Southern California Megalopolis Brew Tour Part II

We must be getting older because Saturday’s activities took a bit out of us. And I don’t think waking up in the Inland Empire helped. After overcoming the morning fogginess and grogginess, we were back on the road headed west. Luckily we had an easier day of beer travel on Sunday.

Barrels at The Bruery

There was no way we could drive all the way to Southern California without visiting The Bruery in Placentia. The hottest thing since sliced bread, The Bruery burst on the scene in 2007 to rave reviews. I’ll admit I was a little skeptical because that is my nature. Plus, the several Bruery beers I had tried somewhat reinforced my skepticism. They were good, but not ‘earth-shattering’ good. We had to go to see what all the hype was about.

Arriving just after opening, we entered the almost empty tasting room. The only thing that marred the serenity was the NFL playoff game blaring on the  TV. An empty tasting room was understandable as the day before, The Bruery had their Reserve Society ‘initiation’, attended by hundreds of Bruery fans. I expected to walk in and see the tasting room a shambles and 2 inches of beer on the floor. But it was spotless.

Oude Tart

Amongst all the barrels and brewing equipment, we took a seat at the bar. Beginning with Orchard White, a lavender bomb of a beer,  we proceeded to sample The Bruery lineup; seven in all.

The first beer to peak my interest was Rugbrød, which means ‘rye bread’ in Danish.  A really nice spicy brew, Rugbrød is made with, as the name suggests, rye. For a second day in a row, I drank a rye beer I really liked. I guess I need to stop saying I don’t care for rye beers.

Another Bruery beer to peak my interest was Oude Tart, a Flemish Red Ale aged in red wine barrels. A bit drier than other beers of the style I have tried, I found their version delicious.

One thing I wasn’t expecting from The Bruery were hop forward beers. But two, Mischief, a Belgian-style Golden Strong Ale, and Humulus XPA, an Extra Pale Ale, greatly pleased the hophead in me. These were the two stars of the day.

We could have hung out at The Bruery all day. But we had other places to be and dinner with family. I left The Bruery with much more of an appreciation of their brews and six bottles to share this new-found appreciation with friends… maybe. Thanks to Brian for the great hospitality…

A few of the 88 taps at Naja’s Place

Located along the Redondo Beach boardwalk, we had some trouble finding Naja’s Place. Part of the problem was that it was dark and raining. The other problem was we didn’t know to look for a waterfront dive bar. After some confusion and a bit of bickering, we located Naja’s right below where we parked. Entering the large open air bar, we joined a sparse Sunday night crowd. From the moment we stepped in, Naja’s seemed like our kind of place: laid back with a great beer selection.

Enjoying a Firestone Walker Double Jack but not the chilly weather

Naja’s boasts that they have the “best beer selection in Los Angeles.” I don’t really know because we don’t do SoCal very often. But what I do know is that I loved the place. Macros like Primo, Budweiser and Miller Lite are included amongst their 88 taps, but mostly Naja’s beer list is a who’s-who of craft beer. The tap selection is backed up by a large, Belgian-leaning bottle list. Mesmerized by the huge whiteboard of a beer list, I mistakenly went with beers I know, rather than be adventurous and try breweries I’m less familiar with, like Mammoth Brewing. Merideth’s decision making skills in the face of such choice went down the toilet. She wants to thank the bartender Matt for his patience during her periods of indecision.

Plenty of beers to choose from at Naja’s

Settling down for a game of scrabble, I enjoyed some of my old favorites; Pliny the Elder, Firestone Walker’s Double Jack and Port’s Hop 15. After Merideth grabbed a much needed 277-259 Scrabble victory, I finally discovered a new brew to try. Actually, Merideth discovered Bashah. A Black Double Belgian IPA (say that fast three times), Bashah was a collaboration brew between Stone and Brewdog. And a very nice collaboration it was.

We chatted with the bartender, Matt, and were later joined by some friends. My final pint of  the evening was my favorite Victory beer, Yakima Twilight. This was the first time I had it on draft. Our beer tour of Southern California ended by closing Naja’s Place on a rainy Sunday night with good friends. I want to thank Naja’s GM, Martin, for our first round. Hopefully we can return the favor some time soon.

On our way back home Monday morning, we stopped at Wolf Creek Brewing in Valencia and Merideth added a brewery that I already had. She is now only one brewery behind me; 535 to 534.

Merideth getting one back at Wolf Creek in Valencia