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LA Beer Week tasting dinner at The Brewery at Abigaile

Over the past year or so I have been invited to attend several beer events that involved pairing various foods with different beers. Sometimes it seems like there was not a lot of thought put into the combinations and then there are pairings like the LA Beer Week (LABW5) Beer Tasting Dinner put on by The Brewery at Abigaile brewpub on Wednesday evening. It really shows what can happen when you have a chef like Tin Vuong who not only prepares unique menus with global flavors; but also enjoys craft beers.

I will admit that there have been times that I have opted for an entree that conflicted with my choice of beer; primarily due to a sauce or seasoning that was so hot that I might as well be drinking Bud Light because my taste buds had lost all sensitivity; last night’s dinner eliminated all risks as Chef Tin’s menu melded perfectly with the beers provided by The Brewery at Abigaile’s Brian Brewer. Our menu included Wit Cured Wild Salmon paired with Tangerine Honey Wit, a Belgian-style witbier; Mary’s Chicken Milanese paired with Sir Charles Mild, an English-style brown mild; an amazing Duck Confit paired with Sticky Fingers IPA; Braised Oxtail with Flat Iron paired with their Nihilist DIPA; with Perfection in a Glass beer float for dessert. It was made with Sarsaparilla and their Black Mass Porter. Brian also brought out some of his Black Mass Porter that has been aging in rye whiskey barrels for the past four months and it is delicious.

If you enjoy beer and food tastings, I recommend following The Brewery at Abigaile’s Facebook page so you can be kept in the loop. They do these on a pretty regular basis and I know there are more planned for the near future. When you have an executive chef like Tin Vuong combining his skills with a brewer like Brian Brewer only good things can happen and you do want to be a part of it. Trust me on that one.

The Brewery at Abigaile is located at 1301 Manhattan Avenue in Hermosa Beach; that is the northwest corner of Manhattan Avenue and Pier Avenue. They even have free parking in the underground structure at their location. Cheers! Continue reading

Goose Island migrates to Rock & Brews PCH

Anyone is the LA area that has been paying any attention to the craft beer scene has probably noticed that the name “Goose Island” has been appearing at more local locations than ever before. Goose Island Beer Company originated in Chicago, IL in 1988. While they may not have been well known out here, Goose Island is most certainly a popular craft beer brand that I would notice in my travels around the mid-west. In 2011 AB-InBev, parent company of Anheuser-Busch, acquired Goose Island; one might guess that with the additional revenue behind them, Goose Island was now made available in all 50 states. In fact, Goose Island is having migration campaigns around the country. Last night I attended the Rock & Brews PCH LA Beer Week Goose Island Craft Beer Dinner, a five course meal paired with eight varieties of Goose Island brews.

This was my first visit to Rock & Brews PCH, so I was looking forward to seeing how it compared to their El Segundo location. At first glance it seemed like the El Segundo location might be a little more spacious, but it is close. Noticeably missing from the PCH location is the electronic scoreboard that lists all of the available beers on tap so I am not really sure how they handle making the available rotating taps known, but they do have a very extensive printed menu of draught and bottled beers that are always available. They also have a few tables that have four beer taps with lines going directly back to the cooler so you can serve yourself. Each table has its own combination of beer but I did not get a chance to really investigate the combinations. That idea definitely has potential. I guess what really surprised me was the food.

As a firm believer of the “happy wife, happy life” policy, I have never really looked at the food menu at Rock & Brews; primarily because I was there for the beer and Tanya and I are just going to split the food anyway, so whatever she wants is fine with me. She really likes their Chicago dog and it is big enough for the two of us so that is pretty much what we always order. Since last night was a 5-course meal, I had an opportunity to try some of their other offerings; Strawberry Fields Salad, Asian Wings, Bleu Cheese Bacon Burger, Pulled Pork Pizza and Purple Rain Drops for dessert. We were stuffed by the end and I think I found a couple substitutes for the Chicago dog as I really enjoyed the salad and wings a lot.

