In the same week that a San Diego beer writer called LA “a city that is to craft brewing what ‘The Innocence of Muslims‘ is to world cinema” the national men’s magazine GQ named LA “The New Frontier of Beer.” Why the huge disconnect, and who’s closer to the realities of the craft beer scene in Los Angeles?
First lets address the piece from UT San Diego that was published last Monday. The author, Pete Rowe, is on the beer beat for the local paper, and he sampled Golden Road Brewing’s Point the Way and Hefeweizen at the recent San Diego Festival of Beers. He had this to say about the flagship cans from LA:
If neither beer was a showstopper, both were solid and appealing — and made me curious about Golden Way’s [sic] more ambitious brews. The smoked IPA, say, or the Berliner Weisse.
He continues to proclaim his shock and amazement that “solid” craft beer is being made in Los Angeles. The most inflammatory quote was mentioned above, but here it is in its entirety:
But perhaps the most interesting brews came from — gad, can this be true? — Los Angeles.
Golden Road is a year-old brewery from L.A., a city that is to craft brewing what “The Innocence of Muslims” is to world cinema — in other words, an embarrassment. Outside of Pasadena’s superb Craftsman, it’s hard to find notable beers from the L.A. region.
I’m not sure when the last time Rowe has ventured north of Camp Pendleton, but a field trip might be in order. Even if you dismiss The Bruery, Bootleggers, and Hangar 24 as not LA enough to be considered “beers from the L.A. region” then Los Angeles still lays claim to Beechwood Brewing, Strand Brewing, El Segundo Brewing Co, Monkish, Ladyface, and of course the standard bearers of craft beer in Los Angeles - Eagle Rock Brewing. Maybe you don’t count as a legitimate brewery in Rowe’s eyes unless you have a packaging line?
So Rowe wants to drum-up some pageviews for his column, and we get that controversy drives eyeballs to the site and eyeballs on the site drive ad revenue and that keeps his job writing about beer safe. But this article amounts to a poorly researched – if it was researched at all – attempt to make social media waves and troll LA beer fans. Rowe excuses himself from the job of reporting and instead decides to throw some gasoline on what he imagines are the smoldering coals of the LA-SD rivalry – even closing with the quote:
“Solid craft beer from L.A. How’d that happen? Well, Carpenter’s resume includes a stint brewing at Delaware’s Dogfish head. And he’s a native San Diegan.”
Someone should tell him that the only people who care about this supposed rivalry between Los Angeles and San Diego are the people in San Diego. Have you ever worn a Dodgers cap around the streets of San Diego? It isn’t fun. Certainly the brewers don’t care what city’s limits their competitor’s fermenters sit in. Quality of the beer in the glass is the only real concern of a craft beer fan – locally brewed is important, but who actually harbors bigotry towards where a beer is brewed?
Presenting the attitude that beer from that other place can’t be good is flat-out counter-productive to the whole craft beer movement, and I would hope that a journalist employed to write about beer would care more about furthering the cause of craft beer than he does about his pageviews.
What the Gentlemen Say:
Thankfully the UT San Diego hack-job hasn’t gotten much press or pick-up outside of a few Facebook pages in the LA craft beer scene. The brief blurb about Los Angeles in GQ’s feature “The 5 Best Beer Cities in America” has been getting national attention though, and it sings a very different tune about craft beer in LA.
Leading with a photograph depicting bike riders toasting on the patio of Tony’s Darts Away, the GQ piece calls Los Angeles “the new frontier of beer,” and wraps legitimate compliments about our beer scene in expected unimaginative shots at LA’s more vapid-side:
L.A.’s nightlife is notorious for being more about the scene than the drinks. But of late, this city of saketinis and sprawl has lit up with joints pushing craft beer, and every one of them feels like it couldn’t exist anywhere but Los Angeles.
The editorial staff goes on to praise LA’s thriving craft beer bars like Verdugo Bar and Mohawk Bend, then suggest heading Downtown for the rooftop biergarten at The Standard. Sigh.
I’m glad to have a legitimate counter-point to the infuriating UT San Diego piece to demonstrate that not everyone is so close-minded about LA’s craft beer scene, and we are hopeful that LA’s breweries will start getting more recognition and respect in the coming year.
I’ve wrestled with if I should publish this post at all, after all I’m playing right into Rowe’s trollish plot by drawing attention to his words at all, but I cannot let this one slide without a comment. I’m sure that any LA brewery would be happy to offer him a tour and samples of their beer, and hopefully Mr. Rowe has a professional interest in actually putting some work into drinking beer brewed in LA so that he might make some legitimately informed opinions. Maybe the next time he writes about beer in LA he’ll take a more measured and less sensationalist position, and it will be a position that serves to further the cause of craft beer without mudslinging. Maybe he’ll actually get the name of the brewery right next time too.