Last week I was invited to participate in a beer tasting put on by Craft Beer Guild Distributing and hosted by STACKED: Food Well Built in Cerritos. I know that I frequently discuss location when it comes to the invitations I choose to accept and Cerritos isn’t exactly next door, it is a little less than 20 miles from my home, but since Craft Beer Guild Distributing has been on my radar lately I thought we would go ahead and deal with the traffic on the 91. We went last night and in retrospect, I am glad we did.
While I do not usually discuss food on this site, STACKED is different than most gastropubs that I visit. The primary difference is that while the menu is made up primarily of burgers, sandwiches, pizzas and salads, the customer is the one that designs the meal. Virtually every item on the food menu is “build your own.” The brainchild of STACKED co-founder and CEO Paul Montenko, STACKED provides every table with an iPad and a menu that allows you to drop and drag the items you want on your burger or pizza. While Burger King may have been the first to let you “hold the pickles, hold the lettuce” STACKED takes it further by not charging you for the pickles or lettuce you did not ask for and letting you add any of 18 toppings including pastrami, pulled pork or caramelized onions. They have six bun options (one of which is no bun), six cheese options and even eight different types of meat for your patty. After creating your meal you simply hit submit and a few minutes later you start receiving your order. One of the nice things about this is that you can order your drinks, they have a full bar, and have that delivered while you peruse the menu. If you want an appetizer before your meal, order it up on the iPad and it will show up before the main course. It really is pretty cool.
A couple last words on the food: Candied Bacon. Man, oh man, that is some good stuff. As usual, since Tanya and I typically split meals I let her build our burger which brought up another issue: eyes and their relationships to stomachs. It is really easy to build a burger that is bigger than you will ever fit in your mouth. A gentleman at the table next to us did just that; I suspect that after you have been there a couple times you should be able to figure out how to make the perfect burger for yourself. Tanya really enjoys Mac ‘n’ Cheese so she ordered a basic one to check it out; I have to admit it was pretty tasty. Continue reading
As this site becomes more popular, I receive more and more recommendations of places I should check out. If it is a craft brewery or brewpub, I am more than happy to make that visit. Probably more often than the brewery suggestions, I am directed to “gastropubs” and craft beer bars that have recently opened or modified their tap list to take advantage of the craft beer craze that has hit the area in the last couple of years. Let there be no mistake, I always appreciate recommendations but, believe it or not, I do not really go to bars very often. I will try to visit every tasting room and brewpub I can get to, but when it comes to craft beer bars the primary consideration is convenience as in it must be close to where I am. In other words, if I am in Alhambra I may hit 38 Degrees but I am not going to drive out to The Valley or downtown LA just to try a bar, no matter what the selection is. As a result, a lot of bar suggestions are not considered due to their locale. I have had times that the place was out of business by the time I got there. On the seemingly rare occasion I am introduced to a true find; O’Flaherty’s Tap Room is one of those, in my opinion.
I was told about O’Flaherty’s by Steve Farguson of Absolution Brewing, back around July. He told me that it was a new place that had an interesting tap list and he felt they deserved some notice. While I was interested, the main downside for me was pretty much the same reason I wanted to visit them in the first place. That reason was location; O’Flaherty’s Tap House is located at the shopping center located at the end of Hawthorne Boulevard at Palos Verdes Drive West. I knew right away that if Flaherty’s was all Farguson said it was, they had a great spot because there is nothing up there with a great tap list. Luckily, I like to go up to Pointe Vicente to try and photograph whales or the waves, so O’Flaherty’s is a nice stop and convenient a few times a year. Continue reading
I remember the first time we visited Hudson House, a gastropub located in Redondo Beach; it was during American Craft Beer Week in 2012. At the time, the craft beer scene in the South Bay was just getting started or I was just starting to notice it anyway. Since it was the first time that my fiancee Tanya was able to actually join me in my craft beer adventures we had set out to discover as many American craft beers as possible. A search of Google led us to Hudson House, which was described as a gastropub; to be honest, I am not entirely sure I knew the true definition of what a gastropub was. What I did know was that they advertised having more than 50 craft beers available. The downside, at the time, was that of those 50+ brews only four of them were available on draught.
