If you hadn’t noticed when you have driven to some far-off taproom, Los Angeles is kind of a big (map) deal. Some breweries are freeways away. Leading to communities that you may have heard about, but have never visited.
The five-month-old RT Rogers Brewing Co. is one such brewery tucked off a side street in Sierra Madre. There is a distinct artist vibe on Montecito Street and as you enter the gate for the brewery, you find a lovely little outdoor seating area that seems more like a restaurant space.
Inside you step down into a building that seems straight out of an alpine fairy tale which is further amplified by the Red fire hydrant-like, German-style tap towers and beers with names like Henny Penny and Gold Spinner. Further on is a little seating nook tucked in between the brewing equipment almost like having a beer in a metallic forest where you might encounter bears with porridge.
There isn’t a load of foot traffic like the Arts District or another brewery nearby that allows for brewery bus tours, but Ryan and Kelly Rogers have created a brewery that is homey and relaxing after the rigors of traffic. It helps that the beers are quite good. In particular, both The Shoemaker’s Red IPA and The Wood Chopper’s IPA are zippy and rise above the crowded IPA field with the red having a spice kick and the regular having a strong hit of lemon. There are also nods to Belgian, British and German styles with a brown porter and a German hefeweizen with an amber and a pilsner in the works as well.
With neighborhoods and cities all getting into the brewery act, more and more hopping activity will be taking place “out of the way” and where the wild things are. Fans and consumers we will need to plan day-trips with not only beer in mind, but also the surrounding area shops and restaurants.
Now that there are maps and apps, we don’t need to rely on bread crumbs to find our way back home.
This week, let’s compare an IPA to an Oatmeal Stout. Seems foolhardy, but the real reason behind it is to quantify whether non-alcoholic is more or less a recognizable facet of both styles. In a previous column, I wrote about Bravus Brewing in Orange County and how they are selling non-alcoholic beers I finally found two cans to taste.
Unfortunately, the results were less than stellar. The IPA was helpfully date-stamped on the bottom and it was just over two months old, so still in the three-month freshness window, but when I opened it up the aroma was overpoweringly lemony but not in a hoppy way. It was a bit tea-like as well. I would guess that both something happened in the brewing process and it may not have been cared for where it was sold.
I moved on to the Oatmeal Stout thinking that it had to be better, and it was, but not by much. It tasted both smokey and watery with a weird chocolate taste. This beer was only one month old, but it felt like it was about to turn sour.
I don’t know if it was the brewing or removal of alcohol or the store that created the issues, but these two beers did not hit the mark.
Add Burbank to your beer calendar as The Brewery at Simmzy’s will be cordoning off their parking lot to celebrate one year of brewing. Starting tomorrow, May 15, at 4pm and running until 10pm, you will be able to purchase (4) 8-ounce drink tickets and (1) food ticket for a mere $25 and delight in special beers from the upstairs/downstairs brewing set-up as well as guest beers.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.