When we set out to make a chocolate porter, we kept a few things in mind.
First, there are a number of great chocolate porters already out there. We’re not competing with them—we’re doing something different.
Next: there’s a fine line between a porter and a stout—and we wanted to push that line. Hard. But without crossing it.
On top of that, we wanted to emphasize the chocolate in our chocolate porter… but without adding any chocolate to it.
The result? Pathos, our 9.2%ABV Imperial Chocolate Porter.
Pathos may remind you of a Baltic porter (a lager). The rich complexity of the malt bill means you won’t pick up any acidic kick from dark grains. In fact, Pathos uses more than double the typical amount of chocolate malts to infuse a deep chocolaty flavor (other chocolate porters may include actual chocolate in the recipe). That’s the Valiant way: brewing barley, yeast, and hops in order to pull all the wonderful flavors and aromas out of them—before adding other ingredients.
Classic noble bittering hops were added later in the boil to add aroma (but not bitterness; Pathos comes in at a smooth 38 IBU).
We’re excited to add Pathos to the Valiant lineup—and not only because it’s a great beer on its own. It’s also a great constitution for other new beers. Brian will be bringing some of his Cornelius keg collection to the brewery to finish 5-gallon batches of Pathos with some exciting flavors—like caramel, vanilla, coffee, chai, orange, hazelnut, and chipotle (maybe even curry!). One bourbon barrel is already filled with Pathos. Stay tuned for release dates!
Just about every visitor to the tasting room has had their experience pumped up by pouring specialist Alison Smidt. A longtime fan of Brian’s brewing, she’s Valiant’s number one cheerleader… and she knows her craft beer.
Craft beer history?
“I’ve been a fan of craft beer for a long time. I’ve even tried my hand at brewing my own beer — we called it ‘SmidtFaced.’ That didn’t really turn out that well, but I would love to give it another shot.”
Favorite part of working in craft beer?
“I am really interested in this amazing beer culture we live in. There are few industries where competitors are as interested in each other. There’s something very special about it.
“As for how I came to Valiant… well, there’s a little story there. My brother-in-law went to college with Brian and Kelly, and was actually Brian’s roommate for a while. So through my bro-in-law I’ve been enjoying Brian’s beer for years, and was really looking forward to Valiant’s opening. Kelly and I met for the first time at my niece’s birthday party and hit it off really well, and my involvement with Valiant took off from there!”
Most interesting part of your job?
“I love finding out how people heard about Valiant and seeing new faces all the time. I’m a pretty social person, so getting to meet lots of new people is exciting. Another interesting side note: My first time ever changing a keg by myself I drenched myself in beer. Oops. Learning experience for sure.”
How important is taste-testing?
“Taste-testing is pretty important! I need to make sure all the beer is being served at the right levels, to make sure the consumer gets the best possible experience. Right?”
Valiant’s secret weapon?
“I think the thing I’m most proud to tell people is how well balanced Valiant’s beer is. Yes, we have big beers and since Brian’s forte is balancing his beers so well, Valiant has a unique, delicious, and smooth product. This is really exciting, and a true art form.”
“I love baseball. It’s a life goal of mine to go to all MLB stadiums. I have been to 22, and have 11 to go. I also enjoy traveling, and have been to 49 out of the 50 states. I welcome people to come into the tasting room and ask me what the remaining state and stadiums are.”
Famous last words?
“Go team go!”
You’ve probably seen Jack Thomas hustling around the brewery, pouring behind the bar, or working one of the kajillion festivals we’ve attended recently. In addition to being Kelly’s brother, he’s Valiant’s (and Brian’s) assistant brewing technician. He’s our sales rep. And he may just be our number one fan. But he is so much more than that! Check him out.
Harvest Intern at Owen Roe, a winery in St Paul, Ore.
“I worked on the sorting line for the grapes. Punch-down crew. I took wine samples almost every morning to determine sugar levels and if any byproducts like EA or oxidation were occurring. I pitched yeast into new fermenters, and basically helped to take care of all fermenting red wines.”
Beer or wine?
“I like brewing better than I like wine-making, but both sciences are very wonderful and I loved every minute up at the winery.”
Favorite part of brewing?
“The ability to make a product however you want. You can make the beer to whatever specification you like, super hoppy, really strong, very delicate, or extremely strange. You can make something very different or very traditional. If you do a good job, people will love your beer. This is one of the few arenas where you can let your mind and artistry shine through in your creation. It’s very personal.
“The other great thing about beer is that there is a quick turnaround and this allows you to quickly find out what the people love or dislike. Very few industries can get such quick feedback.”
Most interesting part of working at Valiant?
“The most interesting is whatever I am doing that day, but I always have a great time picking names and writing stories for the beers we make.”
How important is taste-testing?