We did return about a year later because it was close to somewhere we had to be and Tanya had enjoyed their burgers. I honestly don’t recall a lot about the visit other than I had been able to buy a bottle of Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA and I was not impressed by our dessert choice, their version of bread pudding; a chocolate banana croissant pudding. Be that as it may, we decided to revisit Hudson House on Monday evening. What a difference a couple of years make. Continue reading
My daughter wanted to take me out to lunch this past Sunday, specifically somewhere I had not yet visited. As she rattled off the various craft breweries and gastropubs that were midway between where she lives and me it was discovered that I had visited each of them. She then mentioned Bonaventure Brewing in downtown Los Angeles. I had been meaning to stop by there for a while, so we decided to meet there for lunch. Unfortunately, it never dawned on me that they would not open until 4:00 PM, so we arrived at The Bonaventure a couple hours before the brewery opened and the hotel’s cocktail lounge did not even sell the beer brewed on premise. This was not what I wanted to hear. As we were meeting my daughter there we had to find a quick substitute before she went through the trouble and expense of dealing with the valet. Tanya got on her iPhone to query Google and started looking for brewpubs in the downtown LA vicinity; the closest to us was Barbara’s at the Brewery. I had heard of the place but had never been there so it sounded like the place to be.
As we passed Union Station and Olvera Street I mentioned that Barbara’s must be part of Angel City Brewery; I have only been there once and I recalled that it was a pretty large facility so it was entirely possible that I had missed something. As we pulled up to Barbara’s I quickly realized that this was not associated with Angel City; but it sure did not look like they had room for a brewery either. There was a large smokestack that had “BREWERY” painted on it which did nothing to ease my confusion. When I walked in it quickly became evident that Google had misled me once again.
Barbara’s at the Brewery is not a brewpub, I am not even sure I would classify it as a gastropub either; it is a restaurant that serves craft beer. I asked our server what the deal was with the brewery smokestack and the “at the Brewery” in their name and was informed that the complex they are located in used to be a Pabst Blue Ribbon brewery many years ago. She thought that it may have been a brewery for someone else before PBR brewed there. The complex itself is called “The Brewery” and is now probably best described as an art colony, with Barbara’s being the location for food and drink. Continue reading
On Saturday afternoon we headed out to Alhambra to attend the 38 Degrees Ale House & Grill’s 5th Anniversary Celebration. Unfortunately, Caltrans decided they were going to close several lanes of the 710 freeway turning what should have been a 30 minute drive into an hour-long battle. As we finally turned down Main Street and approached 38 Degrees we immediately noticed that they had a very long line of people waiting to get in. To be honest, I was not ready to stand in any line; I wanted a beer. Luckily for us, Ohana Brewing Company had opened their tasting room a few months ago and they are literally around the corner from 38 Degrees so they became our first stop.
I had an opportunity to visit the Ohana Brewing tasting room back in January shortly after they had been granted their Conditional Use Permit and it was pretty much just a storefront with dreams of what the future would bring. Yesterday, we discovered six taps of Ohana brews, displays featuring their glassware, growlers, shirts and snacks and several customers lined up at the counter trying flights and filling growlers. We ordered up a flight consisting of their Pacific Ale, Hollenbeck Amber Ale, Saison Kau Wela, #Hashtag Hops IPA, Spawater Saison, Surf Shack Saison and Acorn Ambition. All the beers were solid brews; I really enjoyed the Surf Shack Saison which is a very good entry level sour. Owner Andrew Luthi informed me that they have a Double IPA getting ready to be released and after trying the #Hashtag Hops I look forward to trying it. The Ohana Brewing Company tasting room is located at 7 S. 1st Street in Alhambra. Continue reading
Regular readers have probably figured out that I am a pretty big fan of Beachwood BBQ and Brewing, named Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) this past October. What you may not know is that they started off as a gastropub in Seal Beach, called simply, Beachwood BBQ back in 2006. It was not until 2011 that Beachwood BBQ owner, Gabe Gordon teamed up with brewer Julian Shrago to open their brewpub, Beachwood BBQ and Brewing, in Long Beach.
