brewpub

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

San Francisco Beer Week 2014 February 7-16

When I agreed to go up to Santa Rosa for Drew at Decoding the Craft, I really did not know or realize just how many events were going on at the same time as the Pliny the Younger release at Russian River Brewing. There was the Double IPA Festival and the San Francisco Beer Week 2014 (SF Beer Week 2014) started on Friday, the day of the Pliny release. I would have liked to go into The City to check out some events, but it was always raining and it would not be fair to the dogs to deal with city life in the rain. It was decided that we would do our own SF Beer Week 2014 tour; we just stayed on the other side of the bridge.

Since we wanted to start off with a destination that included food, we started off at Marin Brewing Company, a brewpub in Larkspur. I will admit, I was a little apprehensive at first because my limited experience with them wasn’t very positive; but when Tanya read the menu from their website we decided to head over there. I do not know if it is because it was raining or the weekend or it is just always like that, but parking was pretty difficult. I saw a sign for free valet, but with the dogs I did not think it would go over well. They are located in what I would describe as a boutique shopping center; as it was raining, I did not exactly look around, so just my first wet impressions.

The place itself is huge and looks pretty upscale. We got a flight to share and I was immediately glad we made this stop; their flights offered a wide selection from their Broken Cherry sour ale and E.S. Chi spiced beer to their San Quentin’s Breakout Stout and Brass Knuckle Double IPA. They all ranked from good to amazing; the food was not bad either. We should have ordered more chili. Continue reading

Pliny the Younger release & exploring Santa Rosa & Sebastopol

I heard there was this drought going on up here; I even saw signs along the highway asking me to “Pray for rain!” I am not sure how long it is going to last but it has been raining non-stop since we got here and the residents up here seem to be enjoying it. It has made for an interesting challenge taking external photos with water coming down at every angle. Anyway, Friday morning was the Pliny the Younger release at Russian River Brewing and because of friends I was able to get in with the first group of Pliny fans and I got my 10 ounces of the 2014 Pliny the Younger. I also got to meet some good people and participate in the atmosphere that only an event like day one of a Pliny release can generate. There was a long line of people that wound around two blocks a couple hours before we could come in. It was cold and wet but people seemed very eager to get their taste. I hope they did.

After I had my beer I went back to get Tanya and we went off exploring the area for breweries we had never heard of. Our first stop was Woodfour Brewing Company, a brewpub in Sebastopol. While it was a little difficult to find, it was worth the wet walk. We had a nice flight that ranged from everything from a Berliner Weisse and Sour Farmhouse Ale to a stout and an Imperial Black Ale. They have only been open six months but had a good selection.

A few hundred feet across the way was a microbrewery tasting room, Warped Brewing Company. Warped Brewing was one of the few tasting rooms we have come across; as most breweries are opening brewpubs, apparently for the tourists . . . or zoning. I guess it depends who you ask. It doesn’t take long to figure out these guys like their video games. As far as the beer, the tasting room has only been open four weeks but owner/brewer Noah has been brewing for a while and owns a local restaurant. They currently offer three quality beers; you should check out their Orbital Outrage if you get the chance. Continue reading

Craft breweries of California Hwy 99

Since I was going up to Santa Rosa for a project about the Pliny the Younger release, I decided to leave a little early and see what craft beers I could discover along the way. I could have taken the easy route and gone along the 101 but there are so many quality brewers within the first 200 miles I would never make it on time. Instead, I decided to travel up CA Hwy 99 through Central California. I do not really travel Hwy 99 much so I did not know what to expect. I decided that my first destination would be Lengthwise Brewing, a brewpub in Bakersfield since it is a couple hours out from the beach and some food would be a good thing. We tried a flight and really enjoyed their Harvest Moon Wheat Ale (although not sure why they added the lemon slice) and Kern County Crude Porter. They also brewed root beer which was quite tasty. They gave me a taste of their new Zeus Imperial Ale which was a very smooth Double IPA; I had to get a bottle. We also had a chicken salad that was great. I don’t know the name, but had artichoke hearts with it and was big enough for the two of us. It was a great start for our journey.

A couple hours north we found ourselves at Full Circle Brewing Company, a microbrewery in Fresno right off the 99. Full Circle has been around about 15 years and is probably Fresno’s best kept secret. I could go on and on about what a great time we had there, the 12 different brews on tap going back to 2006, the meads and the hospitality but suffice it to say, you owe it to yourself to stop by and check this place out. The owner and head brewer Bill will tell you all about beer and its history and beertender Kenny will ensure you have a great time. It really was a highlight of the day.

