The sour beer gold rush in Southern California continues unabated. And the latest brewery panning for spontaneously-fermented riches is The Beachwood Blendery in Long Beach.
The Blendery is something of a spinoff from the original Beachwood BBQ operation, which has locations in Long Beach and Seal Beach. Chef and owner Gabe Gordon (and his brewing team) have made a name for themselves on the national stage, sticking the landing multiple times at the beer Olympics (aka: the Great American Beer Festival) with beers like Mocha Machine coffee stout and Foam Top Cream Ale. But Gordon has upped his game with the addition of The Blendery brewing space.
And a new space is indeed necessary. Most beer is brewed in a tightly-controlled space with rigid adherence to exact recipes. The yeast and bacteria naturally found in the air are NOT invited. But with sours and other spontaneously-fermented ales, you actually want all that ambient goodness to shape the way your beer tastes. It’s the beer version of terroir. And so brewing “clean” beers like IPAs or stouts and “wild” beers like lambics or saisons in the same space could end badly for those IPAs or stouts. If wild yeasts and other beasties make it into a clean beer, it can totally spoil the batch. Enter Beachwood Blendery, where Gordon and team are developing a line of experimental lambics and saisons free from the worry that their IPAs are in danger.
The Blendery has released eight bottles so far in what it’s calling the Propagation Series. These beers are the product of early experimentation at the brewery; each one is a test to see how different kinds of beer will react to different kinds of yeasts and bacterias in The Blendery’s brewing space.
Selections include Propagation Series 016, a barrel-aged saison with Brettanomyces (funky yeast) added; Propagation Series 064 (also referred to as Berliner Rice), a crisp, shandy-like Berliner brewed with rice; and Propagation Series 128, a very exciting hopped saison brewed with Brett and a heritage grain called spelt. Sour beers generally take a longer to craft, so you can expect more pucker with later releases.
OK, so now that I have you excited about the beer, it’s time to cool your jets. You can pretty much only get the aforementioned brews in the tasting room, and the tasting room is only open on bottle release days (about once a month) for now. Gordon says the next release date will be in February, and he hopes to open the tasting room every weekend after that. So with new experiments coming of age on the regular, you may want to clear your Saturdays for the next year or so.
Beachwood Blendery, 247 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach