I heard there was this drought going on up here; I even saw signs along the highway asking me to “Pray for rain!” I am not sure how long it is going to last but it has been raining non-stop since we got here and the residents up here seem to be enjoying it. It has made for an interesting challenge taking external photos with water coming down at every angle. Anyway, Friday morning was the Pliny the Younger release at Russian River Brewing and because of friends I was able to get in with the first group of Pliny fans and I got my 10 ounces of the 2014 Pliny the Younger. I also got to meet some good people and participate in the atmosphere that only an event like day one of a Pliny release can generate. There was a long line of people that wound around two blocks a couple hours before we could come in. It was cold and wet but people seemed very eager to get their taste. I hope they did.
After I had my beer I went back to get Tanya and we went off exploring the area for breweries we had never heard of. Our first stop was Woodfour Brewing Company, a brewpub in Sebastopol. While it was a little difficult to find, it was worth the wet walk. We had a nice flight that ranged from everything from a Berliner Weisse and Sour Farmhouse Ale to a stout and an Imperial Black Ale. They have only been open six months but had a good selection.
A few hundred feet across the way was a microbrewery tasting room, Warped Brewing Company. Warped Brewing was one of the few tasting rooms we have come across; as most breweries are opening brewpubs, apparently for the tourists . . . or zoning. I guess it depends who you ask. It doesn’t take long to figure out these guys like their video games. As far as the beer, the tasting room has only been open four weeks but owner/brewer Noah has been brewing for a while and owns a local restaurant. They currently offer three quality beers; you should check out their Orbital Outrage if you get the chance. Continue reading
A couple weeks ago I was visiting Smog City Brewing when I got into a conversation with a guy, Drew Murphy, that I learned was in the process of putting together a project, Decoding the Craft, which is essentially going to be a series of video documentaries on the craft beer scene. His plans include visiting various craft breweries and brewpubs around the United States and Europe; as well as filming various craft beer events. The next one that he wanted to cover was the Pliny the Younger release at Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa. He was looking for a backup photographer and it turned out he was somewhat familiar with me and my photography work. One thing led to another and it was decided that I would come up to Santa Rosa for the Pliny release. Over the course of time, issues started to arise and several of the people initially involved backed out. I decided that I wanted to help Drew make this happen so I committed to going up to Santa Rosa, no matter what. On Wednesday I left L.A. and headed up California Highway 99 and found several nice breweries and brewpubs along the way. This morning we started day two of our journey in the rain as we headed towards the coast.
Our first stop was Main Street Brewery, a brewpub in Pleasanton. Main Street Brewery has been open for 18 years, which means that their beer styles are more old school than the typical “West Coast” hoppiness we find so much in Southern California. We enjoyed a salad while there, it was pretty good. While there we asked for some recommendations of other locations we should visit and were directed to The Hop Yard in San Ramon. As it turns out it is a gastropub, and while they had a very nice tap list, this weekend is all about going to the source. We decided to move on and found ourselves at Jack’s Brewing Company, also in San Ramon.
Jack’s has two locations; the sports bar and pub in San Ramon with the actual brewery and tasting room being in Fremont. We had just eaten so we shared a flight of some very well-rounded brews; I may have to consider stopping by their tasting room on the way home. Since it was getting into mid-afternoon and we still had a few hours of travel ahead of us we worked our way towards San Leandro and the famous Drake’s Barrel House. Drake’s Barrel House is the tasting room for Drake’s Brewing and definitely worth the stop. They have lots of their specialty beers that you are not going to find at any bottle shop or gastropub in the South Bay area anyway. It was there that I got my 1,000 badge on Untappd with their Jolly Rodger 2012 (Bourbon Barrel Aged). It was a very good stop. While I was there I happened to run into South Bay local craft beer drinkers James and Lisa; we had seen each other around local breweries, but had never really talked. Craft beer brought us together in a way that would pay off later. Continue reading
Since I was going up to Santa Rosa for a project about the Pliny the Younger release, I decided to leave a little early and see what craft beers I could discover along the way. I could have taken the easy route and gone along the 101 but there are so many quality brewers within the first 200 miles I would never make it on time. Instead, I decided to travel up CA Hwy 99 through Central California. I do not really travel Hwy 99 much so I did not know what to expect. I decided that my first destination would be Lengthwise Brewing, a brewpub in Bakersfield since it is a couple hours out from the beach and some food would be a good thing. We tried a flight and really enjoyed their Harvest Moon Wheat Ale (although not sure why they added the lemon slice) and Kern County Crude Porter. They also brewed root beer which was quite tasty. They gave me a taste of their new Zeus Imperial Ale which was a very smooth Double IPA; I had to get a bottle. We also had a chicken salad that was great. I don’t know the name, but had artichoke hearts with it and was big enough for the two of us. It was a great start for our journey.
