I have been fortunate enough to spend a considerable amount of time traveling around the United States and in that time I have found numerous brewpubs. For definition sake, a brewpub is a brewery that also serves food. Some of brewpubs serve pretty basic fare, like cheese or hummus and pita; others are pretty upscale and rival any restaurants in their price range. Of all the brewpubs I have visited, The Brewery at Abigaile in Hermosa Beach is the brewpub that sets the bar for brewpubs in my opinion.
I first became aware of the Brewery at Abigaile during American Craft Beer Week in 2012; the manager of The Rockefeller (a gastropub up the street from Abigaile) knew that I was seeking new local beers and Abigaile had just undergone some changes, including a name and menu change and they decided to utilize the brewing equipment that had been sitting as a decoration for 10 years when the restaurant operated under a different name. Brain Brewer, who had been home brewing since high school was working construction when Abigaile owner Jed Sanford asked him to revive the brewing system. The timing was right and the South Bay has been better for it as a result. As I do not do beer reviews because I do not feel they can be subjective, I will just urge you to buy a flight if you are a first time visitor. Brewer’s selections of brews never fails to satisfy, as evidenced by his current options of his Orange Blossom Blonde Ale, Polyrhytm Pale, Cacophony IPA, Black Mass Porter and Sugar Daddy, a Belgian style strong ale. Their head chef, Tin, does some amazing things in his kitchen and you are encouraged to stop by for their happy hour as they call it their R&D Hour and there is always something special that Tin has thrown together as an experiment; it is pretty darn good. Continue reading
One of my favorite recent discoveries in the South Bay is Game Changers, located at 1220 Hermosa Avenue in Hermosa Beach. Game Changers is more of a sports bar than a gastropub, but when I first saw their banner at the Hermosa Fiesta stating they have 54 beers on tap I knew I would have to check them out. We returned a few weeks later and had an opportunity to get to know a few of the staff; we had a great time and since we had been told they had a new menu, we returned Wednesday to check it out.
Since I had only looked at their last menu briefly I was not readily familiar with what had changed, so I cannot tell you if what we had was new or not. There were fewer taco options this time and I was told that we because they were not big sellers or contained ingredients that were used only on one particular taco. That makes sense. I will say their appetizers are huge; they definitely filled us up. If I had known I probably would have ordered just one and tried the rib-eye; it looked pretty good and at a bargain price too.
Of course, I was really there for the beer. I opted for an initial flight consisting of a Matilda, Wipeout IPA, Ruination and a Stone Smoked Porter. Our server, Kim, asked if she could create a flight for me and presented me with a Tripel Karmeliet, Great White, Racer 5 IPA and an Allagash Four. I am usually apprehensive about having strangers picking my beers, but she did a pretty good job; thanks Kim!
Game Changers has some interesting things going on with daily happy hour specials and special events like their 80’s Ladies Night; you can learn more by stopping in or visiting the Game Changers website. These photos were taken July 17, 2013. Continue reading
Yesterday we were looking for somewhere to have lunch; we wanted to go somewhere that we do not frequent on a regular basis and would preferably have a large craft beer selection. Over the Memorial Day weekend, we had gone to the arts and crafts street fair in Hermosa Beach and had visited two places that fit that bill. One was Mediterraneo, where we enjoyed some of their food and beers, but I was not really feeling in a tapas mood. The other place we visited was Game Changers, a sports bar that advertised 54 beers on tap. Because it was a Sunday afternoon during the street fair, the place was packed. We did not bother eating but after seeing their tap list we knew we would have to return. We checked out their food menu online and decided that we would go to Game Changers for lunch.
While Game Changers was packed to the rafters at 2:00 on a Sunday afternoon, that really was not the case at 2:00 on a Wednesday afternoon. That gave me an opportunity to look around a little and get to meet and interact a little with a couple of the people that work there because I have found that the best beer places have people that seem to really care about craft beer. Taylor, Chloe and Will, their beer guy, each gave off that vibe. Looking around the spacious venue I could not help but wonder if there were more TVs than beer taps. I have to say, it was pretty close; it looks like they have about 30 TVs, each tuned to a different sporting event so no matter where you sit, you can watch the game you came to see. However, I was there for the beer and some food.
As advertised, they do have 54 taps available; as such, the written menu may not be 100% accurate because the taps blow and new ones swapped in. It is the nature of the beast. While I did notice a Rolling Rock, Bud Lite, Guinness and Shock Top taps the rest seemed to be craft beers, so that is 50 to choose from. They also carry bottled beer for those that still want the standard bar beer. What I had not noticed when looking at their online menu was that their Happy Hour runs from 2:00 PM until 7:00 PM. They have some two for one specials on a few of their taps and their Happy Hour food menu is quite reasonable. We ordered a couple food items, a corn dog wrapped in bacon and a hamburger, and while I don’t know that I would rate it at the gastropub level, but they never advertised themselves to be a gastropub. They are a sports bar and as far as the typical bar food I have tried in the past, this surpassed it and at a very good price. Continue reading
Sunday evening we decided that we wanted to go somewhere different for dinner with the requirement being that they have a nice beer list. We were somewhat familiar with Silvio’s on Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach due to our prior involvement with the Torrance Chamber of Commerce and were reminded about them when we were walking around the Fiesta Hermosa street fair last weekend. It was decided that we would head back to Hermosa Beach.
