Valiant helped represent OC craft beer June 29 at the Packinghouse Brewing Co. BrewGrass Festival in Riverside. Our man Jack and Mike Swinnerton sweated it out (it was 107 degrees out in the Inland Empire), pouring Fields Ablaze, 31 Kings, Jericho, and Mounds of Grounds to a very thirsty, very big crowd.
We were excited to participate in this event to support our colleagues at Packinghouse (and the California Riverside Ballet, which benefited from the festival)–and to help spread the word about Valiant among our neighbors to the east. We met a lot of craft beer fans from Orange County as well as from the Inland Empire, and also got to connect with some breweries out in the IE.
Hot weather, hotter music, and ice-cold beer. It was definitely an event to remember!
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!).
Part 9 in our ongoing series of posts introducing you to the Valiant family of beers. Today’s installment: Pathos.
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!
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.