The infamous L.A. Beer Blogger group recently invaded Pasadena and Haven Brewing (part of the sprawling Haven Collective) to listen to Brian Thorson, the new-ish brewer, give the 411 on the brewing operation and the beers being produced there.
The day before, I dove to Old Town Orange to visit the Haven Collective-ized Provisions Market on Glassell Street. What I found was a vast collection of bottles, including Gigantic from Portland, Packinghouse and Ritual from the Inland Empire and many Mikkeller offerings. Cheese and wine have a major presence in the store and eventually a Portola Coffee Lab will reside there to complete your beverage needs.
You head to the bar and the kinda hard to read beer board and you are presented with a dilemma. Which beer to choose? Thankfully, there are separate groups such as Hops and Fruity. You order and can watch as your beer is poured or you can head out to the back patio to enjoy your beer and whatever salad or sandwich you want from their menu.
The next day I learned that Haven had plans for a bottle shop when The Bruery opened Provisions. They shelved that idea, but when the opportunity to take the reins appeared, they grabbed it.
I had sampled the Black ale, Disco Pants in Orange, but the next day just off Colorado Boulevard in Old Town Pasadena, I had the opportunity to taste the full range of brewmaster Brian Thorson’s repertoire from More Please Kolsch to Double Hubbel Double IPA.
Thorson is one of the troika of brewers who have moved to the Los Angeles area from Drake’s Brewing but he has also brewed at Trumer as well as Harpoon so he has experience in many styles and it showed. The Bavarian hefeweizen, Jimmy Hafen, has the clove spice down with notes of banana drifting in. Thorson’s Kolsch, More Please, is another sessionable beer that has loads of grain taste and a touch of sweetness and viscosity to it. But my favorite of the day was the P.E.D. (Performance Enhancing Drink) a brown ale “enhanced” with coffee from…you guessed it, Portola. The aroma was pure coffee and because the brown ale base is lighter, the other notes of java can add a layer of flavor to the beer as opposed to competing with a style like Imperial Stout or porter.
The one beer that I did not get to try during my Haven weekend was the Lenny G., an amber which will be the house beer and is one of the top sellers along with the Hops, Inc. IPA. I will be going back to Haven to round out my tour of their line-up.
Your Beer of the Week comes from TAPS and Victor Novak. New this summer in Brea is MJoe (Em-Joe), a Raw Honey Beer. Here is the back story on this oddly monikered beer. “Challenged by TAPS owner-founder Joe Manzella to create a summer wheat beer, Novak and the Brew Crew have played off of a Swedish honey beer called Mjod. It’s light in body and color with a vibrantly fresh orange blossom honey character from 30 pounds of Massey Honey, locally produced in Yorba Linda, that was added during conditioning of the ale.”
This week’s Homework assignment is to find your karma, kolsch, that is. This tea (supplied by Bird Pick in Pasadena) and vanilla infused beer is the 2nd beer from L.A. Aleworks. It has been out in the wild for a couple of weeks now so you may have spotted it on beer lists at finer L.A. craft beer locales, including next week at the Glendale Tap! (which is a new addition to the L.A. Beer Blast, if you hadn’t noticed).
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.