CoffeeBeer >> Pint Pleasures >> Smog City
Smog City Brewing Company at Steelcraft, 3768 Long Beach Boulevard #110, Long Beach, California
I'm nearly finished with my September California brewpub tour and will return next month to reviewing some new Sheffield venues. But for now it's a gem of a spot right in my home town of Long Beach.
My friend Mistah Rick and I visited the original Smog City in Torrance a year earlier, so when I found out they'd opened a second outlet in Long Beach I was very interested. It was on the final day of my visit that I shanghaied my mother's carer (and my figuratively adopted brother) Kim from his duties for a couple of hours to go out for a pleasantly hoppy diversion.
So we hopped (sorry) onto the freeway (not literally) and headed north to Bixby Knolls to find the craft-food-and-drink inspired enclave called SteelCraft. Having grown up much closer to the ocean, I never ventured into North Long Beach very often, and the only thing I really knew about Bixby Knolls was that it is home to the Virginia Country Club and to all the people who can afford to live around a country club. And one of Long Beach’s two Spanish missions, Rancho Los Cerritos, is also located here. The area is named after the Bixby family whose ancestors first came to California during the Gold Rush and who became land purchasers and developers. The family played a large role in the development of not only Long Beach but Seal Beach, Los Alamitos, Bellflower, and the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
Located off Long Beach Boulevard just south of Bixby Road, SteelCraft is sort of an outdoor arcade of street food providers including Smog City Brewing Company and Steelhead Coffee. The inner core of this open-air enterprise consists of large picnic tables in the centre and counters with stools around the perimeter, which is where we sat. It was nice and cool on this hot day, mostly because there was a late afternoon breeze. Mariachi music was emanating from the speakers, obviously in reference to the fact that they were advertising Oktoberfest festivities -- although the fresh air was missing the aroma of fresh hot tortilla chips that us Californians always associate with the genre. Perhaps for the holiday they were going to put out bowls of pretzels with German mustard, guacamole, and salsa. After all, it’s a multicultural world.
Our first round consisted of pints of Smog City IPA Hoptonic (7.3% ABV), brewed with a really nice mixture of Citra, Simcoe, and Centennial hops. Having a pint in a pint glass was very exciting to us, as we'd been drinking out of cans and bottles of craft beer on my mom's patio for the past few days.
For my second pint I had a taste of Death By Hops IPA (9.4% ABV). Triple dry-hopped with Galaxy, Mosaic, and Simcoe. Brewed with a double whammy of hops, I could definitely taste the high alcohol -- and as I needed to think straight to be able to pack and get ready for my morning flight I decided to go for a safer pint of Hoptonic. Kim had a pint of Sabre-Toothed Squirrel (7.0% ABV), a medium-bodied hoppy amber ale. It was quite pleasant and unfortunately too drinkable.
Considering this was a Wednesday afternoon well after lunchtime and a bit early for an evening meal, there was a surprising number of people sitting around having pints. They were all younger than us, so it wasn’t like they were retired. Perhaps they were a mixture of students with no classes or assignments and young craft-beer-loving entrepreneurs who could work whenever they wanted. What lucky devils...