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!

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.

99 Bottles of Valiant Beer to be Filled…

Behold: a Jericho BOTTLE LABEL.

Valiant-Jericho-done

Now, we know what you’re thinking: does this mean that Valiant is bottling beer??

Short answer: Not yet–but soon! We have to run the label by the TTB and the ABC and then we get to play with our beautiful BOTTLING MACHINE. (Seriously, take a look at these pix and tell us it’s not beautiful! We double-dog dare ya!)

And don’t worry–you’ll be the first to know when Valiant bottled beer is available!

 

 

 

 

 

Mounds of Grounds: The Coffee Behind the Beer

Tomorrow we’ll give you the scoop (ha!) on Mounds of Grounds—but for today, we want to highlight the coffee that infuses this Imperial Black Espresso Saison.coffee

The search for the perfect coffee was where we focused very heavily for this beer (after all, the brewing side is something that we know very well!). We knew that our coffee selection could make or break the brew. The wrong amount, type, or brewing technique could really put the beer into another category (making it something other than beer!). We wanted to do something different than other area breweries, so we headed up to Jones Coffee, a family-owned and -operated coffee roaster and shop in Pasadena.

list of coffees

Here Brian studies the roasting temperature profile, which really is what defines the coffee and all its attributes.

Like Valiant, Jones Coffee is located in a commercial industrial building. Once you’re inside, you feel like you’re in a whole new world—all relating to the fine craftsmanship of roasting and creating coffee drinks. Owner Chuck Jones has spent 18 years in the coffee business (in fact his family owns a plantation in Guatemala, and some of the coffee beans used come from there).

The next step was the fun part: narrowing down the selection of coffees we thought would be the perfect fit for Mounds of Grounds. Like Brian with his beers, Chuck has a detailed temperature printout for each roast. The guys studied them to understand what influenced what with respects to temperature inside the roaster.

sniff 2After learning about all the coffee roasts, we went through a selection of narrowed-down coffee beans by means of smelling. Now, it’s important to understand that the aroma will change on these beams depending on how you steep them—whether in cold, hot, or very hot water. Therefore, the artistic side has to come out and narrow down the selection.

sniff

It was really fun to watch Chuck brew our coffee. He showed Brian handling techniques that he’d never seen before. You can tell that Chuck has been doing this for some time! Finally we got to sample the brews.

guy

Master roaster and owner Chuck Jones weighing the final selection of coffee beans to begin our next few steps of understanding the aroma and flavor side of the coffee.

tasting

Wait, I think I just found the coffee that we are looking for!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We finished going through all the different kinds of roasts and found the roast we thought would fit for our Saison. With a final recap and a confirmation that we about to head out the door with 15lb of coffee, we had one last recap of everything learned by Chuck.

brian and guy

We thank Jones Coffee so much for their time that day! We are extremely excited about other opportunities for creating more concoctions for the craft brew world using Chuck’s coffee. This whole experience really shows why this industry is so much fun: these little tiny business really make a big impact!group

 

Fields Ablaze Takes Silver

Last week we got the news: our Fields Ablaze Saison won Silver in the Los Angeles Commercial Beer Competition!

What made this honor even more exciting was discovering who our fellow French- and Belgian-Style Saison award-winners are: San Diego’s Green Flash (for their Saison Diego) and Goose Island in Chicago (for Sofie). Receiving an award alongside these established and respected breweries is so exciting for us—and it’s a real affirmation of everything Valiant has been striving to do.

Deciding what to submit to a competition can be tough—especially when we’re so proud of all of our beers! But we can’t just enter our whole list, so a lot of thought goes into our submissions for competitions. We have to admit, though, deciding on Fields Ablaze was darn easy. Our fans have made it very clear that it’s top of the charts!

Entering competitions is especially fun for Brian: as a certified beer judge, it’s a kick for him to enter beers into a competition for other judges to taste and talk about!

After completing the Beer Judge Certification Program, Brian began judging beer competitions—so he knows exactly what the judges are up against. So many great beers, so many interesting styles and recipes! (It’s a tough job… but someone’s gotta do it!)

But back to Fields Ablaze: it’s a seasonal beer, so come to the tasting room to get it while you can. At an easy-drinking 7.2% ABV, it offers a refreshing tartness thanks to the lemongrass-seckel pear tea that infuses it. Even if we do say so ourselves, it’s the perfect summer beer (and let’s not forget—it’s an award-winner, too!).

Valiant’s Brew Crew: Jack Thomas

You’ve probably seen Jack Thomas hustling around the brewery, pouring Jack Thomas Profile Picturebehind 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.

Previous job?

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.”

Besides brewing…

“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.”

To Pour and Drink in LA

You’ve heard about half our crazy-busy weekend, pouring our kegs dry at the Backyard Brewfest. Well, here’s the other half–a six-hour extravaganza at the Los Angeles Beer Festival at Paramount Studios.  It’s a mammoth event, and a seriously good time–check it out.

 

 

 

 

Why I like brewing

This is somewhat a complex question for me to answer. Yeah I can say, it’s because I’m passionate about beer, I enjoy the challenges that comes with creating fairy big beers that are drinkable, or I like being part of an industry that is growing at a pace that’s faster than light partials traveling through space (ok that’s a little over exaggerated), waking up at 2am with coffee in hand excited about firing up the kettle knowing that another creation will be taking place today, being around good friends and exploring the cultures of life while pouring grains into the mill. Yes these are all very good reasons why I like brewing but it goes to show that brewing, as a whole, means much more to me then I can talk about if trying to answer this question in one sentence – it simply cannot be done.

It’s interesting given my experiences and background with automotives, more directly drag racing of how the two (brewing and racing) are similar. Drag racing itself is simple, drive a vehicle as fast and safe as you can 1,320 ft while hoping that you can beat your opponent. However prior to going down the track, you have endless amounts of time in building the car, performing maintenance, ensuring all your safety equipment is still up to date, packing for the weekend at the track, setting up the pits, etc… All this so you can drive down the track for a total of 7 seconds! Yes large amounts of time spent for such little in return but we love it. Brewing is very similar to this in that you spend a great deal of time ahead, during and after making beer to ensure that the one perfect moment, when someone takes a sip of our beer, gives them that unique experience that only comes from all that hard work. This moment, quick in time compared to everything leading to that one event is what is so precious to us and why we love brewing!

I’d like bore you with all the technical stuff that comes into play with brewing, remember I’m a gear head and the more knobs, switches and valves I can push/pull the happier I am but that is only interesting to a small number of you but is important to understand about me. However I’ll spare that time for when we get the chance to talk in person or perhaps for a future update.

-Brian

All Beer Is Not Created Equal

There are many craft beer companies in Orange County, but there are not many offering ales (over 8%) with good flavor.  That is our niche. We are “Your Ale Specialist”

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