City Tavern: Brewers Unplugged

Oct 1

City Tavern in Culver City hosted Brewers Unplugged: 22 Breweries 1 Night on Thursday, September 26 offering some of the best beers in the county while uniting the people that produce them. Most corners of the craft beer industry were represented; owners and brewers joined forces with media and sales representatives and of course, the ever-eager consumer. Everyone was locally-based and enthusiastic to sample the wide array of brews. At City Tavern, where small pours are available, there was no excuse for walking away without an opinion on every beer and an introduction to every brewery.

The vast majority of bodies blocking servers and food runners from attending to their tables were those of proprietors and brewers. From brewery owners Cyrena Nouzille (Ladyface) and Meg Gill (Golden Road) to brewmasters Dieter Foerstner (Angel City) and Rob Croxall (El Segundo) you’d be hard-pressed to uncover an L.A. county brewer absent. Those with smaller operations who both own and brew were in attendance, like Henry Nguyen (Monkish) and Andrew Luthi (Ohana), as well as those brewing on others’ systems or still looking for their own brick and mortar to call home: Kip Barnes (L.A. Ale Works), Simon Ford (Phantom Carriage) and Kingsley Toby (Pipe Dream).


The taps at City Tavern. Photo courtesy Kip Barnes

On tap were highly-coveted, small-batch sweets like Naughty Sauce (blonde milk stout, Noble Ale Works), Seme della Vita (tripel with vanilla beans, Monkish), and vibrant wildcards like Surf Shack (sour blonde, Ohana) and Karma Kolsch (Thai tea-infused kolsch, L.A. Ale Works). Local favorites maintained their popularity, especially Unity (“red mild” brewed with hibiscus and honey, Eagle Rock) and Bryeian (Cascadian dark rye, The Bruery).


Rich Marcello, co-owner of Strand Brewing. Photo courtesy Kip Barnes

The event wasn’t just about great beer and brewers, it was about uniting the L.A. beer community. However many hours they put into making beer every week, these players don’t often get to commingle or commiserate with so many other operators in one place, at one time. The advantage to being so tightly packed into the space was the opportunity to overhear conversations (without blatantly eavesdropping) on topics both polarizing and inspiring. ABC regulation of breweries endorsing bars was highly debated as were strategies for fundraising and finding investors. Suggestions on how to stand out from hundreds of other breweries at the Great American Beer Festival were offered, and every brewer’s sore-spot — bars that neglect to properly clean their taplines — induced groans. Talk of the financial risk factors and high stakes of barrel-aging — exposing your lineup to unwanted bugs for the possibility of expanding your brand and garnering the respect of peers and consumers — was especially interesting.

Regardless of the micro-politics that play out in the Southland beer industry, Thursday night was an opportunity to put differences aside and put faces to names (or more accurately, brewers to beer labels). We must further explore the multi-faceted identity that makes up the L.A. beer scene: idiosyncrasies that separate the west side from east side or the valley from the south bay; the potential for L.A. beer to be recognizable by its proclivity for experimentation; the consistency with which our beer pairs to food. Precisely how our community distinguishes itself from others may not yet be determined. L.A. beer is still young and only beginning to course through a rebellious adolescence. The only way for our community to mature and present a unified front, is by coming together, in nights like Brewers Unplugged.

Dieter Foerstner, Brewmaster at Angel City, with local photographer Bernie Wire

Dieter Foerstner, Brewmaster at Angel City, with local photographer Bernie Wire

Brewers Unplugged Taplist:
The Dudes’ Outsourced IPA
Noble Aleworks Naughty Sauce
Ohana Surf Shack Sour Blonde
El Segundo Casa Azul
Brouwerij West Brilliant but Lazy
LA Aleworks Karma Kolsch
Bootleggers Wildfire Wheat
Abigaile Nihilist
Strand Atticus on cask
Cismontane Blacks Dawn
Ladyface La Grisette
Eagle Rock Unity
Golden Road Smoking Bush IPA
Phantom Carriage Muis
Pipe Dream Dark Horse
Monkish Seme Della Vita
Congregation Three Cords and the Truth IPA
Angel City Eureka! Wit
Hangar 24 Polycot
Taps Pumpkin Ale
Smog City Groundwork Coffee Porter
The Bruery Bryeian

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