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The Road to the Firestone Invitational 2016

If you asked me a week ago if I would be attending the 5th Annual Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival (FWIBF16), I would have hung my head and responded that I would not be there. On Wednesday afternoon a good friend of mine put out an alert on Facebook announcing that he was not going to be able to make it, so he had two tickets available to the first person that contacted him; I was that guy.

We headed out late Friday morning with the intention of visiting as many new [to me] craft breweries as possible. After two hours, in which we covered a mere 70 miles, we stopped for a Starbucks break in Camarillo; it was at this point that I realized that I had left my camera at home! I have to admit, this was a pretty depressing revelation because I knew that traffic was getting worse and it would likely take me five or six hours to get back to Camarillo.

While Tanya was inside the store I recalled the previous evening when I saw Tanya pack her Canon T1i Rebel in case we stopped somewhere that she felt like photographing. I knew she would not have any extraneous equipment, like an external flash or the Sigma lens I like but it would be better than trying to cover the event using my Smartphone … maybe. Continue reading

Smog City & El Segundo Brewing Birthday Bash Photos

These photos were taken Saturday, when Smog City Brewing in Torrance and El Segundo Brewing in El Segundo combined forces to celebrate Smog City’s third and El Segundo’s fifth anniversaries.

I started the morning off at the VIP session of Smog City’s festivities. They had opened up the cellar room that connects directly to the south of the main tasting room where they added two beer stations. One had their sours, like Cuddlebug, Snugglebug and Jason’s now famous Cuddle Paloma; and a citrus station where you would find Bloody Optimist, Mexican Vacation and Kumquat Saison. The main taproom had an additional Brewers Station back in the brewhouse where you would find brews like Bourbon O.E., Infinite Wishes and The Nothing. The Old Fashioned O.E. made its return from last year; I was glad Tanya got one so I could taste it.

The group was limited to 200 people which might sound like a lot for the tasting room, but with the cellar room being opened up, it was quite comfortable and the Smog City staff was keeping up handily with any lines that formed. Continue reading

Photos from the Scholb Premium Ales Ribbon Cutting

These photos were taken at the ribbon cutting for Torrance’s latest craft brewery, Scholb Premium Ales; which was held at the production brewery’s tasting room in Torrance on Friday afternoon. The Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce (TACC) ribbon cutting was attended by friends and family of the Schulz’s and Kolb’s as well as the City of Torrance Mayor Pat Furey and city council members Kurt Weideman, Heidi Ashcraft and Mike Griffiths along with many TACC representatives.

For their grand opening, Scholb introduced a couple new beers to their taps, bringing the number of brews currently available to eight. Today they offered their SoCal Blonde, Roll With It Brown, Cherry Wood Smoked Brown, Columbia Street Pale, Havanuther Session IPA, Dad’s IPA, Not Lyin’ Rye IPA and my current favorite, Bat Ray Red IPA. Continue reading

Scholb Premium Ales – From the Beginning

Torrance has a new tasting room to visit; production brewery Scholb Premium Ales has begun their soft open. A week ago they opened for a few hours on Sunday and this past weekend they were open on Saturday and Sunday. Beginning this next weekend they will add Fridays; on April 7 they will begin normal tasting room hours, Thursday and Friday 4:00-9:00 PM, Saturday 1:00-9:00 PM and Sunday 12:00-6:00 PM.

I stopped by Saturday afternoon after finishing the craft beer panel at the Torrance library primarily because it was virtually next door to the Torrance Civic Center library; they are a couple hundred yards west of Absolution Brewing, in the same business park. In the short time we were there I noticed a nice group of people coming and going; it was obvious that people were taking advantage of the fact that the two tasting are so very close to each other.

Scholb had four of their brews available when I was there Saturday; SoCal Blonde, Roll With it Brown, Havanuther Session IPA and my favorite, Bat Ray Red IPA. By next weekend they should have at least five beers on tap at which time they will begin serving flights. Continue reading

The Dudes’ Bring Back Business n Beer

On Thursday evening the Business & Beer networking group returned to The Dudes’ Brewing Company’s tasting room in Torrance. To be honest, the turnout was low but that did not stop those that did come out from enjoying some delicious beer and doing some business together. We also had the pleasure of having Master Brewer Alex Rabe join the group for a while; as he starts work at 4:00 AM we definitely appreciate him taking his time to chat with us.

