The 3rd installment of our experimental IPA brewed with Semillon grape juice and features Australian Topaz and Mosaic hops. Expect a huge bouquet of fruity tropical hop aromas with notes of pear, mango, and perfume-like spice.
Semillon contributes peach and pear flavors while German Kolsch malt and wheat adds cracker and bread crust along with light toast to a soft bitter finish.
Last Sunday we kegged Grape Ape IPA for the L.A. Beer Blogger Summit held at Smog City’s taproom. While enjoying the company of some 45 local beer bloggers, all of which were sipping on Smog City’s offerings, we learned a little from Bernie Wire of Friends of Local Beer, Tyler Graham of Stone Marketing, Josh Liberman and Smog City’s own Laurie Porter.
The big take away was: use your photography in the same way you use words. Tell a story and you’ll successfully engage your fans and viewers. Shoot Away!!!
If you have been in our taproom at any point in the last few weeks you may have noticed one significant change: more craft beer fans! Lots and lots of craft beer lovers coming to visit every weekend. This is largely due to our many fans and supporters spreading the Smog City love throughout Southern California. If you have shared a growler, bought someone a pint of Smog City, or worn your Smog City hoodie and shirt out for the world to see, thank you for helping us share great beer.
It is great to see so many new faces joining the familiar ones, though sometimes things may get a little tight on space. Fear not, some new additions are arriving in the coming weeks to help improve everyone’s comfort level. For starters, a second wall bar has just been added along with bar stools for both to free up floor space and add a few extra seats to keep you all comfortable. This should also give everyone some extra elbow room to enjoy some of the many experimental batches coming out over the next few weeks. Kumquat Saison and Hoptango IPA will be making their return soon, so keep an eye on the newsletter for the announcements. Also in the works are two new Saison variations; one with tart cherries and blueberries, and a second with peach and apricot.
Growth is a learning process for all of us and to see so many familiar faces every week helps reassure us that we are heading in the right direction. So keep smiling for us and we’ll keep your glasses full.
Smog City, Jay’s Chocolates and ChocoVivo are partnering for a beer and chocolate pairing event, Sunday, Feb 16th from 12-6pm. Here’s just a little about ChocoVivo and Jay and how this event came to be.
We’ve known about ChocoVivo for years. In fact, we’ve purchased her chocolates at farmers markets on the Westside since she opened 5 years ago. So when we got an email saying Patricia, ChocoVivo’s owner and chocolate maker, was going to come down to our brewery for a chocolate pairing…We were definitely excited.
The meeting was the result of a conversation between Jay of Jay’s Chocolates and Laurie. About 6 months ago, Jay mentioned that he’d like to pair his chocolates with our beer. Of course, Valentines was the obvious option. Jay is a local cottage industry chocolate maker. He’s made wedding cakes, truffles, and other such delicacies for friends and family for ages and his truffles are to die for. At any party he attends and brings these exceptional little chocolate nuggets, he’s an instant celebrity…well, at least until the chocolates are gone. You know how it goes…
Months lapsed and finally Jay and Laurie were back in touch. They figured, let’s launch this pairing and take it to the next level. By bringing in L.A.’s first bean-to-bar chocolate maker, ChocoVivo, the chocolate and beer pairing had taken on a whole new dimension. Coming from craft backgrounds, Laurie and Patricia were birds of a feather…instantly taking to each other’s talent, product, and personalities they lapsed into a 4 hour chocolate tasting at the brewery. During that time, three perfect pairings were discovered. With each pairing, the chocolate literally transforms the beer’s original flavor and character into something new, something completely unexpected.
In the end, it’s all about bringing the things we love together. It’s about having fun, sharing our experiences, exploring flavor combinations, and enjoying the simple pleasures life has to offer. I think with this event, we’ve covered pretty much all of those things.
Here’s how to do the flight
1. Taste the beer first! You will want to do this, as the chocolate is going to change the way your beer tastes and there’s no going back.
2. Eat some chocolate. The biggest shift in flavor isn’t with the chocolates. They hold their own. But when you go back to the beer with a little chocolate in your mouth, you’ll experience a new beer…new flavors will emerge.
3. Drink some of the beer again. Be sure to have the taste of the chocolate still on your tongue. Close your eyes and taste how the chocolate changes the beer and vice versa.
4. Eyes still closed, let your expression of genuine delight come out. Smile.
We’ve selected beers that are not obvious chocolate pairing beers. Knowing that everyone’s instant go-to would be The Nothing and Coffee Porter; we set out to break through the easiest expectation to more complicated and exciting pairings. Yes, those two beers pair incredibly well with chocolate (and The Nothing pairing will actually blow your mind) but what we wanted was something surprising. Something Eye Opening. Something that made you say, “Holy $hit, I didn’t know that could happen!” As a result the pairings are as follows.
