Two substantial changes developed for the L.A. beer scene last week. The popular Bruery Provisions store in Old Towne Orange closed its doors on Sunday, Jan. 13. Only a few days earlier, Golden Road Brewing announced the hiring of new head brewmaster Jesse Houck (Drake's Brewing).
Beer lovers across L.A. and Orange counties yielded a collective sigh when rumors of Bruery Provisions' closing were realized on Sunday. In more than two years of successful service, the shop offered quality cheese, merchandise and every Bruery beer available to the general public, in addition to an estimable collection of guest bottles. From September 2010, it made short work of becoming a beloved and convivial source for locals and offered the perfect pit stop to those making the drive between Los Angeles and San Diego.
So why would a storefront so beloved and ostensibly successful retire after a relatively short run? Founder and CEO Patrick Rue explains, "it has taken a disproportionate amount of the Bruery's resources to operate." By all accounts, Rue is referring to the relatively large staff the store required, as distinguished from the production end of the brewery.
Rue continues, "I realised [Provisions] has taken a significant amount of our efforts away from our core purpose ... to make really fantastic beer." And make beer they shall. The brewery has increased production 130% over the last few months, with 40% of its beer aging in some 3,000 barrels.
Perhaps that's the whole story: Rue is first and foremost a brewer and reasonably wants to redirect his efforts to his passion. Why he didn't sell some incarnation of his store, which had become an education tool and community asset, to a trusted entrepreneur or find an alternative to closing remains a mystery.
If you missed the opportunity to pay a last visit, rest assured the store was completely picked over by Saturday. This closing in no way marks a cessation of the Bruery's presence in Southern California -- check out the new taproom at the brewery in Placentia, and take a tour of the barrel-heavy brew space. To read Patrick Rue's complete farewell to his Provisions store, click here.
Equally surprising news came from the north on Thurs., Jan. 10, when Golden Road Brewing announced the hiring of new brewmaster Jesse Houck, following the departure of Jon Carpenter, who originated the position. Houck comes to L.A. from San Leandro, where he was production manager and head brewer at Drake's Brewing Co.
Golden Road president and co-founder Meg Gill first met Houck at 21st Amendment Brewery in 2008. She writes, "As we look forward to 2013, we have big plans for the direction we want our beers to go. We're thrilled to bring Jesse's leadership and dry, hoppy, clean-beer-loving palate to L.A."
Jon Carpenter, whose background includes time at Dogfish Head Brewery and Anheuser-Busch, is known for his dedication to quality brew and for being one of the easiest brewers to whom we've had the pleasure of speaking. He is moving on to as-yet-unnamed other projects, which we are hoping will be within the L.A. community.
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