I have actually had an opportunity to speak with the Head Dude Toby Humes about what has been going on with The Dudes’ and he is pretty enthusiastic about how things are going. They have a scientist on board and combined with the talents of Rabe and a new head brewer they really are turning out a lot of new, tasty brews and maintaining consistency on their flagship beers. You can expect to see lots of rotating handles featuring seasonal brews like their Hugs & Kisses, a fruit stout that tastes like chocolate covered cherries. Their Bohemian Hopsody session IPA is one of the best I have tried and the Groundhog’s Day black session IPA comes across as a big, black IPA. It will be interesting to see what happens there over the next year.

If you live or work in the Los Angeles area and networking is important to you or is part of your job description you should check out BusinessNBeer.com. This is the South Bay’s most fun and relaxed business networking group. They meet on the second Thursday of every month at a different production brewery or brewpub in the South Bay area. With all the new tasting rooms there is a good chance you have not had a chance to visit some of them; this is your chance and you might even do some business. Events are scheduled from 6:00-8:00 PM and you can bring your significant other so there is no need to rush home. There are no rules and no dues; just come have a good time, meet some good people and enjoy a beer or two. You can find the schedule of upcoming events on the front page of BusinessnBeer.com or by Liking them on Facebook. The next gathering will be March 10 at King Harbor Brewing Company.

Welcome to photo sponsor Calibrated Solutions, for your business’ voice, data and IT solutions. Cheers! Continue reading

The Dudes’ & KLOS Bohemian Hopsody Release Party Photos

These photos were taken at The Dudes’ Brewing Company’s release of Bohemian Hopsody that was held at The Dudes’ tasting room on Friday evening. While the release of a session IPA might not usually be very newsworthy, Bohemian Hopsody was done in collaboration with KLOS 95.5 radio, in that it was named the “Official beer of KLOS” so the release definitely became an event. Heidi Hamilton and Frank Kramer of The Heidi and Frank morning show on KLOS were in attendance so The Dudes’ was packed with fans of craft beer and Heidi and Frank.

To me the star of the evening was Alex Rabe, the new Master Brewer at The Dudes’ and his Bohemian Hopsody. I will be honest with you, when I first heard about the beer with its blend of Mosaic, Simcoe and Citra hops I was interested but so many session IPA’s seem to try to make up for the lack of ABV by smacking you in the face with bitterness, I was not really expecting a lot. The reality is that The Dudes’ had a session IPA that did just that.

I was offered a pour from a can before they opened the taps and was immediately blown away. You know I do not rate beers on this site; if you want that follow me on Untapped, but this was outstanding. Bohemian Hopsody may be the best beer to come out of The Dudes'; Rabe has definitely changed the game over there. I tried his Groundhog Day black IPA and was just surprised it was only 5.0 ABV.

Things are definitely changing at The Dudes’ and there are lots of changes coming. I have mentioned before that they keep things close to the vest but I will keep you posted as much as I can. Cheers!

Back to The Dudes’ and KLOS Bohemian Hopsody Release Photos

Back to The Dudes’ and KLOS Bohemian Hopsody Release Photos

Transplants Brewing Grand Opening & a Tour of the Antelope Valley Craft Beer Scene

Back in July I told you that the Antelope Valley, about an hour northeast of Los Angeles, would soon become a craft beer destination; as of Saturday afternoon, I officially proclaim the Antelope Valley a bona fide craft beer destination when Transplants Brewing Company held their Grand Opening and ribbon cutting at their tasting room in Palmdale.

These photos were taken at the four craft breweries that are now open and brewing in the Antelope Valley. They include Transplants Brewing and Lucky Luke Brewing which are across the street from each other in Palmdale; and Bravery Brewing and Kinetic Brewing Company in Lancaster. The accompanying map is set up for doing your own self-guided craft beer tour of the Antelope Valley. Less than 10 miles separate Transplants and Kinetic which are at the far ends of the tour; they may catch up to Torrance at their current rate of expansion and after talking to a couple of the brewery owners, the owners would love it.

