The Legacy of Alpha Drive

Brewing a double IPA can be tricky. First of all, it’s easy to throw in too many hops or to go overboard with different malt styles when creating the foundation of the beer. The goal of a really great DIPA is to showcase the hops, elevating the aromatic properties, flavor and preserved bitterness. It’s a tough balancing act, even for a skilled brewer.

Our head brewer at Valiant, Brian Schroepfer, weighed in on the process. He said, “Anyone can simply throw gobs and gobs of hops into a beer and call it a double IPA but it takes skill to make the beer balance out and provide the consumer an enjoyment factor that only comes from selecting the right ingredients and executing the brewing process well.”

The amount of skill it takes to perfect a DIPA is already an impressive feat, but Brian went a step further when he brewed up the idea for Valiant’s DIPA, Alpha Drive. While most DIPAs end up punishing your mouth and tongue with bitterness, Alpha Drive actually has a very sophisticated flavor profile. Our Alpha Drive DIPA has all the characteristics of a classic double IPA (color, bitterness, flavor and aroma), but it’s extremely balanced for a 90 IBU range beer. The aftertaste actually leaves you wanting another sip! This means you get the perfect balance of hops resin on your palate – a rare treat for a DIPA but an attribute we at Valiant Brewing take very seriously.

“We pay attention to our hops selection and timing of when those hops are added to the wort or finished beer,” Brian added. “Remember, we have been brewing for over 11 years and after that amount of time, you start to understand what hops work and don’t work.”

The idea for Alpha Drive came when we realized that our Imperial IPA, Jericho, was simply too much beer for most beer drinkers to make it a year round release. Jericho has an alcohol content of 10.8% and an International Bittering Unit of more than 100. So, we went back to the drawing board. We analyzed the market for double IPAs and also took a hard look at aroma, flavor, bitterness, special hops and the DIPA brewing process in considering adding a new DIPA to our lineup.

“We know we wanted a DIPA that would stand up to the San Diego scene and at the same time, provide the OC with a beer that they can be proud of and claim their ground in this war of hoppy goodness,” Brian noted. “It is amazing to think that just after a month of bottling Jericho that Alpha Drive was born and was slated to be the new year round core beer.”

 Valiant’s Alpha Drive DIPA was first introduced on January 9th, 2014. It has an 8.8% alcohol content, so it’s not too light but it also won’t knock you on your back like Jericho could. The Aroma of Alpha Drive grips your senses from our use of Simcoe and Amarillo hops and gives off notes of tropical and citrus flavors like passion fruit and grapefruit. The actual flavor, however, is a whole other story. When you try Alpha Drive, you’ll enjoy the flavors of toasty and bready malt, intermixed with the sticky resin quality of Centennial hops. Alpha Drive finishes dry, crisp and clean with a strong hop forward and rolling bitterness that leads into even more hops! We knew Alpha Drive would be big with our customers, we just didn’t know how big. Right off the bat, we sold an entire 40 bbl batch in just about a month. No one was more thrilled than Brian.

“For us, still growing, that set a new record,” he said. “And rightfully so, it’s a solid DIPA!”

 As if sales weren’t enough to show us that we created an awesome DIPA, our customers in the Valiant tasting room have made sure to let us know how much they love Alpha Drive.

“‘Wow,’ ‘amazing’ and ‘tasty’ are usually the first words out of people’s mouths,” Brian commented. “The best one though is this statement which we hear a lot: ‘I really like this beer and I’m not even an IPA fan,’ or ‘I dislike bitter beers but the way Alpha Drive rolls on and off with its bitterness is really refreshing and tasty.’”

Those comments mean more to us at Valiant Brewing Company than even the sales themselves. We work very hard to provide a comfortable environment, excellent service and of course impeccably delicious craft beers that speak to our customers. We want them to feel at home when they stop by the Valiant tasting room and when they sip on our brews. Brian especially is so touched when our Valiant customers enjoy the beer he put his whole heart into creating.

“Words cannot express what it feels like when customers compliment Alpha Drive,” Brian said. “What some people don’t realize is that every ounce of beer produced by Valiant is an extension of my personality. So having people enjoy our product hits me right in the heart and I truly enjoy hearing positive comments about our products. We only wish we could get more people to take a little time and go online to review our products. Online reviews mean so much to a tiny brewery like us. Having all these great comments posted online helps us develop a ranking system and helps us promote our brands.”

