Utah Beer News travels across state lines from time to time. When we do, we’ll provide dispatches from non-Beehive State beer establishments near and far. We call this: Beer Travels.
Beer Travels: Hermosa Beach
Hermosa Beach, Calif., is well known as a volleyball mecca. Beer Travels touched down just as the sand welcomed the Collegiate Beach Championships.
While my wife tended to work-related meetings during the day, I explored a six-mile stretch from Redondo Beach to Manhattan Beach in sunny Southern California to taste craft beers. I also tasted inland in Hawthorne. But Hermosa was our home base.
It proved to be an exceptional week for craft beer. Here are a few highlights.
Beer Travels Day 1: Hermosa Beach
Angel City IPA seemed to be the “house beer” for the watering holes I visited along the beach. It wasn’t hard to find on tap (and on special).
It pours a beautiful copper color, with medium carbonation and a quick-disappearing white head. Aromas are of citrus, primarily grapefruit. Flavors are predominately grapefruit, though a fairly significant hop bitterness toward the end reminds me of orange pith/peel.
Mosaic Session IPA from San Diego’s Karl Strauss Brewing Company brought some cereal to the citrus party. It’s a fruity, juicy IPA with a solid malt backbone.
I wrapped up the evening at Patrick Molloys and enjoyed an Ommegang Pale Sour. Described as a beer that “drinks like a fine white wine,” I loved the crispness. I tasted some apple flavors, and maybe some cinnamon (applesauce?).
Beer Travels Day 2: Manhattan Beach
I decided to explore surrounding areas and on Day 2 I walked along the boardwalk a couple miles north to Manhattan Beach. I found BrewCo to be a solid spot to enjoy a pint (or three).
First up: VirtuAle IPA from Stone Brewing. A West Coast IPA featuring the Incognito™ hopping process provided a delightful tropical experience. From Citrus and Mosaic hop extracts, I got notes of grapefruit, pineapple, and orange in this 7.7% ABV, 72 IBU heavyweight.
The next brew came from HopSaint Brewing Company, established in Torrance, Calif., in 2014. Pure Intention pale ale is dry-hopped with El Dorado and Mosaic. A taste of the tropics comes at you in this 5.7% ABC brew. It earned a silver medal at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival.
I finished my BrewCo tasting session with the Luponic Distortion Revolution 009 by Firestone Walker Brewing Company. I was unable to find the hop schedule for this rotating-hop series, but apparently it features five “public domain” hops. Not a ton of citrus/tropical notes in the aroma, but the fruity flavors were nice (if not especially bitter).
Beer Travels Day 3: Redondo Beach
I grabbed a taster flight at Redondo Beach Brewing Company and enjoyed sampling a few beers on a patio overlooking Catalina Ave. But the standout for me was the Belching Beaver Peanut Butter Milk Stout on nitro.
Enormous peanut butter aromas. Peanut butter and chocolate flavors. Incredibly smooth and definitely reminiscent of a thick, flavorful milkshake. I can see why it took home a silver medal at the 2014 World Beer Championships. Nice work, Belching Beaver Brewery.
From RBBC, I walked the short distance to Rock & Brews. I’m a big music fan, so when I stepped through the door and saw a Jim Morrison-emblazoned skateboard on the wall, I knew I’d be spending some time here. The lengthy row of taps didn’t hurt. Utah definitely needs one of these franchises.
I tasted a couple flights here, highlighted by one of the world’s (and my) favorite ales — Bell’s Two Hearted. Any time I can get that on draft, I’ll do it.
I put a bow on a delightful tasting day with a Dodger Dog and a $12 Bud Light at Dodger Stadium. It was a great day.
Beer Travels Day 4: Hawthorne
Looking to hit a couple up-and-coming breweries on my final day in Southern California, I traveled to Hawthorne.
I grabbed a flight of Common Space’s newer releases. Its Wit, Spelt Saison with Pepper, and Tart Saison were tapped hours earlier. The brewers are still dialing in many of their recipes, so they’ve assigned each batch a number, rather than a specific name.
The Wit delivered a nice, bready flavor, while the saison with pepper seemed a little light and subdued. I enjoyed the tart saison, which featured aromas and flavors of pear and a nice sourness.
Formed by “a scrappy group of homebrewers,” L.A. Ale Works is a comfortable spot to enjoy a pint. I grabbed a flight of tasters and thoroughly enjoyed L.A. Ale Works’ Meseeks Joose IPA. Hazy and juicy. I hadn’t really had any “hazy IPAs” on this trip, so I appreciated this one.
Pure nostalgia pour: Huell Melonhowser. For those who have lived in California, you know.
Beer Travels: Bonus Features
After four days in Hermosa Beach, I finally made it to Hermosa Brewing Company. Located literally across the street from my hotel, the timing just never worked out — until now.
My wife and I popped in for a taster flight. The standout here for me: Hello Darkness oatmeal stout. Rich, smooth and creamy with just enough roast to warm the mouth. This is a beer I could sip on by a campfire.
The final day in SoCal found my wife and I driving a few miles south to Huntington Beach for a quick family visit. Beachwood BBQ & Brewing called out our names. We hit the taproom, so we didn’t see any BBQ. But the beers were worth the visit.
Careful With That Peach, Eugene is a Belgian-style sour ale fermented with three pounds per gallon of fresh peaches. Aromas of peach are strong, but the flavor subdues slightly. Finishes with a fruity tartness.
And those are just the highlights from what turned out to be an exceptional trial run of Beer Travels by Utah Beer News. Hermosa Beach and the surrounding areas are producing a lot of excellent brews.