Angel City Brewery opening is now in sight
The reboot of downtown’s Angel City Brewing is on target for an early 2013 opening, but head brewer Dieter Foerstner will continue rolling out new beers well in advance of the grand unveiling of the refurbished tap room. At a sneak peak event last week, Angel City showcased a vanilla porter and on tap for later this month is a look at his pilsner.
There’s one catch: The porter and the pilsner are designed for now to be tap-room exclusives, and the tap room probably won’t open till the spring.
In addition to putting the finishing touches on the large, Art Deco-styled warehouse, Angel City operators are still awaiting final approval from the city. Optimistically, the brewery hopes for a grand opening in March or April, but will open for limited tasting hours once granted approval.
The launch of the new beers continues the Angel City mission outlined last year by Alan Newman, one of the principals in Angel City owners Alchemy & Science and the founder of Magic Hat Brewing in Vermont. Newman told The Times in mid-2012 that he envisioned having eight beers in rotation at any given time, with the tap room housing some of the more limited, experimental offerings.
“My goal is to have a minimum of eight beers on tap at all times,” Newman said. “Once we can do that, we’ll start pushing. We’re accumulating bourbon barrels, so I would love to play with sours and so some higher alcohol beers.”
Angel City has already laid the groundwork for a robust catalog. The company’s Eureka! Wit and Angeleno IPA are now regularly spotted on tap throughout downtown (the brewery also has an active events schedule).
Early beers from Foerstner included an auburn, German-styled ale as well as a white IPA, a lower alcohol, wheat beer/IPA hybrid. Foerstner once described the latter as a “breakfast beer,” noting that it “kind of has a pineapple, banana, tropical breakfast deliciousness.”
But crafting a strong pilsner was always a priority. The West Coast is known for its hop-infused beers, and the Southern California craft breweries are no exception. Few, for instance have taken chances with lagers. Why? With the risk of over-simplifying matters, a lager is a more time-consuming, more challenging and a more expensive beer to make than an ale, making it a riskier proposition for a craft brewer.
Among the respected offerings locally are Helles Lager from Redlands’ Hangar 24, which the brewery has just started putting into cans, and The Citizen, from Rancho Santa Margarita’s Cismontane, which is available in bottles. Yet it’s safe to say there’s room to grow, and Angel City’s pilsner will come in with a moderate alcohol by volume of 5%. Early tasting notes on the beer describe it as a “medium bodied Bohemian style pilsner with a dry, hoppy finish.”
“This market is ripe for a good pils,” Newman said. “You don’t see a lot of just good drinking amber lagers out here. On the East Coast, every state has one. They’re not out here. I want to try something in that world.”
Alchemy & Science, a subsidiary of the Boston Beer Co., finalized its purchase of the fledgling Angel City in early 2012, and has been busy reshaping the brewery’s home, a three-story 1913 John A. Roeblings building on the corner of Alameda Street and Traction Avenue. The 23,499-square-foot facility will offer spaces for private rental. The Friday outing still featured a work-in-progress tap room, but its large bar and picnic tables created an early communal vibe.
“Our feeling is that if we create a space people enjoy coming to, we’ll become part of the community,” Newman said. “Beer sales will go up and down, but you have to become a valuable member of the community to get support.”
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