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The Ultimate Beerfest OC – The good, the bad & the ugly

On Saturday October 19, a fundraiser for Villa Chardonnay, a 501(c)(3) non-profit horse rescue operation in Temecula, CA was held at the Costa Mesa Fairgrounds in the form of The Ultimate Beerfest OC. The event was scheduled to have 20+ breweries, food trucks, a beer pong tournament and a Best of Show beer competition voted on by attendees that had VIP tickets. The Ultimate Beerfest OC was one of six scheduled beer festivals put on by the organizers with the others being scheduled for Los Angeles, San Diego, Pasadena, San Francisco and San Jose. The Los Angeles event was originally scheduled as the first but was postponed until 2014 due to logistical issues with the selected venue. When I first learned of the event, the Los Angeles venue was the one I planned on attending. When it was postponed I volunteered to cover the event in Costa Mesa.

The event was scheduled to be held over the course of two sessions; the first beginning at 11:00 AM for VIP entries and noon for general admission and running until 3:00 PM with the second session running from 6:00 – 9:00 PM with VIP getting in an hour early. While the Ultimate Beerfest website specifically stated to “plan on arriving up to one hour early for event check-in” I really did not pay much heed to that suggestion as I have yet to attend a beer festival that had that many people show up; I kind of figured it was wishful thinking. It turned out that this was going to be bigger than I imagined.

As the event was outside, I was able to look in the beer garden as we approached and even though it was about 15 minutes until the VIP admission was to begin it was readily apparent that not all of the breweries had arrived. As I was coming from the opposite direction that the line to get in was forming, I could see that there was a pretty long line forming. I attributed it to the fact that many people were there as general admission and they were arriving an hour early as suggested. After all, VIP admission was $75 and General Admission was $50; it never dawned on me that everyone in line had paid for VIP admission. Continue reading

Alpine Village to host 2nd Annual Alpine Kraft Bierfest

2012 bierfest

Alpine Village 2nd Annual Alpine Kraft Bierfest

On November 17, 2013 the Alpine Village in Torrance will hold their 2nd Annual Alpine Kraft Bierfest from 3:00 PM until 8:00 PM inside the Alpine Inn, located at 833 West Torrance Boulevard in Torrance, CA. It is located right off the Harbor Freeway (110) and the San Diego Freeway (405). The Alpine Kraft Bierfest is not the same as their long running (46 years) Oktoberfest and is exactly the opposite as it focuses on “hard-to-find, one-of-a-kind and out-of-your-mind American craft brews” rather than the German and Czech beers you normally find at Alpine Village.

If you are thinking, “Second annual, I don’t remember the first one,” do not feel too bad, last year’s event was not very well promoted so it meant that more than 35 brewers providing more than 100 different beers and no lines. This year promises to be even better as the event is being moved inside to the Alpine Inn rather than the big tent that houses Oktoberfest. What this means to you is more beer, limited capacity of the Alpine Inn and the availability of their restaurant if you want to pause from your beer tasting and try some authentic German food. Since November 17 is a Sunday, they will be having their brunch, so you might consider attending their Sunday brunch before the bier fest begins.

Stone Brewing taps

Stone Brewing taps at Alpine Kraft Bierfest

So, what sets Alpine’s Kraft Bierfest apart from the others? Most of the beer festivals I cover are a fundraiser of one sort or another. As a result, most of the breweries are asked to donate a keg or two and you frequently find the flagship beers as the only options. Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that model, but if you attend a lot of beer festivals you eventually start running into the same beers over and over. The Alpine Kraft Bierfest is not a fundraiser; it is all about the beer. Alpine Village has gone out, sought and bought the beers that will be available at this event. Last year they purchased the last two kegs of Enjoy By 09.21.12 which was poured at the event; luckily, Alpine has a great beer cellar so beer that was not poured at the first bierfest was available for sale later at the Alpine Inn. For the next several months after the event, they had one of the better rotating tap lists in town. This year promises to be even better as there are some beers that have been aging a while, like Stone’s 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale. A few of the other breweries and beers I know about are Allagash’s Saison Rye, Hugh Malone and Bourbon Barrel; The Bruery’s Bryeian; Uinta Brewing Company’s Sea Legs Baltic Porter; Napa Smith’s Grateful Dog; North Coast’s Grand Cru; Mission Brewery’s Mission Armada; Manzanita Brewing Company’s 3rd Anniversary Ale; and North Coast Brewing’s Barrel Aged Old Rasputin XV. As you can tell, this is going to be a great event for craft beer aficionados. Continue reading

