When I first started writing about craft breweries, it was pretty easy to keep up and even stay on top of things. Heck, you used to be able to visit all the Torrance breweries in one day without making it almost a chore. But the times are definitely changing and it has become difficult for me to stay current with the craft beer growth happening with our neighbors to the south of me, the Long Beach area.
Last Saturday I was in Signal Hill, a close neighbor of Long Beach, for the Festival Obscura at Sunnyside Cemetery. As I was talking to the guys manning the taps at the Ten Mile Brewing booth I learned that the craft brewery and tasting room were literally across the street from the cemetery; you could see the sign through the trees. I decided I would make one more stop after I finished up at the festival. Continue reading
When I left off, we had left the Froth Awards at Saint Rocke and headed to Carson to catch the tail end of Phantom Carriage’s One Year Anniversary party which was held Saturday afternoon. Phantom Carriage pulled out all the stops which required them to take over the parking lot as well as the blendery’s tasting room.
I got there pretty late, but even as it may have been clearing out you could tell that this sold out event was rocking as everyone was in full party mode. With the beer selections that had been available earlier, it is no wonder why everyone was in a great mood. They had cellar blends Volume 1 through 5 to accompany Oude Muis, Muis, Citra Muis, barrel-aged Centennial Muis, Broadacres, Strawberry Broadacres, Triple Berry Melange Broadacres, Dragonfruit Broadacres, barrel-aged Peach/Nectarine Broadacres, Bergman, Blackberry Bergman, Baskerville (clean and on Brett), Wit Zombie, Pineapple Wit Zombie, Amarantha, Lugosi, Dolores, Tagalong Dolores, Toasted Coconut Dolores, Fleet Street IPA, Tripel Curse and Fog Island. As soon as I walked in, brewer Brendan Lake approached me with the last of the Vermiste Kat which was their collaboration with Cascade, so even though a lot of the super-rare varieties were already gone by the time I got there, the Vermiste Kat was a great way to start off. Continue reading
A few months ago, King Harbor Brewing Company co-owner Tom Dunbabin mentioned to me that they might be opening a satellite tasting room on the Redondo Beach Pier. Admittedly, I kind of filed it in the back of my mind as something that might happen in the future, but not something that would be happening in the immediate future. Last night, after our Business & Beer gathering at The Brewery at Abigaile I sent a message to Dunbabin to see if King Harbor Brewing would be interested in hosting the June meeting of Business & Beer. His response was immediate and with a twist I was not expecting, “Yes. Let’s do it at the new tasting room at the Redondo pier.”
Having watched the build-outs of numerous tasting rooms over the last few years, my immediate thought was; “Really? Next month?” I had serious doubts that this could be done that quickly so I headed over today to check it out. I was pleasantly surprised.
Apparently, the City of Redondo Beach and King Harbor Brewing Company has been working on this deal since September of last year. Redondo Beach owns the property and they approached King Harbor Brewing with the idea of them opening a satellite tasting room on the International Boardwalk. The location needed a lot of work but the city was eager to get King Harbor in there and within a few months it had been cleaned up enough for King Harbor Brewing to enter a three year lease with them.
They only started working on it Wednesday, but they have the cold box in and the bar top is close to being completed. They plan to have about 12 seats at the bar with another 12 at tables with some standing room along the side. When all is said and done there should be room for about 30 people to enjoy their brews at the new location. Continue reading
These photos were taken at the Smog City Brewing Company’s 2nd Anniversary party which was held at their tasting room on Saturday afternoon and evening. Unfortunately, at this time of year there are a host of beer events going on just about every weekend and even some mid-week. It makes it difficult to attend every event that I would like. This, combined with the fact that for some reason I thought Smog City was open until 9:00 PM when the reality is they are only open until 8:00 PM on Saturdays, resulted in my very late arrival to the festivities. To be honest, when we arrived the parking lot was still packed so it did not really dawn on me that it was close to closing time.
