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Brewer Profile: Meet Bob Kunz of Highland Park Brewing

NGingold_HPB_CBMuseonly_010It’s been said that good things come in small packages. What’s said much less often is that good things come from the small back room right behind the bar. For one that’s not a very catchy saying, and it’s rarely true. It can actually be quite scary back there. Lucky for us, such is the case with Highland Park Brewery, which occupies a grand total of 480 square feet of space in a little room behind a terrific beer bar called The Hermosillo. The two are distinctly separate businesses, yet the symbiosis is unavoidable. The Herm acts as Highland Park’s tasting room, offering fresh IPAs and new saison experiments. In return, the bar is often packed with beer fans and neighborhood locals alike, thanks in part to the shock waves put off by this mighty mouse of a brewery.

Specializing in mixed fermented beers, Highland Park Brewery is without question putting out some of the most inventive beers in Los Angeles, size be damned. Established in 2014, HPB will put out around 700 barrels of beer this year, which makes it both a treat and a rarity to snag sought after bottles like Raised Eyebrows (a mixed fermented sour aged with guava and passion fruit from the parking lot) or Cart Fetish (a sour collaboration with Monkish Brewing). Both are well worth the search. NGingold_HPB_CBMuseonly_020What’s even more of a treat is to enjoy the full spectrum of their beers, (from Noble hop driven IPAs to rich dark beers like their imperial stout with coffee),  fresh from the taps of the Hermosillo, while conversing with the man responsible for these yeast and bacteria driven brews, Bob Kunz. A wacky guy with a lot of heart and a lot of beard, Kunz has accomplished some incredible things with the system he’s been given. He brews these beers in the freakin’ parking lot for god’s sake. Bottles are conditioned 33 to a milk carton stacked in the hallway. But as you’ll read, the pursuit of innovation and quality is always in the forefront of Kunz’s mind, and evident in the beer he produces. This interview is a long one but a good one – so before we begin I want to make an emphatic suggestion to my fellow beer fans out there – go visit the Hermosillo and try these beers. Visit now, and visit often. I just might see you there.

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First Impressions: An Ambitious Iron Triangle Brewing Sets Its Own Bar

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On a rainy evening in early January the highly anticipated Iron Triangle Brewing in the Arts District opened its doors (and its taps) to friends, community members, and beer media for the first time. Like many others, I had been patiently waiting for this opening for some time; both to try brewer Darren Moser’s beer and to see if the buildup that owner Nathan Cole had been asserting was all that it had promised to be. I think it’s fair to say that Cole has been a polarizing figure in the Los Angeles craft beer scene, something he’ll readily admit. An unknown in beer until now, Cole came out swinging by setting his sights high with a business model built on high levels of production and distribution throughout Los Angeles. Iron Triangle is positioning itself to make quite a bit of beer out of the 10,000 square foot facility they occupy, and there are already rumors of future expansions. The four-vessel brewhouse is equipped to handle multiple brews per day, giving the indication that the goal is to hit the ground running, and run fast at that. If things go well for this startup brewery, Los Angeles could be seeing the birth of a Golden Road sized player quite quickly. And that’s worth the intrigue itself. With these thoughts in my head, I entered the results of Cole and Moser’s best efforts to see for myself.

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