Instead of fierce rivalry, how about a bit of brotherly love? That was the unifying theme behind the California Love beer collaboration between brewmasters David Szamborski of 21st Amendment in San Francisco, and Jonathan Porter of Los Angeles’ Smog City Brewery, which first debuted during last year’s San Francisco Beer Week.
The two friends met around the mid-aughts while both working at BJ’s brewing operation before the company opted to downsize. An idea was hatched, during a California beer rivalry event, to compose a brew that would pay equal tribute to characteristics of both Northern and Southern California.
“After much soul searching (about 7 pints each for Porter and myself) we decided the Southern California should be represented by the sun, and therefore orange groves that were once prevalent in the area. So we included orange zest and peel from fruit grown in Orange County, and also threw in some hops. Most people think about wine country when they think of Northern California, so we brought in Pinot Noir must from grapes grown in Napa. Finally, we agreed that California is a strong state, so we went with an Imperial Red.”
To honor the Golden State’s 164th anniversary, the brewers are re-releasing California Love on Tuesday, 9/9 in limited quantities, and will be available on tap at 21st Amendment, Smog City, and Blue Palms Brewhouse (next to the Fonda Theatre) until the kegs run dry. You’ll find food trucks and music at each brewery too. The beer will pop up once again during L.A. Beer Week on September 25th at a Los Angeles vs. San Francisco event hosted by Mohawk Bend in Echo Park.
“Sure, there’s a rivalry, but we have a great sense of camaraderie because we’re in the same industry of craft beer,” says Porter. “But in terms of big cities, L.A. has been lagging. We have something to prove.”
“I’m excited about the scene down here,” says Szamborski. “In the next 10 years you’re going to see a massive growth and lots of innovation.”