A friend of mine introduced me to Beachwood BBQ in November of 2010; at the time they were essentially a barbecue joint that served craft beer with 24 rotating taps. Beachwood had not even started brewing beer yet. When I look back at photos from my first visit I cannot help but admire the guest tap list which consisted of beers from breweries that I was not all that familiar with (a lot can change in three years). Fast-forward to present day and seven years have passed since Gabe Gordon first opened his Seal Beach location.
Yesterday, December 17, Beachwood started their week long commemoration of their 7th Anniversary by introducing Beachwood Seven Double IPA, a double IPA made with seven varieties of hops (Warrior, Citra, Amarillo, Nelson Sauvin, El Dorado, Galaxy, and Mosaic); one for each year they have been in business. They offered Beachwood Seven in bottles and on tap; but as expected, the bottles sold out within hours. I would highly advise heading to one of their two locations to try it on tap; it is delicious. If you are in the neighborhood, the Seal Beach location is celebrating Beachwood BBQ’s Anniversary Week, December 17-22, with a great line up of seasonal winter beers and food specials. Throughout the week, in addition to their standard food menu there are food specials such as Oysters Rockefeller, Crusted King Crab Legs and a special Dessert Sampler. Continue reading
In 2003, Travis Garone and Luke Slattery from Melbourne Australia were having a beer, discussing fashion trends and mustaches. Apparently, in Australia they were few and far between and Travis and Luke decided they were going to bring it back in fashion, at least for the month of November. Inspired by a friend’s mother who was fundraising for breast cancer, they decided to start a campaign about men’s health and prostate cancer. They got 30 friends to join them in growing mustaches for the month of November, and Movember was born. Unfortunately, they raised no funds that first year but a tradition was born. 10 years later, 4 million people around the world were participating in the Movember movement and more than $433,649,258 has been raised since 2003.
Sophie’s Place, a gastropub in the Riviera Village section of Redondo Beach has been participating in Movember for the past few years (as long as I have known them anyway) with the owners and employees participating in the fundraising effort with their Movember Team “Sophie’s Stache’s.” Wednesday evening they held their annual Sophie’s Movember Social. The evening had drink specials and donations to “Sophie’s Stache’s” were accepted. It was a fun night for a good cause.
Sophie’s Place is located at 1708 S. Catalina in Redondo Beach. Cheers! Continue reading
If you did not know that October 4 is National Taco Day, do not feel like the Lone Ranger; it seems that this is a rather well-kept secret. The fact of the matter is I did not know it was National Taco Day until almost noon when I saw it float by on my Facebook feed. I decided that since it seems every gastropub and sports bar in Los Angeles County has a Taco Tuesday, I would see what they had to offer for National Taco Day. I put out the question, “where can I get good tacos and craft beer” on Facebook and was given several suggestions. The problem was that a majority of the suggested locations did not see the value of having a website that provided a menu of their food or available beers. Since I was not about to drive 25-40 miles each way on a maybe, I decided that I would stay local.
One of the suggestions I got was Hot’s Kitchen, a gastropub in Hermosa Beach. Hot’s has a very good tap list with 56 craft brews available on tap at any one time. They have an extensive list of tacos but had no idea it was National Taco Day; we did not let that stop us. The initial intent of this journey was to visit three locations and split a couple tacos at each location. After splitting a Thai and Lamb Taco between the two of us at Hot’s Kitchen, we both had serious reservations about whether or not we could eat two tacos at the remaining locations. The tacos and beer (Anchor California Lager and Duvel) were great; they had a fly issue that took away from the experience. One of the problems of the beach I guess.
