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home brewing

Cold War Brewing at Zymurgy Brew Works & Tasting Room

On Wednesday evening, Tanya and I headed over to Zymurgy Brew Works & Tasting Room where we met up with co-founder Bill Baker to try out their new Do-It-Yourself craft brewery which is slated to begin their soft-open on September 10, 2016. My brew would not only add some beer to my collection, but it would give Zymurgy an opportunity to dial in their system and it would provide samples for future brewers to enjoy during subsequent brews. I opted to brew a recipe my son has for his Sochi to Stanley Stout; a delicious Russian Imperial Stout. The reason for this was primarily because I did not want to power drink five gallons of an IPA; I would much rather open one bomber every few months and this beer would be just perfect for that.

I had sent the recipe to Baker ahead of time in order to ensure that all the ingredients or applicable substitutes were available. One substitute was replacing the pound of Special B malt with a pound a Crystal 120 which was presented to me as C-120; I thought that sounded like an explosive so I changed the name of the beer to Cold War Russian Imperial Stout. Homebrewers will acknowledge that a Russian Imperial Stout is a pretty ambitious beer for the average homebrewer; Zymurgy was excited to do it as it was a pretty safe bet that this would be one of the biggest beers they will brew there. Continue reading

St. Patrick’s Day with the Crude Brew Crew

Last night we joined the Crude Brew Crew (CBC) Homebrew Club whose March meeting just happened to fall on St. Patrick’s Day this year. The event with was held at CBC member Noel’s home and featured the brewing of a Heady Topper clone that smelled delicious with its almost one pound of hops added. In addition there was an Irish Kissed Ale that was homebrewed by Michael last month and an outstanding Wild Smog City that Noel brewer from wort obtained at a Smog City Monster Brew. There were also a few bottles shared including The Bruery’s Mocha Wednesday and Kern River’s Citra that Keith and April brought along with them; if you have not had a chance to try that yet it is fantastic. The club’s president Jules brought his Kiwi’s Big Adventure that he brewed with Phantom Ales and he brought the fixings for some delicious corned beef tacos. We also got an opportunity to try Leprechaun Balls, clipped and prepared by April. They are even better than they sound.

If you are a home brewer and do not belong to a homebrew club you should really consider joining one. It is a great way to interact with others that share your passion for brewing and they are always willing to help you learn to brew better beer. You can learn more about the Crude Brew Crew by visiting their Facebook page. Cheers! Continue reading

Antelope Valley Breweries and Home Brew Competition Awards

A few weeks ago the Antelope Valley Fair held their second annual Antelope Valley Fair Home Brew Competition, which was sponsored by Bravery Brewing in Lancaster. This past Friday the 2014 Antelope Valley Fair Home Brew Competition Awards Ceremony was held, again at Bravery Brewing. A couple of the principles invited me to come out and photograph the awards ceremony which I was more than willing to do; since Lancaster is almost 100 miles away from me and I really did not feel like dealing with a Friday evening of rush hour traffic, I decided to make a day of it and see what kind of craft beer I could find in the Lancaster area. It turns out, that there currently is not a lot to choose from in that area. In fact, I could only find two breweries in the vast Antelope Valley; Kinetic Brewing and Bravery Brewing, both located in Lancaster.

I was somewhat familiar with Kinetic Brewing Company as I have seen them at a couple beer festivals, but I had only had a couple of their brews; their Potential Blonde Kölsch and Citrafuge Harvest Ale. Kinetic Brewing is a brewpub and normally we would have gone there to try the food as well, but a prior engagement resulted in our not really being hungry so we started off with a flight consisting of the seven brews they had available. The flight was made up of their Kölsch, American Brown Ale, American IPA, Porter, a couple variations of Berliner Weisse and their Belgian Strong Ale. All in all, the beers were solid with the Propulsion IPA being my definite favorite; no contest really. I enjoyed their Fusion Porter and Rusted Gear Brown Ale also, but found the two Berliner Weisse a little light for my tastes.

