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Cacophony IPA: Ales for ALS

I have been fortunate enough to spend a considerable amount of time traveling around the United States and in that time I have found numerous brewpubs. For definition sake, a brewpub is a brewery that also serves food. Some of brewpubs serve pretty basic fare, like cheese or hummus and pita; others are pretty upscale and rival any restaurants in their price range. Of all the brewpubs I have visited, The Brewery at Abigaile in Hermosa Beach is the brewpub that sets the bar for brewpubs in my opinion.

I first became aware of the Brewery at Abigaile during American Craft Beer Week in 2012; the manager of The Rockefeller (a gastropub up the street from Abigaile) knew that I was seeking new local beers and Abigaile had just undergone some changes, including a name and menu change and they decided to utilize the brewing equipment that had been sitting as a decoration for 10 years when the restaurant operated under a different name. Brain Brewer, who had been home brewing since high school was working construction when Abigaile owner Jed Sanford asked him to revive the brewing system. The timing was right and the South Bay has been better for it as a result. As I do not do beer reviews because I do not feel they can be subjective, I will just urge you to buy a flight if you are a first time visitor. Brewer’s selections of brews never fails to satisfy, as evidenced by his current options of his Orange Blossom Blonde Ale, Polyrhytm Pale, Cacophony IPA, Black Mass Porter and Sugar Daddy, a Belgian style strong ale. Their head chef, Tin, does some amazing things in his kitchen and you are encouraged to stop by for their happy hour as they call it their R&D Hour and there is always something special that Tin has thrown together as an experiment; it is pretty darn good. Continue reading

Redondo Beach approves new microbrewery

I remember it like it was yesterday; okay, it was only three weeks ago but I remember the event vividly. It was the 4th of July. But wait, I am getting ahead of myself; allow me to back up.

There has been a lot of activity with businesses in the neighborhood of Hawthorne Boulevard and 182nd Street over the last couple of years. First on the northwest corner there was a lot of construction with new stores put in like Total Wine and Sprouts Farmers Market; that took care of most of my needs. On the southeast corner they tore down the El Pollo Loco which is probably my favorite fast food. Tanya (my girlfriend) would ask what I would like to come in its place but they replaced it with a Chick-fil-A instead. Across the street, on the northeast corner there a gas station that was there before I moved in in 1985; that was torn down. As we walked by it daily, Tanya would ask what I wanted to be built, and again my request was ignored and they put up a Chase Bank. It seemed nobody cared what the Craft Beer Guy wanted; and then it happened.

It was the 4th of July, my favorite holiday of the year. We were taking the dogs on their morning walk which includes walking down 182nd Street and through the small commercial strip mall at Kingsdale. Even though I walk through the complex on a daily basis, I rarely notice any activity other than the guy that owns the batting cages putting out his advertising or reading his paper while drinking his morning coffee. But this morning there was something different; something we had never seen before. Truth be told, Tanya is the one that noticed it first; a Public Notice of Application to Sell Alcoholic Beverages. I knew immediately what it had to be, no one was going to be putting in a bar or restaurant here; it had to be a new microbrewery! As I read the application and saw Coastline Brewing Company I realized that someone had been paying attention to my requests. Continue reading

Fun in the Sun with Dry River Brewing

Last week I attended the LA Beer Bloggers Summit at Haven Gastropub and among the people I met were Dave and Vanda of Dry River Brewing Company in Los Angeles. Dave and Vanda are currently brewing out of their home on a pretty limited basis, but they have been making appearances with their beers at various functions and generating chatter as well as a fan base. When I met Dave and he told me about Dry River Brewing, you could tell this was a guy with a vision. He explained how Dry River Brewing had partnered with the LA River Revitalization Corporation to help with the redevelopment and revitalization of properties along the LA River corridor in accordance with the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan. This caught my interest because it seems that I have been seeing a lot more talk about the LA River lately and when I stopped to think about it, I had never really seen the LA River beyond passing it on the freeway or when it was included in some chase scene for a movie. I had already made a mental note that I had to do something about that. Dry River Brewing took care of that.

