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Photos from the 2nd Annual Oktoberfest at Astro Pub

These photos were taken Friday evening at the 2nd Annual Oktoberfest, which was held at the Astro Pub in Whole Foods Market, Playa Vista. They had a pretty nice turnout which was probably due in part to the pleasant weather which resulted in a lot of foot traffic; this combined with the aroma of German food and the sound of oompah music resulted in many passersby making a detour to join the festivities.

For a mere $20.00 attendees were able to have seven pours of various Oktoberfest brews including Goose Island, Spaten, Becks, Karl Strauss, Firestone Walker, Hofbräu and Weihenstephan. To go along with the bier there were pretzel bites, German potatoes, sauerkraut, and your choice of schnitzel or bacon wrapped brats.

The Astro Pub is located at 12746 W. Jefferson Boulevard in the Whole Foods Market, Playa Vista. Their beer buyer, Raul Moran puts on various beer events every few months so you might want to follow the Whole Foods Facebook page to be kept in the loop. He also keeps a nice selection of craft beer on tap and available to takeout. Prost! Continue reading

Indiana Craft Beer: From North to South

If you have been following along you will recall that Craft Beer Tour 2016 technically began after visiting my buddy George in Reno, Nevada. It was there that I asked Tanya if she wanted to visit her family in Indiana; if she had not been up for it, my backup plan was to head to the Portland, Oregon area. When she said she wanted to go to Indiana, the only brewery that was a planned destination was Three Floyds Brewing in Munster. We have both been there numerous times; and while the rest of the trip would concentrate on visiting places I never heard of, there was no way I was going to northwest Indiana without another stop at Three Floyds.

I remember it was around 2:00 PM on Sunday afternoon at Big Grove Brewery when I told Big Grove managing partner Doug Goettsch and Tanya that we would be having dinner at Three Floyds Brewpub that evening. Goettsch reminded me that it was still another three or four hours to Munster; but as they would be open until 11:15 PM this would not be a problem; or so I thought. Continue reading

2016 Parabola Release at Whole Foods Market, Playa Vista

This week, Firestone Walker’s 2016 Parabola hit the streets of Los Angeles, and Whole Foods Market in Playa Vista marked the occasion by offering a dinner and Firestone flight special at their Astro Pub. In addition, Firestone Walker’s own David Walker was there to sign bottles of Parabola that were purchased or pretty much anything else Firestone Walker related that was brought in. The dinner special consisted of fish and chips and a flight of Firestone brews; 805, Union Jack, Luponic Distortion and Barrelworks Bretta Weisse.

I know everyone was appreciative of David Walker taking his time to talk with everyone individually, especially since he is not only doing the Parabola releases at multiple locations, but he is also really involved with the grand opening of the Venice location, The Propagator. It goes without saying that David was just as appreciative of everyone that attended; you could see that he enjoys interacting with his Firestone Walker fans. Cheers! Continue reading

Goose Island BCBS Release at Whole Foods Market Playa Vista

These photos are from the Black Friday Goose Island bottle release which was held at the Whole Foods Market in Playa Vista on Friday afternoon. According to Whole Foods beer buyer Raul Moran, this particular location had one of the highest allocations of the new Bourbon County series in the entire Los Angeles area; judging by the number of cases they had I have no doubts. In fact, they had five of the six varietals available for purchase; Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout, Bourbon County Brand Stout, Bourbon County Brand Barleywine, Bourbon County Brand Regal Rye Stout and Rare Bourbon County Brand Stout.

In addition to the bottle release, the Astro Pub featured several flight options for those that wanted to compare various releases as well as some pretty tasty food to go along with it. The preset flights included 2013 through 2015 of BCBS with a Sophie, and a 2013 and 2015 Barleywine with a 2015 Coffee Stout and a Matilda.

While there was a pretty good crowd, Whole Foods managed it quite nicely; they were quick and efficient and I think everyone that showed up was able to purchase at least one bottle. Cheers! 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

Bourbon County Black Friday Release at Bar 225

These photos are from the 2014 Bourbon County Black Friday release which was held at Bar 225 which is inside Whole Foods Venice. This is the second year that Goose Island’s annual event included the Los Angeles area market, which is most likely a direct result of the 2011 purchase of Goose Island by Anheuser-Busch InBev back in 2011. While the Brewers Association immediately downgraded Goose Island from being considered craft due to this change of ownership, I have yet to meet more than a handful of people that have turned their noses at their Bourbon County Brand Stout (BCBS). In my personal opinion, the merger has not changed much except now BCBS is now available locally.

