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,
Last week I made my annual pilgrimage to Tempe, AZ. For the past couple of years we made it a habit to leave the night before my scheduled arrival date and always found myself at Babe’s BBQ & Brewhouse in Rancho Mirage because they were the only place open by the time we got in the area. While they have a nice selection of in-house brewed beers, decent food and amazing peach pie, this year I wanted to try something new; and I just knew that there had to be a couple new production breweries in the Palm Springs area. As I am inclined to do, I asked my Facebook followers if they had any suggestions; once again they did not let me down.
The first location I was directed to was Coachella Valley Brewing Company in Thousand Palms, a production brewery that has been in business about six months. To be honest, I had planned to leave town a little earlier than I did so I could spend more time at my destinations, but fate was not on my side. Add to that an extreme dust storm that literally brought traffic to a dead stop on I-10 and I was definitely running behind. When we arrived at Coachella Valley Brewing the sand in the air was so bad that I had concerns taking my camera out of the car; it was pretty nasty.
Once we got in I was pretty impressed; the place is massive. When I heard they were only six months old I was even more impressed. They advertise that free tours come with every pint purchased but the beertender appeared to be the only one on duty so I settled for taking a few photos of their brew house and sampling a flight. They had about 12 different options available on the day we were there. Our flight consisted of their Desert Swarm, a witbier featuring locally produced honey; a Sessions IPA that I guess is a session beer because of the 4% ABV and the poor flavor. We continued with a Harvester IPA which was quite enjoyable and ended with another enjoyable beer, their Whopper Imperial Chocolate Milk Stout that reminded me that my son has a Whopper Stout fermenting as I write this. As I only tried four of at least 20 options I don’t know that I can really judge them, but I am positive I will be back when I have more time so I can try some of their other options. Coachella Valley Brewing Company is located at 30640 Gunther Street in Thousand Palms. They are open six days a week (closed Mondays) so if you find yourself stranded in a dust storm, head over as they are likely open. Continue reading
Since it was a Saturday and a beer sounded pretty good, I decided to make a visit to the Torrance tasting rooms to see what I could muster up. It was encouraging as I traveled from Smog City Brewing Company to Monkish Brewing Company to Strand Brewing Company to Absolution Brewing Company to answers that were always the same and with no hesitation; they would all be happy to contribute to the cause! While I was at Monkish Brewing, an LA Craft Beer Tours van pulled up so I asked Dale, a co-owner and driver that day, if they would be interested in participating. Again, the response was immediate; LA Craft Beer Tours was on-board. Since The Dudes’ Brewing Company and King Harbor Brewing Company did not have tasting rooms open yet, I contacted them over the next couple of days and both said they would contribute. Red Car Brewery had already been contacted by someone else from the TEF, so all the Torrance and Redondo Beach production breweries and brewpubs were now involved. Continue reading
I remember the day well; it was the 4th of July 2013 and Tanya and I were taking the dogs on their morning walk. We were walking through the strip mall that we walked through virtually every morning. Something caught Tanya’s eye on the window of one of vacant units, I glanced over and immediately recognized the ABC’s Public Notice of Application to Sell Alcoholic Beverages. I knew the neighborhood demographics well enough to know it wasn’t going to be a bar so I stopped to take a closer look. Could my eyes be deceiving me? Will there be a microbrewery a block from my house? Apparently Coastline Brewing was going to become my neighbor.
As soon as we got home from the walk I started doing some research and was soon in contact with the new microbrewery owners Tom Dunbabin and Will Daines. We set up a meeting for the upcoming week where we discovered we had met a couple weeks earlier at The Brewery at Abigaile. After some beer and discussion I offered to come speak at the CUP hearing they had scheduled in a couple weeks. The Redondo Beach Planning Commission approved the Conditional Use Permit and almost immediately Dunbabin and Daines started tearing apart their unit in preparation of building a production brewery and tasting room.
Within a couple months a decision was made to change the name to King Harbor Brewing Company (KHBC) because there is a winery up north in Santa Rosa, Coastline Cellars, and they did not want their beer brand confused with Coastline Cellar’s wine brand. While building King Harbor Brewing, Dunbabin and Daines also sought out a head brewer and came up with Phil McDaniel, a former brewer at Stone Brewing Company and Lead Brewer at The Bruery. It was all a matter of time; which was extended a little due to the government shutdown which caused all kinds of delays in the brewing world. Anyway, as you can tell by the photos, eventually all the permits were approved, i’s were dotted and t’s were crossed and KHBC was brewing. King Harbor Brewing now has a couple of soft opens under their belt, kegs distributed all over the South Bay and they are ready to have their Grand Opening! Continue reading
Saturday afternoon, the Saint Rocke concert club in Hermosa Beach held their 2nd Annual Froth Awards: Craft Beer Experience and Gastropub Invitational featuring five of the South Bay’s finest craft breweries paired with dishes provided by four South Bay gastropubs. In addition to the beer and food pairings, there was live music provided by the Aaron White Band, the Get Down Boys and Johnny Jump Up. There were also raffles with prizes such as growlers, hats and other swag donated by the participating breweries and gastropubs and free pizza provided by Fresh Brothers Pizza. They even had a “Best Beard” contest which was won by yours truly.
