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Strand Brewing Company 4 Year Celebration Photos

As Rich Marcello, co-owner of Strand Brewing Company, describes it, he was sitting on his surfboard Saturday morning, not sure if anyone would show up for the scheduled 4 year Celebration that was to begin at noon. “Even at 11:55, I was ready to open the doors and was still not sure if anyone was going to show up.” Well, show up they did; and in throngs. Friends, family and fans of Strand Brewing’s handcrafted ales showed up at noon and they kept coming in. I could only stay for the first half and in addition to the nine beers on tap there were four special beers on cask that had all been drained by 3:00 PM. Personally, I never doubted that there would be a great turnout, but Rich is a pretty modest guy.

Equally modest is the other owner and head brewer, Joel Elliott. One must admire what he has done considering he had no intentions of being the brewer at Strand; things happened and he stepped up to the plate. When I think back to my first visit to the Strand Brewing tasting room in May 2012 they had four beers available; Beach House Amber, 24th Street Pale Ale, Atticus IPA and Batch 100 Stout. Today, in addition to the original four they offered Harvest Ball Witbier (4th Anniversary Ale), White Sand Imperial IPA, Black Sand Imperial IPA, Expression Session Pale Ale and Musashi Black IPA on tap. They had two casks going at a time for as long as they lasted, beginning with their Atticus IPA with Citra hops and their Harvest Ball Witbier with blood oranges. When those were emptied a cask of White Sand Imperial IPA with Mosaic hops and a cask of Batch 100 on coffee were brought out. As you can see, for someone that never intended to be a brewer, Joel has been really spreading his wings.

In addition to the great beer and celebrity appearances, four-time reigning Tetris World Champion Jonas Neubauer poured beer much of the day, Villegas Tacos was there providing food for those in need. Some of the guests even brought in a few tasty treats, making it a fun afternoon. Congratulations to Joel and Rich and we all look forward to your 5th Anniversary celebration. Cheers! Continue reading

Photos from Sophie’s Movember Social

In 2003, Travis Garone and Luke Slattery from Melbourne Australia were having a beer, discussing fashion trends and mustaches. Apparently, in Australia they were few and far between and Travis and Luke decided they were going to bring it back in fashion, at least for the month of November. Inspired by a friend’s mother who was fundraising for breast cancer, they decided to start a campaign about men’s health and prostate cancer. They got 30 friends to join them in growing mustaches for the month of November, and Movember was born. Unfortunately, they raised no funds that first year but a tradition was born. 10 years later, 4 million people around the world were participating in the Movember movement and more than $433,649,258 has been raised since 2003.

Sophie’s Place, a gastropub in the Riviera Village section of Redondo Beach has been participating in Movember for the past few years (as long as I have known them anyway) with the owners and employees participating in the fundraising effort with their Movember Team “Sophie’s Stache’s.” Wednesday evening they held their annual Sophie’s Movember Social. The evening had drink specials and donations to “Sophie’s Stache’s” were accepted. It was a fun night for a good cause.

Sophie’s Place is located at 1708 S. Catalina in Redondo Beach. Cheers! Continue reading

Happy Thanksgiving from the Craft Beer Guy

Just a quick note to say Happy Thanksgiving to each of you and your families. Today, Tanya and I will head over to my dad’s for dinner with my daughter and a bunch of siblings. There should be about 15 people there. Since Tanya has been experimenting a lot with her baking, she got put on dessert detail which resulted in three pumpkin pies made from scratch; she even used fresh pumpkin instead of that canned stuff. She also made up some vanilla whipped yams, so the food should be delicious. Naturally, I was assigned beer duty, so Wednesday I traveled around to a few of my favorite places.

I started at Beachwood BBQ & Brewing where I picked up a growler of Annihilator, a 12% American Barleywine. I then moved along to Monkish Brewing where I brought home a growler of Magnificat, a 10.1% Belgian Strong Dark Ale, spiced for Christmas. My next stop was El Segundo Brewing Company because no meal is complete without an IPA. I walked out with a growler of Two 5 Left, an 8.2% Double IPA. For dessert we headed to The Brewery at Abigaile where I picked up a growler of Coconut Imperial Red; a 9.4% Imperial Red Ale. I think everyone should be able to find something they will like.

Have a safe day and appreciate all you have. Cheers! Continue reading

Photos from Alisha & Shane’s going away party

As I mentioned in a recent article, the craft beer scene around here consists of a pretty tight-knit community. Something about craft beer just seems to bring people together; perhaps it is because craft beer is really breaking out here and we are excited and happy to be part of it. Traveling to the various tasting rooms and brewpubs is like going off to visit friends and family as much as for the beer. This is especially true whenever we walk into Beachwood BBQ & Brewing in Long Beach; everyone that works there seems to like each other and they appear to really enjoy their jobs. Last night, the craft beer community met at Beachwood to say good-bye to two of the family; Alisha Inkrote and Shane Stewart.