If you have some time, please share your experiences with our beer on Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Foursquare. We’re also on Google + and Pinterest.

But of course you’ve got to try Alpha Drive before you can post about it. Well, you’re in luck! Alpha Drive is always available on tap in the Valiant tasting room and you can also take home the great Alpha Drive flavor in a 22 oz. boomer bottle. Alpha Drive is also available at selected locations around Orange County and San Diego.

“We plan on having continuous packaging of both draft and bottles throughout the year,” Brian added.

We’re so excited that Alpha Drive has been such a huge hit with our existing customers. We hope you’ll come into Valiant soon and try it for yourself. After all, we think it’s one of the best DIPAs money can buy. But hey, we’re biased.

“We feel we absolutely nailed this style,” Brian said modestly. “In fact what we accomplished is what takes breweries years to obtain, yes the years of homebrewing did pay off! The level of hop flavors combined with the aroma characteristics and almost perfect rolling bitterness places this beer high on our walls. We have to agree that Alpha Drive is one of our favorites, just ask all our employees – I’ve never seen so many growlers purchased by them before!”

Alpha Drive Bottle OnlyDon’t take our word for it, come down to the Valiant tasting room and try Alpha Drive for yourself. We’ll save a pint glass for you.

 

Thousands turn out (despite the rain) to celebrate Valiant Brewing’s One Year Anniversary

A little rain didn’t stop more than 2,000 people from pouring into the Valiant Brewing Company tasting room for Valiant One, Valiant Brewing Company’s first anniversary party. Doors opened at noon and until 11 p.m. that night, hundreds of people cycled through the tasting room and brewery every hour. With at least four Valiant staff members behind the bar at any given moment, we tried to keep the lines moving as quickly as possible. Even so, the line to try our 26 beers on tap just never seemed to get shorter. But hey, we’re not complaining! With the stormy forecast, we all assumed we’d be lucky to get even a few hundred people to show up.

“The actual attendance for the day completely took us off guard,” Owner/Head Brewer Brian Schroepfer said. “The turnout was so far beyond our expectations and Valiant is truly blessed to have so many supporters, it really makes us proud to know our hard work and dedication is well received.”

One of those in attendance was world-renowned Chef Cody Storts of Hopscotch Tavern in Fullerton, California. The weather deterred Chef Cody’s original plan to bring an outdoor grill to the party, but it didn’t stop him from whipping up all sorts gourmet treats for our hundreds of guests. The famous chef simply moved his operation indoors and prepared homemade potato chips, seasoned corn nuts and top of the line Mexican tacos with either pork, chicken or shrimp instead. Just like the line for beer, the line to try some of Chef Cody’s delicious creations was consistently full of eager and excited people.

TJ’s Woodfire Pizza also brought their food truck and plenty of people enjoyed huge, cheesy personal pizzas with their Valiant Brewing anniversary beer. Speaking of the beer, our 26 brews turned out to be the life of the party. The beer list included all the old favorites like Axiom (Trappist Style Ale, 10.5% abv), Crescendo (American Lager, 6.5% abv), Alpha Drive (Double IPA, 8.8% abv) and our Belgian Honey Ale, Criterion (5.6% abv), but the list didn’t stop there. We also offered five seasonal beers including one of our heaviest, the 13.7% American Strong Ale we call First Flight, Pathos, our Imperial Chocolate Porter at 9.3% and the first Valiant Brewing Company beer to be bottled, Jericho. Jericho is our 10.8% Imperial IPA. The list also included two rotating seasonal beers: an Imperial Black Espresso Saison and our Persimmon Saison. We had three additional beers we offered which were the Veranda (Amber Belgian, 8.5% abv) and the Mighty Maximus Premium Ale (3.8%) served on nitro, as well as with regular carbonation. Some of the most popular beers we offered were our barrel aged favorites including Axiom, First Flight and Stentorian. We also had a new Scotch Ale we call The Bruce and a dry hopped version of one of our crowd pleasers, Crescendo. Of course, Brian wouldn’t leave it at just that. He also made an Anniversary brew – a Belgian Barleywine at 12.3% abv, an American Strong Ale (13.2% abv) and a Valiant Brewing beer blend at 12.1%. After that, he just kept going. Never before seen (or tasted) ultra small batches made their debut at the Valiant Anniversary party, including a Guava Cream Ale (4.5%), a Lacto Cherry Stout (7%), a Wheat Beer (6%) and a Lager Barleywine (8.8%).

