Last Sunday morning I had the pleasure of joining the fine folks from Culver City’s City Tavern on a private tour of Golden Road Brewing. Golden Road Brewing has started a restaurant series aimed at educating and selling local restaurants and bar owners not only on their product, but their craft beer plan. In 3 years golden road would like to be on the same level as the larger California breweries such as Sierra Nevada and Stone in both output and brand awareness. Critical to this success is support from the local community. It is Golden Road’s hope that with intimate show-and-tell sessions like these they will better understand and identify with their clients. City Tavern is the 3rd restaurant in the LA area to participate in this educational program.
The tour, led by beer program manager, Paige Reilly, started with the brewhouse and a high level explanation of the brewing process and ingredients used. Glasses of Golden Road Hefeweizen were given to everyone to wet the palette, and then samples of malt and hops were passed around for us all to taste and smell. Paige gave us a breakdown of each grain and hop variety and explained why they use them in their beer. Their brew system is very large, 35 BBL, and in March they will be adding another 50 BBL brew house on top of that. 5,000 – 7,000 barrels today, 50,000 tomorrow – Wow! These guys aren’t kidding around. After a brief stop in the cold room we migrated over to the Pub.
After a short walk we arrived at the restaurant (last building in a series of three brightly colored old railroad station warehouses) where we were treated to some tasty selections of Executive Chef Adam Levoe’s menu. He took a short break from running the kitchen to meet everyone and went over what they were serving us. Fingerling Potato Salad w/ Tarragon (Vegan), 4 Bean Salad (Vegan), Kinda Like a Waldorf Salad (Vegetarian), an up-scale ham & cheese sandwich (goat cheese and prosciutto), and a Tomato Caprese Sandwich (Vegetarian). A delicious lunch! Skipp Shelly, Marketing/Sales, brought out some beers to pair with the lunch which included their Get Up Offa that Brown ale, Point the Way IPA, and Nitro Schwartz Stout. All three of these beers are solid and have slight twists that make them unique. Their initial goal is to secure permanent taps at bars like City Tavern and replace the macro beer standards at non-beer-specific pubs so they can keep the beer flowing (obviously).
After lunch the tour visited the soon to be “Carpenter Cellar Program” building, named after their head brewer, where they will be barrel aging countless beers. We then moved back to the brew house for a tour of the yeast lab, the 16 oz. canning line, and a meet & greet with the brewer himself, Jon Carpenter. Jon had a very easygoing demeanor, but he also had a very clear understanding of the craft. His extensive science background and experience at Anheuser-Busch and Dog Fish Head make him a big beer player in the LA beer scene. Jon sat down with us all and shared a pint, while he talked about his history, his views on the craft, and where he fits into the Golden Road map (cymbal crash). He’s going for beer innovation yes, but his main focus will be consistency and creating beers that will help establish Golden Road Brewing as LA’s brewery.
The tour was a really unique and interesting take on the normal sort of brewery tour I’ve been on.
There was a focus on value and brand identity that isn’t usually part of the civilian tour. The idea is, of course, to educate the clientele on craft beer so they truly know what they are selling and can evangelize the product. I do wonder though how they will deal with beer bars and beer centered gastro pubs that pride themselves on frequently rotating their taps. Seeing new tap lineups every time you walk into places like City Tavern is sort of the their shtick, which makes having the valuable beer tap real estate taken up by a permanent handle seem more complicated to me. I’m interested to see how this plays out in the long run. Will Golden Road focus on LA’s beer bars or on non-beer specific bars where they can secure the Budweiser, Widmer, Guiness, and even Sierra Nevada handles. Regardless of what happens, Golden Road is doing a really cool thing in LA with the restaurant education (schmoozing) series.
I want to throw out a special thank you to Jessica, Matt, Jeremy, and Dave for the invite to th e event. I also wanted to say thanks to Vanessa, Reale, Leanne, Suzie, and Gia (sorry if i misspelled your names) for letting me tag along with you gals. Paige & Skipp, keep up the awesome work; the tour was great. Jon, your brew knowledge was intimidating and inspiring, I’m looking forward to seeing more of your beer.
We didn’t get the opportunity to meet Meg Gill, or Tony Yanow during the tour, but they deserve a thank you as well for getting this program together.
If you haven’t made it out to Golden Road Brewing yet, you should. If you can snag a tour, do it, and if you need a bite to eat, make sure you try that Tarragon Fingerling Potato Salad. If you live in Culver City or West LA like I do and can’t make it out to GRB soon then stop by City Tavern to see if it’s on tap and don’t forget to have some of that awesome grub. I hear they are even making a new vegan/veggie burger for those non-carnivorous folks out there.
– Kip B.
Los Angeles Ale Works™