Calendar time and also a blast from the past. Tony’s Darts Away is a great little spot in Burbank that I have not been to in a long time. Working from home instead of working in Burbank has dropped visits to the neighboring city down.
One of their yearly highlights was a midnight tapping of their Darts Away IPA and then a weekend of hourly special tappings.
Guess what? It’s back…
….and the IPA is from Beachwood! Follow their socials to see what goodies will be on tap and when.
Looks like the corner property that was once the brewing operations for Simmzy’s is staying in the beer family…
Brews Brothers who have a spot in the North Hollywood Arts District are taking the Media District location. I do not see anywhere in a cursory internet search if they will brew or not there but they have a pretty good amount of taps to fill.
Burbank to Vegas flights are popular already. Now beer is making the quick hop to the The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Palazzo Las Vegas. As Trustworthy Brewing is opening BBQ and Beer in Nevada. Not quite open yet, but follow their social media to see when you can have California Craft while spinning the roulette wheel.
Since I work 9-5 in Burbank, I have been quite happy to see the city grow with breweries and while Trustworthy and Simmzy’s have taken a firm lead on my beer leaderboard, the two others have lagged. Lincoln Beer Co. has a lovely and well appointed space and though the beers have bit hit and miss, I feel that the operation could slowly find their beer footing given time.
Henson Brewing, on the other hand seemed a far distant fourth from the start. From taproom ambiance to beer, everything seemed “in process”. And recent social media posts have told a story of undercapitalization, equipment issues and lack of revenue. Any new business needs luck, capital and a product that sells. You can swing it on any two of those components but if you bust on all three, well, that leads to trouble.
I have been binging The Great British Bake-Off and what I have taken from that show is that you can slide by on decoration or flavor but a some point you need both if you want to make it to the final. Henson has had neither in my admittedly small sample size of two visits. But if they are in enough dire financial straits to be needing rent help and are entertaining offers from other breweries, then I am not the only one who has shown up just once or twice.
Here is the takeaway though, failure is fine. It is not a harbinger of doom (most of the time) It means that the bar has been raised. No longer can you just open up an industrial space and expect full attendance and 4-pack can sales. You need to build a community. You need to market well. You can’t do whatever everyone else is doing especially if your beer is not on point. And if you can’t compete in your city, well.
Since the hard shoveling of getting the space approved to brew in and getting equipment in is complete. The taproom can be used by a brewery looking to expand north (from the South Bay) or south from your Lancaster/Santa Clarita area, then the 5 freeway adjacent space can be a spoke in a wheel for a brewery to exploit a new market.
Now maybe Henson can gain the financial room to operate and grow (it is a good sign that the landlord seems amenable) and if they do, they will need to up their brewing game. Hopefully they are given the full chance to prove their staying power.
Regular readers will remember that my first visit to Henson Brewing wasn’t a world beater. So I decided that I would hold off on returning even though the taproom is a five minute walk from my office.
Since then the logo and website have been spruced up, so I re-visited. Here are the findings….and they are not great. The inside of the taproom has folding tables and chairs, there is an old truck parked inside but it doesn’t have the charm or (guessing here) the drivability of the Brewyard truck so the feel is a little temporary.
This is one of the first places where the beer names seemed to be not of a piece. I don’t expect that they should match or be all historical figures for example but Red, White and Blue IPA and then Paleolithic Pale? Speaking of the latter, it is a dark red and is more malty than hoppy. Not bad, but below par for British styled pale and way below if aiming for American style. There was also a “Sweet IPA” on tap which scared the bejesus out of me so I didn’t even order a taster.
The best indicator though was a friend joined me, had a taster of the pilsner, 2Pils, and then said that he would like to go elsewhere for beer # 2.
Maybe I will try again this time next year.
Given a head start on the Labor Day weekend last Friday, I made a quick 3rd stop at LBC in Burbank to give the brewery another look and to grab a crowler to-go to see how the brewery was doing now.
Considering it was a holiday weekend at 4pm, there were a decent amount of people in the taproom. I ordered a crowler of their 1861 lager. I also ordered up a mini-pour of their Hollywood Way IPA. There are a LOT of IPA’s out there. Most occupy that vast middle ground. This one was a notch below middle. Maybe two notches. In the small amount I had, I could not put my finger on one precise issue but it reinforced my not positive impression of their hoppy beers.
1861 was ….
Pours a weird almost absinthe tinted green. After pouring the foam head dissipates to weird white globules. The beer is a little sweet on the nose and in the taste. Grain tasting all the way through. Light and a little slick on the tongue. Not super bubbly either. Finishes with a stronger taste than the ABV would lead you to believe. It is fine but not a still hot summer in L.A. type of beer.
So two below average beers. I am sensing a trend.
In a little over a week, the parking lot of the Burbank Simmzy’s will be turned into 1st Anniversary World. So after work on Friday, be that earlier or later, head over to see what beer surprises will be on tap.
Tony’s Darts Away turns 8 this month and as per custom will be tapping beers all weekend long.
This year the special Darts Away anniversary beer has been brewed by sibling and Belgian Brewpub, Bluebird Brasserie. One example of what will be on tap is all three “Russian River Brewing Co. Wild Ales including Concentration 2015 Vintage, Supplication 2017 Vintage, and Temptation 2017 Vintage.”
It all starts at midnight on Friday May 18th and goes until Sunday, the 20th.
LA Beer Hop will have a bus roaming the valley starting on April 8th.
Burbank & Glendale are the specific cities with stops at the following: The Brewery at Simmzy’s Burbank • Verdugo West Brewing Co. • Lincoln Beer Company • Golden Road Brewing (You can sit this one out, take a breather) • Brewyard Beer Company • San Fernando Brewing • Henson
Tours depart every other Sunday at 1pm from the Burbank Metrolink at 201 N Front Street in Burbank.
Here is what you get and the cost, “The tour visits three breweries and includes a flight of beer at each place, bottled water, and as much beer info as you like. The entire event takes about four to five hours and the ticket is $69/person. Food will be available during each tour.”
If you thought you were caught up on Los Angeles beer (even I am not), well another new one has opened….
…and it brings the Burbank brewery count to 4. Henson Brewing soft opened over the President’s Day Weekend. And it is even closer to where I work than the previous record holder, Lincoln Beer Co.
The taproom is a work in progress as was mentioned in the soft open announcement. As it stands now, the place looks very similar to other set-ups. There is a nice bar and a bit of non-bar seating. The roped off area probably signifies that more seating is coming. The cold box is way back in the corner and the brewing equipment is lined up neatly on the opposite wall.
On tap over the long weekend were the Double Blackjack Porter, My Lucky Linda Pale Ale and Don’t Call Me Hay’z was on deck. There were no taster flights ready yet so I started with the Madison Wheat Beer which was both murky and unappetizing looking. Flavor wise it was still a little too green, needed more time to lose some sweetness. It was tapped to early. The 2nd beer was Winthrop, a British IPA. It looked much better. It was very malt forward and could have used a bit more hop zing in my opinion though others could disagree.
I will check out the other beers and report back and let you know how the four Burbank breweries shake out ranking wise.