“The first beer to go was actually our Guava Cream Ale then our Lacto Cherry Stout next,” Brian noted. “By the end of the night we almost blew through all our kegs so our planning was good. Some of the beers like Crescendo and Alpha Drive actually went through two ½ bbl kegs each. We added two handles for these beers, so that was a good move on our part.”

For those of you who missed Valiant One, we do still have some of our special anniversary beers on tap. However, we only kegged about three weeks worth, so it’ll go quick. If you want to try the anniversary beers you’ll have to get to Valiant’s tasting room fast. But if you do miss out on a taste of our anniversary beers, rest assured we’ll always have something new to try at the Valiant Brewing tap room.

“Don’t worry,” Brian added. “We have big plans for this year since now I have an assistant brewer helping me out.”

The storm did keep one feature from the party on Saturday, and that was the hot rod show we planned to have in the parking lot. As you can imagine, hot rod owners work very hard on their babies and do not want to bring them out in inclement weather. We all understood why the hot rods couldn’t be there, especially Brian.

“Since I’m a hot rodder, it made perfect sense that I didn’t see any hot rods,” Brian explained. “People who own hot rods really don’t like taking them out in the rain unless they are daily drivers.”

Brian added that he was almost glad the hot rods didn’t show up. First of all, with the enormous turnout there was no extra parking for the hot rods. Moreover though, Brian was so busy behind the bar he would’ve had to miss the show anyway. Still, several hot rod owners ended up coming without their cars and we were glad to have their company.

Looking back, we were all thrilled that our Valiant Brewing Company anniversary party went off without a hitch. We had a very small team planning and organizing the event, but our goal was to wow our customers and make them happy. After talking with several customers in person and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we feel like that goal was accomplished. For Brian, the best part was handing the customer their last beer of the night and getting their feedback after a long day’s work.

“I would shake their hand and ask if they enjoyed themselves and or liked the beer. Everyone responded overwhelmingly positive about their experience and I could see that they meant it,” Brian said.

All in all it was a very successful event and a successful first year in business as your neighborhood brewing company. We at Valiant Brewing Company more than appreciate all of the love and support we felt throughout the day and hope to see some of the new friends we made at the brewery more often. Who knows, maybe we’ll make our anniversary party an annual event!

“It’s a TON of work but rewarding and allows us to kind of ‘show off’ to everyone, letting them know that we do mean business and that we aren’t shy of making different beer styles,” Brian added.

“Our biggest problem is simply trying to figure out how we are going to pull it off,” he laughed. “But that’s why there is planning!”

Everyone at Valiant Brewing Company would just like to extend a HUGE thank you to all the friends, locals and loyal customers that have made our first year as a brewing company a success – not to mention our anniversary party! You guys are why we work so hard to brew great beer to begin with. So, having your support and positive feedback really means the world to us. We appreciate you and hope to see you very often at the Valiant Brewing tasting room.

Check out some photos below and a full photo album of the event on our Facebook page and be sure to tag yourself and your friends! See you next time, at Valiant Brewing Company.
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First Year of Beer: Valiant Turns One

It’s hard to believe it’s been one year since we, at Valiant Brewing Company, first opened our doors to the public. When Brian (head brewer and owner) first started brewing delicious craft beer, he did it as a hobby from a Mr. Beer kit at home. His first priority, at the time, was drag racing and working on hot rods. Well, that’s since changed. In 2007 we started to make the transition from hobby home brewers to commercial brewers. Brian completed the Master Brewers program from the American Brewers Guild in 2010 and on February 9th of last year we officially opened for business as Valiant Brewing Company in Orange, California. Hot rods are now on the back burner and craft beer has become our passion and our priority. It’s been a journey unlike any other and we are so glad we chose to take this ride.

Brian commented on our evolution from home brewers to a commercial brewing operation saying, “It’s been a long road,” but he added, “It’s very rewarding.”

As a brand new brewery, we were so pleased to be named Orange County’s Best Local Brewery in the 2013 Orange County Hotlist. We were also happy to see the list of friends and fans of Valiant Brewing Company continue to grow over the last year. We’re adding “regulars” to the Valiant tasting room everyday.

