CVIndependent

Thu09192019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Back when Palm Springs was a frequent destination for the truly hip, Frank Sinatra would hoist his Jack Daniel’s flag on the pole in his luxurious Movie Colony neighborhood. It was like a smoke signal to Frank’s cohorts—it was cocktail hour.

Today, the Coachella Valley is once again becoming a frequent destination for the truly hip—but in a younger way. There’s new blood pumping into the area, and instead of a Jack Daniel’s flag, the craft-beer flag is flying high.

Aug. 30 marks the first anniversary of Coachella Valley Brewing Company, and what a year it’s been. Most recently, CVB signed an agreement for statewide Arizona distribution with Young’s Market Company.

Head brewer and chief operating officer Chris Anderson attributes the company’s fast success to “quality beer matched with a quality brand—but most importantly, the hardworking team at the brewery.”

CVB has secured more than 100 tap handles in the Coachella Valley, and earlier this year was featured at the renowned Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (better known around the world simply as Coachella).

I asked David Humphrey, the company’s CEO, if he expected this rapid success.

“Hell no,” he declared. “Honestly, you’ve got to understand, I had no preconceived notions of how this was going to go.

“We made a lot of calculated, risky decisions—underline ‘calculated,’ I suppose—and just hoped that it worked, and so far, it’s totally blown away our expectations, and even other people’s expectations.”

One of those recent “risky” and “calculated” decisions is to start a sour program. Sours are a great option for hot-weather drinking, and they have a wine-like quality that may attract an even wider audience of drinkers.

Anderson has been preparing a wild yeast and bacteria blend that is almost 15 years in the making. Now that is calculated. It’s a blend of Roeselare, the Rodenbach strain, Cantillon, and Russian River sour yeast blends. It also includes Pediococcus Lambicus, three strains of Brettanomyces, and a lactic strain Anderson isolated back in Alaska while working at Midnight Sun.

Framboys is a framboise made with raspberries and locally grown boysenberries; it will be released in November. Flame Rouges will be available in January; it will be brewed with red-flame raisins, re-fermented in cabernet barrels. Epineux Poire is a prickly pear sour, aged in port barrels, and will be ready around April 2015. All of these offerings will only be made available to CVB’s Fault Line Society.

On the non-sour side, CVB recently released its Whopper, a 10.4 percent alcohol by volume imperial chocolate milk stout that was aged in Old Fitzgerald bourbon barrels for six months, and brewed with 98 percent cocoa Callebaut chocolate, as well as Ecuadorian cocoa nibs. Dark Candi Syrup and Vermont maple syrup bring even more warmth for a sweetly decadent and Sinatra-approved beer.

The Harvester IPA was recently tapped. Humphrey especially loved this batch.

“Harvester IPA turned out better than the first time,” he said. “We use grapefruit that was picked a day or two beforehand, and the freshness is all about the Harvester. I think that’s the best IPA we’ve done.”

CVB is also busy getting ready for the Great American Beer Festival, held in Denver in October. Coachella Valley Brewing was specially selected to pour and was also picked to present a special “Farm to Glass” concept with a tasting for 200 people.

“It’s great to have good beer,” Humphrey said. “And it’s great to be able to do the ‘farm to glass’ local angle, but you know, you really worry: Are you going to be able to make it out of your own backyard?

“I think where we took our time is to really think about the brand. … I think that it comes down to great beer, but also having an iconic brand, that is something that’s going to be exportable.”

Just a bit east in Palm Desert, the folks at La Quinta Brewing Co. are busy with new releases, a new brewery club and expanded distribution—which is impressive, considering that the brewery is not yet a year old.

La Quinta Brewing just released a new imperial stout, coming in at 8.3 percent alcohol (80 IBU), that’s only available in the taproom. The brewery will also release a brown ale in mid-September, and the brewery’s popular Koffi Porter will be released any day now.

La Quinta Brewery is also starting to barrel-age for the first time, beginning with its porter. It’s aging in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels and will be available in the fall.

