Barry Knudson is expecting his first child in March with his wife, Kelsi. But before the baby arrives, Knudson, a beer enthusiast and casual home-brewer, concocted one more memorable batch: a spicy India pale ale.

To make the hoppy beer really spicy, Knudson, 39, didn’t use just any hot pepper. He used a couple of Trinidad scorpion peppers he grew in his Redondo Beach backyard this summer. Small with wrinkled red-orange skin, the peppers are considered among the spiciest in the world. Knudson said he had to handle them with gloves and couldn’t eat them on their own.

“Unfortunately, I tried tasting one,” said Knudson, a principal at Fogel Real Estate Corp. in Santa Monica. “I’ve got a pretty good spice tolerance, but this was way out of my league.”

But he did use them to brew beer, a process he said likely tamed the spice enough to enjoy it. “Likely” because he doesn’t know for sure; he’ll find out when he bottles the 5-gallon batch in the next few weeks.

New Spin on Leisure Time

Erin Pedraja is the director of digital marketing at Visit West Hollywood. But when she isn’t analyzing website data, she’s moonlighting as “DJ Erin.”

Pedraja, 32, started mixing music on turntables with vinyl records five years ago after taking a DJ 101 class at Scratch DJ Academy in West Los Angeles.

“I’m a huge fan of music,” she said. “And it gives me a cool little hobby and helps me stay on top of cool music and new artists.”

She described her music as mellow but is also a fan of ’90s, R&B and hip-hop.

A year after taking the course, she answered a Craigslist ad looking for a DJ to play at a restaurant. She landed the gig and has since played at various lounges, private parties and charity events – for free.

“I’ve gotten free drinks, but I’ve never gotten paid for it,” Pedraja said. “For me, it’s a way to get my name out there.”

Staff reporters Bethany Firnhaber and Subrina Hudson contributed to this column. Page 3 is compiled by Editor Charles Crumpley. He can be reached at

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