On the Rise

Draft Magazine did another one of their numerical issues. The twist this time around is that it was the 25 Breweries on the Rise.
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Two L.A. breweries made the list: Monkish Brewing and Phantom Carriage. Below are the blurbs on each one.

Monkish Brewing Co. – Torrance, California
“This summer, the popular four-year-old brewery ditched its distributor and moved to primarily brewery-only releases. To offset the risk, co-owner Henry Nguyen started brewing what he initially swore he wouldn’t: IPAs. Those have crept up in RateBeer scores alongside upper-90s-rated Monkish saisons Haiku de Saison and Rara Avis. “We didn’t want to do what everyone else was doing,” Nguyen says. “But we’d been thinking: ‘What would a Monkish IPA look like?’” The answer: cloudy, creamy, low in bitterness. “When we first made these, brewers here were telling me to my face these beers were ugly and not really IPAs,” he says. “Now after a few releases, they’ve seen the lines [of customers], and they’re asking me which yeasts we’re using.”

Phantom Carriage Brewery & Blendery – Carson, California
“Phantom Carriage’s taproom is worth a visit, even if just to experience the decor: Based just outside of LA in Carson, California, the brewery has a horror-show vibe (“Spooky but not kitschy,” says brewery co-founder Martin Svab) with scythes and other rusty farm implements stabbed into the walls; candles glowing inside fake human and animal skulls; and the “Phantom Theater,” playing a rotating lineup of scary movies. “I’ve always been into these old scary movies that unfortunately, this day and age, are being forgotten,” Svab says. “They’re just so beautiful. So the entire brewery’s just an homage to the old horror cinema.” That goes right down to its name: “The Phantom Carriage” was a Swedish film produced in 1921, notable for its early use of special effects and for certain scenes so iconic that Stanley Kubrick remade them in his own horror film, “The Shining.” (The famous axe-through-the-door scene? “The Phantom Carriage” did it first.) Come for the fear, stay for the beer: Inside the dark confines of the brewery’s taproom, nearly 400 oak barrels are filled with the creations of head blender Simon Ford, who was well-known in the LA homebrew scene for his downright fantastic sour beers long before joining the Phantom Carriage team. His skills are just as potent in the big leagues: Muis, a Belgian blonde ale melding honeydew melon, guava, spearmint and onion skin aromas with musty lemon and white pepper flavors, is one of the better 100% Brettanomyces fermented beers we’ve ever tasted, and beers like the Simcoe-hopped Annalee grisette and Broadacres Berliner weisse exhibit complex, slightly wild flavors that, like the environs in which they’re served, are scary-good.”

Traveling to Oregon

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What happens when a Portland native works the beer industry in SoCal and then moves back to Portland?

Well, in the case of Robby Roda, who spent time at both Monkish Brewing and Beachwood BBQ and Brewing, you open up a distribution company in Portland to bring select beers from L.A. to the NW.
And to make the L.A. connection tighter, name it after the El Segundo Brewing special Day One IPA releases. Day One Distribution has scheduled to get El Segundo Brewing onto Portland taps already with Monkish Brewing, Smog City Brewing and Phantom Carriage planned to roll out too.

Day One will begin weighted to California but will add other breweries in a slow and small fashion. In a move that seems counterintuitive to traditional distribution the amount of beer will be kept purposefully small and will make the effort to sell out within thirty days of delivery.

That is a market that could work if kept small and tightly controlled. Might even be a template for what future distribution can be.

You can read more about the new distributor at The New School. I hope to hear how our beers are received up north.

Featured Review – Mind of a Peach from Monkish

Getting back to the peach theme in the featured reviews, we head to a semi-cellared (five to six months) bottle of Mind of a Peach the collaboration/celebration beer for Beer Belly that was brewed by Monkish Brewing. This is my third time trying this beer, will it be the charm?
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Pours a hazy yellow/orange color. The aroma is acidic which forewarns you to the taste to come.

The promised peach is sort of there but could be really amped up in my opinion. Tart first bite which drys out a bit and leaves a sour patch candy taste in the mouth.

The beer remains a bit one note to me. It could do with maybe some spice or rye or just kick the peaches into overdrive or add in some other stonefruit.

L.A. (not so) Confidential

The rest of the craft beer country will really know about us now that Henry from Monkish has landed on the cover of the latest Beer Advocate magazine issue.
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Let that sink in for a moment. Now let me break out my red pen to see what I agree with and what I don’t…

Right off the bat, the fact that the fabulous Bernie Wire was the lead photographer was perfect even if the article failed to live up to my expectations, I knew that the look would be good.
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I was a little concerned by the map though accompanying the piece. No names of breweries, towns or freeways on it. Little less than useful. Maybe another photo there? Or a sidebar about the writer’s favorite beers?

The tone of the piece authored by Sean Lewis is good. L.A. Is a stereotypical city and it is good to start with a confirm and then move on opening set of paragraphs. I also liked the ending which turned the focus to one of the strengths of L.A., the women who power our scene. I am also glad that Eagle Rock and Ladyface got their due though I wish Strand would have gotten a mention too.

Speaking of mentions, I think it should be obligatory that Craftsman and Mark Jilg get mentioned for holding the banner up. But maybe that was cut for space or considered something that has been done too much already. Also a plug for L.A. Beer Week would have been nice.

Overall, not much to quibble with. Lewis is a reliable writer for Beer Advocate who seems a straight shooter without betraying a bias. You could take this article and visit the breweries and bars and get a solid snapshot of what L.A. beer is.

Oh and I am artfully hidden in the Eagle Rock photo on page 58.
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Monk-More not ish

One of my favorite breweries is hitting the tripel mark, Happy 3rd to Monkish!
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And today, they will be celebrating from 1pm to 8pm with a killer beer list from taps and bottles including my favorite beer of 2014.

Below are my ideal beer flights:

Light & Hoppy Flight
ST. CITRA – Citra single-hop belgian pale
SELECT MONK 1 – multi-grain single dry hopped w/ Sorachi Ace
SELECT MONK 3 – multi-grain tripel dry hopped w/ Sterling and Sorachi Ace
SELAH – saison w/ brett
CRUCIS – single conditioned w/ brettanomyces (Brux)

Dark Night Flight
HEM & HAW – dark saison w/ brett
ARRIVANT – rye saison w/ brett
FUNKY HABIT – brown saison w/ brett
DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL – Belgian-ized imperial stout
BOURBON-BARREL-AGED MAGNIFICAT – bourbon-barrel-aged spiced winter ale

Special Addition Flight
SHAOLIN KICK [ON CASK] – dubbel w/ sichuan peppercorns + Thai Basi + Sriracha
SEME DELLA VITA – tripel w/ pistachios and vanilla bean
CAFFE DELLA VITA – tripel w/ pistachios and vanilla bean and coffee
APOPHATIC – dark specialty ale w/ orange peel, cinnamon, coriander, fennel seed

Anniversary on Sunset

After L.A. Beer Week and without the Great American Beer Festival on the agenda, I was able to take a mini-vacation of five days from beer so that I could prepare for Sunset Beer and their anniversary party.  And this year, there is a twist…the tap list will include a collaboration with Monkish Brewing of Torrance, for the aptly named Sunset Beer’ brewed with Lotus Seeds.  I have never had Lotus Seeds so I don’t know how they will taste in a beer but if Monkish can make me enjoy pistachios in a beer, which I don’t eat in real life, then I am down with the lotus.

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