I started off at Transplants Brewing Company (Location A on map) for their ribbon cutting. I had visited the facility a couple times since July so I had a general idea of what they had in mind but was blown away by the visuals that immediately pounce on you. The mural is a work in progress but has so much going on; one could spend hours checking out all the intricacies of it. The artist, Brandon “BL” Singleton worked in collaboration with an artist he has worked with before and they do good work together. He worked on the front mural during the grand opening so visitors were able to watch his work progress. Continue reading

Absolution Brewing Begins Expansion

It seems like only yesterday that I was reporting that the City of Torrance had granted production brewery Absolution Brewing Company their Conditional Use Permit. The reality is that it was just two years ago, November 19, 2013 that Absolution appeared before the Planning Commission. In that time they have gotten a new brewer, Bart Bullington; as the initial brewer, Wes McCann went back east to brew when his wife was reassigned in the Navy. They bottled a barrel-aged brew and then began brewing in Denver so they could begin bottling six-packs of their Cardinal Sin red ale and Angel’s Demise IPA. Now they have removed their original brewhouse and have begun some pretty massive expansion at the Torrance tasting room.

Today I was there when they received a new boiler and three new 30 bbl fermenters. When I spoke with Bullington about their immediate plans, they plan on getting five more 30 bbl fermenters but in the meantime they will utilize the 15 and 20 bbl fermenters they started with. A couple more brite tanks are on the way as I write this; I will go back tomorrow and see what else is new.

Absolution has stocked up on a few of their brews, but some options will be removed from the tap list as the expansion proceeds and some tap out. If push comes to shove they can get some of their beer back from the distributor, but they have enough to hold them over for a while. They hope to be brewing again by the end of the year. Continue reading

Business & Beer Visits the New Strand Brewing Company

These photos are from the last Business & Beer gathering which was held Thursday evening at Strand Brewing Company’s new tasting room located on Dominguez Street. There was a pretty nice group including several of our charter members as well as a couple first timers.

Since Strand just opened the new location last month, the production brewery was a little light on choices, but their 24th Street Pale Ale and Atticus IPA have both been brewed on the new system and were tasting delicious. To make up for the lack of their flagship beers, they did have bottles of their Batch 100 Stout aged in Masterson’s Rye whiskey barrels; it was pretty darn good. The Barley Hops Grill was there for people that wanted food to go along with their beer.

Business & Beer is a local business networking group that has been around since July 2012. There are no rules like mandatory meetings or dues, so if networking is an important part of your job description and you enjoy craft beer, Business & Beer is probably just right for you. They meet at a different brewery or brewpub on the second Thursday of every month from 6:00-8:00 PM. You do not need reservations and you can consider this your personal invitation. Continue reading

Photos from Back to the Future Day at Smog City Brewing

As I am sure everyone is aware of by now, October 21, 2015 was “Back to the Future Day.” The reason being, in “Back to the Future Part II,” Marty McFly travels to October 21, 2015 to save his future children. To be honest, I had to Google that part because I never saw any of the Back to the Future trilogy beyond the original; and I only saw that once, 30+ years ago.

While I may not be enough of a geek to know much about Back to the Future beyond Doc Brown, Marty McFly, flux capacitors, hooverboards and DeLorean, the cast and crew of Smog City Brewing are geek central. They used October 21 to not only celebrate Back to the Future but they did it in a big way by releasing their first ever triple IPA, 1.21 Gigawatts Triple IPA.

In addition to 1.21 Gigawatts Triple IPA, they also released their Hooverboards Don’t Run On Wet Hops, a pale ale done with hops they grew outside; and Run For It Marty!, a Belgian Dubbel. For entertainment and something to do while standing in line, they played the movie along the wall. People that came in costume got a discount on their beer and a chance to win prizes.

If I traveled into the future and ended up at Smog City yesterday, I doubt I would have left. Cheers! Continue reading

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