Entering the tasting room, things were still in full swing even if some of the specialty brews that had been available were tapped out and several of the bottled beers were sold out. If you did not get a chance to visit Smog City on Saturday you might want to head over there today to see what you can grab before it is gone. Smog City Brewing is open until 6:00 PM on Sundays and is located at 1901 Del Amo Boulevard in Torrance. Congratulations to the entire Smog City family/team; you have been a great addition to the local craft beer scene and I know I speak for many of us when I say we cannot wait to see what develops over the next year. Cheers! Continue reading
Tuesday, April 7 is National Beer Day which commemorates when prohibition on beer was lifted on April 7, 1933. To commemorate this milestone event, I accepted an invitation from the Yard House in Long Beach to attend an event they were having in conjunction with Firestone Walker. Firestone Walker had a very limited release of their Traveling Oak which is Parabola aged in oak barrels that originally aged Old Rip Van Winkle Bourbon for over 10 years and then were used to age Del Maguey Mezcal. After that, Firestone Walker’s Master Brewer, Matt Brynildson got a hold of them. The Parabola was added and aged for a year. To say it was different would be an understatement; pretty much everyone said they really enjoyed it.
Now, I visit Yard House at various times, usually because they are somewhere close that I know is going to have something I like. If I go to Staples, there is a pretty good chance I am stopping at Yard House. What I did not understand was why a limited release beer, that they say will never be made again, would only be made available at six locations in the country (Boston (Fenway), Denver (Downtown), Long Beach, CA, Portland, OR and Seattle), and they are all Yard House locations. Well, Yard House, in addition to having what must be a couple hundred taps of craft beers from around the world, also have a few house brews. While they are currently contract brewing with Uinta Brewing Company out of Salt Lake City, Firestone Walker brewed their beers beforehand.
To help welcome the Traveling Oak, Firestone Walker Master Brewer, Matt Brynildson was spotted serving snifters to customers while such beerlebrities as Firestone’s VP of Sales and Marketing, Dave Macon and Regional Sales Manager, Shane Kral chatted to the fans that showed up. As there is just a small amount of Traveling Oak available for each location, I do not know if they blew the keg or not; but I would not expect it to last past Wednesday if it makes it through the night. Like I said, they have a couple hundred taps so if it is gone, do not despair; I am sure they will have something you like. If you live in one of the cities I named above, check out your local Yard House to see when Traveling Oak is traveling there. Continue reading
These photos are from Absolution Brewing Company’s one year anniversary party that was held at their tasting room this past Saturday. While Absolution may have gotten off to a shaky start with their Grand Opening that found several brews tapping out before the day was over, I do not think anyone that has watched their progress over the past year can deny that Absolution Brewing has weathered the storm and have established themselves as a brewery that will be here for the long run.
When Absolution Brewing first opened the initial goal was to gain acceptance with the style of beers they brewed. Using “Old World styles and New World ingredients” their beers are not your typical “west coast” style; for example, you would never confuse any of their IPAs with any of the others brewed around here. Variety is what prevents over-saturation, so their style was welcomed by me and obviously many others as their tasting room always seems to have a nice group sampling their beers.
In November their original head brewer, Wes McCann, moved back east as his wife was transferred; so Absolution was forced to find a replacement which they did by bringing in Bart Bullington. The change in style and recipes was noticed almost immediately; Bullington’s tweaks to McCann’s recipes seemed to be just what Absolution needed to satisfy the palates of South Bay beer drinkers. Continue reading
In early February, El Segundo Brewing Company’s Hammerland DIPA was chosen as best in show at the 15th annual Double IPA Festival at the Bistro in Hayward, California. El Segundo Brewing Company had already planned on bottling Hammerland but with the awarding of their first ever medal they decided to turn the bottle release into a party.
They opened early Friday for those that had the day off and the tasting room began filling up as soon as the doors opened. They had a big party scheduled for Friday evening, which was undoubtedly a great time but I already had other plans so I headed down there early.
There is still plenty of Hammerland DIPA available, so head on down to El Segundo Brewing Company this weekend to try some; it is delicious. Congratulations to the entire crew at El Segundo Brewing. Cheers! Continue reading
Sometimes it is hard to remember that just a few years ago you could count the production breweries and brewpubs in the South Bay on one hand; now you need both of your hands and a foot to count them all and new locations are being constructed as you read this. A common question that has been debated frequently over the past couple of years is that of over saturation.
