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Small Business Saturday and Craft Beer

November 29 was Small Business Saturday and I suppose if you did not know that, you should not feel like the Lone Ranger. First established in 2010, Small Business Saturday takes place the first Saturday following Thanksgiving and is meant to coincide with Black Friday and Cyber Monday but with the idea that we should “Buy Local” and is targeted towards brick and mortar, mom and pop shops. To be honest, I am not sure that this is being promoted very well. The only advertising I noticed were specials that seemed to require owning and using an American Express card (probably because American Express is such a mom and pop operation); and the City of Torrance declared November 29 through December 6 as Small Business Week. I am not sure that anyone that did not attend last week’s city council meeting would know this though.

Since I like to do my Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve, Small Business Saturday would take a different twist for me. I decided I would spend Saturday visiting small businesses that specialized in craft beer, with an emphasis on Torrance businesses since our mayor did request residents to support Torrance business.

We started off by going to Torrance’s first production brewery, Strand Brewing Company. Strand Brewing opened five years ago and is always a crowd favorite due to a combination of great beer and a very personable Rich Marcello, co-owner and the main sales guy. His enthusiasm for their product is contagious and that has a lot to do with their success. The tasting room is on the small side and can fill up quickly, but everyone just seems to start talking to whomever is close and by the time you leave you have a new friend. Continue reading

Darkstar November Release at Bottle Logic

About two and a half weeks ago I was at the Shelton Brother’s Festival 2014 at the Port of Los Angeles. While I was wandering around trying beers from breweries I had never heard of, my fiancee was bouncing around between a few we were familiar with that had brought bourbon barrel-aged beers (her favorite style) with them. She had a pretty nice selection available to her with Firestone’s Parabola, Beachwood’s Sadie and Faction Brewing’s Nyx-goddess of the Night; heck, The Bruery even brought out some Black Tuesday. She would bring me a sample of each and they were all very good, but I remember when she brought me one in particular from Bottle Logic; it was outstanding. So much so that I went to their booth to find out what it was called; Darkstar November. I told them straight out; “You need to bottle this stuff.” I was happy to hear that this plan was already in motion and I made a mental note to reserve a day towards the end of the month. That day was today.

Bottle Logic Brewing is a production brewery with a tasting room out in Anaheim, which is a little more than 30 miles from us. Since their release did not begin until 4:00 PM and it was the day before Thanksgiving, I knew that the drive could be a bit of a hassle. We have only visited Bottle Logic once before, back in August, and there was a decent but not excessive amount of people there. I was not really sure what kind of crowd they might have there at 4:00 PM on a workday. When we were turning off La Palma onto Armando it became pretty evident that they were having a good showing. To be honest, as we drove around trying to find a parking spot we weighed the option of going elsewhere first, then coming back after the crowd died down. I knew only 3,000 bottles were available and there was a four bottle limit so I did the math and decided we had better stick it out. Continue reading

Business & Beer returns to Absolution Brewing Company

On Thursday evening, the South Bay’s Business & Beer networking group returned to Absolution Brewing Company, a relatively new production brewery and tasting room located in Torrance. In the eight months since the first time Business & Beer visited Absolution Brewing there have been several changes with more on the way. Probably the most visible changes were the available brews, including three barrel-aged varieties and a sour; aesthetically, the changes included a lot more seating along with strategically placed tables so visitors have a place to sit their beers while chatting with other visitors. Probably less obvious was the fact that they have a new head brewer, Bart Bullington, as their former head brewer Wes McCann recently moved back east. Bullington took some time to visit with the group, giving some details of his brewing past as well as his plans for the future. Bullington’s brews should be ready for consumption by next week, so it will be interesting to see if there is any detectable difference.

The Business & Beer networking group is open to all and meets on the second Thursday of every month at a different brewery tasting room or brewpub in the South Bay area. There are currently eight locations in the rotation including The Brewery at Abigaile, El Segundo Brewing Company, Strand Brewing Company, Monkish Brewing Company, King Harbor Brewing Company, The Dudes’ Brewing and Smog City Brewing. There are no dues or other requirements to join Business & Beer, just an appreciation of craft beer and a desire to network with others of the same mindset. You can see the schedule of upcoming events on the Business & Beer home page where you can also sign up to get on their mailing list. You can also Like them on Facebook to be kept in the loop. It is a nice group of people and believe it or not, real business does get done. Cheers! Continue reading

Absolution Brewing Company Welcomes Bullington as Brewmaster

On Friday evening I headed over to Absolution Brewing Company, the newest production brewery to open in Torrance, where they were holding a small gathering to welcome their new brew master, Bart Bullington. Bullington, who will begin his brewing tasks on Monday, has quite a few years of brewing history under his belt including stints at a couple Southern California craft breweries including the Laguna Beach Brewing Company back in the mid-90s, as well as a couple others that are no longer around and most recently (going by memory) Solvang Brewing Company.

