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Discover Torrance presents: Shop, Hops & Slumber Fest

Shop, Hops & Slumber in Torrance

Shop, Hops & Slumber in Torrance

You may have noticed that I frequently write about the burgeoning craft beer scene in the South Bay; more specifically the influx of craft breweries coming to Torrance. Believe me; it is wonderful; especially since each of our breweries is so much different than the other. They may all be brewing beers, but their styles could not be more different from each other. Those of us that live in or around the South Bay know how good we have it and now Discover Torrance Visitors Bureau has set up a convenient way for you to experience it yourself.

Shop, Hops & Slumber Fest,” a holiday campaign spearheaded by Discover Torrance Visitors Bureau has decided to take advantage of the craft beer craze in Torrance by combining our numerous tasting rooms with the ability to shop at the fifth largest shopping mall in the country and providing numerous locations for you to relax and get some sleep before doing it again the next day. The concept is pretty simple.

Book a room during the promotion which runs from November 4, 2013 through January 6, 2014 and automatically receive a “Shop, Hop & Slumber Fest” kit that includes a shopping tote for trips to the Del Amo Fashion Center, a beer mug and a sleep kit with eye mask, ear plugs and more. Participating hotels are offering special rates and added value to make an overnight shopping stay a no-brainer. I was looking through some of the hotel rates and I would have no problem referring a friend to any of these locations and the prices were very reasonable.

As far as the hops portion of this deal, Torrance is home to Strand Brewing Company, Monkish Brewing Company, Smog City Brewing and the Red Car Brewpub. LA Beer Hop is participating with a discount special of $20 off. If you spend a night or two, I would suggest reviewing my South Bay Beer Guide of local breweries, brewpubs and gastropubs and make it a very special visit. Continue reading

Two Mid-Size Champions Party at Beachwood BBQ & Brewing

As you undoubtedly know, the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) was held again last October and California craft breweries pulled in close to 50 medals. More locally, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing out of Long Beach won five medals which made it Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year. A couple hundred miles north in Paso Robles, Firestone-Walker won four medals which made them Mid-Size Brewing Company and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year. Last night they held a Colossal Party for Two Mid-Size Champions at Beachwood BBQ & Brewing featuring 10 Firestone-Walker taps, including three of the four medal winners; Wookey Jack, Union Jack and Pivo. Of course, Beachwood had their standard multitude of house brews available, including three of their five medal winners; Foam Top, Kilgore Stout and Udder Love.

In addition to the great beer, Beachwood smoked up some of their delicious barbecue on wood from retired Firestone-Walker barrels. It was a great way to spend an evening and their fans were not going to let a little rain get in the way of the fun. Congratulations to Beachwood BBQ & Brewing and Firestone-Walker Brewing; we look forward to next year’s party. Cheers! Continue reading

Absolution Brewing granted Conditional Use Permit

Absolution brewing partners

Steve Farguson, Nigel Heath and Wes McCann

It is official; Absolution Brewing Company, the latest craft brewery to seek out Torrance as their home, appeared before the Torrance Planning Commission on Wednesday evening to request approval of Conditional Use Permit, CUP13-00026 to allow a tasting room in association with their brewery operation located at 2878 Columbia Street. After an initial presentation by Absolution Brewing Company CEO, Nigel Heath and head brewer, Wes McCann those of us in the audience were able to make our statements of support (yes, I took advantage of the opportunity). After a few minutes of discussion a vote was taken and by unanimous decision, the permit was granted.

Absolution Brewing Company will be open Wednesday through Sunday and have longer hours than any of the other Torrance tasting rooms, so who knows, maybe a pattern will be set and we will start seeing increased hours of operation at the others. They plan on brewing Old World styles of ales from England, Germany and Belgium using New World ingredients, especially the west coast hops that have become so popular around here. We can probably expect them to open by the beginning of 2014. I have been visiting the location over the last several weeks and they are really making progress. I heard a rumor that they may start with test batches very soon.

As I said in my statement to the Planning Commission, this is a great time for a craft beer fan to live in Torrance. Cheers!

El Segundo Brewing Company Dueling DIPAs

El Segundo Brewing Company (ESBC), a hopcentric microbrewery nestled between the noise of LAX and the aromas of Standard Oil’s refinery, provides relief from the din and pollution with some of the South Bay’s most popular IPAs and ales. Last year at their one year anniversary, ESBC released their first Double IPA; Two 5 Left. With Simcoe, Citra, Cascade and Chinook hops combined with Two Row, Vienna, Crystal 15 and Crystal 40 malts it is easy to understand why it was so well received. It is delicious.