Since we were in the neighborhood and I was aware that they had a Taco Tuesday, we headed over to Game Changers sports bar. Game Changers has 54 beers on tap, so it is usually pretty easy to find something you might like; I went with a Levitation Ale. I forgot that they changed up their food menu and many of the tacos had shellfish which my girl, Tanya, can’t eat, so we were kind of limited on the choices. We went with a Buzzer Beater which was huge; tasty, but huge. We were going to have issues trying to have another taco at our third destination. Continue reading
Anyone is the LA area that has been paying any attention to the craft beer scene has probably noticed that the name “Goose Island” has been appearing at more local locations than ever before. Goose Island Beer Company originated in Chicago, IL in 1988. While they may not have been well known out here, Goose Island is most certainly a popular craft beer brand that I would notice in my travels around the mid-west. In 2011 AB-InBev, parent company of Anheuser-Busch, acquired Goose Island; one might guess that with the additional revenue behind them, Goose Island was now made available in all 50 states. In fact, Goose Island is having migration campaigns around the country. Last night I attended the Rock & Brews PCH LA Beer Week Goose Island Craft Beer Dinner, a five course meal paired with eight varieties of Goose Island brews.
This was my first visit to Rock & Brews PCH, so I was looking forward to seeing how it compared to their El Segundo location. At first glance it seemed like the El Segundo location might be a little more spacious, but it is close. Noticeably missing from the PCH location is the electronic scoreboard that lists all of the available beers on tap so I am not really sure how they handle making the available rotating taps known, but they do have a very extensive printed menu of draught and bottled beers that are always available. They also have a few tables that have four beer taps with lines going directly back to the cooler so you can serve yourself. Each table has its own combination of beer but I did not get a chance to really investigate the combinations. That idea definitely has potential. I guess what really surprised me was the food.
As a firm believer of the “happy wife, happy life” policy, I have never really looked at the food menu at Rock & Brews; primarily because I was there for the beer and Tanya and I are just going to split the food anyway, so whatever she wants is fine with me. She really likes their Chicago dog and it is big enough for the two of us so that is pretty much what we always order. Since last night was a 5-course meal, I had an opportunity to try some of their other offerings; Strawberry Fields Salad, Asian Wings, Bleu Cheese Bacon Burger, Pulled Pork Pizza and Purple Rain Drops for dessert. We were stuffed by the end and I think I found a couple substitutes for the Chicago dog as I really enjoyed the salad and wings a lot.
For the pairings they had two options with Goose Island’s classic or vintage craft beers. The beers sampled, in order, were 312 Urban Wheat Ale or Matilda Lambicus, Harvest Ale or vintage Matilda, India Pale Ale (IPA) or Pere Jacques, Honker’s Ale and Sofie Paradisi. While Goose Island may have been acquired by a corporate giant of the beer world, it is apparent that their 25 years of brewing craft beers will result in interesting brews for years to come. I asked someone in attendance last night, that works for Anheuser-Busch, what Goose Island’s plan is as far as experimental batches were concerned and he told me that Goose Island still tweaks their brews and those experimental batches will be shipped around the country to be found in the better gastropubs and bottle shops as well as the Goose Island brewpubs. Cheers! Continue reading
Today was day one of the of the 5th Annual LA Beer Week (LABW5) which runs from September 19 through the 29th, which is a little longer than a week, but the LA craft beer scene has some catching up to do, so a couple extra days here and there cannot hurt. LABW was founded in 2009 by beer enthusiasts from the LA and Orange County beer communities to help promote this wonderful time that we are living. Indeed, when it comes to craft beer, there is no better time to be an LA area resident.
Since it was day one of LA Beer Week 5 (LABW5), I wanted to start the week off with something special. I read on Facebook that Mediterraneo in Hermosa Beach had gotten a keg of Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA, so I decided I would start off big; with a really big beer. I guess an 18% beer would qualify.
A little later I headed over to Naja’s Place in Redondo Beach for their LA Beer Week Kickoff Locals Night. While I have been to Naja’s Place when it was more crowded, I am not sure I have been there when more of the South Bay’s “who’s who” of the beer world was gathered. I have to admit, I was wondering who was tending the farm as it seemed everyone that was anyone in the South Bay craft beer world was at Naja’s. Everyone was having a great time.
For those interested in finding LA Beer Week events, I recommend visiting LABeerWeek.com for some of the official events. If you live in the LA area, your favorite microbrewery, brewpub or gastropub is probably having some kind of event. Go support your local brewer at a local business; it is good for your community. Cheers! Continue reading