Long before I decided to start the Craft Beer Guy website, I blogged about my travels around the United States and Europe on one of my other sites. The road trips I took around the US is where I first discovered craft beer, even if I was not aware that craft beer was a thing or that the marketing term of “craft beer” even existed. As time permits, and as I find the original photos, I will be posting articles and photos of some of the breweries and brewpubs I have stumbled across in my travels. I say “stumbled across” because most of these discoveries were not destinations, but rather somewhere we happened to drive by. The first of these articles is about Sam’s Tap Room & Kitchen at Red Lodge Ales Brewing Company in Red Lodge, Montana.
In July of 2011 I took a road trip with one of my younger cousins through a part of the country that I had not ever visited or had not been to since I was a young boy. We drove from Valparaiso, Indiana to Los Angeles taking the northern route through Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Utah. That is when I first stumbled upon Red Lodge Ales Brewing Company.
Red Lodge Ales is located at the foot of the Beartooth Mountains about an hour south of Billings. It is definitely one of the more scenic brewery locations that I have visited. Red Lodge Ales was established in 1998 and they had about 10 different offerings if memory serves me well. I had a flight consisting of their Czechmate Pilsner, Beartooth Pale Ale, Bent Nail IPA, Jack’s 90 Schilling Scottish Ale, Porter and (I think) Resurrection Doppelbock. They were all solid brews and if I had more time I definitely would not have minded trying a few more. I do not recall why, but we did not try any of the food; most likely because we had eaten elsewhere before we fell into Red Lodge. Continue reading
On Saturday afternoon I decided to stop by Phantom Carriage to see how much has changed since my last visit in the middle of December for their industry/media soft-open. I have been watching the numerous updates Phantom has made on their Facebook page and it was obvious that progress was being made and I want to be sure you are kept in the loop.
The first thing that should be mentioned is that Phantom Carriage is now officially open. When asked when the grand opening would be held, I was informed that the grand opening is “now until early March.” Their hours are currently Thursday and Friday from 11:30 – 10:00 PM, Saturday from noon until 10:00 PM and Sundays are noon until 8:00 PM. The plan is be open six days a week and that should happen within the next few weeks.
The beer tap list has definitely changed since my first visit when they were offering five of their brews and three guest taps that seemed to be thanking local breweries Smog City, El Segundo Brewing and Monkish Brewing for helping them get their start in the days before Phantom Carriage found a location to call their own. When we stopped by yesterday they were offering four of their beers but their guest tap list had increased to eight and definitely reflected the type of establishment it is. Included were selections from Almanac, Firestone Walker, Cismontane and a collaboration between Ommegang and Boulevard among others. The selections complimented the saisons and sours brewed and blended by Phantom Carriage. For those that want something entirely different, there is a wide selection of bottled beers available with everything from a $6.00 Go To IPA to a $42.00 Eclipse. All bottles must be consumed on the premises. Continue reading
These photos are from Saturday, July 5 at the Beachwood BBQ & Brewing 3rd Anniversary Celebration. As I tried to decide what to write about this event I thought back to their one year party when they had about 12 of their own brews available and made the event “A Tribute to Southern California Breweries.”
By the time their second anniversary rolled around, head brewer Julian Shrago had accumulated close to 30 brews under his belt and the event showcased Beachwood’s brews with a few guest taps also available. At yesterday’s event there were close to 50 Beachwood brews available along with several collaboration brews like Ghost of Jacob Barley and Unapologetic Double IPA; along with rare beers such as Barrel-Aged Jean-Quad Van Damme and Tovarish. There were also special food menus available as well as an assortment of housemade pickles and Scottish pickled eggs. One of the highlights for me was the release of their anniversary beer, Greenshift Double IPA; it is delicious.
There was a line from the time they opened until well into the afternoon, but it was well worth any wait. For those that arrived later, Beachwood helped them out by not tapping certain rare beers until set times of 1:00, 3:00, 5:00 and 7:00 so that no matter when you were there, the craft beer experience would be one to remember. Continue reading
On Wednesday evening, Hermosa Beach brewpub The Brewery at Abigaile held another of their delicious Brewery Dinners, this time featuring Stone Brewing Company. The event was attended by a couple dozen craft beer fans and we were all treated to quite a meal with the food menu put together by Chef Tin and Chef Jorge.