“Taste testing is VERY important. If you don’t know what sort of flavors or aromas your beer has, you won’t know if something goes wrong or if you have made a mistake. Also beer tastes great, and why not taste-test what is good? You are allowing your taste buds some exercise.”
Valiant’s secret weapon?
“All of our beers have three layers that work together. I find that most beers lack in balance and instead focus on gimmicks or one outstanding feature. Our beers have a fantastic aroma, a strong flavor, and a delightful finish. All three of these levels lead you from one to the other, none trying to outperform the other.”
“I play soccer, take pictures, read lots of science fiction, fantasy, and classics. I love camping and long walks on the beach.”
Famous last words?
“Try as many beers as you can, support the locals, and puns are a valid form of humor.”
In celebration of craft beer week, we are hosting a Beer and Cheese Tasting in addition to our Strong Ale Release Party! Friday May17th 6pm at the Tasting room.
Our line up of food and beer pairings! May 17th at the Brewery
Friday May 17th
6pm at the Tasting room.
Includes a flight of samples including a pre-taste of our Strong Ale. Finger Foods and one pour of your choice.
Tickets Available Online and At the Door
Celebrate American Craft Beer Week!
Part 8 in our ongoing series of posts introducing you to the Valiant family of beers. Today’s installment: Axiom.
Malty highlights hint at graham cracker sweetness, spiced with dark sweet cherry and raisin, all swirled within rich caramel. We admit it: just writing about Axiom, our new Trappist ale, makes our mouths water!
Our friends at St. Michael’s Norbertine Abbey in Silverado Canyon inspired us to brew this beer, and it was quite an undertaking. With seven different malts, Axiom hits the profile of many different grains—plus flaked oats (5% of the grain mix), which give the brew a silky texture.
Dextrose thinned out the body to perfect drinkability, plus gave it a push on the ABV (10.5%). We added golding hops for just 60 minutes to balance out that rich malty profile (Axiom has an IBU of 28). But the thing that ties it all together is the yeast, blending all those different ingredients into one exceptional beer. The flavors hit you first, leading you right into the warm, cozy sensation you can expect from a higher ABV beer, and concluding with a mildly dry, slightly sweet finish.
We’re pouring half our first batch of Axiom in the tasting room right now, while the other half is safe in our bourbon barrels. When we tap the aged Axiom in a few months, we expect it’ll be up around 12% ABV.
Part 7 in our ongoing series of posts introducing you to the Valiant family of beers. Today’s installment: Mighty Maximus.
Don’t let the name fool you: while Mighty Maximus has a robust mouthfeel and a flavor as big as its name leads you to expect, it also has a rich toffee and roasty malt character. At 3.6% ABV it’s definitely a sessionable beer, but true to Valiant’s roots, it makes a big beer impression. And though the beer style is called bitter, bitterness is not its strongest characteristic.
Like all Valiant beers, the key to Mighty Maximus’s drinkability is balance.
The grain bill is rather simple, with classic British pale ale and a unique selection of roasted malts combining to give Mighty Maximus a little more character than beers that rely on the classic 2-row malt. Noble hops are added at different points on the late side of the boil, imparting the flavor—but with only 56 IBUs, the bitterness level is at a level even the biggest malt fan can appreciate!
With a bready-roasty-toasty aroma and just a hint of chocolate, Mighty Maximus is a totally approachable, totally drinkable beer. Watch for MM on nitro to go on tap in the tasting room soon.
The tasting room is open Saturday noon-9 PM
We’ve got our newest beer on Tap – Axiom a Trappist Ale at 10.5%abv.
AND Jericho Imperial IPA is OUT. We do have a new batch fermenting we’ll keep you posted on it.
We are getting ready for our Beer and Cheese Pairing event at the tasting room on May 17th. Tickets can be purchased here.
We have new Women’s and Toddler T-shirts available. $15.00 ea, plus tax. We’ve also restocked our Men’s Dickies.
Part 6 in our ongoing series of posts introducing you to the Valiant family of beers. Today’s installment: Fields Ablaze.
Traditionally brewed during the cooler months in the French-speaking region of Belgium, Saisons were stored for drinking during the summer months. In SoCal you never know when summery weather will hit, so just to stay ahead of the curve, Valiant released Fields Ablaze (6.8% ABV), a refreshing summer Saison, in the super early spring.
This light beer is perfect for people who enjoy classic American lagers; yeast provides a classic spiciness, but there’s no malt complexity weighing down the resulting brew.
What it does have is a tangy kick from a lemongrass-speckled pear “tea” that was added in the brite tank. A series of tests quickly showed which was the ideal beer-tea ratio to create a light, clean-tasting beer. For this Saison, that’s where the balance lies: it’s beer, after all, not lemongrass beer!
Relying on classic noble hops, pilsner malt and wheat, Fields Ablaze will be a comfortable fit for many beer drinkers—but the surprise addition of opal hops adds a flowery aroma, and a unique fermentation process adds more complex characteristics to the classic Saison yeast.
