Microbreweries

Absolution Brewing Company ribbon cutting April 25

Absolution Brewing Company

Come to the Absolution Brewing Company Grand Opening

This coming Friday, April 25, 2014, Absolution Brewing Company will have their official grand opening complete with a ribbon cutting ceremony featuring the Mayor of Torrance, the Torrance City Council and the Torrance Chamber of Commerce. In addition to city representatives, Torrance Cable TV and various other news outlets are expected to attend.

Absolution’s Chief Tasting Officer Nigel Heath told me, “Everyone should come and enjoy all of ABC’s brews including: The Wicked double IPA, Purgatory Heff, Tribulation Cream Ale, Trespasser Belgian Ale, Trespasser Saison with organic strawberry, Sinner Stout, Possessed Porter, Cardinal Sin Crimson IPA, Angel’s Demise IPA finished with Mosaic and L’il Red Angel Sessionable IPA.”

“We will also be releasing some special surprise beers which will be paired with gourmet foods prepared by Chef Travis Porter of Creative Eats,” Heath added. “This should be a fun afternoon with fun promos all afternoon.”

Absolution Brewing Company is located at 2878 Columbia Street in Torrance. They will be open from 11:00 AM until 9:00 PM with the ribbon cutting ceremony beginning around 4:00 PM. I hope to see you there. Cheers!

Temecula: It isn’t just about the wine any more

While it may not be as well-known as the Napa-Sonoma wine region of California, the Temecula Valley area of the Inland Empire has at least 35 wineries and has gained considerable respectability with the wines they provide. Like Napa-Sonoma has exploded with craft breweries, the same can be said for Temecula and the Inland Empire; even if not to the same extent. This past weekend I headed out to Temecula and spent a little time checking out the craft breweries that have popped up since my last visit in 2012.

Wiens Brewing Company, as it turns out, opened a couple weeks before I did my 2012 brewery tour. My son lives in the area and he told me about a special anniversary ale that he had heard great things about. Unfortunately, by the time we got there it was all gone. I guess that is to be expected with a limited release. If the Wiens name sounds familiar, it could be because they also own Wiens Family Cellars, a Temecula Valley winery. Wiens had about 11 different beers on tap so we opted for a flight to do a major sampling. At $1.00 each for their flagship beers, it was a great deal. We sampled their Front Street Lager (nice maltiness), Far Post brown ale, Stout, Red Ale, Millennium Falconers IPA, Type 3 IPA (probably my favorite), Insomnia IPA and Descend Black IPA. For dessert we tried their Niflheim Russian Imperial Stout. All the beers were solid brews with the IPAs being my favorite. They offer a few other big beers so I am going to have to plan an overnight trip to Temecula so I can walk back to my hotel after experimenting more. Wiens does bottle many of their beers, so we did pick up one or two to try at home. Wiens Brewing Company is located at 27941 Diaz Road in Temecula.

When we were driving to Wiens some of the street names sounded familiar so I knew we had to be close to Black Market Brewing Company, which we had visited in late 2012. While we were looking for places we had never visited before we had such a good time the first time we were there I was okay with making a return visit. Besides, after a year and a half there had to be some brews we had not tried yet. Black Market Brewing is in a word, huge; they also appear to have a nice barrel aging program. The first time we visited them we had a room at the La Quinta across the street so we were able to take advantage by getting each of the 10 beers they had on tap. By take advantage I mean, they were giving six ounce pours for $1.00 so I could order one of each. This time I was driving, so we limited ourselves to a flight of four; Espionage on Nitro, Rotating IPA, Quadrophenia and Embargo. In my opinion, their big beers really show off Black Market’s brewing skills. Luckily, they bottle and can so we bought a couple bottles to bring home for later. Black Market Brewing Company is located at 41740 Enterprise Circle North in Temecula. Continue reading

Walowski retains title at Smog City Battle of the Cask – Part 2

Saturday afternoon, Torrance production brewery Smog City Brewing held their second Battle of the Cask at their tasting room. Initially the competition was to be between the six Smog City employees, with each of them making their own little tweaks to the Amarilla Gorilla IPA that all used as the base for their cask recipes. As sometimes happens during fermentation, a couple of the casks “exploded” so they had to be disqualified. Luckily, they were able to put them on tap so we could at least try them. They were both amazing.