Alisha and Shane are moving to Denver on Friday and they held a going away party last night at Beachwood’s Long Beach location. Even though Beachwood is normally closed on Monday, owner Gabe Gordon opened it up so a few of Alisha and Shane’s friends and family could gather for a final beer together. The kitchen was closed, so some people brought food and others brought bottles of their favorite brews to share. It really was a fun night; Alisha and Shane are going to be missed. If you were not able to make it last night, they will be there Tuesday and Wednesday if you want to stop by, say good-bye and wish them well.

Beachwood BBQ & Brewing is located at 210 E 3rd Street in Long Beach, California. Cheers! Continue reading

Timeless Pints: Lakewood’s first craft brewery

I guess it was early September when I was covering an event out in the Bixby Knolls area of Long Beach when I first heard that there was a new craft brewery opening in the area. Unfortunately, I was not familiar enough with Long Beach to know that this new microbrewery, Timeless Pints Brewing Company, was less than two miles from me. This lost opportunity was made up for Sunday afternoon when I met up with some friends at a gathering they were having at Timeless Pints.

When I walked in the tasting room the first thing that caught my eye was the brewing equipment; it was a smaller operation than what I have become accustomed to seeing around here. The second thing I noticed was that they had nine taps and 10 different brews available (one of the brews was a blend of two of their beers). As I recalled that Timeless Pints had only been open for about three months I was impressed that a brewery of this size with only a couple of months of history could have such a wide variety of brews available. I am not talking about a bunch of IPAs with different names; they legitimately have nine different styles of beer. They have a witbier, blonde ale, oatmeal stout, porter, pale ale, amber ale, and a couple of IPAs. The names owner and head brewer, Chris Sparacio came up with are interesting as well; The Expeditious Guest, an American IPA; A Swarm and a Hatter, a Blonde Ale; and A Precarious Proposal, an Amber Ale are just a few examples. I suspect the biggest challenge besides continuing to come up with tasty brews will be continuing to come up with interesting names to go along with it.

Timeless Pints Brewing Company is located at 3671 Industry Avenue in Lakewood, California. While I do not use this site to review individual beers I will suggest getting a flight to try them all. Their Winter Festivale porter was one of the more interesting brews I have tried in recent memory. If it is available, give it a try; I think you will enjoy it. Cheers! Continue reading

Damn You Dengue Fever Benefit for Helen Kral

If there is one thing I can say about the craft beer community in Los Angeles, it is a very tight-knit group. This goes beyond the brewers for the numerous breweries we have in the area, who are known for being eager to help each other out. It extends to those that own or manage bottle shops and gastropubs, people that write about craft beer and the sales teams for the various craft beer distributors in the area. This community and camaraderie was displayed again Saturday evening as friends and family of Firestone-Walker Regional Sales Manager, Shane Kral gathered in Huntington Beach for the ‘Damn You Dengue Fever Benefit’ for Shane’s wife, Helen.

During what should have been a dream vacation for Helen and Shane’s Hawaiian getaway last July, Helen apparently was bitten by a mosquito carrying Dengue Fever; an infectious tropical disease caused by the dengue virus. While the symptoms can be as minor as a fever or headaches, Dengue Fever can be life threatening. In Helen’s case, she became paralyzed. As time continued, Helen’s condition improved and she is now able to maneuver her wheelchair and last week she was able to stand with assistance. Prayer, positive thoughts and physical therapy are helping, but as Helen must stay in a nursing home and expenses are piling up. Saturday evening’s benefit was held to help alleviate the family expenses.

For a small donation at the door we were treated to food and drink with plenty of Firestone-Walker beers available. There was also a raffle and silent auction for the host of items that were donated to the cause. Some of the items donated included tickets to selected performances at Club Nokia from Yo Gabba Gabba to Mushroomhead, skate decks from Attic, artwork from Bernie Wire and Stork, gift certificates from restaurants and gastropubs from Manhattan Beach to Newport Beach, signed sports memorabilia, brewery tours and hard to find-one of a kind-blow your mind beers including Firestone X-XVII. Continue reading

El Segundo Brewing Company Dueling DIPAs

El Segundo Brewing Company (ESBC), a hopcentric microbrewery nestled between the noise of LAX and the aromas of Standard Oil’s refinery, provides relief from the din and pollution with some of the South Bay’s most popular IPAs and ales. Last year at their one year anniversary, ESBC released their first Double IPA; Two 5 Left. With Simcoe, Citra, Cascade and Chinook hops combined with Two Row, Vienna, Crystal 15 and Crystal 40 malts it is easy to understand why it was so well received. It is delicious.

During LA Beer Week last September, El Segundo released their second DIPA, Hop Tanker. Using Two Row and Vienna malts with Nelson Sauvin and Citra hops this Double IPA was light in color and maybe a little smoother tasting, but the ABV jumped from the 8.2 Two 5 Left to a tasty 9.5 on the Hop Tanker. Once again, it was very well received and discussions around the taproom started being held over which DIPA was the best. It was actually a very valid question because El Segundo can only brew so much beer at a time, and it was time to brew a DIPA again; but which one?

