craft beer bar

Tortilla Cantina 8th Anniversary Photos

These photos were taken Saturday evening at Tortilla Cantina in Torrance, where they celebrated their 8th anniversary. The event featured craft beer pouring from close to 50 taps, live music from Ashleigh Correa, and Charlie Don’t Surf (Kemo and the boys), and complimentary appetizers for an hour or so.

Tortilla Cantina is a “taco bistro” that offers 18 varieties of tacos and usually has about 48 different beers on tap. They are also the home of the 4th Annual South Bay Tap Takeover, which will be held on September 6, from noon until 11:30 PM, and will feature their standard Happy Hour from noon to 7:00 PM, their wide selection of tacos, and live music by Ashleigh Correa.

The breweries scheduled to attend are Absolution Brewing, Brouwerij West, Common Space, The Dudes’, El Segundo Brewing, Hermosa Brewing Company, The Honest Abe Cidery, HopSaint, King Harbor Brewing, LA Ale Works, Phantom Carriage, Scholb, Smog City, State Brewing, Strand Brewing, Three Weavers, Ximix Craft Exploration, Yorkshire Square, and Zymurgy Brew Works. Continue reading

Taking a Craft Beer Tour of the SpaceX Corridor

I was going to begin this article by suggesting, “unless you have been living under a rock, you know of Elon Musk’s SpaceX” but I discovered there actually are some people that are unfamiliar with SpaceX; so I will presume that if you are into American craft beer and follow this site, you are at least somewhat familiar with Elon Musk and/or SpaceX.

What you may not be aware of is that SpaceX is headquartered in the City of Hawthorne and craft breweries and craft beer bars have been springing up in what I now call the SpaceX Corridor and all of them have been vying for the attention of SpaceX employees; and from what I have been able to see, those employees have been enjoying the attention.

Since I named it the SpaceX Corridor, I also get to define the boundaries. El Segundo Boulevard is a little over 5 miles long from the Harbor Freeway (110) and the San Diego Freeway (405). In that stretch there are now four craft breweries and one craft beer bar; all of which I have no problem recommending. Here is how you can complete the SpaceX Corridor Craft Beer Tour from one end to the other in one day, with relative ease. Be advised, this can currently only be done Thursday through Sunday; if you are reading this in six months or a year from now, the hours may be expanded by then.

The locations we will visit are State Brewing Company, Ximix Craft Exploration, Common Space Brewery, Los Angeles Ale Works, and Flights Beer Bar.

For the purposes of this tour, we will begin on the east end of the SpaceX Corridor, at State Brewing Company in Gardena. Continue reading

Photos from the 2nd Annual South Bay Tap Takeover at Flights

These photos were taken Thursday evening at Flights during their 2nd Annual South Bay Tap Takeover. This year we featured 15 of the best production breweries in the South Bay; with Absolution Brewing, Brouwerij West, El Segundo Brewing, Honest Abe Hard Ciders, HopSaint Brewing Company, King Harbor Brewing, Phantom Carriage, Rob Rubens Distilling & Brewing, San Pedro Brewing Company, Scholb Premium Ales, Smog City Brewing, State Brewing Company, Strand Brewing Company, The Dudes’ Brewing, and Three Weavers Brewing filling all four tap lines. I watched as people in the craft beer industry as well as the hundreds of craft beer fans looked with amazement at what a South Bay tap list looks like.

While it did get a little crowded during the peak hours, Flights staff, under the guidance of their manager Michelle Pettie kept food and beer flowing with ease. It was pretty obvious that the additional year of experience by the serving staff made a huge difference; I did not notice any of the delays that were experienced last year. I am sure cutting back on the food menu helped as the kitchen was faster which meant people could eat and drink a little quicker and the steady flow of new guests did not cause any of the lines I heard existed last year. Continue reading

A Visit to zpizza Tap Room at LAX

A couple of weeks ago, while attending the Endless Rant Release Party at King Harbor Brewing I was approached by a young woman that recognized me from this site and various social media platforms. In the course of our conversation she informed me that she and her husband had recently opened a pizza place by Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and they had a craft beer tap list that they were pretty proud of. She pointed out her husband and mentioned that he was a graduate of El Segundo High School. I figured he had to be in his early 30’s so I mentioned that he probably knew one or both of my kids since they both graduated from there, and El Segundo is a pretty tight-knit community. We decided to find out, and went over to him for introductions.

She introduced me to her husband, Jason Imhoff, and almost immediately after mentioning my son’s name Imhoff began speaking about him with a lot of respect. That is an inside tip; if you want to get on my good side, speak highly of my kids.

