Interview: Christian Warren+John Binder (Venice Duck Brewery)

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Venice and the beach communities are a hotbed of craft beer activity. Christian Warren and John Binder, the two co-founders of in-the works Venice Duck Brewery, took turns answering the Beer Pro interview questions via e-mail. Learn more about their background and plans.

At what point did you know you’d work with beer for a living?

Warren: In 2001 after a long night of bartending in Venice, Binder and I decided Venice beach needed its own brewery. We’ve always loved the idea of local, craft beer. Thus the Duck was born.

Is there anybody who mentored you along the way?

Binder: Bill Tocantins, founder of Elixir G, who owns and operates a ginger puree company for beverages, turned both of us onto home brew.

 What did he teach you that was so valuable?

Warren: Anything is possible.

What was the first beer you ever brewed, and how did it turn out?

Binder: We tried to use grapefruit, lemon and orange rind in a lager and it turned out awful.

What’s the criteria for a beer that you brew at your brewery?

Warren: Consistency is key. Our beer always carries the signature flavor consumers desire in every pint. We also want to use ingredients that capture the heart and soul of California.  The American Hop scene is exploding right now.  Just as Bavarian Hops have dominated the European tradition of brewing beer for hundreds of years, American hops are really quite diverse, unique, and tasty. It’s all about the hops!

What beer or brewery is a current inspiration for you?

Binder: I recently tried Hangar 24’s Double IPA and was really impressed.  They use four hop varietals and a touch of orange clover honey and it is such a nice blend.  They operate out of Redlands. We also like The Bruery in Placentia, California. We love how Patrick [Rue] constantly pushes the envelope on style but still makes great tasting brews. He also does a great job of getting people excited about his beer so his bottles never sit on the shelves for too long.

How do you go about naming your beers?

Warren: We wanted the names of our beers to capture the elements of Venice, California that shaped who we are and were exposed to in the last 20 years. You’ll see nods to iconic Venice; for example the Venice Canals, Abbot Kinney, the Skate Park, the Boardwalk etc. Our neighborhood is our inspiration.

What was the most recent beer that you brewed, and what was your inspiration and approach?

Binder: Our “Dogtown Duck” IPA was inspired by the Z boys and skate scene of the ’70s.  Just as those guys redefined skating, we wanted an IPA that honored the pioneering spirit of Venice.  We wanted to capture the culture of experimentation in Venice. Our blend of unique hops in our IPA embodies that. We wanted to brew a west coast IPA, use exclusively U.S. grown hops, and feature some of the newer hop varieties that are getting a lot of attention in the beer community.

Where do you see the L.A. beer scene in 5 years?

Warren: With the explosive growth trend that is happening right now. I see L.A. catching up to San Diego over the next five years.  The craft beer industry is booming. Firestone [Walker Brewing Co.] is moving in. Sam Adams is already here. Start-up breweries keep popping up. Restaurants and bars are turning more to locally brewed beers and staying away from national brands. More and more people are turning to craft beer.

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Sean Inman

Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.

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