Business & Beer meets at Monkish Brewing Company

Thursday evening, the Business & Beer networking group met for their October gathering at Monkish Brewing Company; a microbrewery in Torrance that specializes in Belgian style ales. We had another fine turnout, with this one being one of the most diversified since we first started back in July 2012. We had a nice mixture of regular attendees as well as several new faces and a few second timers. Included in our group were the owners of two microbreweries that are still in the building phase; Pac City Brewery from Pacoima and Absolution Brewing Company of Torrance. Vella Pizza was also there with their mobile brick oven so we had some good food to go along with the networking and beer. Many thanks to Monkish Brewing Company for hosting our event.

If you live or work in the South Bay area or are willing to make the drive to us and find networking to be valuable to your business model, you might want to consider joining us for one of our upcoming Business & Beer meetups. We meet on the second Thursday of every month at 6:00 PM at a different microbrewery or brewpub in the South Bay. We currently have five locations we visit between Torrance, Hermosa Beach and El Segundo with three more microbreweries slated to have tasting rooms in our geographical area within the next several months. There are no dues, no mandatory meetings or other rules that might make you hesitant to join us. It really is a nice group of people that show up and as you can see from the photos, strangers soon become friends and acquaintances at our gatherings. You can get on the mailing list or see our upcoming schedule and past events on BusinessNBeer.com Cheers! Continue reading

Ultimate Beerfest OC October 19 at Costa Mesa Fairgrounds

As you are probably aware, we are deep into the beer festival season; with multiple local beer festivals, Oktoberfest and the Great American Beer Festival all going on this week, I have one more to add to your itinerary. The Ultimate Beerfest-OC will be held at the Costa Mesa Fairgrounds on October 19, 2013. They are having two 3-hourlong sessions; the first from noon until 3:00 PM with the second one running from 6:00 – 9:00 PM for general admission ticket holders. All ticket holders receive a commemorative tasting cup while VIP ticket holders get in an hour early and get to judge the beer competition.

In addition to the 20+ breweries represented there will be numerous food trucks and vendors (purchases not included with admission) and there will be the Ultimate Beer Pong Tournament, sponsored by Redhook Brewery. The beer pong tournament is limited to 64 entries per venue, so if interested in participating, I would recommend registering soon.

Among the breweries scheduled to attend are Redhook Brewery, Manzanita Brewing Company, Firestone Walker, Latitude 33 Brewing Company, Kona Brewing Company, Widmer Brothers Brewing, Fox Barrel Cider, Mission Brewery, Blue Moon Brewing, Back Street Brewery, Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, Rough Draft Brewing, Crispin Cider, Oggi’s Pizza & Brewing, Carlsberg Group, Crabbie’s Ginger Beer, Kronenbourg Brewery, Fireman’s Brew, Stadium Brewing Company, Surf Brewery, Old Orange Brewing Company, Aztec Brewing Company, Lost Coast Brewery, Batch 19, Oceanside Ale Works, and Tap It Brewing.

This is a fundraiser for Villa Chardonnay, a 501(c)(3) non-profit horse rescue operation in Temecula, CA. There will be no tickets sold at the door so if you want to attend, be sure to buy your tickets ahead of time. I hope to see you there. Cheers!

BAM Fest 2013: Another successful fundraiser for 18th Street Arts Center

On Saturday, October 5 the 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica held their 4th Annual Beer, Art & Music Festival, commonly known as BAM Fest 2013, a fundraiser for the 18th Street Art Center, a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. The beer festival featured close to 40 different craft breweries from around the country and it seemed like every brewery brought three or four different beers with them; suffice it to say, there was more beer selections than one could possibly go through in four hours. In addition to the beer tastings there was wine, craft soda, lots of gourmet food trucks and live music to listen to as we enjoyed another beautiful October day and wandered around the open art studios and listened to seminars by beer experts.

