Where would you find the creative center of the beer world? If you answered at a home brew club, then give yourself a pat on the back. These clubs are the research and development arm of the beer world and without them there would be no Angel City, Skyscraper or Eagle Rock breweries.
The fruits of this R&D labor were on full display last Saturday at the Pacific Gravity summer party. Pacific Gravity has been operating out of the Culver City Home brewing Supply store for many years where club members can gather to show their recent brew experiments or the novice brewer can begin their descent into the brew-it-yourself world at a beginners brewing class. Pacific Gravity is also affiliated with a widely recognized club for women that Nathalie Balandran started to counter-act the home brew “men’s club” myth. The Summer Party is a chance to have music; food and to sample beers like blackberry wheat, chamomile tripel and the forgotten Vienna style beer. Plus, you will find cool beer names that have not been focus-grouped to death; Vesuvihops, Monster American and Token Wit Girl come to mind. These are personal visions of “perfect” beer, sodas and meads.
My personal favorite of the day was an Amarillo IPA, which had a lovely floral aroma and an excellent balance of hops that didn’t coat the tongue and refuse to leave. It was both bitter and refreshing. I would have gone back for more but I hadn’t even scratched the surface of the selections available including the eventual winners for the day. The best soda/non-alcohol drink was Tom Rierson’s Orange Julius. The best Monster Brew (made from wort from Tustin Brewing Co.) was Dan Hakes’ Belgian Strong Golden Ale and the beer of the party was Tustin Brewing brewmaster Jonathan Porter’s Aged Imperial Stout.
But don’t take just my word for it; Brian Lenzo from Blue Palms Brewhouse in Hollywood was sampling the beer. Michael Bowe, founder and brewer for Angel City Brewery, brought his Belgian IPA and IPL (India Pale Lager), which is great on a hot summer day. Larry James from Wine Expo brought an aged Kriek and Verdugo Bar’s Ryan Sweeney was on hand to taste as well.
On the national level, Sam Adams has a yearly homebrew contest called LongShot. The winners get their recipes brewed and bottled and sold across the country. This year’s competition generated over 1,500 entries from under 1,000 home brewers.
YOUR HOMEWORK FOR THIS WEEK
Head over to Blue Palms and sample the Aged Imperial Stout that won the competition; it will be on tap for a limited time. For extra credit you can check out the nearest home brew club meeting. It is a great way to meet like-minded people with a love of beer in all of its different styles.
One other L.A. home brew club: Maltose Falcons
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.