Imhoff told me a little about his business, zpizza Tap Room, and invited me to please come by to check them out. My regular readers know that pizza is not exactly a draw for me, but I told them I would stop by the next time I was in the neighborhood. A day or two later I was talking with my son and asked him if he remembered Jason Imhoff. Like Imhoff had done with him, my son had nothing but good things to say about Imhoff; at that point I decided I would not wait until I was in the neighborhood, but would make a special trip out there. This article and the photos are from my visit there last Wednesday afternoon. Continue reading

Smog City Beer Dinner at Jimmy’s Bar & Grill

These photos were taken at the Smog City Beer Dinner which was held Wednesday evening at Jimmy’s Bar & Grill in Redondo Beach. I want to begin this by stating that over the past few years I have attended quite a few beer dinners but I am not sure that I have ever attended one that had such obvious thought put into the pairing of the food and beer as what we experienced last night at Jimmy’s. Marc Dix is the chef/partner at Jimmy’s and he is one of the owners of Barley Hops Grill, a popular food truck frequently seen at various tasting rooms. Regular readers have probably picked up on the fact that I don’t usually pay much attention to the food trucks I run across at various events, preferring to leave the food choices to Tanya. After experiencing our meal last night and speaking with attendees that assured me that Barley Hops Grill is one of the best food trucks in the area, I am sure I will give more input when Tanya asks what I want to eat.

I live around the corner from Jimmy’s and have been here for 30 years, so I have seen lots of businesses come and go from that location. A few years ago a sports bar, 20/20, opened there, but did not last long. We had checked them out as a possible location to have a Business & Beer gathering but were left unimpressed. It was not long before I noticed 20/20 was closed and a lot of remodeling was being done. A short time later, Jimmy’s Bar & Grill was opened. I suppose I was misled by the “bar & grill” portion of Jimmy’s name as I had a preconceived idea that burgers and fries would be the main fare but last night’s menu definitely cleared up any misconceptions I may have had. Continue reading

Photos from the South Bay Tap Takeover at Flights

These photos are from the South Bay Tap Takeover that was held Thursday evening at Flights Beer Bar in Hawthorne. To say that this event was a success would be an understatement; some might suggest that it was too successful as there were times that the staff seemed overwhelmed with all the customers. The event officially began at 4:00 PM, but when I arrived at 3:30 people had already arrived and by 4:30 it was pretty well packed; and it stayed that way until about 11:30.

There were some delays in getting the beer served in the beginning because there were 40 new taps with beers that had never been poured there and many people were ordering flights. Flights brought in some additional help and eventually the beers were learned and things moved faster. The food situation was pretty much a no-win situation because while Flights could install a new walk-in to store beer, there was no way to increase the size of the kitchen. The food took a little longer to get out to us, but it was the same high quality that we have come to expect.

I do not know how many people showed up last night but I do know that we had 200 t-shirts to give away and I would venture to guess that at least as many people did not get shirts as those that did, so I don’t think estimating a turnout of at least 400 people would not be a stretch. Continue reading

40 Taps of South Bay Craft September 3 at Flights Beer Bar

tap-takeover

40 Taps of South Bay Craft! September 3 at FLIGHTS!

As I announced almost a month ago, and have tried to continually remind you on my Facebook page, this Thursday, September 3, Flights Beer Bar in association with CraftBeerGuy.com will hold their first ever 40 Taps of South Bay Craft Tap Takeover. I have to admit, there are a couple things about that opening line that I would like to point out. The first is, I am unaware of any prior event in the South Bay that has ever dedicated 40 taps to 10 South Bay craft breweries, so it isn’t just their first ever, I am pretty sure it is the first ever. Secondly, I was not sure if I should call it their inaugural event or 1st Annual because there is already talk of making this an annual event; these comments are coming from participating breweries and the owner of Flights, who has gone to the extreme for this event. Let me give you a couple examples.

First off, the beer. When I was approached about the idea of having a “Craft Beer Guy” party I immediately knew that I wanted to showcase the South Bay’s breweries. I also knew that 40 new kegs was quite an order so I was pleasantly surprised when Flights owner Jerry Jamgotchian didn’t blink an eye and said that 40 kegs was not a problem. A couple people asked me, “But where is he going to keep all that beer?” It was a great question that only had one solution; he was going to need a bigger cold box; so that is what he did. He had a second, bigger cold box added.

