At the end of 2014, my girlfriend Tanya decided that she was going to start doing some extensive walking. We already walk twice a day, every day for a little over a mile each time; but she wanted to do some distance walking, with hills to build up the strength she lost because of years of a misdiagnosed illness. She decided she was going to walk to the beach every day. Now, the beach is only about three miles from here, but there are some pretty steep hills involved so an indirect route is a little longer but the hills are not as intense; it also ends around Naja’s Place by the Redondo Beach Pier. A couple weeks ago we attempted to get people to join us for an eight mile round trip walk to Naja’s and back; I wasn’t too surprised when we ended up walking it by ourselves.
In the meantime I started noticing articles discussing the craft beer boom in the South Bay; some even included inane suggestions of potential “pub crawls” that could now be done in the Torrance area. Perhaps I was reading “pub crawl” too literally, but a pub crawl to be has always meant to walk between the locations; it was pretty obvious to me that the authors were not all that familiar with the Torrance area and had not bothered to use Google Maps to see how far apart some of the breweries are from each other. Since I am from the area and well-familiar with where the breweries are in relation to each other I knew a brewery crawl could be done as long as we picked the right breweries.
I posed a question on the Craft Beer Guy Facebook page about a week ago asking if there was any interest in participating in a realistic South Bay Brewery Crawl; I must admit, I was a little surprised at the number of people that said they would be interested. As a result I scheduled the first in what will hopefully become a weekly series of craft beer walks; we had our first walk on Saturday afternoon. Continue reading
Anyone that goes to Smog City Brewing Company on even rare occasions has noticed the oak bourbon barrels that have lined the walls for the past year or so. In them we have seen such wonders as Goldie, their bourbon barrel-aged Belgian Golden Strong Ale and today they released Infinite Wishes, a bourbon barrel-aged version of The Nothing Imperial Stout. If you got to Smog City by 2:00 PM you may have been lucky enough to purchase a bottle; if not, sorry. They sold the bottles out quickly and it really should be no surprise. The Nothing is an amazing imperial stout and to age it in bourbon barrels can only serve to make it better, and it did. While the bottles of Infinite Wishes sold out in about two hours, they still had it on tap; at least they did when I left. If you enjoy bourbon barrel-aged beers and will be in the South Bay area Sunday, I suggest stopping by Smog City and trying it before it is gone. By the way, there is a new batch of Infinite Wishes in the bourbon barrels for next year’s release.
While the Infinite Wishes was probably the main draw, they also re-released bottles of The Nothing. This is going to be a seasonal release and they still had plenty of bottles the last I saw. They have both the 2014 and 2015 versions of The Nothing on tap so you can use the opportunity to compare the difference after a year of aging. If you still have a bottle of the 2014 version of The Nothing you can start building your vertical. Unfortunately, I opened my bottle a couple months ago without realizing it was my last and not going to be replaceable; oh well.
For those that have not been to Smog City, they are located at 1901 Del Amo Boulevard in Torrance. You have a good reason to head over there this weekend with these limited release brews. Cheers! Continue reading
The Business & Beer business networking group returned to the Smog City Brewing tasting room on Thursday evening for their first networking event of 2015. The group of attendees included a couple of first timers as well as a number of people that have been attending since the group’s inception in July of 2012. As Business & Beer enters its third year we look forward to seeing additional growth for this informal group of like-minded business people.
In addition to the business networking and beer, co-founder Tanya Martin provided some of her locally renowned cookies and crackers that were made with flour she made from some spent grains provided by Smog City. While her two versions of crackers were well-received, the homemade peanut butter cookies were definitely a crowd favorite.
