As the year draws to a close, it is time to think back on what 2017 has brought to the craft beer world; more specifically what has happened in the Craft Beer Guy world. As 2016 came to a pretty crappy end for me, I did not do one last year; for that reason, I will begin with the end of 2016 as it segued into 2017.
My coverage of 2016 ended pretty much the way 2017 started, with the opening of Smog City Brewing Company’s satellite tasting room, Smog City – SteelCraft in the Bixby Knolls area of Long Beach. They opened the location at the end of December; by the middle of January they had applied for, and were granted the ability to sell growlers and bottles to go.
Later in January the inaugural L.A. Beer and Food Festival was presented by the Los Angeles County Brewers Guild. The sold-out event featured close to 50 member breweries of the LA Brewers Guild as well as 15 local food vendors. This year the L.A. Beer and Food Festival will be held Saturday, January 27. Buy your tickets now, before it sells out.
These photos were taken Saturday at the Chad’s Beer Cellar IV bottle share which was held at King Harbor Brewing Company in Redondo Beach. This event was the fourth and possibly final bottle share put on by local beer hoarder and King Harbor Brewing investor, Chad Hazen. All the funds from the event went to benefit the Richstone Family Center which is located in Hawthorne. The Richstone Family Center is dedicated to preventing and treating child abuse.
First off, I would like to personally thank everyone that showed up. While my involvement with the event was limited to getting the word out, the previous events never sold out, which I found incredulous considering the quality of the beers that were made available. I made it a personal goal to see that they did sell all 100 tickets this year, and it happened. While all the monies have not been tabulated yet, with ticket sales, raffles and the silent auction, over $8,000 was raised for Richstone. Of course, none of this would have been possible without Chad.
The first of these bottle shares was held in December of 2014 when Hazen decided he wanted to quit drinking beer for a year while he trained for a marathon as he felt his collection of beer was just a little too much temptation. He got together with King Harbor Brewing Company and they decided they would have a bottle share benefiting Richstone Family Center. Continue reading
On Saturday afternoon, Select Beer Store, in Redondo Beach celebrated their 5th Anniversary by bringing in craft beer from some of their favorite local craft breweries. Barley Hops Grill was also there with their special style of barbecue.
As I was going through my notes I noticed that it was five years ago, during the 7th Annual American Craft Beer Week that I first visited Select Beer Store for their South Bay Tap Takeover which featured all four of the South Bay’s breweries; El Segundo Brewing, Monkish Brewing, Strand Brewing and Smog City Brewing.
Today the South Bay alone has more than 20 breweries; things have really grown in the last five years and Select Beer is not only selling craft beer but they have also been involved with a few collaborations, at least a couple of which were available at their anniversary celebration. Continue reading
For those that think I made a typo in the title, I didn’t. A Class of Beer: An Overview of the Craft Brewing Renaissance is a class that was offered this spring through UCLA’s continuing education program; UCLA Extension. The class, taught by local beerlebrity, beer hoarder and writer for Celebrator Beer News and Beer Paper L.A. Tomm Carroll, explored the history of beer from ancient times to today’s craft beer explosion. With Carroll leading the class, students learned about different styles of beers as well as how to differentiate between a flawed beer and a good one. Essentially, by the time they completed the eight week class, attendees should be well on their way to being capable of pursuing a rank from the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) or to begin the Brewers Association’s program to be certified as a Cicerone.
As we all know, sitting in a classroom listening to beer experts like Carroll, John Palmer, author of Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers; Devon Randall of Arts District Brewing; Rob Croxall of El Segundo Brewing, as well as various craft beer bar owners, homebrewers and judges is all well and good but until you can see, smell and taste the beer the talking can only go so far. To remedy this, Carroll has beer tastings of four different beers for each classroom session and arranged a few field trips to locations like Monkish Brewing to discuss brewing styles and yeasts; Mohawk Bend to learn about running a craft beer bar or brewpub; and this past Monday they visited Select Beer Store in Redondo Beach, where I caught up to them. Continue reading
This weekend Monkish Brewing Company celebrated four years of brewing excellence by providing access to a half dozen of their rare fruited saisons as well as several barrel-aged and brett saisons. They also released their most recent collaboration with Select Beer Store, Select Monk 4.
