Brewpubs

Big Texan Brewery – Truly handcrafted beer

If you have driven through the Texas panhandle on I-40 around Amarillo in the last 40 years; you have undoubtedly seen the billboards for the Big Texan Steak Ranch. They are pretty tough to miss with their promise of a free 72oz steak. I have seen them several times over the years, but this time there was a sign next to the steak offering that suggested they had a brewery there. I decided that I would stop at the Big Texan for the first time.

Let there be no mistake, the Big Texan Ranch complex, complete with motels, is a tourist stop; it is meant to break up the monotony of the drive. I got the impression that there were several people that stopped with the intention of eating a 75oz steak dinner within an hour, but there was also a shooting gallery, an ice cream and candy store; and now there was a bar offering 11 beers, crafted on site.

When we ordered our flight I told our beertender about our tour and she immediately nodded over to a gentleman to her right; “You want to talk to him; he is the brewer.” Continue reading

Belle Isle Brewery – Oklahoma City Brewpub

As our Craft Beer Tour 2016 continued west on I-44 from Missouri we entered Oklahoma, which presented its own set of issues; not the least of which was availability.

When we left Missouri I had been informed about a bottle release that was happening at a brewery in Tulsa. Unfortunately, the brewery did not have food and they would have closed within an hour or two of our arrival. While I did not really care about food, Tanya did so we would wait until we could find a brewpub. Tulsa was having its own social issues so we decided to continue west to Oklahoma City where we found Belle Isle Restaurant & Brewery. When I say we “found” Belle Isle, do not take that too lightly as it does seem rather hidden since most of the signage was blocked by trees; at least from the street view. It probably helps to know it is there. Continue reading

Photos from the Beachwood BBQ & Brewing 5 Year Celebration

All day Saturday, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing, the world’s best large brewpub, celebrated five years with hundreds of their fans by providing at least 30 of their beers on tap, four casks, and hourly releases of such favorites as 8 Buffalo, Sadie and Jean-Quad Van Damme along with a special food menu, wandering magicians, balloon artists, and other side show acts turning their Long Beach location into a carnival fit for any adult that enjoys craft beer.

We arrived around 1:00 PM and while there was no line to get in, there was a two hour wait to get a table. We did like many and just opted to stand in the bar until a community table opened up. Getting a beer or ordering food at the bar was quick and easy; and it appeared to me that people were getting seated quicker than two hours. Continue reading

Beachwood Brewing & Noble Ale Works Celebrate World Domination

Sometimes it comes down to timing; Wednesday evening is a perfect example of that. Tanya did not feel like cooking and I had just been paid, so she suggested we go to dinner. On the short list of brewpubs and gastropubs was one that we have not visited as much as we would like was Beachwood Brewing & BBQ in Long Beach. Truth be told, because it was the beginning of the rush hour traffic we were hesitant to head there when there were so many other great options that were a lot closer; but we both had a hankering for some barbecue and whatever was new at Beachwood, so we took our chances and headed to Long Beach.

One of the first things I noticed when we arrived at Beachwood was a sign that said something about a shuttle going between the Long Beach and Seal Beach locations. When I asked the hostess about it, I was informed that I got there just in time for Beachwood’s celebration with Noble Ale Works of their victories at the recent World Beer Cup where, among other awards, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing won World Beer Cup Champion Brewery and Brewmaster in the large brewpubs category and Noble Ale Works won World Beer Cup Champion Brewery and Brewmaster in the Small Brewing Company category. Beachwood was providing shuttle rides between their two locations in order that you might be able to try all the beers that Noble Ale Works brought with them. Continue reading

The Road to the Firestone Invitational 2016

If you asked me a week ago if I would be attending the 5th Annual Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival (FWIBF16), I would have hung my head and responded that I would not be there. On Wednesday afternoon a good friend of mine put out an alert on Facebook announcing that he was not going to be able to make it, so he had two tickets available to the first person that contacted him; I was that guy.

We headed out late Friday morning with the intention of visiting as many new [to me] craft breweries as possible. After two hours, in which we covered a mere 70 miles, we stopped for a Starbucks break in Camarillo; it was at this point that I realized that I had left my camera at home! I have to admit, this was a pretty depressing revelation because I knew that traffic was getting worse and it would likely take me five or six hours to get back to Camarillo.

While Tanya was inside the store I recalled the previous evening when I saw Tanya pack her Canon T1i Rebel in case we stopped somewhere that she felt like photographing. I knew she would not have any extraneous equipment, like an external flash or the Sigma lens I like but it would be better than trying to cover the event using my Smartphone … maybe. Continue reading

For your eyes only: HopSaint Soft Open Going on Now

Okay, I am going to make this short and sweet; the HopSaint Brewing Company brewpub in Torrance has unofficially begun their soft open. I say “unofficially” because they are not really advertising it quite yet; consider it a soft, soft open.

The photos were taken over 14 months, but primarily from their initial opening for investors and family and then again Saturday night. They are open seven (7) days a week, but right now food service will not begin until 4:00 or 5:00 PM and some items may be limited. Tonight was the first time I had an opportunity to look at the food menu and there are a few items that I cannot wait to try.

Currently, Brian Brewer has three of his brews on tap; Cacophony IPA, $1.00 from every pint sold goes to Ales for ALS, Eleven-Eight which is like an ESB and Bubble Butt Blonde which is as tasty as it sounds. They have a very extensive tap list so there are no worries about not finding something you will like. Continue reading

Beachwood BBQ & Brewing 4th Anniversary Photos

These photos were taken at the Beachwood BBQ & Brewing 4th Anniversary celebration which was held Saturday, July 11 at the Long Beach brewpub.

