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Wicks Brewing Company, Riverside

One of my favorite things is to happen upon a new brewery that I am unfamiliar with; if they brew good beer that is just icing on the cake. This happened yesterday when I found myself stuck in traffic out in the Inland Empire. I had my roommate break out her iPhone to see if there were any microbreweries in the area when she discovered Wicks Brewing Company in Riverside, CA.

Wicks Brewing is a brewpub located at 11620 Sterling Avenue in Riverside and has only been open for a little over three months, but a sampling of the beers brewed on-site make it clear that their head brewer has been doing this for a while. It is my understanding that he spent a few years as a brewer at the former Riverside Brewing Company which has turned out several great brewers, including Brian Brewer from The Brewery at Abigaile. When we were there they were offering five of their home brews; Sir Gordon’s Pale Ale, Red Headed Belgian, West Coast Strong Ale, an IPA and their Imperial Porter. They advertise that they also brew root beer which Tanya was eager to try, but they were all out. We got an order of their Pretzel Bites which were quite tasty and high on demand as it seems we bought the last order of the day and I heard at least two other parties ordering the same thing. I guess growing pains are in effect; selling more than you have available is a good way to start. I am sure we will return now that we know they are there.

Something a little different about Wicks Brewing is that they have six brewing stations available for home brewers that want to try their hand at brewing beer or soft drinks. This system, known as a Brew on Premise or BOP, provides you with various recipes and all the ingredients you will need. You pick the recipe and they will walk you through the brewing process using one of their BOP stations. I wish they were not so far away or I would definitely try that out. Continue reading

Strand Brewers Club at South Bay Brewing Supply

I have a confession to make; I have never tried home brewing beer. That is about to change as I received a beer making kit for a birthday present last month. Since I plan on doing a pictorial on the process I have been reading and re-reading the instructions and I have been asking questions of those that I know that have been home brewing for a while. I want my first time to have positive results so I will feel comfortable breaking away from the beer making kit so when I received an invitation to visit the Strand Brewers Club at their monthly meeting last night I accepted and headed over to South Bay Brewing Supply in Old Torrance for the Strand Brewers’ August meeting.

While I only knew a person or two, I was made to feel quite welcome. The first hour or so was spent networking with other home brewers and sampling the many home brews that were brought in by members. To say that there was a wide variety of beers being brewed by this group would be an understatement; you would be hard pressed to find as many different styles of beer at your favorite gastropub. That is not to suggest that Strand Brewers Club is only for experienced brewers. While many of their members have been brewing for a couple years, there are also those that have 20 years of experience and one of last night’s attendees had only started drinking craft beer two months ago. The current president, Rives Borland, told me that when he joined Strand Brewers Club he was quite new to brewing and told me that coming to the monthly meetings had a lot to do with his current brewing success (he has won a few awards for his beers).

After the networking, there was a presentation given on Oxygenation as part of their continuing efforts to include educational discussions at their meetings. On occasion they do brewing at their events, so if you are interested in learning to brew or you are a home brewer and want to hang out and exchange ideas with other home brewers, you should probably consider looking for a home brew club like Strand Brewers Club. Visitors are welcome to join them and if you like the group, then join. Dues are only $37 a year ($48 for couples) which I think is quite reasonable considering the wealth of information you can gain just by hanging around and listening. Continue reading

Dry River Brewing Crew-members Reception

These photos are from the Dry River Brewing Company Crew-Members-Only Reception which was held at Namaste Highland Park in Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon. The reception was held to thank the backers of their recently funded Kickstarter campaign. Attendees were treated to several of co-owner/brewer Dave Hodgins’ creations; Horchata Cream Ale, Jamaica-Weisse, Arnoldo Palmero and Hop on Board IPA. They were all good, with Hop on Board being my favorite.

Congratulations again to Dave Hodgins and Vanda Ciceryova and we cannot wait to see Dry River Brewing begin producing at a commercial level. Continue reading

Business & Beer meetup at The Brewery at Abigaile

These photos are from the Business & Beer networking event for August 2013 which was held Thursday evening, August 8 at The Brewery at Abigaile brewpub in Hermosa Beach. Business & Beer is a small business networking group that my girlfriend and I co-founded in July 2012. When we initially started it we met every Thursday at a different microbrewery, brewpub or gastropub in the South Bay area. After a year of weekly meetings we decided that it would be easier to maintain the group if we changed it to once a month and so far, it looks like this was the right move as our attendance levels are back up again.

If you live or work in the South Bay, enjoy craft beers and find networking valuable to the success of your business or it is one of your responsibilities you should check out BusinessNBeer.com. We meet on the second Thursday of every month at a different microbrewery or brewpub in the South Bay area. We have no dues, no restrictions and no mandatory meetings. Since it is held after normal work hours you are more than welcome to invite your significant other. It is a nice group of people that want to meet you; so bring your business cards and willingness to mingle and you will have a good time. Continue reading

2013 International IPA Day in the South Bay

Thursday, August 1, 2013 was the 3rd Annual International IPA Day; a day devoted to admiring a style of beer that probably has more myths about its origin than the early Egyptians had gods. To me it does not matter if it was first brewed in the early 1700’s or the late 1700’s, or if the first IPAs were cask conditioned on the trip to India (it wasn’t). I love my IPAs and will take advantage of any IPA Day that presents itself. Personally, I think it should be International IPA Week because there are far too many to enjoy in one day. Even those brewed in the South Bay are so numerous that I had a problem visiting everywhere I wanted to hit in a single day. Guess I need to start earlier next year.

These photos start off with a visit to Monkish Brewing, a Torrance microbrewery that specializes in Belgian style ales. While Monkish does not brew any IPA and head brewer/ owner Henry Nguyen has stated he will never brew an IPA, I had not visited them in a couple of weeks so we decided we would start there and see what was new. I had yet to try their Brown Habit which I discovered is a very good saison. They usually have about 10 different styles of Belgians, so if you are in the Torrance area and want to try something different, you should check out Monkish Brewing Company.

I got my first of several IPAs at our next stop, just around the corner, Smog City Brewing Company. Smog City usually has an IPA or two available, with their Amarilla Gorilla and Hoptonic IPAs being the IPAs they had plenty of. To celebrate IPA Day, head brewer Jon Porter brought out two IPAs on cask; Dr. Hoo-Peach Hoptonic IPA on Simcoe hops and Dr. Hoo-Mango Hoptonic IPA on Chinook hops. Both were delicious and were gone quickly; it seemed like everyone was there to try these special brews. Continue reading

The Dudes’ Brewing Company: Hard to call them a microbrew

I was out and about Saturday morning, taking photos for a project, when I suddenly found myself around the corner from one of Torrance’s newest microbreweries, The Dudes’ Brewing Company. I had several invitations to drop by and Saturday morning I happened to show up while they were preparing to start brewing a new IPA. Head brewer, Jeff Parker had a Kolschtal Eddy poured for me, then took me on a tour of The Dudes’ brewing operation; it is quite impressive.

The Dudes’ launched over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend with several kickoff parties, two of which I attended. It was clear that their local roots were paying off as both events were packed. The Dudes’ are a little different than the other microbreweries around here in that they do not have a tasting room yet, preferring to begin by providing kegs to local taverns and eateries. They have been very successful at that and now can be found all over central and Southern California. Their plan is to start up the canning line in early August with a tasting room being added by the end of 2013. Continue reading

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

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