On sunday November 4, The Los Angeles Beer Bloggers met for their third official summit, and this time it was at the renowned brewpub Beachwood BBQ & Brewing. The group had the opportunity to go behind the scenes with Brewmaster Julian Shrago and Owner Gabe Gordon and learn all about Beachwood’s initial launch in Seal Beach and its recent expansion into the brewery realm in downtown Long Beach. To help organize the event we also had Beachwood fan and seasoned LA Beer Writer, Daniel Drennon.
The turnout was a little smaller than our last two events, which was a shame, but the content of this meeting was incredibly valuable. The LA Beer Bloggers had the opportunity, in open forum fashion, to ask Julian and Gabe any and all questions about beer and business. The day kicked off with a tour of the 10 BBL Brewhouse. Daniel introduced Gabe and Julian and the recent GABF Gold Medal winning brewmaster took it from there.
Julian studied Engineering in school and like many engineers do, found a love for brewing beer. The marriage of science and art was very appealing to him, and his drive to be a perfectionist has given him the ability to craft some truly amazing beers. His main focus is on fresh beer, meaning beer that is provided at the source. It’s great to be able to drink their beer at other bars, but to be able to drink it 10 feet away from where it was made is something else. I think we can all agree that excellently crafted fresh beer is best. Julian partnered with Gabe when the expansion into Long Beach was decided, and together they have created a truly unique and successful restaurant that provides not only awesome beer, but delicious barbeque.
After the tour we continued the talks outside. The sun was out in full force and left no beer blogger un-kissed. After a brief introduction by Daniel, owner Gabe Gordon was up to talk about Beachwood past, present, and future. One thing that is impressive about Gabe, listening to him talk, is his true love for beer as a whole. He has an intense drive to not only serve great beer at his establishments, but understands that he has a responsibility to educate everyone that he employs and serves. Beachwood in Seal Beach was an early craft beer adopter. He was warned by distributors and other bar owners that going full craft beer would spell certain doom for his bar. That being said, he persevered and proved that it could not only be done, but done extremely well. By the time the beer boom took ahold in LA, Beachwood was already a craft beer establishment with inovations such as the Hop Cam, which shows patrons the tap list online so they know whats available before they go. In the Long Beach location they have a unique draft set up that looks like something from the side of a fire engine. Each draft line has its own regulator, which means that each beer will have the exact perfect mix of gasses to serve the beer the way it’s meant to be served. Gabe was excited and passionate about Beachwood, but also gave props to other places that share his same spirit. Beer Belly, in Korea Town, became a topic of conversation, as Gabe believes that its owner, Jimmy, has the true craft beer spirit as well as the team at Ladyface.
Daniel Drennon wrapped up the meeting with some advice to all the beer writers in attendance and with a statement, “Beachwood BBQ is the best beer bar in LA.” Giving “objectivity to your subjective opinion” became a major theme. Craft beer writing is about evangelizing the great breweries, the great beers, and the great beer bars that do it right. During his professional career Daniel has written a lot about Beachwood BBQ and its incredible beer program. Some might say that he is biased, but the fact of the matter is that Daniel truly believes in Beachwood and is ready to back it up with solid evidence. His passion for Beachwood as the “Best beer bar in LA” rings true when you hear his points. There are many great craft beer bars in LA and like the breweries that supply the awesome beer, they all have a strong following of passionate devoted people. If you are doing it right then you are doing it. Rotating taps, clean glassware, line cleaning, knowledgeable staff, beer centric food, a passion for the craft, these are all traits the a great beer bar has, and these are traits that Beachwood excels at. You’d be hard pressed to find a team as passionate as Gabe and Julian who truly believe in what they are doing and who are willing to fight for it every step of the way.
The third installment of the LA Beer Bloggers Summit was a great success. We are lucky to have so many talented and driven beer writers and professionals among our ranks. It’s exciting to see the group growing, and I feel like it presents a great opportunity for all of us to lead the way and set the standard in both writing critically about and evangelizing LA craft beer. It’s a unique opportunity for beer writers to network and find opportunities to collaborate with each other. It’s a great time to be an LA beer drinker, and it’s a great time to be an LA Craft Beer Blogger.