For the pairings they had two options with Goose Island’s classic or vintage craft beers. The beers sampled, in order, were 312 Urban Wheat Ale or Matilda Lambicus, Harvest Ale or vintage Matilda, India Pale Ale (IPA) or Pere Jacques, Honker’s Ale and Sofie Paradisi. While Goose Island may have been acquired by a corporate giant of the beer world, it is apparent that their 25 years of brewing craft beers will result in interesting brews for years to come. I asked someone in attendance last night, that works for Anheuser-Busch, what Goose Island’s plan is as far as experimental batches were concerned and he told me that Goose Island still tweaks their brews and those experimental batches will be shipped around the country to be found in the better gastropubs and bottle shops as well as the Goose Island brewpubs. Cheers! Continue reading

LA Beer Week – “Meet the Brewer” Open House at Abigaile

A few days ago I was at the LA Beer Bloggers Summit and one of the panelist made a comment about how some beer blogs come across as “cheerleaders” and they never have anything negative to say about anyone. I thought about it and in retrospect, thought I did a pretty good job about spreading the love and not really showing favoritism beyond favoring IPAs. As far as negative reviews are concerned, I do not have time for them; it is that simple. That being said, it is really tough to not be a cheerleader when it comes to The Brewery at Abigaile, located at Abigaile in Hermosa Beach.

It is hard for me to believe that I have only known about The Brewery at Abigaile for a mere 16 months. I remember with specificity the first time I learned of them and my first visit there. The Brewery at Abigaile is the only brewery in Hermosa Beach and they set the bar when it comes to brewpubs. In addition to the five beers that will be brewed in-house, they have a very interesting food menu and a great guest tap list as well as offering a variety of wines and a full cocktail bar. In my opinion, it is one of the South Bay’s best kept craft beer secrets. If you have the opportunity to visit Hermosa Beach, I highly encourage you to visit The Brewery at Abigaile.

For LA Beer Week (LABW5) Abigaile held a “Meet the Brewer” open house on Monday evening. Abigaile usually has a couple open houses every year as owner, Jed Sanford put it, to show his appreciation to all those that spend time there. The free food and beer samplings were enjoyed by all; including a couple of gentleman that came all the way from India to join the festivities. Yeah, The Brewery at Abigaile is that good. Continue reading

Oktoberfest: More than a style of beer

Sunday was day 4 of LA Beer Week (LABW5) and as I did not feel inclined to go out to Union Station I decided to take a little ride around the South Bay. My friends at Alpine Village in Torrance told me about a Street Toys car show they were having in conjunction with Sunday’s Oktoberfest festivities, so I pointed my bike out that way. After an hour or so of photographing cars I headed into the big tent they hold Oktoberfest in.

Alpine Village has been having Oktoberfest there for the past 46 years which makes it the largest and longest running Oktoberfest celebration this side of the Rockies. If you have never been, it is a lot of fun. They sell Warsteiner Oktoberfest and Pilsener as well as PBR in the big tent as well as brats and pretzels and other good German snacks to go along with your beer. They have oompah bands, the Chicken Dance and lots of general insanity on Friday and Saturday nights. These photos were from early Sunday, so you can see it is okay to bring your kids, they will have a good time too. You can find out more about the 46th Annual Oktoberfest and purchase tickets online by visiting the Alpine Village website.

Since it was a nice day and it was LA Beer Week, I decided to take a ride out to El Segundo and see what was happening at El Segundo Brewing Company. I had to try that Casa Azul again. Cheers! Continue reading

LA Beer Blogger Summit #7 at Angel City Brewery

Saturday afternoon I headed out to Los Angeles and visited Angel City Brewery as they were hosting the LA Beer Bloggers Summit #7; a networking event made up of beer bloggers from all over LA and Orange County. This is the third one I have attended and each gathering seems to be larger than the last. This particular event we were treated to a short talk by head brewer Dieter Foerstner who told us a little about his LA Beer Week (LABW5) release, Honey Chrysanthemum Ale, and how he was able to purchase the tea at the Japanese market across the street from the brewery and how he got his honey from a local source that never considered using honey in beer. After Dieter’s talk and some samples of their Scrumdiddlyumptious Brown Ale they had a panel moderated by John Verive of Beer of Tomorrow with panelists Tomm Carroll, LA correspondent for The Celebrator; Sarah Bennett, a writer for LA Weekly and Beer Paper LA; and Whitson Gordon, the Editor in Chief of Lifehacker.com. It was interesting and I know I got some ideas on the direction I should take with this craft beer adventure.