I was able to talk to him briefly and while he has no intention of changing the recipes of Absolution Brewing’s flagship brews he said that we should probably notice a slight difference as he adds his touch to them.

Absolution’s original head brewer, Wes McCann will be moving back to the Washington, D.C. area as his wife Ann will be decommissioning her Navy ship in San Diego this winter and is transferring to duties at the Pentagon. McCann has already been in talks with a brewery or two back east so I suspect we have not seen the last of him. We wish Wes and Ann the best of luck in their future. Cheers! Continue reading

Goldie comes to Smog City

Regular visitors to Smog City Brewing Company cannot help but notice the large number of aging barrels that have been accumulating in the tasting room and on Saturday afternoon Smog City released the first of their bourbon barrel-aged beers. Goldie, a Belgian Golden Strong Ale, was aged in those bourbon barrels for over five months. Goldie marks the first release of their boutique and limited release barrel series. Like just about everything that has come out of Smog City in the year and a half since they opened their production brewery in Torrance, it was outstanding. For those that enjoy watching the evolution of the beer they drink, Smog City also offered Atomic 82, Batch 1 and 2. Atomic 82, Batch 1 is what Goldie was before she entered the bourbon barrels. Atomic 82, Batch 2 will become next year’s Goldie. It was interesting how different 1 and 2 were from each other. If you have a chance to try them, I would recommend it. Bottles of Goldie are available at the tasting room; I would not expect to see it at any stores as bottling was extremely limited. So limited that the side labels each has the beer name, bottle number, ABV and bottled on date handwritten on them.

In addition to the Goldie release, Smog City used the opportunity to release their fall seasonal, Smoked Smaug Lager and a bunch of beers I had never tried like Gottalottahops and Wet Hop Hoptonic. It was a good beer day at Smog City Brewing Company. Smog City is located at 1901 Del Amo Boulevard in Torrance. Continue reading

Business & Beer returns to King Harbor Brewing

The Business & Beer networking group returned to King Harbor Brewing Company on Thursday evening for the first time since their soft open back in February. Back in February the King Harbor brewhouse was not yet powered up and all the available beers had been brewed via their pilot system. Eight months later a fully functional brewhouse provided the brews including The Quest Pale Ale with Mosaic Hops, their California Saison, the Abel Brown American Brown Ale and Swirly, which is essentially Abel Brown with vanilla.

In addition to the functioning brewhouse there have been several aesthetic improvements made with more seating at the bar, more tables and more decorations. King Harbor’s success has also resulted in their having more employees to make the customer experience more enjoyable.

Since it was Thursday that meant that it was also Bring Your Own Beer Mug night which allows customers to bring their favorite beer mug or stein and have it filled at the standard price. Those that brought their own mugs were entered into a contest King Harbor runs on their Instagram account; next week the photos will be posted and whoever gets the most votes will win a free growler and fill courtesy of King Harbor Brewing Company. This is a weekly event, so remember to bring your mugs on any Thursday you visit. Continue reading

MacLeod Ale Brewing Company – Cask-Conditioned Ales

A frequent question that is asked with the proliferation of craft breweries in the Los Angeles area is, “Are there too many breweries now”? Well, as a consumer I am not sure that there will ever be too many, even if visiting my favorites is becoming a little more difficult due to the “so many beers, so little time” aspect. One thing that prevents there being “too many” is when breweries start producing beers that are different than what everyone else in the area is doing; MacLeod Ale Brewing Company would be one of those that are doing things a little differently with all their brews being cask-conditioned and serving them at the traditional cellar temperature of 54°.

I had only visited MacLeod once before back in June, but they were not officially open yet and only had one ale on tap. MacLeod Ale Brewing Company was recently named Best Local Brewery by LA Hot List voters which has brought them additional exposure including being noticed by Timeout.com. Last night I saw the MacLeod Ale needed some photos taken for the Time Out article so I decided I would lend a helping hand and use the opportunity to see how much has changed in the last four months.

The most obvious difference was that not only did they have customers in their tasting room; they are now offering six different taps to chose from. Last night they had two versions of their Session Gap ordinary bitter, The Little Spree Yorkshire Pale Ale, The King’s Taxes 60/- and two versions of Jackie Tar Brown Stout. If you have ever visited a pub in London you will definitely recognize the taste and style as being authentic. Continue reading

LA Beer Week continues: Torrance tasting rooms & Caskforce at Beachwood

Sunday was day two of the 6th Annual LA Beer Week and I decided to start the day off by visiting a couple of the Torrance tasting rooms since they were not around last year. The afternoon began at Torrance’s oldest production brewery, Strand Brewing Company. It was not particularly crowded, but they did have a nice group in there; due in part to LA Craft Beer Tours bringing a group in. I had the opportunity to visit with a few people and wish Nikki good luck as she will be leaving us soon to take on a new job with Drake’s Brewing. Congratulations, Nikki. Strand Brewing Company is located at 23520 Telo Avenue in Torrance.

