Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Taste of Brews 2012 Long Beach


Official Taste of Brews Mini Tasting Stein

The 2012 Taste of Brews Festival occupied beautiful Lighthouse Park in Long Beach this past Saturday and I have to say it was quite well run and enjoyable! We had early admission tickets (NOON-4PM) which was nice as it allowed us first dibs at the beer and food samples available. Even though it never got totally packed to the point where it got annoying anytime throughout the event, it was nice having the early admission tickets. Throughout the event the lines were pretty short, which was definitely nice. Waiting to long for brew is definitely a buzz kill! I had never been to Lighthouse Park before, but you couldn't ask for a prettier location for an outdoor festival and the weather was really nice too.

Lighthouse Park with Tents in Background


The brewers that participated in the event were headquartered in several different states but the majority were from California, including a number of OC based breweries. There were some well known craft breweries as well as breweries that I had not heard of which was cool. There were mass market beers such as Newcastle and ShockTop too ... So there was something for all tastes....unless you were expecting Bud Light. Complete list of breweries at the event is at http://www.tasteofbrews.com/thebrews.html  . NOTE: We are not sure if the same breweries will be present at the Taste of Brews on September 29th in Dana Point.


Magic Hat Brewing hailing from South Burlington,VT - Magical Beer!

ShockTop VW Bug..Had a working beer tap in the back!

Free Food Samples: In addition to the beer there were some local restaurants and food related places handing out FREE samples. Although it is hard to turn down a craft beer festival...the free food samples were definitely a selling point when we considered going to this event. The most generous restaurant giving out free samples was STACKED ( http://stacked.com/)  based in Cerritos. They were giving out plates of food...with a chocolate chip cookie!

Generous free plate of food from STACK(in Cerritos) restaurant




House of Big Fish based in Laguna Beach ,CA was offering up mini shrimp cocktails.

Hooters was giving out tasty little boneless chicken wings with a side of ranch. Venissimo cheese was giving out some tasty cheese samples , it looks like they have four shops in Long Beach,Del Mar and San Diego.

Free Boneless Chicken Wings courtesy of Hooters



Food : In addition to the food free food samples there were also a handful of food trucks at the event . All the food trucks we tried were new to us so that was pretty cool. When you are sampling dozens of beers you need some food in your system!


Komodo Truck - Tasty Asian/Mexican fusion
Tacos from Komodo Truck


Rebel Bite Truck: Specializes in Grilled Cheeses w/ Attitude!

Bacon/Tomato Patty!



The crowd at the event was pretty laid back and everyone seemed to be having a good time without drama. There were police officers on site which made the event feel safe.

There was a stage setup with live music playing, although most people were too busy sampling beers to pay too much attention having a live band playing definitely added to the atmosphere. The band was playing mostly classic rock covers....which is good beer tastin' music.


We were given drink tickets which seemed to be required by the alcohol dept (according to the email from the event organizers) , but a number of tickets were given and some places were not collecting them. The drink tickets seemed to be a last minute addition, so I'm not sure if all the brewery representatives were sure of what to do.



Conclusion: In all this was a great beer festival and one that I will look forward to next year. It was a nice relaxed way to sample many beers from dozens of breweries . If you missed the long beach event there will be another taste of brews sept 29th in Dana point. Tickets for "Taste of Brews" Dana Point are still available at http://www.tasteofbrews.com/eventdetails2.html.

Next Door Lounge in Hollywood


Left: Mai Tai   Right: Watermelon Martini


Visiting Next Door Lounge in Hollywood makes me wish I lived next door to it...and to think I used to live just a mile away (practically stumbling distance!). Next Door Lounge is a sophisticated speakeasy that is located next door to the Hollywood Corner cafe on Highland Avenue. Next Door Lounge and Hollywood Corner share the same owner. We made a reservation for a Saturday and we were emailed a password that we would need to get inside. Outside we were greeted by the doorman that was all dressed up. Once inside you feel like you are in almost in a different era with the decor and the staff is all dressed up , with the men in suits and women in flapper style outfits. We came early and there were not too many people when we got there , but it quickly became busier. Reservations are highly recommended because then you can actually sit down on nice couches or chairs , but these seating areas are limited. They don't have a full menu, but they have several appetizers and flat breads.