While we had not come in hungry we were there for a while and I eventually started checking out their food menu. They have a pretty good menu with everything from salads and pretzels to steak or pan-fried Ahi tuna. What caught my eye was their bread pudding; when you spot the photo of it, let me just say that if you think it looks good, I am not sure the photo does it justice. It was very good. If you find yourself in the Lancaster area and want a good craft beer and some food; you should check out Kinetic Brewing Company. They are located at 735 W. Lancaster Boulevard in Lancaster. Continue reading

Home Made Brew & Food Festival Photos

On Sunday afternoon I headed to the Port of Los Angeles for the Home Made Brew & Food Festival held to commemorate the second anniversary of Crafted, Southern California’s largest permanent market for handmade goods. As part of the anniversary celebration several homebrew clubs joined in to provide a wide selection of home brews provided by their members. In addition to the beer there were food trucks and live music. If one wanted to get out of the sun for a while, the historic Navy warehouse No. 10 was open with dozens of vendors inside providing everything from beads and jams to deep sea diving equipment (for decoration only).

The homebrew clubs that participated included The Crude Brew Crew, Long Beach Homebrewers, Yeastside Brewers, Maltose Falcons, F.E.R.M. Club and Strand Brewers Club. Live music was provided by The Gumbo Brothers. I got there a little late but I understand there was a home brewing demonstration also given. While I may have been late there were still plenty of nice brews to sample with just about every style of beer you could hope for from ales to stouts with several sours and many types of mead also available. There were also some food samples available, but I never did run across them; I may have been too late for that or they were in a portion of the warehouse that I did not get to. It was a fun event and everyone appeared to be have a great time enjoying the beer, music, sunshine and camaraderie with other beer brewers and consumers. Monies raised at the event were used to fund arts education programs put on by the San Pedro Art Association.

This was my first visit to Warehouse No. 10 and Crafted but I doubt it will be my last. I was a little surprised by all the cool items that were available; maybe even more surprised that I never knew the place existed. Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles is open every weekend; Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For hours and their schedule of special events you can visit their website at CraftedPortLA.com. Admission and parking is free. Cheers! Continue reading

Home Brew Day: Glacier Summer Ale

I have discussed home brewing here a few times; primarily how much I respect those that do it and how home brewing really isn’t up my alley. I tried a Brooklyn Brewshop Beer Making Kit back in October and came away from the experience with the conclusion that when it comes to production or consumption I am a lot better at the latter. That being said, my son is an excellent home brewer. On Thursday afternoon I headed down to his place to participate in his 12th brew day.

Now it may seem that my son must be a total newbie when it comes to brewing since he “only” has twelve brews under his belt, but I am here to say that while he may be new at this there is no way you would taste his beers and come to that conclusion. I have had several of his brews including an IPA, DIPA, a red ale, a pale ale, his chocolate, vanilla, bourbon porter and most recently, his From Sochi to Stanley Stout and he has never failed to amaze; and that is not just the father in me talking. We both understand that good beer is more important than undeserved compliments. The fact is, I have been to many home brewing events and I would put my son’s brews up against most that I have tried; in fact, he is better than some breweries I have been to.

A couple weeks ago my son and his family went up to Montana to camp and visit places like Glacier National Park. While he was up there his wife came up with the idea of foraging for some items to use in his next brew. If you look closely at the photos you will notice a few things you do not normally find when brewing. The first thing you might notice are the stones in the brewing kettle. He gathered them at Avalanche Creek in Avalanche Gorge and included them throughout the process from beginning with the intent of adding additional minerals. Also included are fresh pine nuts and Forget-Me-Nots which he gathered from the trailhead of Trail of the Cedars and clumps of moss that he gathered from the Avalanche Lake trail. The water you see being added was fresh glacier water that he got from Avalanche Creek; I tasted a little before he added it to his wort and it was as tasty as water can be on its own. Because so many ingredients came from Glacier National Park he is naming this brew Glacier Summer Ale.

The last photo shows the color what the end result should be; which is exactly what he was aiming for. We will have to wait a couple weeks to try this brew but it should be interesting. I cannot wait to report back. Cheers! Continue reading

American Craft Beer Week 2014, Day1: Good, Better, Worst

Monday May 12 was day one of the 9th Annual American Craft Beer Week, and it is the third consecutive year that I have covered the event. In 2012 I participated by trying to find as many American craft beer locations as possible in the South Bay. In 2013 I set out to visit as many Great American Beer Festival gold medal award winning breweries as possible. Since there has been such an explosion of growth in the craft beer sector around here, I decided that this year will be devoted to the local craft breweries, brewpubs and gastropubs.

