tasting room

Brouwerij West at the Port of Los Angeles

Sometimes it is hard to remember that just a few years ago you could count the production breweries and brewpubs in the South Bay on one hand; now you need both of your hands and a foot to count them all and new locations are being constructed as you read this. A common question that has been debated frequently over the past couple of years is that of over saturation.

As a craft beer consumer, over saturation never really comes into play for me although I can understand how a brewery owner might not feel the same way. Of course, I might not feel the same way if all of our breweries were merely churning out the same brews and styles as the next guy, but the reality is that even though we have a dozen tasting rooms and brewpubs to visit in the general vicinity each is unique in their own way. I feel that as long as this trend continues the only problem the consumer will have is deciding which brewery to patronize on any particular day.

On Wednesday afternoon I headed over to the Port of Los Angeles and the future home of Brouwerij (pronounced: brewery) West. Those of you that were fortunate enough to attend The Festival 2014 at CRAFTED at the Port of Los Angeles back in November you probably remember the big Warehouse No. 9 that was located across the way from the warehouse that The Festival was held. This will be the new home for Brouwerij West. Continue reading

A Craft Beer Valentine’s Day in the South Bay

As I sat down to write this, I asked Tanya what we did last year for Valentine’s Day. Neither of us could recall off hand but after a little research we discovered that we may be becoming creatures of habit with traditions we did not realize we had.

Anyway, this year Smog City Brewing re-released their Death By Hops DIPA so we decided to start the day off there. They had a brisk business going on with many beerlebrity sightings as hop heads from near and far came to check out the latest release; they would not be disappointed. Regular readers of Craft Beer Guy have probably noticed that I do not do beer reviews on this site (you can visit my Untappd account if you want those) but I will say that this batch is amazing. If you enjoy a good in-your-face hop bomb you will want to get over there before it is all gone. One thing that came to mind as I enjoyed it was just how lucky we are to live in an area that turns out so many great brews and the double IPAs. When you stop to think about Smog City’s Death By Hops, Strand Brewing’s White Sand, El Segundo Brewing’s Hammerland, and The Brewery at Abigaile’s Beetlejuice, to name but a few, the South Bay is turning out some of the best brews around.

After enjoying a beer at Smog City and speaking with a few people we headed down Western to Mulligan Family Fun Center to race go-karts. They have gas powered karts and governors equipped to prevent them from going very fast but it was still a lot of fun. No photos of this part of the day are available because I have yet to figure out how to race and work the camera at the same time. Continue reading

Photos from the 1st Super Bowl Warmup Brewery Walk

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

Infinite Wishes and Finite Bottles

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

Business & Beer Begins 2015 at Smog City Brewing

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

Lots Brewing in the Pomona Valley

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

The 2014 Craft Beer Guy Year in Review

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.

January 2014

Noble flight

Noble Ale Works Flight

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

Holiday Bottle Share at King Harbor Brewing

Suppose you had an outstanding collection of craft beer and you wanted to go on the wagon for a year, what would you do? Well, if you are anything like local craft beer aficionado and beer hoarder Chad Hazen you donate a large portion of it for a bottle share to benefit a local charity. As Hazen told me, he decided he wanted to quit drinking beer for a year while he trains for a marathon and his collection of beer was just a little too much temptation. He got together with King Harbor Brewing Company, of which he is one of the investors, and they decided they would have a bottle share benefiting Richstone Family Center which is located in Hawthorne. The Richstone Family Center is dedicated to preventing and treating child abuse and holding the event just before Christmas just seemed right to Hazen and King Harbor Brewing.

This bottle share was a little different than any bottle share I have attended previously in that attendees did not bring any bottles; the beers were all donated by Hazen from his personal stash; and what a stash it was. The published beer list would make any bottle shop proud: Continue reading

Wanderin’ Star Bottle Release at Absolution Brewing

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 nigel@absolutionbrewingcompany.com. 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

Photos from Crude, Cocoa and Donuts at El Segundo Brewing Company

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

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