It was a fun day of music, beer and food that consisted of five courses. The first course featured Strand Brewing Company’s White Sand Double IPA with marinated short rib tacos from The Rockefeller gastropub. This was followed by El Segundo Brewing Company’s White Dog IPA paired with tri-tip sliders from California Rancher. The third course featured The Dudes’ Brewing Company and their Kolschtal Eddy which was paired with a Tuscan white braised pork shoulder provided by Bouzy Gastropub. Our fourth pairing was The Brewery at Abigaile’s 002 2nd Anniversary Double IPA with waffles and chicken provided by R10 Social House. The final course introduced everyone to the two newest participants, King Harbor Brewing Company with The Quest (Rakau) Pale Ale and Saint Rocke’s own Kitchen 142.
It really was a lot of fun with great beer, good food and fun people. If there is a third annual Froth Awards you can be sure I will be there; you should too. Cheers! Continue reading
Those of you that attended last year’s event will recall that it was originally set up as a competition with each brewery pairing one of their beers with a dish prepared by a local gastropub. This year it will be a little different in that the “competition” has been eliminated and instead it will be a day of craft beers and tasty locally prepared foods. As they put it, this year it will be “less of a competition and more of a party.” I don’t know; last year was a pretty great party. Just like last year, there will be live Bluegrass and Irish music all day as well as various raffles and contests going on.
The 2nd Annual Froth Awards: Beer Experience and Gastropub Invitational begins at 2:00 PM Saturday, March 15, 2014. The doors open at 1:00 PM. Tickets are $25 each, but because you read CraftBeerGuy.com you are entitled to a 20% discount; that means you get in for $20 each if you purchase your ticket ahead of time online. After you choose the number of tickets you want, click Checkout; on the top of the next page is a spot for you to put in your Promo Code: BADDOG (all caps) and your discount will be applied. Admission includes entry into the event; 8 oz tasters from all participants, raffle tickets to win valuable prizes and a commemorative glass. Saint Rocke is located at 142 Pacific Coast Highway in Hermosa Beach. I hope to see you there; I had a great time last year. Cheers! Continue reading
Thursday evening, February 13, Redondo Beach’s first production brewery, King Harbor Brewing Company (KHBC), opened their doors to host the February 2014 gathering of the South Bay’s business networking group, Business & Beer. While King Harbor Brewing Company is not yet officially opened, the Business & Beer event served as the first of several soft opens before King Harbor has their grand opening which will likely be held towards the middle or end of March.
Due to issues with Southern California Edison, there was not enough power coming into KHBC’s brew house they have been unable to begin brewing to their full potential, but power has been completed and King Harbor’s brewer Philip McDaniel plans to begin the full brewing process this coming Wednesday. In the meantime, he has been brewing pilot brews and was able to provide four offerings at Business & Beer. The brews available included their flagship beers, The Quest and Abel Brown along with two variations; The Pineapple Quest, The Quest soaked with fresh pineapple and Vanilla Abel, which is the Abel Brown after sitting on whole vanilla beans for a few days.
Since King Harbor has been providing us with spent grain from their brewing, Tanya baked up a storm using their grains and flour she made from the grain. She brought in three kinds of cookies, two different breads and some crackers. She also brought in six mustards she made using their California Saison and Abel Brown. I think it is safe to say that the beers and foods made from said beers were a big hit. Continue reading
The South Bay’s favorite business networking group, Business & Beer, began 2014 with a great turnout at The Brewery at Abigaile, the beach cities sole brewpub; located in Hermosa Beach. The Business & Beer networking group has been meeting for about 18 months at the various craft breweries, brewpubs and gastropubs in the South Bay. For the first year they met weekly, but in July 2013 it was decided to change the format to once a month; the second Thursday of the month. To do this, gastropubs were dropped from the rotation with the decision being to meet where the beer is brewed. Prior to the change, the attendance levels had started to drop off; it seems that since Business & Beer went to meeting once a month the attendance levels have increased each month. These photos are from the January 2014 gathering of Business & Beer which was held January 9 and I would venture to say that last night’s gathering was double the attendance that we have seen at prior Abigaile gatherings. There was a nice mix of long time attendees with a few people that have only attended a few times and we had several first time visitors. It looks like 2014 is going to be a great year for business and beer.
