LA Beer Week (LABW5) plods along as Thursday was the eighth day of LA Beer Week; an 11 day event. I decided that since it is LA Beer Week I would be remiss if I did not attempt to try and visit all the gold medal winners that the Los Angeles area has produced. Okay, being completely honest, I was looking for a reason to visit Beachwood BBQ and Brewing in Long Beach and I remembered that they were gold medal winners at the Great American Beer Festival so I decided that I needed to dedicate a portion of this week to the brewers that help make LA the pLAce for craft beer.
The fact of the matter is that I need very little in the way of excuses to drive down to Long Beach; however there was one with the recent release of Mind Melder IPA, a collaboration with Drake’s Brewing that I had yet to try. All I can say is that I am really looking forward to some of the South Bay’s brewers doing some collaboration brews with each other and I think Beachwood’s head brewer Julian Shrago is close enough to be included with that group. Since I had ordered an IPA flight, none of which are award winners (yet), we put together a combination of two of their gold medal winners; Udder Love, 2012 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) and Foam Top, 2012 World Beer Cup. It won’t be long before one of their IPAs brings home gold.
After a quick stop to another GABF gold medal winning brewery, Smog City Brewing, I headed out to Four Points by Sheraton for a panel on “Do you want to be a beer judge?” The panel was moderated by Tomm Carroll of Celebrator Beer News and consisted of a panel of high-ranked, certified Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) judges. The panelists included Bruce Brode (Master rank, Maltose Falcons home brew club); Carl Townsend (National rank, Pacific Gravity home brewers club); and Jim Wilson (Grand Master II rank, Strand Brewers Club). The purpose of the event was to explain the BJCP program and what you would need to know to become a certified judge. Ever since I went to the Pacific Brewers Cup two weeks ago I have been thinking that I would like to expand my beer horizons more, by at least learning what it is judges look for in each style. Continue reading
Sunday was day 4 of LA Beer Week (LABW5) and as I did not feel inclined to go out to Union Station I decided to take a little ride around the South Bay. My friends at Alpine Village in Torrance told me about a Street Toys car show they were having in conjunction with Sunday’s Oktoberfest festivities, so I pointed my bike out that way. After an hour or so of photographing cars I headed into the big tent they hold Oktoberfest in.
Alpine Village has been having Oktoberfest there for the past 46 years which makes it the largest and longest running Oktoberfest celebration this side of the Rockies. If you have never been, it is a lot of fun. They sell Warsteiner Oktoberfest and Pilsener as well as PBR in the big tent as well as brats and pretzels and other good German snacks to go along with your beer. They have oompah bands, the Chicken Dance and lots of general insanity on Friday and Saturday nights. These photos were from early Sunday, so you can see it is okay to bring your kids, they will have a good time too. You can find out more about the 46th Annual Oktoberfest and purchase tickets online by visiting the Alpine Village website.
Since it was a nice day and it was LA Beer Week, I decided to take a ride out to El Segundo and see what was happening at El Segundo Brewing Company. I had to try that Casa Azul again. Cheers! Continue reading
Saturday afternoon I headed out to Los Angeles and visited Angel City Brewery as they were hosting the LA Beer Bloggers Summit #7; a networking event made up of beer bloggers from all over LA and Orange County. This is the third one I have attended and each gathering seems to be larger than the last. This particular event we were treated to a short talk by head brewer Dieter Foerstner who told us a little about his LA Beer Week (LABW5) release, Honey Chrysanthemum Ale, and how he was able to purchase the tea at the Japanese market across the street from the brewery and how he got his honey from a local source that never considered using honey in beer. After Dieter’s talk and some samples of their Scrumdiddlyumptious Brown Ale they had a panel moderated by John Verive of Beer of Tomorrow with panelists Tomm Carroll, LA correspondent for The Celebrator; Sarah Bennett, a writer for LA Weekly and Beer Paper LA; and Whitson Gordon, the Editor in Chief of Lifehacker.com. It was interesting and I know I got some ideas on the direction I should take with this craft beer adventure.
It was my first time visiting Angel City Brewery and I must admit I was not expecting what I discovered. The place is huge and quite photogenic, I could spend some time wandering around and catching interesting sights. My one disappointment was self inflicted; for some reason I did not even ask about flights until after I ordered a pint, so I only got to try two of the eight they had on tap. I guess I have no choice but to go back there and try again. Angel City Brewery is located at 216 South Alameda in Los Angeles. They do not serve food, but they have food trucks that stop by; you might want to look around at one of the nearby restaurants though as they allow you to bring food in and have plenty of tables to enjoy your food and beer at.
On the way home we stopped by to check out the crowd at Smog City Brewing. Cheers! Continue reading
Friday was day two of the 5th Annual LA Beer Week (LABW5) and since I knew that there would be plenty of driving involved over the duration of LA Beer Week (which runs through September 29), I decided I would take the bike and dedicate today to the Torrance microbreweries, Strand Brewing Company, Monkish Brewing Company and Smog City Brewing Company. However, I did make one exception; this morning King Harbor Brewing Company (KHBC) had some of their tanks delivered so I popped over to get a few shots. I can only guess the move went smoothly because when I returned an hour or so later, they were gone. KHBC is really making progress; just a few more months until it is beer.
I began my tour of the Torrance microbrewery tasting rooms with a visit to the oldest of the Torrance microbreweries, Strand Brewing Company. While they are probably best known for their Atticus IPA and Beach House Amber Ale, I think their Second Sleep Imperial Russian Stout is one of their best beers. Today they tapped a cask that has been oak barrel aged for the last six months; it is delicious. If you are in the neighborhood I highly recommend it (if it is still available).