Anyway, we had five casks to sample and I have to say, this was a really tough decision and that was reflected in the final tally which was a mere five votes between the first and second place choices. Assistant brewer Chris Walowski, who won the Battle of the Casks in December, wowed the crowd again Saturday with his recipe consisting of Merlot Concentrate, Mosaic and Simcoe hops; narrowly edging out Smog City Brewing co-owner, Laurie Porter’s Mango and Muscat Oolong Tea, Peach Puree and Simcoe hops recipe. This made Walowski the undefeated holder of the coveted Budweiser Belt. All the entries were very good and I look forward to the third Battle of the Cask.

By the way, Smog City Brewing Company will be holding their first anniversary party on Saturday, May 17 from 12:00 PM – 8:00 PM. They will be releasing another new beer and they will have their first bottle release. You know there will be more surprises as the date draws closer, but you should probably mark it on your calendars. Cheers! Continue reading

New breweries in the Inland Empire

Last week I made my annual pilgrimage to Tempe, AZ. For the past couple of years we made it a habit to leave the night before my scheduled arrival date and always found myself at Babe’s BBQ & Brewhouse in Rancho Mirage because they were the only place open by the time we got in the area. While they have a nice selection of in-house brewed beers, decent food and amazing peach pie, this year I wanted to try something new; and I just knew that there had to be a couple new production breweries in the Palm Springs area. As I am inclined to do, I asked my Facebook followers if they had any suggestions; once again they did not let me down.

The first location I was directed to was Coachella Valley Brewing Company in Thousand Palms, a production brewery that has been in business about six months. To be honest, I had planned to leave town a little earlier than I did so I could spend more time at my destinations, but fate was not on my side. Add to that an extreme dust storm that literally brought traffic to a dead stop on I-10 and I was definitely running behind. When we arrived at Coachella Valley Brewing the sand in the air was so bad that I had concerns taking my camera out of the car; it was pretty nasty.

Once we got in I was pretty impressed; the place is massive. When I heard they were only six months old I was even more impressed. They advertise that free tours come with every pint purchased but the beertender appeared to be the only one on duty so I settled for taking a few photos of their brew house and sampling a flight. They had about 12 different options available on the day we were there. Our flight consisted of their Desert Swarm, a witbier featuring locally produced honey; a Sessions IPA that I guess is a session beer because of the 4% ABV and the poor flavor. We continued with a Harvester IPA which was quite enjoyable and ended with another enjoyable beer, their Whopper Imperial Chocolate Milk Stout that reminded me that my son has a Whopper Stout fermenting as I write this. As I only tried four of at least 20 options I don’t know that I can really judge them, but I am positive I will be back when I have more time so I can try some of their other options. Coachella Valley Brewing Company is located at 30640 Gunther Street in Thousand Palms. They are open six days a week (closed Mondays) so if you find yourself stranded in a dust storm, head over as they are likely open. Continue reading

King Harbor Brewing Company: From the beginning

I remember the day well; it was the 4th of July 2013 and Tanya and I were taking the dogs on their morning walk. We were walking through the strip mall that we walked through virtually every morning. Something caught Tanya’s eye on the window of one of vacant units, I glanced over and immediately recognized the ABC’s Public Notice of Application to Sell Alcoholic Beverages. I knew the neighborhood demographics well enough to know it wasn’t going to be a bar so I stopped to take a closer look. Could my eyes be deceiving me? Will there be a microbrewery a block from my house? Apparently Coastline Brewing was going to become my neighbor.

As soon as we got home from the walk I started doing some research and was soon in contact with the new microbrewery owners Tom Dunbabin and Will Daines. We set up a meeting for the upcoming week where we discovered we had met a couple weeks earlier at The Brewery at Abigaile. After some beer and discussion I offered to come speak at the CUP hearing they had scheduled in a couple weeks. The Redondo Beach Planning Commission approved the Conditional Use Permit and almost immediately Dunbabin and Daines started tearing apart their unit in preparation of building a production brewery and tasting room.