“Word keeps spreading,” Brian noted. “That’s the direction we need to continue to go.”

As demand for the unique craft beer of Valiant increases, our team is also expanding. While our staff grows, we continue to work to make Valiant Brewing Company a fun place to work, and a brand that each employee believes in and supports as much as we do.

“The biggest thing is making sure the employees are happy,” Brian said. “If they are happy, then we’re a better team and we do better.”

After all the learning and growing we’ve done in the last year, we’re ready kick our feet up and celebrate! We want to celebrate the new craft beer recipes we’ve developed at Valiant Brewing Company, we want to celebrate our amazing and helpful staff, we want to celebrate the fulfilment of our dream to brew great craft beer and most importantly we want to celebrate you – each and every one of you who has supported us and believed in us over the last twelve months. To do that we’re planning a shindig of epic proportions.

“I’m really excited,” Brian bursted.”We have a lot planned.”

Our Valiant Brewing Company One Year Anniversary party is set for Saturday, March 1st from 12 noon until 11:00 p.m. that night. We’ve got so many fun things planned, including a tribute to Brian’s hot rod days with more than 50 hot rods showing up for our very own Valiant Brewing Company car show in the Valiant parking lot. We’re partnering with several local car clubs to make this happen and we couldn’t be more excited. Of course, we could never have too many hot rods in front of the brewery. If you’ve got one to show off, bring it by and add it to our show. We’re expecting cars will be coming in and out all day.

We’ve also got a great photo slideshow planned that visually depicts Brian’s evolution from a home brewer to the head brewer of Valiant Brewing Company. The slideshow will play in the tasting room throughout the event. Catering the event is none other than world-renowned Chef Cody Storts of Hopscotch Tavern in Fullerton. We’re really fortunate that Chef Cody has graciously agreed to supply our anniversary guests with some of the finest food Orange County has to offer.

Most importantly, though, we couldn’t throw a craft beer party without some awesome craft beer. Brian has been brewing non-stop and is going all out for our anniversary festivities! We will have 26 beers on tap during the event. That’s right – 26. These recipes will include several barrel-aged versions of some of your favorites. We’ll have a barrel-aged First Flight on tap. This American Strong Ale has an alcohol content of nearly 14% (it’s a big one) and has a slight herbal aroma that we combined with light coconut, vanilla and mild caramel highlights. Among the list of other barrel-aged goodies you’ll find on tap will be a barrel-aged version of our Axiom Trappist Ale. This 10.5% ABV Ale has a Graham cracker aroma with malty highlights and notes of cherry, raisin and spice! We’ll also have all our regular beers on tap for those who’ve already chosen their favorites, as well as some beers that have disappeared from our list – those beers will be making a comeback for our special event. Brian is also working on some special new recipes he’ll unveil on March 1st. You won’t want to miss out on these rare and exciting concoctions. For those who can’t decide, we’ll have different packages and flights available so you can taste them all!

We just want to thank everyone who has supported us over the last year and who have helped us become Valiant Brewing Company. Without your support we wouldn’t be where we are today. We hope you’ll stop in on March 1st between noon and 11:00 p.m. and celebrate with us at Valiant Brewing Company. We’d love to see you!

Holiday Barrel Aged Porter Pathos: Available Now for a Limited Time

The holidays come with a variety of traditions like decorating the Christmas tree, lighting the menorah and ringing in the New Year with a kiss. However, there’s a new holiday tradition we invite you to take part of before it’s too late! That tradition is coming down to Valiant Brewing Company to sample our newest seasonal release. This year we’ve got one barrel of our Barrel Aged Pathos Porter available for the holidays.

Our Barrel Aged Pathos is an Imperial Chocolate Porter with a forward flavor of chocolate, hints of toffee and caramel and minor burnt, roasty malt characters while also bringing out notes of oak, crème brûlée, vanilla and coconut on the aroma side. At 9.3% alcohol content, Pathos is the perfect beer for the holidays!

“It’s a good holiday beer,” said Owner Brian Schroepfer. “People kind of associate relaxing with a darker beer by the fire, as opposed to having a lager. [Pathos] has a little bit more complexity, a little bit more depth to stay around in your pallet and that’s what people are kind of looking for when they want to relax, they want to have a nice beer that they can sip on.”