Of course, La Quinta’s popular usual suspects—the Sandstorm Double IPA, Poolside Blonde and Indian Canyon IPA—remain available. La Quinta’s also busy taking memberships for the Inner Circle club. The brewery only had eight slots left as of this writing, so hurry while there’s still availability.

La Quinta is in approximately 45 local retail stores, including Albertson’s, Total Wine, LQ Wine, Jensen’s and Bevmo. Currently, the brewery is distributing within the Coachella Valley and Idyllwild, but should begin delivering beer outside of the valley within 60 days. La Quinta is currently in 115 bars and restaurants (with more than 160 tap handles), and in about 45 stores.

More good things are coming: La Quinta installed two additional fermenting vessels in July, increasing the current production capacity to near 3,000 barrels per year. The brewery’s tap room will also be installing a new walk-in cooler behind the bar to increase the number of beers on offer.

Heading south to Rancho Mirage, the valley’s veteran brewery, Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse, has big plans for the remainder of the year.

Upcoming releases include Das Schwein (The Pig), a dunkelweizen available through late September. In the fall, keep a look out for Fall Amber Rye IPA, due in October. Babe’s annual Winter Nipster will hit taps around Thanksgiving, so make sure you drop in for this tasty colder-weather, seasonal brew.

Starting Sept. 4, Babe’s will host Thursday Night Football with Team 1010 Sports radio—and will tie in a segment called Beer Scene, discussing the growing Coachella Valley craft-beer culture.

The brewhouse is also attending the Great American Beer Festival in Denver.

Keep a look out for Babe’s and the other breweries at the Ace Hotel’s Craft Beer weekend on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 12 and 13. Join the local breweries and other popular craft brewers on Saturday afternoon for a pool party and barbecue with craft-beer tastings and live music. It’s ultra Palm Springs cool!

Published in Beer

It’s been the best of times … it’s been the beeriest of times.

My appreciation for craft beer began developing while I attended San Diego State University in the mid-’90s. Rearrange the letters in SDSU, and you get SUDS. Coincidence? Or divine inspiration?

Either way, The Beer Goddess was meant to be.

It was in the ’90s when Stone Brewing Company released the in-your-face Arrogant Bastard—blowing all of the San Diego beer-drinkers’ minds. I often hosted small dinner parties with my college friends. I started switching from Keystone Light and Bud Light (we all have to start somewhere, right?) to Bass, Sam Adams Boston Lager, Pete’s Wicked Ale and, of course, Stone’s Arrogant Bastard.

I discovered more taste. I discovered more depth. And dammit, it was good.

However, it was in 2008 when I began to pour my mind and passion into writing about the craft of craft beer. That summer, I received an email from my older brother that our dad was in the hospital, suffering from a fever that wouldn’t subside. We had recently celebrated his 70th birthday on the lake in Westlake Village. I took many trips to the hospital, and began researching his sudden condition—Felty’s syndrome.

He passed away 17 days later. It was devastating. I felt like my world was literally tipped on its axis.

My father was my hero. He spent most of his life as an entrepreneur, growing his company, Franklin Telecom, and later Franklin VoIP. He later became one of the founding fathers of phone-to-phone voiceover IP. He instilled dedication, passion and innovation in all of his five children.

One week later, I was laid off from my project-management job in Culver City. Not knowing how I was going to pay my high Los Angeles rent, and wanting to call my dad for advice, I felt lost. I started feverishly applying for jobs.

My boyfriend at the time and I were living in our new place—a warm, 1930s-style townhome near the Wilshire Corridor. He witnessed my anguish and tried everything to keep my spirits at a manageable level. It was then he suggested I start writing about beer.

I thought it was a funny idea at first—and it was the first funny thing I had heard in more than a month. (Even though it was just six years ago, beer wasn’t quite the widespread and celebrated hobby it is today.) In an attempt to steer my mind toward learning something culinary and crafty, I took his advice and dove headfirst into research and blogging.

I first wanted to figure out an angle, or at least a personality, for my new blog. I started jotting down tag lines, cute sayings and titles. Nothing resonated. Nothing stuck. So I just started attending beer events and writing. I soaked it in like a sponge.

