This time last year, Long Beach's Beachwood Brewing released its first imperial stout -- a hefty, chocolate-covered drink made with a custom coffee blend from third-wave roasters Portola Coffee Lab in Costa Mesa.
The 11.9% ABV Tovarish Imperial Stout sold so quickly during its first few days on draft that growler fills soon were disallowed and the batch was removed from the tap list in order to conserve the new brewery's quickly disappearing holiday beer.
In a few weeks, Tovarish will return, this time in a limited number of wax-dipped, 22 oz. bombers -- marking the first bottled-beer release from the GABF-medal-winning brewery. But wait, there's more!
After announcing Beachwood's initial bottling plans for Tovarish last week, owner Gabe Gordon told the Weekly that other upcoming bottled releases made by head brewer Julian Shrago will include the Beachwood 6th Anniversary smoked black saison (in a 750ml bottle!), a bourbon-barrel-aged version of Scotch ale Full Malted Jacket and -- for the Ink-N-Iron Festival next April -- another batch of the Still Life Stout, a beer currently on draft, inspired by the Seal Beach tattoo parlor where every Beachwood employee has gotten inked.
"We wanted to go with beers that are shelf-stable, like bottle-conditioned ales," Gordon said of why there are no bottled IPAs in the works. "And we wanted to focus on getting them in bottle shops as opposed to bars, because those are places that haven't had a chance to carry us yet."
Only 60 cases of Tovarish were prepared -- a process done by hand at the brewery that took four guys 14 hours to complete -- and about half of that will stay on site to be sold there. The rest will be self-distributed to select stores (think Stearns Liquor and Bruery's Provisions) mostly in Long Beach and Orange County, available for $20 a pop.
For the labels, Gordon says he interviewed countless graphic design firms looking for the right fit and finally found Bobby Sattler, Element Skateboards' art director, who will be creating a flexible identity for Beachwood's bottles.
"I gave the example of surf companies," Gordon said. "I like how, even though they might have lots of different interpretations and put out designs in various styles, you can still tell that it is all from the same company."
Since the Sattler-designed labels are awaiting final approval from the government, Beachwood does not have an official release date for any of its bottles, though Gordon anticipates Tovarish to be on the market by Dec. 14 and the 6th Anniversary ale in time for the Beachwood BBQ Seal Beach 6th Anniversary Party on Dec. 20.
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