Here’s a sneak peek at a new project my girlfriend and I are working on, combining two of our favorite things (responsibly, of course): bikes and beer! This is a sample entry from our Beers by Bike blog. If you like what you see, give us a visit.
Redondo Beach Brewery
1814 S. Catalina Ave, Redondo Beach, CA (map)
Manhattan Beach Brewery
124 Manhattan Beach Blvd, Manhattan Beach, CA (map)
This is our first multi-modal beer-venture! Planning the route, we knew we wanted to stay on the trains. There were buses available, but since buses could only carry two bikes and the spaces weren’t guaranteed we decided not to use them. The first leg was a short leisurely ride to the transit mall in downtown Long Beach, where we each bought an all day pass ($5) to use the Metro trains.
We took the Blue Line north to the Imperial/Wilmington stop then transferred to the Green Line. This was our first time at the stop and if you ever want to know what it’s like to stand in the middle of a freeway, you should go visit. Seriously. The platform is in the middle of the 105 freeway. We got off at the Douglas stop and began the actual biking portion.
We took Rosecrans towards the coast and were surprised by the hills we encountered (they all look so flat on the map). The traffic was fairly light (probably because it was a Saturday) and there were three lanes of traffic. We took up the far right lane and for the most part all the cars played nice. We then took the beach path and some parallel streets down the coast to Redondo Beach.
On the trip back, we took the beach path to Manhattan Beach Blvd. and took that inland. It was surprisingly hilly. Starting off right at the first block with a short little gut buster. The next few blocks were filled with some rollers going up and down. We hit 34mph on one particularly fun downhill. The streets varied from 2 lanes of traffic to 3 at its widest point. The afternoon traffic was thicker but manageable, however, I would definitely not want to ride there during rush hour on a weekday.
The first brewpub we stopped at was Redondo Beach Brewing Co. Laura ordered a pint of the Chocolate Porter and Russ picked a pint of the Rat Beach Red. We were both a bit disappointed by each of the beers. Almost like the owners decided to put a brewery in an otherwise decent restaurant to add value to the dining experience, without taking too much effort to brew some winning beers. We don’t want to knock anyone’s livelihood, but we sure were hoping for more (or maybe we were just wanting to re-create being in Oregon?).
Laura says: This beer was on draft, served in a pilsner glass. Dark brown with a thin creamy head. Thin body, a bit watery. Mild carbonation. No real discernable chocolate taste, which is odd when chocolate is in the name. Kinda sour with a bitter metallic aftertaste. Really not what a porter should taste like. I was incredibly disappointed. 2
Rat Beach Red
Russ says:This beer was on draft, served in a pilsner glass. It poured a nice dark amber color but with surprisingly little head. The feel was a flat sort of medium bodied under carbonated feel. Rather disappointing to tell you the truth. The beer felt amateur. It had a real malty smell and malty flavor with little hops and no complexity. Combined with the flat appearance and taste this beer was a real bummer. 2.0
Our second brewpub stop was at Manhattan Beach Brewing Co. As soon as we sat down at a table and looked at the beer list, we noticed that all the beer names were exactly the same as the Redondo Beach Brewing Co. Russ was excited to learn that there was an IPA available. Laura wasn’t sure what to try. We asked the waitress about the beer name similarities and if they’re connected with Redondo Beach Brewing Co. She said that they are, loosely, but that they brew their own beer in-house (as opposed to trucking it between the two restaurants) and that she, personally, felt that their beer and food was better than Redondo Beach. Hmmm… a bit of rivalry, perhaps? Well, Laura’s a perpetual optimist, so she took that to mean that it was safe to try the Manhattan Beach version of the Chocolate Porter.
Laura says: I was pleased and hopeful when this beer was served in a pint glass. Dark brown with a thin creamy head. More balanced and a bit fuller in body than the Redondo Beach version. And there wasn’t the same sourness. More chocolate flavor, although it was mild and not particularly sweet. I definitely felt this was a better version of the recipe than what I was served in Redondo Beach, but it still felt like a weak version of a porter. 3.3
Russ says:I was a bit skeptical when I saw the same beer menu, but decided to give the IPA a try. It poured a golden yellow with a finger of head that stayed around for a while ( a good sign compared to the brew at Redondo Beach). Light to medium bodied with good carbonation. It had a real pleasant piney aroma. The beer was nicely balanced like a hipster doing a track stand. It was malty up front but there was a nice hoppy after taste that made for highly drinkable beer. I would definitely order this again. This might even be a good IPA for those that don’t like IPAs because of the good balance. 4.2
We ate lunch with our beer tasting at Redondo Beach Brewing Co. Laura ordered the smoked turkey sandwich, Russ had the hickory burger. We were both pleased. As far as pub food goes, this was pretty good. Laura rates the turkey sandwich a 4.2. Russ rates the hickory burger a 3.8.
Despite getting honked at and flipped off by a few scattered drivers, and our general disappointment with the beers, this was a pretty great beer-venture. Gorgeous Southern California weather, not too much wind, easy route.
But it’s not an adventure unless you find something odd and unexpected. Like these massive pelicans, just hanging out on the Redondo Beach pier, not a care in the world. People stopping to take photos, gasping at their size, feeding them things that pelicans probably shouldn’t eat. If you can’t tell from the photo, these guys were probably about 3 feet tall.
Perhaps a folding bike would be a worthwhile investment. Getting on the train at the end of the Blue Line heading north and at the end of the Green Line heading east, it’s easy to find an empty car with plenty of space to stash the bikes. Getting onto an already full train at a busy stop when you only have a couple quick minutes is a whole other experience. Having the ability to fold up the bike would be quite handy.
The Vermont stop on the Green Line has to be one of the most ghetto and depressing stops we have ever seen. In the middle of the freeway, under a freeway overpass, you get the dual pleasures of hearing a continuous echoing hum of all the traffic while sucking in clouds of exhaust.
And one last note on bike facilities where we went… Bike parking was pretty easy in Redondo Beach, with some wheel-bender style bike racks and lots of parking meters to lock to. In Manhattan Beach, however, we were reduced to locking our bikes to a park bench, hoping that the whole mess wouldn’t slide down the very steep hill. But at least that locking spot provided a stunning view of the sunset.
Read more at Beers by Bike.