Homebrewing an Everyday IPA

For some reason a lot of people think that because I enjoy craft beer so much I must also be a home brewer; well, that is not the case. Primarily because when I first got into craft beer it was due to being on the road more than I was home, so I never really considered it. As time progressed to 2013 I knew I would eventually take the step, but it was not a priority and I was doing other things. In July some friends gave me a Brooklyn Brewshop Beer Making Kit. It was decided that I would write an article about the experience as a first time home brewer. Since it was July and they did not build homes with air conditioning around here, I knew I did not want to boil anything in my kitchen for a couple more months. I looked at the box with its five easy steps and figured “How hard can it be?” I would read the instructions a few times, hit up YouTube and breeze right through this. Not exactly. So, this is written from the perspective of a first time home brewer to a first time home brewer. Or should I say, a first time all-grain home brewer.

I might as well address this first; I am not sure that it would change my experience because I had no say in the matter. I am talking about brewing from extract or all-grain. To tell you the truth, people would ask which way I was doing it and I would say it was a kit. I seem to recall they all presumed it was extract; I did not know what the difference was until after I did my first home brew. If you do not know, I will summarize it for you. If you brew from an extract they have essentially made the wort for you and you just add water and boil. Sounds really easy, I could get into that. The other method is all-grain; it is more work but if you know what you are doing you have a lot more control. If your kit came with a bag of fluid, you are brewing from extract; if it comes with a bag of grain you aren’t. So, brewing from extract is fun; brewing from all-grain is almost work, at least for a beginner. For the record, the Everyday IPA is an all-grain mix; it never mentions that fact on the box although it does show you making mash, so they presume you know the difference.

Actually, while my beer is fermenting I have talked to friends that have suggested that Brooklyn Brewshop is presuming a lot of things, which I discovered a little too late in the process, so learn by my mistakes. On the box they do tell you that you are going to need a six quart pot (a second pot is handy), a fine mesh strainer and a funnel. Since all the instructions I have seen hinted that this was “as easy as making oatmeal” and since Tanya, my girlfriend, is pretty handy around the kitchen I was confident that whatever cooking supplies we did not own would not be a problem in obtaining. Continue reading

Ultimate Beerfest OC – Refunds are being issued

beerfest taster size

Size matters

It is Monday and since I posted my review and photos from Saturday’s Ultimate Beerfest I have been interviewed by a couple Orange County newspapers and statements have been attributed to me by others. Since this site seems to be the only one capable of seeing both sides of the situation, I went ahead and reached out to the event organizers, Karma Media Group, and offered to let them provide their side of things that went wrong.

From my brief discussions with them I have learned that at least some of the events paid staff was turned away at the gate; however, this may have been due to improper procedures with the credentials. Karma Media has stated that they really cannot talk about things at this point in time due to “politics.” What they have told me is that the fairgrounds played a significant part in the “debacle” when staff was turned away. They also assured me that they are already processing refunds for session two tickets issued directly through them and they are waiting for a determination from third party voucher issuers as to how to proceed. I would take that to mean that if you got your tickets through Living Social, you are going to have to wait until they decide how they want to handle the refunds. When I hear more, and I am sure I will, I will pass it along. Cheers! Continue reading

The Ultimate Beerfest OC – The good, the bad & the ugly

On Saturday October 19, a fundraiser for Villa Chardonnay, a 501(c)(3) non-profit horse rescue operation in Temecula, CA was held at the Costa Mesa Fairgrounds in the form of The Ultimate Beerfest OC. The event was scheduled to have 20+ breweries, food trucks, a beer pong tournament and a Best of Show beer competition voted on by attendees that had VIP tickets. The Ultimate Beerfest OC was one of six scheduled beer festivals put on by the organizers with the others being scheduled for Los Angeles, San Diego, Pasadena, San Francisco and San Jose. The Los Angeles event was originally scheduled as the first but was postponed until 2014 due to logistical issues with the selected venue. When I first learned of the event, the Los Angeles venue was the one I planned on attending. When it was postponed I volunteered to cover the event in Costa Mesa.

