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Beer Camp on Tour – Long Beach Photos

These photos were taken Saturday afternoon at the Beer Camp on Tour craft beer festival held at Queen Mary Events Park and presented by the Los Angeles County Brewers Guild and Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.

This was my first time attending Beer Camp, and while I had heard some negativity about last year’s event, it was pretty evident to me that they had learned from whatever mistakes those were as this was truly an amazing event to close out LA Beer Week. While I did not make the effort to count all the breweries in attendance, there were reportedly at least 100 breweries, pouring well over 200 beers. In addition to the beer, there were a dozen food trucks, live music from The Expanders and Orgone, games, plenty of shade and much cooler temperatures than the 100+ degree weather we experienced at the kickoff festival last week. Continue reading

Three Weavers 2016 Unity Bottle Release Party Photos

These photos were taken Friday at Three Weavers Brewing Company during their bottle release party for the official beer of the 2016 LA Beer Week, Unity. Unity is an “experimental IPA” in that it used a lot of an experimental hop so new it does not have a name yet, other than HBC 522. It got the name Unity because while it was brewed and bottled at Three Weavers, many members of the L.A. County Brewers Guild participated in the brew. While it has been said that too many cooks spoil the broth, that was definitely not the case with Unity. Unity is a delicious resinous American IPA with a slight sweetness in the finish.

Admittedly, I do not get over to Three Weavers as frequently as I might like but it is pretty obvious that they are doing quite well. I arrived early to the event and the tasting room was already packed with more people coming in the entire time I was there. Another sign of success is the growth of the brewery itself which will be seeing a new, larger brewhouse in the upcoming weeks. Congratulations to Lynne Weaver, Alexandra Nowell and the entire staff at Three Weavers.

Speaking of the 8th Annual LA Beer Week, the event runs from June 18-26 and begins with the kickoff festival which will be held Saturday, June 18 at the Los Angeles Center Studios. All 45 brewery members of the Los Angeles County Brewers Guild will be represented along with about 30 other craft breweries from around the state. If you missed last year’s kickoff event you missed a great time and this year’s event promises to be even bigger and better; you do not want to miss it. While this year’s event will be bigger, they will not be selling additional tickets so do yourself a favor and buy your tickets today. You can get more information and purchase your tickets at LABeerWeek.org. Cheers! Continue reading

LA Beer Week 6 Day 5: Tap Takeovers at Simmzy’s & Naja’s Place

Wednesday was day five of the 2014 LA Beer Week and in the South Bay we had a tap takeover by Firestone Walker at Simmzy’s in Manhattan Beach and another by Allagash Brewing Company at Naja’s Place in Redondo Beach. We started off at Simmzy’s where Shane Kral, Regional Sales Manager at Firestone Walker hosted the event. In addition to the Firestone Double DBA, Union Jack, XVII Anniversary, Pivo Pils and Bretta Weiss, he also brought along Jeffers Richardson, the original brewmaster for Firestone Walker and the current Barrelmeister and Director of the Firestone Walker Barrelworks in Buellton. It was interesting to talk with him a little about Firestone Walker and their planned location in Culver City. As of now, look for that location to open sometime in the middle of 2015.

I have only visited Simmzy’s a few times, but I have always been impressed with their tap list and the food is pretty good too. We had a salad that was delicious but I admit I saw a coupe burgers come out of the kitchen that looked really good; I just do not know that my mouth would open wide enough to fit one in. Simmzy’s is located at 229 Manhattan Beach Boulevard in Manhattan Beach.

After leaving Simmzy’s we headed over to Naja’s Place in Redondo Beach where they were holding their Allagash Brewing Company tap takeover. This was a “must attend” event for any Allagash fan as Naja’s brought out several archived Allagash beers and Allagash brought some special beers that have never made it out here before. With 20 different taps pouring Allagash brews there was definitely something for everyone. Continue reading

Finding Craft Beer: The Mega Stores

As much as I like to support local business; sometimes it just makes sense to shop at the major chains. This can hold true whether you are buying tires for your car or craft beer for your fridge. My last article about the local bottle shops was an article that I have been planning on writing for several months, but I wanted to give one of the locations a chance to finish some construction first. Initially I was going to compare two independent bottle shops to Total Wine, after I discovered that Costco had a wide selection of craft beer I decided that I would write two articles; the last one about the local independents, and another about the chains that carried craft beer. This article will visit Total Wine & More in Redondo Beach, Costco in Hawthorne and Whole Foods in El Segundo. You should probably know this going in, not all Costco or Whole Foods are created equal; not all locations are as good as those visited for this article.