It was my first time visiting Angel City Brewery and I must admit I was not expecting what I discovered. The place is huge and quite photogenic, I could spend some time wandering around and catching interesting sights. My one disappointment was self inflicted; for some reason I did not even ask about flights until after I ordered a pint, so I only got to try two of the eight they had on tap. I guess I have no choice but to go back there and try again. Angel City Brewery is located at 216 South Alameda in Los Angeles. They do not serve food, but they have food trucks that stop by; you might want to look around at one of the nearby restaurants though as they allow you to bring food in and have plenty of tables to enjoy your food and beer at.

On the way home we stopped by to check out the crowd at Smog City Brewing. Cheers! Continue reading

Day two of LA Beer Week #5 – Drinking local

Friday was day two of the 5th Annual LA Beer Week (LABW5) and since I knew that there would be plenty of driving involved over the duration of LA Beer Week (which runs through September 29), I decided I would take the bike and dedicate today to the Torrance microbreweries, Strand Brewing Company, Monkish Brewing Company and Smog City Brewing Company. However, I did make one exception; this morning King Harbor Brewing Company (KHBC) had some of their tanks delivered so I popped over to get a few shots. I can only guess the move went smoothly because when I returned an hour or so later, they were gone. KHBC is really making progress; just a few more months until it is beer.

I began my tour of the Torrance microbrewery tasting rooms with a visit to the oldest of the Torrance microbreweries, Strand Brewing Company. While they are probably best known for their Atticus IPA and Beach House Amber Ale, I think their Second Sleep Imperial Russian Stout is one of their best beers. Today they tapped a cask that has been oak barrel aged for the last six months; it is delicious. If you are in the neighborhood I highly recommend it (if it is still available).

I then headed over to the second oldest microbrewery in Torrance, Monkish Brewing Company. Monkish Brewing specializes in Belgian style ales and has 10-12 different varieties with everything from singles and saisons to dubbels and tripels. He has a new single hopped Belgian pale called Galaxy Defender that I, as a hophead, find amazing. They now have something for everyone.

I ended my journey at the newest of the Torrance microbrewery tasting rooms, Smog City Brewing. The one thing I can count on about Smog City Brewing is that even if I go there every week, every week they will have something new to try. There is always an “experimental” on tap and today it was their Grape Ape IPA. The grapes really made it different from any of the IPAs I have tried from Smog City thus far. They are also offering their Bloody Knuckle porter which is the base beer for their award winning Groundwork Coffee Porter. I would like to try the two of them in a blind taste test; it was very good. Cheers! Continue reading

LA Beer Week 5 Begins!

Today was day one of the of the 5th Annual LA Beer Week (LABW5) which runs from September 19 through the 29th, which is a little longer than a week, but the LA craft beer scene has some catching up to do, so a couple extra days here and there cannot hurt. LABW was founded in 2009 by beer enthusiasts from the LA and Orange County beer communities to help promote this wonderful time that we are living. Indeed, when it comes to craft beer, there is no better time to be an LA area resident.

Since it was day one of LA Beer Week 5 (LABW5), I wanted to start the week off with something special. I read on Facebook that Mediterraneo in Hermosa Beach had gotten a keg of Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA, so I decided I would start off big; with a really big beer. I guess an 18% beer would qualify.

A little later I headed over to Naja’s Place in Redondo Beach for their LA Beer Week Kickoff Locals Night. While I have been to Naja’s Place when it was more crowded, I am not sure I have been there when more of the South Bay’s “who’s who” of the beer world was gathered. I have to admit, I was wondering who was tending the farm as it seemed everyone that was anyone in the South Bay craft beer world was at Naja’s. Everyone was having a great time.

For those interested in finding LA Beer Week events, I recommend visiting LABeerWeek.com for some of the official events. If you live in the LA area, your favorite microbrewery, brewpub or gastropub is probably having some kind of event. Go support your local brewer at a local business; it is good for your community. Cheers! Continue reading

I Shoot Beer People – A Tribute to Bernie Wire

Have you ever seen the movie Memento? That is kind of what my life seems like at times. If I took your photo I will remember your face, which does not necessarily mean I will remember your name; but it is a start. While I have been taking photos of beer and breweries and anything else that was in my view for many years, I only recently got into taking photos of the local craft beer scene relatively recently; primarily because the craft beer scene around here is pretty new. When I really became aware of what was happening in the South Bay was during American Craft Beer Week in 2012. My girlfriend had changed the meds she had been on and could now enjoy a brew or two with me, so we dove into the new South Bay craft beer scene.

