Last Wednesday, as I became increasingly jealous of the people on my Facebook feed as they announced their arrival in Denver for the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), I decided to head over to Beachwood BBQ & Brewing in Long Beach, CA. I had just seated myself at the bar when Beachwood General Manager Brandon Halvorson came up and said, “You just cannot stay away.” I admit, when we want lunch and a great beer, it does not take much convincing to get me to drive the 15 miles to Long Beach. Yesterday, the beer world found out why when Beachwood BBQ & Brewing won five medals at GABF, making it the 2013 Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year! I was so happy to hear this I almost felt like I was a winner. I guess all of Beachwood’s patrons are winners because we are able to enjoy their food and beer six days a week.
Beachwood won gold medals for Foam Top for the Golden or Blonde Ale category and Kilgore Stout in the American-Style Stout category. They also got silver for Udder Love (Sweet Stout or Cream Stout) and bronze medals for System of a Stout (Coffee Beer) and Barrel-Aged Full Malted Jacket (Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer). I guess the big surprise for me is that none of their IPAs got a medal, but it is my understanding that they had over 250 IPA entries and it took two or three days to go through them all. Be that as it may, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing has made some tremendous beers and are definitely getting the recognition they deserve; and to think they are only two years old. Congratulations to Julian Shrago, Ian McCall, Brandon Halverson and all the staff at Beachwood BBQ & Brewing.
I guess it also shows that if it seems that I visit some places more than others, there is a good reason for it; the Craft Beer Guy would not steer you wrong. These photos were taken Wednesday October 9 and Saturday October 12 after the medals were announced. You can find a list of all the past and present Great American Beer Festival winners at http://www.greatamericanbeerfestival.com/the-competition/winners/. Cheers! Continue reading
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
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
If you did not know that October 4 is National Taco Day, do not feel like the Lone Ranger; it seems that this is a rather well-kept secret. The fact of the matter is I did not know it was National Taco Day until almost noon when I saw it float by on my Facebook feed. I decided that since it seems every gastropub and sports bar in Los Angeles County has a Taco Tuesday, I would see what they had to offer for National Taco Day. I put out the question, “where can I get good tacos and craft beer” on Facebook and was given several suggestions. The problem was that a majority of the suggested locations did not see the value of having a website that provided a menu of their food or available beers. Since I was not about to drive 25-40 miles each way on a maybe, I decided that I would stay local.
One of the suggestions I got was Hot’s Kitchen, a gastropub in Hermosa Beach. Hot’s has a very good tap list with 56 craft brews available on tap at any one time. They have an extensive list of tacos but had no idea it was National Taco Day; we did not let that stop us. The initial intent of this journey was to visit three locations and split a couple tacos at each location. After splitting a Thai and Lamb Taco between the two of us at Hot’s Kitchen, we both had serious reservations about whether or not we could eat two tacos at the remaining locations. The tacos and beer (Anchor California Lager and Duvel) were great; they had a fly issue that took away from the experience. One of the problems of the beach I guess.
Since we were in the neighborhood and I was aware that they had a Taco Tuesday, we headed over to Game Changers sports bar. Game Changers has 54 beers on tap, so it is usually pretty easy to find something you might like; I went with a Levitation Ale. I forgot that they changed up their food menu and many of the tacos had shellfish which my girl, Tanya, can’t eat, so we were kind of limited on the choices. We went with a Buzzer Beater which was huge; tasty, but huge. We were going to have issues trying to have another taco at our third destination. Continue reading
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
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
I have some friends that just flew into LA from Paris, France to begin a road trip around the southwest; as they are fans of Craft Beer Guy and LA Beer Week (LABW5) is still going on they expressed a desire to go somewhere that served craft beer. Since they were staying in Santa Monica and I am not all that familiar with the gastropubs in the area, I put out a request for suggestions on my Facebook page; one of the suggestions was Library Alehouse, located at 2911 Main Street in Santa Monica.
