After months on the outside looking in we’ve finally put a Beer of Tomorrow Correspondent inside a meeting of Eagle Rock Brewing’s monthly Women’s Beer Forum! Please welcome new Beer of Tomorrow Contributor Christina who has a report on the very special, all-LA, flight that Ting put together to kick-off LA Beer Week!
Probably most of our readers in Southern California know that Los Angeles Beer Week is now officially underway and lasts through the end of the month, culminating in the festival at Union Station on September 30th. (I can’t wait until they give us a few more days and go ahead and dub it the Los Angeles Beer Fortnight.) In honor of these annual festivities, Eagle Rock Brewery (unofficially) kicked things off last night with their monthly Women’s Beer Forum, this time featuring a flight of seven beers exclusively from the Los Angeles area. As locals will assuredly concur, it’s only relatively recently that our populous berg finally has enough breweries to pull something like this off with decent results and many fine ales to choose from.
As usual, part-owner of Eagle Rock Brewery and organizer of the Women’s Beer Forum, Ting Su, put together an interesting and tasty selection of beers, including first dibs on this year’s batch of UNITY, a collaboration beer brewed at ERB. (FYI: this year the secret local ingredient is: prickly-pears!) Ting took us on a veritable tour of Los Angeles, with alternating stops between the sour and hop-laden bitter beers, to keep our taste buds clean and alert, with one sweeter malty jaunt midway through the journey. She really puts loving care into designing these flights each month and on this night there were (female) representatives from most of the breweries present to give us a little background on their beer.
UNITY 2012 (Eagle Rock Brewery, Los Angeles CA)
Berliner Rye with Prickly Pear (3.25% ABV)
Light and sour with a nice balance of acidity. The prickly pear notes give it a vaguely tropical nose. The sour mash in this brew has a natural yeasty quality. Less bite at the finish than your typical wheat beer but, as a nice trade-off, more overall floral qualities from the fruit give it plenty of complexity. (Great in the heat of this toast-y warm brewhosue!)
EUREKA (Angel City Brewery, Los Angeles CA)
California Witbier with Spices (4.9% ABV)
Next up was this very tasty Witbier from ACB, very typical of the style with a nice, round yet bitter start and a crisp bite at the finish. Lots of citrus and spice notes. It’s almost like an orange pekoe of beers. The nose is fruity, with banana notes, and fairly yeasty. Silky mouth feel derives from the unmalted wheat. A nice California dose of Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand give it some grassy-citrus overtones. A great showing from ACB, now under new management. (Inside sources at the event told us to look for the DTLA tap room to open in later this year in November.)
GET UP OFFA THAT BROWN (Golden Road Brewing, Los Angeles CA)
Brown Ale with Smoked Malt (5.5% ABV)
Rich caramel color and flavors combine with a burning leaves aroma from the smoked malt. Sweet at the front with a nice, round, smoky quality. Lots of caramel flavor, though not very full bodied, so very much drinkable on a hot day (or in a hot tap room!), especially if served as cold as we had it. Sharp, chocolate-y finish with plenty of smoke still rolling around. Warmth only amplifies all the depth of this nicely balance English-style brown ale. If you get the chance, give this one a try while sitting out on the patio at Gold Road Brewery Pub in Atwater Village.
BREAKER PALE (Beachwood BBQ & Brewing, Long Beach CA)
American Pale Ale 5.5% ABV
The hops hit you first in the nose and then there’s the added pine-y quality on the tongue with a crisp, bitter finish. Plenty of fruity West Coast hops give this lots of kick. A fine example of a pale, done in the California style.
HONESTY (Craftsman Brewing Co., Pasadena CA)
American Wild Ale 5% ABV
Sour! Pear-y! Almost like a malty cider, but with a much more full-bodied mouth-feel. Nice tart finish with a hint of sweetness to balance out the front-end sourness. Wild hops galore make this one extra special. Craftsman is in nearby Pasadena, but they’ve been around for 16 years, so they are the granddaddy of the craft beer Renaissance in the Los Angeles area, and I’m glad we had something to sample of theirs in this flight.
LADYFACE IPA (Ladyface Ale Companie, Agoura Hills CA)
West Coast Interpretation of English Pale Ale 6.9%
Lots of hops in the nose and at the front. Crisp and bitter. Not a lot of fruit notes, yet plenty well-balanced in the mouth. Oddly, everything drops off suddenly at the finish. Still, a nice, full-bodied pale. Kind of a second cousin to an IPA with all the hops. Glad to have an example in the flight from a woman-founded and -run brewery. Check them out if you’re in the West San Fernando Valley area.
FEMINIST (Monkish Brewing, Torrance CA)
Belgian-Style Tripel with Hibiscus 9.4% ABV
The last one of the night was very aptly named and not at all bitter. It starts out vaguely sour, but then rolls into an extraordinarily malt-y sweetness with lots of floral notes in the finish and in the nose. (The women near me and I all found the balance a bit off, or odd, or maybe just needed some getting used to.) The hibiscus gives the golden colored tripel its slightly pinkish hue when held to the light. Another tip of the hat by the brewer to the inspiration for this draft – a film about a strong and determined woman living in Iran – can be found in the whopping 9.4% ABV alcohol content. (Hold onto your hat!) He said he wanted to make sure that when guys came into their South Bay establishment and requested “the strongest beer on tap”, they’d have to ask for a Feminist. Nice one.
Women’s Beer Forum – LA Edition
And with that, our evening came to an end – I mean for those who didn’t continue out in the tap room, rejoining fellow beer enthusiasts of the male persuasion. Although we got the first taste of the UNITY 2012 last night, the bottles officially go on sale today at Eagle Rock Brewery, and will be available to sample at various locations around town throughout L.A. Beer Week. Get out there and check out some of the events at our many fantastic breweries and craft-centric pubs around town for yourself.
Christina Wilson (Twitter / Untappd) is a Los Angeles native who’s been drinking good beer since the tender age of nineteen and that year she spent studying Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic at Cambridge in England. Nowadays, you can often find Christina sitting out on the patio at Golden Road Brewing with friends (or a book) and her dog, Marty. She also has a taste for Scotch whisky and summer nights in the High Sierra.