These photos are from the Taste of Brews’ Second Annual Twilight Tasting that was held at Lyon Air Museum on Saturday evening. I have to start off by saying that this was one of the coolest, most photogenic locations for a beer festival that I can remember attending. As we walked in the door I told Tanya, “I will have to try to find some time to have a beer while I am here.”
While Lyon Air Museum was billed as a World War II museum, the first vehicle we were greeted by was a 1922 Ford Model T Roadster and it just got better from there. A beautiful 1931 Buick and the 1930 Cadillac V-16 Roadster were among my favorite cars; but there were military vehicles of all types and beautiful motorcycles. When you added in the aircraft it was pretty difficult to concentrate on the beer. But to be honest, I am not sure that craft beer was the number one thought of the attendees at this fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish Orange County/Inland Empire, The Little Red Dog out of Tustin and Ocean Education Outreach out of Newport Beach. I think it was one of those fundraisers that was priced so that it was more about the charity than the buzz. I don’t know, it just seemed a little classier than the standard local beer festival.
They did have some good food provided by Stonefire Grill, Rubio’s and Sol Agave; and some pretty tasty desserts from Nothing Bundt Cakes and Paradise Bakery to go with the various wines I saw being poured, so maybe that had something to do with it. So while I may have stayed for the cool museum pieces, I came for the beer. Continue reading
Breweries from Orange County, Los Angeles County, San Diego County and the Inland Empire will be featured as well as a few from Northern California, Vermont, Illinois and even Iceland. Local breweries scheduled to be on-hand include Beach City Brewery, Four Sons Brewing, Barley Forge, Bootlegger’s, Phantom Ales, Left Coast, Coronado, Karl Strauss, Stone Brewing, Mission Brewery, Hangar 24 and Absolution Brewing. Other, not so local breweries featured in the lineup include Firestone Walker, Drake’s, Einstok, Lagunitas, Sierra Nevada and Goose Island. The growing hard cider community will be represented by Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider and Woodchuck Cider. Continue reading
As 2014 winds down I faced the question posed to me by a few people; “Will Craft Beer Guy be writing an article about the year?” Initially I thought I would do a Top 10 list and just discuss the Top 10 breweries and brewpubs in the South Bay. I figured it would be easy because there were only 10 craft brewers here, but in the last month so many new locations have opened that we now have 12 if you count Phantom Carriage that has not “officially” opened yet. The South Bay now has the following breweries and brewpubs in its confines; in order of seniority (I think) they are: Red Car Brewery, San Pedro Brewing Company, Strand Brewing Company, El Segundo Brewing Company, Monkish Brewing Company, The Brewery at Abigaile, Smog City Brewing, The Dudes’ Brewing Company, Absolution Brewing Company, King Harbor Brewing Company, Three Weavers Brewing and Phantom Carriage. 2015 should bring us a few more including Hop Saint, Brouwerij West and Port Town Brewing; and those are just the ones that come to mind. There will also be some moves and expansions among those listed above. With that I now present you The 2014 Craft Beer Guy Year in Review.
As I look through my articles from January I see that it was a pretty mellow month or the calm before the storm if you prefer. I would have to say my personal highlight of the month was a Sunday afternoon that we spent visiting several of the Orange County craft brewery tasting rooms and brewpubs. The day included stops at Bootlegger’s Brewery, Taps Fish House & Brewery, Noble Ale Works, Tustin Brewing Company and Brewbakers. Each of these stops were first time visits and I would not have a problem recommending any of them. The thing is, in the past year Orange County has opened so many new tasting rooms and brewpubs that it is getting tough to try and keep up with them all; but I will try. Continue reading
When Alpine Village held their first Alpine Kraft Bierfest in the big tent back in 2012 they had almost as many beers as they did attendees. I suspect it had something to do with the timing in that it was held the week before Oktoberfest, so some people may have just thought the ads were for Oktoberfest rather than the American craft beer event it was intended to be.
In 2013, the 2nd Annual Alpine Kraft Bierfest was moved into the Alpine Inn, more breweries and beers were added, a little more advertising was done and the attendance level more than doubled.
For 2014 it was decided that the event would stay inside the Alpine Inn, but the event would be held over the course of two sessions; one on Friday evening with the second session being held Saturday afternoon. To avoid the possibility of the best brews running out during the first session, Alpine’s event coordinators decided to split up the beers by day and put up a schedule of appearance for the brews so people could choose which day would have the most beers that they wanted to try. It seemed to work pretty well. Continue reading
These photos are from the 5th Annual Beer, Art & Music Festival (BAM Fest), a fundraiser which was held Sunday afternoon in Santa Monica at the 18th Street Arts Center. The 18th Street Arts Center is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization and is the beneficiary of all the proceeds from the fundraiser.
When it comes to beer festivals there are a few things I look for; the first of which would be the breweries in attendance followed by the beers that they bring with them. Anyone that knows me personally or has paid attention to my writing knows that when it comes to beer, variety is my thing. My favorite beer is the one I have yet to try. When one goes to as many local craft beer festivals as I have over the past couple of years it can become a challenge to find something new; especially when the event is a fundraiser that has had the beer donated rather than bought and paid for. The 5th Annual BAM Fest had plenty of beers that I had never had the opportunity to try before and I highly doubt I was alone. A couple standouts for me came from two new craft breweries; Three Weavers Brewing Company and Santa Monica Brew Works. Three Weavers just had their grand opening a week ago and I was unable to attend. They brought their Stateside Session IPA which I thought was an outstanding session IPA. Their Midnight Flight Imperial Stout was also quite tasty and really hid the 9.2% ABV well. I look forward to their tasting room opening on November 7; I hear their double IPA is something else.
