CVIndependent

Mon07062020

Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

Back when Palm Springs was a frequent destination for the truly hip, Frank Sinatra would hoist his Jack Daniel’s flag on the pole in his luxurious Movie Colony neighborhood. It was like a smoke signal to Frank’s cohorts—it was cocktail hour.

Today, the Coachella Valley is once again becoming a frequent destination for the truly hip—but in a younger way. There’s new blood pumping into the area, and instead of a Jack Daniel’s flag, the craft-beer flag is flying high.

Aug. 30 marks the first anniversary of Coachella Valley Brewing Company, and what a year it’s been. Most recently, CVB signed an agreement for statewide Arizona distribution with Young’s Market Company.

Head brewer and chief operating officer Chris Anderson attributes the company’s fast success to “quality beer matched with a quality brand—but most importantly, the hardworking team at the brewery.”

CVB has secured more than 100 tap handles in the Coachella Valley, and earlier this year was featured at the renowned Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (better known around the world simply as Coachella).

I asked David Humphrey, the company’s CEO, if he expected this rapid success.

“Hell no,” he declared. “Honestly, you’ve got to 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.”

One of those recent “risky” and “calculated” decisions is to start a sour program. 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 preparing a wild yeast and bacteria blend that is almost 15 years in the making. Now that is calculated. It’s a blend of Roeselare, the Rodenbach strain, Cantillon, and Russian River sour yeast blends. It also includes Pediococcus Lambicus, three strains of Brettanomyces, 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; it will be released in November. Flame Rouges will be available in January; it will be brewed with red-flame raisins, re-fermented in cabernet barrels. Epineux Poire is a prickly pear sour, aged in port barrels, and will be ready around April 2015. All of these offerings will only be made available to CVB’s Fault Line Society.

On the non-sour side, CVB recently released its Whopper, a 10.4 percent alcohol by volume imperial chocolate milk stout that was aged in Old Fitzgerald bourbon barrels for six months, and brewed with 98 percent cocoa Callebaut chocolate, as well as 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,” he said. “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.”

CVB is also busy getting ready for the Great American Beer Festival, held in Denver in October. Coachella Valley Brewing was specially selected to pour and was also picked to present a special “Farm to Glass” concept with a tasting for 200 people.

“It’s great to have good beer,” Humphrey said. “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 think about the brand. … I think that it comes down to great beer, but also having an iconic brand, that is something that’s going to be exportable.”

Just a bit east in Palm Desert, the folks at La Quinta Brewing Co. are busy with new releases, a new brewery club and expanded distribution—which is impressive, considering that the brewery is not yet a year old.

La Quinta Brewing just released a new imperial stout, coming in at 8.3 percent alcohol (80 IBU), that’s only available in the taproom. The brewery will also release a brown ale in mid-September, and the brewery’s popular Koffi Porter will be released any day now.

La Quinta Brewery is also starting to barrel-age for the first time, beginning with its porter. It’s aging in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels and will be available in the fall.

Of course, La Quinta’s popular usual suspects—the Sandstorm Double IPA, Poolside Blonde and Indian Canyon IPA—remain available. La Quinta’s also busy taking memberships for the Inner Circle club. The brewery only had eight slots left as of this writing, 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 the Coachella Valley and Idyllwild, but should begin delivering beer outside of the valley within 60 days. La Quinta is currently in 115 bars and restaurants (with more than 160 tap handles), and in about 45 stores.

More good things are coming: La Quinta installed two additional fermenting vessels in July, increasing the current production capacity to near 3,000 barrels per year. The brewery’s tap room will also be installing a new walk-in cooler behind the bar to increase the number of beers on offer.

Heading south to Rancho Mirage, the valley’s veteran brewery, Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse, has big plans for the remainder of the year.

Upcoming releases include Das Schwein (The Pig), a dunkelweizen available through late September. In the fall, keep a look out for Fall Amber Rye IPA, due in October. Babe’s annual Winter Nipster will hit taps around Thanksgiving, so make sure you drop in for this tasty colder-weather, seasonal brew.

Starting Sept. 4, Babe’s will host Thursday Night Football with Team 1010 Sports radio—and will tie in a segment called Beer Scene, discussing the growing Coachella Valley craft-beer culture.

The brewhouse is also attending the Great American Beer Festival in Denver.

Keep a look out for Babe’s and the other breweries at the Ace Hotel’s Craft Beer weekend on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 12 and 13. 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!

Published in Beer

A region formerly best known for old-school martinis continues to expand its craft-beer prowess—and a brewery that’s not even a year old is, in many ways, leading the way by offering small-batch offerings, tap-room special releases and seasonal farm-to-glass brews.

Coachella Valley Brewing Co. may be best known for its popular wide releases like Kolschella, Desert Swarm and Monumentous, but it’s also pushing limits with clever blends, new yeast strains and inspiring bourbon beers.

Currently aging in the barrels at the Thousand Palms brewery is Mayahuel, a new Belgian-style agave tripel. This will be the first offering of the brewery’s new Fault Line Society, premium reserve club, with memberships starting at $150 per year. Fault Line Society members receive discounts and can earn points, which can be redeemed for gift cards to be used on future purchases. Members will also be invited to beer-release parties, among other perks. Find details on the CVB website.

Mayahuel gets its name from the Aztec goddess of agave. Additions of Blue Weber Agave Nectar and clear candi sugar, imported from Belgium, lighten the body while adding complex alcoholic aromas and spicy flavors of banana, clove and anise. The complexity is complemented by the additions of tangerines and limes. This beer has been aging in bourbon barrels for more than a month, with another month or two left to go; expect those bourbon barrels to add rich notes of toffee, vanilla and caramel.

