The new beer from Golden Road Brewing was built for L.A.'s preponderance of beautiful, sunny days, and 329 Days of Sun lager is now on draft and will be everywhere in cans next month.
The first regular-production lager at the brewery, the new beer was developed to capture a piece of the huge market of beer drinkers who may not yet be fully devoted craft beer fans. But don't think beer geeks won't enjoy it, and don't call it a "gateway beer."
"I hate that term," says brewery co-founder Tony Yanow. To paraphrase his explanation, a gateway is something you pass through and don't often revisit. 329 Lager was designed to be an easy-drinking but full-flavored brew that suits the Southern California environment -- and the ample opportunities to enjoy a refreshing beer that our climate affords.
"If you want to classify [329 Lager] as a BBQ beer, or a backyard beer, or a ballpark beer ... and you live in Seattle, then that's a 100-day-a-year beer," says Yanow, referring to the 329 sunny days Los Angeles averages each year. "This is a beer that's made for the 11 months of great weather in L.A."
The golden lager is light in body and alcohol (around 4.8% alcohol by volume) with a cracker-like malt profile and a crisp, very clean finish. There's even a subtle hop bite at the end of each sip that keeps you reaching for another swig. Although 329 is by no means a hoppy beer. It won't scare off developing palates or drinkers accustomed to macro-brewed lagers, but brewmaster Jesse Houck's deft touch in the brewhouse allows the fruity and floral flavors of the German Opal hops to shine in the quaffable brew.
"We could have just whipped out a lager and it would have been easy," Houck says, "but [when designing 329 Lager] we started on the ground floor -- trying to design around L.A. as a market and really looking at what the consumer is looking for."
The brewery has produced nearly 500 barrels (more than 15,000 gallons) of the new lager, and the beer will available in six-packs of 12-ounce cans retailing for "around eight bucks" beginning next month. 329 Days of Sun will also be the first release to use the brewery's new, more environmentally friendly packaging. 100% recycled and full-color printed chipboard boxes are replacing the brewery's signature heavy brown cardboard boxes across the line of GRB beers.
The beer lovers behind Golden Road Brewing are serious about giving Los Angeles craft beers that fit our environment, climate and tastes, and although the ambitious brewery might get flak from the beer geek set ("the 1% of beer drinkers," as Yanow calls them -- and he counts himself among them), the beers are winning fans and making loyal customers among the other 99%.