I have a confession to make; I have never tried home brewing beer. That is about to change as I received a beer making kit for a birthday present last month. Since I plan on doing a pictorial on the process I have been reading and re-reading the instructions and I have been asking questions of those that I know that have been home brewing for a while. I want my first time to have positive results so I will feel comfortable breaking away from the beer making kit so when I received an invitation to visit the Strand Brewers Club at their monthly meeting last night I accepted and headed over to South Bay Brewing Supply in Old Torrance for the Strand Brewers’ August meeting.
While I only knew a person or two, I was made to feel quite welcome. The first hour or so was spent networking with other home brewers and sampling the many home brews that were brought in by members. To say that there was a wide variety of beers being brewed by this group would be an understatement; you would be hard pressed to find as many different styles of beer at your favorite gastropub. That is not to suggest that Strand Brewers Club is only for experienced brewers. While many of their members have been brewing for a couple years, there are also those that have 20 years of experience and one of last night’s attendees had only started drinking craft beer two months ago. The current president, Rives Borland, told me that when he joined Strand Brewers Club he was quite new to brewing and told me that coming to the monthly meetings had a lot to do with his current brewing success (he has won a few awards for his beers).
After the networking, there was a presentation given on Oxygenation as part of their continuing efforts to include educational discussions at their meetings. On occasion they do brewing at their events, so if you are interested in learning to brew or you are a home brewer and want to hang out and exchange ideas with other home brewers, you should probably consider looking for a home brew club like Strand Brewers Club. Visitors are welcome to join them and if you like the group, then join. Dues are only $37 a year ($48 for couples) which I think is quite reasonable considering the wealth of information you can gain just by hanging around and listening. Continue reading
Thursday, August 1, 2013 was the 3rd Annual International IPA Day; a day devoted to admiring a style of beer that probably has more myths about its origin than the early Egyptians had gods. To me it does not matter if it was first brewed in the early 1700’s or the late 1700’s, or if the first IPAs were cask conditioned on the trip to India (it wasn’t). I love my IPAs and will take advantage of any IPA Day that presents itself. Personally, I think it should be International IPA Week because there are far too many to enjoy in one day. Even those brewed in the South Bay are so numerous that I had a problem visiting everywhere I wanted to hit in a single day. Guess I need to start earlier next year.
These photos start off with a visit to Monkish Brewing, a Torrance microbrewery that specializes in Belgian style ales. While Monkish does not brew any IPA and head brewer/ owner Henry Nguyen has stated he will never brew an IPA, I had not visited them in a couple of weeks so we decided we would start there and see what was new. I had yet to try their Brown Habit which I discovered is a very good saison. They usually have about 10 different styles of Belgians, so if you are in the Torrance area and want to try something different, you should check out Monkish Brewing Company.
I got my first of several IPAs at our next stop, just around the corner, Smog City Brewing Company. Smog City usually has an IPA or two available, with their Amarilla Gorilla and Hoptonic IPAs being the IPAs they had plenty of. To celebrate IPA Day, head brewer Jon Porter brought out two IPAs on cask; Dr. Hoo-Peach Hoptonic IPA on Simcoe hops and Dr. Hoo-Mango Hoptonic IPA on Chinook hops. Both were delicious and were gone quickly; it seemed like everyone was there to try these special brews. Continue reading
I was out and about Saturday morning, taking photos for a project, when I suddenly found myself around the corner from one of Torrance’s newest microbreweries, The Dudes’ Brewing Company. I had several invitations to drop by and Saturday morning I happened to show up while they were preparing to start brewing a new IPA. Head brewer, Jeff Parker had a Kolschtal Eddy poured for me, then took me on a tour of The Dudes’ brewing operation; it is quite impressive.
The Dudes’ launched over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend with several kickoff parties, two of which I attended. It was clear that their local roots were paying off as both events were packed. The Dudes’ are a little different than the other microbreweries around here in that they do not have a tasting room yet, preferring to begin by providing kegs to local taverns and eateries. They have been very successful at that and now can be found all over central and Southern California. Their plan is to start up the canning line in early August with a tasting room being added by the end of 2013. Continue reading
According to the Brewers Association there are more than 2,400 craft and microbreweries around the United States. Even before craft beer became so popular there were home brewers experimenting with various hops, malts and yeasts to create their own special brews. One might ascertain that due in part to the Internet, these home brewers would start socializing with each other and soon there were home brewing clubs popping up where their members could brew together as well share their ingredients and ideas and drink the results of this social interaction. In fact, if you read the biography of many of craft beers head brewers; they started off as home brewers with many of them being members of home brewing clubs. One of these local home brewing clubs is the Crude Brew Crew which is located in Torrance, CA.