I headed over to Monkish after Phantom Carriage’s One Year Anniversary party ended and found the tasting room packed and everyone in a great mood. Congratulations to Henry, Adriana and the entire Monkish team on a very successful four years. I feel fortunate to have you close enough to have witnessed the evolution. Cheers! Continue reading
These photos were taken Wednesday evening at Jimmy’s Bar & Grill monthly beer dinner. This month’s dinner was a little different than the others Jimmy’s puts on in that instead of featuring one brewery, it featured five breweries from Belgium. When it comes to beers from Belgium, probably one of the most knowledgeable local guys is Select Beer Store owner, Wes Jacobs. Anyone that has visited the Select Beer bottle shop has inevitably noticed the vast variety of Belgian ales they have available there. When Jimmy’s co-owner/chef, Marc Dix, decided he wanted to do a beer dinner featuring Belgian brews, because Belgians are meant to be served with food, it was not a difficult decision to approach Jacobs and ask if he wanted to curate the beer served.
Jacobs readily agreed and told Dix to provide the menu and he would come up with the beers; but that is not how Dix works, he tailors the food to compliment the beer. You will not find the dishes served at the beer dinners on the daily menu. That meant that the first thing that had to be done was to figure out what five beers would be served at the dinner. As you might imagine, that was quite a task in of itself. As I recall, it took about two months of sampling, with up to eight people assisting in the decision making process. Once the beers were chosen, Dix was able to do his thing; and did he ever. Continue reading
These photos are from the 2015 Pacific Brewers Cup homebrew competition which was held Saturday afternoon at Four Points by Sheraton at LAX. The event was hosted by Strand Brewers Club, Long Beach Homebrewers, and Pacific Gravity. There were 458 entries consisting of beer, mead and ciders.
While these photos were all taken Saturday, the fact of the matter is that with 458 entries, the judging portion actually started two weeks ago when members of the Strand Brewers Club had to sort the 1300 plus bottles into categories and get all the information entered in the competitions database. I helped out on the sorting by scanning in the entries with their assigned competition number; this gave me an opportunity to see where the entries came from. I have to admit, I was pretty surprised at how far and wide they came from; with several entries coming from out of state. Because of the substantial number of entries, there were a couple judging sessions done ahead of time.
As you might think, it is quite the task to judge 458 beers, mead and ciders and it truly takes a lot of work by an organized team to pull that off. The team yesterday consisted of 70 judges and 42 stewards. I met one of the judges yesterday that came all the way from Chandler, Arizona “for the love of beer” as opposed to trying to escape Chandler’s 100+ weather. While the judges were truly put to the test, I doubt that the event could have moved as smoothly as it did without the efforts of the stewards. Head Steward Barbara Bovee is to be congratulated for keeping things as organized as they were. Continue reading
On April 25, the village of Barpak in the Gorkha district of Nepal was hit with a severe earthquake with a magnitude ranging from 7.8 to 8.1. The earthquake was the most severe to hit Nepal since 1934 and killed upwards of 8,000 people with more than 14,500 injured. The quake literally flattened villages and left hundreds of thousands homeless. The earthquake triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest, which killed at least 19, making it the deadliest day on the mountain in recorded history. Needless to say, when I opened up my Facebook and Twitter feed that morning Nepal was definitely trending, to use the vernacular of the day.
To be honest, I am not really sure where I saw it first, or whose suggestion it was, but someone in the local craft beer community suggested that the beer community should do something to raise monies to help the relief efforts in Nepal. It was not long before Kelly Erickson and Nick Gingold of Craft Media Solutions teamed up with Global Giving and more than 30 craft breweries, brewpubs, gastropubs and bottle shops to form Day of Action: Crawl 4 Nepal OC/LA. Each location had a selection of beers that you could purchase with a portion of the proceeds being donated to the Global Giving account.
