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There’s another new brewery in the Inland Empire!  August 1st from 5-7pm was the first “sneak preview” of Claremont Craft Ales.  They are located in the shadow of the mountains north of downtown Claremont. Walking into the open space of the brewery/tasting room, there’s a comfortable and inviting atmosphere. Next to the serving bar, a counter with seats lines one wall.  In another are, you’ll find a couch and chairs with artificial grass. Additional seating and tables are scattered around the space. It’s a welcoming atmosphere that is family friendly. 

Owners Simon Brown and Emily Moultrie along with brewer, Brian Seffer and his wife Natalie were busily pouring beer and greeting customers. Personal touches are found on the walls, logo shirts, and beers.   You see the phrase “Simon says….” followed by several craft beer phrases on the large wall. Even the t-shirts have “Simon says, Drink my Beer” on the back.

Enough about the space – what about the beer?  A flat screen at the serving bar lists the beers on tap with ABV and prices for a glass, taster or growler fill. Six beers were available ranging from a pale ale at 5.1%, to a blonde, rye IPA, oaked red, stout and a black rye imperial IPA with the highest ABV at 9.1%  Quite a variety for an opening. The beer names have a personal connection to the owners or brewer. Willow, the blonde ale is named for Simon’s dog and Buddy, the black rye imperial IPA is named after Brian and Natalie’s dog. Carlisle, the pale ale is named after a street where Simon lived and St. Mawes, an American stout is for a small town in England. The rye IPA is named Jacaranda for the purple flowering trees we enjoy in the area. Lastly, Roble’d is Spanish for oak which is appropriate for the oaked red ale. There will be other styles coming out – an IPA with a mid-range IBU and 11th Street, a pomegranate wheat are in the works.  Brian mentioned something about a porter too.

If you read this today, there’s another “sneak preview” planned for tonight (Thursday, August 2nd from 5-7pm). Stop by if you can and enjoy a cold one.

After surviving inspections and approvals, Chino Valley Brewing opened their tasting room to the public on Friday, July 27th.  We arrived 15 minutes early and the ‘open’ sign was already outside and six other people were inside tasting the brews on tap.  Four beers were on tap – a blonde, English ale, porter and stout. If you bought a flight of the four, you got a logo pint glass with that signature Chino cow on the brewery logo.   

The Butterfield Blonde was one of my favorites with good flavor and a surprising 6.3% ABV. Route 83 Ale brewed with English yeast was the strongest beer on tap at 7.9%. This brown has flavor reminiscent of ales found in English pubs.  Another favorite was the Prado Porter at 5.5% with a licorice taste from the star anise used in brewing.  The porter was available with regular carbonation or on nitro. The fourth beer for the opening was Foggy Morning Stout, a lighter stout at 5.2% served on nitro.   

Matthew Maldonado and Ray Duran, co-owners were clearly excited to be open and seemed a little surprised at the turnout for the opening day. They spent time behind the bar and greeting family, friends and new customers. Matt talked about his next beer on tap, Mule Car IPA, a double IPA with a bit more hop presence.

Brewing on a small 2/3 bbl system has its advantages and disadvantages, but as they posted on Facebook, they’re looking to upgrade soon. Based on the beer poured that first night, they will need to!  I also heard that growlers will be coming. So next time you’re on the 60 freeway in the Ontario area on a weekend, stop by and check them out!


Chino Valley Brewery located on Francis Street in Ontario, California has announced their grand opening on July 27, 2012. They will be open to the public on Friday from 4:30-9pm and Saturday from 1-9pm.

Craft beer drinkers in the Inland Empire have been waiting for this announcement as they watched the progress of construction and inspections over the last several weeks on Facebook and Twitter.  Once the inspections were completed and approvals in place, the brewers began brewing beer in preparation for the opening.  The website indicates that 5 beers are usually on tap, sold by taster or pint. From their Facebook page, it looks like they plan to have a blonde, porter, ale and stout.  Stop in for a visit to see what else comes out those fermenters.


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When Firestone Walker announced they were planning the first Invitational Beer Fest, there was a lot of interest in the craft beer community. The festival at the Paso Robles fairgrounds would have 40 breweries and more than 20 restaurants. Presale tickets sold out in a few hours and the event sold out 2 months in advance. The hashtag #FWIBF was frequently seen on Twitter in the week leading up to Saturday, June 9, 2012. There was a lot of excitement about this event.

The day of the festival was sunny and clear and people started to arrive before the 1pm start time. As you entered the fairgrounds, volunteers distributed a plate, with a slot to hold the event glass and a small book listing the breweries and beers. While waiting to enter, people stood in the shade and talked about which brewery to visit first. There were breweries from across the United States representing California, Oregon and Colorado in the west, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri and Nebraska in the Midwest, and Delaware and New York on the east coast. There was an international presence with Mikkeller from Denmark and Yo Ho from Japan. A lot of great beers and breweries to choose from! 