Within a couple months a decision was made to change the name to King Harbor Brewing Company (KHBC) because there is a winery up north in Santa Rosa, Coastline Cellars, and they did not want their beer brand confused with Coastline Cellar’s wine brand. While building King Harbor Brewing, Dunbabin and Daines also sought out a head brewer and came up with Phil McDaniel, a former brewer at Stone Brewing Company and Lead Brewer at The Bruery. It was all a matter of time; which was extended a little due to the government shutdown which caused all kinds of delays in the brewing world. Anyway, as you can tell by the photos, eventually all the permits were approved, i’s were dotted and t’s were crossed and KHBC was brewing. King Harbor Brewing now has a couple of soft opens under their belt, kegs distributed all over the South Bay and they are ready to have their Grand Opening! Continue reading

Monkish Brewing Company Celebrates Two Years

These photos are from Saturday, day one of Monkish Brewing Company’s 2 Year Anniversary celebration. The first time I visited Monkish Brewing Company, a production microbrewery specializing in Belgian style ales, was during American Craft Beer Week in 2012. They had only recently opened their doors and the craft beer scene in Torrance was in its infancy; in fact, Monkish was only the second production brewery in Torrance. At the time they offered four different brews; Oblate, Anomaly, Red Table and Feminist. Fast forward to 2014 and Monkish is now celebrating two years of being open with a two day party.

Two years later Monkish Brewing had 12 taps pouring yesterday as well as Shaolin Kick on cask. They also had about five of their beers available in bottles as well as The Lobos Truck providing food for those that might be interested. Attendees included several hundred of their fans as well as other local brewers and beer media types. Since a celebration of this type cannot really be done in one day, the party will continue on Sunday at noon until 6:00 PM. Featured today with be a second cask of Shaolin Kick, this time with Fatalii and Ghost chili peppers. In addition, there will be a keg tapping and bottle release of Apophatic; a Belgian-style strong dark ale brewed with orange peels, cinnamon, coriander seed, and fennel seed. This monster weighs in at 12% ABV, so it should be a good one. Also, for Sunday only, they will be allowing growler fills of their Seme Della Vita, a tripel with pistachios and vanilla beans; it is quite good. For those with an appetite, the Son of a Bun food truck will be there Sunday.

If you have not had an opportunity to visit Monkish Brewing Company yet, today would be the day to do it. All of their 8-12oz pours will be $1.00 off. What more could you ask for? Monkish Brewing is located at 20311 S. Western Avenue in Torrance, California. Cheers! Continue reading

The Birth of Absolution Brewing Company, Torrance

I guess it was sometime in August or September that I was enjoying a beer at Smog City Brewing Company when I was approached by Wes McCann; “I was told I should introduce myself to you” was his opening comment. McCann was a partner and the head brewer for the soon to be Absolution Brewing Company, the latest production craft brewery to open in Torrance. Unfortunately, he did not have any business cards with him and it took me a while to remember the word “absolution” but eventually I was able figure it out and I worked my way over to the location that the brewery and tasting room were to be constructed. It was not long before I met and befriended the other co-owners, Nigel Heath and Steve Farguson.

As you may notice from the photos, the construction was a series of one step forward and two steps back as they discovered things like the floor not being suitable to support the weight of the brewing equipment they hope to eventually grow into. In fact, the building dwarfs the current fermenting tanks; it only takes a brief glance to see that Absolution Brewing Company has plenty of room for growth. Judging by the turnouts at the MUG Club soft open and their official opening on Saturday it will not be long before they grow out of their current system. Cheers! Continue reading

Absolution Brewing Company opens their doors

The day that many South Bay area craft beer aficionados have been waiting arrived Saturday, March 1 as Absolution Brewing Company officially opened their doors to the general public. And the public was waiting, perhaps a little earlier than expected due to an error in a Daily Breeze article that said they opened at 11:00 AM when in fact they were not scheduled to open until 1:00 PM. I am not sure how early the doors ended up opening but we got there early and there was already a respectable group assembled enjoying their beers. By the time it was 1:00 the place was packed with beer fans waiting to get their first taste of Absolution’s brews. Flights seemed to be a crowd favorite.

