August 1, 2015 - This installment of Birds and Brews takes me on one of my regular work trips to Los Angeles, California. On this tri...

Birds and Brews - El Segundo Brewing Company - California

August 1, 2015 -

This installment of Birds and Brews takes me on one of my regular work trips to Los Angeles, California. On this trip, I had some time to go to one of my favorite birding locations, Playa del Rey, just outside of the Los Angeles International Airport in El Segundo. This site is of interest to traveling birders because the airport is only a mile away. A short cab ride can put you in one of the best birding locations is the area.

Heermann's Gull
To start, I usually drive to Del Rey Lagoon Park and park in the lot. Surprisingly for Los Angeles, parking is free. After you get out, you're standing next to a lagoon that can hold a number of ducks and Western, California, and Heerman's Gulls. Walking past the lagoon you will reach a cement culvert around Ballona Creek. If you walk along the creek, you can go right along the shallow flooded fields along Culver Boulevard for a wide variety of ever-changing shorebirds and waders. Walking to the left will take you to the breakwalls of Marina del Rey and the beach of Playa del Rey. While there may be more gulls and shorebirds such as Sanderling along the beach, the breakwalls are where most of the action seems to be. 

Black Oystercatcher
While walking down the breakwall surrounding the main river channel, you can see a wide variety of seabirds and shorebirds depending on the season. One of my favorites that always seems to be present on the large boulders is the Black Oystercatcher. I also regularly see surfbirds, Ruddy and Black Turnstones, Willets, and Marbled Godwits. If you're lucky, you might even see a Brant or one of the rare seabirds that show up from time to time such as Blue-footed Boobies. With all of these species available, you can still be back at the airport and ready to fly home within a couple of hours.

El Segundo Brewing Company
But, since I was staying the week, I moved on to a few beers before turning in for the night. My driver (a coworker) took over control of the rental car and we headed out to El Segundo Brewing Company (ESBC). I had heard about it from a few work associates, so I decided to give it a try. When I first got to the address, I stopped and looked around, trying to find the taproom. It turned out to be a very unassuming building that was right in front of me, though it probably didn't help that the name was obscured by some trees. Upon walking in, I still wasn't sure where to go, but was undeterred. Once I found the taproom in the basement, the fun started. I tried a few beers from the Hyperion Vanilla Stout (one of my favorites) to the Citra Pale, a California classic.

Hyperion Vanilla Stout - So Good!
While the taproom itself is small, it is more than enough to sample the variety of beers that ESBC had to offer. It is only a few tables and a bar with eight taps and a window to the brewing area. I tried the Hyperion Vanilla Stout first. It is a version of their Hyperion stout, usually heavy on both coffee and chocolate flavors, but with added vanilla bean in the brewing process. I considered continuing to order the Hyperion since it was so good, but I had to try the others as well. Next up was the Blue House Citra Pale Ale. Since I was in California, I figured I would be remiss if I didn't try out at least one pale ale. While pale ales are not my favorite style, I liked this iteration that included Citra hops instead of the standard Cascade and Chinook hops. This gave the beer a great citrus flavor and aroma.

ESBC appeared to be very popular with the locals as well. I saw a lot of people coming in to get growlers filled when they got off of work. I would probably do the same if I lived there. But, since i'll be back in town for work, i'll definitely stop by and see what's new.

So many choices!
Black Turnstone

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