But our Pathos Porter is only available as long as we’ve got it. Once the barrel is gone, it’s gone! So grab your jacket and keys and head to Valiant for a taste. You’ll have to hurry though, our holiday hours may limit your ability to get your hands on this tasty little porter.

We’ll be closed Thursday, December 26th but we will reopen on Friday, December 27 6-9pm and Saturday, December 28th from noon to 9 p.m. We will also be open on Monday, December 30th from 6 – 9 p.m. for growler fills only.

We hope to see you soon. Happy Holidays!

Behind the Scenes: Valiant’s Bottling Process for Jericho IIPA

We at Valiant Brewing Company are thrilled to offer one of our flagship beers, our Jericho Imperial IPA, in bottles! We are thrilled because Jericho is a terrific seasonal brew – it’s an Imperial IPA, full of hops with an aroma of orange, tangerine and a citrus flower bouquet that heightens the senses, allowing the sweet malty bitterness to develop slowly and linger for a few minutes. At a 10.8% alcohol content, it’s a great craft brew for the winter months.

But that’s not the only reason we’re so excited to offer this gem in 750ml bottles! We’re also excited because it almost didn’t happen. At least not on schedule. We had a deadline of November 16th to release our Jericho Imperial IPA bottles, but like Murphy’s Law dictates, “What can go wrong, will go wrong.” That was almost the case for Jericho’s bottling process. Luckily, with some help from all of our staff, a few of our neighboring breweries and the support of all of our patrons – our Jericho IPA has been bottled and is currently in distribution!

Brian, Valiant’s owner and founder, said of the whole experience, “It was cutting it really close.”

The mayhem began with a call from the company that manufactures our labeling machine. It turns out our brand new machine, which we were expecting to be shipped to us well in advance of our impending November 16th release date, would be at least two months late to arrive. Brian flew into action, calling around to find any brewery that would let him borrow a labeler. Evan Weinberg, of Cismontane Brewing Company, stepped up to the plate and offered to help out. Evan offered us Cismontane’s labeling machine and before Brian could take it over to Valiant to label our bottles, he spent several hours working with the crew at Cismontane.

“I appreciate their friendship, their openness,” Brian said. “I definitely thank them so much for their hospitality and their time to show us their process, and I could learn from their mistakes.”

Hurdle number one was successfully jumped, but then came the challenge of actually filling the bottles with Valiant’s new Maheen bottling machine, which had been purchased but never used. It was Friday, November 15th, the day before the bottles were going to be released. Brian arrived at Valiant bright and early, around 4:30 in the morning. A small crew of Valiant’s brewery and tasting room staff arrived around 6:30 A.M. to get the bottling underway.

“We were like five of us, we all had our stations,” Brian said. “We didn’t know what we were getting into but I kind of remembered from going back to Cismontane, their set up and how they got in a groove over there. So, I was somewhat prepared for the outcome but what I wasn’t prepared for the learning curve of the Maheen system and bottling machine.”

Right away Brian could tell the parameter settings on the machine were off because the bottles were only being filled halfway, or were coming out half full of foam. Hours of adjusting and readjusting the ratio, dealing with bottles crashing on the ground and making frustrated calls to the manufacturer and other breweries seemed to have gotten them nowhere. Finally, Brian got through to Eagle Rock Brewery and was able to get some help. But it was another call to the manufacturer that triggered the lightbulb in Brian’s head and allowed his engineering background to kick in and save the day.

“Once I started understanding the units, which weren’t published anywhere, then I understood exactly what those functions were doing,” Brian explained. “So, I got off the phone with him and I said, ‘Oh, OK. I understand now. I believe this is our situation.’ I adjusted the parameters, fired the machine up and guess what? We were bottling.”

Once he solved the problem, they were back in business. Unfortunately, by that time it was already 3 O’Clock in the afternoon. We only had two hours until the tasting room opened. Frantically they brainstormed ideas for what to do, because the bottling set up was smack dab in the center of the Valiant tasting room. They didn’t have enough time to alert everyone on social media that the brewery was going to be closed and frankly, we couldn’t afford the losses from a day’s closure. Finally they decided to section the bottling station off from the rest of the tasting room, using chairs. We were able to open at our normal business hours. For those of you who were at Valiant that day, you’ll remember that the staff juggled bottling with taking turns serving behind the bar. In the end, it actually ended up offering everyone who came to Valiant that day a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes of the Valiant Brewing Company.

