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
One of my favorite recent discoveries in the South Bay is Game Changers, located at 1220 Hermosa Avenue in Hermosa Beach. Game Changers is more of a sports bar than a gastropub, but when I first saw their banner at the Hermosa Fiesta stating they have 54 beers on tap I knew I would have to check them out. We returned a few weeks later and had an opportunity to get to know a few of the staff; we had a great time and since we had been told they had a new menu, we returned Wednesday to check it out.
Since I had only looked at their last menu briefly I was not readily familiar with what had changed, so I cannot tell you if what we had was new or not. There were fewer taco options this time and I was told that we because they were not big sellers or contained ingredients that were used only on one particular taco. That makes sense. I will say their appetizers are huge; they definitely filled us up. If I had known I probably would have ordered just one and tried the rib-eye; it looked pretty good and at a bargain price too.
Of course, I was really there for the beer. I opted for an initial flight consisting of a Matilda, Wipeout IPA, Ruination and a Stone Smoked Porter. Our server, Kim, asked if she could create a flight for me and presented me with a Tripel Karmeliet, Great White, Racer 5 IPA and an Allagash Four. I am usually apprehensive about having strangers picking my beers, but she did a pretty good job; thanks Kim!
Game Changers has some interesting things going on with daily happy hour specials and special events like their 80’s Ladies Night; you can learn more by stopping in or visiting the Game Changers website. These photos were taken July 17, 2013. Continue reading
Over Father’s Day weekend my daughter was up in San Francisco running a half marathon so we were unable to spend the day together and she asked me to pick somewhere for us to have lunch on the following weekend. She lives out in the Pasadena area and I am in the South Bay, so I started looking for somewhere that was midway between the two of us; preferably somewhere I had never been before. I have to admit, I was a little surprised when I came upon the Los Angeles Brewing Company (LABC). I was even more surprised to hear that they had 100 beers on tap; how had I missed hearing about them?
They opened about a year ago and are located in the old Broadway theater district of downtown Los Angeles; it would be pretty easy to pass LABC if you were not looking for it. Once you find parking (there is paid public parking just north of LABC) and enter the building it becomes readily apparent that the building has been around for a long time, with lots of marble and the type of construction you just do not see any more. Since I had to wait for my daughter to join us I decided to try and take a few photos on the interior; unfortunately, whoever it was working behind the bar did not seem to like the idea so I went back out front to wait for my daughter to get there. Los Angeles Brewing Company is huge inside and because of the decor, it is pretty loud. I will let that be the excuse as to why it took so long for the hostess to notice that we were ready to be seated.
While LABC has a reported 100 beers on tap (I saw 96 taps) they do not brew beer there. They do have a few LABC beers, but it looks like it is currently being brewed by Firestone Walker. I read that they plan on brewing there in the near future. They have a nice tap list but I got the impression that the staff were not really beer people. The food was good and I suppose my only concern is whether or not they have enough business to justify having 100 beers on tap. It was a Sunday and they seemed to have a decent brunch crowd, but it was pretty empty by the time we left. I hope that their weekday crowds are larger or there are going to be some kegs that are going to take a while to go through. Continue reading
Yesterday we were looking for somewhere to have lunch; we wanted to go somewhere that we do not frequent on a regular basis and would preferably have a large craft beer selection. Over the Memorial Day weekend, we had gone to the arts and crafts street fair in Hermosa Beach and had visited two places that fit that bill. One was Mediterraneo, where we enjoyed some of their food and beers, but I was not really feeling in a tapas mood. The other place we visited was Game Changers, a sports bar that advertised 54 beers on tap. Because it was a Sunday afternoon during the street fair, the place was packed. We did not bother eating but after seeing their tap list we knew we would have to return. We checked out their food menu online and decided that we would go to Game Changers for lunch.
While Game Changers was packed to the rafters at 2:00 on a Sunday afternoon, that really was not the case at 2:00 on a Wednesday afternoon. That gave me an opportunity to look around a little and get to meet and interact a little with a couple of the people that work there because I have found that the best beer places have people that seem to really care about craft beer. Taylor, Chloe and Will, their beer guy, each gave off that vibe. Looking around the spacious venue I could not help but wonder if there were more TVs than beer taps. I have to say, it was pretty close; it looks like they have about 30 TVs, each tuned to a different sporting event so no matter where you sit, you can watch the game you came to see. However, I was there for the beer and some food.
As advertised, they do have 54 taps available; as such, the written menu may not be 100% accurate because the taps blow and new ones swapped in. It is the nature of the beast. While I did notice a Rolling Rock, Bud Lite, Guinness and Shock Top taps the rest seemed to be craft beers, so that is 50 to choose from. They also carry bottled beer for those that still want the standard bar beer. What I had not noticed when looking at their online menu was that their Happy Hour runs from 2:00 PM until 7:00 PM. They have some two for one specials on a few of their taps and their Happy Hour food menu is quite reasonable. We ordered a couple food items, a corn dog wrapped in bacon and a hamburger, and while I don’t know that I would rate it at the gastropub level, but they never advertised themselves to be a gastropub. They are a sports bar and as far as the typical bar food I have tried in the past, this surpassed it and at a very good price. Continue reading
Sunday evening we decided that we wanted to go somewhere different for dinner with the requirement being that they have a nice beer list. We were somewhat familiar with Silvio’s on Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach due to our prior involvement with the Torrance Chamber of Commerce and were reminded about them when we were walking around the Fiesta Hermosa street fair last weekend. It was decided that we would head back to Hermosa Beach.
While I was aware that Silvio’s bragged about their available craft beers, I did not know it was a “Chicago” bar, which made it pretty interesting as we got there just as the Blackhawks vs. Kings game started. The place was packed and it seemed like 80% of the people were Chicago fans, 18% of the people did not care and four of us were rooting for the Kings. We did not have a lot to cheer about. That’s okay, I was there for the beer; Tanya was there for the food.
Tanya ordered some spinach and artichoke, tri-tip, potato salad and skewered veggies. Apparently they are all about the rock salt there and it shows; everything was extremely salty, to the point that I just had another beer. Our server, Jen, offered something different but my confidence level was not very high so I passed but she insisted and brought a plate of chicken that was their specialty. It was pretty good; I just wasn’t in the mood. We happened to be sitting next to a guy from Brazil and he said the food he ordered was pretty authentic (he had some rice dish). After he left another Brazilian came and sat by us, so apparently it is pretty popular in the community. Continue reading