When Phantom Carriage’s Martin Svab went to Portland earlier this year, he was excited for the opportunity to chat with some of the country’s greatest sour beer smiths. The tart beer geniuses at Cascade Brewing were hosting something of a sour convention, where brewers from around the country could swap tips and absorb the wisdom of the world-class Cascade brewing team (for some context: Cascade’s 750 ml sour bottles regularly go for more than $30—and they’re worth every penny). But Svab left Portland with much more than an invigorated love of sour beer; he left with the promise of a collaboration between Phantom Carriage and Cascade Brewing.
“I looked up to Ron [Gansberg, head brewer at Cascade] for many years,” Svab says. “And Cascade was the one to propose the collaboration. It was a huge deal for us.”
The resulting collaboration dropped during L.A. Beer Week to rave reviews (a 13.7% sour blend of bourbon and syrah barrel-aged beer? Yes please). And it also signaled to the beer world what Angelenos already know: The L.A. craft beer scene is rising to national prominence.
“Overall—and in short order—Los Angeles is creating its own beer culture. And it’s getting better every year,” Ron Gansberg of Cascade says. “We want to cement some long-term relationships with L.A. brewers. Collaborations are a great way to do that.”
Gansberg also collaborated with El Segundo Brewing Company on a double IPA/quad blend called Perfect Strangers. But there are several other nationally-prominent breweries that have been sniffing around the L.A. beer scene.
Colorado’s Left Hand Brewing Company recently teamed up with Beachwood BBQ and Brewing for an imperial brown ale called Electric LadyHand (on tap now at Beachwood’s Long Beach location). And Three Weavers landed a collaboration with 21st Amendment Brewery that brought us a deliciously juicy watermelon saison. Beachwood and Three Weavers also have collaborations on deck from Drake’s Brewing Company and Pizza Port respectively.
“It’s been amazing to watch Los Angeles catch up,” Phantom Carriage’s Svab says. “We’re more organized, there’s better beer, and people are paying attention.” He says that while L.A. hasn’t reached the upper echelons of American beer cities just yet (see: San Diego, Portland and the greater Denver area), we’re certainly on the way there. Just look at who’s looking at us – breweries from each of those beer hubs are collaborating right now with Los Angeles’ finest.