Santa Monica Brew Works is a production brewery that has been around since 2013 but this was my first experience with any of their brews; it definitely will not be my last. Santa Monica Brew Works is a production brewery with no tasting room but it is my understanding that their beers can be found at most bars, restaurants and hotels in the Santa Monica area. Their PCH (Pale Chocolate Heaven) is mind blowing; it was the first beer of theirs I tried and it only made me want to try everything else they brew. Keep an eye out for it if you are dining in Santa Monica. Continue reading
On Saturday afternoon, Santa Monica was the site of what was billed as the first ever Vegan Oktoberfest. I happen to have several friends in Germany and when I asked them if they had ever heard of such a thing they agreed that this very likely was the first; it was definitely the first any of them had ever heard of.
Since it is October, it is beer festival season which means I usually have a couple events I can photograph on any given weekend and Saturday was no exception as the Taste of Brews Oktoberfest was happening in Corona while Vegan Oktoberfest was happening in Santa Monica. I am not a vegan by any stretch of the imagination but since triple digit temperatures were expected in Corona and it is three times further away I figured the Santa Monica was the logical choice; after all, you could see the ocean from the festival site, it had to be cooler. Well, if it was cooler it was not by much as the air temperature was in the high 90’s and combined with the event being held on an asphalt parking lot the numbers just went higher.
With 22 breweries represented at this inaugural event, there were plenty of options available for those that wanted beer to quench their thirst but it seemed to me that there were almost as many food vendors and the food lines were definitely longer than the beer lines. We tried one of the vegan options, a grilled cheese sandwich that had macaroni added as a filler. It was enough to make me not want to bother with any of the other food options; like I said, I am not a vegan and tofu is not a viable meat substitute in my opinion. Continue reading
As October steadily creeps up on us, so do the additional Oktoberfest celebrations; including Vegan Oktoberfest which will be held at Beach Park 1 in Santa Monica on October 4. While I am not sure I ever heard of a German vegan, this event looks like it should be pretty entertaining.
This inaugural event is a fundraiser for Expand Animal Rights Now, an organization that uses the legal system to help animals. Since this is a vegan event it is a safe bet that you are not going to find any bratwurst or sauerbraten available but there will be plenty of gluten free pretzels and food trucks such as Sage Organic Bistro, The Grilled Cheese Truck, The Green Truck, and Southern Fried Vegan which will be providing traditional Bavarian food such as pretzels, potato pancakes, chicken, sauerkraut and ice cream. There will be vegan sausages available also.
The breweries in attendance that will be pouring their vegan beer include Angel City, Anderson Valley Brewing, Bravery Brewing, Golden Road Brewing, Saint Archer Brewing, Karl Strauss Brewing, Drakes Brewing, Lagunitas, Bison Brewing, Modern Times Beer, Epic Brewing, Oskar Blues Brewery, Ace Premium Hard Cider, Eel River Brewing Company, Coronado Brewing Company, Hangar 24, Venice Duck Brewery, Four Sons Brewing, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Ninkasi Brewing Company, The Dudes’ Brewing Company, Lammsbrau and Einstock. Continue reading
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
This self-guided tour is from the second day of a five day craft beer tour I took in February. Day one consisted of visits to Bakersfield, Fresno and Turlock which provided breweries to stop at along California Highway 99. This segment of the tour can be picked up along Interstate 5 or Highway 99.
The breweries and brewpubs visited on this leg of the trip are Main Street Brewery in Pleasanton, Jack’s Brewing Company in San Ramon, Drake’s Barrel House in San Leandro and Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma. While the first three locations are considered part of San Francisco’s East Bay, Petaluma is definitely not part of the East Bay, but you should not let that get in the way; as you follow the rest of the tour it will make sense. All of the photos and the review of these locations can be found at http://craftbeerguy.com/main-street-jacks-drakes-lagunitas-russian-river/.
These photos were taken Friday night at the 4th Annual Brew at the LA Zoo, a fundraiser for the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association. The craft beer festival featured close to 40 different craft and microbreweries from all over California; including Port Town Brewing, San Pedro Brewing Company, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing, Lagunitas, Firestone Walker and Heretic Brewing Company. While the lines were a little longer that what I normally notice at local craft beer festivals, no one seemed to mind as there were smiles everywhere and lots of laughing.
In addition to the wide variety of craft beers there was live music provided by Indian School, the Spazmatics, and Jug or Nots as well as DJ Johnny Hawkes. Most of the zoo was closed off to the public but the 4,000 plus attendees were able to visit zoo exhibits like Elephants of Asia, Campo Gorilla Reserve, LAIR (Living Amphibians, Invertebrates and Reptiles) and the new Rainforest of the Americas. The gorillas seemed to be the biggest hams while I got the impression the other animals would have been happy to just go to sleep.
Last year there were 23 breweries and this year there were almost 40, so that is a pretty big leap. I was talking to L.A. Zoo Director John Lewis and he informed me that every year this event seems to get bigger and bigger and the LA Zoo really appreciates the support from the community. As this event has sold out for at least the last two years you must keep in the loop of craft beer events if you want an opportunity to go next year. I will try to find out with enough lead time to alert you next year so you can get tickets if you have not had the opportunity to attend a Brew at the LA Zoo yet. Continue reading