This past Saturday, June 22, the Crude Brew Crew (CBC) met for their monthly meeting and podcast at Smog City Brewing Company, also in Torrance. Head brewer and co-owner of Smog City, Jonathan Porter was at one time a home brewer and a member of a local home brewer club so it made perfect sense that the CBC hold a meeting at Smog City. They did a podcast, with an interview of Jonathan and Laurie Porter that was supposed to be followed with a Q and A session. Smog City’s building is large and there were a lot of people there, so they had to improvise on the Q and A portion but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves as well as enjoying the new releases the Smog City was pouring. They also brought out a Hop Rocket which infuses fresh hops to their Amarilla Gorilla IPA which made it almost creamy. The Little Bo Pils was quite refreshing.
While the podcast was not available at the time of this writing, it should be available on the Crude Brew Crew website before too long. Smog City Brewing Company is located at 1901 Del Amo Blvd, Torrance, CA. Continue reading
These photos are from the Smog City Brewing Company’s induction to the Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce (TACC). The event, better known as a “ribbon Cutting” was attended by numerous members of the TACC, a Torrance City Councilman representing Mayor Scotto’s office; as well as a representative from Assembly member Al Muratsuchi’s office. There were also many, many customers. As one first time visitor told me, “I think they are going to do pretty well here.” I have to agree; I think they are going to do very well. Continue reading
I have always felt pretty fortunate to live in the South Bay with its great weather and lack of natural disasters, but the recent explosion of craft brewers in the area has made living here that much better. Earlier in the month, Torrance Mayor Scotto even cited craft beer as a new growth industry for Torrance. I will do all I can to help Torrance craft brewers succeed and look forward to the day that a tour of Torrance microbreweries will rival anything San Diego County can offer. Torrance currently has three microbreweries with tasting rooms, Strand Brewing Company, Monkish Brewing Company and Smog City Brewing. On Saturday my girlfriend Tanya and I had gone out to photograph flowers at the South Coast Botanical Gardens, which just happened to be around the corner from Strand Brewing Company, so we made a stop on the way home.
Strand Brewing Company is one of the original two microbreweries here that has a tasting room. While the tasting room has only been open for little over a year, Strand Brewing has been in business since 2009, supplying local establishments that serve craft beer. Probably best known for their 24th Street Pale Ale and Atticus IPA’s, Strand Brewing’s owner/brewmaster Joel Elliot has been releasing a few different styles including some outstanding Double IPA’s, with White Sand being a personal favorite. Their Second Sleep Imperial Stout is another standout. Strand has recently started bottling beers so it is becoming easier to take my favorites home and have them last longer than what growler can provide.
Tanya was getting a little hungry, so we decided to head over to Monkish Brewing Company because they seem to always have a food truck there on Fridays and Saturdays. Saturday they had Andy’s Cart, a gourmet hot dog and sausage cart. We tried their Chicago dog and a Reuben sausage sandwich; they were pretty good.
Monkish Brewing Company opened their tasting room about the same time as Strand Brewing and specializes in Belgian style ales. It has been a pleasure watching Monkish grow as owner/brewmaster Henry Nguyen expands his list of available beers. The first time I visited Monkish they had four taps available; their Oblate, Anomaly, Red Table and Feminist. When we stopped by Saturday there were a total of 10 taps pouring including his new lager, a Dubbel and a Tripel. Barrel aged is next on tap. Continue reading
These photos are from the Business & Beer networking event which was held at Smog City Brewing Company on Thursday evening. While Smog City just had their grand opening last Saturday and are still figuring out what days and hours they are going to be open, they were gracious enough to experiment with the idea of being open on Thursdays, at least for now. We had a pretty nice turnout last night with this being the first time trying Smog City beers for most; judging by the number of flights being purchased, most were eager to try out the various options available. In addition to the great beer, Urban Pie, a mobile pizzeria was there with their word burning oven and four variations of pizza available; I think their Bee Stinger (named so for the honey they drizzle over it) was my favorite. I may have to start adding honey to all my pies; it was good stuff at a fair price.
