2014 – The Year of the Beer

The year has started out solid for craft beer both locally and nationally.  According to the Brewers association “the number of breweries in the United States reached the highest level seen in the country since the early 1870s.” Towards the tail end of december the US had an estimated 2,722 breweries, which includes Regional, Micro, Brewpub, and Large Breweries.  Focusing the magnifying glass on greater Los Angeles , the number of breweries continues to grow steadily with new breweries such as Firestone Walker in Venice, King Harbor in Redondo, Three Weavers Brewing in Inglewood, and Bottle Logic Brewing in Anaheim slated to open 2014/2015.

Perhaps whats more interesting is the response to all of these breweries opening.  More options in bars, more fans in taprooms, more home brewers, more books being written, more beer in the news, Los Angeles is simply exploding it beer love.

On a personal level, in the beer realm, I haven’t been busier.  Which explains my sporadic and infrequent updates for Bierkast.com.  Apologies to those of you who still frequent this humble little craft beer outpost.  My goal in 2014 is to post more, but thank god for publications such as Beer Paper LA, West Coaster, LA/OC Weekly, LA Times Daily Dish, Beer of Tomorrow, Beerqwest, Franny Fullpint, OC Beer Blog, and many, because they’re keeping the public informed.  There is so much to cover, way to much for any single person.

So here’s what’s happening in 2014 for me and those I’m close to.

Ladyface4Eagle Rock Brewery & Ladyface Ale Companie 4th Anniversaries

Both Eagle Rock Brewery and Ladyface Ale Companie are celebrating their 4th year anniversaries.  “It’s been four years?!” Time flies while having fun and making great beer and both of these breweries have done an excellent job not only making said beer, but also fostering the local LA beer community.  Ladyface put together a brewmasters pairing dinner along with a series of events to keep the celebration going strong.

LeeEngineEagle Rock celebrated by throwing a bash at the brewery, which in previous years was held at nearby craft beer hot spot Verdugo bar.  The crowd was large, but also manageable.  There were enough pouring stations to serve everyone, which reduced the waiting line for beer.  ERB released it’s newest beer White Rabbit, a strong 11% golden belgian ale, which was delicious.  Bottles should be coming soon.  The ERB team also supplied craft brewed sodas, something I personally dug as our LA Soda Works operation is still in its infancy.  LA’s car heavy culture demands responsible options for designated drivers and I hope to see more breweries exploring their non-alcoholic craft side.  ERB also announced that they would be opening a brewpub on Eagle Rock Blvd, which will sport a 15 BBL brewhouse manned by the Bakofsky brother and kitchen helmed by noneother than brewery chef, Jerry Su.

Kip_BLGSC_01Beer Lover’s Guide to Southern California

My book, The Beer Lover’s Guide to Southern California, is approaching its publishing date, February 18th.  I’ve received advanced author copies and I can tell you that it looks fantastic.  This book comes jam packed with descriptions of breweries, brewpubs, beer bars, as well as other supplemental goodies like recipes and life advice.  I kid about the life advice, however, if spend as much time as I traveled for this book, it definitely takes over your life and in that case, this is perhaps an advice book.

The Beer Lover’s Guide to Southern California profiles So Cal beer hot spots and provides high level detail on each location.  You’ll find addresses, phone numbers, history, general info, and even a recommended beer to try if you’re having a hard time deciding.  It’s not a review book though.  I went to a little over 200 places while researching for the book (not all of them made it into the book) and although I loved some places more than others, I can honestly say that each place has something great about it.  Wether it’s food, ambiance, staff, art, or the beer itself, you’re bound to find something you like.  This book is a great travel companion and includes a map for each region.  There are also a few pub crawls in there as well.

I know it sounds like I’m overselling my own personal book, but honestly, the format works.  I used the New England edition of this book series written by Norman Miller, while I was in providence.  The recommendations were great, it was easy to figure out what each place was about, and it’s incredibly easy to use.  I’ll happily pick up the Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and any other editions of the Beer Lovers series when I’m getting ready to travel.

I had a fantastic time working my publisher and I’m extremely proud of the final product.  I hope you will be happy with it too.

