Grovetoberfest is back, coming on Oct. 15th. Frankly speaking, the list of participating breweries is nothing short of fantastic. While there are some obvious breweries, some new breweries, and some really interesting breweries, there aren’t too many shocking breweries.
With the exception of Angel City.
Angel City simply doesn’t distribute in Florida. I’ve never seen it here at all. It is part of Alchemy and Science, the brewing group that owns brands such as The Traveler, Coney Island, and Miami’s own Concrete Beach Brewing. It wasn’t always that way, as Angel City was originally founded in 1997 but homebrewer Michael Bowe. A&S has been operating the brewery since 2012.
Some time ago, I was able to use some connections (and a chance meeting with Alchemy and Science founder & Magic Hat ex-pat Alan Newman) to score a little backstage visit at Angel City during a recent trip to Los Angeles.
Big shocker, naming a brewery Angel City since it’s in the City of Angels. Heck, look at the logo. That’s LA City Hall, prominently featured. The brewery is right in the middle of LA’s new-ish Arts District. The district is quite similar to Miami’s Wynwood, ironically the place where Concrete Beach is located.
At Alan’s request, my LA friends and I met with Dan, who has pretty much held every single job you can at the brewery, and is currently their marketing guru. Dan gave an interesting tour, and completely bypassed the 8,000 BBL brewing system purchased on, of all places, eBay. A brew system is a brew system, and there’s a lot more interesting things to see there.
Dan started with something tours never get to see, but is a source of pride and joy for Angel City: the rooftop garden.
The garden takes up a good chunk of the roof, and is tended to by their own part-time gardener (he’s been gardening for years, even though he was still wearing his uniform from is day job as a plane engine mechanic). There’s a wide range of crops they’re growing, especially some great looking dragonfruit and a hop trellis just getting started on a new crop.
Interesting note on the hops: if you go and Rooftop IPA is on the menu, those hops were grown on the rooftop. It wasn’t available when I went, unfortunately. Dan told me every month or so the staff holds a cookout on the rooftop. That must be a blast, especially when this is the view:
While on the floors upstairs, one thing that was visible was the top of a giant slide, whose bottom stands in the tap room today. This is a remnant of the building’s former life, built for and named for the company of John A. Roebling, manufacturer of wire suspension cables. This firm supplied wire cables for some of the most iconic suspension bridges in the country, including the Brooklyn Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, and LA’s Vincent Thomas Bridge.
The building housing Angel City is where the cable was stored during the construction of the Thomas Bridge, and the slide was used to transport the giant wire spools from the storerooms above to the loading docks below. The slide is blocked off, of course, but I’m sure the Angel City crew took at least one spin down during construction.
The tap list was quite impressive, and there are a few others I wish I could have tried. I did get a bottle of the Srirachelada, which Alan described as ‘A Bloody Mary in a bottle.’ Still haven’t opened it, though.
One bottle not on the list that Dan opened was Funky Wit (Sour Ale, 6.6% ABV), a wild yeast-brewed witbier aged on oak. This year’s batch had been blended with last year’s, and the result was an explosion of spices, strong and sour yeast flavors, and a light wheat backbone. I almost left with a case.
The other beer to mention was 9.9 Problems (Imperial Stout, 9.9% ABV), a Russian Imperial Stout that was brewed with lager yeast. That small change went a very long way in smoothing out the beer, keeping all of the strength and dark roasty flavors, but removing the significant bite that usually accompanies the style. Add to that the fact that it was served on nitro, and you have a fantastic beer.
It’s exciting to see them in Florida, and I hope this means we’ll see them on store shelves soon. In the meantime, if you’re in Miami on Oct. 15th, you’ll be able to try them out first and get the full Angel City experience.
Well, except for the rooftop.
Drink Florida Craft,