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California-Crafted Malt and a Changing Industry p. 11

Curtis Davenport California Malting Co. Santa Ynez Valley

PLUS: A Peek Inside Tony Yanow’s Cellar Redlands Roundup Ensenada Beer Fest and more! FREE COPY

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West Coaster, THE PUBLICATION Founders RYAN LAMB MIKE SHESS Publisher MIKE SHESS mike@westcoastersocal.com Executive Editor RYAN LAMB ryan@westcoastersocal.com Art Director KAYLA COLEMAN kayla@westcoastersd.com Graphic Designer ASHLEY DREWITZ ashley@westcoastersd.com Media Consultant TOM SHESS thomas.shess@gmail.com

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Dear Craft Beer Drinker, Southern California is one of the fastest-growing beer regions in the country. With 87 breweries in San Diego alone at time of print, and 30+ in the planning stages, things are only looking up. There is no bubble; sure, some breweries may drop off the map, but the vast majority are in it for the right reasons, and quality will continue to improve. Salud,

Ryan Lamb Executive Editor West Coaster


West Coaster, THE WEBSITE Web Manager MIKE SHESS Web Editor RYAN LAMB


Brews in the News Paragraph-sized clips of beer news. Learn about craft brewing’s 2013 stats, the top 50 craft breweries of 2013, and more.


The Session IPA Craze John Verive dives into a bucket full of hops to uncover what the buzz is all about with session IPAs



FEEDBACK: Send letters to the Editor to ryan@westcoastersocal.com Letters may be edited for space. Anonymous letters are published at the discretion of the Editor.

Redland Roundup Brett Nelson takes us on a tour of Redlands, a small town with a big, underestimated beer scene Water Issues


Craft Beer in Mexico Tomm Carroll visits Mexico and helps judge the brew contest; see what’s happening in the Baja beer scene


© 2014 West Coaster Publishing Co. All rights reserved.

“No beer was wasted in the making of this publication.”

Firkfest Fotos John Holzer from New Brew Thursday provides us with some great shots of the inaugural event in Anaheim


Web Master JOSH EVERETT West Coaster is published monthly by West Coaster Publishing Co., and distributed free at key locations throughout Southern California. Email us if you wish to be a distribution location.

Craft Malting Erika Bolden unearths the ins and outs of the craft malting industry, which is fairly new, but growing


Into the Cellar with Tony Yanow Randy Clemens peeks around the beer stash of the man behind Golden Road, Tony’s Darts Away and Mohawk Bend The Curious Evolution of IPA Sam Tierney traces the roots of IPA to see just how far we’ve come, and what a strange journey it’s been

ON THE COVER: Curtis Davenport of California Malting Co. takes a break from our photoshoot to tend to his fields. Read more about Davenport and the craft malting movement on pages 11, 12 and 13. Photo by Kristina Yamamoto




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Alpine Beer Company representing at the Brewbies Festival. Photo by Tim Stahl

BREWBIES @ BAGBY BEER 2014’s iteration of the Brewbies Festival, benefiting the Keep A Breast Foundation, was held beside yet-to-open Bagby Beer Company in Oceanside on March 1. Event organizer Melanie Pierce told WC that more than $45,000 was raised for the cause, and that a Brewbies Fest in Italy is in the works.

OHANA TASTING ROOM ARRIVES Situated just behind 38 Degrees Ale House & Grill in Alhambra, Ohana Brewing Company’s tasting room finally opens on April 7. While the actual brewery is situated in South L.A., where there is currently no tasting room, this marks a great leap forward for the brewery, who could previously get their beer out to the public only through other accounts or festivals.

WHAT’S ON TAP FOR TAPS? The award-winning TAPS Fish House & Brewery announced via OC Register that they are planning to open a third location in the Irvine Market Place in February 2015. The first TAPS brewpub was opened in 1999 in Brea; number two came online in 2007 in Corona. The new Irvine location won’t have a brewery, but it will have 25 taps.

GREEN FLASH/ALPINE COLLABORATION After re-watching Suds County USA, a 2012 documentary chronicling the timeline of San Diego’s craft beer explosion, Green Flash Co-Founder and CEO Mike Hinkley was struck by the “all-hands-on-deck” spirit of these craft beer pioneers. It was then that he decided to call up Pat McIlhenney of Alpine Beer Company, who was looking to raise capital to expand operations. Hinkley offered to let McIlhenney brew kegged beers on the Green Flash system, only recovering costs, but not making a profit on the deal. On March 6 250 barrels of Alpine Nelson IPA were created; Green Flash will also help brew Duet and Hoppy Birthday for one year.

2013 CRAFT BREWING STATS The Brewers Association (BA), the trade association representing small and independent American craft brewers, released 2013 data on U.S. craft 6 | Spring 2014

brewing growth in March. As a primary driver of growth in the beer industry, craft brewers saw an 18 percent rise in volume, representing a total of 15.6 million barrels, and a 20 percent increase in retail dollar value. In 2013, craft brewers reached 7.8 percent volume of the total U.S. beer market, up from 6.5 percent the previous year. Additionally, craft dollar share of the total U.S. beer market reached 14.3 percent in 2013, as retail dollar value from craft brewers was estimated at $14.3 billion, up from $11.9 billion in 2012. Additionally, the number of operating breweries in the U.S. in 2013 totaled 2,822, with 2,768 of those considered craft, demonstrating that craft breweries make up 98 percent of all U.S. operating breweries. This count includes 413 new brewery openings and 44 closings. Combined with already existing and established breweries and brewpubs, craft brewers provided 110,273 jobs, an increase of almost 2,000 from the previous year.

