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Redondo Beach

National Taco Day & craft beer in the South Bay

If you did not know that October 4 is National Taco Day, do not feel like the Lone Ranger; it seems that this is a rather well-kept secret. The fact of the matter is I did not know it was National Taco Day until almost noon when I saw it float by on my Facebook feed. I decided that since it seems every gastropub and sports bar in Los Angeles County has a Taco Tuesday, I would see what they had to offer for National Taco Day. I put out the question, “where can I get good tacos and craft beer” on Facebook and was given several suggestions. The problem was that a majority of the suggested locations did not see the value of having a website that provided a menu of their food or available beers. Since I was not about to drive 25-40 miles each way on a maybe, I decided that I would stay local.

One of the suggestions I got was Hot’s Kitchen, a gastropub in Hermosa Beach. Hot’s has a very good tap list with 56 craft brews available on tap at any one time. They have an extensive list of tacos but had no idea it was National Taco Day; we did not let that stop us. The initial intent of this journey was to visit three locations and split a couple tacos at each location. After splitting a Thai and Lamb Taco between the two of us at Hot’s Kitchen, we both had serious reservations about whether or not we could eat two tacos at the remaining locations. The tacos and beer (Anchor California Lager and Duvel) were great; they had a fly issue that took away from the experience. One of the problems of the beach I guess.

Since we were in the neighborhood and I was aware that they had a Taco Tuesday, we headed over to Game Changers sports bar. Game Changers has 54 beers on tap, so it is usually pretty easy to find something you might like; I went with a Levitation Ale. I forgot that they changed up their food menu and many of the tacos had shellfish which my girl, Tanya, can’t eat, so we were kind of limited on the choices. We went with a Buzzer Beater which was huge; tasty, but huge. We were going to have issues trying to have another taco at our third destination. Continue reading

LA Beer Week comes to a close

Sunday, day 11 of LA Beer Week (LABW5) and congratulations to those of you that survived. While I did not attend the event at Union Station a week ago, I cannot imagine trying to do it at the end of an 11 day week. I started the day by heading over to King Harbor Brewing Company where I got the opportunity to meet their head brewer as he christened the location by brewing a small batch saison. A little later in the day I was informed that Smog City Brewing was hosting a panel, School of BJ’s Brewer Panel Discussion featuring Jonathan Porter of Smog City, Tyler King of The Bruery, David Griffiths of Ladyface Alehouse & Brasserie, Evan Price of Noble Ale Works and Owen Williams of Ritual Brewing Company. It turns out that the common denominator between the five of them is that they all brewed at BJ’s; who would have guessed? We decided to begin by going to Monkish Brewing to try their LABW5 entry, End of Summer, a Belgian Honey Ale. We then headed around the corner to Smog City.

As it turned out the event was not really supposed to be public as Beer Paper LA was using the opportunity to interview the brewers for an upcoming issue and they were concerned I would scoop them; so I bailed. You should be able to read about it and see any photos in their upcoming issue.

It really was a fun week and I had a great time. I would like to extend special thanks to The Brewery at Abigaile, Naja’s Place, Rock & Brews PCH, Monkish Brewing Company, Strand Brewing Company, San Pedro Brewing Company, Alpine Village and El Segundo Brewing Company for their hospitality and generosity over the past week. It was truly appreciated. Cheers! Continue reading

Beer, beer and more beer for day 10 of LA Beer Week

It may have been day 10 of LA Beer Week (LABW5) but the list of available events to attend gave no indication that we were wrapping things up as far as “beer week” was concerned. I could not help but think back to an article I read while researching American Craft beer Week; at one point it was actually American Craft Beer Month! I can understand why they decided to cut back to a week, but I had to wonder how long an LA Beer Month would last. Luckily, there were lots of great events in my own backyard, so I kept it local.

I started Saturday off at Smog City Brewing in Torrance and their Rarest of the Rare and event that pulled in beer geeks from all over the LA and Orange Counties. Their owner, Porter, has a reputation for “hoarding” beers and he brought out a good number of them Saturday. There were barrel aged, sours, and collaboratives; there were 19 or 20 different brews in total. As I knew I had a long day ahead of me, I stuck to taking photos knowing I would return later.

