The Wait is Over! First Craft Breweries Launch in the Valley
It’s been a long, hard road. We’ve been hot. We’ve been tired. And we’ve been thirsty. But the wait is finally over, and LA’s San Fernando Valley is now home to its first craft breweries. Last week, the LA Beer Bloggers group set up a special sneak peek event at both breweries, and we were lucky enough to come along for the ride.
P is for Pacoima
I’ll admit it, when I think of Pacoima, craft beer is not the first thought that comes to my mind. But the team at Pac City Brewery are hard at work to change that. Opened on April 22, 2014, Pac City is posted up in your standard nanobrewery industrial park box in the northeast part of the SFV. It’s not cool, it’s not sexy, but it gives off a strong vibe of passionate people working hard to craft great beer. And that’s what I like about it.
Head brewer, Robert Cortez spoke to the group of bloggers and told us the story behind the launch of the brewery. It’s a story with a lot of downs, but some really amazing ups that all lead up to get Pac City to where they are now. But according to Cortez, that journey is just beginning. The brewery is not only still working on perfecting recipes, opening their tasting room, and getting some distribution, they also have the challenge of connecting with and educating the surrounding Hispanic community on the various styles and flavors that beer can encompass.
While Pac City will brew some stronger and more full-flavored beers, they’re making it a point to embrace the fact that they’re in a blue collar, working neighborhood that favors lighter, less complex beers. They had 5 brews on tap for the event, and surprisingly, the IPA was not my favorite! I actually preferred their brown ale, Lloyd’s Hazel Nuts, which had a light body, a nice creamy roastiness (is that a word?), and a strong sweetness reminiscent of a Werther’s Original butterscotch candy. 818 Brewing was also on hand at the event, showcasing 3 of their brews on Pac City’s taps. They’re currently working on a space in Canoga Park that will hopefully open up later this year. Unfortunately I couldn’t pick a favorite out of the 3 beers they had on tap, each being decent but nothing remarkable. It’s pretty early in their journey as well and I think they’ll benefit a lot from the consistency that having their own facility will bring.
Once we had a chance to sample the offerings from Pac City and 818, the group headed over to Van Nuys, where MacLeod Ale Brewing Co. opened its doors for a little preview before their June 22nd grand opening.
The Making of MacLeod
MacLeod Ale Brewing Co. (pronounced like “McLoud”) is the brainchild of owners Alastair and Jennifer Boase and head brewer Andy Black. Instead of following the trend and brewing up a bunch of hoppy, West Coast style beers (which I love!), their focus is on traditional British-style cask conditioned ales. This type of brewery is the first of its kind in the LA area and has carved itself out a nice little niche that should have cask ale lovers from all over Southern California stopping by their Van Nuys tasting room for a taste of the good stuff. MacLeod has done an awesome job of decorating their space. It’s really cool, comfortable and welcoming, a little bit quirky, and really does a good job solidifying their brand. It’s always nice to see a brewery know who they are, what they want to do, and who they’re trying to serve. As far as the beer goes, the only brew pouring that day was The Little Spree, a Yorkshire Pale Ale. It was a low alcohol, easy drinking beer with just a hint of bitterness that I could see being super approachable for both seasoned and novice craft beer drinkers. I’m admittedly a hophead to a fault, so this style of beer is not one I typically go to, but I could definitely see myself hanging out here putting down some daytime beers and playing a game of Cricket on their dart board, or checking out their Bring Your Own Cheese events for a low key date night. MacLeod Ale Brewing Co. has been well worth the wait, and I for one can’t wait to check out the rest of their beers once they open on June 22nd. You can grab tickets to their grand opening event here: http://macleodale.bpt.me/
So is the San Fernando Valley a craft beer wasteland? Nope, not now, no way. And the really exciting thing is, this is just the beginning.