A couple hours north we found ourselves at Full Circle Brewing Company, a microbrewery in Fresno right off the 99. Full Circle has been around about 15 years and is probably Fresno’s best kept secret. I could go on and on about what a great time we had there, the 12 different brews on tap going back to 2006, the meads and the hospitality but suffice it to say, you owe it to yourself to stop by and check this place out. The owner and head brewer Bill will tell you all about beer and its history and beertender Kenny will ensure you have a great time. It really was a highlight of the day.
Another 100 miles north and we ended up in Turlock and Dust Bowl Brewing Company, another brewpub. This was a really cool location with a lot of history about the Dust Bowl and the migration of farmers to Central California. I’d like to go back just to check it out for the history aspect. We got there a little before they closed so the kitchen was not available to us, but the beer was. I let their manager Nick put together a flight for me as they had too many choices and not enough time. Their Hops of Wrath IPA was definitely the best IPA of the day and made for a good ending to a fun day. Continue reading
Friday evening, Torrance’s newest production craft brewery, Absolution Brewing Company, held a private launch party for members of their ABC MUG Club. The MUG Club is an exclusive membership for fans of Absolution Brewing Company that has many perks, one of which was being invited to last night’s launch party. They had a very nice turnout with about 75-100 people showing up. MUG Club members received Absolution Brewing Company t-shirts, caps and custom stainless steel growlers; and beer, lots of good beer.
The craft beers offered included their Tribulation Cream Ale with both the house yeast and an experimental; Sinner Stout, Wanderin’ Possessed Porter; Cardinal Sin Red Ale, again with both the house yeast and an experimental; and Angel’s Demise IPA with both the house yeast and an experimental yeast. In addition to the beers there was Forbidden Cider, Sweet Reformation Dry Strawberry Mead as well as their Redeemer Root Beer and Confession Cream Soda. For a launch party they really had a lot to offer and I think it is pretty obvious that Absolution Brewing Company is going to be a great addition to the South Bay craft beer scene.
While membership to the ABC MUG Club is limited to 125 the first year, there are still some openings left. As a member of the ABC MUG Club you will get to experience all of Absolution’s new beers before they are released to the general public and you will be invited to their exclusive MUG events and cask nights. In addition to the above you will receive an Absolution Brewing Company t-shirt, cap and a custom 64 ounce growler with a free first fill. Members also receive $1.00 off every full pour at the tasting room as well as $1.00 off every subsequent growler fill and receive 20% off any additional ABC gear purchased. You can find all the details on the Absolution Brewing Company website or by calling them at (310) 490-4860. If last night was any indication of things to come I think it is safe to say this is going to be a great investment. Cheers! Continue reading
Sunday afternoon I headed out to Alhambra to attend the 9th LA Beer Bloggers Summit which was held at 38 Degrees Ale House & Grill. In addition to the networking opportunities with other beer bloggers and other various media formats we were treated to talks by 38 Degrees co-owner Clay Harding, Danny and Franny Fullpint and the Ohana Brewing Company crew. Clay Harding talked about his history and how 38 Degrees Ale House & Grill came about and spoke a little on their upcoming events. Danny Fullpint and Franny Fullpint gave us a brief rundown on how they got The Full Pint to its current position in the craft beer world. Ohana Brewing Company owner Andrew Luthi introduced us to his brewing team consisting of Eric McLaughlin, Erick “Riggs” Villar and Robert Sanchez. Ohana Brewing also provided samples of three of their craft beers; Pacific Ale, Saison Noir and Wee Smokey. As Ohana Brewing was just recently granted a Conditional Use Permit to open a tasting room and growler fill station literally right next door to 38 Degrees, we were given the opportunity to visit the storefront location. All in all it was another fun afternoon of networking and enjoying good craft beers.
LA Beer Bloggers is an informal network of bloggers from Los Angeles and Orange Counties that dedicate their time towards the promotion and growth of the local craft beer scene. With all the new craft breweries popping up brewers and brewery owners rely on word of mouth to become known to the beer drinking public; beer writers help make this possible on a larger scale.
38 Degrees Ale House & Grill is located at 100 W. Main Street in Alhambra, CA. They have a very nice tap list and very good food. When Ohana Brewing gets their tasting room open you will want to be sure to kill two birds with one stone and visit both locations. Cheers! Continue reading
In the craft beer world there are few annual releases that are awaited with such anticipation as Russian River Brewing’s annual release of Pliny the Younger. Initially brewed in 2004, Pliny the Younger is released on the first Friday of every February. This true triple IPA is made in very limited quantities so is limited to draught pours at the Russian River pub for a mere two weeks at which point a few kegs are sent out to select Russian River accounts. One of these special accounts is Beachwood BBQ & Brewing who will have it at both their Long Beach and Seal Beach locations in February.
