microbrewery

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

17th Annual Pacific Brewers Cup at Smog City Brewing

These photos are from the 17th Annual Pacific Brewers Cup Homebrew Competition which was held Saturday, September 14, 2013 at Smog City Brewing Company in Torrance, CA. The Pacific Brewers Cup competition is hosted on a rotating basis by three local home brewer clubs; Strand Brewers Club from Torrance, Long Beach Homebrewers and Pacific Gravity from Culver City. This year the Long Beach Homebrewers were the hosts. The Pacific Brewers Cup 2013 was an AHA sanctioned homebrew competition and used the beer style guidelines published by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP).

While I have sampled a few beers in my time and acted as a judge recently for a small homebrew competition I have never been to a competition of this magnitude before. I was told that there were over 450 entries so before I got there I wondered how the heck you get enough people to judge that many beers in one sitting. To be honest, as of this writing all indications are that the judging is still going on. As you can see by the photos they broke the beers down by category so the judges only had to rate one style of beer at a time. Of course, I was only there within the first two hours of the event so there is a pretty good likelihood that after one style was finished they had to move on to another. The Best of Show winner gets an opportunity to brew his winning beer at Ohana Brewing Company, so there was a lot of incentive to put out an award winning beer.

I did not get an opportunity to try any of the submissions, but I did not see a lot of beer being poured into the bucket so it looked like judges were not having too much trouble enjoying their Saturday morning. I know it gave me some incentive to look into learning to be a BJCP certified judge. Once I learn who the winner was, I will come update this article. Good luck to all; cheers!

The winners of the Pacific Brewers Cup have been announced. Please visit http://pacificbrewerscup.com/?q=node%2F16 for details.
Continue reading

Business & Beer returns to Smog City Brewing

These photos are from the Business & Beer networking event that was held last night, September 12, at Smog City Brewing Company, a Torrance microbrewery. We had an excellent turnout of more than 20 people with a majority of them being first time attendees. In addition to the wide variety of delicious brews and multiple networking opportunities, Laurie Porter, co-owner of Smog City gave a little talk on the history of Smog City covering everything from how they chose their name and logo to how her husband and head brewer Porter comes up with the interesting tweaks to his base beers to come up with something a little different. After that, Laurie turned us over to assistant brewer Chris Walowski who took us on a tour of the operation. It was quite informative and everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves.

If you live or work in the South Bay area and networking is part of your job description or it is a vital part of your business’ success, you might want to take a look at Business & Beer. Business & Beer is an informal networking group that meets on the second Thursday of every month at a different microbrewery or brewpub in the local South Bay area. Our geographical boundaries are limited to between El Segundo and Torrance. We have no dues, no rules or mandatory meetings. Since it is held after normal work hours, you are more than welcome to bring your significant other or a friend. No special invitations are required; if you are free, stop on by. You can find the upcoming schedule and sign up for the mailing list on the Business & Beer website at BusinessNBeer.com. Cheers! Continue reading

Galaxy Defender: A great beer for a good cause

Since this is one of my newer websites, I understand that not everyone knows me as well as those that have been following me for a while You may have noticed that I am not in the habit of discussing or rating individual beers, primarily because I feel that is far too difficult a task to be done objectively and I would not want to have a negative influence on a particular brew simply because it was not my thing. That being said, I will make an exception to this self imposed rule when I find out the beer is part of a fundraising campaign and even more so if that fundraising effort has anything to do with kids. I am all about helping kids and have been for more than 30 years.

Anyway, Friday evening I stopped by Monkish Brewing in Torrance and as is my habit, I requested the brew I had never tried before which was Galaxy Defender on Friday. I am a hop head; and for that I make no excuses; I wear the tag proudly. The fact is that I have talked to Henry Nguyen, the owner/brewer of Monkish Brewing Company about the chances of his ever brewing an IPA and the response had always been the same: he is just not interested in brewing an IPA. I just learned to accept that as fact. When I first smelled the Galaxy Defender I could not believe what I was smelling; one taste had me hooked. This is a true Belgian Pale Ale, it borders on being a Belgian IPA; but like I said, I am not about reviewing individual beers. Suffice it to say, it was good enough that I drove home and picked up a growler to be enjoyed later.

Saturday afternoon I was out and about at the local South Bay microbreweries and during my travels I discovered that there was more to the Galaxy Defender than the great taste; it turns out that $1.00 from every pint is donated to the Los Angeles Galaxy South Bay soccer club, of which one of Nguyen’s kids is a member. They are trying to raise money for scholarships and Monkish Brewing is doing their part by donating money from every sale of the Galaxy Defender Belgian Pale Ale. I knew there were Galaxy Hops, so I presumed that the “galaxy” in Galaxy Defender referred to the galaxy hops; it turns out that the Nguyen’s son is a defender on the LA Galaxy’s soccer club, hence the name, Galaxy Defender. Continue reading

El Segundo Brewing Company okays blank growlers

blank growler

Blank growlers now accepted at El Segundo Brewing Company

The other day I was in El Segundo Brewing Company and as I was leaving I happened to notice something I have not seen in a California microbrewery tasting room, other than as a display; that was a stainless steel blank growler. Naturally, I had to do some investigating, especially since I had recently written an article with some facts and my opinion about the state of growlers in the State of California. Besides, I had a lot of people asking me about the growler pictured in the photo above.

