Haven Gastropub in Pasadena has a new brewmaster, and his experience and attention to detail are leading to brews that demand attention.
In recent months several skilled brewers from the Bay Area's acclaimed Drake's Brewing have landed gigs at L.A.-area craft breweries. Golden Road Brewing hired Jesse Houck in January, Lancaster's Kinetic Brewing brought-on Alexandra Nowell. And six months ago former Drakes brewer Brian Thorson took the wheel at Haven, where he was given free reign to develop a new lineup of brews for the Pasadena brewpub.
Before his five-year stint at the renowned Bay Area brewery, Thorson was educated in the master brewers program at UC Davis and cut his teeth in the industry at New England's Harpoon Brewery and Berkeley's Trumer Brauerei.
Thorson's brewing philosophy -- "keep it simple" -- manifests in a keen eye for the smallest variables in his brews. From equipment configurations to the minutia of water chemistry, Thorson strives to create approachable, drinkable beers. He is focused on developing a core lineup of beers for Haven, and he wants to help define L.A.'s brewing identity through his new beers.
Since taking charge at Haven, Thorson has brewed nearly a dozen new beers, including a simple but exceptional Simcoded pale ale and a more experimental P.E.D. (Performance Enhancing Drink), which infuses a low-alcohol brown ale with Portola Coffee Labs beans. Thorson says that he's enjoying the comparatively small-scale brewing because it affords him more of an opportunity to experiment with different specialty ingredients.
The Pasadena brewpub -- located just off bustling Colorado Boulevard -- is the best place to get a taste of Thorson's new brews, but the Haven Collective also operates the original Haven Gastropub in Orange, a taco shop in Costa Mesa and the new Provisions Market in Orange County where Thorson's beers will be featured. And taps of Haven beers can also be found at L.A.'s better craft beer bars.