If you have been keeping tabs on your Bottle Makes Three team on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you may have noticed that we were away last week. We were off to San Diego for the 2014 Beer Bloggers Conference where we picked up some blogging tips, made new friends, and drank some great beer. A lot of beer. Seriously, a helluva lot of beer. It all started when we arrived in California on Thursday. Queue the dreamy-sounding flashback music…
We arrived in Los Angeles on Thursday to take part in the pre-conference excursion, in which we’d be filling a bus with beer bloggers and hitting the road to San Diego, stopping at 5 different LA breweries along the way. I have to admit that we were a bit anxious when we arrived at LAX. We only knew of a handful of the bloggers that would be in attendance, and we only knew them as fans of their blogs and tweets. However any nerves we were feeling faded away as soon as we walked up to the group that we can only describe as “our people.” Within 5 minutes we been handed a beer and were introduced to the folks we’d be hanging out with the entire weekend. Some we immediately recognized, such as Tiffany of 99Pours and Mike, aka Brew Dad. Others we bonded with over the course of the night, such as Adam and Emily of Fresh Pints and Dave of All the Brews fit to Pint. There were many others too, all of them very nice, fun and as beer geeky as us. And we mean that as the ultimate compliment. We found our tribe.
Once on the bus our first stop was Golden Road Brewing. At Golden Road we were greeted by a cold beer and a warm welcome by founder Meg Gill. Meg told us about starting Golden Road with co-founder Tony Yanow in 2011, and how the demand for great beer from LA has helped them to grow by leaps and bounds. Their brewery was the perfect introduction to the LA beer scene, with their bright yellow building, awesome patio and impressively large brewery. We were given a tour of the brewery by Laurel, and introduced to one of the brewers, Tim. They told us about their brewing operations and we got to peek in the boil kettle. Best of all, we got an ice-cold can of Might As Well IPL taken straight from the canning line. This was the first day of canning this brew, so the beer was as fresh and delicious as you could imagine. Following the tour was a guided tasting of five more Golden Road brews along with some delicious pub snacks. It was a great way to be introducted to the LA craft beer scene, and we were thankful to entire Golden City team – Meg, Laurel, Tim and Fran – for taking the time to show us their hospitality.
Up next was Angel City Brewery. While Golden Road had a laid-back surfer vibe, Angel City felt a bit more rough around the edges, but in a good way. Angel City Brewery resides in an old slinky factory (seriously) that is rumored to be the location where they filmed Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” video. The interior was the perfect combo of industrial and art deco, which gave the place a vibe that felt quintessentially LA. Here Jeff chatted up Dieter Foerstner, the head brewer and the man behind their delicious Avocado Ale. Here’s a fun fact: the avocados for this ale came from Dieter’s grandmothers 25-acre avocado farm. Another fun fact: At 21 Dieter dreamed of being real estate agent. Okay, that last fact was irrelevant, but still it was fun, right? At Angel City we got a tour of the brewery, but even more impressive was the trip to the roof, where we could check out their hop garden and the sun setting over LA. This place was great, and would be one of our favorite hangouts if we were locals.
Just when we though things couldn’t get any cooler than Golden Road Brewing and Angel City Brewery, this happened…
In case you don’t know what you’re looking at, it’s our third stop: The Bruery barrel room. As the Bruery staff put it, we’d already seen enough shiny fermenters and brew kettles, so they wanted to give us something different. Boy did they deliver. There were probably more than a hundred of barrels surrounding us as we tasted The Bruery’s amazing sours and barrel aged beers. Our big favorites was the Sour in the Rye with Coconut and Pineapple, and the Oude Tart with Cherries. We even got a special treat: samples of the Sour in the Rye straight from the barrel. Amazing! If the beer wasn’t enough, they also put out a nicely done spread of cheeses and cookies. Yum! Although it was sad to leave The Bruery, we were given a parting gift in the form of a bottle of Tart of Darkness Sour Stout and that made saying goodbye just a little easier.
This is a pretty long post, so now would be a good time for a beer break if you need it. Here is a picture of Brew Dad to enjoy while you get your refill.
Back on the tour, it was really late when we arrived at Smog City Brewing Company in Torrence. We were all a bit sleepy and bleary-eyed, but thankfully when we walked in the door the Smog City staff handed us a sample of their delicious Coffee Porter. It was the perfect little shot of espresso flavored beer, and it kept us going! Laurie Porter of Smog City showed everyone around and told us about their history, while Chris Walowski shared some stories about brewing up the amazing Smog City beers. They were very friendly and let us overstay our welcome when I’m sure they would have loved to gone home.
Finally, it was time for the final stop of our tour: Monkish Brewing Co., which was just a short walk from Smog City. By the time we got to Monkish we were not sure we could still be wowed by any new beers. We were wrong. Monkish had an impressive selection of Belgian style beers featuring unique ingredients, such as the Lumen Belgian-style pale with jasmine flowers; or the Saison de Lilah, a farmhouse ale brewed with lavender and lemon peels. That second one was so good that we purchased a bottle to bring home. At Monkish Brewing we sat in the brewery on chairs draped with bags of barley, and we sipped delicious beers in the shadows of the vessels where it was made. It was beautiful. Or maybe we were just really, really sleepy. It was probably that second one, but nevertheless it was a good time.
And that’s it! We had managed to get five California breweries under our belts and the Beer Bloggers Conference had not yet officially started! Clearly this was going to be a long, wonderful weekend. We will tell you more about it on our next post.