For those of you that live or work in the South Bay and find business networking to be important to your business growth, you are invited to join the Business & Beer networking group. We have been around since July 2012 and meet every Thursday at a different microbrewery, brewpub or gastropub in the South Bay area. There are no dues, no mandatory meetings and no restrictions on joining us. Just show up when you can. The upcoming schedule can be found on the Business & Beer website, BusinessNBeer.com. There you can sign up for the mailing list or Like on Facebook to be sure you are kept in the loop for our upcoming gatherings. Next week will be at The Rockefeller gastropub in Hermosa Beach. It is a fun place with lots of great craft beer to choose from. Continue reading
As legend has it, in the beginning there were three microbreweries in the South Bay; Manhattan Beach Brewing Company, Redondo Beach Brewing Company and San Pedro Brewing Company. Manhattan Beach Brewing gave up on brewing and became a gastropub (Brewco Manhattan Beach), preferring to sell a wide variety of craft beers brewed by others. Redondo Beach Brewing Company continues to brew at their Riviera Village brewpub, but they do not experiment much and the beer recipes seemed to stay the same, batch after batch; it is a good entry level brewery to visit, but nothing exciting. Rumor has it that they will be discontinuing brewing there soon, preferring to go the route of Manhattan Beach Brewing. Of the three, San Pedro Brewing Company continues to brew and is opening a subsidiary of sorts, Port Town Brewing which has already won numerous awards.
San Pedro Brewing Company (SPBC) is a brewpub that has been at their current location for 13 years. They have won more than 43 medals in local county fairs, commercial beer competitions and international beer festivals. In addition to award winning beers, they have some pretty good food. SPBC gives tours on Friday afternoons, so if in the area, you might want to check it out. I was given a mini-tour and have to admit, I was quite surprised at the quantity and quality of beers they brew with such a small operation. When I was taken downstairs I fully expected to see a massive operation; as you can tell by the photos that was far from being the case.
While there I tried a flight of all seven in-house brewed beers that were available: Bruin Blonde Ale (2012 Silver Medal, California Commercial Beer Competition), Longshoreman Lager (2009 Gold Medal American Style Lager, Los Angeles County Fair), Port Town Hefeweizen, Mai Bock Spring Lager, Iowa Battleship IPA, Beacon Street Barleywine (2012 American Style Barleywine, Los Angeles International Beer Competition) and Sunken City Imperial Stout.
When I left San Pedro I headed over to Smog City Brewing as they just got their growlers in and I wanted to be among the first on my block to own one. While there I had a Quercus Circus Sour and an Amarilla Gorilla IPA; we picked up a growler of the 2012 Great American Beer Festival gold medal winner, Smog City Groundwork Coffee Porter. Smog City’s grand opening was held on Saturday, so that will be the subject of my ACBW day 6 report. All my photos from day five of American Craft beer Week will be found on GotBaddog.com.
Alpine Inn is probably best known for their annual Oktoberfest that they have held every year since 1968 making it the largest and oldest Oktoberfest celebration in Southern California. A lesser known event is the Alpine Village Bier Fest which was held for the first time in September 2012. There were 100 beers from 50 different breweries, many of them very hard to find. It was a great event, but it had a very low turnout; luckily Alpine Inn has a couple nice cellars so the beer that was not consumed was stored for safe keeping.
While Alpine Inn did have a couple award winning breweries represented on draft last night, Firestone Walker and Uinta Brewing, I do not particularly care for Firestone’s Solace and I was not really in a mood for a Kölsch (I might have made an exception if they were from California), so I opted for a White Dog IPA from El Segundo Brewing Company and a Manifesto from Eagle Rock Brewery. You can see all the photos from our Business & Beer gathering at Alpine Inn on GotBaddog.com.
It was still early by the time our meeting ended and I wanted to find an award winning beer to drink, so we headed to Hot’s Kitchen in Hermosa Beach. I have been to Hot’s Kitchen a couple times, so I knew they had a pretty nice beer tap list. While their beer list is extensive and the beertender said she was a fan of craft beer, she did not know it was American Craft Beer Week and she really had no clue which brewers might be award winners much less if any of the beers were. The point is they have a very nice beer selection, but don’t expect much in the way of advice; however, they are good about giving tasters to try some if you are unsure what you want. Luckily, we had Internet with us, so after a little research I settled on an Epic Brewing Hopulent IPA (2012 Australian International Beer Festival Silver medal). While there I also tried a Hangar 24 Palmero and a Mor Mor from Brouwerij West.
You can find all my photos from day four of the 2013 American Craft Beer Week on GotBaddog.com.