New LA Brewery – La Jara

La Jara Brewing opened yesterday, marking the first brewery in Norwalk. La Jara is headed by partners and co-owners Jason Sullivan, co-head brewer Derek Johnstone, as well as Derek’s dad, Randy Johnstone.

Despite recent losses, LA is a large metropolitan area that still has pockets where local beer is still absent.

I will plan a visit and report back on the beer and tasting room.

It’s a Living

For those who wondered what would happen when Modern Times shuttered locations, well, one space will see new life.  Actually a third regeneration, when Modern Times PDX (formerly The Commons Brewery) will become Living Haüs Beer Co.

Founded by former brewers at Modern Times Beer and the highly regarded pFriem Family Brewers.  Now wait to see if the other locations can find new brewing life as well.  Most notably for my purposes, the narrow DTLA space that could serve a brewery with some rent money nicely.

1st Visit – Benny Boy Brewing + Cider

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.

Driving to Pasadena

It looks like a brewery is on progress for Pasadena. Social media shows a bit of life to Driven Beer.

Automotive themed from the looks of it. Joining Upshift and All Season in search of car hop pubs and beer names. More to follow.

A Spark

Looks like Ventura is getting more beer if that is possible. Welcome Bright Spark Brewing!

I do like the logo. Nice and cheerful. I also have a guess as to the brewer so I figure the beers will be quite solid from the jump.

Keep an eye out for opening dates.

Soulful News

Looks like another brewery is on the horizon for Los Angeles as Brown Soul Brewing Co. now has a home and is moving on to the next stages of brewery opening life which are the the permit and paperwork (the 2P’s) followed by the building phase. Wish them luck as they move forward this year.

1st Visit – Shadow Grove

The continued pandemic has not stopped breweries from opening up and now I travel to San Fernando to the still in softly opened phase, Shadow Grove Brewing.

Now, this is a curated space.  From the outside, you cannot tell what you are walking into.  Which is a woodland, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.  The outside windows let in plenty of light but the inside is moody with distinct seating areas.  British punk on the playlist added another note to the experience.

Five beers on tap for this second soft weekend. An old school classic style set.  So old school that there was a Nut Brown on offer.  No IPA either.  You read that right.  And the taster comes with what looks like a tarot card. Nice Wonderland touch. I also liked that they had a little chalkboard with which beer is low.  Nice sales touch that.

Pale Ale was my least favorite.  It was fine.  More earthy than hoppy which actually fits the motif but I am looking for a divergent note when you have this type of list. The lager was fine as well, had a bit of wine character to me.  The Hefeweizen hit the banana clove combo well and had a nice spritz to it.  Three beers in, I an thinking that they are off fo a solid start.  That this isn’t just atmosphere.  The Nut Brown is on mark.  Perfect for watching the new season of the Premier League. Everything is so low ABV too which is great. The sweet stout hit the markers as well.

I do not say this lightly or often but do not sleep on Shadow Grove.