November 29 was Small Business Saturday and I suppose if you did not know that, you should not feel like the Lone Ranger. First established in 2010, Small Business Saturday takes place the first Saturday following Thanksgiving and is meant to coincide with Black Friday and Cyber Monday but with the idea that we should “Buy Local” and is targeted towards brick and mortar, mom and pop shops. To be honest, I am not sure that this is being promoted very well. The only advertising I noticed were specials that seemed to require owning and using an American Express card (probably because American Express is such a mom and pop operation); and the City of Torrance declared November 29 through December 6 as Small Business Week. I am not sure that anyone that did not attend last week’s city council meeting would know this though.
Since I like to do my Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve, Small Business Saturday would take a different twist for me. I decided I would spend Saturday visiting small businesses that specialized in craft beer, with an emphasis on Torrance businesses since our mayor did request residents to support Torrance business.
We started off by going to Torrance’s first production brewery, Strand Brewing Company. Strand Brewing opened five years ago and is always a crowd favorite due to a combination of great beer and a very personable Rich Marcello, co-owner and the main sales guy. His enthusiasm for their product is contagious and that has a lot to do with their success. The tasting room is on the small side and can fill up quickly, but everyone just seems to start talking to whomever is close and by the time you leave you have a new friend. Continue reading
As much as I like to support local business; sometimes it just makes sense to shop at the major chains. This can hold true whether you are buying tires for your car or craft beer for your fridge. My last article about the local bottle shops was an article that I have been planning on writing for several months, but I wanted to give one of the locations a chance to finish some construction first. Initially I was going to compare two independent bottle shops to Total Wine, after I discovered that Costco had a wide selection of craft beer I decided that I would write two articles; the last one about the local independents, and another about the chains that carried craft beer. This article will visit Total Wine & More in Redondo Beach, Costco in Hawthorne and Whole Foods in El Segundo. You should probably know this going in, not all Costco or Whole Foods are created equal; not all locations are as good as those visited for this article.
Of any place I go to buy craft beer, Total Wine in Redondo Beach gets more of my business than probably everywhere else combined. The reasons for this are many, but the main reason is that it is basically across the street. It takes almost as much time to drive and park as it does to walk there. The convenience factor is strong with this one. The second thing is that they carry about 3,000 different varieties of beer and you can purchase individual bottles/cans so experimenting is a piece of cake. Not only do they carry American craft beers but their International beer selection is better than any place I have ever been. Their pricing is usually very good; I have found locally brewed beers being sold for significantly less that it would cost at the tap room it came from.
As a tip, if you visit Total Wine, feel free to walk into the cooler; there are lots of surprises to be found including Pliny and Blind Pig. Most of the time there will be bottle limits, so bring your friends and neighbors. Continue reading
On Sunday afternoon, Rock & Brews held their 4th Annual Local Craft Beer Fest at their Rock & Brews Garden on Main in El Segundo. There were 15 breweries pouring 30 beers as well as food and a game or two to keep you occupied; but most people seemed content to enjoy the shade in what was a very hot afternoon at the beach. To be honest, there were fewer kids and dogs than last year which cut down of the carnival atmosphere that was experienced last year. I suspect the lower attendance was due in part to the sweltering heat and the fact that Main Street was blocked off for construction, at least in the beginning.
The breweries in attendance were El Segundo Brewing Company, Ohana Brewing Company, The Dudes’ Brewing Company, King Harbor Brewing Company, Strand Brewing Company, Monkish Brewing Company, Smog City Brewing Company, Angel City Brewery, The Brewery at Abigaile, Absolution Brewing Company, Congregation Ale House, Bootlegger’s Brewery, Cosmic Ales, Hangar 24 Craft Brewery and Golden Road Brewery. Also in attendance were Bowser Beer’s Dirty Dog Squad and Popcornopolis Gourmet Popcorn, who was giving away samples of their gourmet popcorn as well as their brand new, hop infused popcorn! This is still in the development stage so keep an eye out for it as they plan on having popcorn pairings with craft beer within the next few months.
In addition to everything else that was going on, a panel with a Question and Answer period was moderated by Celebrator Beer News contributor Tomm Carroll and included Brian Brewer from The Brewery at Abigaile, Christopher Briles from Cosmic Ales, Rich Marcello from Strand Brewing Company, Rob Croxall from El Segundo Brewing Company and Steve Farguson from Absolution Brewing Company. Continue reading
If you are a fan of Firestone Walker Brewing Company, this was a great week to be close to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) as Shane Kral, Regional Sales Manager at Firestone Walker hosted two tap takeovers featuring several hard to find Firestone brews. This gallery covers both events; the first being held Wednesday evening at Brewster’s Beererie which is located in Four Points by Sheraton and the second held Thursday evening at the Tapas Bar located in the Whole Foods El Segundo.