I then headed over to The Dudes’ Brewing Company to see what has been going on there since their grand opening last week. The first thing I noticed was that they now have ample seating for everyone; to celebrate LA Beer Week The Dudes’ held raffles for beer, shirts, hats and other swag over the weekend. In addition to eight or nine beers on tap they also offered one on nitro and one on cask. It looks like The Dudes’ have gotten the hang of the tasting room and they should be quite successful as time goes on. The Dudes’ Brewing Company is located at 1840 W. 208th Street in Torrance.

For my final production brewery stop, I paid a visit to Absolution Brewing Company. It has been a few weeks since I was there and again, one of the first things I noticed was that they rearranged their pews to make it easier for people to sit together and talk while enjoying a guilt free Absolution brew. Judging by all the new kegs that were waiting to be filled it would be safe to presume that their distribution to bars and restaurants must be doing pretty well. Absolution Brewing Company is located at 2878 Columbia Street in Torrance. Continue reading

Photos from The Dudes’ Brewing Company Grand Opening

It seems like we have been waiting forever, but the day has finally come; The Dudes’ Brewing Company has officially opened their tasting room to the public and the public turned out en masse. Even though they opened their doors at 3:00 PM, when most people are at work, there was a line forming by the time I got there; and I got there early. In the last minutes before the doors were officially opened, finish work and clean up was being completed on the new tap room. When the doors opened everyone lined up at the bar to order one of the many beers brewed by The Dudes’. The brews included the familiar Double Trunk, Grandma’s Pecan, Kolschtal Eddy, Blood Orange and Grinning Face with the not as well-known South Bay Session and the newly introduced California IPA and El Duderino Agave Wheat.

The grand opening continues Saturday and Sunday when The Dudes’ will be open from noon until 10:00 PM. Throughout the weekend various cask offerings will be made available along with giveaways and special beer pricing. There will also be food trucks for those seeking food.

The Dudes’ Brewing Company
is located at 1840 W. 208th Street in Torrance. Their hours, for the time being, will be Thursdays and Fridays from 3:00-10:00 PM and 12:00-10:00 on Saturdays and Sundays. I had a few people come up and tell me that some of the brews that they had tried before seemed even better straight from the source, and I believe that would be tough to dispute. Welcome to the South Bay, Dudes. Cheers! Continue reading

The Dudes’ Brewing Company Tasting Room to Become Reality

Dudes' Taps

13 Taps, ready to pour

It was probably the middle of 2012 when I met a couple owners of a soon to be new production brewery in Torrance; The Dudes’ Brewing Company. When I talked to them about their plans I was a little surprised to hear that they were jumping into this brewing thing with both feet as their plans included canning immediately and opening a tasting room a little later. While canning usually comes a little later in the growth process of a new brewery, The Dudes’ brew house was not exactly typical when compared to other local brewers. What I found interesting was that the tasting room was going to be off-site of the brewery; Hermosa Avenue in Hermosa Beach had been mentioned with a location in Redondo Beach being mentioned after it seemed clear that Hermosa Beach was not going to happen. After the brewery started producing and canning beer it was decided that the tasting room would be opened on-site. While the big question was “when” it seems that the question has finally been answered; The Dudes’ Brewing Company tasting room will be open for business on Friday, September 12, 2014 at 3:00 PM.
Dudes' Handle

Open Friday, September 12

If you have not had an opportunity to visit The Dudes’ yet, the first thing you will probably notice is that their brewing system is highly automated and huge; too big to be making small batches with, that is for sure. The Dudes’ invested in a 3.5 barrel pilot system for their experimental brews and this will allow them to open with close to 13 taps; several of which have yet to be seen outside the brewery. Beers that will be available include their Kolschtal Eddy, Double Trunk DIPA, Grandma’s Pecan, South Bay Session Ale, Grinning Face Porter, a couple from their Juicebox Series and a brand new IPA and agave wheat that have not been given names yet. There will be pint and half pint tasting specials including $3.00 pints of the South Bay Session Ale. Growlers and four-packs will also be available for purchase.

The Dudes’ Brewing Company is located at 1840 W. 208th Street in Torrance. This Friday, September 12, they will be open from 3:00-10:00 PM; Saturday and Sunday they will be open 12:00-10:00 PM. There will be specials and giveaways all weekend so I hope to see you there as we welcome the South Bay’s newest tasting room. Cheers!

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