January 14, 2014

Photo Essay: Golden Road Brewing Tour

There is a growing craft beer business in LA County, with a handful of small breweries opening up in LA itself (Eagle Rock, Angel City).

But Golden Road is a big one.

Even though they're only trying to distribute their beer to areas within a one day drive away from LA.

When scouting locations for their first-ever brewery - a life-long dream for Tony Yanow (of Tony's Darts Away fame) - the co-owners happened upon three corrugated steel warehouses in Northeast LA... painted blue, another red, the other yellow.

They were perfect to house not only their beer brewing operations, but also a sprawling pub and beer garden for the public to enjoy, only 551 feet away from where the beer they're drinking is being made.

The first stop on the brewery tour is the barrel room, where Golden Road is experimenting with aging beers in liquor barrels, creating concoctions flavored with rum, whiskey, tequila, and red wine.

These beers (which are going to be in there a while) will have a higher ABV% (alcohol by volume) than the regular ales that Golden Road brews.

The blue building houses the equipment where the toasted grains are received and milled...

...cracking them open to expose an essential seed inside (and releasing their flavors).

They're then stored here, though currently Golden Road has much more grain storage than they actually need right now based on their output.

In the red building...

...we get to see where the actual magic happens... a room full of kettles and stills...

...where the beer is actually made...

...and the tanks where it is conditioned.

We had the chance to taste a beer poured directly from the conditioning tank...

...which I'd done once at Brooklyn's Sixpoint Brewery with their Sweet Action Cream Ale (one of the best beers I've ever tasted).

This time it was Golden Road's Russian Imperial Stout, a limited release dark beer with high alcohol content.

With that in our bellies, we were ready to see the canning assembly line, where printed but empty cans are filled...

...and topped with lids.

You can see plenty of the cans of a few of their releases - IPA, Brown Ale, Hefeweizen) - in the cold room, where filled kegs are also stored.

The cans are unique, not only because craft beer is usually found in bottles, but because Golden Road has pioneered the use of technology that allows them to print high quality photographs (iconic LA images from local photographers) as labels on their cans. To boot: the cans are "true pint" size (16 oz.) instead of the traditionally smaller 12 oz. size.

As most beer advocates know, cans actually protect the beer from air contamination and light exposure, thereby preserving the flavor. To avoid the aluminum flavor that comes with bringing the opening of the lid up to the mouth and nose, a proper canned craft beer should be poured into a (room temperature, not chilled) glass.

If you prefer your beer on draught, the best way to sample Golden Road's many varieties - both their core brands and their more limited, seasonal releases - is to visit their own Pub in the yellow building, 551 feet away from where it's being brewed. (But you can also find its cans at various retailers and its taps in various drinking establishments around Southern California.)

Related Post:
Photo Essay: Angel City Brewery & The Legacy of Bridge-Building

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