The Nothing- Coffee + Vanilla
Smoked Smaug Lager- Mayan Tradition
California Love- Meyer Lemon + Ginger
Smog City O.E.- Jay’s Raspberry Chocolate Truffle
If ever you’ve wanted to put your trust in Smog City, now is the time. Seriously.
Please be sure to RSVP for flights as they are made to order. We will have an extremely limited number of additional flights that will be available on a first come first served basis. Email Laurie@smogcitybrewing.com to reserve your flight!
Limited amounts of ChocoVivo chocolate bars will be available for purchase at the brewery during the event. Please read more about ChocoVivo via the website and don’t hesitate to visit the retail store.
Hop on the Wonka-vator and join us for some seriously amazing chocolate…and beer.
Here are some photos from our visit to ChocoVivo’s factory.
The Chocolate Grinder
First stage of the ground chocolate. It will go through the stones 4 more times before it is finished.
We like seeing things come full circle and partnering with 21st Amendment’s head brewer Zambo is one of those moments. Going way way back, Zambo worked at BJs Brea when Porter first launched into the craft beer industry 8 years ago. Porter was fresh out of the American Brewer’s Guild and found himself cleaning kegs at BJs Brea. Soon after Zambo transferred from BJs Woodland Hills to Brea where they worked together until Porter was promoted to assistant brewer in Oxnard. Now they head up their own outstanding breweries and have come together in Smog City’s first official collaboration.
Featuring wine character from wine country and citrus from SoCal, California Love is a collaboration designed to bring the best of NorCal and SoCal together.
Califronia Love is an Imperial Red brewed with pinot noir must, citrus peel and aged on oak chips. This highly hopped red clocks in at 9.6% ABV. On tap beginning this Thursday in the Smog City Taproom!
Here’s a look at the Collaboration Brew Day.
Look at the color of that beer! The Pinot darkened it considerably from this color.
This is what happens when you leave your camera unguarded.
So we’re here in 2014…which being a child of the 80′s feels pretty much like The Future. I’m waiting for my jet propelled sneakers and house cleaning nanobots but they have yet to arrive in the mail. So we keep working in the brewery waiting for the promises of the FUTURE to catch up.
This year, I won’t lie, it has been a blur. A race, a finish line, a new race and no end in sight (thankfully). Let’s take quick stock of what happened.
From Nov 2012 to Late April Smog City was under-construction. Porter spent his days bouncing between Tustin Brewing Co as head brewer, brewing Smog City beers and then running to our Torrance brewery to work in the evenings and weekends. I was making deliveries, handling sales and social media and quite literally counting the days until I could stop driving all over the city delivering kegs! I know it looked like fun, but with our 3 year old along for the ride…it was more difficult that it looked. One thing I will miss was visiting our accounts and the amazing people who sell our beers to on a regular basis. Oh and those that drink it too! For instance I’ll always remember and cherish the memory of the guy who called out of his apartment window directly across from The Tripel and asked which beer I was delivering! He knew who Smog City was!! People like that make my day.
Here’s our 30bbl brite tank being tilted up! Notice the fear in Porter’s face…it was genuine for all of us as we took refuge behind the layering tanks. All went smoothly, no worries…the guy driving the forklift was a professional.
Here we are today! We filled it up!
Okay, so truth be told we were in a bit of frenzy for the first few months. Finding our rhythm, getting our feet under us. Everything was moving faster than it ever had before. We felt like we were always slightly ahead of the curve but that curve was always right there on our tail…and it looked sharp. It’s an amazing experience to watch something grow from the ground up…literally and I’m thrilled to have taken many of you along for the ride.
April 26th, we hosted our first soft opening. We rolled up the door and wondered if anyone would find us. We didn’t post any info about the opening we just called a few friends and told them to come help us hammer out the details. The irony is that our first customers had NO idea that we were not yet officially open. They came in just as relaxed as can be and we were cheering and leaping about…they must have thought we were crazy. We owe a huge thanks to Monkish for sending people over to us during those first few months and even to this day. Thanks Henry and Adriana! We couldn’t ask for better neighbors.
May 18th, was our Grand Opening! The turnout was humbling and galvanizing. We had literally spent all of 2011 and 2012 marching along at a snail’s pace…brewing and distributing less in all of 2012 than we gave to Stone in our first two pick ups of 2013. Perspective. Now we were finally full steam ahead!