CRAFT EXPORTS ON THE RISE Also from the Brewers Association came the results of a recently-completed industry survey, showing that craft beer export volume increased by 49 percent in 2013, representing 282,526 barrels and an estimated $73 million. Canada remained the industry’s largest export market, with shipments increasing 92 percent by volume (up to 131,511 barrels) in 2013. Sweden (15.5 percent) and the United Kingdom (7.9 percent) remained the next two largest markets, with Australia (5.4 percent) and Japan (3.2 percent) following. In total, shipments to Asia Pacific (non-Japan) increased by 73 percent and accounted for 44,228 barrels. American craft beer exports have increased substantially in the Asia-Pacific region largely due to emerging markets such as Singapore (up 379 percent), Hong Kong (up 150 percent) and Thailand (up 99 percent).

Check out West Coaster’s new “Behind the Brew” online video series. The first BTB featured Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA. The second focuses on the iconic Alpine Nelson; visit youtube.com/westcoastervideos to watch!


23. Summit Brewing Co. (St. Paul, MN) 0 24. Oskar Blues Brewery (Longmont, CO) 3 25. Full Sail Brewing Co. (Hood River, OR) 4 26. Founders Brewing Co. (Grand Rapids, MI) 4 27. Rogue Ales (Newport, OR) -5 28. Victory Brewing Co. (Downingtown, PA) -2 29. Ballast Point Brewing Co. (San Diego, CA) 17 30. Ninkasi Brewing Co. (Eugene, OR) 1 31. Southern Tier Brewing Co. (Lakewood, NY) 6 32. Cold Spring Brewing Co./Third Street Brewhouse (Cold Spring, MN) -4 33. Flying Dog Brewery (Frederick, MD) -4 34. Odell Brewing Co. (Fort Collins, CO) -1 35. Stevens Point Brewery Co. (Stevens Point, WI) 0 36. Bear Republic Brewing Co. (Cloverdale, CA) -2 37. Lost Coast Brewery and Cafe (Eureka, CA) 1 38. Left Hand Brewing Co. (Longmont, CO) 5 39. CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries, Inc. (Chattanooga & Louseville, TN/CO) -7 40. Breckenridge Brewery (Denver, CO) 1 41. Karl Strauss Brewing Co. (San Diego, CA) -2 42. Blue Point Brewing Co. (Patchogue, NY) -6 43. Sixpoint Brewery (Brooklyn, NY) New 44. BJ’s Chicago Pizza & Brewery, Inc. (Huntington Beach, CA) -4 45. North Coast Brewing Co. Inc. (Fort Bragg, CA) -3 46. Uinta Brewing Co. (Salt Lake City, UT) 3 47. Allagash Brewing Co. (Portland, ME) 1 48. Saint Arnold Brewing Co. (Houston, TX) -3 1 New 2/8/14 5:02 PM 49. GordonWestCoaster_Ad_fin_hi-res.pdf Biersch Brewing Co. (San Jose, CA) 50. 21st Amendment Brewery (San Francisco, CA) New

Based on sales volume. Rank change from 2012 listed after city and state. 1. Boston Beer Co. (Boston, MA) 0 2. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Chico, CA) 0 3. New Belgium Brewing Co. (Fort Collins, CO) 0 4. Gambrinus (San Antonio, TX) 0 5. Lagunitas Brewing Co. (Petaluma, CA) 1 6. Deschutes Brewery (Bend, OR) -1 7. Bell’s Brewery, Inc. (Galesburg, MI) 0 8. Duvel Moortgat USA (Kansas City & Cooperstown, MO/NY) N/A 9. Brooklyn Brewery (Brooklyn, NY) 2 10. Stone Brewing Co. (Escondido, CA) 0 11. Matt Brewing Co. (Utica, NY) -3 12. Harpoon Brewery (Boston, MA) 1 13. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (Milton, DE) 0 14. Shipyard Brewing Co. (Portland, ME) 1 15. Abita Brewing Co. (Abita Springs, LA) -1 16. Firestone Walking Brewing Co. (Paso Robles, CA) 4 17. Alaskan Brewing Co. (Juneau, AK) -1 18. New Glarus Brewing Co. (New Glarus, WI) -1 19. SweetWater Brewing Co. (Atlanta, GA) 5 20. Great Lakes Brewing Co. (Cleveland, OH) -1 21. Anchor Brewing Co. (San Francisco, CA) 0 22. Long Trail Brewing Co. (Bridgewater Corners, VT) -4








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Stone’s new Go To IPA. Photo by Julie Verive


nnovation and creativity built the American craft beer industry, and brewers have turned their considerable talent to a new problem ─ the cold fusion of the craft beer world ─ making an easy-drinking hop-bomb a.k.a. session IPA. If you’ve been shopping for craft beer lately, you’ve no doubt seen one of the many high-hop, low-ABV brews from some of the country’s biggest breweries. Day Time IPA from Lagunitas or Nooner from Sierra Nevada are among a proliferation of session IPAs. It’s an exciting trend that’s growing in