I decided to visit three of the South Bay locations that were participating, beginning with Phantom Carriage in Carson. Phantom Carriage tapped a one-off keg of Muis, their 100% Brett wild blonde, with organic blood oranges. When I was talking with Phantom Carriage co-owner, Martin Svab and Assistant Brewer Brendan Lake they both relayed the same story to me in that the day before they were not sure how the blood oranges were going to work as the flavor just was not coming out the way they hoped. By Saturday morning the flavors had settled and it was delicious with subtle blood orange flavor at the finish. It was so good that the keg tapped out in a couple hours; 100% of the proceeds from this keg were donated to Crawl4Nepal. Continue reading
Saturday evening I joined a few dozen others for the South Bay Progressive’s second “pub crawl” which included five South Bay venues that specialize in craft beer; each of whom showcased a different American craft brewery. The five venues and the breweries they featured were Brewco, Manhattan Beach featuring Smog City Brewing; The Brewery at Abigaile featuring Stone Brewing Company; Silvio’s Brazilian Barbecue featuring Modern Times Beer; Naja’s Place featuring The Bruery; and Select Beer Store who featured Great Divide Brewing Company. Transportation for the event was provided by LA Craft Beer Tours.
We started our tour at Naja’s Place since it was the closest with the best parking options; the fact that they were showcasing The Bruery made the decision process a little easier. I have to admit, I was a little shocked when I saw the Naja’s tap list as it was emptier than I have ever seen. I was then reminded that Naja’s is having their 6th Annual IPA Festival this coming Wednesday so they are in the process of cleaning all their lines. If you enjoy IPAs you will want to head to Naja’s Place for this week long event.
My intent was to visit The Brewery at Abigaile next with a stop by Silvio’s on the way back but a scheduling conflict resulted in Silvio’s closing at 7:00 PM for a private party so we headed to Silvio’s first then walked up the street to Abigaile. After grabbing a beer, some food and photos we headed to Brewco in Manhattan Beach. As one might imagine, Saturday night in Manhattan Beach meant a pretty large crowd but the service was fast and the people were friendly. After enjoying a beer most of us got back on the bus and headed back to Naja’s Place which was now jumping with live music and an even more lively audience.
South Bay Progressive is a collaboration between the five South Bay venues with a cross-promotion of some of the production breweries that have helped make the South Bay a craft beer destination. The event started last September for LA Beer Week and included four of last night’s participating five venues, with The Brewery at Abigaile joining in the fun this time around. This was the first time I have participated in an event like this but I have to say, if South Bay Progressive continues I will do my best to be there next time as well. Cheers! Continue reading
Have you ever seen the movie Memento? That is kind of what my life seems like at times. If I took your photo I will remember your face, which does not necessarily mean I will remember your name; but it is a start. While I have been taking photos of beer and breweries and anything else that was in my view for many years, I only recently got into taking photos of the local craft beer scene relatively recently; primarily because the craft beer scene around here is pretty new. When I really became aware of what was happening in the South Bay was during American Craft Beer Week in 2012. My girlfriend had changed the meds she had been on and could now enjoy a brew or two with me, so we dove into the new South Bay craft beer scene.
On day two of the 7th Annual American Craft Beer Week, May 16, 2012 I was in Select Beer Store in Redondo Beach and I saw this guy taking a photo of his beer. I was not ready to catch it as it was happening so I asked him if he would oblige me by reenacting the shot for me. Little did I know that we would continue to run into each other and eventually become friends. As it turned out, not only do we both enjoy craft beer, we both like to promote local breweries and we use photography to accomplish this. This was the first time I met Bernie Wire.
Bernie is kind of a legend in these parts and Tuesday evening Mohawk Bend, a gastropub with [a reported] 72 different craft beers hosted an art exhibit of some of Bernie’s works. The photos were nice, but I think Bernie would be the first to admit that the turnout is what really made this event. It is not easy driving out to Los Angeles in rush hour traffic, but people were eager to show their support and appreciation to Bernie. It was a very nice event attended by great people. Continue reading