Set amongst palm trees, hotel pools and golf courses in a throwback atmosphere, Palm Springs remains a major cultural hub with its modern architecture, noteworthy chefs and poolside cocktails.
Previously known for its decadent weekend retreats, Palm Springs was a destination for the truly hip. Frank Sinatra often hoisted his Jack Daniels flag on the flag pole in his luxurious Movie Colony neighborhood, which went up like a smoke signal to Frank's cohorts that it was cocktail hour.
Frank's legacy will always be a part of Palm Springs heritage. But there's new blood pumping into the area and now, the craft beer flag is flying high, calling a growing youth culture in the desert.
August 30th marks the first year anniversary of Coachella Valley Brewing. Adding to this success, CVB has recently signed an agreement for statewide distribution with Young's Market Co of Arizona.
Head Brewer and Chief Operating Officer Chris Anderson attributes the success to "quality beer matched with a quality brand. But most importantly, the hardworking team at the brewery."
CVB has secured over 100 tap handles in the Coachella Valley and was featured at the world renowned Coachella Music and Arts Festival. They were also recently voted as the "Best Brewery" in the Coachella Valley by CV Weekly Magazine.
When David Humphrey was asked if it was everything he expected, he humbly and adamantly said, "Hell no. Honestly, you gotta 'understand, I had no preconceived notions of how this was going to go."
"We made a lot of calculated, risky decisions. Underline 'calculated', I suppose. And just hoped that it worked and so far, it's totally blown away our expectations, and even other people's expectations."
Perhaps one of those 'risky and calculated' decisions is to start a sour program just one year into the brewery's birthday. Sours are a great option for hot weather drinking and they have a wine-like quality that may attract an even wider audience of drinkers.
Anderson has been propagating a sour wild yeast and bacteria blend, that is almost 15 years in the making. Now, this IS calculated!
It's a blend of Roselare, the Rodenbach strain, Cantillion, and Russian River sour yeast blends. It also includes Pediococcus Lambicus, 3 strains of Brettanomyces Brett Trois, Brettanomyces Bruxellensis, Brettanomyces Lambicus, and a lactic strain Anderson isolated back in Alaska while working at Midnight Sun.
'Framboys' is a Framboise made with raspberries and locally grown boysenberries. This will be released in November. 'Flame Rouges' will be available in January. This future sour release will be brewed with red flame raisins, refermented in the Cabernet barrels. 'Epineux Poire' is a prickly pear sour aged in Port Barrels and will be ready around April of 2015. All are Fault Line Society only offerings.
On the non-sour side, CVB recently released their 'Whopper', a 10.4% ABV Imperial Chocolate Milk Stout that was aged in Old Fitzgerald bourbon barrels for six months, and brewed with 98% Cocoa Callebaut chocolate and Ecuadorian Cocoa nibs. Dark candi syrup and Vermont maple syrup bring even more warmth for a sweetly decadent and Sinatra-approved beer.
The 'Harvester' IPA was recently tapped. Humphrey especially loved this batch.
"Harvester IPA turned out better than the first time..We use grapefruit that was picked a day or two beforehand and the freshness is all about the Harvester. I think that's the best IPA we've done. I think this blows the Coriolis [ Effect] out [of] the water. "
That will be bottled for the Fault Line Society this month. They also just released Phoenix, a Vienna style lager, brewed with local Medjoul Dates for a uniquely local Coachella Valley flavor. This German style lager will is easily quaffable and will be available inMore Taps-Aug2014-resize cans in Arizona in September.
CVB is also busy getting ready for the Great American Beer Festival held in Denver, Colorado, in October. The brewery will be bringing their 'Monumentous', 'Harvester', 'Desert Swarm', 'Black Widow' and 'Kolschella'. Coachella Valley Brewing was specially selected to pour and was also selected to present a special 'Farm to Glass' concept with a tasting for 200 people.