Pulled pork sliders!

We tried the smoked pulled pork sliders which are topped with guacamole, sour cream,  crispy onion and apple coleslaw. Definitely and interesting and tasty take on the standard slider. We also tried the sweet potato fries which are served with curry ketchup. We also tried their South of the Border wood fired pizza which had grilled chicken , corn, green pepper, red onion, mozzarella, avocado,cilantro ,bbq and chipotle aioli. The flavors on this pizza blended together nicely!


South of the Border Pizza and Sweet Potato Fries

In the Booze department we tried their Moscow Mule, Madattan (w/ Balcones baby Blue, Benedictine,Cynar, Wild Flower Bitters) and their Mai Tai. All the drinks were well crafted and you could tell that they used very fresh ingredients in their drinks. Next Door's cocktails are priced at $12-14 each, which is surely not a bargain, but offer "happier hours" where you can imbibe at a more reasonable $6-8 for their hand crafted cocktails. They also have a selection of draft beer such as White Rascal , Hofbrau and Affligem on their "happier hours" menu  for $4 , also not too bad a deal. You can also score some decent deals on their food during these times with sliders and a couple of their pizzas at $6 each. Their happier hours are Tuesday -Friday 5-8pm!


Cheers!

Conclusion : Next Door Lounge is one of our new favorite spots in L.A . Not too many places especially in Hollywood offer such a pleasant environment combined with well crafted drinks





Tuesday, August 21, 2012

L.A Craft Beer Crawl 2012 RECAP

So many beers...so little time!

The 3rd Annual L.A Craft Beer Crawl that took place Saturday, August 18th was pretty much a beer lovers dream come true. The event was co-hosted by the Beer Chicks and 213 Nightlife. With so many craft breweries opening in California there were plenty of delicious beers to sample on this warm summer day. Registration went rather smoothly for an event with 2,000 attendees , but craft beer loving folks tend to be a rather civilized bunch. I think it helped that attendees were able to check in early. We checked in about 30minutes prior to the event and used that extra time to take the hike over to head over to Cana Rum Bar on Olympic and Flower. Our thinking was that since this was the furthest out establishment on the crawl , it would be less occupied by our fellow beer lovers. Although it felt crowded it was nothing like the other spots on the crawl. Another reason was simply because we were hungry and we knew that the Ludo Bites truck would be stationed there. Nothin' like some pairing some tasty brews with some fried chicken goodness.


Tasting Glass (I think 6oz)...wish it had been bigger!

The beers offered at Cana Rum bar actually turned out to be our favorite brews on the crawl : White Thai and Test Flight by Kinetic Brewery. Also at Cana we tried both offerings from El Segundo Brewery . Sand Dune and Citra Pale. Both were decent beers, but they were being served out of a pitcher as opposed to straight from the keg causing the beer to be a bit too warm for our liking...especially since this beer was being served on Cana's outdoor patio.

Chicken Strips@Ludo Truck
Biscuits w/ Honey @Ludo Truck

It was our first time trying the Ludo Truck and it was quite scrumptious indeed. We got the chicken strips with honey mustard. A nice tasty batter surrounded by good quality pieces of chicken and not a greasy mess like most chicken strips. From what i've been reading (on the side of his truck)  Chef Ludo Lefebvre has been on Top Chef Masters and Iron Chef America and worked in some fancy  restaurants.

