California's King Harbor Brewing Goes Their Own Way

Wildcard Identity
by Carrie Dow on Jan 17, 2017 in Beer

When King Harbor Brewing Company opened in Redondo Beach in 2014, West Coast IPAs were all the rage. Still are. As breweries across the country try to out-hop each other for that extra piney West Coast taste, King Harbor’s founders prefer to stretch the boundaries of style, while making beers people enjoy. The results are some of LA’s most unique brews.  

Founding member Tom Dunbabin says he and his partners, Will Daines and Head Brewer Phil McDaniel, are selfish when it comes to the flavors they create. They brew what they want without adhering to tradition.

“We focus on creative, really interesting beers,” says Dunbabin of this 15-bbl brewery. “We don’t stick to any particular style; we find something we like and run with it. That’s the identity that we created, the wildcard identity. We don’t stick with traditional West Coast IPAs, or traditional stouts and porters. It’s really just all about the creative, approachable side of beer.”

Discussing these beers at the brewery’s tap room, Dunbabin explained that while West Coast beers are known for hoppiness, it is actually the absence of malt that defines this beer style. What does that distinction mean? Tasting is the only way to find out.

The King Harbor IPA is actually the second beer the brewers crafted, and it is now their flagship beer. For this IPA, the brewery uses Azacca hops from New Zealand and El Dorado and Centennial Hops from the US. He says the combination is unique because these hops aren’t super “hoppy.”

Another example of this IPA contradiction came about with a new collaboration beer. How this beer came to be is interesting as well. Because the founders are huge fans of comedian Adam Carolla, they listen regularly to his podcasts and know he likes IPAs. Thinking it would be cool to brew a beer with him, the guys had a friend of a friend who knew Carolla find out when he was performing nearby. Acting as part stalker, part entrepreneur, McDaniel took some growlers to the theater and approached Carolla in the parking lot. After sampling, Carolla liked the beer and wanted to brew a beer with the company. He told McDaniel that he had a hard time finding IPAs he liked and he would get one profile out of this particular IPA, but not in another. Carolla wanted to bring these tastes together.The result is Carolla’s Endless Rant, an IPA with a citrus pine scent, a robust head and light golden color. The taste is smooth with a slight bitterness at the finish and was bottled last April.

Another unique beer is the Coconut IPA brewed with toasted coconut. Dunbabin says the brewery always uses real ingredients and no extracts. While it is more expensive, he says it’s worth it. This beer has a confectionary scent, and the coconut flavor comes out immediately before the tropical hops kick in at the finish. Coconut IPA has become one the brewery’s most popular beers and is on tap year around.

While the IPAs are popular, King Harbor delves into all styles of beer. Abel Brown, another year-around brew, has a medium body, mellow brown color and is low in alcohol, only 4.7%. The taste is exactly like a cold brew coffee because that is what McDaniel uses as the beer’s base.

Another surprise beer with a unique story is the Swirly. Originally brewed for a local event that focused on candy and desserts, McDaniel used the Abel Brow because of its coffee base and then added vanilla bean, cocoa bean and lactose syrup for texture. However, this is not a thick beer at all. The beer smells like chocolate cake and tastes like a café mocha, smooth and rich with a vanilla finish. The beer was so well received at the food festival, the guys began brewing it full time.

South Bayern is a traditional unfiltered Bavarian hefeweizen made with 100% German ingredients. The beer’s scent is of clove and banana and the taste is reminiscent of sweet bread dough.  Of course the brewery makes an alternative hefeweizen, the Hop Hefner. This is a dry-hopped hefeweizen that has the traditional scent of citrus and banana with a touch of lemon. Up front the beer is wheaty and smooth with a hop boost at the finish, which proves that King Harbor likes to blur the lines of traditional styles.

