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The Craft Beer Guy 2015 Year in Review

HopSaint brewpub

HopSaint Brewing Company Now Soon!

Well, there are still a couple of days left in 2015 but I think it is safe to write my year-end review of 2015. To be honest, there has been so much activity in the craft beer world this past year that I would not be surprised to have something new pop up before Thursday night.(So, this is taking me a while to write, and yes, there have been updates since I started).

There were several beer buyouts that seemed to dominate most other craft beer sites, but the craft world in my immediate domain only seemed to increase. Yeah, Golden Road got bought, but I only went there for special events and I guess that means there will be fewer of them there in the future. In the meantime, the reach of this site seems to be increasing. In the beginning people pretty much pigeonholed this site as covering the South Bay craft beer scene only. This year I covered various local beer events from the Antelope Valley to Orange County. Attendees have come up asking if I am now covering the west side, or wherever we might be. I guess the answer is yes; and I will expand my area as long as it is requested.

2015 in the South Bay ended pretty much as it started, with the soft open of a new brewpub. In January Phantom Carriage officially opened, and at the end of December HopSaint Brewing Company opened their doors. While they are open daily, the official opening of HopSaint will be January 1, 2016 when they will start serving lunch at 11:30 AM. Continue reading

Rock & Brews’ 5th Annual Local Craft Beer Fest

These photos were taken Sunday afternoon at the El Segundo Rock & Brews Garden on Main 5th Annual Local Craft Beer Fest. The family and pet friendly event featured beers by 16 breweries, from Valencia to Redlands and all over the South Bay area. Included in the price of admission, attendees were treated to a nice barbecue, a raffle, face painting, and games for people of all ages.

A few of the breweries in attendance included Absolution Brewing, Strand, El Segundo, Three Weavers, Phantom Carriage and Barley Forge. There was also a first time attendee for any festival I have attended, Reel Brewery. Reel Brewery is currently contract brewing but hope to open a tasting room in 2016 in Van Nuys, around the corner from MacLeod’s. I noticed that Santa Monica Brew Works was converting people with their PCH – Pale Chocolate Heaven. I tried Reel Brewery’s Hollywood Pilsner which was their take on Firestone’s Pivo Pils with their heavy dry-hopping; it was interesting enough that I look forward to visiting their tasting room when it does open. Continue reading

Photos of the 2015 BAM Fest

On Saturday afternoon Tap & Cheer Events presented their 6th Annual Beer, Art and Music Festival, lovingly known as BAM Fest, which was held at the 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica. The 18th Street Arts Center is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization and is the beneficiary of all the proceeds from the BAM Fest fundraiser. The event featured beers and ciders from more than 30 craft breweries as well as foods from six food trucks and live music provided by Nick Shattuck, Heaps N Heaps and Whiskey Sunday.

Considering the heat index was well over 100 degrees out when BAM Fest started, they had a very nice turnout. I am not really sure how the crowd size compared to previous years because people seemed to be seeking shade more than normal which probably resulted in more art being seen this time; it did appear that there were more art exhibits opened to the public this year and I am sure everyone that took advantage of them appreciated it. The weather pretty much forced everyone to get to know their neighbor since the parking lot had about three umbrellas that most attendees tried to fit under at some point. Continue reading

Photos from Oktoberfest at Whole Foods Playa Vista

On Saturday evening, the new Whole Foods Market in Playa Vista held a mini-Oktoberfest at their Astro Pub bar, which is a full bar complete with 24 craft beers on tap; with 14 of them dedicated to local breweries. The Oktoberfest was the second in a series of tap takeovers, beer dinners and various beer events planned by Raul Moran, the beer buyer for Whole Foods, Playa Vista.

The evening consisted of Oktoberfest style beers featuring such breweries as Three Weavers, Sierra Nevada, Ballast Point, Goose Island, Spaten, Weihenstephan and Hofbräuhaus. Also included in the price of admission was plenty of schnitzel, sauerkraut, brats and giant pretzels. Piped in German music resulted in spontaneous breakouts of the ever popular Chicken Dance. There was also plenty of swag available for anyone that wanted it. They had a moderate turnout, and everyone that attended seemed to be having a good time making new friends while enjoying the food and beer.