The breweries that I noticed in attendance included Ale Industries, Anchor Brewing Company, Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Angel City Brewing Company, Ballast Point Brewing Company, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing Company, Boston Beer Company, Bootlegger’s Brewery, Brasserie d’Achouffe, The Brewery at Abigaile, Brewery Ommegang, The Bruery, Deschutes Brewery, Dogfish Head, Drake’s Brewing, The Dudes’ Brewing Company, Duvel-Moortgat, El Segundo Brewing Company, Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Golden Road Brewing Company, Haven Brewing Co., Kinetic Brewing, Los Angeles Ale Works, Ladyface Ale Companie, Lagunitas Brewing, Liefmans, Monkish Brewing Company, New Belgium Brewing Company, Noble Ale Works, North Coast Brewing, Phantom Carriage, Pizza Port, Carlsbad, Port Town Brewing Company, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Smog City Brewing Company, Speakeasy Ales and Lager, Stone Brewing Company, Strand Brewing Company and Surf Brewery.

Music was provided by Ben Bateman, Cory Phillips & the Groove Orchestra, KoTolàn and Raul Pacheco & The Immaculate Conception. Sponsors included Buy a Dog a Beer, Wreck Check, Swoon and Taxi Magic. It was a fun day with lots of fun people that all seemed to be enjoying themselves thoroughly. I will admit, I am already looking forward to attending the 5th Annual Beer, Art & Music Festival. Cheers! Continue reading

LA Beer Week comes to a close

Sunday, day 11 of LA Beer Week (LABW5) and congratulations to those of you that survived. While I did not attend the event at Union Station a week ago, I cannot imagine trying to do it at the end of an 11 day week. I started the day by heading over to King Harbor Brewing Company where I got the opportunity to meet their head brewer as he christened the location by brewing a small batch saison. A little later in the day I was informed that Smog City Brewing was hosting a panel, School of BJ’s Brewer Panel Discussion featuring Jonathan Porter of Smog City, Tyler King of The Bruery, David Griffiths of Ladyface Alehouse & Brasserie, Evan Price of Noble Ale Works and Owen Williams of Ritual Brewing Company. It turns out that the common denominator between the five of them is that they all brewed at BJ’s; who would have guessed? We decided to begin by going to Monkish Brewing to try their LABW5 entry, End of Summer, a Belgian Honey Ale. We then headed around the corner to Smog City.

As it turned out the event was not really supposed to be public as Beer Paper LA was using the opportunity to interview the brewers for an upcoming issue and they were concerned I would scoop them; so I bailed. You should be able to read about it and see any photos in their upcoming issue.

It really was a fun week and I had a great time. I would like to extend special thanks to The Brewery at Abigaile, Naja’s Place, Rock & Brews PCH, Monkish Brewing Company, Strand Brewing Company, San Pedro Brewing Company, Alpine Village and El Segundo Brewing Company for their hospitality and generosity over the past week. It was truly appreciated. Cheers! Continue reading

Beer, beer and more beer for day 10 of LA Beer Week

It may have been day 10 of LA Beer Week (LABW5) but the list of available events to attend gave no indication that we were wrapping things up as far as “beer week” was concerned. I could not help but think back to an article I read while researching American Craft beer Week; at one point it was actually American Craft Beer Month! I can understand why they decided to cut back to a week, but I had to wonder how long an LA Beer Month would last. Luckily, there were lots of great events in my own backyard, so I kept it local.

I started Saturday off at Smog City Brewing in Torrance and their Rarest of the Rare and event that pulled in beer geeks from all over the LA and Orange Counties. Their owner, Porter, has a reputation for “hoarding” beers and he brought out a good number of them Saturday. There were barrel aged, sours, and collaboratives; there were 19 or 20 different brews in total. As I knew I had a long day ahead of me, I stuck to taking photos knowing I would return later.

A little later I headed over to El Segundo Brewing Company (ESBC) for their Hop Tanker DIPA Release Party. To celebrate LABW5 and the addition of Hop Tanker to their tap list, they brought out many of the different beers head brewer Rob Croxall has produced over the years. As expected, they had a great turnout so they opened up the entire brewery, utilizing taps in the front and rear as well as a separate filling station for growlers. Making special on cask appearances were Melon Collie, White Dog on Ogen heirloom melons; Blue Cubed, Blue House IPA with Sugar Cube heirloom melons; and Blue House IPA on peaches. Continue reading

Oktoberfest: More than a style of beer

Sunday was day 4 of LA Beer Week (LABW5) and as I did not feel inclined to go out to Union Station I decided to take a little ride around the South Bay. My friends at Alpine Village in Torrance told me about a Street Toys car show they were having in conjunction with Sunday’s Oktoberfest festivities, so I pointed my bike out that way. After an hour or so of photographing cars I headed into the big tent they hold Oktoberfest in.