Visitors can find the brewery and tap room at 2907 182nd Street in Redondo Beach, CA. The tap room is open Wednesday through Thursday from 4-9 PM (also open on Mondays during Monday Night Football), Friday 4-10 PM, Saturday 12-9 PM and Sunday 12-6 PM. Visitors can also enjoy the brewery’s waterfront taproom with views of the Pacific Ocean and Redondo Pier at 132 International Boardwalk Monday through Wednesday 3-8 PM, Thursday from 3-10 PM, Friday and Saturday from 12 PM-12 AM and Sunday 12-8 PM.

Photos via Carrie Dow


Tags: Beer
Recent Articles
spacer

Feedback

How are we doing? Tell us what you like or don't like and how we can improve. We would love to hear your thoughts!

*Name:
*E-mail:
*Suggestions:
 
Jacqueline is Hosting a 'Shipwreck' Pop-Up, March 26-28

Jacqueline is Hosting a 'Shipwreck' Pop-Up, March 26-28

Bartender Eric Steven Nelson is moving from his current bar position at the seafood focused bistro Jacqueline back to his home at the Laurelhurst Mark...read more ›

by Alexander Frane Mar 26, 2017
This Bartender Made Real-Life Versions of Cocktails from 'The Simpsons'

This Bartender Made Real-Life Versions of Cocktails from 'The Simpsons'

Have you ever dreamt of trying a cocktail only seen before in a cartoon, like the 'Flaming Homer' from The Sim...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Mar 23, 2017
Behind the Bar: Camille Ralph Vidal, Global Brand Ambassador for St. Germain

Behind the Bar: Camille Ralph Vidal, Global Brand Ambassador for St. Germain

In this installment of Behind the Bar, we were lucky enough to interview Madame St. Germain herself, Camille V...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Mar 23, 2017
SPONSORED
Things No One Asked For: Prosecco-Flavored Nail Polish

Things No One Asked For: Prosecco-Flavored Nail Polish

If you're the kind of alcoholic who needs to have booze on your person at all times, Groupon has just the product for you: prosecco-flavored nail poli...read more ›

by Ryan Hudak Mar 22, 2017
The Sobro Refrigerator Coffee Table Means You Never Need to Get Up Again

The Sobro Refrigerator Coffee Table Means You Never Need to Get Up Again

A recent IndieGoGo campaign has resulted in a coffee table with everything you could want: the Sobro Refrigera...read more ›

by Alexander Frane Mar 22, 2017
Celebrate Wine & The Women of Marvel at Pairings Portland Wine Shop, March 23-26

Celebrate Wine & The Women of Marvel at Pairings Portland Wine Shop, March 23-26

This weekend, Thursday March 23 through Sunday March 26, join the fun with wines made by female winemakers pai...read more ›

by Alexander Frane Mar 21, 2017
Cold Brew Hard Coffee is Coming to Stores in May

Cold Brew Hard Coffee is Coming to Stores in May

Soon, you'll be able to enjoy cold brew coffee with the alcohol percentage of a strong beer with Bad Larry's Cold Hard Coffee. ...read more ›

by Alexander Frane Mar 17, 2017
Budweiser Wants to Be the First Beer Consumed on Mars

Budweiser Wants to Be the First Beer Consumed on Mars

In what is undoubtedly the company's latest publicity stunt, Budweiser announced Saturday, March 11 at SXSW in Austin, Texas that they are looking int...read more ›

by Jessie Donofrio Mar 16, 2017
Portland's Best Non-Alcoholic Bar Programs

Portland's Best Non-Alcoholic Bar Programs

Whether you're a designated driver, trying to saving money, cutting out alcohol entirely, or just feel like going out without getting buzzed, here are...read more ›

by Alexander Frane Mar 14, 2017
Where to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day 2017 in Portland

Where to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day 2017 in Portland

St. Patrick's Day is a time for celebration in Portland, not just because we always love an excuse to drink stout, but also because it marks the end o...read more ›

by Alexander Frane Mar 14, 2017
SPONSORED
View all Articles

Sign up to get weekly drinking news, bar reviews, events and more sent directly to your inbox!

Close