The Astro Pub is located in the front of the Whole Foods Market, Playa Vista at 12746 W. Jefferson Boulevard. As I mentioned, Moran plans on having a series of beer dinners and tap takeovers every couple of weeks. I would suggest following the Whole Foods Facebook page to be kept in the loop. Prost! Continue reading

Three Weavers Tap Takeover at Astro Pub

These photos were taken at the Three Weavers tap takeover that was held Saturday evening at the new Whole Foods Market in Playa Vista. This event featured six brews by Three Weavers Brewing; Seafarer Kolsch, Expatriate IPA, Ripple Saison, Deep Roots ESB, Knotty DIPA and Blood Junkie Imperial Red. There were several cheeses, dried meats and crackers provided along with some pairing suggestions. Three Weavers head brewer, Alexandra Nowell was also on hand to answer questions about the brews for the attendees.

When I was asked if I would cover this event, I did not hesitate in responding in the affirmative. While I may not spend a lot of time in Whole Foods markets, I have attended a few tap takeovers at other Whole Foods locations like El Segundo with their 760 Flight Plan tapas and craft beer bar; as well as Bar 225 at Whole Foods Venice and was aware that the new Playa Vista Whole Foods was going to have a larger area set aside for enjoying craft beer on-site. One thing is for sure; the Playa Vista location provides a lot more space for having a brew and their beer buyer, Raul Moran plans on making good use of it. Continue reading

6th Annual BAM Fest Coming October 10 – Promo Code

BAM Fest attendee

Join the fun at BAM Fest 2015

It is that time of year again; the 6th Annual Beer, Art & Music Festival (BAM Fest) will be held Saturday afternoon, October 10, in Santa Monica at the 18th Street Arts Center. The 18th Street Arts Center is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization and is the beneficiary of all the proceeds from this fundraiser.

This will be my fourth time attending BAM Fest and all I can say is that if you enjoy craft beer, live in the Los Angeles area and have never attended BAM Fest, you are doing yourself a disservice. From the first time I attended in 2012 I have been nothing but impressed; and the event just seems to get bigger and better every year and 2015 appears to be no exception.

The current list of beer and cider vendors totals 38, with six food trucks available to pair with your favorite beer and live music provided by three groups. Continue reading

Photos from the South Bay Tap Takeover at Flights

These photos are from the South Bay Tap Takeover that was held Thursday evening at Flights Beer Bar in Hawthorne. To say that this event was a success would be an understatement; some might suggest that it was too successful as there were times that the staff seemed overwhelmed with all the customers. The event officially began at 4:00 PM, but when I arrived at 3:30 people had already arrived and by 4:30 it was pretty well packed; and it stayed that way until about 11:30.

There were some delays in getting the beer served in the beginning because there were 40 new taps with beers that had never been poured there and many people were ordering flights. Flights brought in some additional help and eventually the beers were learned and things moved faster. The food situation was pretty much a no-win situation because while Flights could install a new walk-in to store beer, there was no way to increase the size of the kitchen. The food took a little longer to get out to us, but it was the same high quality that we have come to expect.

I do not know how many people showed up last night but I do know that we had 200 t-shirts to give away and I would venture to guess that at least as many people did not get shirts as those that did, so I don’t think estimating a turnout of at least 400 people would not be a stretch. Continue reading

40 Taps of South Bay Craft September 3 at Flights Beer Bar

tap-takeover

40 Taps of South Bay Craft! September 3 at FLIGHTS!

As I announced almost a month ago, and have tried to continually remind you on my Facebook page, this Thursday, September 3, Flights Beer Bar in association with CraftBeerGuy.com will hold their first ever 40 Taps of South Bay Craft Tap Takeover. I have to admit, there are a couple things about that opening line that I would like to point out. The first is, I am unaware of any prior event in the South Bay that has ever dedicated 40 taps to 10 South Bay craft breweries, so it isn’t just their first ever, I am pretty sure it is the first ever. Secondly, I was not sure if I should call it their inaugural event or 1st Annual because there is already talk of making this an annual event; these comments are coming from participating breweries and the owner of Flights, who has gone to the extreme for this event. Let me give you a couple examples.