Wednesday’s event at Brewster’s Beererie featured an amazing selection of Firestone Walker brews; Bretta Weisse, Agrestic and Pivo Hoppy Pils got us started which was followed by 2012 Double DBA, 2013 Sucaba, 2013 Velvet Merkin, Wookey Jack and Double Jack. In addition to these fantastic craft beers, attendees were able to take home a wide selection of Firestone Walker glassware. I had to donate some books to my local library to make room for all the new glassware additions.
While Wednesday evening selection of Firestone Walker delicacies might seem tough to beat, it was really just a warmup for what Shane brought to Whole Foods on Thursday. The event started off with Firestone’s Union Jack and Opal; then kicked it up a notch featuring a Parabola vertical flight with Parabola 2012, 2013 and 2014! I have to say, that alone would have made it a great event for the craft beer aficionado but that was just part of it. It turned out that the Whole Foods beer buyer, José, had somehow saved up some very select bottles that were sold at retail prices. Some were less expensive than if you drove to Buellton or Paso Robles. They had Firestone XV and XVII, 2014 Stickee Monkee, 2013 and 2014 Sucaba, 2013 and 2014 Parabola and 2013 Velvet Merkin available to take home; which we did. As if all this great beer was not enough, Firestone Walker’s own David Walker came out to meet some of Firestone’s fans, talking about their beers and the progress of the upcoming taproom and brewery in Venice. Continue reading
The craft breweries that will be represented include El Segundo Brewing, Monkish Brewing, Smog City Brewing, Golden Road Brewing, Eagle Rock Brewing, The Dudes’ Brewing, Strand Brewing, Angel City Brewing, Cosmic Ales, Bootlegger’s Brewery, The Brewery at Abigaile, King Harbor Brewing, Congregation Ale House, Absolution Brewing and Ohana Brewing Company.
While you may be familiar with many of these breweries, you never know what they may bring with them. Last year, El Segundo Brewing Company used the event to introduce their Casa Azul Pale Lager, so I look forward to seeing what might show up at the 4th Annual Local Craft Beer Fest. Two of the breweries, Absolution Brewing Company and King Harbor Brewing Company, were still in the planning stages last year at this time; so if you have not had an opportunity to try their brews yet this will be a great opportunity. This year’s event will include a brewer panel where representatives from a few of the local breweries will discuss the local craft beer scene, the origins of their brand and field questions from the audience. Continue reading
These photos are of the June 2014 gathering of Business & Beer which was held Thursday evening at El Segundo Brewing Company. Business & Beer is an informal business networking group that was established in July of 2012 and currently meets of the second Thursday of every month at one of the tasting rooms or brewpubs found in the South Bay. This is a very informal group in that unlike other business networking groups there are no dues, no mandatory meetings and no restrictions on the type or number of businesses represented. The attendees cover a wide range of occupations including plumbing, accounting, insurance, web development and more. Frequently there will be members of the craft beer industry joining in, including professional brewers, home brewers and people that help new breweries get started. In a nutshell, everyone is welcome with the common denominator being that everyone enjoys craft beer. One of the advantages of joining the Business & Beer networking group is that you will have an opportunity to visit all the craft breweries the South Bay has to offer.
El Segundo Brewing Company had a full menu of their brews available both on tap and in bottles and everyone was able to find something they liked whether it was a hoppy Two 5 Left DIPA, a malty Station No. 1 red ale or a rich Standard Crude Imperial Stout. El Segundo Brewing Company is located at 140 Main Street in El Segundo. Cheers! Continue reading
Tuesday was day two of the 9th Annual American Craft Beer Week and I really wanted an IPA. For those not in the know, we have been enduring a pretty bad heat wave and a couple cold beers were just what the doctor ordered. An IPA and some air conditioning would be even better. I decided to start off by heading to Long Beach for a visit to the Great American Beer Festival’s 2013 Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing.
While Long Beach sounds like it would be cool, it was actually 105 degrees which was 10 more than home so the beer and air conditioning were quite welcome. When it comes to IPA’s, most locals would have to admit that it is pretty tough to beat the superb options provided by award winning head brewer Julian Shrago. Like I usually do, I opted for a flight consisting of three IPAs, Laurel, Pole Position and The Falcon which are all three fine examples of the West Coast IPA style. I finished the flight off with their Onyx Imperial Stout. In addition to their own fine brews and good food, Beachwood has a pretty amazing guest tap list. This just shows the confidence they have in their own beers. I decided to try the San Clemente IPA (Artifex Collaboration) from Pizza Port San Clemente and it was great. While Beachwood is not having any planned American Craft Beer Week events (because every week is American Craft Beer Week there) they were have a special bottle release for their Jean-Quad Van Damme Bourbon Barrel Aged Belgian-Style Dark Ale that was to be held Tuesday evening. They only bottled 100 so there was a limit of one bottle per customer. While 100 bottles would not usually last very long, Beachwood only announced it on the Instagram account and I mentioned it last night on the Craft Beer Guy Facebook page so there was limited exposure. I just called and there are still some bottles left so head over and grab one; or bring a friend and grab two. Be sure to tell them Craft Beer Guy sent you. Continue reading
Hi there, thanks for visiting. I just wanted to point out that this article was written in April of 2014, the South Bay only had seven craft breweries then. You can find a more current list of breweries at http://craftbeerguy.com/list-all-south-bay-breweries/ (it was written December 2016).
