I have to admit, becoming “The Craft Beer Guy” has certainly opened up many doors for me, including special events; and I get to meet a lot of interesting people, some of which I have developed friendships with. One of these people is Jonathan Urch, and these photos are from his 40th birthday celebration which began at Firestone Walker’s Propagator and ended down the street at Scopa Italian Roots, where Jon, his wife, and about 25 friends from around the world gathered to celebrate Jon’s 40th time of successfully navigating around the sun with a nice dinner.
I met Jon in October of 2015 at the Guinness Nitro IPA Advanced Tasting and dinner at The Larchmont in Hollywood. At the time, Jon was Diageo Customer Marketing Director. That evening was special in a couple ways; I was able to meet Jon and I was given the first Guinness Nitro IPA ever poured from a tap in the United States. As I have always been a Guinness fan, that was kind of a big deal to me. Continue reading
In March of 1996, the fledgling Firestone Walker Brewing Company out of Paso Robles, California released their first beer; DBA British Pale Ale. Thursday evening, 30 or 40 Firestone Walker fans met at Firestone Walker’s newest location, The Propagator, in Marina del Rey to celebrate DBA becoming of age, at the DBA Turns 21 beer dinner, hosted by Firestone Walkers first employee, Jeffers Richardson.
While we enjoyed a pour of Schwarzbier, a roasty German style black lager which was brewed at The Propagator by Ben Maushardt, Jeffers told us about the early days at Firestone Walker; go back as far as his initial job interview which involved babysitting a 5 year-old.
DBA, Double Barrel Ale, is often credit to being developed by Jeffers, but he gives full credit to Adam Firestone and David Walker as it was only because of their insistence that the beer be fermented using oak and stainless barrels, then blending them. It was obviously a great idea, and DBA has become not only a flagship brew for them, but it is also the base for several of their other beers. This beer dinner would celebrate the many uses of DBA as well as the beer itself. Continue reading
On Wednesday afternoon Firestone Walker’s Venice location, The Propagator, officially changed from being a gastropub to a brewpub with the release of their first beer from the million dollar brewhouse; aptly named, Generation 1. While the release of a beer may not necessarily be documented here, I know there are a lot of Firestone Walker fans out there and knowing that they are now able to use their beautiful brewhouse for something other than a display is news we have all been waiting for. The fact that Generation 1 is outstanding is icing on the cake.
Generation 1 is an IPA that is hopped with Citra, Mosaic and Mandarina hops; it is really smooth and has great flavors. It is quite drinkable; and it might be [one of] their best IPAs, in my opinion.
When I mentioned to Propagator General Manager Brad Ellis how impressed I was with the first batch from the new system, he immediately gave credit to the work ethic of Propagator brewer, Ben Maushardt. Ellis had first observed Maushardt up in Paso Robles and he apparently made quite the impression as the choice for brewer at Propagator involved input from the rank and file. Continue reading
The long awaited time has come for Firestone Walker fans in the Los Angeles area; Firestone’s Venice location, The Propagator is now open. While there had been hopes to open it as a brewpub, as evidenced by the $1 million invested in a state-of-the-art brewhouse that is sitting on display when you walk in the doors, the City of Angels has once again shown they don’t quite get it when it comes to craft beer. As a result The Propagator decided to open as more of a gastropub, in a couple years when The City is comfortable and had forced Firestone to jump through just enough hoops, The Propagator will evolve into a brewpub. Until then we will just have to suffer through drinking their old school brews from Paso Robles or the wild ales from Buellton.
When you are standing outside you cannot help but notice the similarities between the new Venice location, Barrelworks and Paso Robles; Venice is just a smaller version from what I could see. They even have a store where you can buy packaged brews and assorted merchandise; well, probably any merchandise they sell.
Once you get inside it looks pretty much like either Paso Robles or Buellton; it is just less crowded, but you know you are at Firestone Walker, for sure. The tap list has all the flagship brews like 805, Easy Jack, DBA, Opal, Union Jack as well as brews like the 2016 Parabola (sorry, one 3oz pour per person), Luponic Distortion, Imperial Smoked Walker’s Reserve, Agrestic, Feral One and several more. Continue reading
These photos are from the 2014 Bourbon County Black Friday release which was held at Bar 225 which is inside Whole Foods Venice. This is the second year that Goose Island’s annual event included the Los Angeles area market, which is most likely a direct result of the 2011 purchase of Goose Island by Anheuser-Busch InBev back in 2011. While the Brewers Association immediately downgraded Goose Island from being considered craft due to this change of ownership, I have yet to meet more than a handful of people that have turned their noses at their Bourbon County Brand Stout (BCBS). In my personal opinion, the merger has not changed much except now BCBS is now available locally.
When I was approached to cover the event, I immediately accepted for several reasons. I guess the most obvious was that I can always use the work, followed closely by the fact that I now knew I would be able to score some of the latest release without having to drive around town trying to find someone that still had it in stock. Apparently no one was supposed to sell it before Black Friday but rumor has it some locations were selling [out of] their stock on the day before Thanksgiving. The third reason was that it seems that over the past year or two I have met several people in the craft beer industry that included Whole Foods Venice on their resume. I have come to realize that not all Whole Foods are created equal so I looked forward to seeing what the Venice location had to offer with their Bar 225.
I had forgotten who it was that told me they had worked at Whole Foods Venice and was pleasantly surprised that one of them was Drew Murphy, the manager of Bar 225, whom I had done some work for back in February. Goose Island Brand Ambassador Raul Moran was there assisting in pouring flights consisting of several high octane brews carrying the Goose Island name for those that were there for more than the purchase of whatever Bourbon County brews they could get their hands on. Continue reading