The Library Alehouse looks pretty small from out front, but they have a pretty spacious patio in the back; if you have a party of more than two, that is probably the direction you want to head. They have a pretty respectable tap list and they do offer flights of four for $10; well, it is theoretically $10, but you have to be careful about the beers you choose as they can easily hit the $15 range. Our French guests both had the bison burger and really enjoyed it; we had the All-American and it was okay. It’s a burger, what can I say. I don’t spend a lot of time in Santa Monica, but I would not hesitate returning or recommending it to someone that wanted a good craft beer.
Since it was Friday and I had visited two of LA’s gold medal breweries the day before, I decided that I would head over to San Pedro and visit another award winning brewery, San Pedro Brewing Company (SPBC). SPBC is a brewpub nestled on 6th Street in San Pedro that has been in business since 1999. Back then there were a lot of “Brewcos” in the area with Manhattan Beach Brewing Company, Redondo Beach Brewing Company and San Pedro Brewing Company as just three of our local examples. It seems that most of them that opened back then either threw in the towel as far as brewing was concerned and became gastropubs, or they settled into a comfort zone and kept producing the same beers using the same recipes for years and years. SPBC is different in that they kept changing it up, being innovative and experimental, and the list of awards they have won under head brewer Jason Welke since they brought him on in 2006 shows that this is working for them. Continue reading
LA Beer Week (LABW5) plods along as Thursday was the eighth day of LA Beer Week; an 11 day event. I decided that since it is LA Beer Week I would be remiss if I did not attempt to try and visit all the gold medal winners that the Los Angeles area has produced. Okay, being completely honest, I was looking for a reason to visit Beachwood BBQ and Brewing in Long Beach and I remembered that they were gold medal winners at the Great American Beer Festival so I decided that I needed to dedicate a portion of this week to the brewers that help make LA the pLAce for craft beer.
The fact of the matter is that I need very little in the way of excuses to drive down to Long Beach; however there was one with the recent release of Mind Melder IPA, a collaboration with Drake’s Brewing that I had yet to try. All I can say is that I am really looking forward to some of the South Bay’s brewers doing some collaboration brews with each other and I think Beachwood’s head brewer Julian Shrago is close enough to be included with that group. Since I had ordered an IPA flight, none of which are award winners (yet), we put together a combination of two of their gold medal winners; Udder Love, 2012 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) and Foam Top, 2012 World Beer Cup. It won’t be long before one of their IPAs brings home gold.
After a quick stop to another GABF gold medal winning brewery, Smog City Brewing, I headed out to Four Points by Sheraton for a panel on “Do you want to be a beer judge?” The panel was moderated by Tomm Carroll of Celebrator Beer News and consisted of a panel of high-ranked, certified Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) judges. The panelists included Bruce Brode (Master rank, Maltose Falcons home brew club); Carl Townsend (National rank, Pacific Gravity home brewers club); and Jim Wilson (Grand Master II rank, Strand Brewers Club). The purpose of the event was to explain the BJCP program and what you would need to know to become a certified judge. Ever since I went to the Pacific Brewers Cup two weeks ago I have been thinking that I would like to expand my beer horizons more, by at least learning what it is judges look for in each style. Continue reading
Over the past year or so I have been invited to attend several beer events that involved pairing various foods with different beers. Sometimes it seems like there was not a lot of thought put into the combinations and then there are pairings like the LA Beer Week (LABW5) Beer Tasting Dinner put on by The Brewery at Abigaile brewpub on Wednesday evening. It really shows what can happen when you have a chef like Tin Vuong who not only prepares unique menus with global flavors; but also enjoys craft beers.