Another 100 miles north and we ended up in Turlock and Dust Bowl Brewing Company, another brewpub. This was a really cool location with a lot of history about the Dust Bowl and the migration of farmers to Central California. I’d like to go back just to check it out for the history aspect. We got there a little before they closed so the kitchen was not available to us, but the beer was. I let their manager Nick put together a flight for me as they had too many choices and not enough time. Their Hops of Wrath IPA was definitely the best IPA of the day and made for a good ending to a fun day. Continue reading

Beachwood Brewing’s 3rd Annual “Pliny Fights Cancer” Raffle Coming Soon

In the craft beer world there are few annual releases that are awaited with such anticipation as Russian River Brewing’s annual release of Pliny the Younger. Initially brewed in 2004, Pliny the Younger is released on the first Friday of every February. This true triple IPA is made in very limited quantities so is limited to draught pours at the Russian River pub for a mere two weeks at which point a few kegs are sent out to select Russian River accounts. One of these special accounts is Beachwood BBQ & Brewing who will have it at both their Long Beach and Seal Beach locations in February.

As you might imagine, it is not uncommon to see long lines outside of these locations when Pliny comes to town. I went to a Pliny release party last year that had 400 people lined up outside; the event started at 11:00 AM and the first guy in line had been there since 7:30 AM! The folks at Beachwood, being the nice guys they are, decided that instead of dealing with long lines of beer aficionados clamoring to get their yearly Pliny fix they would make this a fundraiser by selling raffle tickets for the chance at one of the 130 pints they will have available between the two locations with 100% of the proceeds benefiting the Melanoma Research Foundation. This is the third year they have done this; raising $7,000 in 2012, $9,000 in 2013 with a goal of $10,000 for 2014.

The tickets, a mere $5.00 each, went on sale January 14 and will continue through February 22. Be advised, the raffle tickets are a cash only deal, so when you visit Beachwood for some of their great beers and/or food, be sure to bring some cash for the tickets. They won’t add it to your bill. On February 24th, 2014, 130 raffle tickets will be drawn at random. The drawing will be streamed live on the New Brew Thursday webcast; winners will also be notified via email or phone. Winners will be able to redeem their Pliny the Younger pint between February 25 and March 6, 2014; Because of the limited quantities, winners will be directed to either Long Beach or Seal Beach to get their Pliny. Continue reading

A visit to Orange County microbreweries and brewpubs

At the beginning of the month I paid a return visit to Anaheim Brewery during which time I happened to get into a conversation with a couple that came into the tasting room. While our conversation naturally began with discussing the beers we were sampling, it did not take long for it to switch to our favorite local craft breweries. It was during this discussion that it dawned on me that I had barely skimmed the surface when it came to how many craft breweries in Orange County I had visited. This past weekend I decided to do something about it by visiting a few production breweries and brewpubs in the OC.

Tanya and I started off at Bootlegger’s Brewery, a production microbrewery located in Fullerton, CA. I must admit, I was a little surprised when we pulled up to the tasting room because it appeared to be extremely small from the front. When we went inside I saw close to 20 beers available on tap; it was then that I figured out that the brewery and the tasting room were at two different locations. Since I knew we would be making several stops over the course of the day, we opted to share a flight of four for a very reasonable $6.00. The flight consisted of a Sucker Punch IPA, Miss Double D Pale Ale, Double Dry Hopped Palomino Pale Ale and a Spiced Black Phoenix on cask. Bootlegger’s Brewery is open seven days a week and have bottles and growlers to go. While they are a production brewery they do not offer food, but you are welcome to bring food in. I noticed a pizza place next door. They have a very large patio area and there was a private party going on in one section so I think it is safe to say that if you want to have a party there, it can be arranged. The Bootlegger’s tasting room is located at 130 S Highland Avenue in Fullerton.

