interact a little with a couple of the people that work there because I have found that the best beer places have people that seem to really care about craft beer. Taylor, Chloe and Will, their beer guy, each gave off that vibe. Looking around the spacious venue I could not help but wonder if there were more TVs than beer taps. I have to say, it was pretty close; it looks like they have about 30 TVs, each tuned to a different sporting event so no matter where you sit, you can watch the game you came to see. However, I was there for the beer and some food.

As advertised, they do have 54 taps available; as such, the written menu may not be 100% accurate because the taps blow and new ones swapped in. It is the nature of the beast. While I did notice a Rolling Rock, Bud Lite, Guinness and Shock Top taps the rest seemed to be craft beers, so that is 50 to choose from. They also carry bottled beer for those that still want the standard bar beer. What I had not noticed when looking at their online menu was that their Happy Hour runs from 2:00 PM until 7:00 PM. They have some two for one specials on a few of their taps and their Happy Hour food menu is quite reasonable. We ordered a couple food items, a corn dog wrapped in bacon and a hamburger, and while I don’t know that I would rate it at the gastropub level, but they never advertised themselves to be a gastropub. They are a sports bar and as far as the typical bar food I have tried in the past, this surpassed it and at a very good price. Continue reading

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

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