A couple weeks ago someone suggested maybe having a few shirts made and raffle them off; buy a beer, get a ticket. I brought it to Jerry for some input and his response was, “How about we make hundreds and give them to everybody?” Well, that is what he did; there will be free t-shirts for the first couple hundred people that ask for one (as supplies/sizes last). Continue reading

Craft Beer Guy Presents: A 40 Tap South Bay Tap Takeover

tap-takeover

40 Taps of South Bay Craft!

If you follow this site with any regularity you may recall that a few weeks ago I visited Flights Beer Bar in Hawthorne for the first time. To say that I was impressed would be an understatement and I believe I got that message across in the article that I wrote. A couple days after writing the article I received an email from Flights owner Jerry Jamgotchian suggesting that they would like to throw a private party for Craft Beer Guy. While I was definitely flattered, several of the local craft breweries had just had a birthday party for me a couple days before so I suggested that I would rather have a party that showcased all the breweries that had made the South Bay the craft beer destination that is has become. After speaking with Jerry and his manager/beer buyer Marc Dacal it was decided that they would let me curate a 40 tap, tap takeover featuring 10 production breweries that were based in the South Bay. That’s right, 40 taps of South Bay craft from 10 South Bay breweries.

While I have been to a few “South Bay tap takeovers” over the past few years, never before have we had 40 taps dedicated to just the South Bay’s breweries. The 10 that will be participating include Strand Brewing Company, Monkish Brewing, El Segundo Brewing, Absolution Brewing Company, Smog City Brewing, Three Weavers, The Dudes’, King Harbor Brewing, Phantom Carriage and introducing HopSaint! If you are thinking, “But HopSaint isn’t open yet.” you would be correct, but the brewhouse has been delivered and Brian Brewer will be brewing before their new brewpub opens. This tap takeover will likely be the first time any of us will be able to try Brian’s brews under the new label. UPDATE: HopSaint will not be able to make it, in their stead, Cosmic Brewery will step up. Continue reading

Flights Beer Bar: Craft Beer for Hawthorne

As I have mentioned before, friends and followers of this site frequently direct me to the latest beer bar that they visited, or that they had heard was opening in the area. I have learned to not bother rushing off because as often as not the selection isn’t really that special or the business is not going to survive the winter. I first heard about Flights Beer Bar in late March or very early April. When I asked my informant what was special about the place they could not tell me as they had yet to visit.

Over the next two months a few more people approached me; some inquiring because they had not been there yet either, and a couple that had made their way over to Hawthorne to check it out. I ended up getting a personal invitation from the owner and another recommendation or two from people that have similar tastes as me, so I decided that I would begin my birthday weekend by going to Flights for a beer and maybe take some photos if it was warranted.

Flights is located at 5119 W. El Segundo Boulevard in Hawthorne, which means it is right off the 405 on the east side of the freeway; it is also on the north side of the street so you need to know it is there or you will do some u-turns to get back there. To make it easy, it is between the Subway and Burger King. The sign is big, but the color scheme isn’t ideal at 12:30 PM. I was told it does light up at night and they have several runway lights above it on the roof. I will have to return at night time to see how visible it is. Continue reading

O’Flaherty’s Tap House: Rancho Palos Verdes

As this site becomes more popular, I receive more and more recommendations of places I should check out. If it is a craft brewery or brewpub, I am more than happy to make that visit. Probably more often than the brewery suggestions, I am directed to “gastropubs” and craft beer bars that have recently opened or modified their tap list to take advantage of the craft beer craze that has hit the area in the last couple of years. Let there be no mistake, I always appreciate recommendations but, believe it or not, I do not really go to bars very often. I will try to visit every tasting room and brewpub I can get to, but when it comes to craft beer bars the primary consideration is convenience as in it must be close to where I am. In other words, if I am in Alhambra I may hit 38 Degrees but I am not going to drive out to The Valley or downtown LA just to try a bar, no matter what the selection is. As a result, a lot of bar suggestions are not considered due to their locale. I have had times that the place was out of business by the time I got there. On the seemingly rare occasion I am introduced to a true find; O’Flaherty’s Tap Room is one of those, in my opinion.

I was told about O’Flaherty’s by Steve Farguson of Absolution Brewing, back around July. He told me that it was a new place that had an interesting tap list and he felt they deserved some notice. While I was interested, the main downside for me was pretty much the same reason I wanted to visit them in the first place. That reason was location; O’Flaherty’s Tap House is located at the shopping center located at the end of Hawthorne Boulevard at Palos Verdes Drive West. I knew right away that if Flaherty’s was all Farguson said it was, they had a great spot because there is nothing up there with a great tap list. Luckily, I like to go up to Pointe Vicente to try and photograph whales or the waves, so O’Flaherty’s is a nice stop and convenient a few times a year. Continue reading

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