I don’t normally write about breweries to be. The plan is almost always different from the reality of running a business, but (you knew that “but” was coming) Benny Boy Brewing has the potential to be something special and new for the Los Angeles beer scene.
First off you have brewer Ben Farber, who trained at De Ranke in Belgium. Then you add in Chelsey Rosetter who had experience at both Eagle Rock and Firestone Walker. Combined they are working to bring a new concept to L.A.
If you thought that Belgian beer is the new concept, well, that is part of it and I will get to the beer tasting notes later. What is exciting is the idea of adding a backyard get-together, friends and family environment to a brewery. The goal is to merge traditional Belgian styles with outdoor grilling to take full advantage of the seemingly endless summer.
The beers will all carry three attributes. 100% whole flower hops, never filtered, and always bottle conditioned. They will be primarily draft oriented with some 22-ounce bombers that have lost favor in our current 16-ounce can world.
Of the six beers that I sampled recently, Little Bastard was my personal favorite. Very deceptive at a strong 7% ABV, this beer was complex with a swirl of flavors. The Calypso Blueberry Sour poured a lovely blush red color and carried the fruit flavor very well.
Europa is a Sour Saison aged in French Oak that really gives you the wood note to balance an acidic tang in a lovely way. Midnight Swim is labeled as a dark strong ale, but to me was more of a light chocolate / light coffee small stout. Very drinkable and refreshing. The Backyard Basil Saison looks to be an obvious choice for food pairing where it can bring the herb to a dish to tie beer and food together.
Farber’s favorite is the Tripel Trouble which is his version of the Westmalle Tripel. It has a boozy warming finish with notes of pear that makes for a good beer to finish a party with as the stories start to come out.
Overall, the beers show real Belgian flair without hewing toward being copies. When I am in a tasting, I usually find a beer or two that need work but across the board Benny Boy is solid to great and you can envision what the could be with the right atmosphere and food.
Cellador Ales has been barrel-aging all sorts of beers, but they stumped my beer knowledge when they released Equus Mulus. The beer starts as a rustic saison that sat in a white wine barrel for 15 months. Then the Cellador crew “hand pressed 400 pounds of California Roussanne wine grapes” to create a 50/50 blend with the beer. 4 additional months of aging (nearly 2 years!) Then an additional 8 months in the spent in the bottle. Uncarbonated. Or as they call it, still beer.
That is not the only still beer Cellador Ales has created; they also have Duex Valleés and Sacré as well as my favorite, A Buried Lover, that has all manner of spices and fruits including saffron and orris root and could pass as a premium cocktail in L.A.’s swankiest bars.
One of the OG craft beer spots, The Stuffed Sandwich is still going strong. On Saturday, August 25, they will switch away from beer and host their 3rd Annual Cider Tasting from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Nine different ciders will be avaible deep in the San Gabriel Valley. If you haven’t tasted ciders in a while then you have missed out on all sorts of experimentation. There are hopped ciders, pineapple ciders, berry ciders, heck even rosé got cider’d.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.