After a family call to talk about how my father’s business would be handled, I recall staring at a plaque that was awarded to him and his company. I dazed at it, motionless, for about 10 minutes as my eyes welled. He named the company Franklin Telecom after his idol, Ben Franklin. His name was Frank.

That was it. Ben Franklin also appreciated beer! I wanted to tie this extraordinary founding father into the tone of the blog, because he was my dad’s idol.

There cannot be good living where there is not good drinking,” was one of many Franklin quotes. You’ll see a spin off to this quote on TheBeerGoddess.com: “There is good living, where there is good beer.”

It was placed there not just an acknowledgement of my recently departed father, but as an appreciation of how he exuded a passion for living life to the fullest. It’s a constant reminder of how lucky I was.

This year, I’ll be celebrating six delicious, fascinating, entertaining and humbling years in the world of craft beer. Beer is an integral part of the lives of many communities. Hundreds of breweries use local foods and spices that are indigenous to their areas. Craft beer tells a story of the land, of the area and of the brewers.

I’ve met numerous culinary, creative and passionate people along the way, from brewers and bloggers to the folks marketing the beer—and, of course, the craft-beer consumers themselves.

It’s not about drinking more (a concern I think my mother had early on—now she’s one of my biggest fans). It’s about drinking well. It’s about creating something from the earth. It’s about feeding our economy, one small business at a time. It’s about the people. It’s about giving U.S. consumers more choice.

I choose beer with innovation, style, integrity, quality and character. I advocate and celebrate what’s become known as the “craft beer revolution.”

Ben Franklin also once said, “Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing.”

Join me as I celebrate The Beer Goddess’ 6 Pack Sixth Anniversary, starting at 7 p.m., Saturday, June 21, at Schmidy’s Tavern, 72286 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. We’ll feature a special collaborative brew between Coachella Valley Brewing Co. and me; there will also be live music and all sorts of fun.

Why haven’t you heard of any of the anniversaries until now? I haven’t celebrated the past years. I was too busy trying to write something worth reading.

Published in Beer

Friday, April 11, was the first day ever that craft beer was offered at the innovative, critically acclaimed, two-weekend event known as the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

Nic Adler—of the L.A. Vegan Beer and Food Fest, as well as The Roxy—was recruited to develop a tantalizing, foodie paradise within the festival foregrounds. Adler enlisted friend and craft-beer advocate Tony Yanow—of Golden Road and Tony’s Darts Away—to help assemble the craft-beer list.

The result: A fantastic 130 or so beers on tap, many hailing from the Golden State, that proved brews and bands make perfect music together.

Yes, Heineken is still the top sponsor and rocked the festival with surprise artists and mash-ups in the Heineken House. But in Coachella’s 15th year, the genre-bending festival joined the craft beer revolution by serving a savory selection of craft brews in what became known as the Craft Beer Barn.

Located in the marketplace area, the barn supplied music-lovers with some of the biggest names in craft beer—and some surprising cameos as well.

Here are some recommended beer-and-music pairings I came up with at Coachella.

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion: Rooted in gritty rock ’n’ roll, the band draws influences from punk, psychedelic blues, garage rock, rockabilly, soul and R&B. After being founded in 1991, Spencer and co. have helped lead the way in American roots music. With a palm-tree backdrop, the band offered no laser shows at Coachella, but the cover of Beastie Boys’ “She’s On It” was fantastically down and dirty—and a little greasy, too. Pair with Stone/Kyle Hollingsworth/Keri Kelli Collective Distortion IPA: Stone Brewing has made its name with bold, aggressively hoppy and arrogant beers. Thundering in around 9.2 percent alcohol by volume, this hop face-punch is backed by Nugget, Comet and Calypso hops, and then dry hopped with Vic’s Secret, a new Australian hop, cranking up the citrus notes with wild abandon. Stone traced the roots of brewing to the days when Old World herbs were used to spice beers; the brewery added coriander and elderberries here. The lightly roasted golden oats balance the spicy citrus notes in this visceral, cranked-out IPA. Next time you’re looking for a strong and aggressive beer, just ask yourself: “Do you wanna get heavy?”