Next stop was the Broadway Bar. Now this bar was packed to the gills with beer swillin' folk. At broadway we tried the Blond 5 and Tripel 9 from Brouwerki West and Saison du Buff (A collaboration with Dogfish Head and Victory Brewing  and Stone 16th Anniversary Ale from Stone Brewing.We also tried Pour Toi and Rosa's Hips from Monkish.
Broadway Bar's Packed Interior (view from staircase0

After stepping out of sweat drenched Broadway it was of course time for MORE FOOD!...We noticed several attendees and Beer Crawl staff enjoying some tasty NY style pizza from Two Boots Pizza next door so we decided to check it out. We shared a piece of cheese pizza. The pizza was definately tasty , it had that crispyness you look for in a slice of NYC pizza. The other slices looked pretty tasty too and were named after cult heros such as "The Dude" and "Tony Clifton". Also Two Boots actually has outpots in NYC so extra brownie points for them for authenticity. I could see this place doing well,especially considering it's right next to a bar (and close to other bars) that don't serve food.
Two Boots Cheese Pizza w/ Parmesan


Next stop (I think!...) was the Golden Gopher. The line to get into the Golden Gopher was a little long, but it gave us some time for to try a Philly Cheesesteak from the South Philly Truck. It was a pretty decent cheesesteak , and definitely helped to soak up the suds on this crawl. You definitely don't wanna do a crawl on an empty stomach! At the Golden Gopher we had Hanger 24's Orange Wheat , this was a nice refreshing wheat...great for a hot summer day. At the Gopher we also sampled Ballast Point Brewing's  Sculpin IPA.

At Cole's we tried Triple White Sage by Craftsman Brewing Company and Unionist and Populist IPA by Eagle Rock Brewing. Of course since we were at Cole's we had to get one of their famous french dip sandwiches. You're probably thinking this turned out to be more of a food crawl...but remember those words of wisdom "Thou Shall Not Crawl on an Empty Stomach"...i'm pretty sure it's one of the 10 commandments. The french dip was pretty tasty, and the little thing of horseradish is a nice touch..but as a french dip lover ..can't say it's THE BEST french dip ever.

After leaving Cole's , next stop on the crawl was Las Perlas. Las Perlas is a Mexican themed bar specializing in tequilas and mezcals . Las Perlas was kind of small, hot and stuffy so we didn't spend too much time in there..we did fill our glasses with some Get up Off That Brown and Point the Way IPA from Golden Road which we have had before . We chated with the dude from Golden Road for a couple minutes and he told us they'll be celebrating their 1 year anniversary soon. Pretty amazing since it seems it was just yesterday that we attended the Grand Opening at the brewery.

Next up was Seven Grand. I have always wanted to check out Seven Grand, so I was happy to hear that it was one of the stops on the crawl. I'm looking forward to revisiting this bar to try some whiskey based drinks. At Seven Grand the highlights were the Brasserie d'Chouffe Biere de Soleil and the Ommegang Witte by Brewery Ommegang.

We finished off our crawl at the bar that we checked in at ...Casey's Irish Pub. At Casey's we tried Allagash White from Allagash Brewing Sir Walter's Scottish Ale from Craft Brewing Company. Both tasty solid beers. Casey's actually serves food...but we didn't sample any of it. Next time for sure we want to try their Irish Faire. Also planning to check out their happy hour as well as it sounds pretty good. Everyday from 3-7pm and all night on Mondays.

Conclusion: The 3rd Annual L.A Craft Beer Crawl was totally a blast. It was an amazing experience to try so many local California beers in some of L.A's best bars. Also the food that we tried was all pretty delicious too.  If you missed this year's crawl I would definitely recommend going next year!