“It was kind of neat in a way, because we were like the show and people were taking pictures,” Brian laughed. “But it was kind of rewarding because people could see ‘Oh! That’s my product you bottled.’”

The gang stayed late into the night until the job was done. Out of all that, we ended up bottling 320 cases, or nearly 4,000 bottles of Jericho Imperial IPA! These bottles are already in distribution in Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego. It never would have happened without all the help and support from our new friends at Cismontane Brewing Company, Eagle Rock Brewery and all of you! So yes, we are especially thrilled to offer our Jericho IPA in big bottles. Our next challenge will be getting the Jericho in 22 oz. bottles, which we promise we’ll tackle soon! After that, we plan to bottle four more core beers: Crescendo (our bold 6.5% Blonde Lager), Alpha Drive (an 8.8% Double IPA, great for hop heads), Axiom (a delicious graham cracker and malty Trappist Ale at 10.5%) and our Criterion Belgian Amber Ale (A floral but spicy Honey Rye at 5.6%). Keep checking in for updates on when those will be available in Valiant bottles.

Jericho Bottle Release Sat Nov 16th!!!!

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Valiant Brewing is proud to announce the inaugural release of Jericho Imperial IPA in 750ml bottles! This will be our first ever bottling of our amazingly complex and aromatic Jericho Imperial IPA.

We will also have a full tap compliment of our other beers for sampling as well, such as Hotspur Dunkleweizen, Criterion – a Belgian Amber Honey Rye, and our fantastic Stentorian Barleywine.

We will also be releasing two new draft selections as well!! Fall Saison, 10.5 MPG, brewed with Molasses, Persimmons and Graham cracker, 10.5%abv!

A special thanks to Chef Cody from Hopscotch in downtown Fullerton for helping us with the inspiration and preparation of the persimmons. And last, but not least, a classic Belgian Golden Strong, Kratos,  that weighs in at 12.5%abv, loaded with mild pear notes and ester complexities that truly engages the palate!

Also, starting at 3:30, The Chomp Chomp Food truck will also be on hand to whet your appetite with their Singapore Sloppy Joe, Sling Wings, Chili Crab Cakes and Satay!

You don’t want to miss the first-ever release party for the Best New Brewery in Orange County as reported by the Orange County Hot List 2013!!

 

Here’s to Valiant’s Ground Breaking 1 Year Ago

It is always fun to look back in time and see what you’ve accomplished or didn’t but most important, to understand just how fast time flies!

Today may seem like an ordinary Friday to you but to the Valiant Brewing team, today’s marks a very important event in history. One that will always be close to our hearts and that we’ll always look back to and reflect the beginnings of Valiant Brewing Co.

On October 18th, 2012 – Va   liant Brewing Co. officially received all the approvals needed to break ground on the construction phase of opening a brewery. One year ago we took the first major step in performing our construction in order to provide the most perfect home for our brewery. I can remember so clearly that day when I got the call from the contractors telling me that the cement cutter guy is on his way over to the building. I also recall calling Jack (our sales rep) over first thing that morning to open the doors for the crew since I was still working at my other job!

With a camera in hand, Jack open the doors and let the party begin! I considered this the “Point of No Return” the only way to call the job finished was to open our doors as a brewery.

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Here is a view from the beginning – freshly painted walls and noting but cement that needs to be removed!

The pictures shown here really don’t do justice to how much work was completed in the background prior to any construction. What took months and almost years to plan became reality in about 30 seconds as the cutting blade moved through the foundation of brewery floor. Yes, to reiterate, this was a very exciting time!

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Up to this point, it had been paperwork.  Our ABC license was in check, the TTB was up to speed and we had been approved for one last inspection before getting our license, we received our conditional use permit from the city, approval from the Orange Police Department, finished our building plans and got them approved by the Orange Building Department, had our landlord’s approval to move forward with this crazy idea of opening a brewery, and the list goes on and on.

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Please stop by the brewery if you haven’t in some time to see the growing list of beers that we have on draft. We promise that we’ll continue to push boundaries and offer high quality craft beer!

