Haunted by Owner

In rather quick succession, more bad brewery news here in Los Angeles. Phantom Carriage Brewing in Carson is being pushed out. The new building owner will be using the space for their needs apparently.

This was a fun spot to visit because of how strongly they leaned into the horror theme. The space was kitted out in such a way that it looked spooky even when the lights were on.

How a taproom that hung its hat on visiting hung on without going the to-go can route is probably a story in itself. But the hard fact is that land and rent in LA is expensive and finding a good landlord is not easy either and then the whole thing can come tumbling down if a good landlord sells.

The social media announcement did not close the door on a return and maybe there is a market or capacity at another brewery to have a co-tenant. I have always thought that there could be a space where breweries could either start their journey or re-ignite their business, where you could get pours from two or three breweries plus a sampling from all LA breweries. A one-stop City of Angels beer shop.

Upcoming Anniversaries

There are 60+ breweries in the L.A. County Brewers Guild, which means that there could conceivably be an anniversary each and every weekend of the year with more to spare.

So, here is a quick Anniversary rundown for the next month+…(including some Orange County friends too!)

March 3rd – Noble Ale Works – 7
March 3rd – Brouwerij West – 2
March 3rd – Pacific Plate (Glendale) 1
March 10th – Monkish – 6
March 17th – Phantom Carriage – 3
March 24th – Sanctum – 4
April 25th – Smog City – 5

The Phantom Diner

Phantom Carriage is stepping into the beer dinner game with their first effort titled Volume 1 coming up soon on February 2nd.

Here is the menu for $50.00 ticketed event….
Introduction: Specialty beer cocktail made with our barrel-aged strawberry Berliner weisse.

1st Course: Heriloom tomato bisque paired with our “666 Feet Under” Brown Ale.

2nd Course: 1/2 chicken with roasted Brussels sprouts, butter poached carrots, and red wine demi-glace paired with our “Straight Outta Carson” IPA.

3rd Course: “Mole” creme brûlée (chili, chocolate and coffee) paired with our “Speed Demon Calamityville” Coffee Porter.

These will be small affairs, limited to 20 people so make a decision quick.

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.
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

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.

Bottles in the Carriage

Get your calendars out and your map to Carson and Phantom Carriage ready! A limited run of bottles will be available, which means cool beer fans need to roll with it if there is a line or if they run out. Non-Cool beer fans can stay home and gripe to their cat.
Here is the schedule:
Sunday, January 24th at noon bottles of….
“AMARANTHA” – A Lambic-Inspired Wild Ale (6.3% abv) finely aged w/ blueberries (330ml; $14 per bottle; 2 bottles per customer limit) *we have 37 cases (444 bottles) to sell; starts when our doors open at 12pm.

Sunday, January 31st at noon bottles of….
“BASKERVILLE” – Imperial Stout (11.5% abv) aged in Four Roses Bourbon Barrels (330ml; $13 per bottle; 2 bottles per customer limit). *we have 35 cases (420 bottles) to sell; starts when our doors open at 12pm.

In the Tap Lines for August 2015

header_attractionsWe got a bit of rain here in L.A.  Enough to tamp down one fire but boy we could use a respite from the humidity and heat so that the wider spectrum of beer can be enjoyed instead of just lawnmower beers.  But enough gloomy weather talk, a new brewery opened in San Fernando at the tail end of July and it will be reviewed this month along with….

~ e-visits to three breweries in Idaho.  No potato beers here. Just Payette, Sawtooth and Portneuf beer.
~ special reviews of beers from just outside L.A. from places like Santa Barbara, Claremont and Temecula
~ Heads-Up on Los Angeles Beer Events
~ Three suggested beers to buy this month. One light, one medium and one dark
~ Beer-centric podcast review, Strange Brews from WBEZ in Chicago, (also home to This American Life)
~ I will tap the Firkin and give my no holds barred opinion on the craft beer world
~ … and Session # 102 will converge bloggers onto a single topic, this month it is the future landscape of beer

Here are two events to get your August started in the Los Angeles craft beer world:
1) August 7th – Brew at the Zoo
2) August 19th – Phantom Carriage One Night Stand at Beer Belly