On Saturday afternoon, about 3,000 people gathered at Lighthouse Park in Long Beach to sample beers brewed by more than 50 different breweries while enjoying the great weather, live music and foods provided by local restaurants Stonefire Grill, Slater’s 50/50 and Bubba Gump Shrimp Company and several food trucks. A portion of the proceeds from this year’s Taste of Brews went to the Long Beach Marine Institute and the 1st Marine Division out of Camp Pendleton.
This was my second time attending Taste of Brews and it was definitely larger than last year’s event with probably 25% more breweries and 50% more attendees. While there more people, there were more breweries with several last minute additions. The lines for some breweries were noticeably longer for some than others, but no one seemed to mind and the beer poured quickly. In fact, a few breweries tapped out within a couple hours; presumably because more tickets were sold than anticipated. Some of the breweries, like Firestone Walker, were well prepared with plenty of brews but as the event drew to a close, even they had poured the last of their brews before the event officially ended. Continue reading
These photos are from Saturday, June 7. Since it seems like I have not been around much lately I decided to make visits to Smog City Brewing Company, Monkish Brewing Company and King Harbor Brewing Company.
On Saturday, Smog City Brewing held their first bottle release, offering up their GABF award winning Coffee Porter and The Nothing, a double chocolate imperial stout for their first two releases. As could be expected, there were lines formed outside both entrances when Smog City opened their doors Saturday morning. I waited a couple hours to head over there so while there were no real lines left for bottle purchases the tasting room was packed as people took advantage of the wide selection of new brews that were available including the Vanilla Nothing, the Oaked Nothing, Smog City Witty and their Lavender Pils. It reminded me of when Smog City first opened in Torrance and every weekend there would be something new.
We then went around the corner to Monkish Brewing Company to try out their two newest beers, the Feminista and St. Simcoe. The Feminista is the Feminist with cucumber and it was served on cask. I was pretty surprised at how different the Feminista was from the Feminist; the cucumber came through quite well. The St. Simcoe is a pale ale and makes a lovely addition to their Galaxy Defender and Altar Boy pale ales. They may never brew an IPA but with beers like these there really is no need. Continue reading
Wednesday was day three of the 9th Annual American Craft Beer Week and in keeping with my theme of visiting our local production breweries, brewpubs and gastropubs I decided that I would visit the two new tasting rooms that were not even in their construction phase last year at this time. Our first stop was at Absolution Brewing Company in Torrance.
Absolution Brewing opened their doors unofficially on March 1 with the official ribbon cutting taking place on April 25. Unlike most of the production breweries around here, Absolution brews in a more European style which really translates to lower carbonation. Some people that are only accustomed to “west coast” styles of craft beer like to suggest that the beer may be flat. If they ventured out of their comfort zone they would realize this is not the case at all. I have to think that Absolution Brewing has become very welcome as they are the one tasting room I visit that seems to constantly have a large number of customers. In the short time I was there they must have sold five kegs to go! I know some people complain that Absolution ran out of too many from their selection of 10 brews on the unofficial open but they do not realize that this was due primarily to Daily Breeze writer Nick Green being unable to stick to the facts and writing an article that appeared on the front page of the Breeze announcing that Absolution was opening two hours earlier than what it should have been. This resulted in a long line of people at the Absolution doors two and a half hours early. Naturally, they opened the doors and many brews were tapped out within minutes of when the actual opening time was supposed to be. I don’t know that the Absolution team realized just how popular their beers were going to be.
For American Craft Beer Week Absolution will begin phase two of their MUG Club, R U Feelin’ Wicked division. I joined the initial Founders division of the MUG Club and I have spoken with several other MUG Club members and I have yet to meet anyone that regretted their decision. The merchandise received, including t-shirts and a custom growler, combined with discounts and special events makes this a steal. You should stop by and sign up before they all sell out as there is a limit of 125 memberships. Absolution Brewing Company is located at 2878 Columbia Street in Torrance. Continue reading
On Saturday afternoon, members of The Bruery’s Reserve and Hoarders Society and their guests gathered at The Phoenix Club in Anaheim to join The Bruery and many of the best local craft breweries to celebrate The Bruery’s Sucréversary, or 6th Anniversary. The proceeds from the event were to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Ana.
Since this was a private event I was a little surprised at how many attendees there were; this beer festival easily rivaled any of the local beer festivals I have attended in recent memory both in the number of people attending and the breweries represented. I got there a little early and even though they were not yet pouring beers, there were four very long lines as The Bruery had scattered three booths and a beer truck around the venue and their fans took advantage of the beer map to get in line for their favorite Bruery offering. To say there was a lot to choose from would be a definite understatement as The Bruery brought such ales as their Griffon Bruxellois, Oui Oui, Premiere, Batch #50, Confession, Sucré – Tawny Port, Grey Monday, Hottenroth, ORB, Grey Monday and many others. They even brought out some special beers such as Three Floyd’s 2013 Dark Lord.
Joining in the celebration were guest breweries Almanac Beer Company, Ballast Point, Beachwood Brewing, Bootleggers, Bottle Logic, Cismontane, Eagle Rock, Firestone Walker, Golden Road, Hangar 24, Kern River Brewing, King Harbor, Lost Abbey, Modern Times, Monkish, Noble Ale Works, Pizza Port – San Clemente, Smog City, Societe, St. Archer, Stone Brewing Co., TAPS, The Rare Barrel, Tustin Brewing and Valiant Brewing. The price of admission included a lunch catered by Beachwood BBQ; Chunk-n-Chip Cookies provided dessert. Continue reading
These photos were taken Friday evening when Redondo Beach’s first production brewery, King Harbor Brewing Company, had a tap takeover at Cork’er, a new Irish pub/cafe in Redondo Beach. King Harbor brought out two versions of The Quest Pale Ale, Rakau and El Dorado; and their Abel Brown and Vanilla Abel brown ales to accompany the various dishes available at Cork’er. In addition to the good beer and food, King Harbor Brewing provided glassware to the first group of attendees and raffled off a King Harbor Brewing growler (with a free fill) as well as one of their hats. Cork’er raffled off tickets to an upcoming Dodgers vs. Giants game and $50 in cash.
Cork’er is owned by Larry Killian, for former owner of Killian’s in Torrance. The one thing that really sets Cork’er apart from other local businesses is that they really go to the limit when it comes to supporting other local businesses. The beer is almost all from our local craft brewers, their furniture was bought from a local furniture store just down the street from their location, the art on the walls is from local artists and Larry spends a lot of time at local farmers markets purchasing ingredients for the meals they prepare at Cork’er. There is no doubt that Cork’er is a local business that supports other local businesses. If you want to support their business, Cork’er is located at 2810 Artesia Boulevard in Redondo Beach and is open seven days a week from 7:00 AM until 10:00 PM. Continue reading
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