When the gates opened, craft beer fans spread across the fairgrounds. Lines formed quickly at Three Floyds for Dark Lord with vanilla beans and at Alpine, Russian River and The Bruery. The lines moved quickly and food tents located between the beer tents made it less crowded. Some highlights of the day for me were Bell’s Wild One, a sour fermented in wood barrels and blended, Odells’s Friek, a framboise-style oak aged sour, Dogfish Head’s Two Blind Myces, a farmhouse saison with cardamom and orange peel fermented and aged in red wine barrels with Brett, Alesmith‘s Brewer’s Blend Barrel Aged Speedway Stout, and Hollister Brewing’s Tiny Bubbles, a tart wheat beer flavored with coriander and sea salt.

It was great to see the brewers pouring and talking about their beer. It was clear they love what they do!  There were rare and hard to find beers, and award winning beers and breweries. Several breweries poured special bottles or kegs during the day. There was something for everyone – barrel aged and dark beers from Alesmith, Ballast Point, FiftyFifty, The Bruery, and TAPS. There were fruity beers and lighter beers from Boneyard, Moonlight, Green Flash, Trumer, and Sun King. Hopheads could choose from a number of IPAs and hoppy beers from Alpine, Beachwood BBQ, Lagunitas, Kern River, Stone, and Founders.  This is just a small glimpse of the craft breweries that poured all afternoon. You can see a list of the breweries here.

Central coast restaurants served an outstanding variety of food. Whiling enjoying beer, you could sample flatbread pizza, bacon wrapped stuffed jalapeños, paella, BBQ pork sliders, cheese plates, spicy mac and cheese, ribs, tacos and more. No one went hungry at this event!

If you needed a break from great beer and food, you could attend the  Behind the Beer sessions sponsored by Taphunter and The Brewing Network. These sessions featured brewers who answered questions about brewing and their beer. There was also a presentation by Sarah Forstner representing Save the Cocks, an organization that works to rescue and place abandoned roosters in Paso Robles and the surrounding area. Several groups provided live music in an area adjacent to the beer and food tents. Throughout the day, attendees could vote for their favorite brewery using a mobile app from Taphunter.  At the end of the Behind the Beer sessions, Mel Gordon from Taphunter announced Three Floyds as the winner of the People’s Choice award. 

More than 2000 attended this inaugural event with proceeds benefiting Pioneer Day, a popular Paso Robles event since the 1930’s. Firestone Walker has definitely set the bar for future events.  They provided a relaxing setting to enjoy craft beer and food.  Craft beer lovers had the opportunity to meet the men and women who brew the beer. Cheers to the volunteers and everyone else who helped to make this event a success! We are already looking forward to next year.

Rahr Brewing is located in Fort Worth, Texas.  Founded by Fritz and Erin Rahr in 2004, the brewery has more than doubled its brewing capacity since then. During our visit, we tasted several year round beers including Blonde Lager (Munich Helles), Texas Red (amber lager), Ugly Pug (black lager), and Stormcloud (IPA). LaGrange, a farmhouse ale was available for tasting from bottles. We were able to taste the seasonal, Winter Warmer at a local bar. Other than Stormcloud, LaGrange and Winter Warmer, all beers are less than 5% ABV. Even though many of the beers could be considered session beers because of the low ABV, all have good flavor.

The brewery is located in an industrial area of Fort Worth and opens for tours on Wednesdays from 5 – 7:30pm and Saturdays from 1 – 3pm. We visited on a Saturday afternoon and found a long line of Rahr faithful waiting to enter the brewery. The large number of people at the brewery may have been related to the limited Halloween glass that came with the $7 entry fee for the tour and 3 pints of beer, or it could have been for the Movember fundraiser for prostate cancer held that day.

Rahr has the longhorn on their logo, so we had to share a picture of the real thing.  This steer was seen at the Fort Worth Stockyards and has horns with a six foot span and as they say, ‘everything is bigger in Texas’!

If you are in the Dallas Fort Worth area, plan a visit to Rahr Brewing. Odds are pretty good that you’ll get to see Erin and Fritz Rahr at the brewery, and you’ll definitely get to try some good beers.

A recent trip to Texas provided an opportunity to visit St. Arnold Brewing Company in Houston, Texas.  This is the oldest craft brewery in Texas, started 17 years ago by Brock Wagner and named for the patron saint of breweries. The story is that St. Arnold encouraged people to drink beer instead of water to avoid becoming sick. You can read more about St. Arnold and the history of the brewery on the St. Arnold Brewing Company website.

The brewery is open for tours and tastings Monday through Friday from 3 – 4:15pm and Saturday from 11am – 2pm.  Tours and tastings are $7 which gives you a souvenir St. Arnold tasting glass and four tasters of the beers on tap. The tasting room is located above the brewery and has the feel of a beer hall with its wooden tables and benches. Windows in the tasting room show a view of the fermenters and brewhouse.

Year round St. Arnold beers available during our visit included the Amber ale, Brown ale, Elissa IPA, Weedwacker (Bavarian hefeweizen), Fancy Lawnmower (German-style Kölsch), and Santo (black Kölsch). The seasonal beer on tap was Saint Arnold Christmas Ale. Beers are brewed with the traditional four ingredients, hops, water, malt and yeast without any additional ingredients. The only exception is the seasonal Pumpkinator. We were disappointed to miss tasting one of the seasonal stouts, but that will have to wait for another visit.

