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Galaxy Defender: A great beer for a good cause

Since this is one of my newer websites, I understand that not everyone knows me as well as those that have been following me for a while You may have noticed that I am not in the habit of discussing or rating individual beers, primarily because I feel that is far too difficult a task to be done objectively and I would not want to have a negative influence on a particular brew simply because it was not my thing. That being said, I will make an exception to this self imposed rule when I find out the beer is part of a fundraising campaign and even more so if that fundraising effort has anything to do with kids. I am all about helping kids and have been for more than 30 years.

Anyway, Friday evening I stopped by Monkish Brewing in Torrance and as is my habit, I requested the brew I had never tried before which was Galaxy Defender on Friday. I am a hop head; and for that I make no excuses; I wear the tag proudly. The fact is that I have talked to Henry Nguyen, the owner/brewer of Monkish Brewing Company about the chances of his ever brewing an IPA and the response had always been the same: he is just not interested in brewing an IPA. I just learned to accept that as fact. When I first smelled the Galaxy Defender I could not believe what I was smelling; one taste had me hooked. This is a true Belgian Pale Ale, it borders on being a Belgian IPA; but like I said, I am not about reviewing individual beers. Suffice it to say, it was good enough that I drove home and picked up a growler to be enjoyed later.

Saturday afternoon I was out and about at the local South Bay microbreweries and during my travels I discovered that there was more to the Galaxy Defender than the great taste; it turns out that $1.00 from every pint is donated to the Los Angeles Galaxy South Bay soccer club, of which one of Nguyen’s kids is a member. They are trying to raise money for scholarships and Monkish Brewing is doing their part by donating money from every sale of the Galaxy Defender Belgian Pale Ale. I knew there were Galaxy Hops, so I presumed that the “galaxy” in Galaxy Defender referred to the galaxy hops; it turns out that the Nguyen’s son is a defender on the LA Galaxy’s soccer club, hence the name, Galaxy Defender. Continue reading

Lots brewing at El Segundo Brewing Company

The problem, if you want to call it that, with all the new microbreweries popping up in Southern California is that even with the increased beer production there are still only 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week. In other words, there is a lot more beer available but the same amount of hours to drink it in. As a result, sometimes it takes a while for me to make a return visit to a specific microbrewery, even if it is one of my favorites. Such is the case with El Segundo Brewing Company (ESBC), a microbrewery in El Segundo, CA.

I first visited the El Segundo Brewing tasting room in May of 2012, on that day they had three varieties of beer available; White Dog IPA, Blue House Pale Ale and Hyperion’s Stout. When I visited yesterday they had eight varieties on tap (although they were sold out of two of them). El Segundo Brewing has grown a lot over the last 15 months with as many as four different IPAs being available at any one time, as well as a stout or two and even a (recently added) saison. Recent expansion has enabled them to increase production allowing ESBC to not only offer more variety, but they now sell bottles that can be found at places like Total Wine, Whole Foods and any bottle shop worth its salt in the Greater Los Angeles area. Of course, the best gastropubs also pour El Segundo Brewing Company’s beers with their Citra Pale Ale and White Dog IPA being the two I see around most frequently.

El Segundo Brewing Company is located at 140 Main Street in El Segundo and they are open Wednesday thru Friday from 5:00-9:00 PM, Saturdays from 2:00-9:00 and Sundays 2:00-7:00 PM. They do not serve food but you are welcome to bring food in with you. If you have never visited El Segundo Brewing before, I recommend getting a flight; it is a great way to try all ESBC has to offer. Continue reading

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

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