Do you know how the great craft beer that you’re holding in your hand got there? It’s not magic, it’s love, and that’s why Kevin Kansy of Artisan Ales is taking on the task of getting quality beer into hands all across Los Angeles and Orange Counties.
Since October 2007, Artisan Ales has operated in Pasadena across from Craftsman Brewing. The company started with the mission of bringing smaller and handcrafted breweries and beers into the Southern California market. Kansy is very selective about the beers he distributes. He doesn’t have beers that he has to “sell.” He has beers that he really enjoys and are in high demand because of their high quality.
Kansy distributes beers from Telegraph Brewing in Santa Barbara, Hair of the Dog from Portland, and the Slaghmuylder brewery that was founded in Flanders region of Belgium by grain merchant Emmanuel Slaghmuylder. Emmanuel’s cousins now run the brewery which is known for its distinctive line of Abbey style beers, including the Witkap Pater Tripel. As you can tell from that short description on the Artisan Ales website, these are beers which have a dedicated following that the “big beer boys” don’t have the time or inclination to consider.
What also sets Artisan Ales apart is their dedication to educating the public and consumers (education being dear to my heart) about not only the beer that they will be pouring but how to pour it, what temperature it should be at and what type of glassware it should be poured into. And it is not done in a heavy-handed, preachy way. It is done in the spirit of making the beer drinking experience better for everyone.
Kansy is also a founding member of LA Cabal, the Los Angeles Craft and Artisanal Beer Appreciation League. This is the group that put on the Los Angeles Craft Beer Festival at the Echoplex back in May. LA Cabal is bringing together the heavyweights of the Southern California beer scene as well as new players such as Blind Lady Brewing and Uncommon Brewers.
Your homework will be a little harder than just going to a great beer destination and ordering up a beer. Though that is part of it. When you are at Verdugo Bar, Blue Palms or Laurel Tavern, ask the bartender who they get their beer from so that you can thank them for taking the extra trouble of finding that diamond in the rough that’s now in your hand. Everyone who helps us get great craft beer deserves some applause for their efforts.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.