Sunday afternoon, Dave and Vanda held a little get-together at their home for friends, investors, supporters of their Kickstarter program and beer aficionados. I knew they lived in the general vicinity of the LA River, so I figured I would head out a little early and see what I have been missing; was I ever surprised. The first portion of the photos were taken by Marsh Park on the LA River. There is so much more to see that I am planning on making a special trip to explore more of the river. The rest of the photos are from the Dry River party. Dave and Vanda presented two of their beers, their Rio Seco Pale dry-hopped with Amarillo hops and a yet to be named porter which seemed to be a crowd favorite. I look forward to seeing Dave and Vanda’s vision come to fruition and I have to thank them for introducing me to the LA River. Continue reading

Another visit to Game Changers, Hermosa Beach

One of my favorite recent discoveries in the South Bay is Game Changers, located at 1220 Hermosa Avenue in Hermosa Beach. Game Changers is more of a sports bar than a gastropub, but when I first saw their banner at the Hermosa Fiesta stating they have 54 beers on tap I knew I would have to check them out. We returned a few weeks later and had an opportunity to get to know a few of the staff; we had a great time and since we had been told they had a new menu, we returned Wednesday to check it out.

Since I had only looked at their last menu briefly I was not readily familiar with what had changed, so I cannot tell you if what we had was new or not. There were fewer taco options this time and I was told that we because they were not big sellers or contained ingredients that were used only on one particular taco. That makes sense. I will say their appetizers are huge; they definitely filled us up. If I had known I probably would have ordered just one and tried the rib-eye; it looked pretty good and at a bargain price too.

Of course, I was really there for the beer. I opted for an initial flight consisting of a Matilda, Wipeout IPA, Ruination and a Stone Smoked Porter. Our server, Kim, asked if she could create a flight for me and presented me with a Tripel Karmeliet, Great White, Racer 5 IPA and an Allagash Four. I am usually apprehensive about having strangers picking my beers, but she did a pretty good job; thanks Kim!

Game Changers has some interesting things going on with daily happy hour specials and special events like their 80’s Ladies Night; you can learn more by stopping in or visiting the Game Changers website. These photos were taken July 17, 2013. Continue reading

LA Beer Bloggers Summit at Haven Gastropub

Sunday July 14, Haven Gastropub in Pasadena, CA hosted the LA Beer Bloggers Summit #6. This was my second visit to one of these gatherings and I really enjoyed the opportunity to meet more of the people that are behind the scenes in promoting the craft beer scene in Southern California, and specifically Los Angeles and Orange counties. This was my third or fourth visit to Haven Gastropub, but my first couple of visits they were not really brewing yet. When I was there back in May they were just releasing their first batch of Simcoded American Pale Ale. Things have really changed in the last two months.

As our host for the event, Managing Partner and Beverage Director Wil Dee spoke for a while on the growth and mindset of the new Haven Collective, which includes their various restaurant locations and the brewery. He also discussed their future plans and how they chose their new Head Brewer, Brian Thorson. He then turned the floor over to Brian who proceeded to discuss the various beers he is currently brewing. When I was there in May they released the Simcoded Pale Ale; by yesterday they had added More Please, a Kölsch; Jimmy Hafen, their Hefeweizen; Orange Face (O Face), an American Amber / Red Ale; Performance Enhancing Drink (P.E.D.), an American Brown Ale; Disco Pants, a Black Lager and Double Hubble, a Double IPA. They also provided us a sample of their next IPA, Hop Sing. You can tell things are really picking up at Haven with the addition of Brian Thorson.