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visibility, but I’ve heard a lot of criticism leveled against these new beers, everything from “why does a four percent IPA cost the same as a seven percent IPA?” to “sessionable, hoppy beers are called pale ales.” Beer fans are clearly quite passionate about what should or shouldn’t be called an IPA. The IPA has evolved so far away from its pale ale roots that there is now a place for a beer that combines the drinkability of light lagers with the bombastic, eyeopening flavor of the West Coast IPA. But what exactly is a “session IPA,” and how does it differ from a hoppy American pale ale? Stone introduced the 4.5% ABV Go To IPA in March, and Brewmaster Mitch Steele offered this succinct explanation of the sub-style: “A session IPA is much more hop-forward than a hoppy pale ale. A hoppy pale ale still has a lot of malt flavor and uses a fair amount of crystal malt to provide balance. A session IPA, in my mind, is all about the hops.” A common trait of session IPAs is a heavy use of the new, hip hop varieties. Huge quantities of cult-favorite hops like Mosaic, Citra, and Amarillo are often used to define the character of these new ales, providing a distinct contrast from the classic pine-and-citrus hops (Centennial, Cascade, etc.) used in many American pale ales. Firestone Walker’s new 4.5% ABV Easy Jack is “more about hop exploration than chasing another beer style trend,” said Brewmaster Matt Brynildson, who discovered new hop varieties for the beer while in Germany and New Zealand. Easy Jack uses

twice the amount of hops as Pale 31; similarly, Stone Go To IPA employs 30% more hops than the big Stone Ruination IPA ─ nearly the same hopping rate as Stone Enjoy By IPA. A dilute and very light body is another defining quality of the new session IPAs, though good examples should avoid tasting thin and one-dimensionally hop-flavored,

“like hop soda,” said Alexandra Nowell, who earned a bronze medal at the 2013 Great American Beer Festival in the session beer category for her sub-4% ABV beer Torque, brewed at Kinetic Brewing Co. in Lancaster. Nowell says that the delicate balancing of body and malt character takes careful attention in the brewhouse to get right, a view Mitch Steele shares. “Reaching a flavor balance while making the beer drinkable is a challenge,” he said. “One of the goals in formulating a great session beer is using in-

gredients and techniques to overcome that.” All of the specialty hops, along with the challenges in the brewhouse, add up to an expensive beer to brew, and the finished product has slim margins ─ even when sold at a similar price point to “full-strength” IPAs. Hoppy craft beers are rarely a value proposition, and their ever-expanding popularity is driving the price of hops continuously upwards. This is especially true for the new hop types: “A variety like Mosaic commands twice the amount as Cascade to source, yet the flavors are well worth every dime,” said Brynildson. It’s up to the individual to decide if the value in a craft beer comes from how high the ABV is, or how much flavor is packed into a bottle, but many brewers agree: if you measure value by booze content, perhaps session IPAs aren’t a style for you. Golden Road’s Brewmaster Jesse Houck helped launch the session IPA trend when he created Bitter American for 21st Amendment Brewery nearly six years ago, and he’s got a theory on why they are now becoming so popular: “They are brewers’ beers, and I think brewers’ beers are what brewing is all about ─ it always has been in a way,” Houck said. “Yes, you do brew for the market, but the market is not going to get excited about what you brew if you’re not excited about it.”


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Micro-maltster Curtis Davenport checks out his new crop of barley in the Santa Ynez Valley. Photo by Kristina Yamamoto

ging Industry

and a Chan -Crafted Malt





n Southern California we proudly “drink local.” Having a favorite brewery in your community is part of your identity as a craft beer consumer. But the beer you are drinking is not as local as you think; domestic base malt is grown and malted almost entirely in the northern and middle United States. Thanks to the entrepreneurial efforts of craft maltsters, however, this is changing for the first time since the craft beer movement began. CALIFORNIA MALTING CO.

California Malting Co. is a new craft malting operation in Santa Barbara County. Curtis Davenport – farmer and micromaltster – oversees his 2014 planting of 2-row barley on fifty acres, sharing land with vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley. Davenport is at the forefront of a changing industry. He expects to yield about two tons per acre from his current crop, which he will harvest in July or August of 2014. West Coaster recently put him in touch with Firestone Walker’s Barrelworks op-

eration, and he’ll soon provide them malt for a small-batch collaboration with local homebrewers utilizing wild yeast from the area. Last year, Davenport successfully sold his first viable load to Telegraph Brewing Co. in Santa Barbara and to two microbreweries opening in Goleta and Carpinteria. To malt his 2013 barley, he leased a kiln from Rebel Malting Co. in Reno, Nevada and repurposed a shipping container into a traditional floor malting system. While Davenport hopes to increase California Malting Co.’s yield and malting capacity to the point where he can provision a regional craft brewery, which would require about 500 tons, malting is only one aspect of Davenport’s vision. “I’m most interested in connecting farmers who want to grow heirloom grain with brewers who can preserve the identity of the grain,” said Davenport. “With the current state of the industry, this is impossible.” No infrastructure is in place to turn a regional farm’s barley into malt for a craft brewery, and giant malting facilities could never process such a customized load.

Davenport’s agricultural concerns dovetail with this opportunity to supply a niche market. “I come from a farming perspective over brewing. The initial motivation for California Malting Co. was to promote the agricultural benefits of grain crops. Barley is a ‘dryland crop’ that needs little to no irrigation in an average year, so it can be well-suited to California. But I also want farmers to see the benefit of rotating crops. For example, if you take acreage of vegetables out of production for the entire year and rotate in a grass like barley, you are restoring organic material to the soil,” Davenport explained. The biodynamic advantages don’t end there: “If you have fields of tomatoes, squash, and strawberries, pests and diseases that target those crops will flourish – rotate barley in and you can break their life cycle and naturally reduce them the next year.” A Wyoming native, Davenport grew up in Colorado and attended Westmont College in Santa Barbara as a biology major with an ecology focus. He went on to work with esteemed organic Santa Barbara farmer Tom Shepherd for three years,