I am a firm believer that if one person suggests something, there is a good chance that dozens of others are thinking the same thing. Since I have had many people tell me that I should include maps of the craft brewery tours I write about, I have decided to add a new feature, maps of the various breweries and their relationship to each other. I have decided to use MapQuest since they allow you to plug in your starting point; Google Maps seems to eliminated that feature, so we will use MapQuest until something better comes along.
These maps will be set up to show the easiest way to visit each of the breweries visited and will usually form a circular pattern so you are not bouncing around from one end of town to another and back again. I am beginning with the South Bay area of Southern California for a couple reasons. The first, and most logical, is because that is where I live. The second being that there has been such an explosion of microbreweries around here that I know people from other areas would like to know the easiest way to see all that the South Bay offers. Whenever possible, these tours will begin with one freeway close location and end with another freeway close destination. If you are a first time visitor to any of these locations I recommend a purchasing a flight so you can sample what each brewery offers.
Since we have been on the road lately, I decided that this weekend we would stick around and give a little love to the South Bay’s craft beer brewers for the Valentine’s Day weekend. Friday, Valentine’s Day, we headed over to The Brewery at Abigaile, a brewpub in Hermosa Beach. Since it was Valentine’s Day and we had not made any reservations we took advantage of their Happy Hour seating and grabbed a couple seats at the bar where we were able to enjoy a flight of their brews; including their 002 2nd Anniversary DIPA and Dark Matter a Belgian dark ale that can only get better with age. One of the best things about the release of the 002 DIPA is that it means the anniversary party for Abigaile must be coming soon.
On Saturday I headed over to Smog City Brewing where they were hosting a fundraiser for the LA Derby Dolls Enforcers. The Derby Dolls are a Southern California, all-female banked track roller derby league. The Enforcers are the referees for the league. The fundraiser consisted of a raffle for Derby Dolls and Smog City swag as well as beer floats in four different varieties and a pie versus cake sale. Between the people that came out specifically for the fundraiser, the various beer tour buses and those that just wanted to come have a beer, Smog City was packed to the brim. After sampling a couple beers and Tanya’s Death by Chocolate (The Nothing with chocolate ice cream beer float) we headed over to Monkish Brewing.
We got there about the same time as the LA Craft Beer Tours van, so we found Monkish to be almost as crowded as Smog City. When I think back to when we first started going to Monkish and compare it to today it is pretty obvious that the craft beer scene in Torrance is really exploding. People frequently ask me if there are too many breweries here; when I visit multiple local breweries like I did Saturday I can’t help but think how crowded these locations would be if there were only one or two available. Continue reading
On Saturday, December 14, El Segundo Brewing Company (ESBC) held their Standard Crude Tapping and Bad Sweater Contest at their brewery and taproom. The craft beer event was held to acknowledge the bottling of the 2013 Standard Crude and to introduce ESBC’s latest offering, Mayberry IPA which will be available throughout the winter, at least. To mark the release and tapping, they opened up the back and middle bars and brought in Larry’s Tacos who provided tacos and quesadillas. To say there was a brew for every palate would be an understatement as El Segundo Brewing pulled all the stops. The front bar offered Standard Crude 2013, Hyperion’s Vanilla Stout, Two 5 Left DIPA, Hop Tanker DIPA, White Dog IPA, Blue House IPA and a cask of Standard Crude on bourbon soaked oak.
The back bar offered Blue House Pale, Blue House Citra Pale, Blue House Amarillo Pale, Blue House Simcoe Pale, Schot in Het Donker, Smoky Hollow Scotch Ale and bottle pours of the 2012 Standard Crude. Getting a flight of all three Standard Crude options provided an excellent means of seeing what difference a year of aging can do for a big beer like Standard Crude. The middle bar provided the Mayberry IPA; a Mosaic™ hopped brew. I have to say, I am quickly becoming a fan of Mosaic hops.
Since it is only a couple weeks until Christmas and it was the warmest day of the month, it only made sense to hold a Bad Sweater Contest. Visitors to the taproom that wore Christmas sweaters had their photos taken by the ESBC staff which were immediately posted on the El Segundo Brewing Company Facebook page. The photos that get the most likes will be declared the winners. The grand prize is a new growler with 10 fills, with the runner up receiving a tasting for four people. Voting will continue until 5:00 PM on Sunday December 15; there are 14 contestants so feel free to head over to the ESBC Facebook page and vote for your favorite “bad sweater.” Cheers! Continue reading