We finally caved and searched out a pour of one of the most sought after beers in the country, and it turned out to not even be our favorite beer from the weekend. That honor goes to some new hot-shot Los Angeles brewers who are reviving an old, nearly forgotten german style.
Pliny The Younger At Last
Have you scored a coveted glass of Pliny the Younger yet? The triple IPA is causing a stir around Los Angeles, and last week saw a half-dozen LA beer-bars tap their keg – and then run dry in just a couple of hours. I’ve avoided the fervor surrounding the beer for the last couple of years, but this year I decided I could no longer afford to ignore the hype. Thankfully, Blue Palms Brewhouse came to the rescue when they announced that their 10oz pours of the sticky and pungent brew would be sold on Saturday for $20 a glass. All the proceeds from the sales would benefit charity, and the high buy-in cost kept the crowds manageable and kept the keg pouring for over four hours!
Cheers to Brian Lenzo for helping at-risk youth with the money made with his keg of PtY, and for helping more beer-geeks get a taste of the beer.
After all the build-up, hype, and anticipation, after years of hearing that Pliny the Younger is the best beer in the country (and almost as often that it is over-rated and inferior to Pliny the Elder), I was finally able to taste the beer and make my own decision.
I have to say, while the beer was excellent in every way, I was not really blown-away by it. It was a very pretty beer. It smelled amazing, and it had an undeniably powerful hop punch. It was smooth for being over 10%ABV. Three or four years ago this beer would be earth-shaking, but the arms-race of hoppy west-coast IPAs and the growing skills of brewers has birthed a variety of ultra-IPAs, and PtY is no longer alone in its class.
New Beer for Los Angeles
The weekend saw the official launch of a new LA Brewery’s beers, and the flagship Gams Bart from the Los Angeles Ale Works was a stand-out of the weekend (and the two kegs available for the launch event at Beer Belly blew in a faster-than-Pliny 90 minutes!)
Gams Bart is a roggenbier: a traditional Bavarian style similar to a hefewiezen but brewed with rye (instead of wheat.) The resulting brew is dark and turbid with strong banana-clove notes and a subtle spicy and bready character from the rye malt. The beer manages to be both hearty and easy-drinking, and its flavors are complex and unique. It’s rare to find a wholly new style in craft beer, but the roggenbier style is only produced at a handful of breweries, and I think it might be due for a surge in popularity.
LA Aleworks is still in the process of raising funds to build their Culver City brewery, and Gams Bart was brewed at Ohana Brewing’s new facility near Downtown LA. The guys from Ohana have been turning out some really excellent brews, and they are working with the LA Aleworks to help brew the LAAW’s beers.
Ohana’s brews have been excellent across the board, but their Noir “Black IPA” is the stand-out for me. Noir is a medium-light bodied west-coast IPA with lots of fruity, citrusy hops and a deep mahogany color. Where many other Black IPAs (or whatever you want to call the nascant style) have a distinct roasty character from the dark malts used to color the beers, Ohana’s version manages to get the dark-color without the roasty notes. The result is a more mellow and easy-drinking black IPA, and the unique brew is worth seeking out to try before the batch is all gone.
Don’t miss your chance to try the new LA Aleworks beers at their launch-events around town (and check out their Kickstarter), and don’t pass-up a chance to try one of Ohana’s brews if you see them pouring at a bar or restaurant! You’ll surely be hearing more about both of these breweries in the next few months.
- All Photos by Julie Verive