WestCoasterSoCal.com | 11

where he gained experience with native grass restoration and became interested in barley. Davenport is a fan of breweries that make rustic, earthy saisons showcasing malts in a traditional way, like Upright Brewing Co. out of Portland, Oregon. “I would love to see farmhouse beers made on farms,” he said. Funky sours and eastern European pilsners also exhibit flavors that fuel his passion for raw ingredients. If malt is the focus, why not grow and process specialty malt that you can sell in smaller quantities at a higher price? “My focus in base malt is simply because it is what 90% of beer is made of. I’m interested in altering grains as little as possible. If I have something special like White Sonora Wheat I don’t want to roast it to the point where its subtleties are replaced by too much char. Low-kilning base malt allows the grain to have its unique characteristics shine through. But I understand the importance of crystal and caramel malt, and I’m interested in making them eventually.” CRAFT MALTSTERS GAINING MOMENTUM In March 2012 a group of North American craft maltsters entered into talks about their emerging industry. At the 2013 Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) in Washington D.C. they set goals for bylaws and applied for non-profit status, and in January of 2014 their website went live. The Craft Maltsters Guild’s first annual meeting, will take place in Denver at the 2014 CBC in April. Their mission is “to promote and educate the general public about the tradition of craft malting in North America” among other, industry-oriented goals. Recognizing the need to open the lines of communication between the malting and brewing industries, a Brewers Association (BA) working group comprised of prestigious brewers and industry professionals has prepared a white paper for publishing at the end of April that includes a wish list for all maltsters. Chris Swersey, Technical Brewing Projects Coordinator for the BA, oversaw the paper throughout development. “There are technical elements to the paper, but really it is the result of hundreds of conversations over the last few years with breeders, growers, maltsters, and brewers,” Swersey said. “We’re trying to distill some of the things we’ve heard and learned about ideals for malting barley. We are looking into key areas; for instance: what is the diastatic power of the malt you use now and what would it be ideally? We want a consensus, even a range

12 | Spring 2014

– some sort of happy spot for all-malt brewers. Then we look at how that differs from what is currently being offered.” Malting is a tradition historically bound to America’s identity – Samuel Adams worked in his family’s malthouse, not as a brewer. The practice has waned since Prohibition. But just as the beer industry has changed significantly in the last thirty years, so too will the malt industry shortly. “This is important,” Swersey said, “because while craft brewers are making 7.8% of the volume of beer in the U.S., a pretty small proportion, they are consuming around 27% of the malt consumed by all U.S. brewers. Maltsters sell volume. Craft beer is four to five years away from gobbling up one-third of the malt consumed by U.S. brewers. It can take eight to ten years to bring a new malting barley variety into industrial production. Because brewers’ needs differ from what is available, change with intent needs to begin now.” More research is needed on malted barley. Swersey continued, “We don’t even have the nomenclature for talking about flavor and aroma in base malt, besides generalizations of the raw ingredient. Ask twelve different brewers about what malt flavor means and you’ll get twelve different answers.” The most significant research on the subject is being done at North Dakota State University, Oregon State University, and University of Idaho.

ADVANTAGES OF CRAFT MALTING Almost all of the domestic malt used in U.S. beer – macro and craft alike – comes from a few industrial malting facilities in North America. These large-scale plants handle quantities of barley shipped in by train car from a number of states. Regardless of whether the production levels of the breweries they are supplying are in the thousands, or millions, of barrels per year, the base malt is often the same. This is at odds with the ethos of craft beer. Andrea Stanley, President of the Craft Maltsters Guild and owner of Valley Malt in Hadley, Massachusetts explained, “One of the major reasons craft beer has been successful comes from the desire to support local. Craft malt is more expensive than commodity malt but we offer what they can’t: a locally-sourced primary ingredient.” The importance of craft malt isn’t just to uphold craft beer values, Stanley told West Coaster. “Barley is a cover crop that restores the soil. It is agriculturally beneficial to farmers, but until recently they had no one to sell it to in parts of the country like New England. If the craft malting industry can help small farms stay viable, that is in everyone’s interest. Farmers have a hard time direct-marketing, so we’ve created a new market for them.” Additionally, the flavor potential of craft malt is greater than what is currently

Micro-maltster Curtis Davenport checks out his new crop of barley in the Santa Ynez Valley. Photo by Kristina Yamamoto

available. “A large malting company can’t blow a 100-ton batch on experimental flavors,” Davenport said. “There’s real potential to taste differences in barley from a particular region or year, but the territory is unexplored. We should be thinking about breeding specific varieties of barley for their flavor and regional growing requirements, not their disease resistance.” Craft malting is the necessary step between a regional family farm that wants to incorporate a rotation of barley and a brewer working on a 15 to 30 bbl system. GROWING AND MALTING 2-row barley is planted from seed in November right before the rainy season begins (in a non-drought year). A seedhead emerges on the sheath of grass as the plant grows to waist height about four months after planting. By summer the barley begins to dry out and is harvested with a combine when the grain has a moisture content of 13%. Because malt is sold by weight, the health and heft of each grain is the primary factor in producing a successful yield. After harvest the straw stalk might go back to the grower – Davenport gives his to one of his farmers, who then uses it for various purposes in his pumpkin patch – and the raw barley is sent to a seed cleaner before the barley kernels are sent to the maltster, during which the plant undergoes a short dormancy. The malting process begins when barley kernels steep in water in a large, conical tank at about 58˚F for two days. Saturated with fluid that activates enzymes, the “chitted barley” now begins germination. Keeping the grain aerated at this point is essential for development, and it prevents any fungal growth. A traditional maltster utilizes floor malting, a process in which damp grain packed about four inches deep is regularly turned with a shovel. Modern and industrial maltsters use a pneumatic malting germination system which is automated and can handle much larger loads. Three to five days into germination, an acrospire grows at one end underneath the husk and tiny rootlets emerge from the other side, while beta glucanase breaks down cell walls – this is called modification. This readies enzymes that will convert the grain’s starches to fermentable sugar that yeast can eat and make into beer. A maltster observes what state of modification the grain is in, and then determines if it is time to terminate germination in the “green malt” which has swollen to 46% moisture content. It is essential that modification be observed closely, as

different malt requires a different level of development; a pilsner malt is less modified than 2-row barley malt, for example. Undermodified malt will clog a brewing system and over-modified malt will produce beer with too little body. Germination and modification are terminated by the application of indirect heat, called kilning. This also stabilizes starches and gently toasts the grain. Kilning is done low and slow; at its highest point over a 24hour period, the temperature will not exceed 200˚F. Now the finished base malt, which has dried out to 3% moisture, is ready for storage and use. MALTING MATTERS As the demand and popularity for craft beer continues to rise, small farmers and micro-maltsters have stepped up to deliver what large companies can’t: regionally-focused,

