A “Whole” Lotta Craft Beer

Craft Beer Los Angeles

Distinguished beer experts have stocked Whole Foods Market Glendale shelves, currently Mike Fechter.

One of my craft beer assignments for a past Brew & You column was the directive to get to know your beer seller, wherever you buy beer.

I finally decided to follow my own advice (for once). I sat down with Mike Fechter at the Glendale Whole Foods Market to talk about craft beer from the perspective of the person who stocks the shelves with beer for beer geeks to purchase.

Fechter was thrust into the world of craft beer due to his job at Whole Foods Market. Before that, like many craft beer origin stories, there was a slightly embarrassing beer. In this case Mississippi Mud. But from that kernel of malt, he now curates a lovely selection of beers. He even home brews too. And that really helps when recommending beers, because he knows the process and the lingo.

Each Whole Foods Market location may have a different cast of beers due to space limitations and local customer preference so, you will need to follow the Glendale store on Facebook and the beer section in particular to see what is new that week. Fechter does a great and consistent job of updating each week so you can make out a craft beer grocery list in advance.

And he has some gems cooling now like Great Divide’s Oak Aged IPA, a wide selection of great beers from Utah’s Epic Brewery and if you are in the mood for something brewed really, really close by, six-packs of Golden Road’s Hefeweizen and Point the Way IPA which really fly off the shelves.

I shop here each week and while my wife is picking out vegetables, I peruse the beer and rarely a week goes by that there isn’t something new that catches my eye. Craft beers from Texas and South Carolina have recently appeared and there can be as many as eight new beers added each week.

And while the hunt for the latest and greatest is a fine adventure, both Mike and I agree that going back to the roots of a great brewery is important too. He recommends the Bruery’s Saison Rue and Mischief as well as Russian River brews not named Pliny.

I urge you again to build a relationship with your beer supplier. Fechter knows that customers like the beer savvy ones in Glendale, really drive what goes on the shelves.

The Beer of the Week is the Wookey Jack from Firestone-Walker. What is a Wookey Jack you ask? Let the brewery explain, “Wookey Jack is a riff on the familiar Black IPA style. Malted Rye and a dash of Cara Rye impart a spicy grain quality to the palate. Wookey Jack is double dry hopped with Citra and Amarillo hops, which bring a citrusy dimension to the aroma profile. The brewing team claims to have incorporated a bit of “Wookey Dust” as well. Wookey Jack is unfined and unfiltered to retain its woolly natural texture and character.” I have yet to open my bottle up yet, so I cannot confirm or deny the presence of Wookey in the finished product but if you are a citra hop fan, this is one to try.

Your Homework this week is to reacquaint yourself with the newly revamped L.A. Beer Blast. Take the new blast for a test drive as it were. Then go a little deeper down the rabbit hole and check out a location that you still haven’t visited yet and plan a trip. There are some great places to drink beer at in the Southland, show some love to them.

Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.

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Sean Inman

Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.

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