They offered 10 different brews along with the root beer and cream soda they brew. In the couple hours we were there some beers ran out but there are still plenty of options available. Their regular hours beginning Sunday, March 2 are Sunday 12-6:00; Wednesday and Thursday 3-9:00; and Friday and Saturday 11-9:00. Absolution Brewing Company is located at 2878 Columbia Street in Torrance. When you are going east on Columbia from Maple, it is the third driveway and all the way to the back. Cheers! Continue reading

South Bay Breweries Valentines Weekend

Since we have been on the road lately, I decided that this weekend we would stick around and give a little love to the South Bay’s craft beer brewers for the Valentine’s Day weekend. Friday, Valentine’s Day, we headed over to The Brewery at Abigaile, a brewpub in Hermosa Beach. Since it was Valentine’s Day and we had not made any reservations we took advantage of their Happy Hour seating and grabbed a couple seats at the bar where we were able to enjoy a flight of their brews; including their 002 2nd Anniversary DIPA and Dark Matter a Belgian dark ale that can only get better with age. One of the best things about the release of the 002 DIPA is that it means the anniversary party for Abigaile must be coming soon.

On Saturday I headed over to Smog City Brewing where they were hosting a fundraiser for the LA Derby Dolls Enforcers. The Derby Dolls are a Southern California, all-female banked track roller derby league. The Enforcers are the referees for the league. The fundraiser consisted of a raffle for Derby Dolls and Smog City swag as well as beer floats in four different varieties and a pie versus cake sale. Between the people that came out specifically for the fundraiser, the various beer tour buses and those that just wanted to come have a beer, Smog City was packed to the brim. After sampling a couple beers and Tanya’s Death by Chocolate (The Nothing with chocolate ice cream beer float) we headed over to Monkish Brewing.

We got there about the same time as the LA Craft Beer Tours van, so we found Monkish to be almost as crowded as Smog City. When I think back to when we first started going to Monkish and compare it to today it is pretty obvious that the craft beer scene in Torrance is really exploding. People frequently ask me if there are too many breweries here; when I visit multiple local breweries like I did Saturday I can’t help but think how crowded these locations would be if there were only one or two available. Continue reading

Breweries of California’s Central Coast

Sunday we arose to another drizzly morning and a desire to get home by day’s end. Since it was a Sunday the availability of brewpubs in the immediate area was limited and we did not feel like waiting around for them to open so we headed south. There were a lot of breweries to choose from in the area and we decided to check out BarrelHouse Brewing Company, a microbrewery in Paso Robles. I have to say, of the 19 breweries and brewpubs we visited over the course of five days, BarrelHouse was the nicest aesthetically; and they had some wonderful brews.

BarrelHouse Brewing is getting ready to celebrate their first year of business, but the quality of their brews certainly seems to indicate that they have had lots of practice. We ordered a flight of all eight beers, ranging from their BarrelHouse Templeton Session Style Ale Kölsch to their BarrelHouse Harvest Ale Spiced Brown Porter. I have to say, all of their beers were well done with their unfiltered IPA being my personal favorite. Tanya liked them all so much that she purchased bottles of everything they had available. When I looked at the information about their upcoming one year celebration I am tempted to head back up there. We had a very nice time there.

After loading the beers in the trunk and the dogs in the car we headed off to Dunbar Brewing, a microbrewery in Santa Margarita. One of my cousins has a nephew that works there and I was looking forward to trying out their brews. As it turns out, Dunbar Brewing recently went through some renovation and they had none of their brews available. Luckily, they had a pretty nice guest tap list in the interim so I got a Matt’s Burning Rosids, an Imperial Saison created by Stone Brewing Company in honor of Matt Courtright, an employee that recently died due to an accident at the brewery. It was quite tasty, I am sure Matt would have enjoyed it. Everyone at Dunbar seemed quite friendly, but this trip was about sampling beers brewed at the brewery itself, so we will have to return later. Continue reading

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