Of any place I go to buy craft beer, Total Wine in Redondo Beach gets more of my business than probably everywhere else combined. The reasons for this are many, but the main reason is that it is basically across the street. It takes almost as much time to drive and park as it does to walk there. The convenience factor is strong with this one. The second thing is that they carry about 3,000 different varieties of beer and you can purchase individual bottles/cans so experimenting is a piece of cake. Not only do they carry American craft beers but their International beer selection is better than any place I have ever been. Their pricing is usually very good; I have found locally brewed beers being sold for significantly less that it would cost at the tap room it came from.

As a tip, if you visit Total Wine, feel free to walk into the cooler; there are lots of surprises to be found including Pliny and Blind Pig. Most of the time there will be bottle limits, so bring your friends and neighbors. Continue reading

Bottle Shops: The South Bay’s Hidden Treasures

The president of the newly formed Los Angeles County Brewers Guild, Jeremy Raub, said that the goal of this 6th Annual LA Beer Week is to “showcase the many diverse components” of the local craft beer scene. This includes the brewers, bar owners, distributors and journalists that help get fresh craft beer to you and make you aware of these brews. Since I usually spend my time promoting breweries, craft beer bars, home brew clubs and gastropubs, I thought I would do something a little different and discuss some of the local bottle shops that specialize in good beer; whether local or international as long as it is craft. It is nice to be able to walk into a tasting room whenever you like, but that just is not possible [around here] primarily due to the limited hours that tasting rooms are open. Besides, as much as I enjoy the beers that are brewed around here, when it comes to beer variety is definitely the spice of my life. Today I am going to introduce you to three locations in the South Bay that will likely provide many of the hard to find brews that are available to the person that doesn’t mind searching a little. The three bottle shops are Number 1 Liquor and Adam’s Fine Wines & Liquors in Redondo Beach; and 3Ten Liquor in Torrance.

Number 1 Liquor has been at the same location on the corner of Aviation and Grant Avenue since the 1970’s; although they did not start promoting craft beer until 2012. To be honest, the first time I heard about Number 1 I was told to not tell anyone about it. They were one of the only bottle shops in the South Bay that had a Russian River allocation, making it one of the few places around here that you could buy a bottle of Pliny the Elder, Blind Pig or any other Russian River beers. The downside to it was that you had to know that they had it in stock in order to get some. That was actually my main turn off to the place; it seemed like they had more beer in the back room than they had displayed and you had to know what to ask for otherwise it was a matter of telling them what style or brewery you preferred and they would bring out what they thought was close. It was less than ideal; but there was no doubt that they carried more varieties of hard to find craft beer than any other independent liquor store that I was aware of. Continue reading

LA Beer Blogger Summit #7 at Angel City Brewery

Saturday afternoon I headed out to Los Angeles and visited Angel City Brewery as they were hosting the LA Beer Bloggers Summit #7; a networking event made up of beer bloggers from all over LA and Orange County. This is the third one I have attended and each gathering seems to be larger than the last. This particular event we were treated to a short talk by head brewer Dieter Foerstner who told us a little about his LA Beer Week (LABW5) release, Honey Chrysanthemum Ale, and how he was able to purchase the tea at the Japanese market across the street from the brewery and how he got his honey from a local source that never considered using honey in beer. After Dieter’s talk and some samples of their Scrumdiddlyumptious Brown Ale they had a panel moderated by John Verive of Beer of Tomorrow with panelists Tomm Carroll, LA correspondent for The Celebrator; Sarah Bennett, a writer for LA Weekly and Beer Paper LA; and Whitson Gordon, the Editor in Chief of Lifehacker.com. It was interesting and I know I got some ideas on the direction I should take with this craft beer adventure.

It was my first time visiting Angel City Brewery and I must admit I was not expecting what I discovered. The place is huge and quite photogenic, I could spend some time wandering around and catching interesting sights. My one disappointment was self inflicted; for some reason I did not even ask about flights until after I ordered a pint, so I only got to try two of the eight they had on tap. I guess I have no choice but to go back there and try again. Angel City Brewery is located at 216 South Alameda in Los Angeles. They do not serve food, but they have food trucks that stop by; you might want to look around at one of the nearby restaurants though as they allow you to bring food in and have plenty of tables to enjoy your food and beer at.

On the way home we stopped by to check out the crowd at Smog City Brewing. Cheers! 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

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