A big hit in the Valiant tasting room, it’s also the top-selling Valiant keg… something to keep in mind as the round of warm-weather holidays approaches (Cinco de Mayo, anyone?).
We thought we were busy when we were doing the buildout on the brewery. We thought we were busy gearing up for our Grand Opening. After we opened to the public, we thought we were busy juggling brewing, customer service, and sales calls to local restaurants and bars.
We just about drained 22 gallons of beer at Taste of Orange, an event that offered incredible food, wine, and–of course!–beer.
Okay, it’s true: we were busy during all those phases. But this weekend took our schedule to a new level of craziness. In addition to running the tasting room, we had two beer festivals and a kickoff party on Saturday—and then on our day of rest we headed out to the Taste of Orange in Valiant’s hometown.
With a schedule like that, we had to turn to our cadre of beer ambassadors to help us out. Thanks to Brian’s friends from his days in aerospace, as well as trusty Valiant staffer Alison, we managed to pour Veranda Biere de Garde
and 31 Kings IPA
at the TAPS First Annual Craft Beer Festival; Veranda, 31 Kings, Fields Ablaze Saison, and our new
Our Kickoff Party Saturday afternoon was—ahem—a total kick. So excited to have Valiant beers on tap in this gorgeous Corona del Mar location! (Check Find Our Beer for details.)
Axiom Trappist ale at the Pasadena Beerfest; Fields Ablaze and 31 Kings at the Taste of Orange; and six Valiant beers at the Kickoff Party. (Those six are still on tap, too—check out Find Our Beer for details.)
It’s so cool to see our Valiant team growing, and it’s indescribable when our pals report to us after an event how enthusiastic people were about Valiant beers, and how many plan to swing by the tasting room to enjoy an even bigger selection of brews.
But this weekend had another level of awesome going for it. Three of the four events we participated in were put together to benefit other organizations.
It was no surprise to see what an ultra-classy event TAPS put on. Each brewery had assigned volunteers to pour their beer, allowing brewery representatives to really interact with attendees.
The First Annual Pasadena Beerfest was organized by the After Hours Rotary Club. About 150 people attended the event at T.Boyle’s Tavern to raise money for the Rotarians to open an eye clinic in India. The TAPS Berfest drew a few hundred people to enjoy great beer, awesome TAPS food, and raise money for the Brea Boys & Girls Club. And Taste of Orange is a food-, beer-, and wine-tasting event hosted by the Assistance League of Orange’s Orange Blossoms Auxiliary to raise money for the auxiliary’s various philanthropic outreaches in the Orange area.
As if that’s not enough, our beer ambassadors had such a good time that they actually thanked
us for putting them to work!
The First Annual Pasadena Beerfest was totally laid back—a super way to while away a Saturday afternoon (for guests and for brewery ambassadors as well!).
“Beerfests are always fun,” Brian’s friend Ingmar told us, “but moreso now for me since I can help out a buddy, talk with lots of people about Valiant, enjoy the vibe…. It really is an easy way to spend an afternoon!”
Less than two weeks after we opened the tasting room doors to the public, we reached another major Valiant landmark: First Flight.
This American Strong Ale has been brewing (ha!) in Brian’s mind for a very long time, but on Feb. 19 that recipe became reality. At 13.7% ABV, it’s Valiant’s first really big beer—a beer that says what we’re all about.
First Flight (American Strong Ale, 13.7% ABV) is Valiant’s first really big beer.
But it’s not only awesome symbolically.
First Flight is the result of a different approach: it’s an ale designed to be aged in oak. The first batch—which we’ll be tapping at our Release Party May 18, during Celebrate Craft Beer Week—benefited from the addition of medium roast American oak chips to the brite tank. That oak gives First Flight a hint of coconut and vanilla, a perfect complement to the complex caramel flavors that resulted from the five-hour boil of the 2-row and pilsner malts.
Mild carbonation gives it a low mouth feel, allowing drinkers to get the full impact of the flavor profile.
Though it’s highly hopped (78 IBU), First Flight isn’t over-bitter. The Goldings and Hallertau noble hops simply balance out the sweetness of the pale malts, creating a well-balanced beer that allows the complexity of the caramel flavor to come through—without overwhelming the palate.
As for the name, well—it’s a tribute to Brian’s colleagues in the aerospace industry, where the team was always working toward the goal of getting the plane off the ground: first flight. Once off the ground, the project was set. (And, of course, this is the first of Valiant’s signature big beers to be released.)
Only half the first batch will be tapped on May 18 (and preview tastes will be available in the tasting room May 17 and at the April 27 Kickoff Party) . The other half is snug in our bourbon barrels, aging away. Watch for the release of that amazing stuff sometime in the autumn.
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