The group was also treated to a tour of the Smog City Brewing operation by Assistant Brewer Chris “Sour” Walowski, who not only explained the brewing process but also told us a little of Smog City’s future plans as well as his own personal preferences when it comes to beer. Everyone that took the tour seemed to appreciate the insight; thank you Chris. Continue reading
Two weeks ago I was out in Covina visiting REV Brewing and Alosta Brewing companies and during my conversations with the owners of both breweries a common thought was made; there is no love shown for the breweries on the east side of town. What they were talking about was not about acceptance by the local community, but rather they did not see things like stories about their breweries and the beers tours that have become so prevalent on the west side of Los Angeles County never come out there. As I pressed for more information a couple breweries I was unfamiliar with were mentioned at both locations; Rök House Brewing Company and Dale Bros. Brewery, both located in Upland. Since Claremont Craft Ales was in the vicinity and I had not been there in over 18 months, I decided to stop by there as well. I had an event to photograph in Irwindale on Sunday evening so I decided to head out to the Pomona Valley early and make a day of it.
You should not feel too bad if you are unfamiliar with Rok House Brewery as they have only been open for six or seven months. Brewing with a 6 Bbl brew house, Rok House offered 10 different options from their taps ranging from their Kiska Blond Kölsch and Battle’s End Orange Wit to their Eric the Red Ale and Midnight Sun Black IPA with a couple IPAs, porters and brown ales for good measure.
A “Rök House” was the stone structures that Vikings brewed their beers in and co-owner/brewmeister Lars Bennett has Norse heritage so together with co-owner/brewmeister Mark Heffernan they took on the Icelandic/Norse/Viking theme in both decor and names for their tasty brews. Continue reading
As 2014 winds down I faced the question posed to me by a few people; “Will Craft Beer Guy be writing an article about the year?” Initially I thought I would do a Top 10 list and just discuss the Top 10 breweries and brewpubs in the South Bay. I figured it would be easy because there were only 10 craft brewers here, but in the last month so many new locations have opened that we now have 12 if you count Phantom Carriage that has not “officially” opened yet. The South Bay now has the following breweries and brewpubs in its confines; in order of seniority (I think) they are: Red Car Brewery, San Pedro Brewing Company, Strand Brewing Company, El Segundo Brewing Company, Monkish Brewing Company, The Brewery at Abigaile, Smog City Brewing, The Dudes’ Brewing Company, Absolution Brewing Company, King Harbor Brewing Company, Three Weavers Brewing and Phantom Carriage. 2015 should bring us a few more including Hop Saint, Brouwerij West and Port Town Brewing; and those are just the ones that come to mind. There will also be some moves and expansions among those listed above. With that I now present you The 2014 Craft Beer Guy Year in Review.
As I look through my articles from January I see that it was a pretty mellow month or the calm before the storm if you prefer. I would have to say my personal highlight of the month was a Sunday afternoon that we spent visiting several of the Orange County craft brewery tasting rooms and brewpubs. The day included stops at Bootlegger’s Brewery, Taps Fish House & Brewery, Noble Ale Works, Tustin Brewing Company and Brewbakers. Each of these stops were first time visits and I would not have a problem recommending any of them. The thing is, in the past year Orange County has opened so many new tasting rooms and brewpubs that it is getting tough to try and keep up with them all; but I will try. Continue reading
On Sunday evening, members of Absolution Brewing Company’s MUG Club were invited to Absolution’s first bottle release; the Wanderin’ Star Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Porter. Muggers were treated to pours of the newly released brew along with various snacks and sweets to snack on as they enjoyed their beers.
The limited release Wanderin’ Star Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Porter comes in individually numbered 750ml champagne bottles and are available at the Absolution tasting room for $18.00 each. They also have gift packages that include Absolution Brewing Company glassware for $30.00 at the tasting room. You can reserve yours by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. This would make a nice Christmas gift for the beer geek in your family.
While at Absolution you might ask them about their ABC MUG Club; an exclusive membership for fans of Absolution Brewing Company and comes with many perks, including discounts and invitations to private parties like this bottle release. It really is a great deal and would make a wonderful Christmas present. Cheers! Continue reading
On Sunday afternoon, El Segundo Brewing Company held their Crude, Cocoa and Donuts Christmas Party along with their Second Annual Ugly Sweater Contest. The event was held in conjunctions with the El Segundo Main Street Christmas Parade, which took place right outside the door to the tasting room.
