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Photos from the Abigaile & Ocean Bar Oktoberfest Brewtopia

On Sunday afternoon, Abigaile Restaurant & Ocean Bar in Hermosa Beach continued their series of Brewtopia beer festivals, this time combining it with Oktoberfest since it is October. The event featured a wide selection of beer from such breweries as Stone, Black Market, New Belgium, Great Divide, Paulaner, AleSmith, Green Flash and The Bruery. Also included in the price of admission was all you could eat pretzels, sauerkraut and brats, and burgers. There was live entertainment provided by Mark Righteous and Jason Juices.

After a couple months of weather that was about as unnatural for this area as it comes, we actually had a nice day at the beach; not too hot and not too humid, it was just about perfect. Typically these mini-festivals at Abigaile have been packed but yesterday’s event was anything but which meant plenty for everyone and no lines. I cannot really explain the low turnout but those that did come out had a great time.

Before I left, I stopped at the bar to try the new brew by Abigaile’s new brewer, Paul Papantonio; it is a black IPA named Midnight Mass. I had an opportunity to try it a couple weeks ago at Abigaile’s Meet the Brewer event when it was “not quite ready” and all I can say is that Papantonio has some big shoes to fill following Brian Brewer, but if he did this well on his first brew with the new-to-him system, we have a lot to look forward to. Cheers! Continue reading

Photos from the 2015 Pacific Brewers Cup

These photos are from the 2015 Pacific Brewers Cup homebrew competition which was held Saturday afternoon at Four Points by Sheraton at LAX. The event was hosted by Strand Brewers Club, Long Beach Homebrewers, and Pacific Gravity. There were 458 entries consisting of beer, mead and ciders.

While these photos were all taken Saturday, the fact of the matter is that with 458 entries, the judging portion actually started two weeks ago when members of the Strand Brewers Club had to sort the 1300 plus bottles into categories and get all the information entered in the competitions database. I helped out on the sorting by scanning in the entries with their assigned competition number; this gave me an opportunity to see where the entries came from. I have to admit, I was pretty surprised at how far and wide they came from; with several entries coming from out of state. Because of the substantial number of entries, there were a couple judging sessions done ahead of time.

As you might think, it is quite the task to judge 458 beers, mead and ciders and it truly takes a lot of work by an organized team to pull that off. The team yesterday consisted of 70 judges and 42 stewards. I met one of the judges yesterday that came all the way from Chandler, Arizona “for the love of beer” as opposed to trying to escape Chandler’s 100+ weather. While the judges were truly put to the test, I doubt that the event could have moved as smoothly as it did without the efforts of the stewards. Head Steward Barbara Bovee is to be congratulated for keeping things as organized as they were. Continue reading

LA Beer Week 2015: Pink Boots Takeover at Three Weavers

Monday was day three of the 2015 LA Beer Week (#LABW7) and the celebration of Los Angeles’ craft beer scene continued with numerous events. I decided to head over to the Three Weavers Brewing Company tasting room in Inglewood where the Los Angeles Chapter of the Pink Boots Society held a fundraiser for their scholarship fund in the form of a tap takeover featuring craft beers from 20 breweries.

I have to admit that when I first heard about the event I figured we would attend primarily because it was a fundraiser for the Pink Boots Society and it would be one way I could give back to the industry. When I got there I discovered that there were some pretty outstanding beers featured and a fun group of people to enjoy them with.

The Pink Boots Society was created “to empower women beer professionals to advance their careers in the beer industry through education.” This is done via regional meetings, seminars and their scholarship fund. An example of the types of scholarships they fund would be the two-day Barth-Haas Hops Academy held in Yakima, WA this coming August. The scholarships are open to Pink Boots Society members and to become a member you must be a woman that has a paying job within the beer industry. Continue reading

Photos from the 4th Annual Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival

These photos are from Saturday at the 4th Annual Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival (FWIBF15) which was held at the Paso Robles Event Center. The festival included craft beer of 53 breweries from all over the United States, Europe and beyond. This was my first opportunity to attend and I did not attend as any type of “official media” so my experience was probably similar to that of any other first time attendee; except I probably waited in line longer to get in. On Friday night I had heard stories of lines just to get in reaching down the street and around the block, so I walked over to the event center and was there before 9:00 AM. If you are taking notes, the event did not start until noon and there was nothing to be gained by being among the first 20 to be there. If you get there at noon you will be fine.

