Monday is here, and it’s time to start another week. Pick of the Weekend is our weekly post where we recap our favorite brews of the weekend past.
If you’ve been around craft beer for any time at all, and you’re paying any attention, you know that the real magic of craft beer isn’t actually the beer at all. It’s the people. The people making the beer, the people serving the beer, and of course, the people who you’re drinking the beer with can have a much bigger impact on your tasting experience than the beer that’s in the glass.
I had a pretty amazing weekend that was bookended by conversations with people who I respect and admire, and I’ve got beer to thank for bringing us together.
Friday afternoon I interviewed geek culture icon Wil Wheaton at the Stone Company Store in Pasadena about his experience making the new Stone collaboration beer that comes out this week: Farking Wheaton W00tstout. Wil brewed the beer with Greg Koch and fellow nerd-royal Drew Curtis of Fark.com back in April, and he hadn’t yet tried the brew – beyond a quick sample from the fermenter before it was packaged. Stone PR had sent me an advance bottle of the 13%ABV stout, and I got to share the bottle with Wil during our interview. That was pretty special, and his excitement for the beer was plain. The first words on the recording of the interview are, “Wow, that’s my name on that fucking Stone Bottle. That’s the coolest thing ever!”
It’s a big, bold, and boozy beer, and top notes of alcohol were a clear sign of the beer’s freshness. Surprising to both Wil and I, the pecans were very evident in both the flavor and aroma, and combined with the barrel and bourbon notes from the partial barrel-aging the beer was very unique. No mere gimmick beer, I’d recommend grabbing a bottle or two of W00tstout if you see it around.
More coverage of the interview with Wil to follow at the Daily Dish and Beer Paper LA.
Sunday, after the LA Beer Blogger’s Summit at Haven Gastropub in Pasadena, I was invited by Kip Barnes from Bierkast and LA Ale Works to join him as he met with LA’s most infamous, reclusive brewer: Mark Jilg of Craftsman Brewing. Jilg’s reputation as a condemnatory hermit is only surpassed by his esteem as one of LA’s most creative and exacting brewers, and walking through the doors of his Pasadena brewery was something akin to stepping into Wonka’s factory or the laboratory of a deranged mad scientist.
Mark poured us each a taste of his Curiosity saison into mis-matched champagne flutes and produced 3 office chairs that had no-doubt been a fixture of that Pasadena office park for decades before enjoining us to take seats while me sat on the brewhouse deck. What followed was less of an interview and more of a sermon on the honesty of beer.
No photos allowed. I dared not even broach the subject of recording the interview. We sat in near silence as Jilg vacillated between a taciturn explanation of the history of his brewery and his more impassioned expressions of his philosophy on beer. We sipped on his saison, savoring every mouthful as we drank in his words. Words that came slowly, haltingly as Jilg weighed the meaning and implications of each phrase.
It was, frankly, intoxicating. It was an experience that is difficult to put into words, and I feel extremely lucky to have met Mark. I’m sure he would hate to be lionized, but as a writer whose mission is to further the craft beer culture in Los Angeles, his unique perspective on craft beer in LA is incredibly valuable to me. His perspective is unique and fascinating, and I truly hope that I can develop the experience into some compelling pieces in the near future.
Until then, I highly recommend seeking out some of Craftsman’s beer and reacquainting yourself to LA’s original craft brewery, and Wednesday night at Beer Belly will be great opportunity as Craftsman takes over the Beer Belly taps for a One Night Stand! See you there!