Davenport’s traditional floor malting system in a repurposed shipping container. Courtesy photo

premium-quality barley. Imagine the one-off possibilities if there were signature barley types for every growing region in America. Like the Maris Otter variety, the flavor and performance of which can’t be replicated anywhere outside the United Kingdom, California could have its own malt. Not only are operations like California Malting Co. offering craft beer drinkers broader selection and a more nuanced, local product, they are reinvigorating the relationship between growers and brewers. “The conversation has started,” said Chris Swersey. “The malt market is fast becoming more complex and increasingly differentiated.”

WestCoasterSoCal.com | 13

Images courtesy John Holzer @ New Brew Thursday


On March 22 in Anaheim, OCBeerBlog founder Greg Nagel put on FirkFest, a celebration of cask ales. In the process more than $12,000 was raised for Inspire Artistic Minds, an Orange County-based non-profit that supports individuals and small businesses in various creative industries. More than 30 Southern California breweries participated in this inaugural event!

WestCoasterSoCal.com | 15

Redlands Roundup BY BRETT NELSON

The city of Redlands has more than 65,000 residents, but it maintains a very small-town feel. The historic downtown and surrounding areas provide an apt environment for independent restaurants, bars, and breweries. Especially in recent years, Redlands has gained a reputation as a food and beverage destination in the Inland Empire. Here are some of the best local venues to see what Redlands beer is all about:

HANGAR 24 CRAFT BREWERY Hangar 24 is a favorite among the locals and has gained prominence in the greater Southern California craft beer scene since 2008. They are well known for beers such as the Orange Wheat, but have gained a lot of acclaim for their IPAs and barrel-aged beers. The large tap room is seldom empty and to meet the demand they are brewing 24 hours a day. There is a lot on the horizon for H24 including a new flagship IPA (Betty), and their sixth anniversary celebrations May 16-17. RITUAL BREWING COMPANY Ritual is a young brewery, started in 2012, that has hit the ground running with some great flagship beers and solid distribution range. Founders Steve Dunkerken and Owen Williams have created a delectable selection of beers with their IPA (Hop-O-Matic), Belgian Golden Ale (Hellion), and a big and flavorful Barleywine (Fat Hog). There is a ton of potential and room for brewery expansion for Ritual; expect to see their beers a lot more around SoCal. WILD DONKEY BREWING Right across the street from Ritual, Wild Donkey (previously called Donkey Punch) is a great stop to try some unique beers. They opened in 2012, and among their most popular offerings are Limon Caliente (spicy hefeweizen) and their Cinna-Brew. The spirited and energetic theme makes it a noteworthy craft brewery.

EUREKA! BURGER The Redlands location is the original of the very successful chain of restaurants that specializes in gourmet burgers and select craft beer. The cozy and rustic feel makes for an excellent place to enjoy some rare and unique beers alongside a consistently great burger. Every Tuesday they have “steal-thepint” nights with beers from all over California. The success of Eureka Burger is no surprise, and it’s worth checking out where it all got started.

BREWCAKES A unique beer spot self-labeled as a “dessert gastropub.” Brewcakes serves small food portions as well as their popular beer-infused cupcakes. They have recently added 10 taps that regularly rotate some great beers from all over Southern California. They place a high premium on local ingredients and local beer to make their tasty desserts.

16 | Spring 2014

GERRARDS MARKET A neighborhood supermarket that has been around since 1930 has jumped head first into the booming craft beer scene. With a selection of more than 600 different beers from all parts of the world, a beer lover can spend hours lost in their “beer cave.” One of their most popular options is to build your own six-pack, with over 150 rotating beers to choose from. Gerrards could be the best bottle shop in the Inland Empire. BREW REBELLION Started by the “Original 100” ─ a community of donors ─ Brew Rebellion runs a small-batch system, brewing 30-50 gallon batches at a time. They have six rotating taps as well as more unique bottles that they pour on site and distribute locally. Brew Rebellion has gained some recognition for their uncommon beers, most notably the S’more Porter and Habanero S’more Porter. The intimate and friendly taproom is located just outside of Redlands in the town of Yucaipa, but it’s worth the trip.

DARBY’S AMERICAN CANTINA This new restaurant, located in the heart of downtown Redlands, is becoming a popular place to grab a bite and a beer. They provide an impressive 35 beers on tap and inviting happy hour for all. Their menu is a fusion of classic American bar food and Mexican cuisine working symbiotically. The great location and atmosphere make Darby’s a recommended stop in the area. GOURMET PIZZA SHOPPE This local favorite, opened back in 1998, provides a unique array of pizza toppings with a solid lineup of local craft beers. The restaurant’s interior looks like an old Italian street corner, and it has been voted “Best Pizza” five years in a row by IE Magazine. Mondays and Tuesdays are $3 pint nights plus $5 off 16-inch pizzas.