To be honest, I was not aware that this was only the fourth Invitational and it is definitely run like they have been doing it a lot longer. I had the opportunity to speak with individuals that had attended multiple times before and the one thing that became obvious is that Firestone Walker listened to the feedback they received after each event. For example, in the beginning, attendees had to buy food and water. As the event evolved it now has free food from 26 restaurants and multiple free water stations with enough filtered water to hydrate the 3,000 plus attendees. Now, I have to say, I am not really sure how many tickets were sold but between comments I heard, articles I read and a personal guess, I would guess between 3,000 and 4,000. The thing is, the location can hold a lot more than that and when you divide them between 80 booths there was not much in the way of lines. Naturally, there were some breweries like Three Floyds and Alchemist that had long lines all day; and when breweries like Beachwood or The Bruery had their special pours people started waiting; but most of the lines that I experienced moved rather quickly. Continue reading

Brewtopia at Abigaile Restaurant Photos

These photos are from the Brewtopia Beer Garden which was held at Abigaile Restaurant and the Ocean Bar & Lounge located in Hermosa Beach. This was the second “beer garden” event held at Abigaile in the last four months that showcased LA Brewers Guild breweries and this time it featured a few breweries that came from out of the area.

The breweries that I noticed in attendance included Mammoth Brewing Company, Bootlegger’s, Hangar 24, Bravery, Kinetic, El Segundo Brewing, Monkish, Smog City, Taps Fish House, The Bruery, Three Weavers, Absolution, Golden Road, Eagle Rock, Coachella Valley Brewing, King Harbor and Noble Ale Works. Included in the price of admission was all the food you could get your hands on from Chef Tin’s grill which appeared to be quite popular; I just wish I had three hands so I could hold food and beer while still taking photos.

While this event seemed to be as well attended as the prior Novem-BEER-Fest as far as beer drinkers, the faces behind the breweries were not very well represented. Beerlebrity sightings while I was there was limited to Nigel Heath from Absolution Brewing and Brian Brewer, former brewer for The Brewery at Abigaile and brewer for the soon to be HopSaint brewpub that will be opening in Torrance. I also noticed several Craft Beer Guy followers, and I always personally appreciate that. Continue reading

Brewtopia at Abigaile: Sunday, March 8

Novem-BEER-Fest attendees

Join the Fun at Brewtopia – March 8, 2015

Next Sunday, March 8, Abigaile Restaurant and Ocean Bar in Hermosa Beach will hold their inaugural Brewtopia Beer Garden, featuring 23 of Los Angeles’ finest craft breweries and food prepared by Abigail’s Chef Tin who will be providing his latest barbecue grill creations. This is the second beer garden event hosted by Abigaile, with the last one being their Novem-BEER-Fest which was held in the middle of last November. If you did not make it to Novem-BEER-Fest you missed a great event that featured some very good brews and lots of really tasty foods. Brewtopia will have even more breweries represented with more food at the same price as Novem-BEER-Fest.

The breweries scheduled to attend include Absolution, Alosta, Angel City, Beachwood, Bootlegger’s, Bravery, The Bruery, Eagle Rock, El Segundo, Golden Road, Kinetic, King Harbor, Ladyface, Monkish, MacLeod, Noble, Phantom, Progress, Smog City, Strand, Timeless Pints, The Dudes’ and Three Weavers. The food menu includes short-ribs, skewers, sliders, garlic knots and a lot more. If you have ever been to an Abigaile event you know the special treats that Chef Tin comes up with; if you have not, you are in for a special treat. I could tell you that the skewers will be made up of Katsu glazed salmon or Korean beef coconut or curry chicken sate; or that there will be Chilled Peanut Somen Noodle but the names, as exotic as they are, will fall short in describing the tasty foods you will experience if you show up at Brewtopia.