Cheers to everyone!

The Valiant Lineup: Stonewall Jackson 5

Part 14 in our ongoing series of posts introducing you to the Valiant family of beers. Today’s installment: Stonewall Jackson 5.

Okay, the name probably gives it away—but we’ll go ahead and just say it: this is a really fun beer. It was fun to brew, and it’s darn fun to drink!

This Double Red Wheat was the first beer we brewed on our new Pico system (more on that in an upcoming post!). But that’s not the only reason it’s a landmark of sorts. Brian pushed the Hef yeast strain almost into the 9% range, which makes Stonewall Jackson 5 come across almost as though it’s been oaked.

The aroma alone will knock your socks off: mild sweet cherry, hints of clove, caramel maltiness, and deep notes of raisin and prune make you eager for that first sip—and it doesn’t disappoint: malty caramel richness combines with bold bitterness, leading to a dry finish.

Not too heavy at 8.7% ABV and 50 IBU, Stonewall Jackson 5 was a sort of experiment for Valiant (hey, when have you ever seen a Double Red Wheat?), and we were excited that it came out so great. With a classic Hef malt bill (and 50% wheat to add a velvety, creamy texture), it has exciting esters that go well with the Golding and Vanguard noble hops added at the end.

So easy to drink, you’ll probably think it’s just a 4% beer—but Stonewall Jackson 5 is more like an aged port: rich with wheat and notes of cherry and raisin, it offers a bit of bitterness to round out the palate and finishes with classic Hef tartness.

Blast to Our Brewing Past Takes Us Into the Future

The newest addition to our brewery… also represents the history of Valiant.

Way back when we realized we wanted to go pro with craft beer, there was still one big unknown: would we be a contract brewery? A nano brewery? A micro brewery?

Brian designed a system, the manufacturer’s price was right, and we took the plunge. The day we went out to pick up the equipment was huge! We were hauling a trailer of all this brewery equipment down the freeway, with people honking at us and waving.

That was when we started to feel really official!

Next step: Brian had to figure out how to hook up all the equipment. He started searching for parts on eBay, and even got a huge heat exchanger (since the Blichmann he had for his original homebrewing equipment was too inefficient for this 80-gallon system).

We set up in the garage. As we fine-tuned the business plan for our brewery, Brian got very familiar with his new system. And eventually, the business plan took a turn and we realized we were going to go big—very big!—with our brewery.

Back to the drawing board: Brian designed a new system (the one you see in the tasting room today), incorporating many of the parts we’d already gathered. And the rest is history!

Now that history has come full circle. Our smaller system is part of the big picture, allowing us to brew small batches of experimental beers (and—just as important, though slightly less exciting—to propagate yeast for our brews). Stonewall Jackson 5 was brewed on this system.

Before we set up the Pico system last month, it had been two years since Brian had brewed on it! It might be going overboard to say it felt like a homecoming… but we will admit that it’s awesome to have the flexibility to make sure our beer is the absolute best it can be, going out the door.

So next time you’re in the tasting room, admiring all the shiny equipment, make sure you spare a glance for our Pico. After all, it’s where Valiant got its start.

The Valiant Lineup: Tilt Shift

Part 13 in our ongoing series of posts introducing you to the Valiant family of beers. Today’s installment: Tilt Shift.

As the name indicates, Tilt Shift is a departure for Valiant—and something new for craft beer fans, too. This Belgian IPA was a real challenge to brew, balancing Belgian characteristics with the hops (not just in the flavor, but in the aroma).

Brian studied up on hops and different IPA styles before cooking up this recipe. A Belgian golden strong yeast provides a lot of esters, giving Tilt Shift a fun aroma combining citrus and tropical fruits… and bubble gum.

The clean malty flavor expresses hop flavors of sweet spices and pineapple, with a refreshing bitterness (from Cascade, Zythos, and Opal hops) to balance everything out.

Small beer batches like Tilt Shift give us a chance to do some yeast propagation, too. So in the near future, watch for news about Valiant brewing a a Belgian golden strong . (Now that’s multi-tasking—brewing a cool, fun beer with a side of functionality!)

Easy-drinking at 7.1% ABV and 66 IBU, Tilt Shift is on tap until our four kegs run out. (At least, unless demand pushes us to keep it on year-round!)

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