On Saturday, November 16, El Segundo Brewing Company held a Dueling Double IPAs event at their taproom. Flights of Two 5 Left and Hop Tanker were sold and the drinker was given a vote which had a value of 50 points. They also used the volume of beer sold during business that day. All sales of pints, growlers, bottles and tasters of the DIPAs were tabulated with the winning brew to be started December 2 and would be ready after Christmas. Continue reading

Ninkasi tasting at Library Alehouse

As you have probably noticed; I attend quite a few beer festivals of various sizes. I recently had someone tell me that they like to get a list of the beers that will be there then write down the names of the beers that they will sample. The other day at the Alpine Kraft Bierfest I spoke with attendees that try to find their favorite brews and a few that go out to seek new beers. That is pretty much my game plan. I try to find breweries I have never sampled before; then I concentrate on beers brewed by breweries I have limited experience with, primarily focusing on the beer I have never tried. It was at Taste of Brews in Long Beach last August that I first became aware of Ninkasi Brewing Company and more specifically, their Total Domination IPA.

Ninkasi Brewing Company was established in 2006 in Eugene, Oregon where they began brewing in some space they leased at a local restaurant. By 2007 they had moved to their current location where they continued to expand their production to the point that they now have a 55-barrel brewing system, with the capacity of producing 95,000 barrels per year of Ninkasi goodness. With all that beer in a state the size of Oregon it only made sense that they increased their distribution to include Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.

It was a few weeks after the Taste of Brews that I noticed Ninkasi’s Tricerahops Double IPA while I was doing some beer shopping at Total Wine. I remembered with fondness the taster I had at the beer festival, and I do enjoy a DIPA, so it did not take much convincing for me to grab a bottle; the $4.99 price tag on the 22oz bottle sealed the deal. A couple days later I was back at Total Wine, this time trying their Believer Double Red Ale. It was another very nice beer with an outstanding price tag. I rarely shop by price, but Ninkasi Brewing turns out a quality product and at $5.00 for a 22oz bomber, how can you go wrong? Continue reading

The 2nd Annual Alpine Bierfest: A great success

These photos are from the 2nd Annual Alpine Kraft Bierfest which was held Sunday afternoon in the Alpine Inn at Alpine Village in Torrance, CA. For those of you that attended, thank you very much; for those of you that missed it, you really missed it. I will admit that I took special interest in seeing this event succeed because I went to the first Alpine Kraft Bierfest and I did not want to see a repeat of last year’s dismal attendance. I was aware of the vision Otto Radtke, GM Of the Alpine Village Center, to see his craft beer festival bloom and grow into an internationally recognized beer festival. Last year there may have been 200 attendees; this year there were closer to 500. With growth like that, Radtke’s vision may come to fruition before too long.

An event of this size is rarely going to come off trouble free, but whatever issues were encountered yesterday were relatively minor and everyone seemed to be having a great time. There were about 50 breweries represented with [I am told] 101 different beers to choose from. Probably the most difficult task was tracking down specific beers that I wanted to try because many of the breweries did not send representatives or signage. Luckily, the organizers put together a map to assist attendees locate their favorite brews. Then it was just a matter of figuring out where to start and in what order. One day I am going to sit down and figure out a game plan before the event begins; I have heard of people that tried doing that, although I have yet to meet anyone that was able to stick to their plan.

I would like to congratulate Radtke, Todd Worley and the entire staff of the Alpine Inn for a job well done and I would like to thank all the Craft Beer Guy followers that came up an introduced themselves; I truly do enjoy meeting you. I hope to see all of you next year at the 3rd Annual Alpine Kraft Bierfest. Cheers! Continue reading

New Brew Thursday comes to the South Bay

Saturday afternoon had a few events going on, plus there were last minute preparations for the 2nd Annual Alpine Kraft Bierfest to help out with, primarily making sure everyone knew about Sunday’s event; so I decided to go out and deliver the last of my fliers beginning with Strand Brewing Company. While there I took the opportunity to try out their new Expression Session Pale Ale which made the trip worthwhile on its own. While I was there I was talking to co-owner Rich Marcello and he mentioned that he was heading over to Total Wine & More in Redondo Beach to meet the guys from New Brew Thursday to participate in a podcast to promote the Strand Brewing Company 4th Anniversary party which is coming up on December 7. Since Total Wine is essentially across the street from me and I had to stop by the house to pick up my girlfriend anyway, I decided to head over to Total Wine to watch the podcast being made.

New Brew Thursday is a website run by four beer fans; Stephen Johnson, John Holzer, Matt Becker and Dr. Bill Sysak. In addition to the website, they [obviously] also produce a podcast where they review various craft beers and do some food and beer pairings. They did two podcasts on Saturday, the first being with a couple of Total Wine employees who discussed a new release from Innis & Gunn. When they finished that, Rich was interviewed while they enjoyed several of Strand’s brews; discussing the history of Strand Brewing Company, the boon of the South Bay craft beer scene and of course, the upcoming 4th Anniversary Party that Strand is having December 7, 2013 from 12:00-8:00 PM.

Strand Brewing Company is located at 23520 Telo Avenue, Unit #1 in Torrance; Total Wine is located at 1505 Hawthorne Boulevard in Redondo Beach. Cheers! Continue reading

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