Los Angeles is not known as a heavy-hitter in terms of beer production. For whatever reason, the area has just never taken off as a marquee beer market despite plenty of capital and plenty of snooty people with (allegedly) good taste. People around here are happy to drink micros from San Diego, Colorado, Oregon and even the Northeast. The market is clearly big enough to support a strong brewing effort, yet it just hasn’t materialized.
Golden Road Brewing is trying to change that. In addition to their kick-ass brew pub that visits like a giant outdoor party, they have five core beers that are available in nearly every supermarket and a series of five more limited releases that can also be found. But visit the brew pub and you never know what you’ll find. A rustic saison, a nitro dry stout, a west coast mild or Berliner weisse might just knock your socks off. All of their beers are brewed and canned in Los Angeles, making it truly a hometown beer brand.
They knocked it out of the park when they recently released their Summer of IPA Sampler Pack. It’s nine 16oz cans, containing three different IPAs: Point the Way IPA, Wolf Among Weeds IPA and their limited release Heal the Bay IPA. I spent Labor Day Weekend moving across town (in what turned out to be a nightmare, I might add) and christened my new place with these guys and was not disappointed in the least. For not being a city known for its beers, these IPAs are surely worth a drink. Let me take you through the sampler and break it down brew-by-brew.
Point the Way IPA (5.9% ABV, 60 IBUs)
- Appearance: a golden yellow that shows some malt (3.5)
- Scent: hops and pine, a little earthy, smells like your standard IPA (4)
- Taste: lots of hops, some malt balance and notes or orange/grapefruit (3.25)
- Mouthfeel: a medium body, a very dry, bitter finish (3.5)
- Overall: what you’d expect from a flagship IPA, good all-around qualities, standard but solid (3.5)
This is the flagship IPA for Golden Road and it does what an every day IPA should: gives you a punch of hops, sparkles on the palate and finishes good and dry, showcasing the bitterness of the hops. It’s solid if not outstanding, but is really the type of IPA that every brewery has to hang it’s hat on. I like the balance, but I really like the fresh hop aroma. Nice beer.
Wolf Among Weeds IPA (8.0% ABV, 80 IBUs)
- Appearance: a dark, golden amber with some foam (3.75)
- Scent: a bunch of fragrant hops, some dank earthiness, and more hops (4.25)
- Taste: big, hoppy profile on the palate, some citrus and earth (4.25)
- Mouthfeel: medium-full body, lingering bitterness but less dry than the IPA above (4)
- Overall: almost an imperial by taste, ABV and IBUs, this IPA is made for the hophead. If you like to smell, taste and live your hops, this is the beer for you (4)
With plenty of alcohol, this one can sneak up on you, but you’ll thoroughly enjoy it. The hops are abundant and it still has some balance, so it won’t obliterate the palate. The earthy qualities are a nice touch and give it a sort of rooted, natural taste. It’s a great IPA experience, putting it in good company.
Heal the Bay IPA (6.8% ABV, 65 IBUs)
- Appearance: a light yellow with white foam (3.75)
- Scent: noticeable citrus to go along with fresh hops (4)
- Taste: tart, some fruit and hops, obviously (4)
- Mouthfeel: medium-light body, relatively smooth, very pleasant citrus/hop aftertaste (4)
- Overall: a delicious, refreshing, easy-to-drink IPA that breaks the mold from the two above. This has West Coast summer written all over it (4)
This is part of Golden Road’s seasonal custom IPA series, which has been great (including the 2020 IPA). Proceeds from Heal the Bay IPA supports Heal the Bay, an organization that protects Southern California watersheds. The beer itself is the perfect compliment to the warm SoCal summer, drinking smooth for an IPA and bringing that lighter, more refreshing profile without sacrificing its IPA identity. That’s a fine line to walk, but they’ve done a really good job with this one.
Next time you’re in LA, don’t miss the Golden Road brew pub and don’t miss their beer. The beer scene here can be described as “emerging,” but Golden Road is already here and they’re doing good work. Take a break from the Los Angeles madness and give them a visit or order at your favorite restaurant. I think you’ll like what you find.