These photos are from Pikk’s Tavern in Valparaiso, IN and the Three Floyds Brewing Company brewpub in Munster, IN. My real introduction to American craft beer came about due to the fact that I was constantly traveling which resulted in my visiting many small towns across the United States. I got into the habit of seeking out microbreweries and brewpubs in the areas I would pass through. To be honest, I probably tried more beers from outside of California than those brewed here. One part of the country that I spent an inordinate amount of time was northwest Indiana (NWI), specifically, Valparaiso aka Valpo.
I remember the day well, it was Flag Day 2011 and I was visiting my girlfriend in Valpo; she had something to do that evening so I had her drop me off in downtown Valpo because our favorite Spanish restaurant had a special event going on that I wanted to attend. The problem was that the restaurant did not open for another hour so I walked down the street to Pikk’s Tavern because I had read that they carried some beers I was unfamiliar with.
When I sat down at the bar I asked for something that was brewed locally and was immediately offered an Imperial Hatter Imperial India Pale Ale from New Holland Brewing. I knew I had found exactly what I was looking for; a gastropub in Valparaiso. After finishing it I was introduced to Gumballhead from Three Floyds Brewing Company. From the first taste I knew that I needed to learn more about Three Floyds. I had subsequent visits to Pikk’s and used the opportunity to try their food. It was all very good, but I think it was the attitude of all the employees that made me want to return. If you ever find yourself in Valparaiso, I have no problem recommending visiting them. I looked at their current menu and while they do not currently have Three Floyds on tap, they are still pouring locally brewed beers and they have Three Floyds and other craft brews available in bottles and cans. Continue reading
A pretty major advantage to living in Southern California is that the weather is pretty awesome at any given time; in fact, you can schedule an outdoor event almost any day of the year and there is a good chance it is going to be nice out. Saturday afternoon, June 22, we headed up to Palos Verdes and Nelson’s new beer garden at the Terranea Resort. They are having their annual summer concert series, this time with a beer garden. When we were there, a solo guitarist Wise Katubadrau was performing. The reason I was aware of this event was that Torrance’s newest microbrewery, The Dudes’ Brewing Company, was the guest tap of the week this past weekend. When they put out the notice of this event I knew I would have to go, because the scenery would be great; and as predicted, it was very nice out.
Nelson’s is a restaurant at the end of the Terranea Resort; looking over the cliffs. It is very scenic and pretty kicked back for being at an upscale resort. Parking is kind of a hassle unless you are lucky enough to find some free parking; otherwise they have paid self parking and valet options starting at $10 and going up to $25. You might find value in the $25 parking though because you can catch a ride on their shuttle down to Nelson’s. The walk down might be pleasant but I suspect the walk back up the hill would become tiresome, especially after a few beers.
The Dudes’ Brewing Company just opened about three months ago, but are already making a name for themselves in the South Bay. They have yet to open a tasting room due to growing pains and some unforeseeable circumstances, but they hope to have one open by the end of summer. The Dudes’ had four taps pouring at Nelson’s with their Day One Pale Ale, Grandma’s Pecan Brown Ale, Grinning Face Porter and the most photogenic of them all, their Double Trunk DIPA. As this was my first time to Nelson’s I cannot tell you how the crowd compared to other events but by the time we left there was a pretty long beer line. I guess Dudes’ did abide at nelson’s Beer Garden.
Nelson’s Beer Garden is located at 100 Terranea Way, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA Continue reading
These photos are from the Smog City Brewing Company’s induction to the Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce (TACC). The event, better known as a “ribbon Cutting” was attended by numerous members of the TACC, a Torrance City Councilman representing Mayor Scotto’s office; as well as a representative from Assembly member Al Muratsuchi’s office. There were also many, many customers. As one first time visitor told me, “I think they are going to do pretty well here.” I have to agree; I think they are going to do very well. Continue reading
Established in 2010, El Segundo Brewing Company (ESBC) describes them selves as “THE hop-centric brewery for South Bay, Los Angeles and beyond.” There is no question that they have a love for hops at ESBC and they use them liberally, but without the bitterness one might find elsewhere. I am a hop head and for that I make no apologies and whenever I go into the El Segundo Brewing tasting room I am usually at a loss on what I should order. Their White Dog IPA, named after owner/brewer Rob Croxall’s dog, is off the hook with the use of 50% wheat instead of barley. Of course, if the Blue House IPA is available the decision on what to order is made easier by drinking a pint of one at the tasting room and getting a growler of the other to take home and enjoy. However, if the Two 5 Left DIPA is on tap, then I am in a real conundrum. First world problems I guess. Luckily, El Segundo Brewing Company is now bottling on a limited basis, so bringing bottles home (when available) is the solution. If you are not into IPA’s, they also make some very nice stouts and pale ales.
