California Crafts

When you think of the state of California, a great deal of imagery come to mind. California is known for such things as, the sights and stars of Hollywood, the wisdom of the Griffith Observatory, the excellent year round weather, the amazing hiking trails and, of course, the legalization of recreational Marijuana. Los Angeles is one of the worlds biggest hubs for networking in the entertainment industry, and on this trip I met several talented musicians and tried some of the greatest beer the west coast has to offer. Along with the beer, I had to opportunity to visit and interview some great people along the way, and documented the experiences for you to enjoy.

 

The first stop on my California craft adventure led me to San Diego, where I had to opportunity to take a tour of the famous Green Flash brewery. Green Flash, started in 2002 by Mike and Lisa Hinkley is home to their popular flagship beer, the West Coast IPA. Green Flash got its name from a naturally occurring phenomenon with the same name, the curvature of the earth and the way that light bends combined with the sun disappears over the horizon and when the weather conditions are aligned, there’s a green flash, the perfect end to the day in San Diego.  Before moving to San Diego, the original location of green flash was in Vista, California, when the brewery moved to San Diego in 2011 the original location is another brewery called, “Latitude 33.” Green Flash currently distributes in 13 different states.

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I had the chance to interview Adam, a bartender for Green Flash and Devin, a tour guide. One thing I found interesting is that California and Michigan craft drinkers both share a love for IPA’s. “We’re very IPA forward, it a great summertime beer.” said by Adam. “The passion fruit kicker is the perfect warm day beer, an American wheat ale with passion fruit puree, passion fruit black tea, very tart, very fruit and pairs perfectly with with weather, so refreshing.” Adam responded when asked about another popular beer from Green Flash. I had the opportunity to try the Lustrous Frumento with Nutella from Green Flash. Nutella and beer combined is a interesting choice that peaked my interesting in this double imperial stout. Coming in at a strong 13.5% ABV and 60IBU, the bourbon barrel age brew fuses with coffee, nutella gives it a bold, distinct taste that would make any beer geek like myself jump for joy!

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After the tour at green flash, I had the opportunity to sit down with Green Flash tour guide Devin after the tour to chat it up more about the in’s and out’s of Green Flash and to my surprise, he a very knowledgeable beer guide by day, but, aHip hop producer by the stage name, Dayfade at night. “I’ve been trying to progress and become better, but at the same time, maintain that rawness to my beats” when talking about a conversation with fellow California based producer, Kendall Carter. Another fellow producer Dayfade has credited is friend and fellow San Diego based producer, Abjo. “Nobody’s telling him how to do stuff, he’s doing it his one way, that means I could to it a similar way, I could do my thing, my way, he’s around my age so it’s inspiring to me.” Dayfade has been producing since 2009 and has released projects such as, Zero.0 and Olympian Heights. “What makes Olympian Heights different from his other work is the focus on classic, raw soul and jazz sample loops and chops from 1970s vinyl records” an excerpt from the description page on his bandcamp profile. Be sure to check out great things from Dayfade and the San Diego music scene in the future.

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photo credit, Dayfade’s bandcamp

The next stop on my California craft let me to the Downtown Los Angeles Arts District where I made at stop at Angel City Brewery. Angel CIty Brewery, founded by award winning home brewer,  Michael Bowe in 1997. In 2004, The original location for Angel City Brewery was City an 8,000 barrel German-made brewery in Alpine Village near Los Angeles that was purchased on Ebay. In 2012, Angel city relocated to Downtown Los Angeles at its current location within the Arts District.The grand opening of the new brewery and pub house took place on May. 2013 at Angel City’s self-hosted heritage festival. Walking around, I notice a lot of interesting artwork on the walls from artist around the area, gave it a relaxed vibe and put the “arts”, into the arts district.

