I need to apologize. I've been neglecting someone, or rather some thing, for quite some time. Beer. I fell so head over heels for wine so many years ago that beer might think I want nothing to do with it. It's not true. Sure, there's vodka too, but dirty martini desires are in a totally different camp, and I just want to set the record straight. I like beer. Warm summer day, ocean breezes, sand under a feet, I'm not reaching for a martini. I want a cold one. Yes beer, I'm looking at you. You're that cold one.
I've spent quite a bit of time learning about wine. I love the places where wine grows. I like to visit these wide open, beautiful fields and learn what a winemaker is doing. Terroir is fascinating in how the local soil can play such a large part in how a wine tastes. Ok sorry beer, I'll stop, but can you see how I got swept up into the wine craze?
I don't get to prance around outside when looking at how beer is made...or do I? Craft beer making has been on the rise for years now. In fact, Los Angeles now has many breweries in town that are putting together their own yeasty options. Torrance in particular is home to 3 breweries all within walking, or stumbling, distance of each other, in addition to dozens of others scattered across the South Bay. With a readiness to close the growing gap with beer, I set out with a few friends to do some brewery prancing.
The 3 walkable breweries are all around the Del Amo Boulevard - Western Avenue streets in Torrance. These places aren't huge and as the day goes on, the buses and crowds build, so plan accordingly. We started shortly after the doors were open at Smog City, around 12:30pm. To be clear, you're at the brewing center, in an office park where the doors roll up, not out. This isn't a fancy bar, though they've set up some pretty nice tasting rooms amidst the barrels and equipment. You will be in the middle of the action.
Smog City is a family run operation that got their start at the Tustin Brewing Company in 2011. Success was quick and they moved into their Torrance location in 2013 where they're making, pouring and selling their beer. If you want to experiment and learn like we did, they make it easy. There are 4 ounce pours that you can sample to see what you like and then you can purchase a larger glass, bottle or even a growler to take home later.
Some of our favorites at Smog City included the lighter, but really creamy Zwickel bo nitro. Yeah, I said bo nitro and no I didn't know what that meant when I ordered it. Instead of a beer being carbonated with 100% carbon dioxide, giving it bubbles and fizz, beers on nitro use a combo 25% carbon dioxide and 75% nitrogen and are filtered through a special tap, giving it a creamy texture, much like Guiness. So yeah, it's really good. Winner. Go bo nitro whenever you can.
They also do some interesting mash ups at Smog City like aging beer in whisky and barrel casks, giving it a really different, sweet, nutty flavor. The bourbon oe was my favorite using this method.
Then there's the porters. My friend Sue summed up the Chip Shot Coffee Porter best after taking her first sip, "I want to wake up to this coffee every morning." I would gladly join her for that coffee date.
Next stop was Monkish Brewing Company. They make nice use of leftover barrels, placing pillows on top for comfy stools to sit and enjoy their beer. Monkfish also had free pretzels and shelled peanuts to enjoy with the beer. We received tokens here to sample the beer and sampling with friends is a great way to try all of the offerings. Seeing as these are smaller, local breweries, specific beer sells out and often gets replaced so don't get too attached.
Monkfish wasn't afraid of playing with herbs and spices like hibiscus and chamomile in the Florasion, which I found too fruity for my taste, but then there was the Demure, a dry saison and slightly tart. Monkfish's beer is produced in a Belgian style, leading to a dryer finish like the Sepia. It was dark in color, but chocolaty and malty in taste with a nice, light finish.
Seme Della Vita was another Monkfish favorite. It's a tripel with pistachios and vanilla beans, and man that vanilla shines through in the most creamy, delicious way.
Our final brewery stop of the day was at The Dudes. I should mention that we were not the only one's day drinking in Torrance. The tasting rooms were full in each location, starting after 1pm. You can bring your own food into most places and enjoy it on one of the communal tables with your beer, and even your pooch as we saw in some spots.
Their motto sums things up nicely: "Happy Dudes' make great brews, and great brews make people happy." This was pretty evident looking around the packed room.
Some Dudes notables included a blood orange amber ale that contained interesting citrus notes, meshed in with silky, creamy chocolate flavor. Grinning face porter definitely brought a smile to my face with its toasted coconut - yes coconut! Then there was the flavor of toasted pecans in Grandma's pecan english style brown ale. Grandma knows how to make people happy too.
It was interesting and refreshing to see that each of the 3 Torrance breweries that we sampled had their own unique angle and flavors. And the beauty is that they're busy making different beers around the clock so you won't get bored of the same thing and if you don't like something, there's a new flavor coming soon. I should also mention, if you plan on sampling many beers on a warm day, think about taking an uber or having a designated driver so you don't end up like this guy.
I'm hoping beer has forgiven me now because I'm looking forward to spending much more time together in the future!