Meet Greg Nylen, founder and brewer of Barley Forge Brewing. It has been a long term goal of Greg’s to open a commercial craft brewery and, after 20 years of home brewing great beers, his dream is becoming a reality. By day Greg works as a litigation attorney at GreenbergTraurig, but in his free time Greg operates a high end home brewing operation in a converted shed on the side of his house. For the last 7 years he’s been brewing on a More Beer single tiered beer sculpture and fermenting in jacketed temp controlled conicals. Adding to his pro setup, the shed itself is lined with anti-microbial subway tiles and he has a commercial two-compartment sink. An immaculate Keezer, serving fridge/freezer, is set up to pour Greg’s latest beers, and he has an extensive collection of beer related reading available. It’s all very sophisticated.
Brewing with Greg is very educational, and he is very open about explaining every step he takes while brewing. As an attorney Greg is required to be meticulous, which translates very well in the land of brewing. One could easily draw parallels to another very common home brewer day job, an engineer. He has a incredible collection of home brewing doodads, exotic ingredients, and everything is highly organized. Greg doesn’t drink at all while he brews, and he does this to stay sharp, consistant, and focused. It’s precision that you can taste.
He brews regularly, and Sunday’s slated beer was an Imperial Stout he calls Gracias. The grain bill is complex, and there is an addition of dark Belgian candi sugar to give it even more to think about. It smelled wonderful – like chocolate, coffee, and fresh brown bread. I was able to taste an aged and ready version on tap and can safely say that it is both delicious and strong. Greg’s other flagship beer, The Black Dahlia, named after LA’s most notorious unsolved homicide, was also a strong one. Dahlia is a great beer and will be a very versatile offering. The aged version showcased notes of deep caramel, sherry, and a slight tartness, which would make it a perfect contender for a barrel aged variety – straight, sour, or bourbonized. It’s nice to taste a beer like this coming from a home brewery. Descriptions are almost not needed, as your brain does all the work once the first taste hits the tongue. It’ll be interested to see where he takes it.
Brewing with Greg is a communal activity. He’s not afraid to invite friends, business partners, and self proclaimed beer bloggers to his pad during a brew. During my visit, I met both Marty and Rourke, two new faces. Marty is Greg’s director of operations for Barley Forge and Rourke is a friend from the Craft & Folk Art Museum. It was Rourke’s first time brewing beer so Greg was giving him a very thorough run through of how it was all done. Teaching is a very easy way to see how passionate someone is about a subject.
Greg recently held a seminar on brewing at the Museum to raise awareness about craft beer, his project, and also draw attention to the Craft & Folk Art Museum. It’s great to see local businesses pairing up and working together. This synergy only adds to the strength of both family owned businesses and the communities they reside in. Aside from teaching people about beer, Greg is also heavily involved in scouts with his son, where he teaches kids how to make home made soda.
Greg has set his sights on going pro and has decided to focus his attention on Culver City, the up-and-coming LA hot spot. Partnered with Marty Shults, director of operations, and Dave Stolte, the graphic design and marketing guy, together they form Barley Forge Brewing. Their focus will be on highlighting the many different cultures nestled in LA by showcasing their culinary spices in beer form. For example, one of their flagships is based on the Auga Fresca, Horchata. In Greg’s version, to be called Don Perfecto, or “Mr. Right,” the base beer is a wit beer, and it’s spiced with custom cinnamon & cassia extracts that he makes himself. He has other ideas that include Jamaica inspired beers as well as a beer based on very famous Mexican luchador.
Aside from the culture specific options, Barley Forge will have an American Amber with Agave Extract, a Double IPA, a seasonal Imperial Stout called “Gracias”, and a Belgian Strong slated to be called “The Black Dhalia”. The Black Dahlia recipe has won Greg several medals including a prestigious Pro-Am at Inland Empire Brewing Co that resulted in a beer he was able to showcase at the Great American Beer Festival with the brewery. Not bad, huh?
Recently, Barley Forge made their largest and most serious purchase, a 15 BBL JVNW System from a brewery in Michigan called Big Buck. The system is in very good condition and has very minimal wear and tear. It also comes with an impressive amount of 30 BBL conical fermentors and brite tanks. If anyone has questions about whether Greg and his partners are serious in this venture, hopefully they answer with a resounding, YES. If all goes well, Barley Forge should be on its way to opening day in the next six months and will be providing Culver City and Los Angeles with an amazingly fresh new set of beers.