Santa Monica ReNo

Santa Monica Brew Works always has a big weekend crowd on their large patio. People dart in to order and then return to the sun and their parties.

New to me was the traffic flow changes as the brewery and Emmy Squared Pizza expanded. Now there are two bars to order from, more interior seating and the noise level has been spread out.

the original interior space
the second bar

Just the slight amount of extra space makes all the difference. And I really prefer the electronic signage of the beer list than the one that is used on the first bar. It allows for a bit mor creativity as well as just being cleaner and more clear to read.

And I also quite liked the Posh London Lager. Super low ABV at 4.1% but it was not a water bomb at all. There was a lovely malt note that filled you up while not filling you up.

Review – Two from ISM Brewing

One of the breweries that I am hyped about is ISM Brewing in Long Beach. I grabbed a couple in cans recently and it is review time.

Coastal Curves is the hopped up West Coast Pilsner and it pours a bright and bubbly yellow. Aroma is definitely hoppy. Getting a bit of Simcoe, I think. There is a bit of berry here. also a peppery note as well. Not super crisp but there is a minerality there that keeps this from veering into pale ale territory.

Sonic Substance a collaboration with Creature Comforts and it too pours a bubbly, vibrant yellow color. Getting a bit of a soft pine near a citrus grove feeling from this one. Not dank but not a fruit bomb either. Tastes heavier than the 6.66% listed ABV.

If forced to choose, I would go toward the pilsner. But it is a close race.

Sean Suggests for May 2025

This month the theme is unique and hard to find and I have three that will test your mettle as both a beer shopper and a beer drinker.

Homage Brewing The Flower Called Nowhere Barrel Aged Saison – 6% – “This marks the 5th blend of one of our favorite beers to make. A few years ago we conceptualized a Saison with delicate nuances of flowers. We trialed various flowers and settled upon Europe Rose for its soft and fragrant aroma, as well as Osmanthus, which has a unique fragrance of peach and apricot that compliments the stone fruit qualities of the wild yeast. Lastly, we added Chrysanthemum, which has a sweet, hay, and honey like quality that supports the aged hops in the beer, adding a rustic touch.”

New BelgiumTart Lychee – 7.5% – ” sour ale brewed with lychee and a hint of cinnamon that combine to create a beautiful balance between sweet and tart.”

The BrueryCire – 18.9% – “Produced through painstaking care and attention from our Bruers, Cire is more than just a beer; it’s our Solera Blended Anniversary Old Ale. Blended from the best of the Bruery’s stock each year & aged in Buffalo Trace and Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels, Cire carries a deeply complex, layered flavor profile. The perfect way to commemorate 16 years of leadership in the industry.”

Sports & A Beer – Drafting a QB1

The NFL draft and all its many rounds and players is done and now we wait for the season to start and to see which of the plethora of Quarterbacks taken in the Top 10 alone will fare.  Which will play and show promise, which will hold the clipboard (or is it iPad now?) and which will pull a Zach Wilson and flame out real hard and get called out by his owner.

Bear in mind that the offensive coordinator and the receiving corps are integral to any QBs success and some of these passers will not get either and will be harder to grade because of it.  Some will not be able to scale up to the speed of the NFL. And despite more and more mental and physical tests and all sorts of AI and computer modeling, no one is any closer to predicting success.

But I will go out on a limb and give a few guesses as to who will make a mark and who might have trouble….

Good Spots

Caleb Williams the No. 1 pick is walking into a team with two big wide receiver additions in Keenan Allen and Rome Odunze to go with DJ Moore and lowered expectations from past QBs make this a great spot to to land.

J.J. McCarthy in Minnesota also inherits a strong receiving and tight end corp and will not need to put the team on his back. Just needs to get that pigskin to the playmakers.

Drake Maye in New England is following some really mediocre quarterbacks so has a really low bar to clear for success and since the Patriots have a new coach and are clearly rebuilding this can be a learning year.

Bad Spots

Michael Penix in Atlanta. Why the Falcons selected any QB after backing up a Brinks truck for Kirk Cousins is way beyond me. Then the GM says that Penix will be groomed to take over wheb Cousins contract is done in FIVE YEARS.

Jayden Daniels is the new Commanders QB and I don’t know which direction the entire team is going so I fear Daniels will be running for his life.

For beer, see if you can find a brewery from each of those five cities or you can just go get Kansas City beer since Patrick Mahomes is the ne plus ultra of quarterbacks.


If I had to pick a state that The Bruery would add a location to, Idaho would not have made the list.  But apparently, this summer (or thereabouts) there will be a Bruery in Boise.

I would have thought that anywhere in California might be easier, or Las Vegas but Idaho it apparently is.


June 15th is the date for Orange County to shine with their cleverly named Guilded Together Beer Festival, hosted by the Orange County Brewers Guild and held at the Heritage Museum of OC.

The first and fourth bullet points are what caught my eye from their press release:

  • “Exclusive Beer Releases: Savor the first pours of unique Guilded Together collaboration brews, crafted exclusively for this event.
  • Thrilling Beer Competitions: Watch local breweries vie for glory in the exciting Guilded Together competitions.
  • Live Music & Good Times: Swing to live bands and soak in the festive atmosphere with a beer in hand.
  • Gourmet Food Pairings: Enjoy a selection of foods that are as carefully crafted as the beers they accompany.”

Peel the Label – Ballast Point Capacity Shift

In brewing, it is important to be in the right size home when it comes to equipment, space and beer in the tanks.  It is the Goldilocks Conundrum.

I have been thinking about this since the news broke that Ballast Point Brewing had released its Miramar facility to a new owner and that they were going to determine what the best brewing size fit would be for them.  And while that hunt is under way, some beers will contract brewed for them.

But how does one know what capacity is needed?  And also be flexible enough for minor fluctuations up or down?  I theorize that it was harder back when growth was flying upward because as the accelerator is pressed, you don’t know when you will run into traffic. Not wanting to miss out on sales, you press down on the gas in the form of second locations and more tanks and more people power.  

Now, in opposition, is a bit easier to predict because the growth has flattened and you can see a truer demand than before.  A local brewery can figure out how to keep 6-10 taps filled while canning a bit and selling kegs when there is not a block long line out the door.  

But too big can be good overall as it provides contract homes for those breweries that are testing proof of concept or do not have the full funding needed for their own space so a little wiggle room is beneficial.

It is an interesting question and we will see in the next few years who played their cards right especially if Ballast Point turns a corner.

Peel the Label is an infrequent series with no photos or links. Just opinion.

Tip of the Hat!

Russian River Brewing does some really cool things for the craft beer industry.  Their latest is….THIS

..which is just a cool way to help an up and coming brewery. An if Pliny is brewed on that kit, there are some good vibes coming from that for sure.