Humphrey also commented on their now popular 'Farm to Glass' concept.
"It's great to have good beer. And it's great to be able to do the 'farm to glass' local angle but you know, you really worry, are you going to be able to make it out of your own backyard?"
"I think where we took our time is to really, sort of, think about the brand, think about what we're trying to export with the brand; what's going to be our 'Nike swoosh'? from Young's, "easiest sell we've had for beer," "really well received in the market", I think that it comes down to great beer, but also, having an iconic brand, that is something that's going to be exportable. "
He continued, "Good will is one of those things you get with brand building. And there's a number associated with that. It's tangible. It's economic. If you come out with something that looks like garbage, it's gonna 'take you a long time to get back that good will … we're very particular about that stuff. "
Heading east, towards Palm Desert, the folks at La Quinta Brewing are busy with their new releases, brewery club and distribution.
La Quinta Brewing just released a new imperial stout, coming in at 8.3% ABV (80 IBU), only available in the taproom. The brewery will also have a brown ale coming out in mid-September and their popular Koffi Porter is now available. La Quinta Brewery will also start to barrel age for the first time, starting with their porter. The porter is aging in Buffalo Trace Bourbon barrels and will be available in the fall.
Currently, you can also find the usual suspects, Sandstorm Double IPA, Poolside Blonde and Indian Canyon IPA. New cans should be out in early October. They might start canning the Koffi Porter later in the year.
La Quinta's also busy taking memberships for the "Inner Circle". They only have eight slots left (as of Aug. 18th), so hurry while there's still availability.
La Quinta is in approximately 45 local retail stores, including Albertson's, Total Wine, LQ Wine, Jensen's and Bevmo. Currently, the brewery is distributing within Heimark's territory, which is the Coachella Valley and Idyllwild. They are talking with two distributors right now (with two different territories) and should be delivering beer outside the valley within 60 days. La Quinta is currently in 115 "on sale" (bars / restaurants) accounts (over 160 tap handles) and about 45 "off sale" accounts (stores).
La Quinta has made some impressive strides, installing two additional fermenting vessels in July, increasing their current production capacity to near 3,000 barrels / year. They will also be installing a new walk-in cooler behind the bar to increase the number of beers the brewery can offer to ten.
In Rancho Mirage, check out what the popular BBQ restaurant, Babe's Bar-B-Que & Brewhouse is brewing.
Upcoming releases include 'Das Schwien' (The Pig), a Dunkelweizen available through late September. In the Fall, keep a look out for 'Fall Amber Rye IPA', due in October. And Babe's annual Winter Nipster hits taps around Thanksgiving, so make sure you drop in for this colder weather, seasonal brew.
And Starting September 4th, Babe's will host Thursday Night Football with "Team 1010 Sports" radio, running through December.
They will also tie in a segment called "Beer Scene", discussing the growing Coachella Valley craft beer culture.
Keep a look out for Babe's and the other breweries at the Ace Hotel's 'Craft Beer Weekend' on September 12th and 13th. Join the local breweries and other popular craft brewers on Saturday afternoon for a pool party and barbecue with craft beer tastings and live music. It's ultra, Palm Springs, cool.
The brewhouse is also attending the Great American Beer Festival on October 2nd, in Denver. Babe's will be sending five of their beers.
Here in the Coachella Valley, you can find Babe's beers across the valley, including Renaissance Palm Springs, Trio Restaurant, Workshop Kitchen + Bar and the Purple Room. Also, keep a look out for their beers at the Palm Desert Whole Foods, 3rd Corner, Eureka Indian Wells and Miramonte Resort.
The valley has become a destination for carefree cool, yet again. And the burgeoning craft beer scene in the Coachella Valley is breathing new popularity into the growing youth culture taking hold in the desert.
Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley has always been a mecca for the chic and cool. Today, it's with world-renowned music festivals, EDM pool parties, incredible cuisine and now, awesome craft beer.