While I was aware that Silvio’s bragged about their available craft beers, I did not know it was a “Chicago” bar, which made it pretty interesting as we got there just as the Blackhawks vs. Kings game started. The place was packed and it seemed like 80% of the people were Chicago fans, 18% of the people did not care and four of us were rooting for the Kings. We did not have a lot to cheer about. That’s okay, I was there for the beer; Tanya was there for the food.
Tanya ordered some spinach and artichoke, tri-tip, potato salad and skewered veggies. Apparently they are all about the rock salt there and it shows; everything was extremely salty, to the point that I just had another beer. Our server, Jen, offered something different but my confidence level was not very high so I passed but she insisted and brought a plate of chicken that was their specialty. It was pretty good; I just wasn’t in the mood. We happened to be sitting next to a guy from Brazil and he said the food he ordered was pretty authentic (he had some rice dish). After he left another Brazilian came and sat by us, so apparently it is pretty popular in the community. Continue reading
Their food menu changes on a fairly regular basis; some things have been amazing, others have been okay. It has a nice atmosphere and children are welcome. The Rockefeller always has some kind of special going on, whether it is their Happy Hour or a special beer or wine and food pairing. They have a little parking in the back, but when I say a little, I mean a very little. Otherwise there are meters on the street.
On Sunday, Tanya and I headed to Hermosa Beach for the Fiesta Hermosa; an annual street fair they have had twice a year (Memorial Day and Labor Day) every year since 1972. It started off as an arts and crafts fair, but the food (and people watching) was always the big draw when it first started, as far as I was concerned. Tanya had never been so we walked along The Strand until we got to 10th Street, where we entered by the beer garden. I went in the beer garden with the intent of finding all of the local brewers in one spot; sadly, there were no local brewers represented. The closest thing to craft brew they had was Sierra Nevada and Angry Orchard, I was really surprised.
While we were walking around the food court I saw a booth for a place around the corner that offered 54 beers on tap; I made a mental note but headed over to Mediterraneo instead as I have heard about them for a while, but had never made it over for some reason.
When I first heard about Mediterraneo I was told that it was a tapas bar with a great craft beer list. When I looked at the tap list displayed outside it said they had Pliny the Elder, so I knew what I wanted. Tanya figured she could find something she wanted. When we got inside we discovered a family friendly restaurant with a very nice tap list; they did not have and Pliny, but I was told the outside menu is not kept up to date. While I kind of had my heart set on that Pliny, I was able to find a couple substitutes; primarily a Palate Wrecker and a Jolly Pumpkin Maracaibo Especial. We tried a few of their tapas; the hummus and caprice salad were good, the lamb skewer was kind of fatty. It was a pleasant experience though and I am sure we will return.
While walking around the fair, I saw a sign for Game Changers, the place that advertised 54 beers on tap. Game Changers is a sports bar that serves craft beer. They have 54 taps of quality craft beers available; and they serve what appears to be some pretty good food. We did not eat there so I can’t comment on it, but if you are walking down Hermosa Avenue, it is definitely worth stopping in to Game Changers; they seem to know what craft beer is all about. Continue reading
Alpine Inn is probably best known for their annual Oktoberfest that they have held every year since 1968 making it the largest and oldest Oktoberfest celebration in Southern California. A lesser known event is the Alpine Village Bier Fest which was held for the first time in September 2012. There were 100 beers from 50 different breweries, many of them very hard to find. It was a great event, but it had a very low turnout; luckily Alpine Inn has a couple nice cellars so the beer that was not consumed was stored for safe keeping.
While Alpine Inn did have a couple award winning breweries represented on draft last night, Firestone Walker and Uinta Brewing, I do not particularly care for Firestone’s Solace and I was not really in a mood for a Kölsch (I might have made an exception if they were from California), so I opted for a White Dog IPA from El Segundo Brewing Company and a Manifesto from Eagle Rock Brewery. You can see all the photos from our Business & Beer gathering at Alpine Inn on GotBaddog.com.
It was still early by the time our meeting ended and I wanted to find an award winning beer to drink, so we headed to Hot’s Kitchen in Hermosa Beach. I have been to Hot’s Kitchen a couple times, so I knew they had a pretty nice beer tap list. While their beer list is extensive and the beertender said she was a fan of craft beer, she did not know it was American Craft Beer Week and she really had no clue which brewers might be award winners much less if any of the beers were. The point is they have a very nice beer selection, but don’t expect much in the way of advice; however, they are good about giving tasters to try some if you are unsure what you want. Luckily, we had Internet with us, so after a little research I settled on an Epic Brewing Hopulent IPA (2012 Australian International Beer Festival Silver medal). While there I also tried a Hangar 24 Palmero and a Mor Mor from Brouwerij West.
You can find all my photos from day four of the 2013 American Craft Beer Week on GotBaddog.com.