These photos are from the event at Haven Gastropub with a stop by the Stone Brewing Company Store which is right around the corner. They make some great mustard and it is too cheap to not make the stop since we were in the neighborhood. We had a great time networking with other beer bloggers and I look forward to their next summit. Haven Gastropub is located at 42 S. De Lacey Avenue in Old Pasadena, CA. They have good food and very fine craft beers. Continue reading

Northwest Indiana: Pikk’s Tavern and Three Floyds Brewing

These photos are from Pikk’s Tavern in Valparaiso, IN and the Three Floyds Brewing Company brewpub in Munster, IN. My real introduction to American craft beer came about due to the fact that I was constantly traveling which resulted in my visiting many small towns across the United States. I got into the habit of seeking out microbreweries and brewpubs in the areas I would pass through. To be honest, I probably tried more beers from outside of California than those brewed here. One part of the country that I spent an inordinate amount of time was northwest Indiana (NWI), specifically, Valparaiso aka Valpo.

I remember the day well, it was Flag Day 2011 and I was visiting my girlfriend in Valpo; she had something to do that evening so I had her drop me off in downtown Valpo because our favorite Spanish restaurant had a special event going on that I wanted to attend. The problem was that the restaurant did not open for another hour so I walked down the street to Pikk’s Tavern because I had read that they carried some beers I was unfamiliar with.

When I sat down at the bar I asked for something that was brewed locally and was immediately offered an Imperial Hatter Imperial India Pale Ale from New Holland Brewing. I knew I had found exactly what I was looking for; a gastropub in Valparaiso. After finishing it I was introduced to Gumballhead from Three Floyds Brewing Company. From the first taste I knew that I needed to learn more about Three Floyds. I had subsequent visits to Pikk’s and used the opportunity to try their food. It was all very good, but I think it was the attitude of all the employees that made me want to return. If you ever find yourself in Valparaiso, I have no problem recommending visiting them. I looked at their current menu and while they do not currently have Three Floyds on tap, they are still pouring locally brewed beers and they have Three Floyds and other craft brews available in bottles and cans. Continue reading

2nd Annual Waves of Grain Beerfest at Shade Hotel

Sunday June 30 the Shade Hotel in Manhattan Beach, CA hosted the 2nd Annual Waves of Grain Beerfest benefiting the Richstone Family Center in Hawthorne. The Richstone Family Center is dedicated to preventing and treating child abuse. Co-sponsored by Brewco Manhattan Beach, Rock & Brews El Segundo, LA Car Guy and NW Real Estate Brokers approximately 400 people enjoyed food, music and close to 100 beers provided by more than 40 craft brewers.

In addition to the ticket sales for the event, which sold out, there were raffles for dinners, massages, hockey and more. I think it is safe to say that the Richstone Family Center was very happy with the results of this fundraiser. Judging by all the smiles seen in the photos I am not the only one that had a great time and I look forward to attending next year’s event.

The Shade Hotel is located at 1221 N Valley Dr Manhattan Beach, CA 90266. Continue reading

Beachwood BBQ & Brewing 2 Year Anniversary Celebration

These photos are from the Beachwood BBQ & Brewing Two Year Anniversary Celebration which was held Saturday, June 29 at Beachwood’s Long Beach location at 210 E 3rd St. in Long Beach, CA. For those that have yet to experience Beachwood’s craft beers, you really need to do yourself a favor and if possible, head to Long Beach and check them out. On any given day, except Mondays when they are closed, Beachwood will have seven or eight beers brewed on location available for pours. In addition to their own brews, they have a guest tap list that would be pretty tough to beat with 25-30 guest taps also available. For the party yesterday they brought out 27 or 28 of their own brews which a pretty amazing number considering they have only been brewing for two years.

As you can see from the list of Beachwood’s craft beers that they published, there was a wonderful list of options available.