I will admit that there have been times that I have opted for an entree that conflicted with my choice of beer; primarily due to a sauce or seasoning that was so hot that I might as well be drinking Bud Light because my taste buds had lost all sensitivity; last night’s dinner eliminated all risks as Chef Tin’s menu melded perfectly with the beers provided by The Brewery at Abigaile’s Brian Brewer. Our menu included Wit Cured Wild Salmon paired with Tangerine Honey Wit, a Belgian-style witbier; Mary’s Chicken Milanese paired with Sir Charles Mild, an English-style brown mild; an amazing Duck Confit paired with Sticky Fingers IPA; Braised Oxtail with Flat Iron paired with their Nihilist DIPA; with Perfection in a Glass beer float for dessert. It was made with Sarsaparilla and their Black Mass Porter. Brian also brought out some of his Black Mass Porter that has been aging in rye whiskey barrels for the past four months and it is delicious.
If you enjoy beer and food tastings, I recommend following The Brewery at Abigaile’s Facebook page so you can be kept in the loop. They do these on a pretty regular basis and I know there are more planned for the near future. When you have an executive chef like Tin Vuong combining his skills with a brewer like Brian Brewer only good things can happen and you do want to be a part of it. Trust me on that one.
The Brewery at Abigaile is located at 1301 Manhattan Avenue in Hermosa Beach; that is the northwest corner of Manhattan Avenue and Pier Avenue. They even have free parking in the underground structure at their location. Cheers! Continue reading
Anyone is the LA area that has been paying any attention to the craft beer scene has probably noticed that the name “Goose Island” has been appearing at more local locations than ever before. Goose Island Beer Company originated in Chicago, IL in 1988. While they may not have been well known out here, Goose Island is most certainly a popular craft beer brand that I would notice in my travels around the mid-west. In 2011 AB-InBev, parent company of Anheuser-Busch, acquired Goose Island; one might guess that with the additional revenue behind them, Goose Island was now made available in all 50 states. In fact, Goose Island is having migration campaigns around the country. Last night I attended the Rock & Brews PCH LA Beer Week Goose Island Craft Beer Dinner, a five course meal paired with eight varieties of Goose Island brews.
This was my first visit to Rock & Brews PCH, so I was looking forward to seeing how it compared to their El Segundo location. At first glance it seemed like the El Segundo location might be a little more spacious, but it is close. Noticeably missing from the PCH location is the electronic scoreboard that lists all of the available beers on tap so I am not really sure how they handle making the available rotating taps known, but they do have a very extensive printed menu of draught and bottled beers that are always available. They also have a few tables that have four beer taps with lines going directly back to the cooler so you can serve yourself. Each table has its own combination of beer but I did not get a chance to really investigate the combinations. That idea definitely has potential. I guess what really surprised me was the food.
As a firm believer of the “happy wife, happy life” policy, I have never really looked at the food menu at Rock & Brews; primarily because I was there for the beer and Tanya and I are just going to split the food anyway, so whatever she wants is fine with me. She really likes their Chicago dog and it is big enough for the two of us so that is pretty much what we always order. Since last night was a 5-course meal, I had an opportunity to try some of their other offerings; Strawberry Fields Salad, Asian Wings, Bleu Cheese Bacon Burger, Pulled Pork Pizza and Purple Rain Drops for dessert. We were stuffed by the end and I think I found a couple substitutes for the Chicago dog as I really enjoyed the salad and wings a lot.
For the pairings they had two options with Goose Island’s classic or vintage craft beers. The beers sampled, in order, were 312 Urban Wheat Ale or Matilda Lambicus, Harvest Ale or vintage Matilda, India Pale Ale (IPA) or Pere Jacques, Honker’s Ale and Sofie Paradisi. While Goose Island may have been acquired by a corporate giant of the beer world, it is apparent that their 25 years of brewing craft beers will result in interesting brews for years to come. I asked someone in attendance last night, that works for Anheuser-Busch, what Goose Island’s plan is as far as experimental batches were concerned and he told me that Goose Island still tweaks their brews and those experimental batches will be shipped around the country to be found in the better gastropubs and bottle shops as well as the Goose Island brewpubs. Cheers! Continue reading