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Temecula: It isn’t just about the wine any more

While it may not be as well-known as the Napa-Sonoma wine region of California, the Temecula Valley area of the Inland Empire has at least 35 wineries and has gained considerable respectability with the wines they provide. Like Napa-Sonoma has exploded with craft breweries, the same can be said for Temecula and the Inland Empire; even if not to the same extent. This past weekend I headed out to Temecula and spent a little time checking out the craft breweries that have popped up since my last visit in 2012.

Wiens Brewing Company, as it turns out, opened a couple weeks before I did my 2012 brewery tour. My son lives in the area and he told me about a special anniversary ale that he had heard great things about. Unfortunately, by the time we got there it was all gone. I guess that is to be expected with a limited release. If the Wiens name sounds familiar, it could be because they also own Wiens Family Cellars, a Temecula Valley winery. Wiens had about 11 different beers on tap so we opted for a flight to do a major sampling. At $1.00 each for their flagship beers, it was a great deal. We sampled their Front Street Lager (nice maltiness), Far Post brown ale, Stout, Red Ale, Millennium Falconers IPA, Type 3 IPA (probably my favorite), Insomnia IPA and Descend Black IPA. For dessert we tried their Niflheim Russian Imperial Stout. All the beers were solid brews with the IPAs being my favorite. They offer a few other big beers so I am going to have to plan an overnight trip to Temecula so I can walk back to my hotel after experimenting more. Wiens does bottle many of their beers, so we did pick up one or two to try at home. Wiens Brewing Company is located at 27941 Diaz Road in Temecula.

When we were driving to Wiens some of the street names sounded familiar so I knew we had to be close to Black Market Brewing Company, which we had visited in late 2012. While we were looking for places we had never visited before we had such a good time the first time we were there I was okay with making a return visit. Besides, after a year and a half there had to be some brews we had not tried yet. Black Market Brewing is in a word, huge; they also appear to have a nice barrel aging program. The first time we visited them we had a room at the La Quinta across the street so we were able to take advantage by getting each of the 10 beers they had on tap. By take advantage I mean, they were giving six ounce pours for $1.00 so I could order one of each. This time I was driving, so we limited ourselves to a flight of four; Espionage on Nitro, Rotating IPA, Quadrophenia and Embargo. In my opinion, their big beers really show off Black Market’s brewing skills. Luckily, they bottle and can so we bought a couple bottles to bring home for later. Black Market Brewing Company is located at 41740 Enterprise Circle North in Temecula. Continue reading

Walowski retains title at Smog City Battle of the Cask – Part 2

Saturday afternoon, Torrance production brewery Smog City Brewing held their second Battle of the Cask at their tasting room. Initially the competition was to be between the six Smog City employees, with each of them making their own little tweaks to the Amarilla Gorilla IPA that all used as the base for their cask recipes. As sometimes happens during fermentation, a couple of the casks “exploded” so they had to be disqualified. Luckily, they were able to put them on tap so we could at least try them. They were both amazing.

Anyway, we had five casks to sample and I have to say, this was a really tough decision and that was reflected in the final tally which was a mere five votes between the first and second place choices. Assistant brewer Chris Walowski, who won the Battle of the Casks in December, wowed the crowd again Saturday with his recipe consisting of Merlot Concentrate, Mosaic and Simcoe hops; narrowly edging out Smog City Brewing co-owner, Laurie Porter’s Mango and Muscat Oolong Tea, Peach Puree and Simcoe hops recipe. This made Walowski the undefeated holder of the coveted Budweiser Belt. All the entries were very good and I look forward to the third Battle of the Cask.

By the way, Smog City Brewing Company will be holding their first anniversary party on Saturday, May 17 from 12:00 PM – 8:00 PM. They will be releasing another new beer and they will have their first bottle release. You know there will be more surprises as the date draws closer, but you should probably mark it on your calendars. Cheers! Continue reading

The Birth of Absolution Brewing Company, Torrance

I guess it was sometime in August or September that I was enjoying a beer at Smog City Brewing Company when I was approached by Wes McCann; “I was told I should introduce myself to you” was his opening comment. McCann was a partner and the head brewer for the soon to be Absolution Brewing Company, the latest production craft brewery to open in Torrance. Unfortunately, he did not have any business cards with him and it took me a while to remember the word “absolution” but eventually I was able figure it out and I worked my way over to the location that the brewery and tasting room were to be constructed. It was not long before I met and befriended the other co-owners, Nigel Heath and Steve Farguson.

As you may notice from the photos, the construction was a series of one step forward and two steps back as they discovered things like the floor not being suitable to support the weight of the brewing equipment they hope to eventually grow into. In fact, the building dwarfs the current fermenting tanks; it only takes a brief glance to see that Absolution Brewing Company has plenty of room for growth. Judging by the turnouts at the MUG Club soft open and their official opening on Saturday it will not be long before they grow out of their current system. Cheers! Continue reading

Absolution Brewing Company MUG Club Private Launch Party

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

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