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Sophie’s Place

American Craft Beer Week 2014, Day1: Good, Better, Worst

Monday May 12 was day one of the 9th Annual American Craft Beer Week, and it is the third consecutive year that I have covered the event. In 2012 I participated by trying to find as many American craft beer locations as possible in the South Bay. In 2013 I set out to visit as many Great American Beer Festival gold medal award winning breweries as possible. Since there has been such an explosion of growth in the craft beer sector around here, I decided that this year will be devoted to the local craft breweries, brewpubs and gastropubs.

I started off by visiting San Pedro Brewing Company (SPBC), a brewpub that has been around for close to 15 years. They have won more than 40 medals at local county fairs, commercial beer competitions and international beer festivals. They have not entered competitions such as the Great American Beer Festival because they have a small brewing system and do not currently have the capacity to brew enough beers to handle the increased demand winning a competition like that would bring. That may soon change though as they are in the process of dealing with the paperwork to open a new location around the corner which will be called Port Town Brewing. SPBC Head Brewer Jason Welke will likely do the brewing for SPBC and Port Town with the SPBC system being used for experimental batches. The hope is to have Port Town Brewing open by next American Craft Beer Week. For those that like bourbon barrel aged brews, Wednesday evening at 6:30 SPBC will have their 2nd Bourbon Barrel Aged Beer Night featuring their Blitzen Belgian Winter Ale and Sunken City Imperial Stout. I went to their first barrel aged event in February and they had some delicious brews. If you are looking for something to do, you really cannot miss by attending this event. San Pedro Brewing Company is located at 331 W. 6th Street in San Pedro and is open seven days a week. Continue reading

A visit to the Alpine Beer Company Brewpub

When we left Arizona and headed back home I programmed a slight detour into my car’s GPS system as we took the long way home and headed to Alpine Beer Company, in Alpine, California. As you will likely notice, the photos in this gallery were taken over the course of two separate visits to the Alpine Beer Company brewpub. The first time I went there was last year when I was returning from a trade show, the experience was fun enough that I made a second 100+ mile detour to return there last week.

My first experience that I recall trying an Alpine Beer Company beer was at a bottle share in 2012 when someone brought a growler of Nelson IPA. I was so impressed that whenever I am anywhere close to Alpine, CA I do what I can to go to the source. As fate would have it, both times that I have gone there it has been a Sunday which means the brewery itself is closed. “Settling” for the brewpub is hardly a bad thing as their food, home-style barbecue, is pretty good if you like barbecue but the beer is what is my draw. While I am always pretty vocal about “Top 10″ lists and how they are pretty useless when it comes to beer; I will admit that I do look at them once in a while. In my opinion, a Top 10 IPA list that ignores Alpine Beer Company just confirms that my general opinion of Top 10 lists is dead on.

Since it was getting a little late in the day we did not have the time to sample all 10 beers that they had available that day, but we did order a brisket plate and a small flight consisting of the McIlhenney’s Irish Red, Captain Stout, Pure Hoppiness IPA and an Odin’s Raven Imperial Stout. While the Pure Hoppiness was naturally my favorite, all four were very solid brews and the Odin’s Raven was particularly delicious. The downside of the brewpub is that they do not do growler fills, so we grabbed several bottles to bring home. Continue reading

Photos from Sophie’s Movember Social

In 2003, Travis Garone and Luke Slattery from Melbourne Australia were having a beer, discussing fashion trends and mustaches. Apparently, in Australia they were few and far between and Travis and Luke decided they were going to bring it back in fashion, at least for the month of November. Inspired by a friend’s mother who was fundraising for breast cancer, they decided to start a campaign about men’s health and prostate cancer. They got 30 friends to join them in growing mustaches for the month of November, and Movember was born. Unfortunately, they raised no funds that first year but a tradition was born. 10 years later, 4 million people around the world were participating in the Movember movement and more than $433,649,258 has been raised since 2003.

Sophie’s Place, a gastropub in the Riviera Village section of Redondo Beach has been participating in Movember for the past few years (as long as I have known them anyway) with the owners and employees participating in the fundraising effort with their Movember Team “Sophie’s Stache’s.” Wednesday evening they held their annual Sophie’s Movember Social. The evening had drink specials and donations to “Sophie’s Stache’s” were accepted. It was a fun night for a good cause.

Sophie’s Place is located at 1708 S. Catalina in Redondo Beach. Cheers! Continue reading

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

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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