The event was scheduled to be held over the course of two sessions; the first beginning at 11:00 AM for VIP entries and noon for general admission and running until 3:00 PM with the second session running from 6:00 – 9:00 PM with VIP getting in an hour early. While the Ultimate Beerfest website specifically stated to “plan on arriving up to one hour early for event check-in” I really did not pay much heed to that suggestion as I have yet to attend a beer festival that had that many people show up; I kind of figured it was wishful thinking. It turned out that this was going to be bigger than I imagined.

As the event was outside, I was able to look in the beer garden as we approached and even though it was about 15 minutes until the VIP admission was to begin it was readily apparent that not all of the breweries had arrived. As I was coming from the opposite direction that the line to get in was forming, I could see that there was a pretty long line forming. I attributed it to the fact that many people were there as general admission and they were arriving an hour early as suggested. After all, VIP admission was $75 and General Admission was $50; it never dawned on me that everyone in line had paid for VIP admission. Continue reading

Alpine Village to host 2nd Annual Alpine Kraft Bierfest

2012 bierfest

Alpine Village 2nd Annual Alpine Kraft Bierfest

On November 17, 2013 the Alpine Village in Torrance will hold their 2nd Annual Alpine Kraft Bierfest from 3:00 PM until 8:00 PM inside the Alpine Inn, located at 833 West Torrance Boulevard in Torrance, CA. It is located right off the Harbor Freeway (110) and the San Diego Freeway (405). The Alpine Kraft Bierfest is not the same as their long running (46 years) Oktoberfest and is exactly the opposite as it focuses on “hard-to-find, one-of-a-kind and out-of-your-mind American craft brews” rather than the German and Czech beers you normally find at Alpine Village.

If you are thinking, “Second annual, I don’t remember the first one,” do not feel too bad, last year’s event was not very well promoted so it meant that more than 35 brewers providing more than 100 different beers and no lines. This year promises to be even better as the event is being moved inside to the Alpine Inn rather than the big tent that houses Oktoberfest. What this means to you is more beer, limited capacity of the Alpine Inn and the availability of their restaurant if you want to pause from your beer tasting and try some authentic German food. Since November 17 is a Sunday, they will be having their brunch, so you might consider attending their Sunday brunch before the bier fest begins.

Stone Brewing taps

Stone Brewing taps at Alpine Kraft Bierfest

So, what sets Alpine’s Kraft Bierfest apart from the others? Most of the beer festivals I cover are a fundraiser of one sort or another. As a result, most of the breweries are asked to donate a keg or two and you frequently find the flagship beers as the only options. Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that model, but if you attend a lot of beer festivals you eventually start running into the same beers over and over. The Alpine Kraft Bierfest is not a fundraiser; it is all about the beer. Alpine Village has gone out, sought and bought the beers that will be available at this event. Last year they purchased the last two kegs of Enjoy By 09.21.12 which was poured at the event; luckily, Alpine has a great beer cellar so beer that was not poured at the first bierfest was available for sale later at the Alpine Inn. For the next several months after the event, they had one of the better rotating tap lists in town. This year promises to be even better as there are some beers that have been aging a while, like Stone’s 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale. A few of the other breweries and beers I know about are Allagash’s Saison Rye, Hugh Malone and Bourbon Barrel; The Bruery’s Bryeian; Uinta Brewing Company’s Sea Legs Baltic Porter; Napa Smith’s Grateful Dog; North Coast’s Grand Cru; Mission Brewery’s Mission Armada; Manzanita Brewing Company’s 3rd Anniversary Ale; and North Coast Brewing’s Barrel Aged Old Rasputin XV. As you can tell, this is going to be a great event for craft beer aficionados. Continue reading

Beachwood BBQ & Brewing: Best Mid-Sized Brewpub 2013

Last Wednesday, as I became increasingly jealous of the people on my Facebook feed as they announced their arrival in Denver for the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), I decided to head over to Beachwood BBQ & Brewing in Long Beach, CA. I had just seated myself at the bar when Beachwood General Manager Brandon Halvorson came up and said, “You just cannot stay away.” I admit, when we want lunch and a great beer, it does not take much convincing to get me to drive the 15 miles to Long Beach. Yesterday, the beer world found out why when Beachwood BBQ & Brewing won five medals at GABF, making it the 2013 Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year! I was so happy to hear this I almost felt like I was a winner. I guess all of Beachwood’s patrons are winners because we are able to enjoy their food and beer six days a week.

