The first beer we tried by Craftsman Brewing Co. was an icy pint glass of the citrus oil-fizz that is the Orange Grove ale. We got foam mustaches off two rounds in the dank, back room of a now-defunct German pub we bellied up to in college.
The revelation that beer this good was being brewed in a suburb of Los Angeles was sublime.
Since then, Craftsman’s wilder beers have slowly popped into our lives. First there was Craftman’s Heavenly Hefe. Then we discovered the seasonal White Triple Sage and mind-puckering red wine experience that is Cabernale. There were special releases along the way too, like one malt monstrosity called Beer Mountain. Lately, we’ve been tripping hard to Craftsman’s sour experiments — Summer’s End Sour and Edgar Ale aged in oak barrels.
Last spring we dropped by the Pasadena brewery to humbly ask if we could buy entire kegs for events. (See, Craftsman does not sell bottles retail). Founder and brewmaster Mark Jilg said ‘of course,’ and would we mind cooking up some food for his mom’s church fundraiser next weekend? Sure!
Ever since, we’ve considered Mark one of the most compelling beer heads we’ve met. What started as a home-brew hobby, on the side of his full-time job at Jet Propulsion Laboratories, has become a slowly expanding, but far from corporate, beer business. From his 2,500-square-foot brewing facility wedged in the back of a North Pasadena business park, Mark has created a zigzag of tanks and barrels strewn with the machine guts, hoses and nuts and bolts that spew wild yeast beers, traditional lagers and volatile, beer-style-negating concoctions.
To get a sense of Mark’s beer philosophy, his mad scientist approach to running his brewery and his plans for expansion (set to double in coming months!) we swung by the brewery and talked shop followed by gingham beer picnic of sour beers — his own, and aged bottles from our beer collection. Come on in — the beer is just fine!
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