These photos were taken last Thursday when El Segundo Brewing brought out a keg of “White Dog Sittin’ on Simcoe cask” with 50% of the sales donated to Share Our Strength in conjunction with Taste of the Nation. That is just the way those guys are over there, always giving back to the community. I highly recommend visiting their tasting room; it is the freshest beer in El Segundo. Continue reading
I followed the link and found a lot of input from a lot of people, a lot of it inane, but someone made the suggestion that that brewery tours were being suspended due to upgrades being made at Three Floyds because of a new Indiana law that had just been signed which would allow for increased production of beer by Indiana microbreweries. The law, House Bill 1293 (http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2013/HB/HB1293.1.html), states in relevant part: “Creates an artisan distiller’s permit for a person who desires to commercially manufacture not more than 10,000 gallons of liquor in a calendar year (excluding the amount of any liquor sold through a liquor wholesaler).” This will become effective July 1, 2013. So, what might this mean for us?
From what I am reading, while microbreweries might be limited to producing 10,000 gallons to be sold in their brewpubs and tasting rooms, if they get a distributor their only limitation is how much they can brew. Who knows, maybe one day we will be able to find Zombie Dust at the local Total Wine. That would be the nicest thing Indiana has done in a while.
I have always felt pretty fortunate to live in the South Bay with its great weather and lack of natural disasters, but the recent explosion of craft brewers in the area has made living here that much better. Earlier in the month, Torrance Mayor Scotto even cited craft beer as a new growth industry for Torrance. I will do all I can to help Torrance craft brewers succeed and look forward to the day that a tour of Torrance microbreweries will rival anything San Diego County can offer. Torrance currently has three microbreweries with tasting rooms, Strand Brewing Company, Monkish Brewing Company and Smog City Brewing. On Saturday my girlfriend Tanya and I had gone out to photograph flowers at the South Coast Botanical Gardens, which just happened to be around the corner from Strand Brewing Company, so we made a stop on the way home.
Strand Brewing Company is one of the original two microbreweries here that has a tasting room. While the tasting room has only been open for little over a year, Strand Brewing has been in business since 2009, supplying local establishments that serve craft beer. Probably best known for their 24th Street Pale Ale and Atticus IPA’s, Strand Brewing’s owner/brewmaster Joel Elliot has been releasing a few different styles including some outstanding Double IPA’s, with White Sand being a personal favorite. Their Second Sleep Imperial Stout is another standout. Strand has recently started bottling beers so it is becoming easier to take my favorites home and have them last longer than what growler can provide.
Tanya was getting a little hungry, so we decided to head over to Monkish Brewing Company because they seem to always have a food truck there on Fridays and Saturdays. Saturday they had Andy’s Cart, a gourmet hot dog and sausage cart. We tried their Chicago dog and a Reuben sausage sandwich; they were pretty good.
Monkish Brewing Company opened their tasting room about the same time as Strand Brewing and specializes in Belgian style ales. It has been a pleasure watching Monkish grow as owner/brewmaster Henry Nguyen expands his list of available beers. The first time I visited Monkish they had four taps available; their Oblate, Anomaly, Red Table and Feminist. When we stopped by Saturday there were a total of 10 taps pouring including his new lager, a Dubbel and a Tripel. Barrel aged is next on tap. Continue reading
You can see all the photos from day 6 of the 2013 American Craft Beer Week on GotBaddog.com.
As legend has it, in the beginning there were three microbreweries in the South Bay; Manhattan Beach Brewing Company, Redondo Beach Brewing Company and San Pedro Brewing Company. Manhattan Beach Brewing gave up on brewing and became a gastropub (Brewco Manhattan Beach), preferring to sell a wide variety of craft beers brewed by others. Redondo Beach Brewing Company continues to brew at their Riviera Village brewpub, but they do not experiment much and the beer recipes seemed to stay the same, batch after batch; it is a good entry level brewery to visit, but nothing exciting. Rumor has it that they will be discontinuing brewing there soon, preferring to go the route of Manhattan Beach Brewing. Of the three, San Pedro Brewing Company continues to brew and is opening a subsidiary of sorts, Port Town Brewing which has already won numerous awards.
San Pedro Brewing Company (SPBC) is a brewpub that has been at their current location for 13 years. They have won more than 43 medals in local county fairs, commercial beer competitions and international beer festivals. In addition to award winning beers, they have some pretty good food. SPBC gives tours on Friday afternoons, so if in the area, you might want to check it out. I was given a mini-tour and have to admit, I was quite surprised at the quantity and quality of beers they brew with such a small operation. When I was taken downstairs I fully expected to see a massive operation; as you can tell by the photos that was far from being the case.
While there I tried a flight of all seven in-house brewed beers that were available: Bruin Blonde Ale (2012 Silver Medal, California Commercial Beer Competition), Longshoreman Lager (2009 Gold Medal American Style Lager, Los Angeles County Fair), Port Town Hefeweizen, Mai Bock Spring Lager, Iowa Battleship IPA, Beacon Street Barleywine (2012 American Style Barleywine, Los Angeles International Beer Competition) and Sunken City Imperial Stout.