Aloe Blacc killed it in the Mojave tent. With his crisp white shirt, sharp gray vest and fedora, the Orange County native and USC graduate exuded positivity and rays of California sunshine. He’s been compared to John Coltrane; his horn players danced in unison to “Soldier in the City.” The beats lifted the crowd’s spirits, while the lyrics revealed social awareness. For Blacc, “It ain’t that hard when you got soul.” Pair with The Bruery, Loakal Red: This American red ale has a ton of soul. It’s oak-aged with citrus and floral notes. This beer pays tribute to the growing Orange County beer scene; a portion of the older batch was left to mature in new American oak barrels, and was then blended with the fresh dry-hopped batch. There’s a sugary sweetness and funky, vibrant notes. Tastes of grapefruit, caramel, orange zest, toffee and light pine result in a full body and solid balance. Like Blacc’s voice, the texture is silky and downright delightful.

Fishbone: This legendary good-time ska, reggae, punk, metal, funk and soul fusion band out of Los Angeles didn’t disappoint fans with its indefinable energy and talent. On the second Coachella weekend, the band rocked the main stage with earnest fierceness. Angelo Moore bounced around onstage, pumping up early-afternoon Coachella-goers for another amazing day in the desert sun. The band wowed with complex arrangements featuring instruments including the theremin, saxophone, trumpet and keyboard, inspiring uncontrollable and joyous head-banging. Pair with: Drake’s Denogginizer—DIPA: Like Fishbone’s life performances, Denogginizer has been known to blow a few minds. The hoppy, in-your-face double imperial pale ale features a crazy amount of pungent American hops. This somewhat experimental, high-alcohol brew (9.75 ABV) can’t be contained and will leave you wanting more. Or, pair with Golden Road Brewing 329 Lager: Like Fishbone, Golden Road is quintessentially Los Angeles—and it’s low enough in alcohol (4.8 percent ABV) that you can drink it all day. On a more personal note, Flying Jay, Fishbone’s trombonist, said that many of his favorite beers are lighter in flavor; personal favorites are Hoegaarden and Leffe. When asked what his favorites were, Angelo Moore, the ultimate “Fishbone Solder,” quickly snipped: “I like Guinness, because it’s dark; it’s heavy; and it’s in your face.”

Beck is simply one of the best performers I’ve ever seen. Before playing a cover of Arcade Fire’s “Rebellion (Lies),” Beck told a story about how he waited in a rainy line for 45 minutes to see them perform at a bar—the same bar where he’d seen The Black Keys a year earlier. “You know, that little bar down the street sometimes has the best music. Don’t forget about that little bar.” After “Devil’s Haircut” and “Loser,” the band rearranged “Think I’m in Love.” The crowd erupted in dance with his cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” He even joined Arcade Fire onstage to cover Prince’s “Controversy.” Pair with: Faction Brewing, 2 Hop Collab (Nelson/Galaxy): Faction is a brewery out of Alameda that likes to do things a little differently. This is a special beer brewed as part of the experimental and educational “2 Hop Collaboration Project.” Various California breweries have participated, including Alpine, Ballast Point, Beachwood, Berryessa, Drake’s, Faction, Kern, Moylan’s, Stone and Triple Rock. Each participating brewery used the same pilsner malt backbone and then added two hops of their choosing. The Nelson Sauvin hop is named after the sauvignon blanc grape and is grown in New Zealand. Considered by some as “extreme,” it’s one of the world’s most unique and delicious hops. It leans toward tropical notes such as passion fruit, mango and tangerine. Similarly tropical, Galaxy has rapidly become the most internationally recognized Australian hop. Thanks to notes of passion fruit and citrus and a high alpha acid level, this versatile hop is great as a late addition in the brewing process. Beck is no stranger to experimental projects, like the “Song Reader” project, so this cornucopia of awesomeness is a Beck-appropriate craft-beer project.