I started off by visiting San Pedro Brewing Company (SPBC), a brewpub that has been around for close to 15 years. They have won more than 40 medals at local county fairs, commercial beer competitions and international beer festivals. They have not entered competitions such as the Great American Beer Festival because they have a small brewing system and do not currently have the capacity to brew enough beers to handle the increased demand winning a competition like that would bring. That may soon change though as they are in the process of dealing with the paperwork to open a new location around the corner which will be called Port Town Brewing. SPBC Head Brewer Jason Welke will likely do the brewing for SPBC and Port Town with the SPBC system being used for experimental batches. The hope is to have Port Town Brewing open by next American Craft Beer Week. For those that like bourbon barrel aged brews, Wednesday evening at 6:30 SPBC will have their 2nd Bourbon Barrel Aged Beer Night featuring their Blitzen Belgian Winter Ale and Sunken City Imperial Stout. I went to their first barrel aged event in February and they had some delicious brews. If you are looking for something to do, you really cannot miss by attending this event. San Pedro Brewing Company is located at 331 W. 6th Street in San Pedro and is open seven days a week. Continue reading

Strand Brewers Club November meeting

On the second Wednesday of the month Strand Brewers Club, a local home brewing club, holds their monthly meetings at South Bay Brewing Supply in Torrance. I try to come as frequently as I can as it is a nice group of people that are very enthusiastic about home brewing and are eager to show off their home brewed beers as well as provide information about home brewing to anyone that asks.

Last night was their November meeting which included sampling of many homebrews, a presentation on how to grow your own hops by Nate and the election of new officers to the Strand Brewers Club board. The campaigns for the various offices were fought with minimal mudslinging and a new board was elected. Your new officers will be David, Ryan, Rich, Doug and Bob. It looks like they are in good hands for a while. Rives set the bar high during his term as President and I know the entire group appreciates his efforts.

If you live in the South Bay and do home brewing or are considering it, you should really consider joining Strand Brewers Club. The dues are only $37 a year and includes the camaraderie of other beer brewers who will assist you as much as they can as well as lots of beers to sample and even some sandwiches at their monthly meetings. It is a good deal and a lot of fun. Cheers! Continue reading

Homebrewing an Everyday IPA

For some reason a lot of people think that because I enjoy craft beer so much I must also be a home brewer; well, that is not the case. Primarily because when I first got into craft beer it was due to being on the road more than I was home, so I never really considered it. As time progressed to 2013 I knew I would eventually take the step, but it was not a priority and I was doing other things. In July some friends gave me a Brooklyn Brewshop Beer Making Kit. It was decided that I would write an article about the experience as a first time home brewer. Since it was July and they did not build homes with air conditioning around here, I knew I did not want to boil anything in my kitchen for a couple more months. I looked at the box with its five easy steps and figured “How hard can it be?” I would read the instructions a few times, hit up YouTube and breeze right through this. Not exactly. So, this is written from the perspective of a first time home brewer to a first time home brewer. Or should I say, a first time all-grain home brewer.

I might as well address this first; I am not sure that it would change my experience because I had no say in the matter. I am talking about brewing from extract or all-grain. To tell you the truth, people would ask which way I was doing it and I would say it was a kit. I seem to recall they all presumed it was extract; I did not know what the difference was until after I did my first home brew. If you do not know, I will summarize it for you. If you brew from an extract they have essentially made the wort for you and you just add water and boil. Sounds really easy, I could get into that. The other method is all-grain; it is more work but if you know what you are doing you have a lot more control. If your kit came with a bag of fluid, you are brewing from extract; if it comes with a bag of grain you aren’t. So, brewing from extract is fun; brewing from all-grain is almost work, at least for a beginner. For the record, the Everyday IPA is an all-grain mix; it never mentions that fact on the box although it does show you making mash, so they presume you know the difference.

