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King Harbor Brewing Company: On the Waterfront

A few months ago, King Harbor Brewing Company co-owner Tom Dunbabin mentioned to me that they might be opening a satellite tasting room on the Redondo Beach Pier. Admittedly, I kind of filed it in the back of my mind as something that might happen in the future, but not something that would be happening in the immediate future. Last night, after our Business & Beer gathering at The Brewery at Abigaile I sent a message to Dunbabin to see if King Harbor Brewing would be interested in hosting the June meeting of Business & Beer. His response was immediate and with a twist I was not expecting, “Yes. Let’s do it at the new tasting room at the Redondo pier.”

Having watched the build-outs of numerous tasting rooms over the last few years, my immediate thought was; “Really? Next month?” I had serious doubts that this could be done that quickly so I headed over today to check it out. I was pleasantly surprised.

Apparently, the City of Redondo Beach and King Harbor Brewing Company has been working on this deal since September of last year. Redondo Beach owns the property and they approached King Harbor Brewing with the idea of them opening a satellite tasting room on the International Boardwalk. The location needed a lot of work but the city was eager to get King Harbor in there and within a few months it had been cleaned up enough for King Harbor Brewing to enter a three year lease with them.

They only started working on it Wednesday, but they have the cold box in and the bar top is close to being completed. They plan to have about 12 seats at the bar with another 12 at tables with some standing room along the side. When all is said and done there should be room for about 30 people to enjoy their brews at the new location. Continue reading

Naja’s Place 7th Annual IPA Festival Begins

These photos are from opening day of the week-long 7th Annual IPA Festival which is being held at Naja’s Place in Redondo Beach. They are holding it a little earlier this year, which may be because they decided to coincide it with American Craft Beer Week; I will try to find out. It is safe to say that this event has become very popular and brought in people from at least as far as San Diego. Naja’s opened at 2:00 PM and by 4:00 I heard people asking, “Don’t these people have jobs?” The selection of IPAs ran the gamut from sessions to barrel-aged and there were plenty for a hophead like me to try that I only heard of; and some that I had not. It was a nice opening to what promises to be a week of great, hard to find IPAs.

The 7th Annual IPA Festival runs through Tuesday, May 19th. Today featured local IPAs from places like Strand Brewing, El Segundo Brewing, Smog City, Monkish, King Harbor, Phantom Carriage, Three Weavers and about 60 other taps from all over. Tomorrow, Thursday, will be their Ballast Point day featuring five different types of Sculpin; Saturday will be their Pizza Port day, always a crowd favorite, featuring at least 13 of their brews. They open at 2:00 PM on weekdays and noon on weekends.

If you like IPAs, and who doesn’t, be sure to head over to Naja’s Place between now and May 19th; you will be glad you did. Naja’s Place is located at 154 International Boardwalk in Redondo Beach. Cheers. Continue reading

LA Local Craft Beer & Artisanal Food Fest Photos

These photos are from the inaugural L.A. Local Craft Beer & Artisanal Food Fest that was held Saturday afternoon at the Alpine Village Restaurant in Alpine Village located in Torrance. As hinted by the name, this event featured craft beer brewed in Los Angeles County and artisanal food vendors from the Los Angeles area. I would venture to say that there were close to 500 attendees which far exceeded the expectations of Alpine Village, but for the most part things went smoothly, all things considered.

The last update that I had received suggested that there would be 31 craft breweries represented but by the time the map/program was printed only 29 were listed and not all of them were available. To say that there was some confusion would be putting it mildly. I am not going to pretend to know what arrangements were made, but it was my understanding that Alpine Village had purchased the beers rather than relying on donations from the breweries. The end result was that some of the breweries sent representatives to be on-hand to pour and some did not. Some of the beers did not even make it onto the floor until the event was half over. The breweries that I saw, or at least heard from reputable sources were there, included California 101 Cider House, Absolution Brewing, Eagle Rock Brewing, Strand Brewing, Phantom Carriage, Santa Monica Brew Works, Timeless Pints, Smog City, Wolf Creek, Hand-Brewed, Enegren, Bravery Brewing, Boomtown Brewing, Three Weavers, Solarc Brewing, Cosmic Ales, The Dudes’, King Harbor Brewing, Golden Road, Monkish, Ohana, San Pedro Brewing Company and Congregation Ale House. I am not saying others were not there, I just never spotted them. On a personal level, it was good to see Enegren Brewing represented as I have not visited them in well over two years and it was nice to finally meet the guys from Hand-Brewed and having the opportunity to try one of their brews (Deez Nuts Brown Ale). Continue reading

Business & Beer returns to The Dudes’ Brewing Company

On Thursday evening the Business & Beer networking group held their April gathering at The Dudes’ Brewing Company tasting room in Torrance. This was Business & Beer’s first return to The Dudes’ since their meeting last August and quite a lot has happened with The Dudes’ in the past eight months. They have gone through a couple assistant brewers, expanded distribution and had to deal with a grain mill that broke down.