When I was approached to cover the event, I immediately accepted for several reasons. I guess the most obvious was that I can always use the work, followed closely by the fact that I now knew I would be able to score some of the latest release without having to drive around town trying to find someone that still had it in stock. Apparently no one was supposed to sell it before Black Friday but rumor has it some locations were selling [out of] their stock on the day before Thanksgiving. The third reason was that it seems that over the past year or two I have met several people in the craft beer industry that included Whole Foods Venice on their resume. I have come to realize that not all Whole Foods are created equal so I looked forward to seeing what the Venice location had to offer with their Bar 225.

I had forgotten who it was that told me they had worked at Whole Foods Venice and was pleasantly surprised that one of them was Drew Murphy, the manager of Bar 225, whom I had done some work for back in February. Goose Island Brand Ambassador Raul Moran was there assisting in pouring flights consisting of several high octane brews carrying the Goose Island name for those that were there for more than the purchase of whatever Bourbon County brews they could get their hands on. Continue reading

Finding Craft Beer: The Mega Stores

As much as I like to support local business; sometimes it just makes sense to shop at the major chains. This can hold true whether you are buying tires for your car or craft beer for your fridge. My last article about the local bottle shops was an article that I have been planning on writing for several months, but I wanted to give one of the locations a chance to finish some construction first. Initially I was going to compare two independent bottle shops to Total Wine, after I discovered that Costco had a wide selection of craft beer I decided that I would write two articles; the last one about the local independents, and another about the chains that carried craft beer. This article will visit Total Wine & More in Redondo Beach, Costco in Hawthorne and Whole Foods in El Segundo. You should probably know this going in, not all Costco or Whole Foods are created equal; not all locations are as good as those visited for this article.

Of any place I go to buy craft beer, Total Wine in Redondo Beach gets more of my business than probably everywhere else combined. The reasons for this are many, but the main reason is that it is basically across the street. It takes almost as much time to drive and park as it does to walk there. The convenience factor is strong with this one. The second thing is that they carry about 3,000 different varieties of beer and you can purchase individual bottles/cans so experimenting is a piece of cake. Not only do they carry American craft beers but their International beer selection is better than any place I have ever been. Their pricing is usually very good; I have found locally brewed beers being sold for significantly less that it would cost at the tap room it came from.

As a tip, if you visit Total Wine, feel free to walk into the cooler; there are lots of surprises to be found including Pliny and Blind Pig. Most of the time there will be bottle limits, so bring your friends and neighbors. Continue reading

Firestone Walker Takes Over LAX

If you are a fan of Firestone Walker Brewing Company, this was a great week to be close to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) as Shane Kral, Regional Sales Manager at Firestone Walker hosted two tap takeovers featuring several hard to find Firestone brews. This gallery covers both events; the first being held Wednesday evening at Brewster’s Beererie which is located in Four Points by Sheraton and the second held Thursday evening at the Tapas Bar located in the Whole Foods El Segundo.

Wednesday’s event at Brewster’s Beererie featured an amazing selection of Firestone Walker brews; Bretta Weisse, Agrestic and Pivo Hoppy Pils got us started which was followed by 2012 Double DBA, 2013 Sucaba, 2013 Velvet Merkin, Wookey Jack and Double Jack. In addition to these fantastic craft beers, attendees were able to take home a wide selection of Firestone Walker glassware. I had to donate some books to my local library to make room for all the new glassware additions.

While Wednesday evening selection of Firestone Walker delicacies might seem tough to beat, it was really just a warmup for what Shane brought to Whole Foods on Thursday. The event started off with Firestone’s Union Jack and Opal; then kicked it up a notch featuring a Parabola vertical flight with Parabola 2012, 2013 and 2014! I have to say, that alone would have made it a great event for the craft beer aficionado but that was just part of it. It turned out that the Whole Foods beer buyer, José, had somehow saved up some very select bottles that were sold at retail prices. Some were less expensive than if you drove to Buellton or Paso Robles. They had Firestone XV and XVII, 2014 Stickee Monkee, 2013 and 2014 Sucaba, 2013 and 2014 Parabola and 2013 Velvet Merkin available to take home; which we did. As if all this great beer was not enough, Firestone Walker’s own David Walker came out to meet some of Firestone’s fans, talking about their beers and the progress of the upcoming taproom and brewery in Venice. Continue reading

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