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Summit10_Instagram_2-5-14LA Beer Bloggers Summits & Camping

The LA Beer Bloggers group is steadily growing and we have a number or really cool events planned for 2014.  The next summit (meeting) is at one of my favorite breweries in the Southland, Smog City Brewing, and will cover the topic of Photography.  We have a diverse panel of photographers who will be speaking about capturing the perfect picture wether it be people, beer, or vista.  This event goes down on February 23rd and starts at the normal 12pm.  It’s open to all so please come down and join us.  Here’s the Link to the Event!

We’re also working on an open invite camping trip – destination Kern River.  This will hopefully become an annual event, but the goal will be for bloggers and media types to hang out on a less formal setting to promote relationship building.  We will of course be touring Kern River Brewing while were up there along with a bottle share and cookout at the camp ground.  Look for more details soon.

BoardBeerBoard Beer Geek Tavern

Ah yes, the Board Beer Geek Tavern.  This is a passion project I tried to get off the ground late last year, but it didn’t come to fruition due to some scheduling and budgetary issues.  The idea is simple – cask beer + live acoustic music, and table top board games.  It’s a geek event to the max and is a great opportunity to bring beer geeks and gamers together.  Our event was originally planned to be at Golden Road’s Chloes, which is fantastic location.  That being said, it didn’t work out price wise, and we’ve decided to move the show down the road.

We’re currently talking with the team at Story Tavern for an April 5th game day – INTERNATIONAL TABLE TOP DAY! Pretty cool eh?  For more information about what the even is, check out the website.  Look for updates in February.

GamsBart_BFosters_Simmzys_06Los Angeles Ale Works – beer slate, casks & bottles

Los Angeles Ale Works, the little brewery project that could.  John and I are hard at work brewing our monthly beers, throwing our cask / tap nights, and trying to raise money for our own facility.  We’re still talking with investors, a challenging process, and are looking to wrap up fundraising in August.  Our latest beer Dampfmaschine is scheduled to be kegged on Monday February 3rd and should hit bars shortly after that.  We’ll be brewing Karma Kolsch (batch #2) on February 9th & 10th.  We’ll be doing something different with the Karma Kolsch casks – beer fests.  Our custom one-off casks will be featured at Firkfest on March 22nd and Tap & Cheer on March 29th.  Each cask will utilize a special Bird Pick Tea and will only be available to those attending the festivals.  Make sure you get your tickets!

dampfbottleLastly, we are working on a plan that involves bottling our very first beer this summer.  If all goes according to plan, we may be packaging a very special saison in the 22oz bottle format for a very special & limited release.  Stay tuned to the LA Ale Works facebook page for more info.  Also subscribe to our newsletter to make sure your informed on all things LAAW.

ohana

Ohana Tasting Room

Our friends at Ohana have taken a huge step in securing a tasting room in Andrew’s home town of Alhambra.  The spot is located right next to 38 degrees and will serve tasting flights.  This is an incredibly big deal for the Ohana team and the execution of this tap room will enable them to keep building up their current brewing facility in LA.  We couldn’t be happier for them.  Congratulations team Ohana!

As a special sidenote there is even possibility that there will be LAAW beer on tap! Saaweeet!

Pacific Brewers Cup 2014 hosted by Pacific Gravity

Lastly, but certainly not least, Pacific Gravity Home Brewers Club, my club, is hosting the 2014 Pacific Brewers Cup.  This annual competition showcases some of the best home brew in Los Angeles and traditionally see participation from the Strand Brewers Club, Long Beach Home Brewers Club, and Maltose Falcons.  The Best in Show winner of this competition will get to brew their beer recipe at a local LA brewery.  Pro-Ams are always super fun.

So why am I mentioning this? While I’m not part of the Pacific Gravity board, I am a volunteer for the competition.  I’ll be working on getting sponsors for the competition, which will be a lot of fun…and educational.  A little birdie told me that even LAAW will be sponsoring the competition.

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Wrap Up

This tiny synopsis of 2014 is just a taste of things to come.  It’s going to be an exciting year.  January has already been fantastic and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

About Kristofor Barnes

Kip is the founder of Bierkast and co-founder of Los Angeles Ale Works. Picking up home brewing after college, he has since become an accomplished award winning home brewer, LA Beer Blogger, and author of the Beer Lover's Guide to Southern California. Kip is a graduate of the University of Southern California's School of Cinema Television. He lives in Inglewood, CA with his sciency wife Katie. Follow him @bierkast or #FollowTheLAAW @laaleworks

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