Brewtopia Beer Garden featuring 23 local craft breweries

Brewtopia Beer Garden featuring 23 local craft breweries

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The 2014 Craft Beer Guy Year in Review

As 2014 winds down I faced the question posed to me by a few people; “Will Craft Beer Guy be writing an article about the year?” Initially I thought I would do a Top 10 list and just discuss the Top 10 breweries and brewpubs in the South Bay. I figured it would be easy because there were only 10 craft brewers here, but in the last month so many new locations have opened that we now have 12 if you count Phantom Carriage that has not “officially” opened yet. The South Bay now has the following breweries and brewpubs in its confines; in order of seniority (I think) they are: Red Car Brewery, San Pedro Brewing Company, Strand Brewing Company, El Segundo Brewing Company, Monkish Brewing Company, The Brewery at Abigaile, Smog City Brewing, The Dudes’ Brewing Company, Absolution Brewing Company, King Harbor Brewing Company, Three Weavers Brewing and Phantom Carriage. 2015 should bring us a few more including Hop Saint, Brouwerij West and Port Town Brewing; and those are just the ones that come to mind. There will also be some moves and expansions among those listed above. With that I now present you The 2014 Craft Beer Guy Year in Review.

January 2014

Noble flight

Noble Ale Works Flight

As I look through my articles from January I see that it was a pretty mellow month or the calm before the storm if you prefer. I would have to say my personal highlight of the month was a Sunday afternoon that we spent visiting several of the Orange County craft brewery tasting rooms and brewpubs. The day included stops at Bootlegger’s Brewery, Taps Fish House & Brewery, Noble Ale Works, Tustin Brewing Company and Brewbakers. Each of these stops were first time visits and I would not have a problem recommending any of them. The thing is, in the past year Orange County has opened so many new tasting rooms and brewpubs that it is getting tough to try and keep up with them all; but I will try. 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

3rd Annual Alpine Kraft Bierfest Photos

When Alpine Village held their first Alpine Kraft Bierfest in the big tent back in 2012 they had almost as many beers as they did attendees. I suspect it had something to do with the timing in that it was held the week before Oktoberfest, so some people may have just thought the ads were for Oktoberfest rather than the American craft beer event it was intended to be.

In 2013, the 2nd Annual Alpine Kraft Bierfest was moved into the Alpine Inn, more breweries and beers were added, a little more advertising was done and the attendance level more than doubled.

For 2014 it was decided that the event would stay inside the Alpine Inn, but the event would be held over the course of two sessions; one on Friday evening with the second session being held Saturday afternoon. To avoid the possibility of the best brews running out during the first session, Alpine’s event coordinators decided to split up the beers by day and put up a schedule of appearance for the brews so people could choose which day would have the most beers that they wanted to try. It seemed to work pretty well. Continue reading

The Shelton Brothers blow away LA craft beer freaks

This past weekend was nothing short of amazing in the craft beer world as Shelton Brothers, importers and distributors of small batch beers and ciders from all over the world, brought The Festival 2014 to the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro. The Festival 2014 took place over the course of four sessions split up over Saturday and Sunday afternoon. There were literally beers from all four corners of the world with close to 100 breweries represented and probably close to 400 different brews to choose from. Someone commented to me that it would be impossible to try all the offerings in one session. The fact of the matter is that it would be impossible to try everything there over the course of the four sessions.

The Saturday sessions were very well attended, but with all the amazing brews available there were only two booths that even had a line, 3 Fonteinen and Cantillon; by Sunday even they had no lines. It is not very often that you can go to a beer festival and have no lines for Beachwood, Firestone or The Bruery. I understand that San Diego Beer Week started on the same weekend, but if you drove to San Diego instead of staying in LA I am afraid you blew it. The selection of beer at The Festival would be pretty tough to beat anywhere.

Like many of you, when I go to a beer festival I like to try beers I have not had an opportunity to try before; at The Festival 2014 I was able to try numerous beers from breweries I had never heard of. Of course, there were plenty of breweries I had heard of, just never experienced and I did my best to make up for that. Continue reading

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