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I had the opportunity to interview Jessica from Angel City to get a bit more info about the Brewery. “Our best seller is going to be our Angel City IPA, it’s one of our flagship beers and it’s one of those beers you can find out in the real world, one of five flagship beers you can find outside of the brewery” Jessica responded when asked about the most popular beer offered at Angel City. “Breweries aren’t really in that much competition with each other, each brewery is based on the style of their head brewer. So, our head brewer has a certain unique style for our type of beers. One of witch is out Srirachelada.” Jessica responded when asked what makes Angel City different from other breweries in the area. For those of you who enjoy a good bloody mary, or enjoy the kick of a little spice, the srirachelade is a unique spin on the classic michelada. Coming it at 4% ABV and 15 IBU, recommended for those who live life on the spicy side.

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My last brewery of the night led me to Arts District Brewing Company in Downtown Los Angeles.  Opened in Dec. 2015 and operated under the 213 brand, Arts District Brewing Co. gives off a very unique vibe as soon as you walk in the door. I was greeted by the friendly host staff and offered a sample of the Le Mule, a brew with fresh lime zest and ginger; a strong combination of the taste of a Moscow Mule meets the consistency of a Belgian style ale. As I look around, it actually felt more like a bar than a brewery, then I realized, they offer cocktails as well as local brew their own beer. Loaded with skee ball machines, arcade games, and, a photo booth, it’s sure to entertain craft beer nerds as well as the average person looking to get out the house for a good time.

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I had the opportunity to interview Steven and Bobby from Arts District Brewing about the in’s and out’s of the brewery and a general overview of the arts district. “Our history is mainly cocktail bars, so this division is new for us. We’re the only brewing facility in LA with a full bar.” Steven responded when asked about the different breweries within the arts district. “We don’t like to say no to people if we don’t have to, we have cider, wine, cocktails, fresh juice programs, so one thing that sets us apart from other breweries is that you don’t have that.” he continued. “Traction IPA is our top selling beer, it’s the one named after the street we’re on.” Bobby responded when asked about the most popular beer offered at Arts District Brewing Co. The Traction IPA is an American style IPA coming it at 7.80% ABV and 0% IBU. “Right now we’re just staying local, our brew team is only 2 ½ people supplying all of those beers you see on the list, 2 full time brewers and one assistant, they bust their ass so we don’t have the time. We have all these bars that want our beer and fortunate enough that we’re selling so much in house; we’re just trying to keep up with the demand in house.” Steven and Bobby  responded about distribution in other states. The beer list for Arts District Brewing Co is updated daily.

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After the interview, I had the pleasure of trying a “pick your own flight” which you can see photographed below.

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The next day, I decided that it’s time to focus on the Beats aspect of Beats and Brews, I decided to take a trip back to Downtown Los Angeles on the search for live music. After 20 minutes or so of walking around, I ended up at a local venue called, The Lexington where I had the pleasure of checking out a set from, “Flat Rat and the Exterminators.”  Almost instantly, I noticed lead singer and guitarist, R.E. King’s playing style bared strong similarities to the Late Jimi Hendrix, with his own unique gritty blues spin, the strong percussion of drummer Ernesto and the smooth bass from bassist Jessica to tie it all together. R.E. King and Jessica have been jamming together in a variety of different bands over the years, so, when R.E. King met Ernesto at 5-Star Bar in Downtown Los Angeles at another show about a year ago, they hit it off, soon after was the Birth of Flat Rat and the Exterminators.

 

“The idea is to be organic as possible, we like to think that should the grid go down, we’d still be able to play because we’d pick up our acoustic guitars and go out and continue to play.” R.E. King responded about creating their own sound. “It’s just more natural, it comes from both of us, it comes from all of us. We have songs set up a certain way, like every time we play it, we could play it a little different, with a little more soul, a little more feeling, something more interesting, and it’s like that everytime, that’s why it’s so fun to play.” Ernesto continued. “I’ve played with Mr. King for a long, long time time in a variety of bands, so with Ernesto came along, this particular formation started taking off and we really all love it.” Jessica added.

