Last month, big beer news hit Los Angeles with Figueroa Mountain moving into manage four locations around the city previously held by Tony Yanow’s Artisanal Brewers Collective
I emailed brewer Brian Waters some questions about himself, hops and FMB in L.A.
1. What is your brewing background and history?
Before I was brewing I was working as a video editor for an online publication/events company. The company unfortunately went out of business. I freelanced for a while, but found that video editing was no longer terribly satisfying. In the meantime, my cousin received a home brew kit as a wedding gift, so he and I and his wife made a one-gallon batch of a West Coast IPA. It actually turned out pretty nice. I continued to make beer on my own until one day I saw a job posting for an assistant general manager position at a brewpub that was opening up in Hancock Park. I sent them a resume and cover letter telling them that I wasn’t interested in the AGM position but if they needed an assistant brewer I’d love the opportunity. Two weeks later the head brewer hit me up and the rest is history. I started as a draft tech and worked my way up.
2. Which brewer or brewery is your brewing role model?
That’s a question that has too many answers! We are spoiled for choice just here in LA alone. For now I’ll go with a few SoCal locals: Green Cheek, Highland Park, Enegren, Societe, and Burgeon make outstanding stuff. But there are so, so many others home and abroad that I love and whose beers I look to for inspiration.
3. Will the Los Angeles breweries have a different guiding principle than the main brewery in Buellton? Will it be clear that beer is an L.A. brewed one vs a Buellton one?
The goal for the beer brewed in LA is the same — to brew outstanding, high-quality beer. Each of the spots will have its own flair, and will focus on producing consistent, exceptional brews. All of our bartenders will know which beers are brewed on site and which are brewed at the mothership in Buellton.
4. How much freedom will you have to pursue seldom done styles at the Broxton R&D brewing system?
We are lucky to have the freedom to pursue whichever styles we like. However, it will always be a balance of brewing fun, experimental beer, but also brews that people are interested in drinking. We probably won’t make any grodziskie or chicha. But who knows, we may get a little out there and do something like a Kentucky Common.
5. Is there a new hop varietal or new malt has you excited to try?
There are a few hops that I’ve had my eye on. They aren’t necessarily new, but I’ve yet to try them. HBC 586, Vista, Eclipse, and a couple of French varietals. Can’t wait to get my hands on them!
6. Is there a beer style that to you is quintessentially L.A.?
If I had to choose only one I think I’d go with a hoppy lager. I think some of the best producers of the style are right here in town, and it’s exciting to see more and more breweries put their best versions forward.
7. Will there be experimentation with new old world lager trends like side pours, slow pours and milky pours? And what is your take on these trends?
We are definitely going to have a couple of side pour handles at the Lagerhaus! We are super excited to take a deep dive into a style that we love. Each of those trends has their own value, and while I consider myself more of a Hladinka kind of guy, I do also really love a slow pour.