One of the best things about writing about my travels is that I am easily able to refer back to the first time I visited the Long Beach location or any of the three prior anniversary parties and easily see how much they have grown in just a few short years. I had to chuckle when I looked back and saw that they had nine beers available the first time I went there; yesterday they had over 40 on tap and even more on cask. And it is not even just about the number of beers they brew, but how well done and true to style they are. I feel really fortunate to have them so relatively close to home.

I initially went to Long Beach in the morning, but due to circumstances beyond my control, I got there later than I planned on and the line was just too long so I decided I would come back later. I watched conversations on Facebook and around 3:30 the lines were done. When we arrived it was still busy with their fans ordering up from the dozens of brews available. Since Beachwood staggered the tap times of their barrel-aged brews, just about everything was still available except for the big barrel-aged brews that were available early on. Continue reading

Belmont Brewing Company: Location, location, location

BBC - Belmont Shores

Belmont Brewing Company – All about the location

On Monday morning I had some business to do in Los Alamitos; as I was finishing up around lunch time and Tanya was hungry, I asked her to get on her Smartphone to find where I should take her while I finished up. When she suggested Belmont Brewing Company, a brewpub that was 15 minutes away, I remembered that I had tried a couple of their brews at a beer festival in the past but as we had never been there before and Beachwood was closed, why not?

BBC brewhouse

BBC Brewhouse

The first thing I noticed is that parking is close to impossible. Truth be told, I could not even tell you where the best place to legally park. I guess foot and bicycle traffic is the best for them. The next thing I noticed was that this place was literally on the beach! I mean, what brewpub can afford a piece of prime real estate like a Southern California beachfront? Not many that I know of; but Belmont Brewing Company has been at this location since 1990, property was a little cheaper back then. Okay, I don’t know if they own or lease, but I suspect they own the property.

When we entered, we were offered our choice of sitting inside or out on the extensive outdoor patio they have. I got the impression that the hostess was a little surprised when I said we wanted to sit at the bar. It was a little hazy that afternoon, so the view wasn’t that spectacular; and I wanted to get a little history of the place. Continue reading

Road to the Firestone Walker Invitational

This past Friday morning I decided to start working my way north for the 4th Annual Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival in Paso Robles. I left a little early as I was going to take the 101 and try to find a brewery that I had yet to visit. I had posted on the Craft Beer Guy Facebook page asking for suggestions and one of my followers and personal acquaintances, Charles Mumford, recommended a few, but the one that I knew would be open at the same time I was in the area was Rincon Brewery, a brewpub located in Carpinteria.

I arrived just before noon and their outside patio seemed packed with customers enjoying the warm sunshine. As I entered I noticed that they had about 10 of their own brews and several guest taps. It was a nice looking room with a surfer vibe, which should probably be expected considering the name Rincon and its proximity to the beach. To the left I noticed a large window that displayed the brewery on the other side. Since I was traveling solo this trip, I decided I would just get one flight and ordered their Bates Blond Belgian Style Blond, Indicator IPA, 17 @17 IPA and Rivermouth Stout. All four were solid beers and made me think they must have been open for years because things seem pretty dialed in, especially considering they were offering 10 varieties.

The beertender, who happened to be co-owner Alma Billgren, noticed I was taking photos and asked who I was shooting for. When I told her she suggested I meet their brewer, another co-owner, Shaun Crowley. He invited me back to the brewhouse and told me a little of their history and his own. Apparently they have only been open a little more than six months, which really surprised me. Crowley later informed me that he and Billgren had met while working at Island Brewing Company where he was the head brewer. While there, he took home medals at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival and got the desire to open his own place. Continue reading

Craft Beer in Tempe and Scottsdale, Arizona

For the past 12 years, at the end of March or beginning of April I have gone to Tempe to photograph an industry trade show. Last year I spent some time visiting Sun Up Brewing, Arizona Wilderness Brewing and The Perch Pub & Brewery. When I left LA I had full intentions of re-visiting Arizona Wilderness because I know a lot has happened in the past year; and I wanted to stop by The Perch because last year they had not begun brewing yet and I know they are now. But plans, like rules are frequently broken. By the time we arrived in Tempe the traffic in the area was so bad that I just did not have the willpower to head out to Gilbert or Chandler so I decided to visit breweries that I had not yet visited.

We started off at Four Peaks Brewing Company, a massive brewpub that opened in April of 1997. It is my understanding that they have three locations now; the brewpub in Tempe, another location in Tempe that brews for distribution only and a pub in Scottsdale. I would guess that their most well-known brew must be Kilt Lifter as it is found in almost every venue I visited in the area. The parking is pretty much non-existent but that did not keep them from being packed by 5:00 PM on a Wednesday; I suppose their proximity to ASU has something to do with that.

We split a flight which consisted of their Sunbru Kölsch, Kilt Lifter, Oatmeal Stout, 8th Street Pale Ale, Raj IPA, Hop Knot IPA, their Hefeweizen and Peach Ale; they gave me a taster of their Short Hop ISA which is their session IPA. Of the batch, Hop Knot was definitely my favorite. We also had a burger and fries which were okay, but the people sitting next to us had some very nice looking plates; since they were regulars I guess they knew the best meals to order.

Four Peaks Brewing Company is located at 1340 E 8th Street in Tempe and is open seven days a week; Sunday from 10:00 AM until 1:00 AM and Monday through Saturday 11:00 AM until 1:00 AM. Continue reading

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