As a person who writes and performs his own music, I always am curious to know the origin story of how and why people pursue , R.E. King responded, “As a kid, I had a few musicians in the family all ready, so, when my sister brought home her guitar playing boyfriend home, it kinda did it for me, the initial seed was planted but to have the shock of someone in my house playing the electric guitar, it did it for me.” “I was lucky to have brothers and sisters who were major music lovers, so I would steal all there records when they weren’t looking; Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind & Fire. I had a roommate in college who was a Quincy Jones fan and once I heard that, that was it. When you’re a kid, you hear all these beautiful sounds that put you at peace, and I just knew singing did something for me nothing else did” Jessica added. “I had no idea music was my thing, growing up I had nobody around playing instruments, but I would have my favorite bands, one of my favorite bands growing up was Muse, Muse is badass and they got me through high school. I’m the oldest of four, so I convinced my mom to buy a Muse concert DVD for me. She would throw on concert videos on all the time, Marc Anthony, Justin Timberlake and she would force us to watch it because of my siblings. S, I brought Muse to them and told them “Sit down, you’re going to watch this with me” and every concert we would sit down and watch, we’d get off the couch and start jumping up and down and mimicking air guitars, and from there, I realized I loved music.” Ernesto said.

Flat Rat and the Exterminators are currently in the process of recording an album under their label home, “Not Dead Yet Records.”

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After leaving The Lexington, I decided to take off in search of another act to check out around the area. I walked several blocks in Downtown Los Angeles and after about an hour, I ended up at The Redwood Bar & Grill where I had the pleasure of catching a set from the high energy Latin rock trio, Ale‘. Ale, a Los Angeles based band is known for their unique fusion of Latin music with a punk rock twist. After their set, I had a chance to talk to lead singer Ale‘ (Gonzalez Gomez) and drummer Roro Lofish. We didn’t get a chance to get a face-to-face interview, but I’ve been in contact with the band via Instagram and email, so, I had the pleasure to interview them about the the history of the band, their most recent project named, “Dimensions” and upcoming plans for the future.

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Photo credit: Ale’s Facebook fan page

E-Man :One thing that instantly stuck out to me about your sound is the unique fusion of latin and punk in your music. When the band was being formed, did you already have a mindset the sound you were going for or did it just develop naturally over time?

ALÉ: it was a bit of both. I’m influenced by many styles of music including certain aspects of punk rock as well as Latin

based rhythms, beats and lyricism that stem from songs in Spanish that i grew up listening to as a kid in a Mexican household. a lot of it came naturally, but i also had a specific approach that i wanted to execute in a specific way.

 

E-Man: How long have you guys been playing together for? Where you all in different bands before forming ALÉ and if so what was the name of the previous bands?

 

 ALÉ: this project started sometime around 2013. but i didn’t start performing live with this project until 2014. it started off with a variety of rotating members on Drums and Bass. some members were a bit more consistent than others, But Willy and Roro have been my most consistent members. i enlisted willy in march of 2016. and i enlisted roro in April of 2017. personally i feel that we have amazing chemistry together.

Roro Lofish: some of the bands i’ve been in before were Los pasteles verdes, Afixion and right now I’m also in a band called Vim

ALÉ: i started playing bass many years ago in a metal band called hatred speaks, then played guitar and sang for a band called drifted.

Willy Reano: right now I’m in a few bands called La Tumba, Eddie Ono, and Politic whore.

 

E-Man: I love the diversity of sound in this album, the first track, “La Sombra” combines a traditional Latin style with a punk rock twist that LA is famous for and segways the listener into the tone of the album. Then, it cuts into more mellow songs like White Rose where it puts the listener at ease then around track six, “Imagen” it starts to combine the two tones displayed throughout the album. Then, a little bit further down, on track eleven, “She Only Knows Love” it cuts to a short poem at the end about a woman, not sure if metaphorical or literal, but, it was another strong point that stuck out to me on the album. It displays awesome storytelling throughout all 12 tracks, so, Did you have a concept or an influence in mind going into writing for the album? Are all the songs connected to one story or does each individual song tell it’s own story?

ALÉ: Dimensions is somewhat of a concept album. a story in a way. i am a big fan of cinema and film. i am also a big fan of the aesthetic value of poetry. so when i worked on the outline and dynamics of the album i wanted to present it a lot like a film that you can’t see, but only listen too. Although there will be music videos for certain songs on the album in the near future that i would like to experiment with and present as well. the only words i can think of that i would say i had in mind while going into this album were Spirituality, Reflection, Circumstances, Healing & Love (whether it’s loss of love or love reborn).