We were lucky to have St. Arnold’s founder and owner, Brock Wagner as our brewery tour guide. He proudly showed the brewhouse and talked abut their beers which are found only in Texas and Louisiana with no plans to expand distribution beyond those states. The brewhouse is a 120 bbl system. One of the pictures above shows Christmas ale brewing with the yeast actively at work producing carbon dioxide.

Besides the beer, two tie dyed cars are found at the brewery, a VW bug parked outside the brewery and a tie dyed 1957 Bentley inside. The Bentley is frequently seen at local car shows. Visiting the brewery was a lot of fun even though it was a short one, but one worth a return visit!

Union Station was the site for the finale of LA Beer Week.  One of the best things about this festival is you can take the train to Union Station.  No problems finding parking and plenty of time to relax and visit with friends on the train.

The festival showcased breweries from the Los Angeles area, across the US, and around the world. More than 70 breweries poured unlimited 4 ounce pours of their beers, some of which are hard to find.  Enjoying a sunny day with friends and great beer made the event an enjoyable day.

Many of the beers and local breweries provided highlights for the afternoon. Unity was the official LA Beer Week collaboration beer brewed by Eagle Rock Brewery and Craftsman Brewing.  This beer, a tamarind saison at 6.7% ABV was easy to drink with a hint of sour.  Ladyface Alehouse poured Hot for Teacher, an IPA brewed with habenero peppers. This one was surprisingly good, with just enough heat from the peppers and not a lot of bitterness usually found in an IPA. Ohana Brewing, a new LA brewery poured Black Dahlia, their black IPA and two unnamed sours.  Smog City Brewing had a great coffee porter that brought many back for a second pour.

Festival goers waited in long lines for some harder to find beers like Kern River Citra, Bootlegger’s Imperial Black Phoenix, and Firestone Walker 14. All in all it was an enjoyable day and it is good to know that LA is making great strides in supporting and promoting craft beer and local breweries.


Packinghouse Brewing in Riverside celebrates their first anniversary on Saturday, October 22, 2011 from 12 noon til 7pm.  This small brewery started by three friends is located on Central Avenue across from the Riverside Airport. Over the past year, the brewery has watched as their beers are found in more locations around Riverside and into Orange and Los Angeles Counties.  On an early visit to the brewery, I remember one of the guys saying they brew beers they want to share with their friends. That attitude has spread as a loyal following grew to visit the brewery, relax with friends, enjoy a beer, and take a growler home.

Year round beers on tap include Heritage Citrus Pale Ale, Riley’s Irish Red, Sunburst Golden Ale, Cream Stout, and Packinghouse IPA.  If you’re at the brewery during the year, you might find one of the seasonal beers like Holiday Ale, Liberty Belgian, or Boysenberry Coffee Stout.

If you haven’t discovered this Inland Empire brewery, stop by and celebrate with them on Saturday. The party is sure to be a good one with live music, food, friends, and an anniversary beer to enjoy.

On Sunday, Los Angeles area craft beer lovers came to celebrate the opening of Golden Road Brewing, the area’s newest craft beer brewery.  The brewery team consists of Tony Yanow (Tony’s Darts Away and Mohawk Bend), Meg Gill (previously with Speakeasy Brewing and Oskar Blues), and Jon Carpenter (former assistant brewmaster at Dogfish Head). Tony is a long time supporter of craft beer and features California beers at his restaurant and bar.

The long awaited opening of the brewery featured three Golden Road beers, Golden Road Hefeweizen, Point the Way IPA, and Burning Bush, a smoked IPA. Guest breweries pouring a wide selection of beers included Firestone Walker, Stone, Avery, The Bruery, Beachwood BBQ, Oskar Blues, Hangar 24, and Sierra Nevada. Three of the most notable beers on tap were Avery Immitus, Oskar Blues 2010 Ten Fidy, and Unity, the LA Beer Week collaboration by Eagle Rock and Craftsman Breweries. These three beers tapped out midway through the party to the dismay of those who did not try them early.  Food was available to enjoy with the beer. There were pretzels with mustard or you could order from one of the food trucks, the Mandoline Grill or the Flatiron Truck. 

Golden Road brewing occupies two acres at 5430 West San Fernando Rd in Atwater Village just south of the 134 freeway. The blue building houses the brewing facility with room for a planned 16 ounce canning line.  The red building will be used for storage and a barrel program.  A restaurant and beer garden and offices will occupy the yellow building.

Watch for Golden Road beers on tap at a location near you. We wish Tony, Meg and Jon the best as they continue to make inroads for craft beer in the Los Angeles area.



Dale Bros. Brewery in Upland, California announced details for their second annual Oktober-Fiesta to be held on Saturday, October 22, 2011 from 4-9pm.  Attendees at the event will be able to taste the first keg of their new IPA which will be available that day.  This is a first for a brewery that only brewed lagers (until now, as hinted on their website).

Admission to Oktober-Fiesta is free with food, beer, water and soft drinks available for purchase. Entertainment will be provided by three bands.  The event will be held at Cable Airport, 2120 Porterfield Way, Upland which is the future home for this brewery.


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