Golden Road Brewing has come a long way in their first year of operations, and they’ve worked hard towards their goal of becoming LA’s hometown beer. We were there to celebrate their one year anniversary and take a look at all the improvements they’ve made to the brewery during their Better Weather Fest. We were expecting a good party, and the event exceeded our expectations!
If you just looked at the market presence and the mind-share of Golden Road Brewing today you would be hard-pressed to believe that the brewery is only a year old. Their beers are being distributed to 3 or 4 counties, the pub has become a destination for beer-lovers, and the new 50-barrel brewhouse is about to go into full production.
Better Weather Fest
The brewery’s grand opening was during LA Beer Week 2011, and their anniversary celebration, known as Better Weather Fest, served as an unofficial kick-off to LA Beer Week 2012 for many. The festival featured dozens of breweries pouring a couple of beers each, a pair of food trucks (including the best bahn-mi sandwiches on wheels from Mandolin Grill), live DJs, games and contests, and tours of the new brewery.
The event was very well organized, and the only major negative of the day was, ironically, the weather. It was hot, with a blazing sun and oppressive humidity, but at least there was beer, and lots of it! In addition to the Five drink tickets and (very nice 16oz) glass, attendees also received a goody box with a Golden Road cap. People we jazzed about the event from the very beginning and the party atmosphere didn’t wane the whole afternoon.
The beer selection was excellent with many breweries pouring less-common beers along side their signature styles, and thankfully there were many lighter and refreshing beers to be found. Some of our favorites were Eagle Rock’s UNITY (of course), Monkish Brewing’s use of prickly pear for LA Beer Week in their Sueño Para Los Angeles, and of course the barrel-aged Opal from Firestone-Walker.
The (New) Brewery
Golden Road also offered sign-ups for a few tours of the brewery, and these were very popular as a way to get out of the sun. We were very excited to get a look at all the improvements that Golden Road had made in the signature blue building, and needless to say a lot has changed since the last time we were able to tour the facility.
The tour was conducted by Brewmaster Jon Carpenter who started at the canning line, showed us the original 15 barrel brewhouse and fermenters, then led the large group up onto the newly installed catwalk to show-off the massive new 50-barrel automated brewing system. This was a real treat for the home brewers and hardware fans in the crowd, and Jon talked candidly about the process of getting the system up and running and ironing out the kinks. It sounds like they should be moving to full-production of Point the Way and Hefe on the new system in the next couple of weeks, and the brewery plans to can and release their second Signature IPA – Burning Bush Smoked IPA – next month!
Samples of Burning Bush and Golden Road’s LA Beer Week beer Opunti’Ale were being poured after the tour, and they were both quite good. The Burning Bush wasn’t overly smoky; it has just the right balance of smoke character and hoppiness to be extremely drinkable. The prickly pear and smoked cactus paddle Opunti’Ale was light and refreshing with a big honey presence. Great for the 90 degree day!
We got to speak with Jon for a bit while enjoying our beers in the merciful shade, and he was clearly very excited to be on the cusp of finishing the major round of construction on the brewery and ready to get to perfecting the new system. Once the 50BBL system is fully operational the original 15BBL system will be used for pilot-batches, recipe development, and pub-specific brews, and we are looking forward to seeing what new beers he comes up with in the second year!
The Future of Golden Road
Year two looks pretty sunny for Golden Road Brewing. They will be making much more beer than they did in year one, as well as making more styles. Jon said they hope to brew 20 different beers in 2013, up from the 14 different beers that they brewed in their first year (can you name all 14?) The packing line is switching to 4-packs of 16oz cans, like the popular Wolf Among Weeds used, and they plan to release six different canned varieties in their second year.
There are some big changes in the works at the pub as well, though we are not at liberty to discuss all of them. Suffice to say the pub’s planned expansion promises to make the Golden Road campus an even more popular destination for beer lovers in Los Angeles! We know an expanded patio is in the works for the pub, and a rumored “beer garden” space has also been mentioned. We just hope they bring back the grilled burgers on the patio!
We had a fantastic time at Better Weather Fest, and Jon, Tony, and Meg for chatting with us, and Cambria and the rest of the Golden Road Brewing crew for doing an awesome job throwing the party! Check out our photo gallery on Facebook.
You certainly don’t want to miss next year’s party!