The meal started with Stone’s Go To IPA paired with a grilled peach and arugula salad then progressed to Stone’s Saison paired with a Cuban sandwich that was unbelievable with its intense flavors. The third course consisted of a Sprocketbier paired with Patatas Bravas; which I think would make an amazing breakfast dish. The main course was the Collective Distortion IPA paired with Egyptian curried baramundi (a very tasty fish dish) and for dessert; Chipotle Smoked Porter paired with torn chocolate cake, sweet pickled mangoes, pinenut and roasted banana gelato. I know I am not alone in saying that by the time the meal was completed, we were stuffed; Chefs Tin and Jorge are to be congratulated for putting together another tasty meal. Abigaile Restaurant and The Brewery at Abigaile is located at 1301 Manhattan Avenue in Hermosa Beach. Cheers! Continue reading
The five course meal will feature Stone’s Go to IPA paired with a grilled peach and arugula salad, Stone’s Saison paired with a Cuban sandwich, Sprocketbier paired with Patatas bravas, Keri Kelli/Kyle Hollingsworth/Stone Collective Distortion IPA paired with Egyptian curried baramundi and for dessert, Chipotle Smoked Porter paired with torn chocolate cake, sweet pickled mangoes, pinenut and roasted banana gelato. Having attended a couple beer dinners at Abigaile I think it is safe to say that there could be some special surprises in store as Brewery at Abigaile head brewer, Brian Brewer will be joining us to answer all your beer questions.
The Stone Brewery Dinner will begin at 6:30 PM on June 25; tickets are $68.00 each plus tax and gratuity. There are limited tickets available so if you want to guarantee a seat or two you can purchase your tickets ahead of time by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (310) 798-8227 (ask for Kyle). You can also buy them at Abigaile ahead on time or if you feel lucky you can try coming down Wednesday evening and ask if there are any seats available. Personally, I would not risk it; get your tickets early and be guaranteed a fun time with great beers and amazing food. You will not be disappointed; I hope to see you there.
The Brewery at Abigaile is located at 1301 Manhattan Avenue in Hermosa Beach. That is at the northwest corner of Manhattan Avenue and Pier Avenue. They do have underground parking for your convenience. Cheers!
When we left Arizona and headed back home I programmed a slight detour into my car’s GPS system as we took the long way home and headed to Alpine Beer Company, in Alpine, California. As you will likely notice, the photos in this gallery were taken over the course of two separate visits to the Alpine Beer Company brewpub. The first time I went there was last year when I was returning from a trade show, the experience was fun enough that I made a second 100+ mile detour to return there last week.
My first experience that I recall trying an Alpine Beer Company beer was at a bottle share in 2012 when someone brought a growler of Nelson IPA. I was so impressed that whenever I am anywhere close to Alpine, CA I do what I can to go to the source. As fate would have it, both times that I have gone there it has been a Sunday which means the brewery itself is closed. “Settling” for the brewpub is hardly a bad thing as their food, home-style barbecue, is pretty good if you like barbecue but the beer is what is my draw. While I am always pretty vocal about “Top 10” lists and how they are pretty useless when it comes to beer; I will admit that I do look at them once in a while. In my opinion, a Top 10 IPA list that ignores Alpine Beer Company just confirms that my general opinion of Top 10 lists is dead on.
Since it was getting a little late in the day we did not have the time to sample all 10 beers that they had available that day, but we did order a brisket plate and a small flight consisting of the McIlhenney’s Irish Red, Captain Stout, Pure Hoppiness IPA and an Odin’s Raven Imperial Stout. While the Pure Hoppiness was naturally my favorite, all four were very solid brews and the Odin’s Raven was particularly delicious. The downside of the brewpub is that they do not do growler fills, so we grabbed several bottles to bring home. Continue reading
When I left off, we had visited Coachella Valley Brewing and La Quinta Brewing in the Inland Empire and began our drive to Arizona. Unfortunately, there were not a lot of options available to us between the Palm Springs area and our final destination, Tempe. Since it was a Wednesday afternoon there were some breweries that were open in the Phoenix area but most would be closed before we arrived; besides, we needed food as well so a brewpub would be the preferred choice or a gastropub if no brewpubs were available.
Tanya got online with her iPhone and discovered that SunUp Brewing, a brewpub in Phoenix, would be open so I set our GPS for Camelback Road. SunUp Brewing has a fairly wide food selection, primarily made up of the kinds of foods you would expect to find in the Southwest like nachos and chili, but also offering several salads, sandwiches and burgers. I left the food choice up to Tanya which resulted in our having a spinach salad, some chili and peach cobbler. The salad and chili were good, but the peaches were a little crunchy. But I was there for the beer. Our server, Emily, provided us with a flight of all nine of the brews they had on tap that night. We started with their Horizon Hefeweizen and Light Rail Cream Ale which were both solid but a little light for me, although the cloves and banana flavor of the hefeweizen were nice. The Stinger Pale Ale, Amber, Trooper IPA, Amber (w/ Cascade), Falcon Red, Vanilla Porter and Coffee Oatmeal Stout were more my style and quite enjoyable. All of their beers could qualify as session beers, so feel free to order a flight or a couple pints; you should be able to walk a straight line later. SunUp Brewing is located at 322 E. Camelback Road in Phoenix. Continue reading
Wednesday evening, San Pedro brewpub San Pedro Brewing Company (SPBC) held their first Bourbon Barrel Aged Beer Night featuring their Blitzen Belgian Winter Ale and Sunken City Imperial Stout. Both brews are delicious on their own merits, but it is pretty amazing the difference what a few weeks in a bourbon barrel will do. I have to admit, I came because I knew the Sunken City was going to be excellent but I was completely blown away with what a little barrel aging did to the Blitzen. It was like drinking the best candy bar ever made. Hosted by San Pedro Brewing Company’s manager Greg Arn and brewer Jason Welke, visitors had an opportunity to try these first time attempts by SPBC at barrel aging and from the comments I overheard, no one left disappointed.
