Category Archives: breweries

Beer Advocate “Class of 2012” feature

Another Beer Advocate Magazine byline this month with the Class of 2012 feature in January’s issue. Had a chance to write about 7 new breweries that opened in 2012, all of which I had never heard of before being assigned the stories back in October. Love being assigned stuff because it’s like being handed cool local breweries in other parts of the country to add to my “to visit” list (even got to cross two off during San Diego Beer Week!). Also learned how intense it can be brewing in other states: Hawaii, for example, has to ship in every supply except water–which is in a shortage–and Texas can’t have tasting rooms. It’s always good to keep things in perspective.

The 7 breweries were:

Since BA Mag still doesn’t have stories available online, you’ll either have to buy the Android subscription or download the PDF by clicking on the image above.

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L.A. Beer Hop makes fun beer tours in a sprawling city

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The chariot that awaits

Last year for L.A. Beer Week, I wrote a piece about how L.A. finally has enough breweries to make beer tours actually feasible and three months later, I finally had a chance to go on one myself. A long time ago, I met up with the guys from L.A. Craft Beer Tours because I said I might want to be a tour guide on the buses. They weren’t doing any tours in L.A. at the time, just running trips down to OC or San Diego until the market grew some more. I gave them a shout out in my LABW story, but never heard of their plans to go full-time with the tours up here, so I forgot about it.

Then I came across another brewery tour company called L.A. Beer Hop and their sleek canary yellow bus and simplistic branding scheme (have you seen their use of Instagram on the website?!!) attracted me instantly. Then I met Hal, the owner who looks like the little kid from A Christmas Story all growed up (youthful exuberance and all), and was hooked. So I booked a ride on the Beach Cities tour which was scheduled to take us to El Segundo Brewing Company, Monkish Brewing Company and Strand Brewing Company–all of which are (by L.A. standards) close together. Continue reading

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Airwaves 2013 was a succes (aka why IE beer matters)!

The aftermath of Airwaves' bottle share.

The aftermath of Airwaves’ bottle share.

Don’t they say that you know a party was good if you don’t remember it? Well, since in all my drunken awesomeness I’ve never managed to black out, I know a party was good when I don’t have a lot of photos of it. With Beer Geek Radio‘s first anniversary party–dubbed Airwaves 2013–I spent so much time meeting new people, laughing my ass off and drinking good beer that the only photos that actually exist from the day are, like, two blurry ones my new drinking buddies (including one awesome chick) and one of a graveyard of empty bottles.

Billed as the largest collective bottle share in the Inland Empire, Airwaves was a beer festival organized to be not only a party for local podcast duo Beer Geek Radio (the subject of my IE Weekly cover story the same week), but also a chance for the local beer community to come together and drink beer from breweries in one of the largest growing scenes in the country.

I know that people (especially in LA) scoff at the idea of anything cool or culturally significant coming out of the Inland Empire, (much less beer worth drinking) but after attending Airwaves, I have even more respect for its beer community and feel like that what’s bubbling out there is worth a deeper look. Continue reading

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Road trip to FiftyFifty Eclipse Release Party

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Last weekend, I drove more than 1000 miles, stayed in three motels (each with a varying degree of classiness), did my day job from the motel lobbies, drank from a dusty bottle of 1993 geuze, sampled a dozen versions of a coveted bourbon-barrel aged imperial stout and ate many chocolate covered pomegranate seeds from a well-stocked nosh table (I never did make it over to the savory side).

All this, the result of an epic beer road trip I embarked on last weekend-ish with a few ex coworkers to attend the FiftyFifty Brewing Company‘s Eclipse Release Party in Truckee, California. Continue reading

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Stone hits Los Angeles like a ton of beer bricks

Stone Brewing Company just opened its first company store outside of San Diego and of all places, it landed in the new gravitational center of L.A.’s beer amenities–Old Town Pasadena. Spitting distance from Lucky Baldwins, Haven and Congregation, the new store will completely altering the way people think about beer accessibility. I mean, it’s a store. For a brewery. It looks like a damn museum store or something that you’d be forced to walk through after getting off a ride at Disneyland.

I love how far this industry has come that you can go buy a keg a growler fill or maybe a Stone Smoked Porter wax candle from a storefront on a subway platform like it’s no big deal. Apparently the idea blew other people’s minds too because there was a line down to the street before the media event was even over and people were just getting off the train and getting into line, no questions asked (“What’s going on? Well, whatever. If there’s a line, then it must be good,” one homeless-looking fellow said as he fell in), leading me to further believe that people in Los Angeles just love to wait in lines. Though the beer is good and it’s pretty cool you can get a Stone growler fill in the middle of L.A. 🙂

Stone Brewing Co.’s First Company Store Outside of San Diego Opens In Pasadena: Lines! Growlers!

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Beachwood wins two GABF medals!!!

Not going to say “I told you so,” but I have on record my predictions for Beachwood BBQ & Brewing’s epic wins at this year’s Great American Beer Festival and, well, can’t help it if I was right. All the real credit for L.A. County’s only microbrew GABF medal (Pabst won one since they moved headquarters to LA last year), of course, goes to Julian Shrago–the ultimate homebrewing rocket scientist who only recently quit his day job at Raytheon to make Beachwood Brewing a full-time gig.

After submitting a few beers to last year’s GABF judging panel when the brewery had only been open for a few months (submissions are due in August/September), Shrago got positive feedback from the judges: beers were almost medal-worthy, but the first batch isn’t often the best. Since then, Beachwood has expanded its offerings fivefold and this year, they submitted a bunch of the brewpub’s one-offs, two of which won!