Crude, Cocoa and Donuts featured the return of Bourbon Barrel-Aged Standard Crude, as well as Standard Crude on Cask along with all the other wonderful brews currently on the El Segundo Brewing Company tap list. For the kids there was free cocoa along with cinnamon and sugar donuts. Rumor has it that these paired well with the Standard Crude; I would not doubt it.
The Ugly Sweater Contest first place winners Matthew McIvor and Jennalee Infanto won a penny growler fill for every month of 2015, a set of glassware and an ESBC shirt and hat. Second place winner Z Dewart won a penny pint for every week of 2015. I took third place winning a tour and tasting for four; stay tuned on this as I will come up with a contest to share this prize with people that have installed the Craft Beer Guy mobile app or follow the Craft Beer Guy Facebook page. Cheers! Continue reading
On Saturday I had a couple of events to photograph out in Irwindale so I decided to use the opportunity to visit two new craft breweries in neighboring Covina; REV Brewing Company and Alosta Brewing Company.
Our first stop was REV Brewing Company, a production brewery that opened the doors to their tasting room a week ago. REV Brewing is a craft brewery that grew from their original REV Winery, so this tasting room offers beer and wine and provides lots of wine barrels that will be used later in the brewery’s upcoming barrel program.
REV’s Brew Master is Erick “Riggz” Villar, a home brewer for 10 years and most recently was the head brewer at Ohana Brewing Company. Since Riggz is an old friend of wine maker and owner Eddie Romero it did not take much for Riggz to come on board with REV Brewing. Continue reading
On Sunday afternoon I finally made it out to Inglewood to visit the South Bay area’s newest craft production brewery; Three Weavers Brewing Company. Located on Manchester Boulevard, just around the corner from world famous landmark, Randy’s Donuts, the location may be a little difficult to locate but the U-turn will be worth it if you happen to miss their driveway the first time you go there. While this may be the newest production brewery in the area, a visit to their tasting room makes it abundantly clear that they are here for the long run.
Having watched a few new breweries build from the ground up, like King Harbor and Absolution Brewing, the size of this operation is on par with some long time operations as far as brewing capability. The five tall tanks are one of the first things you will notice when you walk in and they are impressive on their own but a stroll around the corner of the brewhouse reveals a huge cold box. My initial thought was that you could probably fit every cold box in the South Bay into the Three Weavers box and still have room for beer. I had an opportunity to chat with Three Weavers head brewer, Alexandra Nowell, and she informed me that it is 1,000 square feet (bigger than my first home) with plans to add a 3,000 square foot cold box in the near future. As Nowell put it, if you are going to brew a lot of beer you need somewhere to put it. It is pretty obvious that they plan on brewing a lot of beer and have already begun bottling some, including their collaboration with Noble Ale Works, The Messenger IPA. Continue reading
As most of you are probably aware, the month of November has been designated by The Movember Foundation as Movember; the month for raising funds for and awareness of mens health issues, specifically prostate and testicular cancer. As part of the month-long campaign, men around the world were encouraged to grow a mustache for the month. I participated in this fundraiser in 2010 but my mustache grows so slow that I have decided to just keep it and participate in the fundraising efforts via other avenues. Local craft brewery, The Dudes’ Brewing Company, participated by holding a Movember Celebration and Shave-Off over this past weekend.
Over the course of the weekend they donated $1.00 from every Double Trunk DIPA sold in the tasting room to the Movember Foundation. On Saturday they had raffles throughout the day and a Best Mustache Contest with the first place prize being a $100 gift certificate, second place receiving a case of The Dudes’ brew and the third place winner receiving a growler and fill. I am afraid I missed Saturday’s festivities so I cannot tell you who won that contest. Continue reading