I had a brief conversation with head brewer Jeff Parker and he informed me that their issues with equipment have been resolved and that we should begin seeing more experimental brews coming from their pilot system. One example would be their OrganiWeisse which was made available on Thursday evening.

To be honest, the turnout for Business & Beer was not very good which I am not sure the cause; families are gone for Spring Break and tax season is ending. As Parker mentioned; “You can’t pack the house every time.” Continue reading

Bourbon O.E. & Goldie Bottle Release at Smog City Brewing

These photos are from Smog City Brewing Company’s Bourbon O.E. Barleywine and Goldie Golden Ale bottle release that was held Saturday afternoon at the Smog City tasting room. I got a somewhat late start, not arriving until a couple hours after they opened, but photos I saw on my Facebook feed indicated that there was a line of Smog City fans waiting outside when they opened. By the time I got there the tasting room was still pretty crowded but the lines moved quickly for those that came for bottles to go, and for those that wanted to try the new releases.

To be honest, my main concern with my late arrival was that the bottles might be sold out; luckily, they bottled about 500 more of each than the last time and there were still bottles of both left when I left. Since Smog City is closed today, Easter Sunday, there might be some bottles available if you show up when they open their doors next Wednesday; I highly doubt they will last much longer than that.

If you do show up at Smog and they are out of bottles, do not despair as there is plenty on tap. They are not selling growlers but a bourbon barrel-aged flight would be highly recommended. They brought out last year’s Goldie to compare to the newest release and the difference is pretty noticeable right from the start with the nose revealing that the bourbon is going to be pretty forward. I believe Belgian Bourbon Candy was the phrase I heard most often. Continue reading

Strand Brewing Company to Relocate: CUP Approved

2201 Dominguez

Future home of Strand Brewing Company

On Wednesday evening, Strand Brewing Company owners Joel Elliott and Rich Marcello appeared before the Torrance Planning Commission to request that their Conditional Use Permit, CUP15-00004 be approved. The gist of the request is that Strand Brewing Company wants to move to a bigger facility, be open longer and to be able to host special or private events on the days that they are not normally open. They also asked for the ability to bring in food trucks that comply with Torrance’s rules and have all the required permits.

Joel Elliott presented the request to the Planning Commission and addressed an email correspondence from one Torrance citizen that was very animate that she was against the idea of a “bar” moving into the neighborhood with its noisy drunks wandering into people’s homes by mistake. He agreed that if this was the case he would not want it either; but anyone that goes to Strand Brewing Company or any local tasting room, knows this is not the case. Fortunately, there were six letters in favor of approval from neighboring businesses, customers, a charitable organization and a mix of all of the above. In addition, there must have been 10-15 supporters in the audience, four of us who spoke in favor of approval including Monkish Brewery owner, Henry Nguyen. Smog City Brewing owner Porter was in the audience in support of Elliott and Marcello’s request.

After I gave my prepared speech, Planning Commission Chair Steven Polcari mentioned that three or four had been sitting on the commission when Strand Brewing first applied almost six years ago. It was Commissioner Steve Skoll that asked the question everyone in the room wanted to know; “When are you opening?” Elliott said that he hoped for the end of May 2015, to which Skoll said he would tell everyone June. Elliott smiled and thanked him. The Conditional Use Permit was approved unanimously. Continue reading

Craft Beer in Tempe and Scottsdale, Arizona

For the past 12 years, at the end of March or beginning of April I have gone to Tempe to photograph an industry trade show. Last year I spent some time visiting Sun Up Brewing, Arizona Wilderness Brewing and The Perch Pub & Brewery. When I left LA I had full intentions of re-visiting Arizona Wilderness because I know a lot has happened in the past year; and I wanted to stop by The Perch because last year they had not begun brewing yet and I know they are now. But plans, like rules are frequently broken. By the time we arrived in Tempe the traffic in the area was so bad that I just did not have the willpower to head out to Gilbert or Chandler so I decided to visit breweries that I had not yet visited.

