For the last 15 years, Victor Novak has been one of Southern California's best brewers, quietly making award-winning, European-style lagers and classic craft styles at an otherwise little-known upscale brewpub called TAPS Fish House, which has two locations, in Brea and in Corona. And now, the industry veteran will be leaving one of the oldest brewing operations in the region for one of the newest: Golden Road Brewing announced last night that Novak will be joining the Los Angeles-based operation as its head brewer. ]
According to an open letter from Golden Road's owner, Tony Yanow, Novak will for a time be working under current Golden Road brewmaster Jesse Houck — a celebrated Bay Area brewer who himself arrived in Los Angeles last January — but that the head brewer position is only temporary. In a sly hint at growth to come for L.A.'s largest brewery, Yanow says Golden Road is currently seeking a new, smaller facility, which Novak will man as brewmaster.
“Victor is well known for his precision and expertise as a highly acclaimed brewer over his 20-year career,” Yanow said. “Rarely does an opportunity like this present itself.”
Novak's hiring is big news for Los Angeles' beer scene, which has only in the last few years begun to churn out the kind of world-class beers for which Novak has long been known. Since 2001, both TAPS locations — under Novak's exclusive tutelage — have won a combined 16 medals at the Great American Beer Festival, putting the Brea and Corona brewpub mini-chain on the map for his cream ale, helles, schwarzbier and Irish red ale. Not to mention, the man oversees the coveted annual bottle release of Remy, an imperial stout aged in a stash of Pappy Van Winkle barrels.
“We are extremely pleased to welcome such talent to our already solid team of brewers,” Houck said of Novak. “Victor's experience and finesse in brewing will be a huge asset to the Golden Road brands and team.”
With a palate for delicate European styles and a knack for making flavorful, low-alcohol beers, Novak is a smart hire for Golden Road, which earlier this year released a year-round lager called 329 Days of Sun. Houck's experience with hoppy beers at Drake's Brewing, combined with Novak's skills at making clean, balanced German and session beers, is sure to make the future of Golden Road beers as well-rounded as its brewers.