Beachwood won gold medals for Foam Top for the Golden or Blonde Ale category and Kilgore Stout in the American-Style Stout category. They also got silver for Udder Love (Sweet Stout or Cream Stout) and bronze medals for System of a Stout (Coffee Beer) and Barrel-Aged Full Malted Jacket (Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer). I guess the big surprise for me is that none of their IPAs got a medal, but it is my understanding that they had over 250 IPA entries and it took two or three days to go through them all. Be that as it may, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing has made some tremendous beers and are definitely getting the recognition they deserve; and to think they are only two years old. Congratulations to Julian Shrago, Ian McCall, Brandon Halverson and all the staff at Beachwood BBQ & Brewing.

I guess it also shows that if it seems that I visit some places more than others, there is a good reason for it; the Craft Beer Guy would not steer you wrong. These photos were taken Wednesday October 9 and Saturday October 12 after the medals were announced. You can find a list of all the past and present Great American Beer Festival winners at http://www.greatamericanbeerfestival.com/the-competition/winners/. Cheers! Continue reading

Business & Beer meets at Monkish Brewing Company

Thursday evening, the Business & Beer networking group met for their October gathering at Monkish Brewing Company; a microbrewery in Torrance that specializes in Belgian style ales. We had another fine turnout, with this one being one of the most diversified since we first started back in July 2012. We had a nice mixture of regular attendees as well as several new faces and a few second timers. Included in our group were the owners of two microbreweries that are still in the building phase; Pac City Brewery from Pacoima and Absolution Brewing Company of Torrance. Vella Pizza was also there with their mobile brick oven so we had some good food to go along with the networking and beer. Many thanks to Monkish Brewing Company for hosting our event.

If you live or work in the South Bay area or are willing to make the drive to us and find networking to be valuable to your business model, you might want to consider joining us for one of our upcoming Business & Beer meetups. We meet on the second Thursday of every month at 6:00 PM at a different microbrewery or brewpub in the South Bay. We currently have five locations we visit between Torrance, Hermosa Beach and El Segundo with three more microbreweries slated to have tasting rooms in our geographical area within the next several months. There are no dues, no mandatory meetings or other rules that might make you hesitant to join us. It really is a nice group of people that show up and as you can see from the photos, strangers soon become friends and acquaintances at our gatherings. You can get on the mailing list or see our upcoming schedule and past events on BusinessNBeer.com Cheers! Continue reading

Ultimate Beerfest OC October 19 at Costa Mesa Fairgrounds

As you are probably aware, we are deep into the beer festival season; with multiple local beer festivals, Oktoberfest and the Great American Beer Festival all going on this week, I have one more to add to your itinerary. The Ultimate Beerfest-OC will be held at the Costa Mesa Fairgrounds on October 19, 2013. They are having two 3-hourlong sessions; the first from noon until 3:00 PM with the second one running from 6:00 – 9:00 PM for general admission ticket holders. All ticket holders receive a commemorative tasting cup while VIP ticket holders get in an hour early and get to judge the beer competition.

In addition to the 20+ breweries represented there will be numerous food trucks and vendors (purchases not included with admission) and there will be the Ultimate Beer Pong Tournament, sponsored by Redhook Brewery. The beer pong tournament is limited to 64 entries per venue, so if interested in participating, I would recommend registering soon.

Among the breweries scheduled to attend are Redhook Brewery, Manzanita Brewing Company, Firestone Walker, Latitude 33 Brewing Company, Kona Brewing Company, Widmer Brothers Brewing, Fox Barrel Cider, Mission Brewery, Blue Moon Brewing, Back Street Brewery, Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, Rough Draft Brewing, Crispin Cider, Oggi’s Pizza & Brewing, Carlsberg Group, Crabbie’s Ginger Beer, Kronenbourg Brewery, Fireman’s Brew, Stadium Brewing Company, Surf Brewery, Old Orange Brewing Company, Aztec Brewing Company, Lost Coast Brewery, Batch 19, Oceanside Ale Works, and Tap It Brewing.

