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.
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
On Sunday afternoon I finally made it out to Inglewood to visit the South Bay area’s newest craft production brewery; Three Weavers Brewing Company. Located on Manchester Boulevard, just around the corner from world famous landmark, Randy’s Donuts, the location may be a little difficult to locate but the U-turn will be worth it if you happen to miss their driveway the first time you go there. While this may be the newest production brewery in the area, a visit to their tasting room makes it abundantly clear that they are here for the long run.
Having watched a few new breweries build from the ground up, like King Harbor and Absolution Brewing, the size of this operation is on par with some long time operations as far as brewing capability. The five tall tanks are one of the first things you will notice when you walk in and they are impressive on their own but a stroll around the corner of the brewhouse reveals a huge cold box. My initial thought was that you could probably fit every cold box in the South Bay into the Three Weavers box and still have room for beer. I had an opportunity to chat with Three Weavers head brewer, Alexandra Nowell, and she informed me that it is 1,000 square feet (bigger than my first home) with plans to add a 3,000 square foot cold box in the near future. As Nowell put it, if you are going to brew a lot of beer you need somewhere to put it. It is pretty obvious that they plan on brewing a lot of beer and have already begun bottling some, including their collaboration with Noble Ale Works, The Messenger IPA. Continue reading
On Sunday afternoon, Abigaile Restaurant and The Brewery at Abigaile in Hermosa Beach hosted their inaugural Novem-BEER-Fest beer garden, featuring 20 of Los Angeles’ finest craft breweries. While the event was initially scheduled to take over the entire Abigaile complex, it was later decided to keep it confined to the Ocean Bar and its rooftop lounge. It was a great decision as it was a beautiful day to hang out with a couple hundred craft beer drinkers outside a block from the beach and it made it easy to see who was there for the beer.
The breweries in attendance brought out some very interesting brews. Some of my favorites included Alosta Brewing Company’s Saison Bleu, Angel City’s Rum Barrel Aged Mexican Cola Ale, El Segundo Brewing’s Ka-PAU! IPA, Back Home Gingerbread Stout by Golden Road Brewing and Progress Brewing’s Mustang Tripel. I would say my overall favorite was Wicked White IPA by Timeless Pints. Other offerings included Wanderin’ Possessed Pumpkin Porter by Absolution Brewing Company, Citraholic by Beachwood Brewing, Pomegranate Saison by Angel City, Buster’s Brown Ale by Bravery Brewing, Revolution XPA by Eagle Rock Brewing, Potential Blonde by Kinetic, Post-Season DIPA by King Harbor Brewing, Blind Ambition by Ladyface, False Prophet by Monkish Brewing, The King’s Taxes by MacLeod Ale Brewing, Acorn Ambition by Ohana Brewing, Smog City’s Groundwork Coffee Porter, Stand Brewing’s Harvest Ball, Three Weaver’s Knotty DIPA and Golden Eagle Ale by Wolf Creek Brewery.
In addition to the beers, several of the breweries had owners and/or brewers with them to socialize with their fans. Celebrity sightings included Alexandra Nowell of Three Weavers, Brian Avery and Roger Morrissey of Bravery Brewing, Rob Croxall of El Segundo Brewing Company, Steve Farguson of Absolution Brewing, Phil McDaniel and Tom Dunbabin of King Harbor Brewing, Rich Marcello of Strand Brewing and Brian Brewer of The Brewery at Abigaile. Continue reading
The breweries in attendance include Absolution Brewing, Alosta Brewing, Angel City, Beachwood, Bravery Brewing, Eagle Rock Brewing, El Segundo Brewing, Golden Road, Kinetic Brewing, King Harbor Brewing, Ladyface, Monkish Brewing, MacLeod Ale, Ohana Brewing, Progress Brewing, Smog City, Strand Brewing, Timeless Pints, The Dudes, Three Weavers, Wolf Creek and, of course, The Brewery at Abigaile. Several of these breweries are very new, like Three Weavers that just opened their tasting room this past weekend. To visit each of these breweries tasting rooms would take a month of weekends and Abigaile has brought them all together under one roof.
The Novem-BEER-Fest beer garden will take advantage of the entire Abigaile facility including the Ocean Bar, which can have some very nice views, weather permitting. Admission to this first ever event is $30 for General Admission; which includes a commemorative tasting glass, 10 4oz. pours from any of the breweries and one food item from the grill. VIP admission is $50 and includes the commemorative tasting glass, unlimited 4oz. pours from any of the breweries and one food item from the grill. If you have never eaten at Abigaile I have to say that Chef Tin creates some amazing dishes and Chef Jorge is a great addition to the kitchen. I am sure you will enjoy it. Continue reading
These photos are from the 5th Annual Beer, Art & Music Festival (BAM Fest), a fundraiser which was held Sunday afternoon 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 the fundraiser.
When it comes to beer festivals there are a few things I look for; the first of which would be the breweries in attendance followed by the beers that they bring with them. Anyone that knows me personally or has paid attention to my writing knows that when it comes to beer, variety is my thing. My favorite beer is the one I have yet to try. When one goes to as many local craft beer festivals as I have over the past couple of years it can become a challenge to find something new; especially when the event is a fundraiser that has had the beer donated rather than bought and paid for. The 5th Annual BAM Fest had plenty of beers that I had never had the opportunity to try before and I highly doubt I was alone. A couple standouts for me came from two new craft breweries; Three Weavers Brewing Company and Santa Monica Brew Works. Three Weavers just had their grand opening a week ago and I was unable to attend. They brought their Stateside Session IPA which I thought was an outstanding session IPA. Their Midnight Flight Imperial Stout was also quite tasty and really hid the 9.2% ABV well. I look forward to their tasting room opening on November 7; I hear their double IPA is something else.
Santa Monica Brew Works is a production brewery that has been around since 2013 but this was my first experience with any of their brews; it definitely will not be my last. Santa Monica Brew Works is a production brewery with no tasting room but it is my understanding that their beers can be found at most bars, restaurants and hotels in the Santa Monica area. Their PCH (Pale Chocolate Heaven) is mind blowing; it was the first beer of theirs I tried and it only made me want to try everything else they brew. Keep an eye out for it if you are dining in Santa Monica. Continue reading