First off, the beer. When I was approached about the idea of having a “Craft Beer Guy” party I immediately knew that I wanted to showcase the South Bay’s breweries. I also knew that 40 new kegs was quite an order so I was pleasantly surprised when Flights owner Jerry Jamgotchian didn’t blink an eye and said that 40 kegs was not a problem. A couple people asked me, “But where is he going to keep all that beer?” It was a great question that only had one solution; he was going to need a bigger cold box; so that is what he did. He had a second, bigger cold box added.

A couple weeks ago someone suggested maybe having a few shirts made and raffle them off; buy a beer, get a ticket. I brought it to Jerry for some input and his response was, “How about we make hundreds and give them to everybody?” Well, that is what he did; there will be free t-shirts for the first couple hundred people that ask for one (as supplies/sizes last). Continue reading

Craft Beer Guy Presents: A 40 Tap South Bay Tap Takeover

tap-takeover

40 Taps of South Bay Craft!

If you follow this site with any regularity you may recall that a few weeks ago I visited Flights Beer Bar in Hawthorne for the first time. To say that I was impressed would be an understatement and I believe I got that message across in the article that I wrote. A couple days after writing the article I received an email from Flights owner Jerry Jamgotchian suggesting that they would like to throw a private party for Craft Beer Guy. While I was definitely flattered, several of the local craft breweries had just had a birthday party for me a couple days before so I suggested that I would rather have a party that showcased all the breweries that had made the South Bay the craft beer destination that is has become. After speaking with Jerry and his manager/beer buyer Marc Dacal it was decided that they would let me curate a 40 tap, tap takeover featuring 10 production breweries that were based in the South Bay. That’s right, 40 taps of South Bay craft from 10 South Bay breweries.

While I have been to a few “South Bay tap takeovers” over the past few years, never before have we had 40 taps dedicated to just the South Bay’s breweries. The 10 that will be participating include Strand Brewing Company, Monkish Brewing, El Segundo Brewing, Absolution Brewing Company, Smog City Brewing, Three Weavers, The Dudes’, King Harbor Brewing, Phantom Carriage and introducing HopSaint! If you are thinking, “But HopSaint isn’t open yet.” you would be correct, but the brewhouse has been delivered and Brian Brewer will be brewing before their new brewpub opens. This tap takeover will likely be the first time any of us will be able to try Brian’s brews under the new label. UPDATE: HopSaint will not be able to make it, in their stead, Cosmic Brewery will step up. Continue reading

A Review of LA Beer Week 2015

LABW7 schedule

Unity release at Smog City Brewing

It has been a week or so now since LA Beer Week 2015 (LABW7) and I think I am ready to give a review of the “week-long” event. I say “week-long” because LABW7 officially ran from June 20-28 but some venues started celebrating early and others ended on the 27th. Heck, Smog City Brewing held their Unity (the official beer of LA Beer Week) bottle release on the Wednesday before, and Absolution Brewing released their LA Beer Week brew, AD/JD on Thursday. No matter when you started, it was a very long week with some very good beers to be found. There are a few events I attended but did not write about; if you want to see those photos please visit my Facebook page.

The LA Beer Week Kickoff Party was held Saturday, June 20 at Exposition Park. I have to be honest, even though I have been documenting LA Beer Week since LABW4 in 2012 I have never attended any of their kickoff events. This was due primarily to preconceived misconceptions of what a madhouse it would be; plus I really do not like driving to DTLA. On the Wednesday before the kickoff party I happened to notice an email that came in from Absolution Brewing to members of their Mug Club in which they were offering VIP tickets to the first five “Muggers” that asked for them. I asked Tanya if she wanted to go and she responded immediately with, “No!.” This was because I had been saying we were not going for the past week, so I think she was just making sure I knew she was okay with it.

As I was going to the Torrance City Hall that night anyway for a Planning Commission hearing and Absolution was basically on the way home, it was decided that we would stop by after the Planning Commission hearing and see if any passes were still available. In other words, I was going to let others have an opportunity to score the passes before me. We showed up to Absolution shortly before they closed and no one had claimed any of the passes, so we decided to attend the kickoff.

Absolution Brewing staff

Thank you to Absolution Brewing for the VIP passes

Continue reading

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