Double 1st Visit – Bright Spark & Topa Topa HQ

The Thanksgiving break was the perfect time to make a drive up to Ventura to visit new Bright Spark Brewing and since I was there, the nearby Colt HQ of Topa Topa Brewing.

Bright Spark is the classic industrial park locale. They had (4) beers on tap from them and (3) guest taps as well. Pale, red, IPA and porter on the menu, all that is missing is an amber for truly old school vibes.

Twilight Porter was the beertenders fav and was mine as well with the pale coming in second from the taster tray with the IPA your typical new brewery hoppy beer.

Quite a big amount of seating but from barstools to larger tables, to couches the place is airy and warm with games on one side of the L shaped space. The furniture seemed a bit better than the usual as well.

They have pizza and small bites as well as some cool and unusual salads like the one that I had with golden coconut dressing and pomegranate.

Topa Topa HQ is a beautiful, bucolic garden spot for a beer that even has a little free library. Just needs hop or malt fields to complete the picture.

There are 13 beers on tap with 2 Single hop beers and a Patagonia test beer too. There is a built in crowler machine. Lots of video and non-video games in a blank-ish event space. They even TT soccer jerseys.

This Colt Street space is an oasis for beer, dogs, kids and nature. Just a wonderful location inside and out.

1st Visit – Beachwood Brewing in Bixby Knolls

The space formerly known as Liberation Brewing has been given a Beachwood make-over and will house, in the future, distilling operations.

I made a weekend visit to get a Beachwood beer fix and here are my thoughts…

Obviously the beer is great, a dry hopped Knucklehead Red was hoppy with a great spice malt background. Two barrel-aged tasters were cool to compare as well so this visit was more an interior decoration review.

The trophy tap handles are great, the space can be loud but there is outdoor seating out back and enough space to have a quiet conversation or a party as needed. The bar stools are comfortable despite no back to them and the artwork on the wall was bright and colorful and unique.

Other than that though, the space is not super different from the previous brewery. Maybe that will change when distilling fires up operations but as of now, it looks Beachwood for sure and is as of now, I nice counterpoint to Ambitious Ales up the street.

Pairs with Kebab

I talk a lot about collaborations and quite a bit about food and beer, but today is probably the first time that I will post about Kebab and beer.

LitBrew which has a tiny distribution footprint at present has teamed with LA’s popular Mediterranean food chain Massis Kabob to bring bee fans Motherland Ale, “a Belgian pale ale with locally sourced mountain honey from Armenia-Artsahk.”

Kebab and honey, hops and Belgian yeast seems a bit much to me, but maybe it will work and seeing as a new Massis location is just a few blocks away, I will have to test drive it

In Flight Craft

Two items got me to thinking, well actually three. Sometimes I need thought provocation in triplicate.

One – This piece about an Australian Airline promoting local products, including beer. HERE.

Two – From the Bourbon Pursuit podcast talking about airport specific whiskey from Maker’s Mark in New York and Sydney.

Three – This photo from Beer Paper LA….

We all love to travel to beer destinations but we don’t have to be bereft of good choices just because we are heading to an airport or a train station and sometimes it is nice to be able to pre-party before you get wherever you are going.

NS Not MT

Native Son Bar DTLA joined the family this month.  It is now a trio with Santa Ana and Rancho Cucamonga already settled in the beer and cocktail mode.  But the former Modern Times Dankness Dojo will be different because it will have house made beer. 

The Head Brewer JP Boudwin comes from Modern Times and has worked this brewing equipment as assistant and then head brewer in the skinny location in DTLA.

To start there will be a Mexican Lager, a West Coast and a Hazy IPA for both sides of hop aisle as well as small batch and seasonal beers as well to complement the guest taps.

The interior seems to be just a toned down Modern Times.  I understand the idea of paying homage to the previous tenant but MT is not MT now.  Why tie yourself to the baggage of the past and the promise of the future version of Modern Times led by Maui Brewing.  A complete overhaul with maybe an Easter Egg or two would have been a better choice.

A 1st Visit review will be coming on this blog.

1st Visit – Brews Brothers / Burbank

What once was the Burbank Simmzy’s is now the Burbank brewpub for Brews Brothers.

I have visited the original Brews Brothers and liked the space and the beer selection but now they have their own beer. The space is still the same. A bit clunky and cramped and dark with a sound system that sounds better outside than in. The brewing system is shoehorned in with not great access for when the staff had an empty keg that they had to hoist over a little wall.

I went Belgian with my choices a blonde that came in at a whopping 8.5% which seems more a Tripel to me as well as a Belgian IPA, another biggie at 8.25%.

Both were good, not great. The blonde fared better than the IPA which was quite a muddy color in the glass and not exhibiting much of a hop presence. I avoided the beer named Butt Chin since I believe that you should not name a beer with the word butt.

Prices are a bit high. Maybe there is a Burbank surcharge in there. But the place was hopping (pun intended) for a Wednesday. I think I prefer the NoHo branch a bit better.

SDBW 22

San Diego Beer Week starts on the 4th with a virtual toast then kicks into gear the next day with Brewers Guild festival.  That is just the start.  You can also peruse the calendar for the rest of the activities, right HERE.

1st Visit – Walt’s Bar

Walt’s Bar has been on my to visit list for awhile now and despite it being literally one neighborhood over, I had not stepped inside until this year.  Maybe because I am more of a sit down with a beer kinda guy and not a play pinball and drink guy.

For those of you who, like me, haven’t visited, and are curious about it, here are my impressions…

There are 10 pinball machines lined up against one wall and that is probably the best decoration outside the very 50’s diner green bar stools and red bar counter.  The interior is quirky to say the least with formerly live stuffed animals, rotating hot dogs and with a big neon chicken on the wall. And it gets loud quickly if more than three machines are played.

But there is loads of outside seating to enjoy beers with friends.  Speaking of, on my visit there were two Radiant beers, an IPA from There Does Not Exist, 

Craftsman, Beachwood, Common Space and Highland Park as well as canned Hamms.  Oddly, there were no beer names on the menu. Just brown ale, IPA or hoppy lager.

The vibe is a little hipster and the beer choices pale compared to nearby Talon or the Glendale Tap but I can totally see how people would enjoy it. Probably won’t order a hot dog though.

Cellador Update

Coming off of their anniversary party yesterday, here is your Cellador Ales update: Their current taproom in North Hills will run until just before Christmas, December 23rd to be exact.

They have a production space with “an (unnamed for now) LA Brewery, and plan to sublease space from them as our barrel warehouse.”

They are also on the hunt for a new taproom which may or may not be in the San Fernando valley lime they are now.

The more you know.