A little later I headed over to El Segundo Brewing Company (ESBC) for their Hop Tanker DIPA Release Party. To celebrate LABW5 and the addition of Hop Tanker to their tap list, they brought out many of the different beers head brewer Rob Croxall has produced over the years. As expected, they had a great turnout so they opened up the entire brewery, utilizing taps in the front and rear as well as a separate filling station for growlers. Making special on cask appearances were Melon Collie, White Dog on Ogen heirloom melons; Blue Cubed, Blue House IPA with Sugar Cube heirloom melons; and Blue House IPA on peaches. 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

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

Coastline Brewing Name Change: King Harbor Brewing Company

KHBC Logo

King Harbor Brewing Company

Some of you may recall that back in July I mentioned that Redondo Beach was getting a new microbrewery, Coastline Brewing Company; well, Redondo Beach is still getting their microbrewery, but the name has been changed to King Harbor Brewing Company.

According to King Harbor Brewing Company co-owner Tom Dunbabin, they recently learned that there is a winery up north in Santa Rosa, Coastline Cellars, and they did not want their beer brand confused with Coastline Cellar’s wine brand. If you recall the issues in the recent past between Magic Hat Brewing and West Sixth Brewing with their logos and earlier in the year between 38 Degrees Ale House and Grill in Alhambra and 38º Carlsbad this makes perfect sense; eliminate any potential problems before they become real problems.

KHBC construction

Ongoing construction at King Harbor Brewing Company

When it came time to come up with a new name, Dunbabin states; “We went back to our source of inspiration – the beach. Not just any beach, but the beaches of the South Bay. This is the area that we love – from our favorite craft beer bars, breweries, and restaurants, our friends, families, to the unique history. We quickly realized that while we loved the Coastline name it lacked a specific tie to this area, something that is very important to this brewery.” 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

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

8th Annual American Craft Beer Week, Day 7

The 8th Annual American Craft Beer Week (ACBW) came to an end on Sunday, but not before I got an opportunity to track down some more award winning breweries. As it happened, I had a wine festival to cover on Sunday; it was a fundraiser for a non-profit, which is why I let it cut into my beer time. Since the event was out in Santa Monica, I took advantage of my geographical location and took a break from the wine event to seek a local craft beer spot that I was unaware of. I was pretty surprised when we found Westwood Brewing Company because Westwood is a high rent area which means it had to have been there for a while; why had I never heard of it?

Turns out that Westwood Brewing Company (WBC) has been around for about 20 years, stopped brewing about 9 years ago and won some awards at local beer shows. Sadly they will be closing in August to become a crab restaurant. Not sure if they are using the kettles to boil the crabs or not. Anyway, there was no WBC beer to be had, so I had a Chainbreaker White IPA by Deschute’s (2012 GABF Silver Medal) which was perfect on the hot summer day. Not much to say about the place since they are closing other than I am sure they will be missed by the UCLA students.

Later that day we headed to Sophie’s Place in Redondo Beach. Sophie’s Place is a nice little gastropub, located in the Riviera Village section of Redondo. They have 8 rotating taps and about 50 other craft beers available in bottles and cans. It is hard to believe that I only started going there 10 months ago because it sure seems like I am there a lot. It is owned by three brothers, one of which, Bobby, is a big fan of craft beer and does some home brewing. Bobby takes pride in the beers he has available and frequently hosts events to promote our local microbreweries. For day 7 of ACBW, Bobby divided his taps between two Central California craft brewers, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company and Firestone Walker Brewing Company; both of which are GABF award winners. Since I was not ready to do a flight of eight, I opted for a 2nd Anniversary Grand Cru, a Hurricane Deck and Big Cone Black Ale from Figueroa Mountain; and a Sucaba from Firestone.

It was another fun American Craft Beer Week; I am going to have to figure out something different for next year. Continue reading

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