So we’re here in 2014…which being a child of the 80’s feels pretty much like The Future. I’m waiting for my jet propelled sneakers and house cleaning nanobots but they have yet to arrive in the mail. So we keep working in the brewery waiting for the promises of the FUTURE to catch up.
This year, I won’t lie, it has been a blur. A race, a finish line, a new race and no end in sight (thankfully). Let’s take quick stock of what happened.
From Nov 2012 to Late April Smog City was under-construction. Porter spent his days bouncing between Tustin Brewing Co as head brewer, brewing Smog City beers and then running to our Torrance brewery to work in the evenings and weekends. I was making deliveries, handling sales and social media and quite literally counting the days until I could stop driving all over the city delivering kegs! I know it looked like fun, but with our 3 year old along for the ride…it was more difficult that it looked. One thing I will miss was visiting our accounts and the amazing people who sell our beers to on a regular basis. Oh and those that drink it too! For instance I’ll always remember and cherish the memory of the guy who called out of his apartment window directly across from The Tripel and asked which beer I was delivering! He knew who Smog City was!! People like that make my day.
Here’s our 30bbl brite tank being tilted up! Notice the fear in Porter’s face…it was genuine for all of us as we took refuge behind the layering tanks. All went smoothly, no worries…the guy driving the forklift was a professional.
Here we are today! We filled it up!
Okay, so truth be told we were in a bit of frenzy for the first few months. Finding our rhythm, getting our feet under us. Everything was moving faster than it ever had before. We felt like we were always slightly ahead of the curve but that curve was always right there on our tail…and it looked sharp. It’s an amazing experience to watch something grow from the ground up…literally and I’m thrilled to have taken many of you along for the ride.
April 26th, we hosted our first soft opening. We rolled up the door and wondered if anyone would find us. We didn’t post any info about the opening we just called a few friends and told them to come help us hammer out the details. The irony is that our first customers had NO idea that we were not yet officially open. They came in just as relaxed as can be and we were cheering and leaping about…they must have thought we were crazy. We owe a huge thanks to Monkish for sending people over to us during those first few months and even to this day. Thanks Henry and Adriana! We couldn’t ask for better neighbors.
May 18th, was our Grand Opening! The turnout was humbling and galvanizing. We had literally spent all of 2011 and 2012 marching along at a snail’s pace…brewing and distributing less in all of 2012 than we gave to Stone in our first two pick ups of 2013. Perspective. Now we were finally full steam ahead!
In June we officially joined the Stone Distribution family and Porter and I felt a huge weight lifted. Not only were they taking a heavy (literally and figuratively) load off our backs but the team is absolutely amazing. We couldn’t be more proud of this crew!
Over the next few months we hired Mike Freeman and Chris Walowski on as brewers, which was a served as a huge relief for Porter. We love our growing family and are so lucky to have these amazing, hardworking and talented brewers at Smog.
LA Beer Week was a rush! We hosted our biggest event to date, Rarest of the Rare at the brewery featuring 9 barrel-aged or sour beers on tap at one time and the debut of our GrapeApe IPA and Kumquat Saison. And at LA Union Station Beer Fest, our Hive Five Honey Bee got to “hive five” Greg Koch of Stone Brewing. Thanks for the love, Greg!
Rarest of the Rare confirmed that you guys like barrel-aged beer, A LOT…So we bought more barrels! Bourbon Barrels, Red Wine Barrels, White Wine Barrels…now we just have to be patient…more barrel-aged beer is on the horizon.
Then came Nov 4th, after much self-promoting and support from our fans, we were nominated LA’s Best Local Brewery of 2013 by L.A. Hotlist. So we threw a Fan Appreciation Party! Again, an amazing turnout and we are always reminded of just how in love we are with our fans…you guys rule. It was all smiles and new friendships and a pure delight. Keep voting for us and we’ll keep throwing you parties. 🙂
Hollywood! Laurie had 2 one second spots and a Smog City shout out from Jimmy of Beer Belly on Dinners, Drive-Ins and Dives and our brewery was used in a comedy sketch by The Birthday Boys! Rubbing shoulders…kinda. John and Joan Cusack, you guys reading this? Come visit!
Zambo and Porter during our Collaboration Brew
Dec 27th marked our FIRST EVER Collabation brew. Partnering with craft beer heavy weight 21st Amendment, Porter and 21st A brewer, Zambo brewed an Imperial Red made with pinot noir grapes and aged on cedar chips for SF Beer week 2014. California Love will be available at limited accounts in SF(including 21st A’s brewpub) and in our taproom.
Battle of the Casks #1 ©Lloyd Brown
To close out the year, we hosted our first ever Battle of the Casks. 5 Casks designed by each of our Smog City staff were poured side by and side and you got to vote for your favorite. Chris took 1st place, Ryan took 2nd and Porter took 3rd. Looking forward to our next Battle of the Casks which will be Saturday, April 5th!
As 2013 came to a close we were granted the most humbling of accolades, LA Weekly chose our Little Bo Pils as Best L.A. Beer of 2013. This little engine that could has quickly become our best seller in the market place. Finding homes for L.A.’s only local lager has been a blast! Go Go Little Bo!
LA Weekly Top 10 Beers of 2013!
A day later, John Verive of the L.A. Times placed our GrapeApe IPA on the 3 Most Important Beers of 2013 list. Porter has a habit of being slightly ahead of the curve. Our Groundwork Coffee Porter has established itself as a leader in the coffee beer genre and now I believe we’ll be seeing more interplay between wine and beer from other breweries. We’ve currently got two beers in fermentation using Grapes: our 21st Amendment Collaboration, California Love. And GrapeApe IPA with Chardonnay is on tap in our taproom. Look for more experimentation in the new year!
LA Times, Most Important So Cal Craft Beers of 2013
So thank you peoples of Smog! We love you, we need you, we will serve you great beer! Let’s all raise a glass and look forward to 2014 and the burgeoning craft beer scene here in our own town. It’s been a long time coming and I think we’ll see some amazing developments in the coming year.
Laurie + Porter and The Smog City Crew
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