During LA Beer Week last September, El Segundo released their second DIPA, Hop Tanker. Using Two Row and Vienna malts with Nelson Sauvin and Citra hops this Double IPA was light in color and maybe a little smoother tasting, but the ABV jumped from the 8.2 Two 5 Left to a tasty 9.5 on the Hop Tanker. Once again, it was very well received and discussions around the taproom started being held over which DIPA was the best. It was actually a very valid question because El Segundo can only brew so much beer at a time, and it was time to brew a DIPA again; but which one?

On Saturday, November 16, El Segundo Brewing Company held a Dueling Double IPAs event at their taproom. Flights of Two 5 Left and Hop Tanker were sold and the drinker was given a vote which had a value of 50 points. They also used the volume of beer sold during business that day. All sales of pints, growlers, bottles and tasters of the DIPAs were tabulated with the winning brew to be started December 2 and would be ready after Christmas. Continue reading

Ninkasi tasting at Library Alehouse

As you have probably noticed; I attend quite a few beer festivals of various sizes. I recently had someone tell me that they like to get a list of the beers that will be there then write down the names of the beers that they will sample. The other day at the Alpine Kraft Bierfest I spoke with attendees that try to find their favorite brews and a few that go out to seek new beers. That is pretty much my game plan. I try to find breweries I have never sampled before; then I concentrate on beers brewed by breweries I have limited experience with, primarily focusing on the beer I have never tried. It was at Taste of Brews in Long Beach last August that I first became aware of Ninkasi Brewing Company and more specifically, their Total Domination IPA.

Ninkasi Brewing Company was established in 2006 in Eugene, Oregon where they began brewing in some space they leased at a local restaurant. By 2007 they had moved to their current location where they continued to expand their production to the point that they now have a 55-barrel brewing system, with the capacity of producing 95,000 barrels per year of Ninkasi goodness. With all that beer in a state the size of Oregon it only made sense that they increased their distribution to include Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.

It was a few weeks after the Taste of Brews that I noticed Ninkasi’s Tricerahops Double IPA while I was doing some beer shopping at Total Wine. I remembered with fondness the taster I had at the beer festival, and I do enjoy a DIPA, so it did not take much convincing for me to grab a bottle; the $4.99 price tag on the 22oz bottle sealed the deal. A couple days later I was back at Total Wine, this time trying their Believer Double Red Ale. It was another very nice beer with an outstanding price tag. I rarely shop by price, but Ninkasi Brewing turns out a quality product and at $5.00 for a 22oz bomber, how can you go wrong? Continue reading

The 2nd Annual Alpine Bierfest: A great success

These photos are from the 2nd Annual Alpine Kraft Bierfest which was held Sunday afternoon in the Alpine Inn at Alpine Village in Torrance, CA. For those of you that attended, thank you very much; for those of you that missed it, you really missed it. I will admit that I took special interest in seeing this event succeed because I went to the first Alpine Kraft Bierfest and I did not want to see a repeat of last year’s dismal attendance. I was aware of the vision Otto Radtke, GM Of the Alpine Village Center, to see his craft beer festival bloom and grow into an internationally recognized beer festival. Last year there may have been 200 attendees; this year there were closer to 500. With growth like that, Radtke’s vision may come to fruition before too long.

An event of this size is rarely going to come off trouble free, but whatever issues were encountered yesterday were relatively minor and everyone seemed to be having a great time. There were about 50 breweries represented with [I am told] 101 different beers to choose from. Probably the most difficult task was tracking down specific beers that I wanted to try because many of the breweries did not send representatives or signage. Luckily, the organizers put together a map to assist attendees locate their favorite brews. Then it was just a matter of figuring out where to start and in what order. One day I am going to sit down and figure out a game plan before the event begins; I have heard of people that tried doing that, although I have yet to meet anyone that was able to stick to their plan.

I would like to congratulate Radtke, Todd Worley and the entire staff of the Alpine Inn for a job well done and I would like to thank all the Craft Beer Guy followers that came up an introduced themselves; I truly do enjoy meeting you. I hope to see all of you next year at the 3rd Annual Alpine Kraft Bierfest. Cheers! Continue reading

New Brew Thursday comes to the South Bay

Saturday afternoon had a few events going on, plus there were last minute preparations for the 2nd Annual Alpine Kraft Bierfest to help out with, primarily making sure everyone knew about Sunday’s event; so I decided to go out and deliver the last of my fliers beginning with Strand Brewing Company. While there I took the opportunity to try out their new Expression Session Pale Ale which made the trip worthwhile on its own. While I was there I was talking to co-owner Rich Marcello and he mentioned that he was heading over to Total Wine & More in Redondo Beach to meet the guys from New Brew Thursday to participate in a podcast to promote the Strand Brewing Company 4th Anniversary party which is coming up on December 7. Since Total Wine is essentially across the street from me and I had to stop by the house to pick up my girlfriend anyway, I decided to head over to Total Wine to watch the podcast being made.

