State of the Brew from Gardena

Craft Beer Los Angeles

Left to right, you'll find State Brewing Co.'s Blake Shapiro (CEO), George Tatulescu (office assistant and accountant), Matt Pfeiffer (COO) and Tatiana Feuer (promotions director)

11 breweries comprised the L.A. Beer Week’s fourth annual panel, “So You Want to Open a Brewery in L.A,” including Palmdale, Glendale and all points in between. Today, I catch up with one of the breweries that should open soon, State Brewing Co.  

What is the back story on State Brewing?

We conceived of State Brewing Co. about a year ago, and the plan has been in the works ever since. We’re both LA natives, foodies, adventure-seeking, craft beer brewing enthusiasts, who grew up in various parts of West LA, with a strong love for the beach. We picked up home brewing as a hobby a few years back — creating IPA’s, Stouts, Saisons, Blondes, and other Ales in Blake’s apartment.

Building a brewery seemed liked a far-out idea, but when we got together and began pulling their resources, we felt the time was right and there was no question in doing it, just a matter of how. We’re convinced that there is always room for another craft brewery, and while contracting a batch in Portland last fall, we were enlightened by a fellow brewer who said, “if one of us is doing well, we are all doing well,“ and we believe that to be true. The exponential growth seen in the industry particularly in the past few years in Los Angeles, speaks for itself, and with support from our family, friends, and the craft beer community at large we decided to take the risk.

How has the process of opening a brewery been?

There are definitely times when our patience has been tested, things don’t always go accordingly, and many nights are spent brainstorming, troubleshooting, and revising, but that is what it’s all about. Its one of the reasons we started our own company, problem solving is part of the fun and seeing things come together piece by piece is immensely rewarding. Being self-taught home brewers, and in spite of the faith we have in our knowledge of the industry we have invested in the help of Turn-Key Consulting company. Initially, we set out to contract brew our home-brew recipes, with hopes to open our own production facility one day. However, in what felt like overnight (about 6 months back), we struck a deal that led us to acquiring a 10 BBL system.

The nature of the industry is extremely supportive, incredibly helpful, reassuring us along the way and making the process that much easier. It is definitely a process, particularly when working with the city — waiting on permits and approval, which is where we are at right now. We are dealing with a variety of challenges by being by coined “first brewery in Gardena,” mostly regarding time, however. Currently, we are waiting on the green light to continue pursuing construction, are expecting to begin production at the end of summer, if things stay on track! Ultimately when starting any business, as long as you practice hard work and put your heart into it, things fall into place accordingly. The closer we get to brewing on our system, and the more immersed we get in our local craft beer culture by way of building our own brewery, the more reassured we are in our decision to go through with this.

Which SoCal breweries do you admire and hope to emulate?

Three breweries come to mind that we particularly admire, those include the styles and attitudes from breweries such as Claremont Craft Ales, in Claremont CA, Smog City in Torrance and Eagle Rock Brewery in Eagle Rock, CA. These breweries provide a cohesive yet diverse selection of quality beers that represent the innovative nature in which the craft beer movement prides itself on. Not only is it the beers that we admire coming from these breweries, but it is also the business models and ideologies in which these breweries practice such as social responsibility, environmental awareness, and providing an engaging social environment to drink and brew craft beer that we admire so much.

What styles of beers are you focusing on?

Our main concern is giving people what they want. We are working to brew beers that satisfy the craft beer enthusiast with delicious, complex, one-off beers; but also want our beers to possess a drinkability that caters to the evolving palettes of transitional drinkers. We are also greatly inspired by California geography and agriculture specifically; we are interested in incorporating the history of Gardena and LA as a whole into our brand and let it dictate our recipes with flavors and ingredients. We want our beers to reclaim what the wild west stands for adventure, freedom, and innovation, just as we are inspired by the land, cultures and history of LA, and California.

5. How did the Gardena location become your spot?

We came across the Gardena location with regards to our initial plan of contract brewing, and needing a place to store and distribute our beer. We had been driving through Gardena to get to many of the breweries in the South Bay, and the industrial location fit our needs regarding storage, distribution and now production.

When looking for real estate, and taking into consideration the necessities for brewing and selling beer, we knew that when we signed the lease for what was going to be our contract brewing company distribution and storage headquarters, we wanted the space to have the potential to hold at least a 10 BBL system. To our disbelief, we acquired our awesome Deutsche system, just a few months after signing our lease and are making due with the space. We are ultimately working currently in building out our brewery as a production facilitate, we also have been blessed with the ability to include a tasting room, as well.

The Beer of the Week is L.A. Crema from Mumford Brewing. It has notes of pear lurking in the placid straw yellow exterior of the taster glass. There was a pleasing strong grain character in this delicate beer and would be a perfect choice for sipping when the roll-up doors of Mumford are open on a hot summer day.

Craft Beer Los Angeles

The oncoming storm of Downtown LA breweries has taken another step with the opening of Mumford Brewing on Boyd Street. So your Homework is to visit this new taproom.  In addition to the cream ale (which was my personal favorite of the taster tray), the new brewery was also pouring their Boyd Street IPA, an Experimental IPA (which will probably not be coming back, though it boasted a strange smokey hop) plus what may prove to be their flagship ale, Black Mamba a dark offering that if not seen might be mistaken for a much lighter beer. The taproom has a coffeehouse/bakery vibe to it with more seating than the usual brewery operation plus a restaurant next door to try as well.

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

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Sean Inman

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

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