Brewpubs were in vogue back in the early days of what was then called micro-brewed beer. Then came the great shake-out and many fell away, never to return.
Back then it was breweries with restaurant operations, but now in the Los Angeles of 2013, craft beer centric bars and restaurants are flipping the script and opening their house made beers second.
The Haven Collective began the trend with their Pasadena brewery and now Congregation Ale House has as well. Their brewery is being manned by Caleb McLaughlin (who has Rogue Brewing roots) and is operating out of the Azusa chapter.
I took a trip on a hot summer day on the 210 East recently to sample what was being offered. Unfortunately, I missed out on the Congregation/Bootlegger’s Scotch ale collaboration and I was too early for the Congregation/New Belgium one. But I did get to sample three beers, and McLaughlin and brewer Amy Heller have made a promising start.
The Summer Pale is still a work in progress. In fact, my pint was one of the last made with a previous yeast, as they are testing a new one for future batches. It had a nice pepper bitter bite. I detected some rye notes as well. Both smoothly fade before you take the next sip.
The Saison to me was more Hefeweizen-y than Saison though there was some citrus notes tucked into the back but the clove and banana of this cloudy light yellow beer clearly were the main flavor drivers.
There is an IPA in the works along with a dunkelweizen for the fall and the staff is knowledgeable and willing to talk about their brewery as well as the other beers on tap. Congregation has a great beer list at all three locations which is the first place to look for their “house” beers. The Bottle Room in Whittier has also had some on tap as well.
Your Beer of the Week is my favorite from Congregation, and my favorite of the trio that I tasted. Dark of the Covenant is on its way to being a hoppy brown ale. The version that I sampled was complex with hop bitterness mingling with coffee and chocolate notes. All three play well together.
More cans of L.A. brewed beer are on the market courtesy of The Dudes’ Brewing in Torrance. First into the canning line are the Dudes’ Double Trunk Double IPA and Grandma’s Pecan brown ale in 16-ounce cans. Best bet to find the four packs will be in the South Bay like at Select Beer Store or for those eastern beer folks, Sunset Beer Co.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.