The idea for Golden Road Brewing, explains co-owner Meg Gill, “is to produce beers we can have one of all day, every day.” At 26, Gill is the youngest female brewery owner in the country. Along with Golden Road master brewer Jon Carpenter, who's only 29, the two are setting out to saturate the Los Angeles market, one brew at a time.
Though they have no plans to open a tasting room for the public (permits and such), Gill and Yanow are converting Golden Road's yellow warehouse into a restaurant. Mohawk Bend executive chef Randal St. Clair will oversee the still unnamed brewpub's menu.
The brewery will formally open during LA Beer Week (October 10 – 23), but beer fans will spot tastings at bars all over town in the months leading up to it. Looking at the mostly empty warehouses, with torn-up floors and massive beer tanks still swaddled in plastic laying on the ground, it seems hard to believe that Carpenter hopes to start brewing Golden Road's first official batch in late August.
“This is a great city with so many great bars opening,” Carpenter says, “but you have to drive everywhere. We want to make flavors that are phenomenal, but also ones you can sample and you can drink more than two of.”
To that end, the first beer off the line will likely be a hoppy ale with a low alcohol content, probably under 5%, something along the lines of a very traditional IPA.
After launching the basic line of beers, Carpenter says the plan is to broaden and start making beers on the periphery, not just the 4-6% beers. “Tony and I agreed that to do it properly, we have to focus on volume and on our core beers, but we also have to experiment, so we're devoting ourselves to two models: a big-volume brewing system and a specialty brewing system.”
The first two beers off the line will be brewed on the specialty system, until the larger system is installed. The larger volume brews will tend to be dry, California-style beers, malty with a strong hop character, not overwhelming in their bitterness and perhaps with a hint of citrus or a lighter piney note.
Both Carpenter and Gill are big IPA fans, but there's no overriding mandate. Carpenter is also a huge fan of porters and thinks there could be a few more of those on the market. Plus, he's considering German and Belgian-style beers, witbiers, hefeweizens, American wheat beers and just about everything else. In general, the man is a fan of yeast, with all its mercurial charm and instability.
“Some yeasts get a big fruity flavor, some are more clean-fermenting. We want the yeast to provide a charge, to make it rounder and more dry,” Carpenter says. “But what's more important than developing your own strain of yeast is making sure you're getting the flavors you're looking for. You can brew the exact same strain of yeast and have two completely different batches.”
Everything that comes out of Golden Road will be available in cans rather than bottles, Gill was adamant on that point. “Aluminum is infinitely recyclable while glass breaks down after a couple of usages. You can fit 40% more beer on a truckload when you use cans instead of bottles, and cans require less packaging,” she explains. Plus, there's the quality control issue. Because there's less headspace at the top of a can than at the top of a bottle, there's less room for air — and for error. If Gill learned anything from her experience at Dale's Pale Ale, it's that quality beer can come in a can.
Soon enough, Golden Road should be churning out can after can of the stuff, hoping to prove that Los Angeles can accomplish the same feat on a home-grown level.