ROYAL FALCONER PUB Also in downtown Redlands, Royal Falconer Pub is an authentic British pub with a great atmosphere, tasty food, and 20 beers on tap. The dim and comfy spot, established in 1999, houses a mix of local craft and standard European-style beers. Back in February they hosted a dueling tap takeover: Hangar 24 versus Ritual Brewing.

HUND & BIER HAUS This sausage and beer hall is currently in planning and is set to open in the spring with a big selection of beers on tap. For now, they are catering events at local spots like Hangar 24 and Ritual Brewing.

WestCoasterSoCal.com | 17

¡Catar la Revolución!


aving traveled to Mexicali with a cadre of fellow Los Angeles beer writers and bloggers last November to attend the Mexicali BeerFest Artesanal and experience first-hand the burgeoning Baja California revolución de cerveza artesanal to cover it for the Celebrator, I was honored to be asked to judge the competition at the Ensenada Beer Fest on March 22 by festival organizers Francisco Talamante of Ensenada’s Cerveza Canneria brewery and and Hector Ferreira of Tijuana’s BierLab brewery. I wasn’t able to make it down to Ensenada, about 78 miles south of San Diego, for the previous day’s conference sessions and a private tasting event. But when I arrived at the tourist city’s legendary El Riviera de Ensenada Casino (a beautiful onetime hotel with Moorish-style architecture that dates back to the 1930s but now serves as a civic and cultural center) a little before noon on the day of the fest, I located the judging room and soon found myself assessing the Mexican brewers’ hopeful entries on a judging team with Gordon Gerski of Lost Abbey Brewing in San Marcos, Alexandra Nowell of the brand-new Three Weavers Brewing in Inglewood, and Devon Randall of Pizza Port Solana Beach. There were several other judges from Southern California breweries and few from Baja beer clubs as well. Using the official BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) score sheets from the American Homebrewers Association — but no style guidelines to reference, so we really had to know our stuff — we sniffed, swirled, sipped, swallowed, sometimes smiled (but sometimes didn’t) and scored our way

ENSENADA BEER FEST BRINGS SOCAL AND MEXICO TOGETHER through the beers. Our judging group was tasked with tasting and evaluating about a dozen entries in the catch-all “Specialty” category, and they were all over the map — both in terms of style and quality. From a Wit that went south, thanks to oxidation problems, to an “Imperial Blonde” that was actually amber-colored and infected, to a number of decent stabs at styles that were marred by off flavors resulting from fermentation temperature issues, there were times when it seemed like we were judging a beginning homebrew class. But then out of nowhere, an aroma and flavor would impress — often with a healthy dose of West Coast hops — and we’d have a qualified contender to pass on to the final round. In fact, two of the four eventual winners were judged by our group. The honorable mention went to a standard Saison, La Saison du Valée, from Cervecería del Valle, of Valle de Guadalupe in Baja’s “wine country,” while second runnerup was a dank West Coast-style Double IPA from Ensenada’s own Zombie Brew Labs. Tijuana’s Silenus Cerveza Artesanal was runner-up for Hidra, a solid Oatmeal Stout, and the Best of Show honors went to the exceedingly hoppy Imperial Red Ale from another Ensenada brewery, Cervecería Wendlandt, which was just a few blocks away from the festival.

El Festival

The grounds of the great historic Riviera was the site of the outdoor fest, which ran from 2:00 p.m. to midnight — the typical 10-hour


duration of a Mexican craft beer festival — attracting over 5,700 attendees. The grass was adorned with brewery and restaurant booths, as well as a stage for the three bands to play. A near cloudless blue sky, a warming sun and a refreshingly cool ocean breeze made for the perfect environment for outside beer drinking. And with Mexico’s legal drinking age of 18, there were plenty of chicos and chicas — many dressed to the nueves — out to party into the night. There were some 20 restaurants and over 60 breweries represented, All of the cervecerías hailed from the Baja peninsula with the exception of La Brü, which is headed up by two Americans from back East, and is based in the state of Michoacan. North-ofthe-border breweries pouring included San Diego’s Belching Beaver, Coronado, Green Flash and Monkey Paw, as well as Temecula’s Ironfire and Redlands’ Donkey Punch. Other than the competition winners, some of the standout cervezas artesanales were the yeasty, sessionable Farmhouse Ale from Tres Bs, aka Big Bad Brewing (Mexicali); the puckery Blackberry Sour from Zesde (Tijuana); Horchata Obscura, a stout made with brown rice, cinnamon and vanilla from Old Mission (aka Ensenada Brewing in the US); a malty Amber, only the second beer from Cerveza Urbana (Mexicali); Brutal Imperial Stout, made with star anise from Border Psycho (Tijuana), and a tangy Ginger Brown Ale from the aforementioned La Brü. “The Ensenada Beer Fest is important because it is the biggest [of the Baja beer

Right: The cerveceros from Mexicali (and their breweries), from left: Rafael Gonzalez (Tres Bs), Moises Sanchez (Peninsula), Carlos Teran (Peninsula), Carlos Camacho (Gato Gordo), Hector Corella (Amante), Arturo Palafox (Amante), Jose Rogelio Valenzuela (Tres Bs), Alejandro Reneaum (Urbana), Jonathan Diaz (Legion), Manuel Salazar (Puerco Salvaje) and Roberto Quintero (Puerco Salvaje). Photo by Tomm Carroll. Middle: At the Monkey Paw booth is brewery owner Scot D. Blair (left), Let’s Go Clandestino owner Angel Miron and Monkey Paw Brewmaster Cosimo Sorrentino.Photo by Tomm Carroll. Left: Muchas cervezas artesanales ready for judging at the Ensenada Beer Fest.Photo by Roy Chavoya/Beers in Paradise

18 | Spring 2014

festivals] in terms of the amount of brewers who participate — be it home brewers or wellestablished professional ones,” commented Mauricio Peralta, owner and master brewer of Ensenada’s Zombie Beer Labs. “This brings out a sense of pride from the fans of those brewers, especially the local base. They also get to taste other beers that might not be available year ‘round, and then a chain reaction is triggered. If someone comes to the fest, and learns a beer style by name — all of us brewers win.”