The primary roadblock many brewpubs run into when it comes to experimenting with new recipes and styles is space, and SPBC is no different in that regards, but Welke still finds the time and space to turn out some great brews and lots of awards for them. The rumor about town is that San Pedro Brewing may be obtaining a 10,000 square foot facility right around the corner from their existing brewpub. We should know what is happening with that within the next few months; personally, I cannot wait to see what Welke can do when he is given enough space to spread his brewing wings.
San Pedro Brewing Company is located at 331 W. 6th Street in San Pedro and is open seven days a week. They consistently have six of their own beers on tap with a few taps reserved for guest beers. They also have a nice food menu with their bruschetta being a house favorite. I hope to see you there sometime. Cheers! Continue reading
When I agreed to go up to Santa Rosa for Drew at Decoding the Craft, I really did not know or realize just how many events were going on at the same time as the Pliny the Younger release at Russian River Brewing. There was the Double IPA Festival and the San Francisco Beer Week 2014 (SF Beer Week 2014) started on Friday, the day of the Pliny release. I would have liked to go into The City to check out some events, but it was always raining and it would not be fair to the dogs to deal with city life in the rain. It was decided that we would do our own SF Beer Week 2014 tour; we just stayed on the other side of the bridge.
Since we wanted to start off with a destination that included food, we started off at Marin Brewing Company, a brewpub in Larkspur. I will admit, I was a little apprehensive at first because my limited experience with them wasn’t very positive; but when Tanya read the menu from their website we decided to head over there. I do not know if it is because it was raining or the weekend or it is just always like that, but parking was pretty difficult. I saw a sign for free valet, but with the dogs I did not think it would go over well. They are located in what I would describe as a boutique shopping center; as it was raining, I did not exactly look around, so just my first wet impressions.
The place itself is huge and looks pretty upscale. We got a flight to share and I was immediately glad we made this stop; their flights offered a wide selection from their Broken Cherry sour ale and E.S. Chi spiced beer to their San Quentin’s Breakout Stout and Brass Knuckle Double IPA. They all ranked from good to amazing; the food was not bad either. We should have ordered more chili. Continue reading
A couple weeks ago I was visiting Smog City Brewing when I got into a conversation with a guy, Drew Murphy, that I learned was in the process of putting together a project, Decoding the Craft, which is essentially going to be a series of video documentaries on the craft beer scene. His plans include visiting various craft breweries and brewpubs around the United States and Europe; as well as filming various craft beer events. The next one that he wanted to cover was the Pliny the Younger release at Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa. He was looking for a backup photographer and it turned out he was somewhat familiar with me and my photography work. One thing led to another and it was decided that I would come up to Santa Rosa for the Pliny release. Over the course of time, issues started to arise and several of the people initially involved backed out. I decided that I wanted to help Drew make this happen so I committed to going up to Santa Rosa, no matter what. On Wednesday I left L.A. and headed up California Highway 99 and found several nice breweries and brewpubs along the way. This morning we started day two of our journey in the rain as we headed towards the coast.
Our first stop was Main Street Brewery, a brewpub in Pleasanton. Main Street Brewery has been open for 18 years, which means that their beer styles are more old school than the typical “West Coast” hoppiness we find so much in Southern California. We enjoyed a salad while there, it was pretty good. While there we asked for some recommendations of other locations we should visit and were directed to The Hop Yard in San Ramon. As it turns out it is a gastropub, and while they had a very nice tap list, this weekend is all about going to the source. We decided to move on and found ourselves at Jack’s Brewing Company, also in San Ramon.
Jack’s has two locations; the sports bar and pub in San Ramon with the actual brewery and tasting room being in Fremont. We had just eaten so we shared a flight of some very well-rounded brews; I may have to consider stopping by their tasting room on the way home. Since it was getting into mid-afternoon and we still had a few hours of travel ahead of us we worked our way towards San Leandro and the famous Drake’s Barrel House. Drake’s Barrel House is the tasting room for Drake’s Brewing and definitely worth the stop. They have lots of their specialty beers that you are not going to find at any bottle shop or gastropub in the South Bay area anyway. It was there that I got my 1,000 badge on Untappd with their Jolly Rodger 2012 (Bourbon Barrel Aged). It was a very good stop. While I was there I happened to run into South Bay local craft beer drinkers James and Lisa; we had seen each other around local breweries, but had never really talked. Craft beer brought us together in a way that would pay off later. Continue reading