2020 started off mellow enough; little did we know what was in store for us. The highlight of the month, and possibly the year for some, was the Hop Culture Juicy Brews Beach Party Craft Beer Festival held at Brouwerij West. It was a very fun event featuring craft beer from more than 25 of the top breweries in the country.
The month ended with a going away party for Smog City’s taproom manager Jason “Breezy” Briseño as he and his bride prepared to move to Australia; I think COVID put a temporary damper on those plans. Continue reading
As the year comes to an end it is time for me to sit down with a beer and try to figure out what I did that made this year go by so quickly. To be honest, I feel like I have really slowed down on my coverage of the local craft beer scene, but the growth has been so rapid that I cannot keep up. Heck, there were two new breweries getting ready to open in El Segundo that I did not know about until three months before they opened! Oh well, I will continue to do what I can; if I don’t visit a particular brewery as much as I used to it is probably because there are so many breweries around here now. In fact, while my personal craft beer life may have slowed, the growth over the past year is kind of mind blowing. Let’s see what happened in 2019.
In my review of 2018 I had mentioned there were two new local breweries that I still had not visited, one of those was Tortugo Brewing. I started off 2019 by remedying that. If you have not been, it is a nice location and they have some good brews; you should check them out. Continue reading
These photos were taken Monday evening at Abigaile Restaurant and Brewery in Hermosa Beach, where Head Brewer Josh McCombs teamed up with Executive Chef Tin Vuong, and Chef de Cuisine Mailyn Castillo to put on another of their series of beer dinners; this time being a delicious five course dinner (which was advertised as a four course meal) paired with beers brewed by McCombs.
The meal started off with an appetizer consisting of a roasted scallop on the half shell, with a nuac cham sauce made up of butter, parsley, and coriander. This was paired with McCombs’ Dim Wit Hefeweisen which really complemented the buttery texture of the scallop.
For round two we were served a Crisp Duck Arancini, stuffed with duck and mozzarella with a lemon pepper sauce (really tasty). This was paired with McCombs’ South Side Kolsch which balanced the richness of the arancini, and was enhanced by the lemon pepper sauce. Continue reading
These photos were taken Thursday, September 5, at Tortilla Cantina Taco Bistro and Sports Bar in Torrance, where they hosted my 5th Annual South Bay Tap Takeover. This year’s event featured beer, cider and mead from 26 of the South Bay’s best breweries and cideries, and live music featuring Ashleigh Correa. For the first time, there were two anniversary brews commemorating five years of putting on the South Bay Tap Takeover.
One of the anniversary beers was Better Weather Sweater IPA, which was a collaboration beer brewed at Smog City last month with 20 South Bay breweries. Better Weather Sweater came out amazing; it is very well balanced and with a 5.9 ABV, it is perfectly crushable for this heat we are going through. Better Weather Sweater will be released today (Friday) at all the Smog City locations and at several brewpubs throughout the Los Angeles area. It is perfect for those that complain about IPAs being “too hoppy” as that is not going to be a complaint from anyone. The second anniversary beer was 2nd Cold War Russian Imperial Stout, a collaboration I did with Zymurgy Brew Works back in April. As Zymurgy was sold to Smog City, this was officially the last Zymurgy beer to be commercially available. Continue reading
If you have attended any of the previous four tap takeovers, you have a pretty good idea of what to expect; if you have never been I can summarize with at least 25 South Bay breweries/cideries pouring from 50 taps.