New Brew Thursday is a website run by four beer fans; Stephen Johnson, John Holzer, Matt Becker and Dr. Bill Sysak. In addition to the website, they [obviously] also produce a podcast where they review various craft beers and do some food and beer pairings. They did two podcasts on Saturday, the first being with a couple of Total Wine employees who discussed a new release from Innis & Gunn. When they finished that, Rich was interviewed while they enjoyed several of Strand’s brews; discussing the history of Strand Brewing Company, the boon of the South Bay craft beer scene and of course, the upcoming 4th Anniversary Party that Strand is having December 7, 2013 from 12:00-8:00 PM.

Strand Brewing Company is located at 23520 Telo Avenue, Unit #1 in Torrance; Total Wine is located at 1505 Hawthorne Boulevard in Redondo Beach. Cheers! Continue reading

Business & Beer returns to El Segundo Brewing Company

These photos are from our Business & Beer gathering which was held Thursday evening at El Segundo brewing Company. Business & Beer is a local business networking group in the South Bay that was founded in July 2012 by my girlfriend and me. For the first year we met weekly at a different microbrewery, brewpub or gastropub in the South Bay. In July of 2013 we changed the format from weekly to monthly because the attendance numbers had started to dwindle a little, so now we meet on the second Thursday of the month at a different craft brewery or brewpub in the South Bay. With the recent explosion of breweries around here it will not be long before we have a location for every month. If you find networking to be a valuable part of your business and you enjoy craft beer, you really should check out BusinessNBeer.com. It is a nice group of people that really do want to meet you.

We would like to thank El Segundo Brewing Company for hosting our event and many thanks to Brett & Travis for keeping their delicious brews flowing. If you have not visited El Segundo Brewing Company in a while, you really should. In addition to the pale ales, IPAs and stouts you are familiar with, head brewer Rob Croxall has included a saison, a lager and a Scotch ale to his ever expanding list of beer styles he is brewing. If you have never been, they are now open seven days a week; you will enjoy it. I suggest getting a flight. El Segundo Brewing Company is located at 140 Main Street in El Segundo, CA. Cheers! Continue reading

Strand Brewers Club November meeting

On the second Wednesday of the month Strand Brewers Club, a local home brewing club, holds their monthly meetings at South Bay Brewing Supply in Torrance. I try to come as frequently as I can as it is a nice group of people that are very enthusiastic about home brewing and are eager to show off their home brewed beers as well as provide information about home brewing to anyone that asks.

Last night was their November meeting which included sampling of many homebrews, a presentation on how to grow your own hops by Nate and the election of new officers to the Strand Brewers Club board. The campaigns for the various offices were fought with minimal mudslinging and a new board was elected. Your new officers will be David, Ryan, Rich, Doug and Bob. It looks like they are in good hands for a while. Rives set the bar high during his term as President and I know the entire group appreciates his efforts.

If you live in the South Bay and do home brewing or are considering it, you should really consider joining Strand Brewers Club. The dues are only $37 a year and includes the camaraderie of other beer brewers who will assist you as much as they can as well as lots of beers to sample and even some sandwiches at their monthly meetings. It is a good deal and a lot of fun. Cheers! Continue reading

Alpine Kraft Bierfest brew lineup

Next Sunday, November 17, Alpine Village will host their 2nd Annual Alpine Kraft Bierfest in the Alpine Inn from 3:00-8:00 PM. This American craft beer festival is shaping up to be an outstanding event with at least 50 different breweries being represented, which means there will be at least 100 different beers to choose from.

According to the Alpine Village website, the craft beers scheduled to be poured are:

  • AleSmith Horny Devil
    AleSmith Speedway Stout
    Allagash Bourbon Barrel Black
    Allagash Hugh Malone
    Allagash Saison Rye
    Almanac Biere de Chocolat
    Almanac Golden Gate Gose
    Almanac Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine
    Almanac Honey Saison
    Anchor Liberty Ale
    Anchor Zymaster Continue reading
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