Gold: Udder Love, a milk stout, in the Sweet Stout category

Bronze: El Verano, in the French-and Belgian-style Saison category

Shrago’s beers never disappoint (well, maybe the Berliner Weisse was a little ambitious) and his single IPAs, double IPAs and extra-hoppy pale ales are competitive with some of the best coming out of San Diego right now. I feel so fortunate that Beachwood is not only in Long Beach, but it is my local bar. I love that beer geeks drive from all over the southwest to try a beer from the spot a few blocks from my apartment.

It’s about time Long Beach gets on the beer map–after all, we have the oldest operating brewpub in Southern California (Belmont Brewing Company), the oldest operating bar west of the Mississippi (Joe Jost’s) and the first Rock Bottom Brewery outside of its home state of Colorado. ‘

You can read the news story I wrote about Beachwood’s wins at the Long Beach Post.

 

Hangar 24 part 3

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For the third time in a month, I found myself back at a brewery that I never even thought I would have a chance to visit–Hangar 24 Brewery in Redlands. Visits one and two were too quick: a hop off the freeway after an IE Weekly interview and into the airport-adjacent brewery where I had a few tasters, filled an expensive growler, bought some bottles and hit the road home.

This time, however, I was with my man and not in a rush (we were on a meandering drive back from attending a wedding in Palm Springs) so we hungout and drank full glasses of beer on the shady concrete patio while the bottle line clanked in the background and the air smelled like brew day goodness.

I’ve never been to a brewery that’s operating full steam ahead on a Sunday afternoon, but apparently that Orange Wheat needs to hit distribution and not like any of the regulars who live in this last-bastion-of-the-citrus-industry town are fazed by a working grain silo.

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I’m always pleasantly surprised by the diversity of people that love this place. Mexican day laborers, suburban dads, biker dudes, college kids, recovering day hikers, young Hispanic mothers and white boy Angels fans all hang out here at this off-the-grid brewery nestled in the foothills of the Inland Empire.

Merch is a little pricey but beers are spot on (drank some Fresh Hop IPA and the new Local Fields beer, Gourdgeous). Didn’t get another growler fill (how the hell am I supposed to get rid of 2 liters of beer in 48 hours?), but as always, I was stoked to have an excuse to stop by Hangar 24.

Hangar 24 is located at 1710 Sessums Dr., Redlands, CA (909) 389-1400, hangar24brewery.com

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I vent to ze Netherlands and vrote some stories about eet, ishn’t dat veird?

De Molen Restaurant and Brewery in Bodegraven, Netherlands.

De Molen Restaurant and Brewery in Bodegraven, Netherlands.

Even though I spent two weeks drinking and traipsing around several European countries (all to be divulged in later posts), it was the Netherlands that really spoke to me, craft beer-ily speaking. I promised myself that I wasn’t going to work (aka write) while I was on vacation, but of course when I came home I couldn’t help but pitch a few stories and share some of what I learned.

Biggest and most awesome was the big feature I got to write for Beer Advocate Magazine about Dutch craft beer. I made a lot of connections during my beer travels out there, all of which came in handy for writing a story about the growing beer scene in the Netherlands. I  Skyped with Peter van der Arend, chased down a phone call with Menno from De Molen and talked to the only female administrative member of PINT, a Dutch craft-beer consumers organization.

Only shitty part was that I was moving into a new place during the main week I had to do interviews and so I didn’t have internet for most of them. I sat in my old apartment mooching the neighbor’s wifi for one, did another one on my cell phone (which does horrible with Skype) and did a third at the nearly-mom-in-laws house. Still, I got it all done and they even used a bunch of my travel photos for the layout! BA Mag still doesn’t have an online edition (though you can download it from Google Play), so you’ll have to download the PDF below to read it. It’s worth it!!!

Click to Download PDF

Click to Download PDF

I also used some interesting photos I took of bottles from The Bruery which I found on shelves in the Netherlands to make a blog post for the OC Weekly about the phenom. Can you tell I think it’s funny that Americans think Dutch people say things in a way that can be typed out?

The Bruery Goes Global: Bottles Spotted In Netherlands–Ishn’t Dat Vierd?

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Russian River Beer Revival and BBQ Cookoff

STUMPTOWN BOUND

If there has ever been a defining moment for Long Beach‘s growing importance in the beer world, it was last weekend. And if there is one local beer-maker paving the way for my city’s sudsy future, it is Beachwood Brewing–the 15 month-old brewery housed inside Beachwood BBQ‘s restaurant in the revitalized Downtown.

While Long Beachers drank through nearly 30 kegs of Beachwood’s beers at the sponsored beer gardens at both Funk Fest and Rose Park Bluegrass Festival, the barely-year-old brewery was also winning over new fans up north, at one of the state’s most important end-of-summer beer festivals–the Russian River Beer Revival and BBQ Cookoff in Guerneville.

And by some drunken stroke of luck (or maybe it was just the overbooking and me having previous customer service skills), I was among the selected few who got to go up and pour beers at this epic fest on behalf of Beachwood. Continue reading

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It was a Pizza Port kinda day

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Today was the most impromptu summer day I’ve had in a while and it consisted of blowing off hours of work I should be doing to prepare for Monday and driving down to Pizza Port San Clemente instead (I’d like to thank one of my main cholas for making this happen).

The drive through much of Orange County was miserable, but of course San Clemente was worth the wait with a beachside breeze, train track-adjacent beaches and the closest Pizza Port to Los Angeles.

As soon as we got there, I had to do a phone interview with Twin Shadow for an IE Weekly story I’m writing and so the first 20 minutes on site were spent in the car asking what about the 80s is so cool to him and being told that “I don’t like to categorize what I do into genres.” Continue reading

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