Music (especially Rock n Roll) to me is the transformation of matter. the transformation of energy. so within this album i wanted to get that across in a auditory manner but with a cinematic feeling. and i feel that the poetic elements emphasize that alot.

Also, this album consists of 18 special guests. a mix of poets and various musicians from Los Angeles and surrounding Areas: (Abel Salas, Paulo Diaz, Anna Lilia Ureña, J.c. De Luna (Barrio Dandy), John Montgomery, Giovanni Verduzco, I Gemini, Willy Reaño, Gerry Welch AKA Maestro Desean, Timoteo Barron Curtiss, Gannon Wise, Cindy Martinez
Paul Reyes, Evan Marcus Rosenthall, Julian Salvador, Javier Salvatierra, Josue Andrade and Eduardo Chaidez.)
i know that has a lot to do with the diversity of the sound. i originally was trying to enlist 20 guests, but a few people couldn’t make it. what happens is.. i write something.. whether it’s on paper or on an instrument and i hear certain styles or envision specific ways of delivering whatever it is that i have written and as a producer i think of certain people who i know can deliver that written piece the way i envisioned it. but it is also my job as a producer to work with them and guide them in a detailed manner until we get it exactly how i am hearing it in my mind. and when that happens it is one of the best highs in the world in my opinion. it’s something that i live for. so being a producer and more of a collaborator is something i look forward to in future projects whether they’re my own or for someone else.

 

E-Man: Going back to the set at redwood, stage presences is becoming somewhat of a lost art form in music these days. You guys provided a very unique listening experience. Do you guys have any upcoming shows or tours lined up for 2018? What other venues have you previously played?

ALÉ: no upcoming tours yet, but we do have another show on saturday april 21st at the witches brew in North Hills, CA

with Warvox and Vim Furor. We also have another show again at the Redwood bar in Downtown LA, CA for Cinco De Mayo. We’ve performed at various other venues as well. to many to remember at the moment.

 

E-Man: While listening through Dimensions, I was curious if you had had any artist influence on inspire your sound? Was there someone you heard and was like, “I wanna do that someday, but with my own twist”

ALÉ: for me personally various rock bands. Electronic artists from the 90’s. Various Latin Artists as well.

 

E-Man: We operate on dream time, in order to save a sleepwalking world from wasting away” I saw this at the end of the manifesto on the website and it was a cool quote that stuck out to me. I wanted to know a little bit more detail on how Operating on DreamTime came to be. Backstory? Other affiliated artist? Anything you’re willing to share on it in this interview.

 

ALÉ: Operating On Dreamtime started as my production company. anything i do whether it’s  audio engineering, producing, writing music for my band or for others. consulting etc… it is all under that name. it came about because personally i got really tired of record labels giving me the run around and excuses so i said to myself “Fuck them.. i’ll start my own production company”. and that’s exactly what i did.  there isn’t any other affiliated artists as of now, but i do have my mind on a few artists and bands that i would really like to discuss things with. Operating On Dreamtime is also a way of life. if you read the entire manifesto you will understand what i mean. this is only the beginning.

 

E-Man: Other then Rock, are there any other genres that you guys listen to? EDM, Hip-Hop, Country and who specifically?

Roro Lofish: i also listen to Tropical, Mariachi, Norteñas, pop, R&B, folkloric anything that touches the soul.

ALÉ: i really love Hip Hop, classical music. pop. jazz. flamenco. trova. latin music.

 

Willy Reano: i also listen to Hip hop, chicha, dub/reggae.

E-Man:  Finally, What’s next for ALÉ going forward? Do you have any upcoming albums planned in the near future? What would you say would be your greatest accomplishment as a band to date? And what did you do different on Dimensions than previous projects such as, “Irregular Heartbeat?”

 

ALÉ: i am currently working on a 7 song EP titled “Blessings”. with more of an ethereal and sentimental sound. i am also creating custom made original music for a computer video game that is coming out soon.

i would say that our greatest accomplishment as a band up until now is continuing to live and exist.

As I stated earlier, I’ve been keeping in touch with the band and definitely make sure to look out great things from Ale‘ in the future.