Actually, while my beer is fermenting I have talked to friends that have suggested that Brooklyn Brewshop is presuming a lot of things, which I discovered a little too late in the process, so learn by my mistakes. On the box they do tell you that you are going to need a six quart pot (a second pot is handy), a fine mesh strainer and a funnel. Since all the instructions I have seen hinted that this was “as easy as making oatmeal” and since Tanya, my girlfriend, is pretty handy around the kitchen I was confident that whatever cooking supplies we did not own would not be a problem in obtaining. Continue reading

Day 8 of LA Beer Week: Champions and Judges

LA Beer Week (LABW5) plods along as Thursday was the eighth day of LA Beer Week; an 11 day event. I decided that since it is LA Beer Week I would be remiss if I did not attempt to try and visit all the gold medal winners that the Los Angeles area has produced. Okay, being completely honest, I was looking for a reason to visit Beachwood BBQ and Brewing in Long Beach and I remembered that they were gold medal winners at the Great American Beer Festival so I decided that I needed to dedicate a portion of this week to the brewers that help make LA the pLAce for craft beer.

The fact of the matter is that I need very little in the way of excuses to drive down to Long Beach; however there was one with the recent release of Mind Melder IPA, a collaboration with Drake’s Brewing that I had yet to try. All I can say is that I am really looking forward to some of the South Bay’s brewers doing some collaboration brews with each other and I think Beachwood’s head brewer Julian Shrago is close enough to be included with that group. Since I had ordered an IPA flight, none of which are award winners (yet), we put together a combination of two of their gold medal winners; Udder Love, 2012 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) and Foam Top, 2012 World Beer Cup. It won’t be long before one of their IPAs brings home gold.

After a quick stop to another GABF gold medal winning brewery, Smog City Brewing, I headed out to Four Points by Sheraton for a panel on “Do you want to be a beer judge?” The panel was moderated by Tomm Carroll of Celebrator Beer News and consisted of a panel of high-ranked, certified Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) judges. The panelists included Bruce Brode (Master rank, Maltose Falcons home brew club); Carl Townsend (National rank, Pacific Gravity home brewers club); and Jim Wilson (Grand Master II rank, Strand Brewers Club). The purpose of the event was to explain the BJCP program and what you would need to know to become a certified judge. Ever since I went to the Pacific Brewers Cup two weeks ago I have been thinking that I would like to expand my beer horizons more, by at least learning what it is judges look for in each style. Continue reading

17th Annual Pacific Brewers Cup at Smog City Brewing

These photos are from the 17th Annual Pacific Brewers Cup Homebrew Competition which was held Saturday, September 14, 2013 at Smog City Brewing Company in Torrance, CA. The Pacific Brewers Cup competition is hosted on a rotating basis by three local home brewer clubs; Strand Brewers Club from Torrance, Long Beach Homebrewers and Pacific Gravity from Culver City. This year the Long Beach Homebrewers were the hosts. The Pacific Brewers Cup 2013 was an AHA sanctioned homebrew competition and used the beer style guidelines published by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP).

While I have sampled a few beers in my time and acted as a judge recently for a small homebrew competition I have never been to a competition of this magnitude before. I was told that there were over 450 entries so before I got there I wondered how the heck you get enough people to judge that many beers in one sitting. To be honest, as of this writing all indications are that the judging is still going on. As you can see by the photos they broke the beers down by category so the judges only had to rate one style of beer at a time. Of course, I was only there within the first two hours of the event so there is a pretty good likelihood that after one style was finished they had to move on to another. The Best of Show winner gets an opportunity to brew his winning beer at Ohana Brewing Company, so there was a lot of incentive to put out an award winning beer.

I did not get an opportunity to try any of the submissions, but I did not see a lot of beer being poured into the bucket so it looked like judges were not having too much trouble enjoying their Saturday morning. I know it gave me some incentive to look into learning to be a BJCP certified judge. Once I learn who the winner was, I will come update this article. Good luck to all; cheers!

The winners of the Pacific Brewers Cup have been announced. Please visit http://pacificbrewerscup.com/?q=node%2F16 for details.
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