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.”
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.
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?).
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.)
“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.
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.
Last weekend Valiant was excited to take part in two great beer events: the Los Angeles Beer Festival (in the Paramount Studios parking lot!) and the Slater’s 50/50 Backyard Brewfest, which raised money for pediatric cancer research (and gave everyone an awesome excuse to while away a spring afternoon enjoying great craft beer!).
While Kelly held down the fort in the tasting room, Brian trekked up to LA and Jack headed down to Lake Forest for the Brewfest, where he poured with the assistance of family friend James White. The guys got the word out about Valiant, convinced non-Saison fans to give our Fields Ablaze a try, and spent some time with our colleagues at Cismontane, Noble, Bootlegger’s, and Hangar 24 and Ritual from the Inland Empire. (Jack even met one of the Beer Chicks!)
If you missed this great time, don’t feel too bad–you can break open your Valiant growler and enjoy a cold one while looking over Brewfest photos. It’s the next best thing to being there!
Part 5 in our ongoing series of posts introducing you to the Valiant family of beers. Today’s installment: Octave.
It’s no shocker that Belgian pale ales dominate the brewing scene in Belgium—especially after you’ve tasted one. These are easy-drinking beers with a malty taste and the pleasant aroma of hops (without the bitterness).
Valiant’s Belgian pale fits that bill—but also sneaks outside the style box, so to speak.
Five different malts go into Octave, building a complex flavor profile. Octave isn’t as sweet as some Belgian pales, though—and it has a drier finish than many. With an IBU of 30, Octave offers a longer-lasting bitterness to balance out the malt profile. Opal hops are the source of a distinctive fruity, floral aroma (but without that ester hit that turns off so many beer-drinkers).
With an ABV of 6.5%, Octave not only balances the malt and hops, but a little added sugar thins out the flavor profile so it’s not quite so thick. It’s mildly carbonated and, unlike many Belgian pales, no decanting is necessary for this reddish, semi-cloudy beer.
Diversifying the lineup in the Valiant tasting room, Octave won’t be on tap year-round—so it’s a good idea to grab a glass before it’s all gone.
Plus there may be a surprise in store down the road for Octave fans. It is possible that some of the Belgian pale made its way into bourbon barrels for aging, just in time for a summer release. We can’t wait to taste how oaking impacts the flavor profile of Valiant’s newest beer!
Part 4 in our ongoing series of posts introducing you to the Valiant family of beers. Today’s installment: Hotspur.
The inspiration for our Dunkelweizen, Hotspur, comes from southern Germany, as you might have guessed. If your German beer skills are sharp, you already know that “dunkel” means “dark,” and “weizen” means “wheat.” It’s a dark version of the Hefeweizen (“yeast wheat,” for those of you playing at home), but with a more complex flavor profile as well as a darker hue, a sort of ruby brown.
Hotspur is a classic Dunkelweizen with a healthy dose of banana and clove aroma and a flavor to match: banana, clove, and a hint of nutty bread. Additional character stems from using classic noble hops like Hallertau, which provide that earthy, slightly flowery aroma—a must for this style of beer.
Part of our Common Sense series, Hotspur comes in at 5% ABV. Its drinkability is very much in keeping with the Dunkelweizen style—low in alcohol, but packed with flavor. Hotspur shares those characteristics with all the other beers in our Common Sense series (including premium bitter Mighty Maximus, 3.6% ABV, and 31 Kings IPA, 6.5% ABV).
In Germany, Dunkelweizens are known as individuals—there are dozens of brands, but each with a unique flavor profile. In that sense, Hotspur is a perfect fit. (And that’s how we chose the name: Hotspur the beer, just like Shakespeare’s Henry IV character of the same name, is an invigorating individual!)
It is best to store Hotspur upright in a dry dark area at temperatures around 50°F. We recommend serving at 53 – 59°F in goblet-type glassware. And here are some suggestions for goodies to enjoy alongside it: substantial salads, roast chicken, pork, hearty sausage, goat cheese, Gouda… and banana cream pie!