Arcade Fire: Win Butler started by introducing two special guests in disheveled robot masks as a slightly inferior version of “Get Lucky” began to play. After the prank, the band turned in a set that may have been one of the most passionate and searing in Coachella history. Butler talked about gay human rights and urged people to get behind a cause. The multi-instrumentalist band played “Reflektor,” showing romantic deep grooves and grandiose rhythms. Pair with Blazing World, Modern Times: The relatively new San Diego brewery Modern Times is making waves with complex, flavorful, hybrid styles. The brewery was named one of the "Top 10 New Breweries” in the world by RateBeer. Blazing World has a ton of hop character and makes a presence with bursts of pine, citrus and grapefruit flavors. This effervescent brew has a fantastic complexity, but still remains well-balanced with a malt backbone. This could be confused for an IPA, but has definite amber characteristics. The use of Nelson, Simcoe and Mosaic hops play together beautifully.

As with Arcade Fire, this beer offers something for everyone.  

Published in Beer

About 45 miles northwest of Palm Springs, you’ll find a brewery that has taken off—and plans to reach new heights in 2014.

Hangar 24 has an undeniable charm. Perhaps it’s the fields of oranges you pass on your way there; maybe it’s due to the old-school feel of the converted Norton Air Force Base building this Redlands brewery occupies. At the end of a dusty road, with the San Bernardino Mountains serving as a backdrop, the brewery and its large patio is often occupied by a slew of locals enjoying Hangar’s beers. Even if you’re not an aviation geek, it’s is unequivocally cool to watch small airplanes take off and land at the nearby Redlands airport.

Hangar 24 is named after the hangar where owner Ben Cook—a licensed pilot—and his friends would relax after a day of flying. Like most brewery owners, Ben started home-brewing years ago and fell in love with the craft and the culture. Cook graduated from the Master Brewers Program at the University of California at Davis after working in quality assurance at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in Van Nuys. His background and passion for beer fueled the launch of Hangar 24 in 2008.

After rapid growth, Cook hired Kevin Wright, also a graduate of the UC-Davis Master Brewers Program, to be his head brewer. (He's pictured below.)

With a background in engineering, this teacher’s aide turned brewer is as humble as he is strapping. When asked who he looks up to in the industry, the Milwaukee native couldn’t say enough good things about Mitch Steele, head brewmaster of Escondido’s Stone Brewing Company.

“I can’t say how many times I reach out to others in the industry with a question—and usually, it’s Mitch,” Wright said.

Owner Cook got the craft-beer bug years ago while watching a baseball game in Chico, which is the home of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. He tasted the pale ale—and it gave him a taste of what else was out there in the beer world.

Hangar 24’s main brew house—including some of the tanks and fermenters—came by way of Las Vegas’ Monte Carlo Casino. When the casino decided to stop brewing its own beer and sell the system, the Hangar 24 folks snapped it up—and the system now gets more use than ever before. In fact, brewers are often on the clock 24-7.

In 2013, Hangar 24 brewed a little more than 35,000 barrels—up from 17,000 barrels in 2011, and just more than 24,000 barrels in 2012. According to Cook, they are setting “lofty goals”: The brewery wants to increase production to 60,000 barrels this year, and 100,000 in 2015.

The brewery’s flagship beers are its Orange Wheat, Amarillo Pale Ale, Alt-Bier Ale, Helles Lager, Columbus IPA, Chocolate Porter and Double IPA.

Hangar 24 rose to popularity largely due to the popular Orange Wheat, which is grounded in local geography and ingredients. This year-round offering sources all of its oranges from the Inland Orange Conservancy/Old Grove Farm Share, a nonprofit co-op with small, local farmers. A massive metal blender purees the local oranges into a pulp before they’re added to the beer batch. It looks like a gigantic Orange Julius, of sorts.

Hangar 24’s Local Fields Series includes seven beers that highlight locally sourced ingredients, all in different beer styles. Using classic fare like dates, pumpkins, red-wine grapes, cherries, navel oranges, spruce and apricots, the series showcases ingredients from the high desert to the San Bernardino Mountains.

