Last night Beer of Tomorrow attended the Golden Road Brewing Tap Take-Back at the pub, and there were two big draws for us: the return of Valentin, the Golden Road / Hangar 24 collaboration blood orange saison, and the launch of the newest GRB beer: a traditional Berliner Weisse! There was also 10 other Golden Road beers on tap, more than ever before, Kings and Clippers play-off games on the TV, and a full-house of happy hop heads!
Meg Gill and Jon Carpenter, head brewer at Golden Road, had been preparing for American Craft Beer Week since brewing operations had begun in October of 2011, and they had quite the cash of Golden Road beers available. Pretty much everything they’ve offered in their eight months of operations was pouring; the only thing I noticed missing was the Festivus holiday ale from last year. Even a bottle of their launch-beer, the near legendary Burning Bush smoked IPA, was raffled off to one lucky attendee.
They of course were still pouring from the guest-taps, and had a variety of cans available from Oskar Blues and Big Sky Brewing, but we were there to celebrate Los Angeles craft beer!
First up for us was an all-time favorite: the Valentin. We’ve waxed on and on about the Valentin in the past, and we thought we’d had our last chance at the tart and complex saison. The server at the bar was noticeably chagrined when we ordered two Valentins to go with our dinner, and she spend the next few minutes trying to get a decent pour that wasn’t all foam. We didn’t get the chance to ask Jon or Reed about what was up with the saison, but it was a known issues and the beer was scratched from the tap-list after we got our glasses. It’s a great beer, and I hope they didn’t lose too much of it to too-foamy kegs.
The new Berliner Weisse was up next, and it was great! The style is a traditional German wheat beer that is low in alcohol, very tart, and served in the summer months often cut with a sweet syrup. We ordered our glass straight to get the full effect. That effect can be summed up as simply puckering! The beer is light in body with a faint cereal grain scent, and it is double-extra sour in the way that makes you squint and salivate. There is a pronounced and cutting bitterness at the very end of the finish that flashes along the back of the tongue then disappears. This shock of bitter bite goads you into another sip, then you pucker, smack your lips, and get the bitter hit, starting the whole cycle over again. This was literally unlike any beer we’d ever tried before (included a fair number of sour beers), and I hope they keep it on-tap (and available for growler fills please) throughout the summer months.
After the sour Weissebier we needed something a little more robust and went for the only other beer on the list that was new to use: the B³. This beer is a bigger version of the Get Up Off that Brown ale that’s been aged in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels. At 8.5%ABV it is a little stronger than the 5.5% brown ale, and it tastes almost completely unlike it’s cousin. The flavor and aroma is dominated by bourbon sweetness, charred oak, and vanilla. Mercifully served in a small snifter this beer, and even boozier-tasting than the El Hefe Anejo, needs to be slowly savored. But it rewards patience and as the glass warmed the maltiness of the brown ale came through more to complement the bourbon flavors. Honestly, I think this need to be blended with some of the straight brown ale to get a more balanced profile.
We couldn’t leave for the evening without sampling some cask-ale, and went for a Lost Its Way but was told that “the sign lies” and it wasn’t available. This is actually the second time I’ve ordered a cask-pour from the pub and was told that the beer wasn’t up to their standards (the first time was the initial release of the Schwartz Stout on cocoa nibs). While it is somewhat frustrating to know the cask is back there but not be able to get any of it I have to respect the Golden Road team’s commitment to quality and refusal to pour beer that isn’t up to their standards no matter how much I want some. I ended up with the Get Up Offa That Brown on cask instead, and it was a real treat. I love the smooth mouthfeel and creamy head of cask ale and the brown was well suited to this service.
As the bartender struggled with the foamy Valentin Meg Gill introduced the event, spoke briefly about how excited she and the team was for American Craft Beer Week, and introduce The Brewers Association’s Acacia Coast for a ceremonial signing of the Declaration of Beer Independence.
One clause in the Declaration states:
I declare to practice the concept of “Informed Consumption,” seeking and deserving to know if my beer comes from a small and independent brewer or if it is owned by a large brewing company. I want to know why so many of my local beer brands are not available in many of my favorite restaurants, bars and beer stores, and I encourage beer sellers to offer a wide selection of beer styles and beer brands that includes beer from my local and regional breweries…
This meshes well with Golden Road’s mission statement (as well was our own mission at Beer of Tomorrow) of promoting awareness and appreciation of craft beer in Los Angeles. It’s only been eight months but Meg, Tony, and the whole crew at Golden Road are committed to championing craft beer, and we were happy to be there to support the cause and enjoy the fruits of their labor.