Magic in an Hour

Santa Monica Brew Works has added an eight notch to their belt and have a special IPA ready for fans of the West-Side brewery.

“MA8IC HOUR West Coast-Style IPA (7.0% ABV). Brewed with Cashmere and Strata hops. Bursting with flavors of citrus, peach, and tangerine – punctuated with a pleasantly dank finish.”

Review – Two from Santa Monica Brew Works

Gonna have a little whiplash as we go from shandy to stout from Santa Monica Brew Works.

And surprisingly, I found the shandy to be the better beer by far. I have never eaten at a Hot Dog on a Stick so no fond recollections of days at the mall cloud my memory. It was a nice sugary lemonade balanced out by the 310 Blonde Ale. I would have up the beer percentage a skosh but it was refreshing.

The stout was OK but it had no life to it. It was neither rich and viscous nor light and bubbly. No chocolate or coffee notes jumped out at me either. Had a bit of a metallic note to it as well. An addition of something else to add a secondary flavor might have helped here.

Art and Love

Be on the look out for love as Santa Monica Brew Works has recently releases Spread Love a new Juicy IPA.

The beer combines local artists (Corie Mattie, Ruben Rojas) with charity Meals On Wheels West.

A portion of the proceeds from each 4 pack sold will help support those efforts, assisting with services that nourish and enrich the lives of the Westside’s homebound residents.

Heroes

Now this is a two-fer. One, you support a local brewery in these struggling times and Two, you are helping UCLA’s Covid 19 crew since part of the proceeds go to a fund for these hopefully “sung” heroes. Kudos to Santa Monica Brew Works. The hazy IPA uses the Pink Boots hop blend so you are showing support to that fantastic organization as well.

2nd Visit – Santa Monica Brew Works

Santa Monica Brew Works is expanding.  Considering the big footprint they have already in a pricey beach community real estate market, that must bode well.

Alas, I was a little chuffed by their flight rules, which could be better.  Choose two of four Barrel-aged and you get upped to the higher ($18) price from the standard ($12). Plus the excluded their new release beer hazy DIPA.  I would think that on a late afternoon on a Saturday, a few days after release, they could safely pour a few 5oz tasters. Especially in light of the fact that they are charging $10 for a 16oz pour. They should really just do individual pour prices.

The space, though loud, is usually filled with people enjoying football on the TV or discussions while having their beers. I paid my extra price to try a couple special barrel-aged beers and here are my bullet point reviews.

Leitrim Dry Irish Stout – classically done.  Good minerality and coffee taste.

Burnt Out Bartender – has initial malt hop hit.  A little watery though.  Also a little hop harsh at the back. Alcohol burn too. Bold flavors fade quickly though. Citrus peeks out at the end.

Catalina Cruise Imperial PCH – pretty much just bourbon.  PCH flavor is buried.  As it warms the big flavors tone down here too.

Gravity Coaster Barrel-aged Barleywine – pretty high on the spirits side. Wood notes. 

Overall, the prices and the beer you get for that money are still not matching up. I think I will stick with PCH when on tap.

First Visit – Santa Monica Brew Works

Looks like my beer buddy Rich has a brewery within walking distance, and for the rest of us, we can use the new Expo Line and be dropped off nearby.

The brewery is Santa Monica Brew Works and I made my first visit last week.

Here are some of the photos:

The menu board. Core to the left, Seasonal on the right.
The menu board. Core to the left, Seasonal on the right.

Not on, or two but three cold boxes!
Not on, or two but three cold boxes!

The packaging line.
The packaging line.
Inclined IPA cans ready to be filled.
Inclined IPA cans ready to be filled.

SMBW is tasting

Out of the blue, it seems, that Santa Monica Brew Works has opened!
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For us Eastsiders, this could be a chance to take the Expo Line to Bergamot Station, then have a short 15 minute walk to the brewery.

Angels & Ales

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When I think of craft beer, I hardly ever think high-end Century City hotels but right next to Nakatomi Plaza, the InterContinental Los Angeles on the Avenue of the Stars has a special pairing of Angels & Ales.

Combining Angel’s Envy Kentucky straight bourbon and nearby Santa Monica Brew Works, you just have to stroll into the small Lobby Lounge and order up a pint of the SMBW’s witbier or PCH paired alongside Angel’s Envy bourbon (you have the option to choose a special blend that the hotel chef helped to create) for $16.

The PCH (Pale Chocolate Heaven) is the easier choice to see. A light but flavorful chocolate beer really lights up in comparison with whiskey. Especially the Expression 95/5 which had a lovely vanilla and oaky character. The beer added to the whiskey and vice versa. I have to admit that I was skeptical about pairing a witbier with its delicate floral aromatics against a whiskey but it did hold up. The pairing was a qualified success in that it raised my expectations. The weizen tinged Santa Monica Witbier added a certain quality but the heat from the whiskey like the Expression 10/10 really beat it down.

It is great to see that a hotel that could easily just offer the same old, same ol’ and probably not suffer going that extra step to craft. It is also cool to see that the head chef is into it too.

BAM! 2014

The Latest B(eer) A(rts) M(usic) Fest is done but another good show was put on.

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As usual, there was just too much beer on hand at BAM Fest to try it all.  I ended up skipping large swaths of booths simply because I knew that I needed to pace myself.  I also was on assignment from Beer Paper LA to write about a few of the newer/less known breweries which were pouring so my focus was on trying their offerings and talking to them.

One of which, Santa Monica Brew Works gets a gold star.  Being the “local” or closest brewery to the festival, they had quite a presence and the most beers on tap.  Six all told while most others had two.  I was cautiously optimistic as I approached their table and I was really impressed.  Their regulars, an XPA and a Wit were both well done.  Clean and crisp and excellent gateway beers.  But they also had another gear to take it up higher.  The Chili beer was spicy without destroying the palate, the wet hop beer was a serious peach/apricot blast with a solid hit of bitterness.  But the winner was PCH – Pale Chocolate Heaven.  A golden orange color that was a serious milk chocolate beer.  Surprising and very tasty.  It will be the first one that I will try again.  My beer crystal ball tells me that PCH will be the breakout hit for SMBW.

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Port Town took my second place with their Hefeweizen and Pilsner.  Both solid examples of the styles. Styles that are hard to nail correctly.  This brewery gets new digs in 2015 and will be one to watch.  Venice Duck had bottles of their Agave Blonde and their Hemp Ale and both were also solid.  They rank a bit below Port Town because because they were a little less well defined in the flavor arena.  But the beers do seem to be improving from when I sampled them last and I hope they get their Venice location going.

The other newbie was House Beer.  They only do an American style lager and it was fine.  I would take Port Town’s Pilsner over it though.  Too much sweetness here for me.  Got a little cloying.  And I wish they could have their contract brew done in state as opposed to Wisconsin.

Other beers that struck a chord for me were the Post Season Ale from King Harbor and the Grasshopper from Kinetic Brewing.  A golden rye strong ale that to my taste buds was a delicious rye IPA.

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There are a couple things that I wish BAM would do for next year.  The beer area needs to be expanded.  By 4pm, the crowd was difficult to navigate, especially with a glass of liquid.  Maybe add a seating area or two that could draw people away to create a better flow.  Secondly, increased signage would be great.  Or a little map in your glass to show you what was where and at what time.  For the musical acts this would be easy.  A board near the stage with a list of who was playing and when.

That being said, this is a great festival that always gives you both beer choices and art to marvel at.