Art of Craft ~ brews and reviews
By Greg Richardson

English beer has a special place in my heart.

I know some people have a thing for the Belgians, while others are hooked on hoppy IPAs. There is even one person I know who loves Berliner Weissbier.

For me, I think it will always be the English beers.

Born and raised in Wisconsin, my understanding of beer was shaped by the pilsners brewed by industrial brewers. One warm, humid summer day when I was working in Washington, DC I went to a gathering at my bossí house. I arrived early and went out on the deck to help him grill, taking the six-pack of industrial beer I had brought with me.

He already had a six-pack of the same beer in a cooler, so we each opened one.

We were talking and grilling and, before we recognized it, had gone through his six beers before anyone else had arrived. It felt like we were drinking water.

That was when I realized I was not really a fan of the beer I was drinking. The realization led to my taking several years away from beer.

It was a visit to England which brought me back to beer, restored drinking beer to me.

I had read books in which people walked into pubs and ordered beer. While I was there I sampled bitters, porters, and stouts which changed my perception of beer. I have been a fan of English beers since.

I have found several breweries in Southern California which share my appreciation for beers and ales brewed in the English style. For January I decided to visit three of them.

Our first stop was the Yorkshire Square Brewery in Torrance, which opened last May. Yorkshire Square is a welcoming, pleasant space with a stone fireplace and comfortable chairs. Yorkshire Square specializes in cask-conditioned, hand-pulled real ales.

I assembled a flight of four beers to highlight their offerings.

My first choice was an Early Doors pub bitter, which took my back to my visits to England. It is hoppy but not overly so and an excellent introduction to the brewery. The second choice in my flight was a Wuthering Stout, an oatmeal stout ale. I rounded out my four choices with a Jonathan porter(yes, it is an inside joke) and a Castle Dangerous Stout. Both beers are delicious. Castle Dangerous in particular is a malty foreign/export stout which was an excellent way to finish our visit.

I am eager to return.

The next stop on our tour was the Three Weavers Brewing Company in Inglewood.

Three Weavers was established in 2013 with a goal of Itís more than beer, itís community.

It was a warm, sunny winter afternoon in Southern California so we sat at an outdoor table. Like the English pubs I remember, the tasting room welcomed several people with dogs as well as a baby shower at a neighboring set of tables. 

I put together a flight of five beers which combined core beers along with seasonal beers and collaborations.

My Three Weavers flight began with a Deep Roots ESB, one of their core beers. Brewed with heirloom British malts, Deep Roots has a complex flavor which does not depend on extreme hoppiness. My next choice was a Stoutlandish Oatmeal Milk Stout on Nitro. The Stoutlandish was where I turned the corner into the dark end of the pool. My third selection was a Hounslow Porter, an American-style porter. My fourth choice was a Midnight Flight Imperial Stout, an American Double Imperial Stout which is malty and delivers smoky and cocoa flavors as well as dark fruit. I completed my flight with a Southbounder Coffee Stout, which tastes of coffee and roasted malts along with dark chocolate and toffee.

From Inglewood we continued up the 405 freeway to MacLoed Ale Brewing Company in Van Nuys.

MacLeod Ale had a food truck from Charlieís Wieners and offered a free soda to our designated driver. MacLeod also specializes in cask ales.

My flight of four MacLeod ales began with The Luckypenny ESB, a classic British bitter with light caramel notes and citrus hoppiness. I continued with The Session Gap ordinary bitter, another cask ale with a floral, woody character. My third selection was a Grantís Fancy milk stout. The cask brewing process gives it a more toasty, less sweet flavor than a milk stout on nitro. I completed my MacLeod flight with a Coffey Time Imperial Porter on nitro, made with beans from Jameson Brown Coffee Roasters.

Visiting these three breweries was almost like taking a trip to England. It was a delicious start to 2018.

Greg Richardson is a leadership and organizational coach, and a spiritual life mentor, in Pasadena, California. He is passionate about craft brewing, listening, and monks and monastic life. Greg is a recovering attorney, executive, and university professor. Gregís website is StrategicMonk.com and he is on Twitter @StrategicMonk. You can email Greg at StrategicMonk@gmail.com.

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