Today I am happy to inform you that El Segundo Brewing Company (ESBC) is now accepting blank growlers. My unnamed, but reliable sources have informed me that El Segundo Brewing is indeed accepting blank growlers; but they do not currently have the ability to obscure the labels of existing growlers. There are plans to provide a wrap of some sort, but I am not at liberty to say much about it, plus I know very little about it. It is my understanding that there are qualifications for the growlers, but they have not been posted yet. Again, this is breaking news, so if you want to bring in a blank growler to El Segundo Brewing, make sure it is a quality vessel that is clean. You might even call them first to see if your growler qualifies.

Congratulations to El Segundo Brewing Company and their patrons. ESBC is located at 140 Main Street in El Segundo. They are open Wednesday through Sunday, normal tasting room hours. Cheers!

Lots brewing at El Segundo Brewing Company

The problem, if you want to call it that, with all the new microbreweries popping up in Southern California is that even with the increased beer production there are still only 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week. In other words, there is a lot more beer available but the same amount of hours to drink it in. As a result, sometimes it takes a while for me to make a return visit to a specific microbrewery, even if it is one of my favorites. Such is the case with El Segundo Brewing Company (ESBC), a microbrewery in El Segundo, CA.

I first visited the El Segundo Brewing tasting room in May of 2012, on that day they had three varieties of beer available; White Dog IPA, Blue House Pale Ale and Hyperion’s Stout. When I visited yesterday they had eight varieties on tap (although they were sold out of two of them). El Segundo Brewing has grown a lot over the last 15 months with as many as four different IPAs being available at any one time, as well as a stout or two and even a (recently added) saison. Recent expansion has enabled them to increase production allowing ESBC to not only offer more variety, but they now sell bottles that can be found at places like Total Wine, Whole Foods and any bottle shop worth its salt in the Greater Los Angeles area. Of course, the best gastropubs also pour El Segundo Brewing Company’s beers with their Citra Pale Ale and White Dog IPA being the two I see around most frequently.

El Segundo Brewing Company is located at 140 Main Street in El Segundo and they are open Wednesday thru Friday from 5:00-9:00 PM, Saturdays from 2:00-9:00 and Sundays 2:00-7:00 PM. They do not serve food but you are welcome to bring food in with you. If you have never visited El Segundo Brewing before, I recommend getting a flight; it is a great way to try all ESBC has to offer. Continue reading

2nd Annual Drink Good Beerfest Coming September 14

Drink Good Beerfest

The 2nd Annual Drink Good Beerfest

The 2nd Annual Drink Good Beerfest, hosted by The Factory Gastrobar in Long Beach, CA and sponsored by Cismontane Brewing and Beer Paper LA will be held September 14, 2013 from 1:00-4:00 PM at The Factory Gastrobar, located at 4020 Atlantic Avenue in Long Beach, California. This is actually a two-part event, so hopefully I get all the information correct.

This craft beer festival begins with their 2nd Annual Drink Good Beer Mash-Up Homebrew Competition which is an AHA, BJCP sanctioned event. Thursday, August 22 is the final day for entries if you want to participate. The cost is $5.00 per entry and you must provide ten (10) 12oz bottles. Not all categories of beer are being accepted, so if you want more information, I suggest visiting The Factory website for all the rules. The winner gets to brew his entry with Evan Weinberg at Cismonte Brewing so that is pretty cool. The AHA/BJCP judging will take place on Sunday, August 25.

On Monday, September 9 they will have their Best of Show judging and Craft Beer Guy was invited to be a judge for this, so I am looking forward to this opportunity.

On Saturday, the Drink Good Beerfest takes place and the winners of the Mash-Up Homebrew Competition will be announced then. If that was not enough, they will also have more than 60 rare and unique craft beers from over 30 local breweries! Now it’s a party. Among the breweries slated to participate are Ballast Point Brewing, Breckenridge Brewing, The Brewery at Abigaile, Bootlegger’s Brewery, Cismontane Brewing Company, Congregation Ale House Chapters Brewing, Dales Bros. Brewery, Drake’s Brewing, Eagle Rock Brewing, El Segundo Brewing Company, Epic Brewing, Firestone Walker, Golden Road Brewing, Hangar 24 Craft Brewery, Iron Fist Brewing, Kinetic Brewing Company, Latitude 33 Brewing Company, Lightning Brewery, Los Angeles Ale Works, Monkish Brewing Company, Noble Ale Works, Pizza Port – San Clemente, Ritual Brewing Company, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Strand Brewing Company, Stone Brewing Company, Smog City Brewing, Triple Voodoo, Trumer Pils and The Bruery. Continue reading

Dry River Brewing Crew-members Reception

These photos are from the Dry River Brewing Company Crew-Members-Only Reception which was held at Namaste Highland Park in Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon. The reception was held to thank the backers of their recently funded Kickstarter campaign. Attendees were treated to several of co-owner/brewer Dave Hodgins’ creations; Horchata Cream Ale, Jamaica-Weisse, Arnoldo Palmero and Hop on Board IPA. They were all good, with Hop on Board being my favorite.

Congratulations again to Dave Hodgins and Vanda Ciceryova and we cannot wait to see Dry River Brewing begin producing at a commercial level. Continue reading

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