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Widmer Brothers Brewing

American Craft Beer Week 2014, Day 4: Barrel Night at Naja’s Place

Thursday was day four of the 9th Annual American Craft Beer Week and as the weekend approaches the craft beer festivities picked it up a notch or two with Barrel Night at the venerable Naja’s Place, the oldest craft beer bar in the South Bay. It was appropriate that Naja’s was included in the tour of local craft beer establishments if for no other reason than they were the first place we visited when I first started “celebrating” American Craft Beer Week in 2012. Long before American craft beer was a household word, Naja’s Place was known for their wide selection of beers although, as I recall they were predominantly imports. These days their 88 taps is like a who’s who of craft beers and last night was a fine example of that.

Every month or two it seems that Naja’s has some kind of special event and those in the know know that Naja’s does not do anything half way; go big or go home and fear no beer are the mantras attendees come in chanting to themselves. For American Craft Beer Week Naja’s brought out 43 barrel-aged brews from breweries such as Allagash, Almanac, Ballast Point, The Bruery, Deschutes, Drakes, Epic, Firestone Walker, Goose Island, Ironfire, Russian River, Sierra Nevada, Widmer and many others. The beers ran the gamut of styles with sours, stouts, porters, lagers and pretty much anything that could be barrel-aged making an appearance.

While there was a very large number of people in attendance there was more beer than could be consumed in one evening; so if you look at the photo of the Barrel Night tap list and see something you want to try you might want to head over to Naja’s and grab some before they do tap out. Naja’s Place is located at 154 International Boardwalk in Redondo Beach. Continue reading

The Ultimate Beerfest OC – The good, the bad & the ugly

On Saturday October 19, a fundraiser for Villa Chardonnay, a 501(c)(3) non-profit horse rescue operation in Temecula, CA was held at the Costa Mesa Fairgrounds in the form of The Ultimate Beerfest OC. The event was scheduled to have 20+ breweries, food trucks, a beer pong tournament and a Best of Show beer competition voted on by attendees that had VIP tickets. The Ultimate Beerfest OC was one of six scheduled beer festivals put on by the organizers with the others being scheduled for Los Angeles, San Diego, Pasadena, San Francisco and San Jose. The Los Angeles event was originally scheduled as the first but was postponed until 2014 due to logistical issues with the selected venue. When I first learned of the event, the Los Angeles venue was the one I planned on attending. When it was postponed I volunteered to cover the event in Costa Mesa.

The event was scheduled to be held over the course of two sessions; the first beginning at 11:00 AM for VIP entries and noon for general admission and running until 3:00 PM with the second session running from 6:00 – 9:00 PM with VIP getting in an hour early. While the Ultimate Beerfest website specifically stated to “plan on arriving up to one hour early for event check-in” I really did not pay much heed to that suggestion as I have yet to attend a beer festival that had that many people show up; I kind of figured it was wishful thinking. It turned out that this was going to be bigger than I imagined.

As the event was outside, I was able to look in the beer garden as we approached and even though it was about 15 minutes until the VIP admission was to begin it was readily apparent that not all of the breweries had arrived. As I was coming from the opposite direction that the line to get in was forming, I could see that there was a pretty long line forming. I attributed it to the fact that many people were there as general admission and they were arriving an hour early as suggested. After all, VIP admission was $75 and General Admission was $50; it never dawned on me that everyone in line had paid for VIP admission. Continue reading

Ultimate Beerfest OC October 19 at Costa Mesa Fairgrounds

As you are probably aware, we are deep into the beer festival season; with multiple local beer festivals, Oktoberfest and the Great American Beer Festival all going on this week, I have one more to add to your itinerary. The Ultimate Beerfest-OC will be held at the Costa Mesa Fairgrounds on October 19, 2013. They are having two 3-hourlong sessions; the first from noon until 3:00 PM with the second one running from 6:00 – 9:00 PM for general admission ticket holders. All ticket holders receive a commemorative tasting cup while VIP ticket holders get in an hour early and get to judge the beer competition.

In addition to the 20+ breweries represented there will be numerous food trucks and vendors (purchases not included with admission) and there will be the Ultimate Beer Pong Tournament, sponsored by Redhook Brewery. The beer pong tournament is limited to 64 entries per venue, so if interested in participating, I would recommend registering soon.

Among the breweries scheduled to attend are Redhook Brewery, Manzanita Brewing Company, Firestone Walker, Latitude 33 Brewing Company, Kona Brewing Company, Widmer Brothers Brewing, Fox Barrel Cider, Mission Brewery, Blue Moon Brewing, Back Street Brewery, Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, Rough Draft Brewing, Crispin Cider, Oggi’s Pizza & Brewing, Carlsberg Group, Crabbie’s Ginger Beer, Kronenbourg Brewery, Fireman’s Brew, Stadium Brewing Company, Surf Brewery, Old Orange Brewing Company, Aztec Brewing Company, Lost Coast Brewery, Batch 19, Oceanside Ale Works, and Tap It Brewing.

This is a fundraiser for Villa Chardonnay, a 501(c)(3) non-profit horse rescue operation in Temecula, CA. There will be no tickets sold at the door so if you want to attend, be sure to buy your tickets ahead of time. I hope to see you there. Cheers!

3rd Annual Brew at the LA Zoo

Thursday morning as I was perusing my Facebook feed I noticed an update made by Beachwood BBQ & Brewing that said they were giving two passes to the Brew at the LA Zoo to the first five people that came in and asked for them. I had initially thought it was happening on Saturday, which was a busy day for me, so I did not plan on attending. When I found out it was actually on Friday evening, I decided to ride down to Beachwood BBQ & Brewing in Long Beach for a beer and to see if there were any passes left; fortunately, there were.

Brew at the L.A. Zoo is a fundraiser for the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Los Angeles, California. There were 23 Southern California craft breweries represented and one winery. In addition to the beer there was live music from Ivory Deville and Strangeheart, karaoke, DJ MORNINGSTAR and something I have never been able to do before; an opportunity to wander Zoo grounds after dark. As it turned out, most of the zoo was not available to us, which I suppose is understandable. We did have access to the elephants, gorillas and other apes as well as the new LAIR (Living Amphibian, Invertebrates, and Reptiles) exhibit. It was pretty cool.

The breweries in attendance were Widmer Brothers Brewing, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Blue Moon Brewing/Batch 19/Leinkugels Summer Shandy, Rock Bottom Brewery Long Beach, Heretic Brewing Company, Mad River Brewing Company, Stone Brewing Company, Fireman’s Brew, Golden Road Brewing, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, Hangar 24 Graft Brewery, Crispin & Fox Barrel Cider Company, San Pedro Brewing Company/ Port Town Brewing Co., Angel City Brewery, Karl Strauss Brewing Company, The Lagunitas Brewing Company, Beachwood BBQ and Brewing, Inland Empire Brewing Company, I & I Brewing, Barefoot Wine, Surf Brewery, Old Orange Brewing, Tap It Brewing and Firestone Walker Brewing Company. There were far too many people and not enough time to try them all so I spent my time trying brews I had yet to experience. Continue reading

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