As a craft beer consumer, over saturation never really comes into play for me although I can understand how a brewery owner might not feel the same way. Of course, I might not feel the same way if all of our breweries were merely churning out the same brews and styles as the next guy, but the reality is that even though we have a dozen tasting rooms and brewpubs to visit in the general vicinity each is unique in their own way. I feel that as long as this trend continues the only problem the consumer will have is deciding which brewery to patronize on any particular day.
On Wednesday afternoon I headed over to the Port of Los Angeles and the future home of Brouwerij (pronounced: brewery) West. Those of you that were fortunate enough to attend The Festival 2014 at CRAFTED at the Port of Los Angeles back in November you probably remember the big Warehouse No. 9 that was located across the way from the warehouse that The Festival was held. This will be the new home for Brouwerij West. Continue reading
On Sunday afternoon I finally made it out to Inglewood to visit the South Bay area’s newest craft production brewery; Three Weavers Brewing Company. Located on Manchester Boulevard, just around the corner from world famous landmark, Randy’s Donuts, the location may be a little difficult to locate but the U-turn will be worth it if you happen to miss their driveway the first time you go there. While this may be the newest production brewery in the area, a visit to their tasting room makes it abundantly clear that they are here for the long run.
Having watched a few new breweries build from the ground up, like King Harbor and Absolution Brewing, the size of this operation is on par with some long time operations as far as brewing capability. The five tall tanks are one of the first things you will notice when you walk in and they are impressive on their own but a stroll around the corner of the brewhouse reveals a huge cold box. My initial thought was that you could probably fit every cold box in the South Bay into the Three Weavers box and still have room for beer. I had an opportunity to chat with Three Weavers head brewer, Alexandra Nowell, and she informed me that it is 1,000 square feet (bigger than my first home) with plans to add a 3,000 square foot cold box in the near future. As Nowell put it, if you are going to brew a lot of beer you need somewhere to put it. It is pretty obvious that they plan on brewing a lot of beer and have already begun bottling some, including their collaboration with Noble Ale Works, The Messenger IPA. Continue reading
On Sunday afternoon, Abigaile Restaurant and The Brewery at Abigaile in Hermosa Beach hosted their inaugural Novem-BEER-Fest beer garden, featuring 20 of Los Angeles’ finest craft breweries. While the event was initially scheduled to take over the entire Abigaile complex, it was later decided to keep it confined to the Ocean Bar and its rooftop lounge. It was a great decision as it was a beautiful day to hang out with a couple hundred craft beer drinkers outside a block from the beach and it made it easy to see who was there for the beer.
The breweries in attendance brought out some very interesting brews. Some of my favorites included Alosta Brewing Company’s Saison Bleu, Angel City’s Rum Barrel Aged Mexican Cola Ale, El Segundo Brewing’s Ka-PAU! IPA, Back Home Gingerbread Stout by Golden Road Brewing and Progress Brewing’s Mustang Tripel. I would say my overall favorite was Wicked White IPA by Timeless Pints. Other offerings included Wanderin’ Possessed Pumpkin Porter by Absolution Brewing Company, Citraholic by Beachwood Brewing, Pomegranate Saison by Angel City, Buster’s Brown Ale by Bravery Brewing, Revolution XPA by Eagle Rock Brewing, Potential Blonde by Kinetic, Post-Season DIPA by King Harbor Brewing, Blind Ambition by Ladyface, False Prophet by Monkish Brewing, The King’s Taxes by MacLeod Ale Brewing, Acorn Ambition by Ohana Brewing, Smog City’s Groundwork Coffee Porter, Stand Brewing’s Harvest Ball, Three Weaver’s Knotty DIPA and Golden Eagle Ale by Wolf Creek Brewery.
In addition to the beers, several of the breweries had owners and/or brewers with them to socialize with their fans. Celebrity sightings included Alexandra Nowell of Three Weavers, Brian Avery and Roger Morrissey of Bravery Brewing, Rob Croxall of El Segundo Brewing Company, Steve Farguson of Absolution Brewing, Phil McDaniel and Tom Dunbabin of King Harbor Brewing, Rich Marcello of Strand Brewing and Brian Brewer of The Brewery at Abigaile. Continue reading