Y tu Cerveza Artesanal También Over the last few years, Mexico has joined other countries around the world in launching a craft beer movement. And like other nations such as Italy, Spain and Brazil, it’s not an easy undertaking when the dominance and sheer power of those countries’ macro beer industries makes it incredibly difficult to even get started in business. Because of its proximity to the US, and particularly the beer Mecca that is San Diego, it is the Mexican state of Baja California that is far ahead of the rest of the country, including the capital Mexico City, on el camino a cerveza artesanal. Three years ago, there were but a handful of nanocervecerías on the peninsula, but now there are over 80. But that doesn’t mean the Baja brewers have it easy. The liquor laws are fuzzy and permits aren’t easy to obtain, but regulations are lax, if they are even enforced. Let’s face it: Mexican authorities have a lot more to worry about than DIY brewers. Many of the new breweries are really glorified homebrew operations, working out of small industrial spaces, garages and even homes with 3bbl (or less) systems, and sell their kegged or self-bottled wares to friend’s bars in town or, if they’re lucky, to the few independent beer bars that are not exclusive to powerhouse macros Grupo Modelo (owned by AB InBev) and Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma (owned by Heineken). In addition, craft beers are taxed at a higher rate than the macros, and most domestic brewing ingredients are under contract to said macros. Many of the small brewers must make frequent trips across the border to homebrew shops in San Diego and vicinity to get their supplies, and can only buy small amounts to pass through customs en route home. Tijuana’s proximity to the border is likely the main reason that city’s craft breweries are making some of the most interesting beers, and boasts the most vibrant local beer scene. Even though Baja beer culture is still very young, and licenses, ingredients, brewing supplies and equipment are expensive and hard to come by — some breweries are actually using plastic fermentors! — the brewers themselves are knowledgeable, dedicated, proud and, above all, passionate about their product, and they realize they still have a ways to go. But this attitude, shared by every one of the craft breweries, only bodes well for the region’s cervezas artesanales.

Brewers from Coronado and Belching Beaver in the midst of judging beer for the Ensenada Beer Fest. Photo by Gonzalo J. Quintero, Ed.D./Craft Beer Tasters

BEER JUDGES Following is the list of judges at the Ensenada Beer Fest on March 22: Ryan Brooks – Coronado Brewing Tomm Carroll – West Coaster SoCal/Celebrator/Beer Paper LA Gustavo del Castillo – Tijuana Homebrew Club Yamil del Castillo – Tijuana Homebrew Club Gordon Gerski – Lost Abbey Brewing Pete Falletta – Coronado Brewing Wade Hurley – Coronado Brewing Edgar Martinez – Beer Box, Tijuana Nathan McIntyre – Coronado Brewing Gonzalo J. Quintero, Ed.D. – Craft Beer Tasters Alexandra Nowell – Three Weavers Brewing Devon Randall – Pizza Port Solana Beach Fred Sanchez – Cervezas Artesanales Mexicanas Troy Smith – Belching Beaver Brewing JUDGING ORGANIZERS Ivan Maldonado – Silenus Cerveza Artesanal Nathaniel Schmidt – Agua Mala Cervecería


s the owner of Tony’s Darts Away in Burbank, Mohawk Bend in Echo Park, and co-owner of Golden Road Brewing in Atwater Village, there’s no doubt Tony Yanow has been instrumental in the monumental growth of the Los Angeles craft beer scene. And while he can often be found having a pint at his own watering holes— “especially Tony’s Darts Away”—we wanted to find out what the man drinks when he’s at home… and more specifically, we wanted to see his secret stash. I ventured down the stairs of his handsome Hollywood Hills home to check out his cellar along with West Coaster co-founders Ryan Lamb and Mike Shess. After getting down into the garage, we were greeted by a nicely filled Sub-Zero refrigerator stacked with beers that Tony was planning on having sooner than later. “This is where I keep stuff that I go through a lot of,” he explains. “I can drink IPAs all day,” he confesses while pointing to a row of Golden Road’s Point The Way IPA, “and I go through literally a case a week.” Fondness for hops aside, he’s quick to note that he’s been drinking more and more saisons lately and “a ton of Orval”. Besides stocking plenty of his go-to beers, he also likes having any style of beer chilled and at the ready as well. “You name a style of beer,” he jokingly challenges. “I’ve got gose in here; I don’t even like gose!” It’s then that he turns around and points to several tall, narrow cupboards jutting out from the cold concrete, each one filled with boozy treasure. Glancing deep into the cupboards, you quickly discover that we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg; behind these bottles is a larger storage area full of cardboard boxes… full of beer. “It stays a pretty constant temperature because it’s built right up against rock,” Tony notes. “Directly behind the cellar is pure mountain, so the cellar usually stays between 58-65°F, but it never goes above 68°F.” Wanting a closer look, we asked if we could nose around; however, this is an awkward space to get into. The small entry door is perched at about waist height, and once inside, you quickly learn why this is called a crawl space. The ceiling is far too low to allow you to stand, and the remaining room is pretty darn stocked with cases. “I usually send my kids in there to pick out beers,” Tony explains. “I’ll ask [my son] Hudson to choose three bottles,

