L.A. is close to having more beer flow from hometown breweries as Ohana Brewing Company clears the final hurdles to sending their “fresh face in beer” out into the world. The driving force behind Ohana is Andrew Luthi, who at 24 is one of (if not the youngest) brewery owners in the United States.
Despite being incredibly busy with their initial batches, new Head Brewer Chris Walowski graciously answered questions about Ohana. He has been home brewing for five years and is a member of the Long Beach HomeBrewers club and is currently also a student at Cal State – Long Beach where he is completing a Masters degree in Biochemistry. Walowski is taking the reins from former Head Brewer, Chip Baker, who accepted a full-time position as a welder but will be brewing with Ohana from time to time. (Some questions were answered by the staff at Ohana).
Sean Inman: What beers will be first on the market when you open?
Chris Walowski: The first beer we plan to make available to the public is a Rye Saison named “Saison Dubach,” after owner Andrew Luthi’s great-grandmother, Marie Dubach. She was a classically trained French chef and lived her entire life in France and Switzerland. Also, Andrew’s grandfather has been a great help in getting the brewery started. The beer contains 20% malted rye and clocks in at 6.5% ABV. After this debut beer, we plan to brew some hoppy Pale Ales and India Pale Ales.
SI: How can the L.A. craft beer enthusiasts get the beer? Will it be on tap around town? In your tasting room? Bottles?
Ohana: The beer will be available at select bars, restaurants and taverns in Los Angeles on tap. The brewery does not have a tasting room. Bottles will follow. We plan to bottle in 22oz bottles (our “black label series” designed by artist Glenn Sawada, e.g. “Black Dahlia” – approved label), and our 750ml bottles (our “brewers gallery collection” for extra-special premium beers).
SI: What have you learned from the other breweries in the L.A. area like Eagle Rock for instance
Ohana: Other breweries are a tremendous resource for advice and information…and friendships. We have received a great deal of assistance and support from Eagle Rock Brewery, Golden Road Brewery, El Segundo Brewing Company (Blue House Ales), Strand Brewing, Bootleggers Brewery (Fullerton), The Bruery (Placentia), and the former Nibble Bit Tabby Brewery.
SI: How did it feel when those first orders of hops and malts showed up at your brewery?
CW: Planning and designing the recipe was the first challenge. I have never designed a beer with 500 pounds of grain and ordering the grain was very exciting. I actually wasn’t at the brewery when the grain was delivered, but I did see the pictures on Facebook. I was very excited to see the pictures! The next day I went to the brewery and saw all the grain. My first thought was, “Wow, that’s a lot of grain.” Next was, “This is insane…That’s a lot of grain.” A few days later the hops came in; we ordered some extra hops for the next brews and seeing 10 eleven-pound boxes of hops is a awesome feeling. As a massive Hophead, knowing that you get to play with that many hops is a great feeling. Overall, this is a style of beer I’ve made many times before as a homebrewer and I am elated to make a 7-barrel batch. I can’t wait to get the first batch done and out on the market.
SI: How will Ohana be celebrating its grand opening?
Ohana: To be decided…I expect to see the tiki tap handle of Ohana in many of the finer craft beer bars here in Los Angeles in the coming months.
The Beer of the Week is an anniversary ale that is really bitter but also has a lemony twist. It is the 16th Anniversary ale from Stone Brewing. You can’t be surprised that the Escondido brewers have created a big Double IPA to celebrate their 16th year but the addition of lemon verbena and rye add distinct notes that really round this 85 IBU beer out and make it a great summer sipper.
Your Homework this week is to check out two L.A. based craft beer blogs. Why these two particular blogs? Because they talk about beer from a different viewpoint than the craft beer geek usually gets. The Beerista not only lets you know about craft beer events in L.A. she also has many creative posts about craft beer and food which is a topic that we need to know more about. Then there is Girls Who Like Beer. She will give you the 411 on “Beer, margaritas, happy hour, incredible eats, and Los Angeles.” Five topics that we can all agree are great.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.
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