1st Visit – Long Beach Beer Lab Zaferia

It was an eventful first visit to the second Long Beach Beer Lab location in the Zaferia District of Long Beach. I had taken a couple sips of Brut IPA (you remember that sub-style right?) when that too familiar crunch sound made me swivel on mybar stool.

There was one car flipped over and one car with all air bags deployed. The fire and police departments were soon on the scene and attention could be turned back to the space and the beer and the pizza.

I have to say that the Wrigley location is more my speed but the more I thought, if this was in my neighborhood, I would be glad it was there. Yes, too many TVs but thankfully, most were about the brewery and bakery. And the cooler with mix and match and 4-packs is great.

And I did love the Brut (Brewte IPA) which was super dry but sweet with a pear note. So, thumbs up even for someone not from the neighborhood.

1st Visit – Arrow Lodge DTLA

On a recent Saturday, I struck out for the Arts District to visit the new DTLA location of Arrow Lodge Brewing. Arrived a hair late behind a ton of runners who stop at breweries in between running or maybe vice versa.

That long wait time snafu aside, the corner space of the Covina brewery’s DTLA taproom is a bit spare looking and does not have the outdoorsy camp vibe of the original.  Concrete floors and walls with a few L.A. sports murals of Fernando Valenzuela and Kobe Bryant.  Only a small patio space too and quite loud when full.  

Not that I need a big beer list but there were only 8 beers on tap with three being sours / fruited beers. Considering the rain and cold that L.A. rarely gets, a couple heartier beers would have been good.

I liked the name, so I ordered up the Zig Zag Zig IPA which was solid. The beertender did a a tremendous job with the rush crowd and made me feel at home despite the LA Galaxy jersey. (RCTID)

With both Angel City and Arts District within a few minutes slow walk, you can grab one beer at each while avoiding the running crowds.

1st Visit – Native Son DTLA

I made a pre-Christmas trip Downtown to see what was up with the beers and the former Dankness Dojo now Native Son.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the former Modern Times Dankness Dojo hasn’t been really changed / updated all that much. So it was weird to walk in and have it be not a new vibe.

That said, here for the beer and on that front all seems good to start. There were multiple collaboration beers on tap with the L.A. likes of Mumford, Three Weavers, Common Space and even a Pizza Port DIPA collaboration.

I sampled two straight up Native Son beers and was more taken with the the cleverly named Sta-Pils. It had quite a punchy herbal flavor to it. Could have been a touch crisper but thatvis a minor quibble. The Circle Boy IPA was fine. Typical early days of a brewery type. Hoppy but not bright enough for me.

The bartender was very helpful and attentive without being up in your grill and he seemed to be at the ready to explain the Native Son beers and to help you find the right beer for you.

Good to have brewing back in the space and I hope the brewing keeps growing.

1st Visit – Benny Boy Brewing + Cider

I am working on a piece to submit to Beer Paper LA about Benny Boy that will have backstory, impressions and big words so in this post, let’s talk about the beer and cider that was pouring.

I had six of the seven opening week beers. Poured straight from the tank by the way. I saved the IPA for a follow up visit.

I was most taken by the top two on the list. Mexican styled lagers are, at times, purposefully plain. Lincoln Heights Lager is light yellow in color so I thought it might fall into that category as well. But it had a nice spice (almost rye) as well as a deep corn flavor to it. The Other Lover is a low ABV delight as well with a lemon verbena note and almost easier to find your glass empty as the lager. I also want to mention the Midnight Swim which is a nice example of a Belgian Dark Strong ale.

Cross the courtyard over to the cider (and natural wine) building where you will find higher ABVs than in the brewery. These, I tasted all of and I came away very impressed by the two dry ciders at the top of the list especially. You could instantly taste the apple, peel and all in the single apple version and the double apple, you could taste both. In my experience the actual apple is sometimes covered by carbonation or other flavors. Not so here. Even the pineapple and pomegranate versions were decidedly apple forward, to the point that I wanted less apple.

This is a strong opening. I don’t say that often. Beer fans will be found here this year.

1st Visit – Naughty Pine Brewing

Only one week and counting old is Westlake Village’s Naughty Pine Brewing Co.

It is tucked into an industrial park just off the freeway. Pretty typical for a small craft brewery, they find the tucked away spots. It is named for the street that founders live on, kind of. There is Knotty and then there is Naughty.

I had a taster of all of the beers they had on tap for weekend two with a quick hit review…

Naughty Pine Hop Naught IPA – very light. more session to me.

Naughty Pine Bruges Lace Belgian Dubbel – my favorite, clean and well done.

Naughty Pine Disciple of Ohm Saison – a little too strong and to close to dubbel and tripel territory

Naughty Pine Supply Chain Deficit Rye Amber – a well done amber, my second favorite. rye is a good touch.

Naughty Pine Sturdy B- Pils – well done. could use a little more zip and bubble to me though.

As for the space itself, it does have a sort of canned pseudo French house thing going on complete with big clock and fireplace. I like the logo and glassware much better so just focus on the beer. They also have outdoor seating as well.

