The Craft Beer Guy 2017 Year in Review

As the year draws to a close, it is time to think back on what 2017 has brought to the craft beer world; more specifically what has happened in the Craft Beer Guy world. As 2016 came to a pretty crappy end for me, I did not do one last year; for that reason, I will begin with the end of 2016 as it segued into 2017.

steelcraft soft open

Smog City – Steelcraft – Bixby Knolls

My coverage of 2016 ended pretty much the way 2017 started, with the opening of Smog City Brewing Company’s satellite tasting room, Smog City – SteelCraft in the Bixby Knolls area of Long Beach. They opened the location at the end of December; by the middle of January they had applied for, and were granted the ability to sell growlers and bottles to go.

Later in January the inaugural L.A. Beer and Food Festival was presented by the Los Angeles County Brewers Guild. The sold-out event featured close to 50 member breweries of the LA Brewers Guild as well as 15 local food vendors. This year the L.A. Beer and Food Festival will be held Saturday, January 27. Buy your tickets now, before it sells out.

Just a bit of trivia; while there were about 50 LA County Brewers Guild members in January of 2017, today there are almost 70!

January ended with the opening of The City of Hawthorne’s first craft brewery, Los Angeles Ale Works. In the relatively short time that they have been open, they are open seven days a week and are already up to usually having 25 taps available, with growlers and crowlers available to go.

February saw Beachwood BBQ & Brewing hold their 6th Annual Pliny Fights Cancer Charity Raffle. Raffle tickets were sold for $5.00 each and the 200 winners received a full pint of the 2017 Pliny the Younger; those that were not picked can feel better knowing that all the funds from the raffle were donated to the Melanoma Research Foundation. To date, Beachwood has raised over $75,000 with this raffle; keep your eyes open for my announcement that ticket sales for 2018 have begun.


Absolution Brewing 3rd Anniversary

One of the hazards of having a bunch of breweries open up close to each other and the owners are all friendly with each other is anniversary parties. So many breweries around here opened in the same month, and then you throw in holidays and beer festivals, the breweries were literally asking each other when they were having their party so no toes were stepped on. Heck, in 2016 El Segundo Brewing and Smog City Brewing held theirs on the same day but found a way to make it one, multi-city party. Anyway, the point is, March is when that starts happening in the South Bay.

This particular March Select Beer Store celebrated their fifth anniversary by bringing in craft beer from some of their favorite local craft breweries. The following week, Absolution Brewing Company celebrated their third anniversary with a big party and the release of Perkins Pale Ale, a collaboration that Absolution Brewing did with Temblor Brewing Company, a Bakersfield brewery.

April was a pretty active month, beginning with the King Harbor Brewing Company 3rd Anniversary celebration. The event featured three bands, three food trucks and over 30 variations of King Harbor Brewing’s craft beer which was enjoyed by well over 500 attendees. This is a brewery that has had a ton of growth over the years, and as they are only two blocks from my house, I am happy to see it.

3rd anniversary

King Harbor Brewing 3rd Anniversary

A few weeks later, Yorkshire Square Brewery in Torrance began brewing beer, and held their soft open beginning mid-April. They officially opened their doors with a ribbon cutting on May 6. Yorkshire Square Brewery specializes in cask conditioned, hand-pulled, English-style ales which are brewed by Head Brewer Andy Black and Assistant Brewer Sam Croft. Every time I have gone in there it has been pretty busy, so I guess people are enjoying their English-style ales.

The balance of April consisted of attending events such as the Tap It for 10 Fundraiser for Jesse Esphorst at Smog City, the 2nd Annual Jeff Sanders Memorial Homebrew Competition, and the 7th Annual San Clemente Micro-Brew Festival.

May brought us the official grand opening of Yorkshire Square, Smog City Brewing Company’s 4th anniversary, the Rotary Club’s 4th Annual South Bay Beer & Wine Festival, and Naja’s Place held their 9th Annual IPA Festival.

This past June was pretty busy; it began with the first anniversary for El Segundo’s Rob Rubens Distilling and Brewing, well, for the brewing side of the operation anyway. The distilling portion of the operation had their one year anniversary a few months later.

A week later, Chad’s Beer Cellar IV bottle share was held at King Harbor Brewing Company in Redondo Beach. This bottle share was put on by local beer hoarder and King Harbor Brewing investor, Chad Hazen. All the funds from the event went to benefit the Richstone Family Center in Hawthorne.

On June 17 the LA Brewers Kickoff of Los Angeles Beer Week 9 was held at the Los Angeles Center Studios in downtown Los Angeles. This outstanding event featured close to 60 Los Angeles craft breweries along with 30 out of town craft brewers and about 10 food trucks.

As usual, LA Beer Week had plenty of events to attend, culminating with Beer Camp on Tour craft beer festival held at Queen Mary Events Park and presented by the Los Angeles County Brewers Guild and Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. This was my first time attending Beer Camp and it was a blast. If you get the opportunity to attend one in the future, I recommend doing it.

July was pretty toasty around here, but we managed to stay as cool as possible with events such as Stout Burgers & Beers Beer Fest for Beer Geeks, The Rarest Experience craft beer festival. The event featured 30 very rare beers from 22 craft breweries around the country and Belgium. This is another event that you really do not want to miss if at all possible.

A couple weeks later, DTLA Breweries United held their second annual DTLA Breweries United Fest. The event featured limited edition and specialty beers from the seven Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) breweries that make up DTLA Breweries United. Those breweries include Angel City, Mumford Brewing, Boomtown Brewery, Arts District Brewing, Iron Triangle, Indie Brewing and Dry River Brewing. The proceeds from the event went to the Keep a Breast Foundation.

