1st Visit – Altar Society Brewing

Pine Street is both a prime and not so much prime location in Long Beach. A city that has a few micro cool neighborhoods outside the downtown core which has some not so nice spots.

Which makes Altar Society so needed and different. It is not just a brewery but a coffee shop and an event space. An all day one stop shop. And it was hopping. I grabbed a two top near the front after getting my first beer which was the All Seeing IPA. It was not bad. Mid pack which is not a bad start. You can tell a lot by an IPA from a new-ish brewery.

The space is large. And there are some great seats that overlook the fermenters on the floor below. They have a nice selection of styles including seltzers so it makes a good spot for a wide group range.

My second beer was the one that I had my eye on. A stout made with the coffee from their sister coffee shop. I did like that and appreciated that it was a low ABV version as well.

1st Visit – Creature Comforts LA

I am still scratching my head as to when it was first reported that Georgia based Creature Comforts Brewing was going to plant an outpost in Los Angeles, but it has been years.

I moseyed down to their San Julian and 12th address to see what the space and beers look like…

…and it is a really cool space. The Russo Brothers Motion Picture Universe is above them and they have two floors of space for brewing and canning.

The block also includes a coffee shop, a pizza place and the fancy Rossoblu restaurant as well plus it is super near the hustle and bustle of Santee Alley which is an L.A. institution.

I had four beers from different sections of the menu. A double dry hopped version of their flagship IPA, Tropicalia. Bibo pilsner as well as their sour Neon Cylinders, a rotating version, this time Rowdy Red which was 8% but tasted like 4%.

My favorite was the last. Just filled with cranberry and super tasty but within months, we will start to see Los Angeles brewed beer and that will require a second visit.

Some Dry Goods Too

Stanley’s Wet Goods is part of the Los Angeles trend towards fancy grocery shops that every cool neighborhood has to have.  SWG is on Venice a few short blocks off the confusing road patterns of downtown Culver City.

Big high ceilings houses what, to me, is a goodly sized wine selection.  There are tinned fish cans because this is also de rigeur in L.A. now.  A liquor selection that is better gin wise than bourbon and a smallish, kinda old look can collection for craft beer fans.

There is a nice sized bar area, inside and out and predominantly wine by the glass along with a food menu that is a little bigger than what I have seen at other shop and stop spots.

If you need a beer, draft is a better choice.  Only five options but two are Radiant Beer Co. which are always solid.  

The best option is the RTD cooler.  Lots of great options from Ventura Spirits and Death & Co.  and you could get a canned French 75 too.

1st Visit – Wagon Wheel Brewing

I expect breweries to be located in many types of buildings. Industrial parks, on the pier, in a food cart pod but Wagon Wheel Brewing is the first that seems to be an anchor tenant of a large condo complex.

The space is massive. There is a bar to the left and another to the right. Space upstairs (I think) and a large outdoor patio. Even a small little communal table area for parties. Full restaurant as well and a bar which is actually integrated with the beers beyond just Micheladas.

Since Oxnard is known for strawberries, I went for the special strawberry salad and it was really good. Outshone the beers actually and that is not because the beers were not good.

So, I had a taster tray with two West Coast IPAs, a pilsner and a coffee stout. The Pinch Pils was my clear winner with the coffee stout needing a bit more coffee punch to it and being labeled as Imperial, had me looking for more lushness and ABV behind it. The IPA duo was fine. Neither differentiated from the other beyond name to me.

For me, I would probably pick a Ventura brewery over stopping here but if on a trip with less beer inclined folks, this might be a better stop.

In the Tap Lines for February 2023

Technically the shortest month of the year, unless you know me, then it is sooo long because I really do like my birthday month and I like to find a really cool beer to have for that special day. So there’s that and…

~ e-visits to (3) breweries from the Sacramento area in preparation for the California Craft Beer Summit in March.

~ special featured reviews of my birthday beer!

~Heads-Up on Los Angeles Beer Events

~ Three suggested beers to buy this month. One light, one medium and one dark

~ A Book & A Beer reads The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

~ A Podcast & A Beer listens to Let’s Make a Sci-Fi

~ Sports & A Beer returns for month two with All Star Games

~ New Beer Releases and Best Beers of the Month

~ I will tap the Firkin and give my no holds barred opinion on the craft beer world.

1st Visit – Alma’s Cider and Beer

Finally, I made my way to trendy Virgil Village to Alma’s Cider & Beer.

This is a proper dark bar. Takes time to adjust to the lack of light. Secondly, probably should be called Alma’s Cider and wine and two beers, Granted the two drafts were good (love to seea side pull) but the ciders were way more dramatic an interesting by far.

While waiting fir the mulled cider to warm up, I started with the Winter Mash from Balcom which promised Cranberry and spruce tips. The cranberry made it but the tree did not but it was a tasty and tart and vivid cider.

Beer buddy Rich wowed about the Paloma cider from Stem and also liked the funky Basque Sagardo too. I really like the atmosphere and my only complaint is that they are only open starting at 5pm. Would like to have an afternoon cider and explore the menu further.

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.

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.

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.