Alpine Village has been having Oktoberfest there for the past 46 years which makes it the largest and longest running Oktoberfest celebration this side of the Rockies. If you have never been, it is a lot of fun. They sell Warsteiner Oktoberfest and Pilsener as well as PBR in the big tent as well as brats and pretzels and other good German snacks to go along with your beer. They have oompah bands, the Chicken Dance and lots of general insanity on Friday and Saturday nights. These photos were from early Sunday, so you can see it is okay to bring your kids, they will have a good time too. You can find out more about the 46th Annual Oktoberfest and purchase tickets online by visiting the Alpine Village website.

Since it was a nice day and it was LA Beer Week, I decided to take a ride out to El Segundo and see what was happening at El Segundo Brewing Company. I had to try that Casa Azul again. Cheers! Continue reading

Day two of LA Beer Week #5 – Drinking local

Friday was day two of the 5th Annual LA Beer Week (LABW5) and since I knew that there would be plenty of driving involved over the duration of LA Beer Week (which runs through September 29), I decided I would take the bike and dedicate today to the Torrance microbreweries, Strand Brewing Company, Monkish Brewing Company and Smog City Brewing Company. However, I did make one exception; this morning King Harbor Brewing Company (KHBC) had some of their tanks delivered so I popped over to get a few shots. I can only guess the move went smoothly because when I returned an hour or so later, they were gone. KHBC is really making progress; just a few more months until it is beer.

I began my tour of the Torrance microbrewery tasting rooms with a visit to the oldest of the Torrance microbreweries, Strand Brewing Company. While they are probably best known for their Atticus IPA and Beach House Amber Ale, I think their Second Sleep Imperial Russian Stout is one of their best beers. Today they tapped a cask that has been oak barrel aged for the last six months; it is delicious. If you are in the neighborhood I highly recommend it (if it is still available).

I then headed over to the second oldest microbrewery in Torrance, Monkish Brewing Company. Monkish Brewing specializes in Belgian style ales and has 10-12 different varieties with everything from singles and saisons to dubbels and tripels. He has a new single hopped Belgian pale called Galaxy Defender that I, as a hophead, find amazing. They now have something for everyone.

I ended my journey at the newest of the Torrance microbrewery tasting rooms, Smog City Brewing. The one thing I can count on about Smog City Brewing is that even if I go there every week, every week they will have something new to try. There is always an “experimental” on tap and today it was their Grape Ape IPA. The grapes really made it different from any of the IPAs I have tried from Smog City thus far. They are also offering their Bloody Knuckle porter which is the base beer for their award winning Groundwork Coffee Porter. I would like to try the two of them in a blind taste test; it was very good. Cheers! Continue reading

Coastline Brewing Name Change: King Harbor Brewing Company

KHBC Logo

King Harbor Brewing Company

Some of you may recall that back in July I mentioned that Redondo Beach was getting a new microbrewery, Coastline Brewing Company; well, Redondo Beach is still getting their microbrewery, but the name has been changed to King Harbor Brewing Company.

According to King Harbor Brewing Company co-owner Tom Dunbabin, they recently learned that there is a winery up north in Santa Rosa, Coastline Cellars, and they did not want their beer brand confused with Coastline Cellar’s wine brand. If you recall the issues in the recent past between Magic Hat Brewing and West Sixth Brewing with their logos and earlier in the year between 38 Degrees Ale House and Grill in Alhambra and 38º Carlsbad this makes perfect sense; eliminate any potential problems before they become real problems.

KHBC construction

Ongoing construction at King Harbor Brewing Company

When it came time to come up with a new name, Dunbabin states; “We went back to our source of inspiration – the beach. Not just any beach, but the beaches of the South Bay. This is the area that we love – from our favorite craft beer bars, breweries, and restaurants, our friends, families, to the unique history. We quickly realized that while we loved the Coastline name it lacked a specific tie to this area, something that is very important to this brewery.” Continue reading

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