Beer Crawls, two words associated with a good time and lots of fun with your beer friends. What separates a good beer crawl from a great beer crawl comes down to specific factors. The distance apart from one location to the next, the wait in line to get refills, and of course the discerning taste buds separating you from your friends. In addition to the aforementioned qualities, toddler and dog friendly breweries can be deciding factors when you can’t leave your baby or furbaby. So planning the perfect beer crawl can be tricky, but you won’t need a degree to figure it out.
During one Saturday this April, I invited a few of my closest beer friends out for a birthday beer crawl. More specifically, MY birthday beer crawl. I was a little ambitious during the planning process as I planned 5 places within 5 hours. Each place we went to had different brewing styles in order to please everyone in our party.
With that said and with very limited time constraint, we chose from the Southbay: Monkish Brewing, The Dude’s Brewing, Strand Brewing. We then headed South to Long Beach and visited Great Society & Mead and Beachwood’s Blendery.
The small “belgium-ish” style brewery headed by Henry Nguyen and his wife Adriana, have now turned more to the East Coast HAZY IPA style in their production. The last time I’ve been to Monkish was about a year ago when they were still offering out $2 taster tokens for 4 ounces, having long lines, and lots of experimental beers. Fast forward to 2017, Monkish still has a long line (Make sure you make this your first beer craw stop or else you’ll be waiting longer), did away with the taster tokens, and still “experiment” with their beers with what seems to be about 1/3 in production in hoppy beers, 1/3 in Belgium styles, and 1/3 in Tart and Funky.
What still also hasn’t changed are the crazy names of the beers you’ll find here. Parry H. Larker, Jello’s Jigglin, Funk Jugglin. What also hasn’t changed is that you’ll find a small sitting area lucky for the ones who came early. For us who came a bit later, we were lucky to stand and placed our drinks on an empty barrel. The previous seating inside the tap room are now no more so finding a seat is that much more difficult here. This place is kid & dog friendly and you’re welcome to bring your own food inside. Pro tip: I did take notice most people bring in their own growlers so they won’t have to go back in line. One of my favorites here is the Belgium Tripel: Seme Della Vita. Do get it if its available.
The Dude’s Brewing
The Torrance based brewery with a Big Lebowski movie theme serves up playful brew styles with their 17 taps at the Torrance tasting room. With beers like their WRug, a White Russian Imperial Stout or their Juicebox series, their craft styles are perfect for the large party who likes to try a little bit of everything. Tasters are served up in Ledbowski bowling pins holders (See above) and half pints also available to the usual pints. Within the tasting room, you’ll find plenty of over-sized picnic tables and the brewery is dog friendly. Bringing your own food into the brewery is welcomed. If you happen to to in Thousand Oaks or their new Huntington Beach location at lot 579, try their English Brown Ale, Grandma’s Pecan.
If you’re looking for the no-nonse, what beer is supposed to taste like with a large tasting room that can fit all of your relatives, look no further than Strand Brewing in their newer Torrance location on Dominguez Street. You won’t find flavored beer here, but just great beer like their 24th Street Pale or my favorite, the Atticus IPA. I’ve seen both furbabies here as well as toddlers. Recently, I’ve taken our kids here on a weekend to play board games and to my surprise, they have kid-sized picnic tables with coloring books to keep them occupied. There’s 80’s style music in the background and you’re welcome to bring your own food into the brewery.
Great Society Cider & Mead
Southern California’s first Cider house located in the East Village of Downtown Long Beach, Great Society Cider & Mead is a place that should be added your next brewery crawl. Why? Besides the fact that Mead (fermented honey) are high in alcohol content, who wouldn’t want a refreshing palate changer in a where you can have a relaxing sit down service with your friends? Here, you can also order food such as Burgers, Carnita Fries, or a Charcuterie Board perfect for sharing with your friends and either sit inside or al fresco in the patio area.
The Meads here are available on draft and in bottles and the flavors are as wild as the names. 2 Towns Ginja Ninja, flavored with Raw Ginger that’s sweet and spicy? Or how about Stoked Cider Baja Sunburn that is flavored with Mango, Agave, and Habanero? The flavor range for the draft version might not for everyone, as I half of my draft mead tasted like pickled juice while the other half was more suitable to my liking. However, I always love to experiment and trying new drinks with friends. The impeccable service here also shines with knowledgeable staff explaining flavor profiles of the different type of drinks available.
But if you’re looking for the finer meads, scroll down their menu list for the bottle pours. There, you can find Dansk Vikind Blod (19% ABV Nordic Honeywine with hibiscus and hops) or the Dansk Vikingerness (Nordic Honey Mead with Hops) from Denmark. Definitely would recommend the bottles over the draft for the more sophisticated palates.
Though owners Brenda and Otto Radtke brings in ciders from elsewhere and rotating the flavors frequently, they are excited to start their own commercial cider production in the 2017-2018 year when Great Society will be established as a restaurant.
Located right behind Beachwood BBQ’s Long Beach location, Beachwood’s Blendery produces Lambic style beers in their custom designed barrel room. Once inside, you can get samplers, a 25CL (around 8 ounces) pour or a 33CL (around 11 ounces) pour in a tulip style glass. Make sure you do take the time and take in the smell of dry hopped sophisticated fruityness and funkyness. For example, Careful with that Fruit Salad Eugene is an Lambic inspired that contains Apricot, Nectarine, Guava, and Jasmine Rice.
The Blendery’s taproom will seat only around 20-30, so if you want to snatch a seat make sure you don’t come during peak time. Inside the tap room you’ll also find kid’s coloring books along side with board games for adults. During our visit, we sat next to a mom and her two well behaved kids. Park inside the City Place Lot across from Beachwood off 3rd Street.
As for planning my beer crawl, these places were chosen because the close proximity to one another within Torrance and Long Beach. Sure, there were more places that I could’ve added in the vicinity but that will be reserved for part II in my next beer crawl write-up a few months from now. I also wanted to make sure everyone from my party had something different to try along the route and please everyone. Whether or not they had are a beginner drinker, a hop-head, or a sour enthusiast. Also, I looked into these breweries if they were kid and dog friendly.
But however you plan your beer crawl, my advise would be to set up a group text for all members (in case they’re late and can locate you), hydrate when you can (drink lots of water at the stops or bring your own), take lots of pictures (for that beer / cider you like and can’t remember what you had the next day), Uber or Lyft (if you have to), and enjoy the day with your close friends. After all, nothing is more satisfying than discovering new brews in new places among good friends.
With Summer just right around the corner, make one of or all of these breweries (and cider house) as part of your stops!