What’s your current position at your brewery, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?
I’m co-owner, brewer, and head of marketing at Los Angeles Ale Works. My business partner, John Rockwell, and I wear many hats, though. He heads the financial/business side, but we pretty much do everything as it’s just us. I actually got started as a homebrewer and beer blogger. I’m very involved in the LA beer scene and I’ve been writing about it for the last five years on my site. I also co-founded the LA Beer Bloggers group. My business partner and I are both beer geeks, enjoy homebrewing, and love the burgeoning LA beer scene. We decided to start putting together our business plan about four years ago and have been building up our experience, knowledge, resume, and fundraising skills ever since.
What’s new at Los Angeles Ale Works?
We just released our newest beer, Dampfmaschine™, a California Common style beer. We use rye in everything so this beer has a generous portion of rye in the grain bill and is dry hopped with Magnum. We only release one beer a month so each release is very special. We also started a collaborative cask program where we invite our Kickstarter backers along with LA bar owners to help us make our casks for each beer. We are currently raising private equity funds for our brick and mortar facility. It’s a challenging road, but rewarding.
What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?
Being involved in the local beer culture is the best part. The fact that there is a diverse community of people that we can talk to, enjoy beers with, and collaborate with is very meaningful. I love Los Angeles beer because it’s a young scene. We are all learning from established beer communities like San Diego, PNW, Colorado, and San Francisco, and using that knowledge to build something unique.
What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?
I work a day job at Sony Pictures Entertainment as a business analyst with the Digital Media Group in Culver City. While we continue to build our brewery and brand, we do this mostly at night, after work, and on the weekends. If I do have spare time, I like to go to beer bars, try new brews, and visit breweries. I also like to brew non-alcoholic craft soda.
What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?
I love spiced beers paired with food. We make a Kölsch infused with Thai tea, which some people say tastes like a snickerdoodle. It’s incredibly tasty with Asian cuisine, specifically Thai food. I’m also a big fan of stouts, coffee beers, and bourbon beers paired with desserts.
What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?
I recently had my book published, Beer Lover’s Guide to Southern California. It’s been a huge project and details all the breweries, brewpubs, and beer bars from Buellton through San Diego.
What’s your favorite beer that your brewery does not produce?
The Abyss by Deschutes was the first imperial stout I ever had. It opened my eyes to barrel aging. Le Merle from North Coast is a fantastic saison and is largely responsible for my obsession with that style. My current go-to in LA is Smog City’s Groundwork Coffee Porter. It’s an incredibly well balanced coffee beer that has ample caffeine, a silky finish, and a nice blend of roasty chocolate notes. That all being said, I think my favorite beer is homebrew. I love tasting all the homebrews from my fellow homebrewers in the Pacific Gravity homebrew club and my homebrewing friends at Pipe Dream Brewery.
What’s the most memorable travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?
My wife and I traveled to Bamberg, Germany, where I was able to taste a style I usually am not fond of, rauchbier straight from the source. I was also able to sample a great unfiltered kellerbier from Mahr’s Bräu called Ungetspundet. Drinking beer in Germany at the local pubs attached to each brewery is unique. To be able to experience beer in a country that is largely responsible for a world beer boom is amazing.