20 | Spring 2014


and he’ll get so excited that he gets to play in there. This helps me get a random rotation of beer too; I’m not just going back for favorites. The only problem is that he really likes flowers, so I had to put all my Cantillon Iris out of his reach.” In absence of kids, we all agreed that Ryan’s supple physique was best adapted for the beer spelunking challenge at hand. Maneuvering his way in, he revealed many more bottles from The Lost Abbey and The Bruery, among plenty of others. Of Tony’s own wares, we didn’t find any Golden Road cans squirreled away for long-term storage, but being the boss does have its perks: he made sure that barrelaged versions of Hudson Porter—named for his nearly three-year-old son—found their way into a few hand-labeled bottles for his own personal consumption. “I’m excited to open them once Hudson’s old enough to be able to appreciate them,” Tony said (while the rest of us did a little mental math and realized that wouldn’t be for some time). Also well represented in Tony’s cellar is Russian River Brewing Company, including a nice little selection of vintage Consecration, though Tony makes a point to hint that he’s “always on the hunt for Temptation” as I’m jotting down notes. And his aforementioned soft spot for saisons becomes more apparent as we venture through collections of Brasserie


Yanow’s stash, including barrel-aged Hudson Porter. Photos by Ryan Lamb

Fantôme, Logsdon Organic Farmhouse Ales, and Upright Brewing. So how many bottles are we talking about back there? “If I had to guess,” Tony thinks for a moment. “I dunno. Maybe… I don’t know. I really don’t. I mean, no. Just… can we say ‘a lot’? There’s a lot.” Plenty were personal purchases, but a good number of his bottles have been gifts from friends, customers, employees, and visiting brewery/industry folk. With such an incredible selection that often seems to grow faster than it dwindles, Tony relies greatly on the good nature of his beer-drinking friends. “If it ever gets too full, I’ll come down to clean it out,” he explains, adding that his neighbor—who he also counts as one of his best friends—often gets some of the spoils. But there’s no list and no pretension about what he’s got on hand. The beer is there to be enjoyed, and it’s there to be enjoyed with friends. “I’ve become quite popular at bottle shares,” he chuckled as we headed back up the stairs, sporting a few bottles of our own that Tony insisted on sharing. Well, if we must…



anguage is in a constant state of flux. Words are created and forgotten as the inevitable march of time tramples those that lose their necessity, while simultaneously constructing new combinations of sounds that cater to modern life. Even words that persist in physical form invariably drift in meaning. Pull back your perspective enough, and change is the only true constant. Such is the reality of the way we communicate about everything, including beer. Even a beer style that has persisted in name for centuries, like mild ale, has meant many different things over its lifespan. Mild ale has been dark, pale, hoppy, malty, strong, and weak. Pick a combination of those and there was a beer like it called mild ale at some point in time. India pale ale has likewise had a large spectrum of meaning since the first usage of the term almost two centuries ago. From a very pale, dry, hoppy beer aged for long periods in barrels before consumption, to a session-strength ale not unlike any common bitter in the UK, India pale ale has persisted. In the United States, India pale ale has taken hold as one of the most popular and captivating styles of beer. And why wouldn’t it? Americans love hops, and hop growers continue to feed that desire with more and more new varieties of hops showcasing all manners of intriguing and exotic fruity aromas. India pale ale has become a celebration of hops from start to finish, especially in our familiar local examples, where malt is often treated like a blank canvas, adding little more than a surface on which to paint in the dynamic colors and shapes that modern hops allow. Yet while some words or terms fade away or lose their meaning because they are no longer useful or relevant, India pale ale has fallen victim to its own success. Our appetite for hops has grown so insatiable that brewers have struggled with the loss in popularity of other beer styles. The solution, it seems, is to turn those less popular styles into India pale ales. But first you have to shorten “India pale ale” to “IPA,” lest we are reminded that this is supposed to be a pale ale we are drinking. The term IPA is catchy, takes up little precious space on a

tap handle or chalkboard, and is currently used to denote a hoppy beer that could be almost anything after that initial criteria has been met. White IPA, brown IPA, red IPA, Belgian IPA, wheat IPA, and the infamous black IPA all combine the hop levels of an American India pale ale with another style of beer. I sometimes wonder when every beer style will be called some derivative of IPA. Session IPA seems to be picking up steam right now, with several SoCal breweries releasing beers of this style. The popularity of predecessors like Ballast Point Even Keel (coming soon in cans), Lagunitas Day Time (a “fractional IPA”), and Alpha Session by Drake’s is also on the rise. These beers deliver IPA-level hop aroma and flavor with sub5% alcohol levels and a typically scaled back bitterness that avoids overpowering the lighter body and malt profile. In a way, session IPAs are the logical conclusion to the vague, transient usage of “IPA” over the last few years. Mating what are now the two most popular beer styles in the country, light beer and IPA,

session IPAs simply deliver what many drinkers want: low calories, drinkability, and hops. Session IPA also has a very good claim to the term, as low-alcohol India pale ales have been brewed continuously in the UK since the early 20th century. It has only been the more modern, American usage of the name that has led to the belief that India pale ales should be higher in alcohol than a normal pale ale. During the style’s original surge in popularity in the 19th century, it was only differentiated from other pale ales by longer aging times and higher hop levels. If session IPA sticks around as a popular style (and I’m betting that it will), we will likely see the “India” modifier shift back toward being an indicator of an emphasis on hops, and less as an indicator of alcohol content. Editor’s disclosure: Sam Tierney is the guy who got myself and WC co-founder Mike Shess into good beer during college, and now he’s a vital team member at Firestone Walker. As an inquisitive cellarman with a great passion for the industry, he was honored as runnerup employee of the year in 2013. Firestone Walker’s new Easy Jack Summer Session IPA. Courtesy photo

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