This is a fundraiser for Villa Chardonnay, a 501(c)(3) non-profit horse rescue operation in Temecula, CA. There will be no tickets sold at the door so if you want to attend, be sure to buy your tickets ahead of time. I hope to see you there. Cheers!

BAM Fest 2013: Another successful fundraiser for 18th Street Arts Center

On Saturday, October 5 the 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica held their 4th Annual Beer, Art & Music Festival, commonly known as BAM Fest 2013, a fundraiser for the 18th Street Art Center, a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. The beer festival featured close to 40 different craft breweries from around the country and it seemed like every brewery brought three or four different beers with them; suffice it to say, there was more beer selections than one could possibly go through in four hours. In addition to the beer tastings there was wine, craft soda, lots of gourmet food trucks and live music to listen to as we enjoyed another beautiful October day and wandered around the open art studios and listened to seminars by beer experts.

The breweries that I noticed in attendance included Ale Industries, Anchor Brewing Company, Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Angel City Brewing Company, Ballast Point Brewing Company, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing Company, Boston Beer Company, Bootlegger’s Brewery, Brasserie d’Achouffe, The Brewery at Abigaile, Brewery Ommegang, The Bruery, Deschutes Brewery, Dogfish Head, Drake’s Brewing, The Dudes’ Brewing Company, Duvel-Moortgat, El Segundo Brewing Company, Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Golden Road Brewing Company, Haven Brewing Co., Kinetic Brewing, Los Angeles Ale Works, Ladyface Ale Companie, Lagunitas Brewing, Liefmans, Monkish Brewing Company, New Belgium Brewing Company, Noble Ale Works, North Coast Brewing, Phantom Carriage, Pizza Port, Carlsbad, Port Town Brewing Company, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Smog City Brewing Company, Speakeasy Ales and Lager, Stone Brewing Company, Strand Brewing Company and Surf Brewery.

Music was provided by Ben Bateman, Cory Phillips & the Groove Orchestra, KoTolàn and Raul Pacheco & The Immaculate Conception. Sponsors included Buy a Dog a Beer, Wreck Check, Swoon and Taxi Magic. It was a fun day with lots of fun people that all seemed to be enjoying themselves thoroughly. I will admit, I am already looking forward to attending the 5th Annual Beer, Art & Music Festival. Cheers! Continue reading

National Taco Day & craft beer in the South Bay

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

LA Beer Week comes to a close

Sunday, day 11 of LA Beer Week (LABW5) and congratulations to those of you that survived. While I did not attend the event at Union Station a week ago, I cannot imagine trying to do it at the end of an 11 day week. I started the day by heading over to King Harbor Brewing Company where I got the opportunity to meet their head brewer as he christened the location by brewing a small batch saison. A little later in the day I was informed that Smog City Brewing was hosting a panel, School of BJ’s Brewer Panel Discussion featuring Jonathan Porter of Smog City, Tyler King of The Bruery, David Griffiths of Ladyface Alehouse & Brasserie, Evan Price of Noble Ale Works and Owen Williams of Ritual Brewing Company. It turns out that the common denominator between the five of them is that they all brewed at BJ’s; who would have guessed? We decided to begin by going to Monkish Brewing to try their LABW5 entry, End of Summer, a Belgian Honey Ale. We then headed around the corner to Smog City.

As it turned out the event was not really supposed to be public as Beer Paper LA was using the opportunity to interview the brewers for an upcoming issue and they were concerned I would scoop them; so I bailed. You should be able to read about it and see any photos in their upcoming issue.

It really was a fun week and I had a great time. I would like to extend special thanks to The Brewery at Abigaile, Naja’s Place, Rock & Brews PCH, Monkish Brewing Company, Strand Brewing Company, San Pedro Brewing Company, Alpine Village and El Segundo Brewing Company for their hospitality and generosity over the past week. It was truly appreciated. Cheers! Continue reading

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