We started off at Four Peaks Brewing Company, a massive brewpub that opened in April of 1997. It is my understanding that they have three locations now; the brewpub in Tempe, another location in Tempe that brews for distribution only and a pub in Scottsdale. I would guess that their most well-known brew must be Kilt Lifter as it is found in almost every venue I visited in the area. The parking is pretty much non-existent but that did not keep them from being packed by 5:00 PM on a Wednesday; I suppose their proximity to ASU has something to do with that.

We split a flight which consisted of their Sunbru Kölsch, Kilt Lifter, Oatmeal Stout, 8th Street Pale Ale, Raj IPA, Hop Knot IPA, their Hefeweizen and Peach Ale; they gave me a taster of their Short Hop ISA which is their session IPA. Of the batch, Hop Knot was definitely my favorite. We also had a burger and fries which were okay, but the people sitting next to us had some very nice looking plates; since they were regulars I guess they knew the best meals to order.

Four Peaks Brewing Company is located at 1340 E 8th Street in Tempe and is open seven days a week; Sunday from 10:00 AM until 1:00 AM and Monday through Saturday 11:00 AM until 1:00 AM. Continue reading

Absolution Brewing Company Celebrates One Year

These photos are from Absolution Brewing Company’s one year anniversary party that was held at their tasting room this past Saturday. While Absolution may have gotten off to a shaky start with their Grand Opening that found several brews tapping out before the day was over, I do not think anyone that has watched their progress over the past year can deny that Absolution Brewing has weathered the storm and have established themselves as a brewery that will be here for the long run.

When Absolution Brewing first opened the initial goal was to gain acceptance with the style of beers they brewed. Using “Old World styles and New World ingredients” their beers are not your typical “west coast” style; for example, you would never confuse any of their IPAs with any of the others brewed around here. Variety is what prevents over-saturation, so their style was welcomed by me and obviously many others as their tasting room always seems to have a nice group sampling their beers.

In November their original head brewer, Wes McCann, moved back east as his wife was transferred; so Absolution was forced to find a replacement which they did by bringing in Bart Bullington. The change in style and recipes was noticed almost immediately; Bullington’s tweaks to McCann’s recipes seemed to be just what Absolution needed to satisfy the palates of South Bay beer drinkers. Continue reading

Day One Hammerland at El Segundo Brewing Company

In early February, El Segundo Brewing Company’s Hammerland DIPA was chosen as best in show at the 15th annual Double IPA Festival at the Bistro in Hayward, California. El Segundo Brewing Company had already planned on bottling Hammerland but with the awarding of their first ever medal they decided to turn the bottle release into a party.

They opened early Friday for those that had the day off and the tasting room began filling up as soon as the doors opened. They had a big party scheduled for Friday evening, which was undoubtedly a great time but I already had other plans so I headed down there early.

There is still plenty of Hammerland DIPA available, so head on down to El Segundo Brewing Company this weekend to try some; it is delicious. Congratulations to the entire crew at El Segundo Brewing. Cheers! Continue reading

Pi Day in the South Bay & Monkish Brewing’s 3rd Anniversary

Once a century Pi Day aligns perfectly with the stars with its 3.1415926; if you missed the events commemorating it in 1915 and you missed it yesterday you probably blew it unless medical technology steps it up a little. There were several special events going on at local microbreweries in the South Bay, including Monkish Brewing Company’s 3rd Anniversary, Smog City Brewing’s Pi Beer Day and King Harbor Brewing’s Pie Day.

We started the day off at Monkish Brewing to help them celebrate their third anniversary. While Monkish is not big on throwing “parties” they were joined by hundreds of their fans that stopped by to sample some of the 16 Belgian-styled ales flowing from the Monkish taps. It seems hard to believe that it has been three years already; I recall with detail our first visit to Monkish when they had four options available; Oblate, Anomaly, Feminist and Red Table. Three years later they have 16 taps and nine bottled brews available. Owner/brewer Henry Nguyen has really stepped up his game with the addition of some delicious single-hop Belgian-style pale ales and a lot of experimenting with brett and bottle conditioning. I can honestly say that I like Monkish a lot more now than I did three years ago and I look forward to the changes that we can expect to see in the upcoming year. Congratulations again to Henry and Adriana. Continue reading

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