One of my favorite recent discoveries in the South Bay is Game Changers, located at 1220 Hermosa Avenue in Hermosa Beach. Game Changers is more of a sports bar than a gastropub, but when I first saw their banner at the Hermosa Fiesta stating they have 54 beers on tap I knew I would have to check them out. We returned a few weeks later and had an opportunity to get to know a few of the staff; we had a great time and since we had been told they had a new menu, we returned Wednesday to check it out.
Since I had only looked at their last menu briefly I was not readily familiar with what had changed, so I cannot tell you if what we had was new or not. There were fewer taco options this time and I was told that we because they were not big sellers or contained ingredients that were used only on one particular taco. That makes sense. I will say their appetizers are huge; they definitely filled us up. If I had known I probably would have ordered just one and tried the rib-eye; it looked pretty good and at a bargain price too.
Of course, I was really there for the beer. I opted for an initial flight consisting of a Matilda, Wipeout IPA, Ruination and a Stone Smoked Porter. Our server, Kim, asked if she could create a flight for me and presented me with a Tripel Karmeliet, Great White, Racer 5 IPA and an Allagash Four. I am usually apprehensive about having strangers picking my beers, but she did a pretty good job; thanks Kim!
Game Changers has some interesting things going on with daily happy hour specials and special events like their 80’s Ladies Night; you can learn more by stopping in or visiting the Game Changers website. These photos were taken July 17, 2013. Continue reading
Sunday July 14, Haven Gastropub in Pasadena, CA hosted the LA Beer Bloggers Summit #6. This was my second visit to one of these gatherings and I really enjoyed the opportunity to meet more of the people that are behind the scenes in promoting the craft beer scene in Southern California, and specifically Los Angeles and Orange counties. This was my third or fourth visit to Haven Gastropub, but my first couple of visits they were not really brewing yet. When I was there back in May they were just releasing their first batch of Simcoded American Pale Ale. Things have really changed in the last two months.
As our host for the event, Managing Partner and Beverage Director Wil Dee spoke for a while on the growth and mindset of the new Haven Collective, which includes their various restaurant locations and the brewery. He also discussed their future plans and how they chose their new Head Brewer, Brian Thorson. He then turned the floor over to Brian who proceeded to discuss the various beers he is currently brewing. When I was there in May they released the Simcoded Pale Ale; by yesterday they had added More Please, a Kölsch; Jimmy Hafen, their Hefeweizen; Orange Face (O Face), an American Amber / Red Ale; Performance Enhancing Drink (P.E.D.), an American Brown Ale; Disco Pants, a Black Lager and Double Hubble, a Double IPA. They also provided us a sample of their next IPA, Hop Sing. You can tell things are really picking up at Haven with the addition of Brian Thorson.
These photos are from the event at Haven Gastropub with a stop by the Stone Brewing Company Store which is right around the corner. They make some great mustard and it is too cheap to not make the stop since we were in the neighborhood. We had a great time networking with other beer bloggers and I look forward to their next summit. Haven Gastropub is located at 42 S. De Lacey Avenue in Old Pasadena, CA. They have good food and very fine craft beers. Continue reading
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
Sunday June 30 the Shade Hotel in Manhattan Beach, CA hosted the 2nd Annual Waves of Grain Beerfest benefiting the Richstone Family Center in Hawthorne. The Richstone Family Center is dedicated to preventing and treating child abuse. Co-sponsored by Brewco Manhattan Beach, Rock & Brews El Segundo, LA Car Guy and NW Real Estate Brokers approximately 400 people enjoyed food, music and close to 100 beers provided by more than 40 craft brewers.
In addition to the ticket sales for the event, which sold out, there were raffles for dinners, massages, hockey and more. I think it is safe to say that the Richstone Family Center was very happy with the results of this fundraiser. Judging by all the smiles seen in the photos I am not the only one that had a great time and I look forward to attending next year’s event.
The Shade Hotel is located at 1221 N Valley Dr Manhattan Beach, CA 90266. Continue reading
These photos are from the Beachwood BBQ & Brewing Two Year Anniversary Celebration which was held Saturday, June 29 at Beachwood’s Long Beach location at 210 E 3rd St. in Long Beach, CA. For those that have yet to experience Beachwood’s craft beers, you really need to do yourself a favor and if possible, head to Long Beach and check them out. On any given day, except Mondays when they are closed, Beachwood will have seven or eight beers brewed on location available for pours. In addition to their own brews, they have a guest tap list that would be pretty tough to beat with 25-30 guest taps also available. For the party yesterday they brought out 27 or 28 of their own brews which a pretty amazing number considering they have only been brewing for two years.
As you can see from the list of Beachwood’s craft beers that they published, there was a wonderful list of options available.
Alpha Bomb – American Pale Ale
Annihilator – American Barleywine
Barrel Aged Full Malted Jacket – Scottish Style
Wee Heavy aged in Bourbon Barrels
Beachwood Six – Smoked Black Saison
Beyond a Reasonable Stout – Imperial Stout
Clear & Present Manger – Winter Warmer (collaboration brew with Pizza Port San Clemente)
Dank Matter – Double India Pale Ale (brewed special for this 2nd Anniversary)
Dubbel in Paradise – Belgian Style Dubbel
Fahrenheit 342 – Rye India Pale Ale
Full Malted Jacket – Scottish Style Wee Heavy Continue reading
Over Father’s Day weekend my daughter was up in San Francisco running a half marathon so we were unable to spend the day together and she asked me to pick somewhere for us to have lunch on the following weekend. She lives out in the Pasadena area and I am in the South Bay, so I started looking for somewhere that was midway between the two of us; preferably somewhere I had never been before. I have to admit, I was a little surprised when I came upon the Los Angeles Brewing Company (LABC). I was even more surprised to hear that they had 100 beers on tap; how had I missed hearing about them?
