Craft ~ brews and reviews
By Greg Richardson
English beer has a special place in my
I know some people have a thing for the
Belgians, while others are hooked on hoppy IPAs. There is even one
person I know who loves Berliner Weissbier.
For me, I think it will always be the
Born and raised in Wisconsin, my
understanding of beer was shaped by the pilsners brewed by
industrial brewers. One warm, humid summer day when I was working in
Washington, DC I went to a gathering at my bossí house. I arrived
early and went out on the deck to help him grill, taking the
six-pack of industrial beer I had brought with me.
He already had a six-pack of the same beer
in a cooler, so we each opened one.
We were talking and grilling and, before we
recognized it, had gone through his six beers before anyone else had
arrived. It felt like we were drinking water.
That was when I realized I was not really a
fan of the beer I was drinking. The realization led to my taking
several years away from beer.
It was a visit to England which brought me
back to beer, restored drinking beer to me.
I had read books in which people walked into
pubs and ordered beer. While I was there I sampled bitters, porters,
and stouts which changed my perception of beer. I have been a fan of
English beers since.
I have found several breweries in Southern
California which share my appreciation for beers and ales brewed in
the English style. For January I decided to visit three of them.
Our first stop was the Yorkshire
Square Brewery in Torrance,
which opened last May. Yorkshire Square is a welcoming, pleasant
space with a stone fireplace and comfortable chairs. Yorkshire
Square specializes in cask-conditioned, hand-pulled real ales.
I assembled a flight of four beers to
highlight their offerings.
My first choice was an Early Doors pub
bitter, which took my back to my visits to England. It is hoppy but
not overly so and an excellent introduction to the brewery. The
second choice in my flight was a Wuthering Stout, an oatmeal stout
ale. I rounded out my four choices with a Jonathan porter(yes, it is
an inside joke) and a Castle Dangerous Stout. Both beers are
delicious. Castle Dangerous in particular is a malty foreign/export
stout which was an excellent way to finish our visit.
I am eager to return.
The next stop on our tour was the Three
Weavers Brewing Company in
Three Weavers was established in 2013 with a
goal of Itís more than beer, itís community.
It was a warm, sunny winter afternoon in
Southern California so we sat at an outdoor table. Like the English
pubs I remember, the tasting room welcomed several people with dogs
as well as a baby shower at a neighboring set of tables.
I put together a flight of five beers which
combined core beers along with seasonal beers and collaborations.
My Three Weavers flight began with a Deep
Roots ESB, one of their core beers. Brewed with heirloom British
malts, Deep Roots has a complex flavor which does not depend on
extreme hoppiness. My next choice was a Stoutlandish Oatmeal Milk
Stout on Nitro. The Stoutlandish was where I turned the corner into
the dark end of the pool. My third selection was a Hounslow Porter,
an American-style porter. My fourth choice was a Midnight Flight
Imperial Stout, an American Double Imperial Stout which is malty and
delivers smoky and cocoa flavors as well as dark fruit. I completed
my flight with a Southbounder Coffee Stout, which tastes of coffee
and roasted malts along with dark chocolate and toffee.
From Inglewood we continued up the 405
freeway to MacLoed
Ale Brewing Company in Van
MacLeod Ale had a food truck from Charlieís
Wieners and offered a free soda to our designated driver. MacLeod
also specializes in cask ales.
My flight of four MacLeod ales began
with The Luckypenny ESB, a classic British bitter with light caramel
notes and citrus hoppiness. I continued with The Session Gap
ordinary bitter, another cask ale with a floral, woody character. My
third selection was a Grantís Fancy milk stout. The cask brewing
process gives it a more toasty, less sweet flavor than a milk stout
on nitro. I completed my MacLeod flight with a Coffey Time Imperial
Porter on nitro, made with beans from Jameson Brown Coffee Roasters.
Visiting these three breweries was almost
like taking a trip to England. It was a delicious start to 2018.
Greg Richardson is a leadership and
organizational coach, and a spiritual life mentor, in Pasadena,
California. He is passionate about craft brewing, listening, and
monks and monastic life. Greg is a recovering attorney, executive,
and university professor. Gregís website is StrategicMonk.com and
he is on Twitter @StrategicMonk.
You can email Greg at StrategicMonk@gmail.com.