Friday, August 17, 2012

L.A Craft Beer Crawl 2012



The 3rd L.A Craft Beer Crawl 2012 is now just hours away! This year craft beer lovers will be able to sample over 100 beers from several highly regarded craft breweries, with the overwhelming majority from California! Go California Craft Brew Scene! This event is hosted by the 213 Nightlife group (owner of all the bars that are on the crawl)  and the beer selection is curated by the Beer Chicks. The Beer Chicks will also be hosting sessions featuring specific selections. Sessions are $15. For those attending 213 nightlife has just posted a list on their site of all the breweries that will be attending and which bars they will be at , so you can plan your tasting adventure. Also their site mentions that attendees can , "Text CRAFTBEER to 87990 to subscribe to text alerts to keep up with all happenings leading up to and day of the" Finally a text alert that is actually useful! Also they created a site at http://213nightlife.com/beermobile/ that has a Google google map of the bars all plotted out, a list of breweries and info on the breweries and info on what food will be available. Now that's booze news you can use! It is sure to be a joyous day for hopheads in L.A . I'm getting thirsty just thinking about it! If you're going to the event , enjoy and remember to imbibe responsibly. The bars will be located near Metro Redline stops and they are also all within close walking distance of each other, so take Metro or a cab or a bus or walk or bike.


Russian River Brewing Company

BoozeLA ventures up North...

This place was worth the wait. It was loud. It was casual. It was fun.
Everyone had a laid back attitude. A live band was playing and people were rocking along to the music .... live music EVERY Saturday and Sunday!
The beer list is awesome. So we ordered a beer flight (sampled 19). If you go here for the first time you MUST order a flight and you MUST try Pliny the Elder (IPA).
Next time we go back we are definitely ordering a Pizza and/or Beer Bites.
Happy Hour is weekdays 4-6:30pm & ALL DAY SUNDAY!

Beer Flight Sampler

Tony's Darts Away

Whenever I think of Tony's Darts Away I automatically think of 3 things: great beer selection, sweet potato fries and a scrumptious sausage.
Swing by after a long day of work to relax. I love the friendly atmosphere as soon as you walk in.
The sweet potato fries are amazing... they melt in your mouth. They are tossed in chipotle-maple syrup and almond pieces. The staff is friendly and very attentive. This place is great no wonder it does so well. Tony Yanow, the owner, also owns Mohawk and Golden Road Brewing.


They have a great beer selection. I am found of their Golden Road brews and IPA's.


















They also have yummy sausages. The other night I had their 'tailgate dog'- smoked pork brat topped with grilled onions, brown mustard and sauerkraut. Their 'apple of my eye'-chicken apple sage sausage topped with mayonnaise, brown mustard, grilled onions, slaw, and mango melon salsa is also pretty tasty! And there is a VEGAN option too!
With all said and done this a perfect place to grab a BEER, SAUSAGE and SWEET POTATO FRIES!!

The Snug in Burbank



The Snug in Burbank is a cozy little bar. It is a dive type of bar, but it is relatively clean and has a pretty friendly relaxed atmosphere. The patrons here are regular folk, no showoffs up in here. The bartenders are friendly, the lady we had serving us last time even let us put our last drink orders in prior to happy hour to get the happy hour price! Never seen a place do that before! Speaking of happy hour the Snug has a kick ass happy hour that is so great, I don't even know if I'll share it...but I will. During happy hour you get 50% off beer. I got Stone Ruination IPA for something like $2.75, truly unheard of! Especially considering the high alcohol content of an IPA versus something like a Bud Light, that's a great value! While the snug doesn't have the best beer selection in town, it does seem that they are trying to add some new beers. The Snug also have a full liquor license, so those with a thirst for spirits can indulge with their hearts content. The Snug does not serve food , but I have seen people eating outside food in there and last time there was even a crockpot of chili that was donated by one of the patrons. You never see that at them fancy shamancy hollywood joints, do you? Also I'm pretty sure they are cool with people bringing in outside food and I believe you can even get stuff delivered there.So to sum it all up great prices, cool staff, relaxed environment, real people...what's not to like? A legit joint for Burbank boozers and those in nearby areas. Hey, at those happy hour prices it might even be worth making the trek from Hollyweird!

Mohawk Bend in Echo Park



Mohawk Bend in Echo Park is owned by Los Angeles beer mogul Tony Yanow. The force behind Burbank's Tony's Darts Away and Golden Road Brewery in Atwater Village. Mohawk Bend opened in July 2011 as a restaraunt and bar with an emphasis on locally produced ingredients, beer, wine and spirits. Mohawk Bend's 72 taps , most of which dispense craft beer produced right here in the Golden State shows a serious commitment to quality beer. This is not an establishment that one comes to in order to get sloshed on Bud Light..they don't even serve bud light. With so many beers available on tap , Mohawk Bend is a great place to get a sampler flight and discover some new beers.