They opened about a year ago and are located in the old Broadway theater district of downtown Los Angeles; it would be pretty easy to pass LABC if you were not looking for it. Once you find parking (there is paid public parking just north of LABC) and enter the building it becomes readily apparent that the building has been around for a long time, with lots of marble and the type of construction you just do not see any more. Since I had to wait for my daughter to join us I decided to try and take a few photos on the interior; unfortunately, whoever it was working behind the bar did not seem to like the idea so I went back out front to wait for my daughter to get there. Los Angeles Brewing Company is huge inside and because of the decor, it is pretty loud. I will let that be the excuse as to why it took so long for the hostess to notice that we were ready to be seated.
While LABC has a reported 100 beers on tap (I saw 96 taps) they do not brew beer there. They do have a few LABC beers, but it looks like it is currently being brewed by Firestone Walker. I read that they plan on brewing there in the near future. They have a nice tap list but I got the impression that the staff were not really beer people. The food was good and I suppose my only concern is whether or not they have enough business to justify having 100 beers on tap. It was a Sunday and they seemed to have a decent brunch crowd, but it was pretty empty by the time we left. I hope that their weekday crowds are larger or there are going to be some kegs that are going to take a while to go through. 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
According to the Brewers Association there are more than 2,400 craft and microbreweries around the United States. Even before craft beer became so popular there were home brewers experimenting with various hops, malts and yeasts to create their own special brews. One might ascertain that due in part to the Internet, these home brewers would start socializing with each other and soon there were home brewing clubs popping up where their members could brew together as well share their ingredients and ideas and drink the results of this social interaction. In fact, if you read the biography of many of craft beers head brewers; they started off as home brewers with many of them being members of home brewing clubs. One of these local home brewing clubs is the Crude Brew Crew which is located in Torrance, CA.
This past Saturday, June 22, the Crude Brew Crew (CBC) met for their monthly meeting and podcast at Smog City Brewing Company, also in Torrance. Head brewer and co-owner of Smog City, Jonathan Porter was at one time a home brewer and a member of a local home brewer club so it made perfect sense that the CBC hold a meeting at Smog City. They did a podcast, with an interview of Jonathan and Laurie Porter that was supposed to be followed with a Q and A session. Smog City’s building is large and there were a lot of people there, so they had to improvise on the Q and A portion but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves as well as enjoying the new releases the Smog City was pouring. They also brought out a Hop Rocket which infuses fresh hops to their Amarilla Gorilla IPA which made it almost creamy. The Little Bo Pils was quite refreshing.
While the podcast was not available at the time of this writing, it should be available on the Crude Brew Crew website before too long. Smog City Brewing Company is located at 1901 Del Amo Blvd, Torrance, CA. Continue reading
Yesterday we were looking for somewhere to have lunch; we wanted to go somewhere that we do not frequent on a regular basis and would preferably have a large craft beer selection. Over the Memorial Day weekend, we had gone to the arts and crafts street fair in Hermosa Beach and had visited two places that fit that bill. One was Mediterraneo, where we enjoyed some of their food and beers, but I was not really feeling in a tapas mood. The other place we visited was Game Changers, a sports bar that advertised 54 beers on tap. Because it was a Sunday afternoon during the street fair, the place was packed. We did not bother eating but after seeing their tap list we knew we would have to return. We checked out their food menu online and decided that we would go to Game Changers for lunch.
While Game Changers was packed to the rafters at 2:00 on a Sunday afternoon, that really was not the case at 2:00 on a Wednesday afternoon. That gave me an opportunity to look around a little and get to meet and interact a little with a couple of the people that work there because I have found that the best beer places have people that seem to really care about craft beer. Taylor, Chloe and Will, their beer guy, each gave off that vibe. Looking around the spacious venue I could not help but wonder if there were more TVs than beer taps. I have to say, it was pretty close; it looks like they have about 30 TVs, each tuned to a different sporting event so no matter where you sit, you can watch the game you came to see. However, I was there for the beer and some food.
As advertised, they do have 54 taps available; as such, the written menu may not be 100% accurate because the taps blow and new ones swapped in. It is the nature of the beast. While I did notice a Rolling Rock, Bud Lite, Guinness and Shock Top taps the rest seemed to be craft beers, so that is 50 to choose from. They also carry bottled beer for those that still want the standard bar beer. What I had not noticed when looking at their online menu was that their Happy Hour runs from 2:00 PM until 7:00 PM. They have some two for one specials on a few of their taps and their Happy Hour food menu is quite reasonable. We ordered a couple food items, a corn dog wrapped in bacon and a hamburger, and while I don’t know that I would rate it at the gastropub level, but they never advertised themselves to be a gastropub. They are a sports bar and as far as the typical bar food I have tried in the past, this surpassed it and at a very good price. Continue reading