In June we officially joined the Stone Distribution family and Porter and I felt a huge weight lifted. Not only were they taking a heavy (literally and figuratively) load off our backs but the team is absolutely amazing. We couldn’t be more proud of this crew!
Over the next few months we hired Mike Freeman and Chris Walowski on as brewers, which was a served as a huge relief for Porter. We love our growing family and are so lucky to have these amazing, hardworking and talented brewers at Smog.
LA Beer Week was a rush! We hosted our biggest event to date, Rarest of the Rare at the brewery featuring 9 barrel-aged or sour beers on tap at one time and the debut of our GrapeApe IPA and Kumquat Saison. And at LA Union Station Beer Fest, our Hive Five Honey Bee got to “hive five” Greg Koch of Stone Brewing. Thanks for the love, Greg!
Rarest of the Rare confirmed that you guys like barrel-aged beer, A LOT…So we bought more barrels! Bourbon Barrels, Red Wine Barrels, White Wine Barrels…now we just have to be patient…more barrel-aged beer is on the horizon.
Then came Nov 4th, after much self-promoting and support from our fans, we were nominated LA’s Best Local Brewery of 2013 by L.A. Hotlist. So we threw a Fan Appreciation Party! Again, an amazing turnout and we are always reminded of just how in love we are with our fans…you guys rule. It was all smiles and new friendships and a pure delight. Keep voting for us and we’ll keep throwing you parties.
Hollywood! Laurie had 2 one second spots and a Smog City shout out from Jimmy of Beer Belly on Dinners, Drive-Ins and Dives and our brewery was used in a comedy sketch by The Birthday Boys! Rubbing shoulders…kinda. John and Joan Cusack, you guys reading this? Come visit!
Zambo and Porter during our Collaboration Brew
Dec 27th marked our FIRST EVER Collabation brew. Partnering with craft beer heavy weight 21st Amendment, Porter and 21st A brewer, Zambo brewed an Imperial Red made with pinot noir grapes and aged on cedar chips for SF Beer week 2014. California Love will be available at limited accounts in SF(including 21st A’s brewpub) and in our taproom.
To close out the year, we hosted our first ever Battle of the Casks. 5 Casks designed by each of our Smog City staff were poured side by and side and you got to vote for your favorite. Chris took 1st place, Ryan took 2nd and Porter took 3rd. Looking forward to our next Battle of the Casks which will be Saturday, April 5th!
As 2013 came to a close we were granted the most humbling of accolades, LA Weekly chose our Little Bo Pils as Best L.A. Beer of 2013. This little engine that could has quickly become our best seller in the market place. Finding homes for L.A.’s only local lager has been a blast! Go Go Little Bo!
LA Weekly Top 10 Beers of 2013!
A day later, John Verive of the L.A. Times placed our GrapeApe IPA on the 3 Most Important Beers of 2013 list. Porter has a habit of being slightly ahead of the curve. Our Groundwork Coffee Porter has established itself as a leader in the coffee beer genre and now I believe we’ll be seeing more interplay between wine and beer from other breweries. We’ve currently got two beers in fermentation using Grapes: our 21st Amendment Collaboration, California Love. And GrapeApe IPA with Chardonnay is on tap in our taproom. Look for more experimentation in the new year!
LA Times, Most Important So Cal Craft Beers of 2013
So thank you peoples of Smog! We love you, we need you, we will serve you great beer! Let’s all raise a glass and look forward to 2014 and the burgeoning craft beer scene here in our own town. It’s been a long time coming and I think we’ll see some amazing developments in the coming year.
Laurie + Porter and The Smog City Crew
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This delicious concoction is just now getting the traction we hoped to see in 2013! 2014 is gonna be a good year! Keep your eyes peeled for one of the top 3 beers of 2013 according to LA Times beer writer John Verive who named GrapeApe IPA alongside Noble’s Naughty Sauce and GRB’s Heal The Bay IPA in his Three Most Important Beers of Southern California article.
See Smog City Brewing on IFC! Click on the photo to watch our episode! Also, look for our Smog City tap handle in the background of the Pool Shark episode. (as soon as I locate a link, I’ll post that too!)
For the screening, we were joined by Dave Ferguson of The Birthday Boys! The Birthday Boys is made up of 7 improv artists, recently discovered making people laugh in L.A. by Bob Odenkirk. They write, direct and act in their own skits. The thing that stands out about these guys is how down to earth they all are and their passion for the craft. Whether it be beer or comedy, it’s all about building something genuine, something that’s inherently “you”. These guys are doing just that. It was an absolute joy to work with all of them. Thanks Guys!
Looking forward to more collaborations in the future. 7 Smoggy Brothers Brew, anyone?!?!