Whether the craft-beer boom is due to new beer-friendly state laws, or the fact that more Americans are realizing that beer can have a variety of flavors that are perfect for food-pairings, the boom means there’s more choice for all of us.
The Coachella Valley has taken part in the recent craft-beer boom. Coachella Valley Brewing Co. opened in August in Thousand Palms, and the folks at Palm Desert’s La Quinta Brewing Co. are busy getting ready for production.
The County of Riverside approved La Quinta Brewing’s conditional-use permit in August. By the end of September, the owners hope the brewery will be fully operational.
Palm Springs native and former real-estate developer Scott Stokes started making the plans for LQBC in December 2012. After retiring in 2005 and taking up home-brewing a few years ago, Scott wanted to start something new, and make something that the Coachella Valley could use more of—great craft beer.
Green Flash Brewing alum Ryan Pearson will be brewing 2,000 barrels per year to start. La Quinta Brewing has a 15-barrel Premier Stainless system. Currently, the brewery holds two 30-barrel fermenters, with one more arriving soon. The facility has room for four additional fermenters, which would allow Stokes and Pearson to expand to 5,000 barrels annually.
“Considering it is 100-plus degrees nearly half the year, and craft beer is in its infancy in the desert, our focus for the beers we distribute to local accounts will be on ‘drinkable’ beers,” said Stokes.
Initially, La Quinta Brewing will have three flagship beers: One Eleven Pale Ale, Windy Point Wheat and Poolside Blonde, with a West Coast-style IPA likely joining the group soon thereafter.
The IPA (which has yet to be named) is a dry, crisp beer, using at least three hops: Columbus, Cascade and Chinook. High on the bittering scale, Columbus is typically regarded as having a nice herbal character that offers an interesting dichotomy of sharp and herbal. It can be used to flavor everything from IPAs and lagers to all types of stouts. Cascade is often used in highly hopped West Coast ales that have citrus-floral and spice accents. Hailing from Washington, Chinook is a bittering variety with aroma characteristics of a dank, piney forest.
The addition of the IPA to La Quinta’s initial three offerings is a smart move; it’s sure to be a hit in hot weather. Ryan Pearson is no stranger to West Coast-style IPAs; after all, he came directly from one of the most highly regarded brewers of the West Coast-style IPA, Green Flash Brewing, in San Diego.
In addition to the four staple beer styles, Pearson plans on brewing small batches using their pilot system, specifically for their tasting room. From there, they will see what’s popular and possibly expand those brews to a larger scale.
At first, La Quinta Brewing plans to offer their beers by draft, in bars and restaurants throughout the valley. The director of sales, Derek Lloyd, was formerly the Coachella Valley division sales manager with Young’s Market Company and is reportedly getting a great reception from potential accounts.
Stokes’ next undertaking will be bottling and canning the beers for pools, golf courses and various hotels. The guys at La Quinta Brewing have a mobile bar, and they plan on using it to distribute their product at events and various venues. The mobile bar holds 25 kegs and has multiple taps on one side—so they can serve beer, food-truck style.
Eventually, they would like to open additional tasting rooms in the desert, and distribute the beer outside of the desert to neighboring cities.
Part of the draw of craft beer is offering people new suds to sample, and it’s great to see Coachella Valley residents working hard to increase crafty offerings to tourists and locals alike. Camaraderie and collaboration are common in the craft-beer industry; considering the burgeoning scene in the desert, it will be interesting to see if these breweries will work together—and to watch how they will grow.