This past weekend the LA Beer Bloggers group were given the opportunity to be one of the first to visit MacLeod Ales in Van Nuys. I’ve been tracking the progress of this brewery for a while know largely due to the fact that they are focusing their taproom exclusively on cask conditioned, traditional British-style ales.
Aside from the obvious excitement I have for a real ale-focused brewery, I’m actually equally excited for their interpretations of British beer. I love the west coast & american styles as much as the next hophead, but my home in Toronto has a lot of historical ties to British brewing traditions, and it will be great to have a solid bitter on cask in LA every once and a while (one of the first casks I ever had was Best Bitter from Granite in Toronto). MacLeod’s head brewer, Andy Black, has a real passion for that tradition, and I think its about time that LA expanded it horizons away from hop-bombs and into something a little more classic.
MacLeod Ale opens to the public on Sunday June 22nd, with the following beers available fresh from the handpump:
The Little Spree [Yorkshire Pale Ale] – There is nothing quite like beer from Yorkshire, England, whose breweries have exceptional water sources. Yorkshire breweries create ‘mellow’ beer of unrivaled quaffability. Los Angeles water is not Yorkshire water by a long-shot, but it is part of the challenge of brewing beer in this city. The Little Spree aims to bring a fresh and unfiltered Yorkshire pale ale to LA.
This is a deceptively simple recipe, relying on quality raw ingredients and excellent yeast health for a clean beer without flaws. One malt and three hops makes for an approachable, refreshing beer that can still be enjoyed for its delicate complex flavors. An ode to a wonderful base malt, Golden Promise, and classic European hop varieties.
The Session Gap [Ordinary Bitter] – Pub bitters are rare in the US apart from bland, filtered, and pasteurized Boddingtons. Bitter really comes into its own when served at its peak in cask. It is a straightforward yet lovely beer, and its subtlety is often misunderstood. Not to mention the confusion of bitter/bitterness. It is reasonably assumed that a beer style named ‘bitter’ would have ‘bitterness’ or heavy hopping as primary attributes, but such is not the case as hops and malt play equal parts. However, there are years and years boosting the resilience of this misnomer, meaning we will just have to live with the contradiction.
The recipe for the Session Gap uses just a few specialty malts to create a rounded grain profile. The hops are common English varieties for that floral, wood, and earth character that is the cornerstone of the bitter style. Just enough hops to peak over the hedge of malt.
The King’s Taxes [Scottish 60/-] – The shilling system, as a means of differentiating ales, originates from the wholesale cost of a Scottish hogshead cask. Shilling designations corresponded with the original gravity of the wort, and has differed throughout history and from brewery to brewery . MacLeod’s 60/- equates to an OG of 1.047 as per the Wm. Younger brewing archive of 1868 (Source: R. Pattinson http://barclayperkins.blogspot.com/2011/10/classic-horst.html).
The King’s Taxes 60/- bridges between old and new interpretations of Scottish ales. The recipe uses a decent amount of proper cane sugar-based invert sugar syrup, equivalent to Brewer’s No. 2 invert. It lends a clean maple syrup to caramel-sweet note, not achievable with beet sugar inverts (i.e. Belgian candi sugar). Inspite of this one old-timey ingredient, an extended boil is avoided by using dark specialty malts for color and a bit of toastiness to keep the invert flavor in check. Hopping is minimal; this beer is all about the flavors gleaned from the malt and sugar.
Jackie Tar [Best Stout] - ‘Brown Stout’ means a lot of things throughout brewing history as beer styles are always adapting to changes in ingredients, brewer preferences, taxation, and technological developments. Porter and other dark English beer styles likely originate from brown stouts. The style, or at least the style name, is having a tiny resurgence probably due to interest in making dark ale other than imperial stouts and Guinness Draught clones.
Born from historical recipes, Jackie Tar was reworked to accommodate modern ingredients and methods. The core of Jackie Tar is a strong roast malt character, and from there working back to build an appropriate spectrum of flavor. Although hopping is medium-low, two late hop additions add nuance to the finish.
(beer descriptions c/o MacLeod)
The opening will feature foodtrucks, and MacLeod Ales also has a BYOC (Bring Your Own Cheese) policy.
MacLeod Ale Brewing Co. GRAND OPENING
14741 Calvert Street, Van Nuys, California 91411
Sunday June 22nd – 12pm – 8pm
For more information, visit the Facebook Event.
***UPDATE – Macleod has decided to make this a ticketed session event in order to cut down on lines and chaos. You can grab your tickets here! http://macleodale.brownpapertickets.com/***