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The last few days of my California craft adventure to go back to San Diego to check out a few more breweries before I head home to Michigan, a couple friends I was staying with told me about the famous Belching Beaver brewery and I decided to make the trip to check out what all the hype was about.

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Belching Beaver is known for their “Dam Good Times” and they indeed do that with their stunning dog friendly outdoor patio and their excellent selection of original brews. An interesting fact is that they have collaborated with rock group, “The Deftones” on a couple of signature beers, such as, “Deftones Phantom Bride IPA, Swerve City IPA, and most recently, Good Morning Beautiful brown ale.”  I had the opportunity of interviewing Eddie from Belching Beaver to get more info about the brewery. “The most popular beer we have is the Me So Honey by far.” Belching Beavers, Me So Honey is an American wheat pale ale coming in at 5.5% ABV and 19 IBU, a smooth wheat ale with a sweet honey aftertaste that would please any craft beer geek. “I’ve always been a drinker (laughter) but craft beer wise, I started working for stone about six years ago, and I was there for about five years before I came over to Belching Beaver. I learned a lot through Pat Stone(Stone Brewery) and that’s all they do is craft beer, they do everything on the spectrum.” Eddie responded when asked what got him into Craft Beer. I had the chance to try the Peanut Butter Milk Stout from Belching Beaver and I must say, this is not your typical milk stout. Compared to a similar brew such as New Holland Brewing, Dragon’s Milk, the PB Milk Stout has a silky smooth texture and drink-ability that makes each sip nostalgic, back to a time where we’re in elementary school eating Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches with the crust cut off. Coming in at 5.30% ABV and 30 IBU this was definitely one of my favorite brews while on this trip.

While talking to Eddie a bit more, he convinced me to take a last minute trip to Stone Brewery’s Headquarters in Escondido, California a few hours before I flew back to Michigan. Up until that point, the only beer I’ve ever tried from Stone was the Arrogant Bastard, mainly because that was that is the main beer distributed from Stone in the state of Michigan. Whole making growlers, I had the opportunity to sneak in a quick last minute interview with Alex of Stone Brewery to know a little bit more about the brewery.

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“Right now, one of our biggest sellers is our Exalted IPA, it’s apart of the Hop Worship series, a three part series that we’re doing in 2018.” Alex responded when asked about what current beer is trending at Stone Brewery. The Exalted IPA is a great fusion between citrus and hops that gives it a very refreshing crisp taste, but still keeping that traditional IPA flavor, similar to M43 by Old Nation. One thing that’s always peaked my curiosity about Stone Brewing is the gargoyle logo, so I was curious to know the origins of how that came to be. Alex answered, “So, the owners went with the gargoyle back when they started stone because they wanted to get away from what they call the evil spirits of brewing. Things like watering down the beer, using artificial products, things a lot of bigger breweries were doing at the time. They wanted to get away from those evil spirits and through history, gargoyles have been the symbol for warding off evil spirits, so they were very adamant about having a gargoyle as their logo.”  “I’m a fan of what Kris Ketcham is doing at the Liberty Station Brewery, he’s making some really awesome small batch beers. My personal favorite is one called Witty Moron, it’s a black belgian witbier. It’s the weirdest thing you’ll ever see but it’s one of the most amazing beers you’ll ever have.” Alex responded about his current favorite beer offered by Stone Brewing. Founded in 1996, Stone brewery has made their presence known in the craft beer world by not only being nationally distributed, but having breweries in Berlin, Germany and distribution throughout Europe as well..

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I had the pleasure of meeting a lot of great people throughout my trip to California, I’ve covered a lot of ground but I know I haven’t even scraped the surface of seeing everything that I should see. I took time off between going around breweries to do a bit of sightseeing, which you can see pictured below and this trip was everything I’d thought it would be and more. I titled this article California Crafts because California has crafted some of the finest beer, music, and people that I’ve ever met and I can’t wait to go back sometime in the near future.

I appreciate you all for taking the time out to read this article, and make sure to follow Beats and Brews for updates and future articles coming in the future. Till then, keep the hops and jams flowin’

 

 

 

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