As you might imagine, it is not uncommon to see long lines outside of these locations when Pliny comes to town. I went to a Pliny release party last year that had 400 people lined up outside; the event started at 11:00 AM and the first guy in line had been there since 7:30 AM! The folks at Beachwood, being the nice guys they are, decided that instead of dealing with long lines of beer aficionados clamoring to get their yearly Pliny fix they would make this a fundraiser by selling raffle tickets for the chance at one of the 130 pints they will have available between the two locations with 100% of the proceeds benefiting the Melanoma Research Foundation. This is the third year they have done this; raising $7,000 in 2012, $9,000 in 2013 with a goal of $10,000 for 2014.
The tickets, a mere $5.00 each, went on sale January 14 and will continue through February 22. Be advised, the raffle tickets are a cash only deal, so when you visit Beachwood for some of their great beers and/or food, be sure to bring some cash for the tickets. They won’t add it to your bill. On February 24th, 2014, 130 raffle tickets will be drawn at random. The drawing will be streamed live on the New Brew Thursday webcast; winners will also be notified via email or phone. Winners will be able to redeem their Pliny the Younger pint between February 25 and March 6, 2014; Because of the limited quantities, winners will be directed to either Long Beach or Seal Beach to get their Pliny. Continue reading
At the beginning of the month I paid a return visit to Anaheim Brewery during which time I happened to get into a conversation with a couple that came into the tasting room. While our conversation naturally began with discussing the beers we were sampling, it did not take long for it to switch to our favorite local craft breweries. It was during this discussion that it dawned on me that I had barely skimmed the surface when it came to how many craft breweries in Orange County I had visited. This past weekend I decided to do something about it by visiting a few production breweries and brewpubs in the OC.
Tanya and I started off at Bootlegger’s Brewery, a production microbrewery located in Fullerton, CA. I must admit, I was a little surprised when we pulled up to the tasting room because it appeared to be extremely small from the front. When we went inside I saw close to 20 beers available on tap; it was then that I figured out that the brewery and the tasting room were at two different locations. Since I knew we would be making several stops over the course of the day, we opted to share a flight of four for a very reasonable $6.00. The flight consisted of a Sucker Punch IPA, Miss Double D Pale Ale, Double Dry Hopped Palomino Pale Ale and a Spiced Black Phoenix on cask. Bootlegger’s Brewery is open seven days a week and have bottles and growlers to go. While they are a production brewery they do not offer food, but you are welcome to bring food in. I noticed a pizza place next door. They have a very large patio area and there was a private party going on in one section so I think it is safe to say that if you want to have a party there, it can be arranged. The Bootlegger’s tasting room is located at 130 S Highland Avenue in Fullerton.
After enjoying Bootlegger’s we headed out to Brea and Taps Fish House & Brewery. As can be guessed by the name, Taps is a brewpub; in fact, it is a huge brewpub. The first thing I noticed, besides the large number of guests, was the number of awards that Taps Brewery has on the walls. Apparently Taps opened in 1999 and it looks like they have been consistently winning medals for their beers ever since. Since football was on, the place was packed and finding seating for two at the bar was not going to happen. We found a couple seats at one of the bars community tables and sat down to enjoy a Reuben sandwich and we split another flight. The flight was made up of an MJoe mead, Seaward Pale Ale, Azacca IPA and a Neo-Colonial Stout. I am becoming a big fan of Azacca hops, that is for sure. Taps Fish House & Brewery is located at 101 E Imperial Highway in Brea and they are also open seven days a week. Continue reading
It was a year ago that I first stumbled upon Anaheim Brewery, a microbrewery located at 336 S Anaheim Boulevard in Anaheim, CA. I had attended the Easyriders Bike Show at the Anaheim Convention Center and noticed that they were virtually around the corner from Disneyland and the convention center; so I made the inevitable stop. On that visit, January 5, 2013, I had the opportunity to meet the owners and discovered that they were into motorcycles so we chatted for a while before they had to leave. The six beers they offered on tap were good and I made a mental note to stop by again on a future date. As it turns out, I do not really have a lot of reasons to travel to Anaheim; so when I found myself at the Easyriders Bike Show again on Saturday I knew I would have to stop by again to see what was new there.