When I left San Pedro I headed over to Smog City Brewing as they just got their growlers in and I wanted to be among the first on my block to own one. While there I had a Quercus Circus Sour and an Amarilla Gorilla IPA; we picked up a growler of the 2012 Great American Beer Festival gold medal winner, Smog City Groundwork Coffee Porter. Smog City’s grand opening was held on Saturday, so that will be the subject of my ACBW day 6 report. All my photos from day five of American Craft beer Week will be found on GotBaddog.com.
If you read my story about day one of ACBW, you will recall that I had attempted to visit Beachwood BBQ & Brewing but discovered that there were closed on Mondays. Since I had a pretty busy morning, it was decided that I would go back there on Tuesday because not only have they won multiple awards, it was a safe bet that their guest tap list would have at least one medal winner among the selections. I would not be disappointed.
As you can figure out, I am not a stranger to Beachwood BBQ & Brewing; the only thing that keeps me from going there more often is the drive. I mentioned in my last article that I got the impression that the beertender at Pizza Port San Clemente was not really into craft beer, that it was just a job for him. I have never experienced that any time I have visited Beachwood; in fact, it has always been quite the opposite. Yesterday Thomas was working and you could tell that he enjoyed his work and was a fan of not only Beachwood Brewing’s beers, but craft beer in general.
Beachwood BBQ & Brewing won a gold medal at the 2012 GABF with their Udder Love stout. Unfortunately that was not available, but they had three award winning beers available on their tap list, so I created a flight consisting of their Foam Top Cream Ale (2012 World Beer Cup Gold Medal), an El Verano Belgian Style Saison (2012 GABF Bronze Medal), Knucklehead Red American Red Ale (2012 San Diego International Beer Camp Bronze Medal) and The Falcon West Coast IPA (no awards, but delicious). To top it off, I finished with an AleSmith IPA (2011 GABF Silver Medal). It was a great set of champion beers to celebrate day two of the 8th Annual American Craft Beer Week. You can see all of the photos on www.GotBaddog.com
This year I decided to try to do something a little different; I am going to attempt to visit as many Great American Beer Festival (GABF) gold medal winners as possible in the area. In the event that I end up at a gastropub, I will attempt to purchase a gold medal winner. Should be easy, right?
Because I am somewhat limited by the hours in a day, I will be forced to limit my radius to about 60 miles. Most of the eligible breweries are inland of me, and it was close to 90 at home so I did not want to venture inland and opted for heading to Pizza Port in San Clemente, CA since it is a beach community. Pizza Port is a chain of pizza places that also brew beer. Unlike some chains, each location has their own head brewer and they are given leeway on at least some of the beers they brew. If you glance at the list of GABF winners you will notice that Pizza Port San Clemente, Solano Beach and Carlsbad have all been winners. I have never been to Pizza Port and I don’t recall ever trying anything from any of their locations prior to today; however, I have heard lots of praise about them so I was looking forward to the experience.My hopes of a cool ride by the beach turned into a blast furnace ride with temperatures close to 100. Even in San Clemente it was 90 a couple blocks from the beach. I was really looking forward to the beers.
When we arrived, my girlfriend went up to the counter to order food. We got some “beer buddies” and a small pizza. While the attitude of the employees in that portion of the brewpub was helpful and upbeat, neither of us was particularly enthusiastic about the food. The beer buddies would have been better if there was some kind of garlic dipping sauce, but it wasn’t offered and I was there for the beer anyway.
I went over to the brewery portion and could not help but notice the sign that seemed to hint that if you did not know what you wanted, to step aside and let someone else order. That attitude seemed to be held by the beertender that did not seem to be into craft beer; he was there because it was a job. I told him, “Happy American Craft Beer Week.” His response was something along the lines of, “oh, is that happening now?”
I explained that it was, and that I was seeking gold medal winning beer and Pizza Port had won a few. He agreed that they had. I asked if they served flights. He said they did flights of four, so I asked for four gold medal winners. He told me there were only two available; so I asked for those and any other award winners they had. He then directed me to a very busy board and told me the award winners had emblems by their names. It took me a few minutes to figure out where the emblems were. Eventually I figured out what the third beer was and since I was not going to wait for any assistance from him, I just picked a fourth beer to complete the flight. My flight consisted of their Lightweight Lager (it was), Nerf Herder (San Diego World Beer Cup Bronze Winner), “Pseudo” IPA (2010 GABF Gold Winner) and Pier Rat Porter (San Diego World Beer Cup Gold Winner). The beers were okay, the experience was lacking.
On the way home I figured that we could stop by Beachwood BBQ & Brewing in Long Beach as they are gold medal winners and always have a great selection of beers available. To my dismay, they are not open on Mondays; luckily, Congregation Ale House, Long Beach is right next door. While they do not brew beer, they do have a very nice selection of beers on tap. I opted to go for a Firestone Walker Brewing Co. Wookey Jack (2102 GABF Gold Winner). Firestone makes a good product, so I was happy. The beer drinking ended at home with a Black Sand Imperial IPA from Strand Brewing Company in Torrance. All my photos from day one of the 8th Annual American Craft Beer Week can be found on GotBaddog.com.