When I started this in 2015, we had 10 South Bay breweries with 40 taps; in 2016 there were 15, and in 2017 we had 18 South Bay breweries with 40 taps. In 2018 there was a change of management at the original venue (Flights), and they decided they wanted to do their own thing. I wished them luck, and then approached Rick Gomez of Tortilla Cantina to see if they would be interested in hosting the 4th annual tap takeover. I approached Rick for three reasons; I knew he was a big supporter of the local craft beer scene, every South Bay brewery owner I spoke with knew and really liked Rick, and I knew he had 48 taps. I do not think Rick really knew what he was in for, but he went all-in and the 4th Annual South Bay Tap Takeover ended up featuring 22 local breweries participating, and with the help of a jockey box, 49 taps of craft beer! Continue reading
These photos were taken Wednesday evening at Abigaile Restaurant and Brewery in Hermosa Beach, where Head Brewer Josh McCombs teamed up with Executive Chef Tin Vuong, and Chef de Cuisine Matt Sprister to put on a delicious six course dinner paired with beers brewed by McCombs.
The first course was their Apple-Chicken Liver on country toast with an onion confit paired with McCombs Hurley McSurley Pilsner. To be honest, when I saw this on the menu I was not sure I was even going to try it; I am glad I gave it a shot because it was amazing. It reminded me of when I attended PAIRED last year in Denver. I knew this was going to be a good night.
The second course consisted of their African Red Mango curried scallop with a tomato relish, which was paired with their Big Boss Brut IPA. The slight sweetness of the IPA went nicely with the scallop. Continue reading
These photos were taken Saturday at Abigaile Restaurant and Brewery, where they held another in what is becoming their regular series of Brewtopia craft beer festivals. Saturday’s event featured unlimited tastings from Brewery Draconum, Common Space, Firestone Walker, Hand-Brewed Beer, Karl Strauss, King Harbor Brewing, MacLeod Ale, Pacific Plate Brewing, and The Brewery at Abigaile, as well as cider offerings from 101 Cider House. Attendees also had access to a complimentary buffet, and were automatically entered in raffles that included swag, a growler fill from Abigaile and a gift certificate to Abigaile as prizes.
People that attended Brewtopia in February, and there were several, were treated to a much better version on Saturday; I spoke with most of the people that attended both events and everyone agreed that it was like night and day. Saturday’s event had a wider selection of beers, free food, and definitely more attendees, so I guess their improved advertising made a huge difference; even if there was a last minute date change from Sunday to Saturday. Continue reading
These photos were taken Sunday afternoon at the Brewtopia beer festival in Hermosa Beach’s Alta House, formerly known as Ocean Bar, which is the upstairs area of Abigaile and The Brewery at Abigaile. The event featured craft beers and ciders from The Brewery at Abigaile, 101 Cider House, Angel City, Zymurgy Brew Works, Firestone Walker, and Santa Monica Brew Works.
Admission to the event included unlimited pours from the above mentioned breweries and access to a special brunch menu.
Long time followers may recall that The Brewery at Abigaile had done the Brewtopia beer festivals back in 2015; Sunday’s event was a mini-version of the prior events, but the few dozen people that did attend had a beautiful Sunday afternoon to enjoy craft brews on the Alta House patio. Continue reading
These photos were taken Friday evening at Alta House, formerly known as Ocean Bar, which is the upstairs area of Abigaile and The Brewery at Abigaile. The event was hosted to introduce The Brewery at Abigaile’s new brewer, Josh McCombs.
A question that I have been asked pretty frequently lately is, “What’s going on at Abigaile?” It was a legitimate question since their last brewer that I was aware of, Mitchell Riser, left several months ago and since they are licensed as a brewpub, they need to be brewing beer. That issue was resolved at the beginning of January when Josh McCombs came onboard as their new brewer. Continue reading
These photos were taken Thursday at the 3rd Annual South Bay Tap Takeover, which was held at Flights, in Hawthorne. The event featured 18 of the South Bay’s best production breweries and brewpubs, filling up 39 tap handles.
Although I did not arrive until a little after 4:00 PM, my Facebook feed indicated that people began streaming in pretty much as soon as the doors opened. By 6:00 we had the place packed and it remained that way until close to 10:00; after that, people kept arriving to sample some outstanding brews.
I had the opportunity to speak with many of the attendees and discovered that this was the first time visiting Flights; it seems safe to say that they will all return. Continue reading