Alpha Bomb – American Pale Ale
Annihilator – American Barleywine
Barrel Aged Full Malted Jacket – Scottish Style
Wee Heavy aged in Bourbon Barrels
Beachwood Six – Smoked Black Saison
Beyond a Reasonable Stout – Imperial Stout
Clear & Present Manger – Winter Warmer (collaboration brew with Pizza Port San Clemente)
Dank Matter – Double India Pale Ale (brewed special for this 2nd Anniversary)
Dubbel in Paradise – Belgian Style Dubbel
Fahrenheit 342 – Rye India Pale Ale
Full Malted Jacket – Scottish Style Wee Heavy Continue reading

Los Angeles Brewing Company, a new gastropub in DTLA

Over Father’s Day weekend my daughter was up in San Francisco running a half marathon so we were unable to spend the day together and she asked me to pick somewhere for us to have lunch on the following weekend. She lives out in the Pasadena area and I am in the South Bay, so I started looking for somewhere that was midway between the two of us; preferably somewhere I had never been before. I have to admit, I was a little surprised when I came upon the Los Angeles Brewing Company (LABC). I was even more surprised to hear that they had 100 beers on tap; how had I missed hearing about them?

They opened about a year ago and are located in the old Broadway theater district of downtown Los Angeles; it would be pretty easy to pass LABC if you were not looking for it. Once you find parking (there is paid public parking just north of LABC) and enter the building it becomes readily apparent that the building has been around for a long time, with lots of marble and the type of construction you just do not see any more. Since I had to wait for my daughter to join us I decided to try and take a few photos on the interior; unfortunately, whoever it was working behind the bar did not seem to like the idea so I went back out front to wait for my daughter to get there. Los Angeles Brewing Company is huge inside and because of the decor, it is pretty loud. I will let that be the excuse as to why it took so long for the hostess to notice that we were ready to be seated.

While LABC has a reported 100 beers on tap (I saw 96 taps) they do not brew beer there. They do have a few LABC beers, but it looks like it is currently being brewed by Firestone Walker. I read that they plan on brewing there in the near future. They have a nice tap list but I got the impression that the staff were not really beer people. The food was good and I suppose my only concern is whether or not they have enough business to justify having 100 beers on tap. It was a Sunday and they seemed to have a decent brunch crowd, but it was pretty empty by the time we left. I hope that their weekday crowds are larger or there are going to be some kegs that are going to take a while to go through. Continue reading

The Dudes’ Brewing at Nelson’s Beer Garden

A pretty major advantage to living in Southern California is that the weather is pretty awesome at any given time; in fact, you can schedule an outdoor event almost any day of the year and there is a good chance it is going to be nice out. Saturday afternoon, June 22, we headed up to Palos Verdes and Nelson’s new beer garden at the Terranea Resort. They are having their annual summer concert series, this time with a beer garden. When we were there, a solo guitarist Wise Katubadrau was performing. The reason I was aware of this event was that Torrance’s newest microbrewery, The Dudes’ Brewing Company, was the guest tap of the week this past weekend. When they put out the notice of this event I knew I would have to go, because the scenery would be great; and as predicted, it was very nice out.

Nelson’s is a restaurant at the end of the Terranea Resort; looking over the cliffs. It is very scenic and pretty kicked back for being at an upscale resort. Parking is kind of a hassle unless you are lucky enough to find some free parking; otherwise they have paid self parking and valet options starting at $10 and going up to $25. You might find value in the $25 parking though because you can catch a ride on their shuttle down to Nelson’s. The walk down might be pleasant but I suspect the walk back up the hill would become tiresome, especially after a few beers.

The Dudes’ Brewing Company just opened about three months ago, but are already making a name for themselves in the South Bay. They have yet to open a tasting room due to growing pains and some unforeseeable circumstances, but they hope to have one open by the end of summer. The Dudes’ had four taps pouring at Nelson’s with their Day One Pale Ale, Grandma’s Pecan Brown Ale, Grinning Face Porter and the most photogenic of them all, their Double Trunk DIPA. As this was my first time to Nelson’s I cannot tell you how the crowd compared to other events but by the time we left there was a pretty long beer line. I guess Dudes’ did abide at nelson’s Beer Garden.

Nelson’s Beer Garden is located at 100 Terranea Way, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA Continue reading

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