On day two of the 7th Annual American Craft Beer Week, May 16, 2012 I was in Select Beer Store in Redondo Beach and I saw this guy taking a photo of his beer. I was not ready to catch it as it was happening so I asked him if he would oblige me by reenacting the shot for me. Little did I know that we would continue to run into each other and eventually become friends. As it turned out, not only do we both enjoy craft beer, we both like to promote local breweries and we use photography to accomplish this. This was the first time I met Bernie Wire.

Bernie is kind of a legend in these parts and Tuesday evening Mohawk Bend, a gastropub with [a reported] 72 different craft beers hosted an art exhibit of some of Bernie’s works. The photos were nice, but I think Bernie would be the first to admit that the turnout is what really made this event. It is not easy driving out to Los Angeles in rush hour traffic, but people were eager to show their support and appreciation to Bernie. It was a very nice event attended by great people. Continue reading

Photos from the 3rd Annual Local Craft Beer Festival at Rock & Brews

Sunday afternoon, Rock & Brews El Segundo held their 3rd Annual Local Craft Beer Festival which featured many of LA’s finest craft brewers as well as carnival games for the kids and some of the adults. This was my first time attending the Local Craft Beer Festival and I had a blast. While I am readily familiar with many of the beers brewed by our local brewers, a couple of my favorite microbreweries brought out new brews that I had not tried yet and at least one brewer, El Segundo Brewing Company, used the event to introduce their latest addition to their ever expanding list of craft beers.

It was a beautiful sunny day by the beach with families, dogs and craft beer aficionados enjoying each other’s company with lots of delicious food available and since it was held at Rock & Brews, the wafting sounds of rock and roll in the background.

The breweries in attendance included El Segundo Brewing Company, Strand Brewing Company, Eagle Rock Brewing, Smog City Brewing, Monkish Brewing Company, The Bruery, The Brewery at Abigaile, Hangar 24 Craft Brewery, Golden Road Brewing, Port Town Brewing, Ohana Brewing Company, Bootlegger’s Brewery, The Dudes’ Brewing Company, Cosmic Ales, Tap It Brewing, Cismontane Brewing Company, Nobel Ale Works, Angel City Brewery and Venice Beach Beer Company.

Rock & Brews is located at 145 Main Street in El Segundo, CA. Continue reading

17th Annual Pacific Brewers Cup at Smog City Brewing

These photos are from the 17th Annual Pacific Brewers Cup Homebrew Competition which was held Saturday, September 14, 2013 at Smog City Brewing Company in Torrance, CA. The Pacific Brewers Cup competition is hosted on a rotating basis by three local home brewer clubs; Strand Brewers Club from Torrance, Long Beach Homebrewers and Pacific Gravity from Culver City. This year the Long Beach Homebrewers were the hosts. The Pacific Brewers Cup 2013 was an AHA sanctioned homebrew competition and used the beer style guidelines published by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP).

While I have sampled a few beers in my time and acted as a judge recently for a small homebrew competition I have never been to a competition of this magnitude before. I was told that there were over 450 entries so before I got there I wondered how the heck you get enough people to judge that many beers in one sitting. To be honest, as of this writing all indications are that the judging is still going on. As you can see by the photos they broke the beers down by category so the judges only had to rate one style of beer at a time. Of course, I was only there within the first two hours of the event so there is a pretty good likelihood that after one style was finished they had to move on to another. The Best of Show winner gets an opportunity to brew his winning beer at Ohana Brewing Company, so there was a lot of incentive to put out an award winning beer.

I did not get an opportunity to try any of the submissions, but I did not see a lot of beer being poured into the bucket so it looked like judges were not having too much trouble enjoying their Saturday morning. I know it gave me some incentive to look into learning to be a BJCP certified judge. Once I learn who the winner was, I will come update this article. Good luck to all; cheers!

The winners of the Pacific Brewers Cup have been announced. Please visit http://pacificbrewerscup.com/?q=node%2F16 for details.
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