I then headed over to the second oldest microbrewery in Torrance, Monkish Brewing Company. Monkish Brewing specializes in Belgian style ales and has 10-12 different varieties with everything from singles and saisons to dubbels and tripels. He has a new single hopped Belgian pale called Galaxy Defender that I, as a hophead, find amazing. They now have something for everyone.
I ended my journey at the newest of the Torrance microbrewery tasting rooms, Smog City Brewing. The one thing I can count on about Smog City Brewing is that even if I go there every week, every week they will have something new to try. There is always an “experimental” on tap and today it was their Grape Ape IPA. The grapes really made it different from any of the IPAs I have tried from Smog City thus far. They are also offering their Bloody Knuckle porter which is the base beer for their award winning Groundwork Coffee Porter. I would like to try the two of them in a blind taste test; it was very good. Cheers! Continue reading
These photos are from the 17th Annual Pacific Brewers Cup Homebrew Competition which was held Saturday, September 14, 2013 at Smog City Brewing Company in Torrance, CA. The Pacific Brewers Cup competition is hosted on a rotating basis by three local home brewer clubs; Strand Brewers Club from Torrance, Long Beach Homebrewers and Pacific Gravity from Culver City. This year the Long Beach Homebrewers were the hosts. The Pacific Brewers Cup 2013 was an AHA sanctioned homebrew competition and used the beer style guidelines published by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP).
While I have sampled a few beers in my time and acted as a judge recently for a small homebrew competition I have never been to a competition of this magnitude before. I was told that there were over 450 entries so before I got there I wondered how the heck you get enough people to judge that many beers in one sitting. To be honest, as of this writing all indications are that the judging is still going on. As you can see by the photos they broke the beers down by category so the judges only had to rate one style of beer at a time. Of course, I was only there within the first two hours of the event so there is a pretty good likelihood that after one style was finished they had to move on to another. The Best of Show winner gets an opportunity to brew his winning beer at Ohana Brewing Company, so there was a lot of incentive to put out an award winning beer.
I did not get an opportunity to try any of the submissions, but I did not see a lot of beer being poured into the bucket so it looked like judges were not having too much trouble enjoying their Saturday morning. I know it gave me some incentive to look into learning to be a BJCP certified judge. Once I learn who the winner was, I will come update this article. Good luck to all; cheers!
These photos are from the Business & Beer networking event that was held last night, September 12, at Smog City Brewing Company, a Torrance microbrewery. We had an excellent turnout of more than 20 people with a majority of them being first time attendees. In addition to the wide variety of delicious brews and multiple networking opportunities, Laurie Porter, co-owner of Smog City gave a little talk on the history of Smog City covering everything from how they chose their name and logo to how her husband and head brewer Porter comes up with the interesting tweaks to his base beers to come up with something a little different. After that, Laurie turned us over to assistant brewer Chris Walowski who took us on a tour of the operation. It was quite informative and everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves.
If you live or work in the South Bay area and networking is part of your job description or it is a vital part of your business’ success, you might want to take a look at Business & Beer. Business & Beer is an informal networking group that meets on the second Thursday of every month at a different microbrewery or brewpub in the local South Bay area. Our geographical boundaries are limited to between El Segundo and Torrance. We have no dues, no rules or mandatory meetings. Since it is held after normal work hours, you are more than welcome to bring your significant other or a friend. No special invitations are required; if you are free, stop on by. You can find the upcoming schedule and sign up for the mailing list on the Business & Beer website at BusinessNBeer.com. Cheers! Continue reading
Since this is one of my newer websites, I understand that not everyone knows me as well as those that have been following me for a while You may have noticed that I am not in the habit of discussing or rating individual beers, primarily because I feel that is far too difficult a task to be done objectively and I would not want to have a negative influence on a particular brew simply because it was not my thing. That being said, I will make an exception to this self imposed rule when I find out the beer is part of a fundraising campaign and even more so if that fundraising effort has anything to do with kids. I am all about helping kids and have been for more than 30 years.
Anyway, Friday evening I stopped by Monkish Brewing in Torrance and as is my habit, I requested the brew I had never tried before which was Galaxy Defender on Friday. I am a hop head; and for that I make no excuses; I wear the tag proudly. The fact is that I have talked to Henry Nguyen, the owner/brewer of Monkish Brewing Company about the chances of his ever brewing an IPA and the response had always been the same: he is just not interested in brewing an IPA. I just learned to accept that as fact. When I first smelled the Galaxy Defender I could not believe what I was smelling; one taste had me hooked. This is a true Belgian Pale Ale, it borders on being a Belgian IPA; but like I said, I am not about reviewing individual beers. Suffice it to say, it was good enough that I drove home and picked up a growler to be enjoyed later.
Saturday afternoon I was out and about at the local South Bay microbreweries and during my travels I discovered that there was more to the Galaxy Defender than the great taste; it turns out that $1.00 from every pint is donated to the Los Angeles Galaxy South Bay soccer club, of which one of Nguyen’s kids is a member. They are trying to raise money for scholarships and Monkish Brewing is doing their part by donating money from every sale of the Galaxy Defender Belgian Pale Ale. I knew there were Galaxy Hops, so I presumed that the “galaxy” in Galaxy Defender referred to the galaxy hops; it turns out that the Nguyen’s son is a defender on the LA Galaxy’s soccer club, hence the name, Galaxy Defender. Continue reading
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