I know what you are thinking, first all the gin talk crept into the blog, then bourbon back in September and now brandy? Yes, but this is brandy made here in Los Angeles by Benny Boy.
Let me preface by saying I am by no means a brandy master. What I can do is give you my thoughts on it in comparison to beer, cider and bourbon.
The initial nose is a touch hot but not in an unpleasant clear the sinus way. Then there is a big sweet and juicy apple cider note. You are getting apple brandy for sure. The taste is quite viscous and sweet. Almost asking to be part of a cocktail that can provide a counterpoint. I would have liked a barrel component here or maybe a spice note to counteract the sweet of the apple juice. But maybe with a year or two of age, this might find a sweet spot.
Benny Boy’s apple side of the ledger has a special release, Pippin Pommeau.
Here is the brewery description, “Pommeau is a 1-yr old apple brandy blended with apple juice, and then barrel-aged for another 1-2 years. The result is a 19% glorious, boozy apple elixir we’ve dubbed “the spirit of the apple.” The style hails from the Normandy region of France, but ours is as California as it gets – made with 100% California Newtown Pippin apples, and distilled by our friends at The Spirit Guild in DTLA.”
You can sip this small batch spirit for the first time at their AppleFest Fall FestivalNov. 12 &13 (straight from the barrel).
I am working on a piece to submit to Beer Paper LA about Benny Boy that will have backstory, impressions and big words so in this post, let’s talk about the beer and cider that was pouring.
I had six of the seven opening week beers. Poured straight from the tank by the way. I saved the IPA for a follow up visit.
I was most taken by the top two on the list. Mexican styled lagers are, at times, purposefully plain. Lincoln Heights Lager is light yellow in color so I thought it might fall into that category as well. But it had a nice spice (almost rye) as well as a deep corn flavor to it. The Other Lover is a low ABV delight as well with a lemon verbena note and almost easier to find your glass empty as the lager. I also want to mention the Midnight Swim which is a nice example of a Belgian Dark Strong ale.
Cross the courtyard over to the cider (and natural wine) building where you will find higher ABVs than in the brewery. These, I tasted all of and I came away very impressed by the two dry ciders at the top of the list especially. You could instantly taste the apple, peel and all in the single apple version and the double apple, you could taste both. In my experience the actual apple is sometimes covered by carbonation or other flavors. Not so here. Even the pineapple and pomegranate versions were decidedly apple forward, to the point that I wanted less apple.
This is a strong opening. I don’t say that often. Beer fans will be found here this year.
Today, Benny Boy Brewing is launching crowdfunding campaign on (the new to me site) IFundWomen with the goal of raising $50,000 to help launch their brewery this fall. Per the press release, “money raised during this campaign will be used to build out Benny Boy Brewing’s beer & cider garden, a dynamic space under open skies where craft beer, cider and wine unite with innovation, pop-up food vendors and a culture of good times.”
Here is a rundown of what is on offer:
Available exclusively through the crowdfunding campaign is year-one membership ($300) to Benny Boy Brewing’s beer & cider club called “Friends with Bennyfits.” Among other rewards offered as part of the campaign:
Put Your Name on an Apple Brandy Barrel ($35) – Reserve your bottle of Benny Boy Brewing’s first vintage of Pippin Pommeau
Thirsty Locals Card ($75) – For Lincoln Heights residents only, get your first pint every Friday on the house
Private Tasting & Tour for 4 ($150) – Go behind the scenes with Benny Boy’s founders for a private tour of the brewery and cider house
Slip N Suds for Your Backyard ($5,000) – Think Slip N Slide, but with a beer sprinkler
HopStatue in Your Honor ($50,000) – Contribute $50K to the campaign and Benny Boy will commission a statue of you made of hops and malt, glazed in resin, proudly displayed in the beer garden
…and the fingers crossed / everything goes to plan opening date is September. Knowing the City of LA and the then (hopefully) after effects of pandemic times, I would say October or November might be closer.
Either way this freeway adjacent, five lanes of traffic away from the Brewery Blocks brewery and Cidery should be an excellent outdoor spot to re-acclimate oneself to drinking at a new brewery instead of the four-pack and flee method currently in place.
One of the toughest tests in opening a brewery is finding that special spot to plant your operations. That is especially hard here in L.A. but thankfully, the upcoming Benny Boy Brewing has found a spot…
..now comes another hard part. Getting all this together. I will update with any future news.
On Saturday, I had the pleasure of tasting beer from the in-the-works Benny Boy Brewing.
They have some great plans in store that you will read about on Food GPS on Thursday but I wanted to commend the brewer, Ben Farber on the initial beers and especially for a philosophy of how it “should” be done. I don’t mean in a rigid way but in a, tradition is tradition for a reason way.