Los Angeles is relatively new to the craft brew world, and breweries such as Golden Road Brewing (established in 2011) are putting the city on the beer map. What makes Golden Road different, though?
For starters, it is rapidly growing, with plans of increasing its production by double in 2014, which is fantastic given Los Angeles’ brewing history. You see, the California craft brew world has been historically dominated by San Diego, but with Golden Road and other local breweries coming into their own (such as Angel City and Smog City Brewing, to name a few), Los Angeles might finally give its little brother to the south a run for its money.
Which is why BuzzFeed decided to visit the brewery and find out the exact recipe for success. On a warm Wednesday morning, even by Los Angeles standards, founders Tony Yanow and Meg Gill let us into the brewery, revealing what a brewery looks like as they put their mark on the map while on the cusp of ale-soaked stardom.
1. They like big 16 oz. cans and they cannot lie.
Yanow says that the basis for canning their beer is simple. Exposure to light is what causes beer to go “skunky” and as Yanow explained, “Clear glass filters no light. Green bottles filter 30% and brown 70%. Cans filter 100%.”
Not only is Golden Road producing high quality brews, according to Trevor Faris, who is the head of Golden Road’s Special Operations, keeping the beer local is very important. “Our model has been to stay focused on local distributors no more than a days drive out,” he said, adding, “We want people to enjoy the freshest Golden Road beer possible.”
2. Sampling beer isn’t a job, it’s a duty.
As the brewers, well, brewed, rockabilly music blasted and I was treated to a taste of their Better Weather IPA straight from the tank.
“This will probably be the freshest beer you’ve ever tasted,” Yanow said. And boy, was it. Hoppy, bright, bold, crisp, it had all the adjectives you want in a beer named after the fact that Los Angeles has a warm climate year-round.
What is not year-round, are their seasonal brews, like their vegan-friendly Almond Milk Stout, or their El Hefe Añejo (barrel aged añejo tequila and hefeweizen). Too bad, but that is what makes craft beer so special, if fleeting at times. *le sigh*
3. This is not your friend’s garage brew setup.
The brewery, which is housed in one of three warehouses (the other two are used for a restaurant/pub and storage), has all the bells and whistles of any big name brewer, just on a smaller scale. And with around 3,000 retail accounts, including LAX and Dodger Stadium, the space is needed. Hell, they even have a lab to experiment with new brews as well as maintain quality control.
4. Water is a beer’s best friend.
Yanow also informed us that, yes, the different types of malt, hops and yeast used in beer are very important, but the most crucial component of beer is often the most overlooked: water. He said that a while back one of their brews tasted different from previous batches. After some detective work, they finally figured out the problem. Los Angeles is basically a desert, and imports its water supply. From time to time, they change the water source, which was what was causing the beer to taste different. Now they constantly monitor the water, making sure that each batch stays true in flavor to its predecessor.
5. You won’t find Golden Road making super strong ABV (alcohol by volume) beers anytime soon.
When asked what his opinion was on these behemoth brews, Yanow joked, “They’re like brandy. Shit brandy.” He believes that the trend in craft brewing is going back from stronger beers to relatively lighter ones. (His personal preference being beers with ABVs of 4-7%.)
“It’s really hard to get people past 10% [ABV beers],” he said, referencing the fact that the alcohol content in beer over that limit starts to stand out and deter people from drinking it (although their Better Weather IPA is a stiff 9.5% ABV but still very drinkable).