Steven “Sven” Kinsey, a long-time homebrewer, nationally ranked beer judge and audio engineer for companies like Technicolor and Lucasfilm, opened Kinetic Brewing Company in Lancaster, an area north of Los Angeles that’s best known for aerospace and alternative energy. We met at the 2012 L.A. Beer Week festival, and Kinsey shared hop-fueled insights.
At what point did you know you would work with beer for a living?
About a year before we opened. I was trying to open a craft beer bar and I was looking for real estate for a craft beer bar. I went to a developer who had property for lease. I took him some beer and one thing led to another. He asked, “Why do you want to do a craft beer bar? Why not just do a brewery?” I said, “Because I don’t have the million plus dollars to do that.” His response was, “Well, I do.” I was like, “Okay.” It kind of fell in my lap. I wasn’t looking to do it. I’ve been brewing for 15 years, and early on in my homebrewing career, I entertained the idea of doing a brewery, but then once you find out the cost of it, you change your mind pretty quick.
What was the beer that won over the developer?
It was an Imperial stout. It was actually an unadulterated Imperial stout. I do make that same stout with peanut butter. I actually went to the second round of Nationals with that same beer, with peanut butter in it.
Is there anybody who’s mentored you along the way?
Yes, Eagle Rock has been a tremendous help. All of the L.A. breweries that started before we did. We started this ball rolling over two years ago, so there were not the number then that there are now. Definitely Eagle Rock and Craftsman were my biggest help. Julian [Shrago] and I were going through it at the same time, so I was bouncing ideas off Julian at Beachwood.
What was the first beer that you first homebrewed, and how did it turn out?
The very first homebrew was a sweet stout, and it got second place at a competition. I got lucky.
So that spurred you on?
What’s the criteria for a beer you brew at Kinetic?
That it tastes good, and that it’s marketable and sellable. That our audience will buy it. Most importantly that it tastes good.
Would you say the beer drinkers in Lancaster are any different than the beer drinkers in L.A. proper?