Cook explains that the Local Fields Series essentially started with the Orange Wheat: While technically not in the series, it’s the first beer from Hangar 24 that utilizes locally sourced ingredients.

“I never thought the brewery would get this big. When I first started, I just wanted to brew beer and be social,” Cook said with a laugh. “But I set it up so we could grow quickly. I’m always brainstorming—and now that I can see there is a chance we can get bigger, I think about why someone in, say, Wisconsin is going to want to buy our pale ale. They’ve got plenty of pale ales out there.

“But the Orange Wheat is super-unique, because we have oranges growing all around us. Redlands and the surrounding area is what created the orange industry in the United States. That’s very authentic and unique, and you can’t really copy authenticity. The idea (of the Local Field Series) evolved from there. …We’re one of the very few breweries that are sitting in an area that has a lot of farms sitting around it.”

When asked if he foresaw the explosive popularity of his beer, Cook humbly and quickly answered: “Not even. No way!

“That beer has a cult following now. I get it—I mean, that’s why I like brewing it. Brewing and taking something from down the street and integrating it into the beer, it makes it really authentic and local. People in this area really want to support the groves. … Bottom line: It’s a good-tasting beer.”

The first in the Local Fields Series is the Vinaceous, an old ale brewed with Mourvèdre grapes from Wilson Creek Winery in Temecula, and then aged in French oak. The second is Palmero, a fruity Belgian-style dubbel made with CoachellaValley’s own dates.

Named after the abundance of apricots used in the mash, Polycot (poly = many; cot = apricot) became one of the brewery’s five best-sellers. Brewed in early July when the Southern California’s high desert apricots are truly ripe and fresh, this beer also epitomizes local. The idea—and the apricots—originally came from a friend of Cook’s who suddenly had seven acres of apricots to share from a house purchase. The 7.2 percent-alcohol beer is Hangar 24’s first American strong ale, with a large portion of wheat malt.

Their Barrel Roll Series—a series of barrel-aged beers—keeps with the aviation branding theme. Immelmann is the first of seven beers, with the 2013 version coming in at 11.4 percent alcohol. This strong porter is aged for more than six months in single-use bourbon barrels and brewed with oats, cocoa nibs and whole vanilla beans.

The Humpty Bumpis a Belgian strong golden ale aged in oak barrels with Brettanomyces yeast for eight months. Hangar brews this inviting beer with apple cider from the local Riley’s Los Rios Farms; the resulting beer has notes of caramel, black pepper, apple and some farmhouse funk. Try this paired with citrus salads or nutty cheeses.

Pugachev’s Cobra is the third installment in the Barrel Roll Series. This award-winning 13.8 percent Russian imperial stout was first released in December 2011 and has been an annual release since. With intense flavors of dark fruit, chocolate, bourbon and roasted coffee, this brew can be enjoyed now, or shelved to savor in a year or two. It’s named after Victor Pugachev, a pilot that would suddenly raise his aircraft nose to near vertical before dropping the plane back into attack mode.

The brewery will be marking six years of existence this May—and Hangar 24 is celebrating in the air as well as on the ground. The Sixth Anniversary Celebration and Airfest is slated for May 17 and 18 at the brewery, complete with an air show, beer festival, concert series and food-truck festival. All proceeds will go to charity.

What’s been the biggest surprise in the brewery’s 5 1/2 years?

“I think one of the biggest game-changing surprises to me was, (years ago), me and a guy named Jim Hogarty spent I don’t know how many hours and how many beers getting our original bottling line set up. Eventually, we got it running and started bottling the Orange Wheat and Pale Ale. It was only about a month after that I got a call from Stater Brothers, a guy named Kevin Mackey. I was blown away, because I kept hearing from other breweries: ‘Supermarkets, don’t even think about it; don’t waste your time.’ That was a pivot point.”

Hangar 24 loves to showcase the flavors of Southern California—and it’s a blessed thing that soon, many more craft-beer lovers outside of the Golden State will get to enjoy these flavors as much as we do.

Published in Beer

Page 3 of 3