What was the most recent beer that you brewed, and what was the inspiration and approach?
I guess the most recent beer we brewed here was Libertine, and that is a seasonal beer that I’d come up with as a homebrew recipe, I guess probably about four years ago, and got a really good response to it, so I thought I’d try it here as our first seasonal beer when we first opened up, and it happened to be right around Valentine’s Day. That beer has honey in it, and being on Valentine’s Day, we brainstormed naming ideas, and we came up with Libertine, which sort of fits into the Valentine’s theme, somewhat. And the idea of honey being in it, honey is an aphrodisiac. I guess that’s the latest thing we’ve brewed here, and the inspiration for that was just trying to play with the witbier style, which I’ve always been a fan of, but trying to do something different with it, just go beyond the boundaries of the witbier, as that style is defined as. It’s an amber witbier, which really isn’t a witbier, when it comes down to it, but it uses the same yeast as a witbier does, and some of the same spicing. It has a lot of the same flavor characteristics, but it’s amber in color.
How do you go about naming your beers?
The original names that we came up for our core beers – our year round flagship beers – that naming scheme came about with the idea of people wanting better beer in L.A. That’s really all it boils down to. That idea sort of resonated with the idea of populism and having the common people create their own destiny, having the common people come together to make things better for everybody else. That’s where the names of our core beers come from, is from that ideal. That was a big brainstorming session, to come up with those names. And we had these checklists of all the names we’d brainstormed, we passed them out to all our friends and family, and had people rate them on a scale of 1 – 5, and then we tabulated all of the scores, and the highest scoring ones were basically the names we came up with.
Did you already have the names attached to the different styles at that point?
No, they were just names that were out there as names, and attaching to them the beers was a little bit – it was fun, really – and it was another kind of brainstorming session, and we thought. It’s like free-associating, you say a word, and then the first word that comes to mind, from that word, so we were kind of free-associating with the names themselves, and then with the beer styles we knew we were going to brew. We started out with the three core beers, which were Solidarity, Manifesto, and Revolution, but at the time, it was just a black mild, a witbier, and an extra pale ale. For some reason, for me, the name Revolution, I just associated with hops, something about revolution being a spontaneous action, and something that’s sort of something is kind of shocking and surprising. Hops can kind of do that to you, they can kind of be a surprise on your palate. They’re bright. They’re sort of a spontaneous feeling. When you taste a really hoppy beer, “Wow! That’s amazing.” Manifesto, the idea with that, we figured that most people – of all the beer styles we’re going to start with – that would be the one that most people would sort of gravitate to the most easily. It would be sort of the most accessible. Manifesto, for some reason, that name stuck to that beer. It was sort of the manifesto of going out and making better beer for the City of L.A., for all the people of L.A. Then Solidarity, that was the only one that was left, but at that point, it really kind of made sense. It was like, it’s a dark beer, it visually has a weight to it, like the solidarity movement, people all coming together to form this critical mass, it just felt right. That’s how we kind of got that name.
Who’s a brewer that you have never brewed with before, who you would most like to brew with?
There are so many. Well, Ken Grossman comes to mind right away. I don’t know who the head brewer is at Sierra Nevada at this point, but I’d love to brew with those guys. That would be awesome.
Why Ken Grossman?
He’s really the one that started it all for most people, or one of the guys that started it all. He’s an icon in the world of craft brewers. He started from a homebrew shop, basically, and the thing that inspires me and impresses me about him is that he stuck to his roots, and stuck to his beliefs all throughout the whole history of Sierra Nevada. They’re one of the biggest craft brewers in the country, but they’re still one of the most respected. That is kind of rare. There’s a lot of brewers that get big, and suddenly they lose respect from their core fans because they’ve made changes over the years that compromise the beers, or for some reason, their philosophy seems to drift as they grow, but Sierra Nevada’s one of those companies that seems to have always remained true to its core philosophy, which is basically all about the beer.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, one city, primarily to drink beer, where would it be and how come?
Oh, man, that’s another tough one. That’s really tough.
It’s supposed to be.
I know. I guess I’d have to say Brussels, just because there’s so much history there. It’s one of the best cities for Belgian beers, and one of the best cities for beer drinking in the world. Part of me wants to say somewhere in the U.S.
What if it was limited to the U.S.?
I would say probably Portland.
Well I think that has been such an established beer drinking city for so long, and brewing city, for so long, that the sheer of volume of small breweries that are in close proximity, that’d be the reason alone, just variety and amount of small breweries that are there. It’s Beervana.
If you could only drink one more beer, and it wasn’t from Eagle Rock Brewery, what would it be, and how come?
For the rest of my life or just for today?
It is a different question, whether you’re repeating it, or it’s just a single glass. Let’s go with the single glass theory.
Okay, probably Orval. That’s just an amazing beer.
Would you pair any food with it?
If I was hungry.