L.A. Beer Week's move from September to June isn't the only big change for the event this year. Its opening festival is moving from Chinatown to Exposition Park, and Unity -- the official brew of the celebration of craft-brewing culture -- is getting a new home at Smog City Brewing's Torrance brewery.
Unity is a collaboration between Los Angeles brewers, and for each of the previous five years the beer has been made at Eagle Rock Brewery. Brewers from across L.A. gathered in Glassell Park to help Eagle Rock Brewery create beers including a German wheat beer featuring prickly pears, a British mild with hibiscus and honey, and last year's citrus-infused American pale.
Starting this year, the responsibility for creating the annual beer will rotate through the different breweries in the L.A. Brewers Guild, and Smog City was elected to host the collaboration this year.
Smog City Brewing's founder and brewmaster, Jonathan Porter, described the new Unity as "tart saison-style ale." The beer is designed to be light and refreshing, perfect for the warm early summer days that Beer Week ushers in. The beer will debut at the L.A. Beer Week opening festival on June 20 -- the last day of spring.
"We like to think of it as a take on an Americanized farmhouse ale with our house blend of Belgian saison [yeast] strains," Porter said. "We're using some American hops, some European hops, and all imported malts."
Smog City is known for ushering new fans into the world of craft beer and creating some inventive and exciting brews that have captured the hearts of the local beer-geek set. Unity 2015 should fall in that same area between classic and creative. The goal is to create an approachable brew with plenty of depth to its flavor profile.
Besides the Beer Week kickoff party, Unity will see very limited distribution on draft. The majority of the 900-gallon batch will be bottled and distributed to local retailers.
"We are doing more cases of this beer than we've ever done of any brand," Porter said. "We really want to get this out as an L.A. Beer Week and L.A. Brewers Guild promotion. The best way is to get it in as many hands as possible. It's about spreading the word."