After enjoying Bootlegger’s we headed out to Brea and Taps Fish House & Brewery. As can be guessed by the name, Taps is a brewpub; in fact, it is a huge brewpub. The first thing I noticed, besides the large number of guests, was the number of awards that Taps Brewery has on the walls. Apparently Taps opened in 1999 and it looks like they have been consistently winning medals for their beers ever since. Since football was on, the place was packed and finding seating for two at the bar was not going to happen. We found a couple seats at one of the bars community tables and sat down to enjoy a Reuben sandwich and we split another flight. The flight was made up of an MJoe mead, Seaward Pale Ale, Azacca IPA and a Neo-Colonial Stout. I am becoming a big fan of Azacca hops, that is for sure. Taps Fish House & Brewery is located at 101 E Imperial Highway in Brea and they are also open seven days a week. Continue reading

Business & Beer begins 2014 with The Brewery at Abigaile

The South Bay’s favorite business networking group, Business & Beer, began 2014 with a great turnout at The Brewery at Abigaile, the beach cities sole brewpub; located in Hermosa Beach. The Business & Beer networking group has been meeting for about 18 months at the various craft breweries, brewpubs and gastropubs in the South Bay. For the first year they met weekly, but in July 2013 it was decided to change the format to once a month; the second Thursday of the month. To do this, gastropubs were dropped from the rotation with the decision being to meet where the beer is brewed. Prior to the change, the attendance levels had started to drop off; it seems that since Business & Beer went to meeting once a month the attendance levels have increased each month. These photos are from the January 2014 gathering of Business & Beer which was held January 9 and I would venture to say that last night’s gathering was double the attendance that we have seen at prior Abigaile gatherings. There was a nice mix of long time attendees with a few people that have only attended a few times and we had several first time visitors. It looks like 2014 is going to be a great year for business and beer.

The next two months are going to be special for Business & Beer by welcoming the two newest craft beer tasting rooms to the South Bay. February 13, Business & Beer’s gathering will also serve as the soft open for King Harbor Brewing Company, located in Redondo Beach. The March 13 gathering will be at Torrance’s newest craft brewery, Absolution Brewing Company. Judging by the turnout last night these will be very well-attended events so if you enjoy networking and craft beer I recommend you check out Business & Beer. You can be kept in the loop for upcoming events by “Liking” Business & Beer on Facebook or by signing up to the Business & Beer mailing list. You will not regret it; it is a good group of people that do want to meet you and possibly do business with you or at least refer future business to you. Cheers! Continue reading

Beachwood BBQ celebrates 7 years

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

Happy Thanksgiving from the Craft Beer Guy

Just a quick note to say Happy Thanksgiving to each of you and your families. Today, Tanya and I will head over to my dad’s for dinner with my daughter and a bunch of siblings. There should be about 15 people there. Since Tanya has been experimenting a lot with her baking, she got put on dessert detail which resulted in three pumpkin pies made from scratch; she even used fresh pumpkin instead of that canned stuff. She also made up some vanilla whipped yams, so the food should be delicious. Naturally, I was assigned beer duty, so Wednesday I traveled around to a few of my favorite places.

I started at Beachwood BBQ & Brewing where I picked up a growler of Annihilator, a 12% American Barleywine. I then moved along to Monkish Brewing where I brought home a growler of Magnificat, a 10.1% Belgian Strong Dark Ale, spiced for Christmas. My next stop was El Segundo Brewing Company because no meal is complete without an IPA. I walked out with a growler of Two 5 Left, an 8.2% Double IPA. For dessert we headed to The Brewery at Abigaile where I picked up a growler of Coconut Imperial Red; a 9.4% Imperial Red Ale. I think everyone should be able to find something they will like.

Have a safe day and appreciate all you have. Cheers! Continue reading

Photos from Alisha & Shane’s going away party

As I mentioned in a recent article, the craft beer scene around here consists of a pretty tight-knit community. Something about craft beer just seems to bring people together; perhaps it is because craft beer is really breaking out here and we are excited and happy to be part of it. Traveling to the various tasting rooms and brewpubs is like going off to visit friends and family as much as for the beer. This is especially true whenever we walk into Beachwood BBQ & Brewing in Long Beach; everyone that works there seems to like each other and they appear to really enjoy their jobs. Last night, the craft beer community met at Beachwood to say good-bye to two of the family; Alisha Inkrote and Shane Stewart.

Alisha and Shane are moving to Denver on Friday and they held a going away party last night at Beachwood’s Long Beach location. Even though Beachwood is normally closed on Monday, owner Gabe Gordon opened it up so a few of Alisha and Shane’s friends and family could gather for a final beer together. The kitchen was closed, so some people brought food and others brought bottles of their favorite brews to share. It really was a fun night; Alisha and Shane are going to be missed. If you were not able to make it last night, they will be there Tuesday and Wednesday if you want to stop by, say good-bye and wish them well.

Beachwood BBQ & Brewing is located at 210 E 3rd Street in Long Beach, California. Cheers! Continue reading

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