In addtion to the extensive and excellent beer choices, Mohawk also offers up some healthy tasty eats. I had their burger and while tasty was a bit on the small side for the price, but that's ok.  I'm pretty sure the meat was better than the kind they serve at Jack in the Box. Plus Jack in the Box doesn't have 72 different beers on tap. The pizza was also pretty good as well. The menu is focused on seasonal dishes including salads, brick oven pizzas and desserts. Mohawk Bend, like Yanow's Pub at Golden Road Brewery and Tony's Darts the menu features options geared towards both vegans and non vegans.



Mohawk Bend was designed by the famous design firm SpaceCraft that has designed many top restaraunts and bars in the L.A area. They did an amazing job in designing this space which is a 100 year old building that was formerly a theater. When you are in the dining room with its skylit atrium you feel as if you are dining outdoors even though you are not. At Mohawk Bend even the bathrooms are interesting. The stalls are actually made of exposed plywood, giving the restrooms a very DIY natural type look. Everything at Mohawk Bend seems to be done intentionally with "a dedication to craft" as is noted on their website.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The PUB at Golden Road Brewing




Golden Road Brewery's Pub serves up some fresh, healthy fare that just so happens to pair nicely with the beers available. One of the great reasons to visit the pub is that you are able to taste beers that are unavailable anywhere else in the world. While Golden Road's Hefeweizen and Point the Way IPA are popping on the shelves of retailers across the city, there is only one spot to indulge in beers such as El Hefe Anejo , an ale that is actually aged in tequila barrels from Mexico! Tell me where else in L.A or the world can you find that? The Pub's facebook page is pretty active and they will announce when they are releasing certain beers in the Pub which is pretty cool. In addition to the Golden Road beers, there are several guest taps from some of the top craft beer breweries.

The design of the pub is very open, and the space has a very casual feel to it. Instead of having waiters, customers order their food and beverages at the bar and the food is then brought to you. Actually, having them bring you the food is a more recent development as prior to that you would get a pager and you would return to the bar to pickup your food. The outside patio area is a great place to sit on a nice day. The nearby trains that travel by add to the experience. Another nice thing is that there is a pretty big parking lot for customers, a true rarity in L.A

Everything that I have tried at the Pub has been pretty tasty. There is a variety of sandwiches, salads , entrees, appetizers such as pretzels and fritters and even a couple of desserts. The pretzels are nice and big and the accompanying dipping sauces are quite tasty. The fritters were tasty too, lightly fried with a melt in your mouth consistency to them. The menu is seasonal so it changes quite often. One interesting thing is that they do not offer fries , perhaps this is in effort to keep the menu healthy or there might be another reason...who knows the reason ...but you're not getting fries with that! As is the case at owner Tony Yanow's Mohawk Bend and Tony's Darts Away the menu is very vegan friendly. For many menu items one can order either vegan or non vegan. As a non vegan myself it's nice to have the non vegan option. Nonetheless even when you order an item such as the burger, you still feel like you are eating something that is fresh and relatively healthy...as healthy as a burger can be.

One thing that was surprising on the most recent visit to the Pub was that they were out of several items on the menu. The strange thing is that it was in the middle of the day. Since  they are open until 11pm, it kind of makes you wonder how they are able to feed the night time crowds, maybe they get deliveries in the afternoon. Or maybe they hope that their patrons won't care once they have another beer! The Pub at Golden Road is definitely a place to check out and is worth the drive. Plus is kid friendly too and there is even a dog area on the front patio. So bring Fido and Grandma and Junior! Whether you are vegan or carnivore, indulger or teetotaler there's something for everyone at The Pub at Golden Road.