Since LA Beer Week is designed to promote beer education and community, it made sense to see Eagle Rock Brewery collaborate with Craftsman Brewing Company on the official beer week release, once again called Unity. Last year’s Unity, a California common, also originated in the Glassell Park brewery that belongs to Jeremy Raub, father Steve Raub and wife Ting Su. Jeremy Raub and Jilg – the longtime maverick of L.A.’s craft beer beer scene – developed an autumnal saison that incorporated tamarind and registers 6.7% ABV. They debuted the beer on October 6 at an LA Beer Week press conference that drew some of the biggest names in L.A. beer to ERB.
“The farmhouse style beer is still being figured out by the beer world,” said Jilg. “Doing a beer style that’s open to interpretation is kind of cool. L.A. culture is incredibly diverse. It’s got a huge European ancestry as well as Latin American ancestry, which has had a big influence. Saison can incorporate all of that stuff, either by ingredients or techniques or food pairings. I thought it was a great fit style wise, and I really personally find beers that have a personal back story or personal involvement really compelling for me as a brewer. It was really cool that part of Jeremy’s day to day life is walking his dog and he walks by a tamarind tree every day. That’s kind of cool. Real simple, but really sort of meaningful kind of inspiration ended up in the beer.”
Jeremy Raub purchased pods elsewhere, but incorporated pulp, husk and seeds. He described the beer as “slightly hazy and pale orange in color. Tropical citrus and peach aromas dominate the nose, with a slightly sweet malt fragrance in the background. The tart acidity of tamarind provides a brightness on the palate that compliments the rich apricot and tropical fruit character of the tamarind pulp. Saison yeast interacts with the tamarind husk to create an earthy spiciness, followed by a balancing bitterness. A dry, mineral finish leaves a clean and refreshed palate, inviting you to take another sip.” A team of 20 local beer pros jointly brewed the beer on August 12. As Raub said, “The camaraderie and support we lend each other in this industry is inspiring, and has enabled Angelenos to begin realizing the common goal of unity through better beer.”
Unity 2011 marks the first time that Eagle Rock Brewery is bottling their beer, and the owners only made 15 cases, which will be available for sale exclusively at the brewery.
Attendees eagerly anticipated Unity’s release, but the press conference also touched on LA Beer Week in its entirety. LA Beer Week co-founder Dennis Hartman said, “We’ve got educators, media people, restaurateurs, tavern owners and beer lovers, that have all formed a collective that’s helping us move LA Beer Week forward.” He’s a distributor, and has seen draft beer business triple in the past four years. “A restaurant or tavern opening now is really feeling inadequate with 20 draft handles. They feel the need to be bigger and broader. We’re not saying to open a hundred handle house, but what we are saying is, take the handles you have, get the best beers you can on there, if it works with what you’re trying to do, and appeal to who you’re trying to get in there.”
As Hartman said, “There are a lot of choices now. Certain people are capturing big chunks of the business. Why does that happen? Is it the venue? Is it the beer selection? Is it the education of the staff? Are they able to put the right beer in your hand? Whatever it is it’s really, really important.”
In case you haven’t already purchased tickets to the October 23 finale at Union Station, expect to find participating breweries like Eagle Rock Brewery, Beachwood Brewing, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Strand Brewing Co., Ladyface Ale Companie, El Segundo Brewing Co., New Belgium, Nibble Bit Tabby, Cismontane, Smog City Brewing Co., Lagunitas Brewing Co., Golden Road, Firestone, The Bruery, Avery, Kern River Brewing Co., Stone Brewing Co. and Bear Republic.
Jilg was excited for LA Beer Week. Craftsman is involved in a number of events, including an October 19 Farm to Table dinner at The Langham in Pasadena. For the October 23 festival, he made it clear that Craftsman is going all out, saying, “Seeing as how we don’t have a tasting room, we don’t get a chance to pour our beer for the public very often, so we’re taking this event seriously…It’s probably the biggest selection of Craftsman beers available in a long time.” That will probably include a real ale and something on gravity.
Really though, LA Beer Week isn’t about a single event. For that reason, turn to the official LA Beer Week Calendar and seek out some of the other exciting events at local beer establishments, including [shameless plug] L.A. Beer Float Showdown 3.