Anaheim Brewery was initially established in 1870 at a different location in downtown Anaheim; pre-Disneyland. Actually, this is the 4th location for Anaheim Brewery, due in part to Prohibition which resulted in a 90 year closure. This most recent location was opened in 2010 and is on the site of the former Packard Building, a 1920s structure within the city’s Historic District.
Anaheim Brewery offers six different beers on tap at any one time. Their four flagship beers are their Anaheim Gold, Anaheim Hefeweizen (truly delicious), Anaheim Red and their steamed style beer, Anaheim 1888. They have two seasonal taps, one of which is usually an IPA. As I mentioned, this was my second visit and both times were in January, so I suppose the seasonals have a reason to be similar. The first time I went there their seasonal taps were Anaheim Chocolate Porter and Old Pacific IPA. On my most recent visit the seasonal taps were Mocha Porter and Coast to Coast IPA. The IPAs both have essentially the same description (Columbus hops and California grown barley) so I am not really sure what the difference might be other than the name. Both were tasty and smooth. I spent some time talking with Alisha, their Tasting Room Manager and she informed me that they would soon have a Scottish Ale available. When I looked at their Untappd history I noticed they have had several different varieties of beers available, so I guess it might pay to stop in a little more frequently. Continue reading
These photos were taken Saturday, December 28 at Smog City Brewing Company’s Battle of the Casks. This was a very fun event which featured five beers on cask, each created by the five Smog City team members; Jonathan and Laurie Porter, Chris Walowski, Mike Freeman and Ryan Trousdale. The contest was pretty cool; using their Bloody Knuckle Porter as the base beer, which is the base beer for their award winning Groundwork Coffee Porter, the five came up with their own recipes which were served on cask; with the attendees voting for their favorite. The options included a Fruit and Maple Cask, containing dried orange, cranberries and maple syrup; a Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cask, containing dried peanut butter, chocolate powder and cocoa nibs; and a Mint Chocolate Cask, containing chocolate powder, cocoa nibs, mint oil and vanilla beans. There was also a Toasted Coconut Cask which contained toasted coconut and vanilla beans; and rounding it off with a Raspberry Chocolate Sticks Porter Cask which contained raspberry puree, freeze dried raspberries, coco powder, cocoa nibs and vanilla beans.
It was a pretty tight competition but in the end, after all the votes were tallied, Porter’s Fruit and Maple Cask took third place, Ryan’s Toasted Coconut Cask was the first runner up with Chris’ Raspberry Chocolate Sticks Porter Cask getting the most votes; thus entitling him to the coveted Budweiser Belt and bragging rights until the next time.
In addition to the Battle of the Casks competition they raffled off lots of Smog City Brewing swag including shirts, caps, growlers and growler fills. For those seeking food, Serendoggity was there with their organic hotdogs. All in all, it was another great event at Smog City Brewing Company.
For those interested, Smog City will be open this Monday and Tuesday (December 30 and 31) from 2:00 – 5:00 PM for growler fills if you want to bring a growler or two to your New Years Eve party. Growlers are $2 off those two days. Cheers! Continue reading
Regular readers have probably figured out that I am a pretty big fan of Beachwood BBQ and Brewing, named Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) this past October. What you may not know is that they started off as a gastropub in Seal Beach, called simply, Beachwood BBQ back in 2006. It was not until 2011 that Beachwood BBQ owner, Gabe Gordon teamed up with brewer Julian Shrago to open their brewpub, Beachwood BBQ and Brewing, in Long Beach.
A friend of mine introduced me to Beachwood BBQ in November of 2010; at the time they were essentially a barbecue joint that served craft beer with 24 rotating taps. Beachwood had not even started brewing beer yet. When I look back at photos from my first visit I cannot help but admire the guest tap list which consisted of beers from breweries that I was not all that familiar with (a lot can change in three years). Fast-forward to present day and seven years have passed since Gabe Gordon first opened his Seal Beach location.
Yesterday, December 17, Beachwood started their week long commemoration of their 7th Anniversary by introducing Beachwood Seven Double IPA, a double IPA made with seven varieties of hops (Warrior, Citra, Amarillo, Nelson Sauvin, El Dorado, Galaxy, and Mosaic); one for each year they have been in business. They offered Beachwood Seven in bottles and on tap; but as expected, the bottles sold out within hours. I would highly advise heading to one of their two locations to try it on tap; it is delicious. If you are in the neighborhood, the Seal Beach location is celebrating Beachwood BBQ’s Anniversary Week, December 17-22, with a great line up of seasonal winter beers and food specials. Throughout the week, in addition to their standard food menu there are food specials such as Oysters Rockefeller, Crusted King Crab Legs and a special Dessert Sampler. Continue reading