The next two months are going to be special for Business & Beer by welcoming the two newest craft beer tasting rooms to the South Bay. February 13, Business & Beer’s gathering will also serve as the soft open for King Harbor Brewing Company, located in Redondo Beach. The March 13 gathering will be at Torrance’s newest craft brewery, Absolution Brewing Company. Judging by the turnout last night these will be very well-attended events so if you enjoy networking and craft beer I recommend you check out Business & Beer. You can be kept in the loop for upcoming events by “Liking” Business & Beer on Facebook or by signing up to the Business & Beer mailing list. You will not regret it; it is a good group of people that do want to meet you and possibly do business with you or at least refer future business to you. Cheers! Continue reading
Back in June I became familiar with the LA Beer Bloggers, a group of altruistic craft beer bloggers living or working in or around the City of Los Angeles; working together to foster craft beer culture. As King Harbor Brewing Company’s Head Brewer Philip McDaniel put it, these are the people that keep the local craft beer breweries in business and help make them successful. After all, there is only so much one can hope to accomplish with paid advertising, especially for start-ups that do not really have a large advertising budget. Nothing beats word of mouth when it comes to referrals and the LA Beer Bloggers do just that via their blogs and other forms of social media.
Sunday evening, December 8, the LA Beer Bloggers held their first annual Holiday Potluck at Sunset Beer Company, a bottle shop and tasting room located in Los Angeles. We had about 20 people show up with munchies ranging from bread sticks to shrimp and hummus to salads. As it is the Christmas season, there were quite a few sweets involved but when mixed with craft beer it made for a pretty healthy meal. For our part, Tanya made breadsticks, pretzel rolls and mustards using spent grains and beers donated by Redondo Beach’s first production craft brewery, King Harbor Brewing Company (KHBC). For dessert she made Russian Tea Cakes / Mexican Wedding Cakes from flour she produced using brown ale malted grains also donated by KHBC along with various dipping sauces; some of which were flavored with KHBC’s Brown Ale. Judging by the responses to these treats, I suspect all the LA Beer Bloggers will be heading to Redondo Beach when King Harbor opens their doors early next year.
It was a good time of networking and enjoying beer and food; as you can see from the photos, everyone seemed to be having a good time. Thank you to the LA Beer Bloggers for the invitation and to Sunset Beer Company for hosting the event. Special thanks to those that contributed to the meal with food or special beers that were brought from home or purchased in the bottle shop; and extra special thanks to King Harbor Brewing Company for donating the main ingredients to our contributions.
Sunset Beer Company is located at 1498 Sunset Blvd in Los Angeles. King Harbor Brewing will be at 2907 W. 182nd Street in Redondo Beach. Happy Holidays and cheers! Continue reading
Sunday, day 11 of LA Beer Week (LABW5) and congratulations to those of you that survived. While I did not attend the event at Union Station a week ago, I cannot imagine trying to do it at the end of an 11 day week. I started the day by heading over to King Harbor Brewing Company where I got the opportunity to meet their head brewer as he christened the location by brewing a small batch saison. A little later in the day I was informed that Smog City Brewing was hosting a panel, School of BJ’s Brewer Panel Discussion featuring Jonathan Porter of Smog City, Tyler King of The Bruery, David Griffiths of Ladyface Alehouse & Brasserie, Evan Price of Noble Ale Works and Owen Williams of Ritual Brewing Company. It turns out that the common denominator between the five of them is that they all brewed at BJ’s; who would have guessed? We decided to begin by going to Monkish Brewing to try their LABW5 entry, End of Summer, a Belgian Honey Ale. We then headed around the corner to Smog City.
As it turned out the event was not really supposed to be public as Beer Paper LA was using the opportunity to interview the brewers for an upcoming issue and they were concerned I would scoop them; so I bailed. You should be able to read about it and see any photos in their upcoming issue.
It really was a fun week and I had a great time. I would like to extend special thanks to The Brewery at Abigaile, Naja’s Place, Rock & Brews PCH, Monkish Brewing Company, Strand Brewing Company, San Pedro Brewing Company, Alpine Village and El Segundo Brewing Company for their hospitality and generosity over the past week. It was truly appreciated. Cheers! Continue reading