Jeff Vincent

The Froth Beer Experience and Gastropub Invitational offers an alternative St. Pat’s

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Brewers of the South Bay unite: last year’s Froth crew. This year, new breweries Dude’s and King Harbor join the Froth. Photo by Lloyd Brown

About a year ago, in conjunction with Saint Rocke in Hermosa Beach, and DirtyHippieRadio.com, the Easy Reader conceived a purportedly more tasteful way to commemorate the glory of St. Patrick’s Day and wearing green. Embracing the broadening social trend toward quality, class, and local craft, the First Annual Froth Awards was born. The concept was simple: partner up all the local craft breweries (who actually barrel and distribute their beer) with chefs from local gastropubs or gastropub-type establishments (who feature craft food supported by gourmet beer – or is it the other way around?) and vote on their collaborative beer and food pairing. Throw a few incredible local bands on stage, a couple local celebrities in the audience, and voila – the South Bay has something cool to do for Saint Patrick’s Day. Without a green beer in sight!

I have to admit, the event was pretty cool. Upon entry, El Segundo-based Americana folk band Hangdog Expression instantaneously set the mood for easy conversation cushioned with uplifted spirits, warmed hearts, and broadened smiles. Crooning mandolin played courtship to banjo plucking its way through tangible rhythms of upright bass washing over an audience mesmerized by a female backup singer knitting scarves throughout the entire procession, and the only thing that came to mind was: yes. And then the tastings began to roll out…

Present on behalf of the South Bay’s emerging craft brewery scene were Strand, Monkish, Smog City, El Segundo Brewing Company, and The Brewery at Abigaile. They were teamed up with chefs from Hot’s Kitchen (Hermosa Beach), Simmzy’s (Manhattan Beach), Rockefeller (Hermosa Beach), Tin Roof Bistro (Manhattan Beach), and The Standing Room (Redondo Beach). Anything from ahi tuna tostadas to biscotti accompanied every frothy libation from India Pale Ale to Chocolate Coffee Porter.

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Craft beer and food pairings and Irish music are the rule of the day. Photo by Lloyd Brown

This year, on Saturday, March 15, Easy Reader presents the 2nd Annual Froth Awards: Beer Experience & Gastropub Invitational. While Monkish and Smog City were unfortunately previously engaged, Strand, El Segundo, and The Brewery at Abigaile will be joined by the two newest kids on the block: the Dudes’ Brewing Co., which experimented with big, bold flavors with a West Coast beachy twist, and, King Harbor Brewing Company, which specializes in creative session beers and just tapped their very first keg last Saturday. They’ll be teamed with chefs from R10 Social House (Redondo Beach), Rockefeller (Hermosa Beach), Bouzy at Chez Melange (Redondo Beach), Kitchen 142 (Hermosa Beach), and California Rancher (El Segundo).

Another outstanding difference this go-around is that, at the urging of the brewers and the specific credo offered by Abigaile’s Brian Brewer, it’s “less a competition, more a party.” In fact, there’s no vote at all. Local breweries thrive on being in support of one another, not in competition.

“There is a great camaraderie between all of us,” says Jay Outsen, Sales Dude and Event Coordinator at The Dudes’ Brewing Co. “We all go to each others’ tasting rooms and support one another.”

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The South Bay’s craft beer scene has become one of best in all the high seas. Photo by Brad Jacobson

Expounding upon the air of fellowship shared among the breweries, class of 1998 Mira Costa graduate and founder of King Harbor Brewing Company Tom Dunbabin says everyone has their eye on a larger prize: making great beer. “We love it,” Dunbabin says. “I’ve known Rich [Marcello] from Strand for a couple years, and Rob [Croxall] from El Segundo Brewing helped us out when we were in a bind. We all know at some point there is competition between us, but our main focus is on making great beer and improving the local craft beer scene… We get psyched when we hear that people frequent all of the local breweries rather than going to one in particular. We’ve seen a couple people around the local bars sporting a King Harbor Brewing cap and a Monkish or a Strand hoodie. That rules!”

“Everyone has their own niche,” adds Outsen.

Nobody really wants to know or say who makes the best; everybody just wants to drink and enjoy them all. It’s a lot like music… Yesterday I was feeling rap, tomorrow I’ll be in the mood for Neil Diamond, but right now I want some sexy jazz. There’s a flavor for every mood and moment. And even though the brewer’s ethos stems simply from making beer that they themselves will enjoy, in hope that others will too, when putting one back they don’t just stick solely to their own. And that’s what the Froth Awards celebrates.

Easy Reader presents the 2nd Annual Froth Awards: Beer Experience & Gastropub Invitational this Saturday, March 15 at Saint Rocke in Hermosa Beach at 2 p.m., doors at 1. Five local craft breweries are paired with five chefs from local gastropub-type establishments for five beer and food tastings. Tickets are $25 pre-sale, $30 at door, providing entrance to the event with all tastings, live Bluegrass and Irish music, and 8 oz. commemorative tasting jar included. For further information and reservations contact Saint Rocke at 310-372-0035 or see saintrocke.com.  Be sure to be on time, as tastings are on a fixed schedule.