NP has made a good start and it will be interesting to see where they go from here.

1st Visit – Shadow Grove

The continued pandemic has not stopped breweries from opening up and now I travel to San Fernando to the still in softly opened phase, Shadow Grove Brewing.

Now, this is a curated space.  From the outside, you cannot tell what you are walking into.  Which is a woodland, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.  The outside windows let in plenty of light but the inside is moody with distinct seating areas.  British punk on the playlist added another note to the experience.

Five beers on tap for this second soft weekend. An old school classic style set.  So old school that there was a Nut Brown on offer.  No IPA either.  You read that right.  And the taster comes with what looks like a tarot card. Nice Wonderland touch. I also liked that they had a little chalkboard with which beer is low.  Nice sales touch that.

Pale Ale was my least favorite.  It was fine.  More earthy than hoppy which actually fits the motif but I am looking for a divergent note when you have this type of list. The lager was fine as well, had a bit of wine character to me.  The Hefeweizen hit the banana clove combo well and had a nice spritz to it.  Three beers in, I an thinking that they are off fo a solid start.  That this isn’t just atmosphere.  The Nut Brown is on mark.  Perfect for watching the new season of the Premier League. Everything is so low ABV too which is great. The sweet stout hit the markers as well.

I do not say this lightly or often but do not sleep on Shadow Grove.  

1st Visit – Nova Brewing

A taster tray is 6 strong here. I got all 4 of the Ginjo 7 beers made with Sake yeast plus a smoke beer and an IPA.  Thankfully the gate was open, so I didn’t have to call with password to get into the semi-industrial area.  Inside it is a spare, multipurpose taproom.  Seating truncated by empty kegs and boxes on one side plus a cooler and small microwave in between sparse shelving units. It was a bit warm inside.  I got tagged by a mosquito while drinking so session moved faster than I might normally do because two large itchy bites is my limit. 

Starting with the sake yeast beers which is quite strong in the White, masked a little more in the Red. But the Blue had a nice double hit of saison and sake mixed. The Black has a bit of wine barrel to it tending towards sour. Red and Blue clearly were better to me because the balance was better because damn that Sake yeast is strong.

The Horizon IPA was different but good, maybe the different made it stand out.  The smoke beer was my favorite, it had really nice wood note that you lose sometimes in smoked ales.  This was softer than a traditional rauchbier. No smoke in your eyes at a campfire and more BBQ.

Overall, not my favorite beers, maybe the Sake is stronger but I will leave that to Sake Search Party for that review.

1st Visit – Lawless Brewing in North Hollywood

The end of April saw the opening of Lawless Brewing and I quickly hopped over to check it out for a first visit.

The warehouse space outside doesn’t hint at the silver, metallic two floor space inside. There is the usual bar and indoor seating but because of the height it doesn’t seem constrained. Personally, I hope the mezzanine seating is opened because you can get a nice view of the brewing area and have some people watching.

The beer list was split in thirds by pilsner/lager, hoppy and stout. Between myself and beer buddy Richard, we tasted at least one from each category and found the light beers the best of the group. I voted the Mexican Lager winner with the Bohemian pilsner second over the West Coast IPA.

The time we visited issues arose for both their QR code menu and ordering system as well as their credit card system but the staff was friendly and gave updates and were flexible which made all the difference. That is key to return visits which is also helped by a new Single Hop Strata pils that is in the pipeline.

1st Visit – Poseidon Brewing & Transmission Brewing

Ventura is a booming beer town and I finally got to one (Poseidon) that has been around since 2013 and will be celebrating their seventh anniversary in a brand new, expanded taproom, Covid permitting, this summer. I like their branding from logo design to their nautical beer names. I tried a representative sampling with a hazy IPA, a Red IPA, an Irish Red and an Imperial Oatmeal Stout. The Irish Red was the favored choice. The hazy was a little session-y for something 7%, the Oatmeal Stout was OK but the water profile seemed too salty to me and the Red IPA which I was really hoping would be good had a soapy quality to it.

Photo by Richard Rosen

Next up is a brewery stumbled upon by accident in the main part of Ventura, Transmission Brewing is near a couple auto shops but shares a patio with a Toppers Pizza in a really nice, new building, the beers are automotive themed and include a couple of hard seltzers on their menu board. I picked up their DYNA West Coast IPA and found it to be ….

When herd immunity rises, I do want to return to try food and a sampler tray.

Eureka Brewing Co. – (2) Reviews

Eureka Brewing Company, The brand new brewery in Los Angeles had four beers on offer. I steered away from the IPAs and went for the pils and the pale instead to see how those styles were handled…

Pils of Creation – Bright yellow in color. Nice interplay of floral and cereal malt notes. Could use a skosh more carbonation too.  The hoppy part of hoppy Pilsner doesn’t really come through to me though. Love the swirling colors on the can.  Very evocative of outer space seen from the desert.

Super Bloom – A deep citrus taste from this one. Straddles the line between XPA and Pale. Nice hop burst and good level of malt here. The bitterness does blossom and then fades away fairly quickly. Simple and effective.