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Bernie Wire Farewell Party at ESBC

August was a little sad for the Los Angeles craft beer scene as long time craft beer photographer and general all-round nice guy, Bernie Wire and his wife prepared to move back to Minnesota. A going away party was held at El Segundo Brewing Company so Bernie’s many friends and fans could bid him farewell.

September was another month that seemed to have something going on non-stop; beginning with the 3rd Annual South Bay Tap Takeover, presented by and hosted by Flights, in Hawthorne. The event featured 18 of the South Bay’s best production breweries and brewpubs, filling up 39 tap handles. This year, in addition to the hundreds of t-shirts that were given away, we gave away numerous door prizes via a free raffle. The event also featured a special food menu as well as a tap list put together by yours truly. You should just go ahead and set aside the first Thursday of September as a day you are going to Flights as we do not plan on changing that.

The following weekend, the Manhattan Beach Badminton Club Junior Foundation held their 2nd Annual Pub at the Club Craft Beer, Wine and Food Festival. 100% of the ticket sales went to the Manhattan Beach Badminton Club Junior Foundation, a charity dedicated to developing champions on and off the court by supporting all athletes, including special needs and Para-athletes. Price of admission included unlimited tastings from more than 15 breweries, 10 vintners, and 10 local restaurants.

On the next weekend, Rob Rubens Distilling & Brewing held their Rob Rubens One Year Spirits & Beer Anniversary party. As you may recall, back in June they held an anniversary party to celebrate one year of brewing beer. As spirits take longer than the typical craft beer to ferment, Rubens launched by brewing beer, following shortly thereafter with the distilling of spirits. The anniversary featured their Rob Rubens Rye, Single Malt, and Wheat whiskies; as well as their American Vandal Vodka, Eighteenth Amendment Gin, Hideaway Whiskey, Mickey’s Beach Rum, and Rob Rubens Bourbon.

September ended with Long Beach showing off how much growth has been happening there with craft beer with the inaugural Craft Beer LB Fest, which was held at the Rancho Los Cerritos Historic Site. The event featured craft beer from 12 Long Beach breweries, as well as food from Long Beach restaurants The Red Leprechaun and Roe Seafood. The event also featured live music from several bands and a Kid Zone, making the event truly family friendly.

In October I took advantage of an invitation from the Brewers Association to attend the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado; an event I had never previously attended. As I have family spread around the country, I decided to use GABF as the jumping off point for my Craft Beer Tour 2017.


Beachwood Brewing at GABF

In 24 days I traveled more than 6,000 miles, and visited 39 breweries (and one meadery) in 14 states; Colorado (5/1), Nebraska (4), Iowa (1), Indiana (1), Michigan (8), Ohio (1), North Carolina (3), South Carolina (4), Alabama (1), Louisiana (1), Texas (5), New Mexico (1), Arizona (2), and California (2). In that time I attended two craft beer festivals, GABF in Denver; and Jacktoberfest in Jackson, Mississippi. I also attended two brewery anniversaries; Founders Brewing 20th Anniversary in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the Great Raft Brewing 4th Anniversary in Shreveport, Louisiana. It was quite the adventure.

November began pretty much the way October ended, with more beer travel. A good friend had died right before I left on my October beer tour and his funeral was held in Sparks, Nevada at the beginning of November. I used the opportunity to drive another 1,100 miles and visit breweries along CA-395 as well as hitting Revision Brewing and Great Basin Brewing in Sparks.

I made the drive home a loop by visiting Auburn Alehouse, Russian River and Crooked Goat Brewing as part of my Sonoma Pride tour.

On November 10, State Brewing Company in Gardena began the soft open of their long awaited tasting room. The tasting room looks very nice, and they have up to 20 beers on tap at any one time. The brewery is dog friendly and they have food trucks there during their open hours.

A week later, Strand Brewing Company celebrated their 8th anniversary and Strand co-founder Rich Marcello’s 50th birthday. The event featured live music, food by Chefs in Shorts Catering, and 12 Strand Brewing beers on tap.

December saw things slow down a bit, at least for me personally; I guess I needed a break and had a lot of writing to catch up on. A definite highlight of the month was Chad’s Beer Cellar V Bottle Share benefiting Richstone Family Center. I have said multiple times that these series of bottle shares are better than any craft beer festival I have ever attended, and I stand by that. There is a great chance that there will be another share within the next six months, so keep your eyes and ears at the ready.

As you can see, 2017 has been a pretty busy year, with even more growth in the South Bay craft beer world; but what is in store for 2018? There is a lot that will be happening, beginning in January.

Common Space brewhouse

Common Space Brewery: Coming Soon

There are two local craft breweries that are already brewing and will most likely open in January. I cannot say for sure which will open first, but they are Common Space Brewery in Hawthorne and Hermosa Brewing Company in Hermosa Beach.

As Common Space is about one block from LA Ale Works, I think this turns Hawthorne into a craft beer destination since they are both about 2.5 miles from State Brewing and six miles from Three Weavers Brewing.

Hermosa Brewing Company is on Hermosa Avenue, right around the corner from The Brewery at Abigaile. They will sell food, and it is my understanding that they are brewing off-premises; I will learn more when their soft open begins.

The next brewery that I expect will open is Hokulea Brewing Company in Carson. Hokulea will be a brewpub that is sharing a space with The Honest Abe Cidery at a location just south of the current Honest Abe location. Hokulea’s owner/brewer is Jeff Parker, a former partner with Strand Brewing and The Dudes’.

Two other breweries I expect to open in 2018 are Burnin’ Daylight Brewing Company, a brewpub in Lomita; and Port Town Brewing, a production brewery in San Pedro. As they are both very early on in their development, I am not going to make guesses about when they will open or which will be first.

I hope you have a great 2018 and I hope to see you around. Cheers!

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