Desert locals are no stranger to small critters and insects—and CVB is offering a seasonal bourbon-barrel-aged Russian imperial stout to Fault Line Society members called Black Widow. At a whopping 16 percent alcohol by volume, Black Widow is formulated with a Maris Otter malt base and five different dark-roasted malts. After fermentation began, brewmaster Chris Anderson and company added Belgian chocolate, molasses, Vermont maple syrup and Belgian dark candi sugar. This pitch-black beauty was then placed in bourbon barrels, where it’s currently aging.

If you’re looking for something lighter to suit the warmer valley days, try the Oasis Ale, a 5.6 percent ABV ale-and-cider medley. Anderson has been known to gather the apples from Julian orchards himself. This unique offering begins with malted white wheat and pale malted barley; freshly pressed cider is then added to the brew, resulting in a refreshing beer.

Currently on tap is the popular “Luke Rye Walker” Belgian-style rye double India pale ale. The beer is named after Luke Anderson, Chris Anderson’s new son. The intergalactic IPA was formulated with Pacific Northwest pale malt, caramel malt and malted rye, resulting in a sweet, yet earthy backbone. The toffee notes are given life with simcoe and Australian summer hops. The force continues with Torulaspora delbrueckii, the house wild yeast, deepening the complexity with fruity esters of pear and peach. Try a pint before it disappears!

CVB is also busy expanding its reach and brand. Young’s Market Company started distributing 1,200 cases of CVB beer state-wide in mid-March, with Desert Swarm, Kölschella and Monumentous India Pale Ale being offered. And watch out for 200 CVB handles in bars and restaurants across Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego.

Of course, April is known for being the biggest music month in the Coachella Valley, and the brewery is helping locals warm up with the help of local artists and DJs. On Saturday, April 5, from 3 to 8 p.m., CVB and the Coachella Valley Independent—yep, that’s us—will offer live art, food, six DJs and, of course, great craft beer at the Pre-Coachella Warehouse Party. Southern California native and Palm Springs resident Caitie Magraw and fellow artist Michael Perez are collaborating on a live art piece and will be painting throughout the day.

The lineup includes local music luminaries, All Night Shoes (aka Alex Harrington, an Independent contributor and one of the party’s organizers), Synthetix, Ivanna Love, Feeme A, RowLow and CreamSFV. The $35 ticket price includes four 12-ounce Coachella Valley Brewing beers. Get tickets at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/594166.

Proceeds will go to the EcoMedia Compass; the nonprofit is working to raise awareness about and funds to restore the Salton Sea. EcoMedia Compass and its “Save Our Sea” movement began when Kerry Morrison, a local musician, filmed a music video there. Morrison realized the sea’s needs and potential, and banded together with fellow artists, scientists, filmmakers and activists. Get more info at www.ecomediacompass.org.

In-between the two Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival weekends, CVB will take over the taps at Eureka! in Indian Wells: On Wednesday, April 16, CVB will have a minimum of five handles at the Indian Wells craft beer and burger restaurant.

It’s great to see Coachella Valley Brewing answering the call for a bigger selection of sophisticated and modern beers. As Anderson frequently implores: Stay thirsty revolutionaries.

Published in Beer

Update: CV Brewing Co. Is Open for Business

Coachella Valley Brewing Co.—the brand-new brewery whose taps graced the cover of the Independent’s summer print issue—has finally opened its doors to the public, at least for special events.

The taproom, at 30640 Gunther St. in Thousand Palms, was the site of an Animal Samaritans special event this week.

However, as they always say (OK, not really, but play along), it’s not official until there’s a cheesy ribbon-cutting event—and that cheesy ribbon-cutting event will take place at noon on Friday, Aug. 30.

Everyone’s welcome, and if you want to try some of the beer, bring $10, and you can get tastes of four of ’em. Master brewer Chris Anderson will be on hand to answer questions, and a good time will be had by all.

Stay in the loop by calling (760) 343-5973, or visiting www.cvbco.com.

A Frickleburgers Comeback Is Not to Be

Frickleburgers, the Cathedral City restaurant that closed in May despite several “Best Of” wins, will not be making a comeback.

When the restaurant, which was located at 68375 E. Palm Canyon Drive, closed its doors, owner Michael Zoll vowed to do everything he could to fix his business plan, get new investors and reopen the restaurant.

However, his efforts did not pan out: He announced via Facebook on Aug. 19 that he and his family would be relocating to Chicago.

“I did everything I possibly could and followed every lead, path and inquiry to try and find a company or investor to reopen my dream which was Frickleburgers, all which ended with plenty on interest, but no capital,” he wrote.

We wish Zoll nothing but success in his future endeavors. He’s a damn fine burger-maker.

Fatburger Returning to the Coachella Valley

In happier burger news: Fatburger will be returning to the Coachella Valley.

The Palm Springs location on Ramon Road closed in 2011, but the chain restaurant, which touts itself as “The Last Great Hamburger Stand,” will open up shop in Palm Desert in November or December, according to the company’s website. (However, that website disconcertingly calls the city “Palm Dessert.”)

The Fatburger, at Highway 111 and Fred Waring Drive, will be joined by a corporate sister restaurant: Buffalo’s Café, which serves chicken wings.

In Brief

The Twin Palms Bistro and Lounge, 1201 E. Palm Canyon Drive, which closed after a fire on April 9, remains in limbo. “Still no word from the insurance or landlord attorneys,” said a Facebook post from the restaurant on Aug. 13. “Wish we had some news to share, but it is out of our hands at this point. The construction has started (which is a good sign) and pretty much everything is still the same. Thank you everyone for the kind words and support.” … Word is that Dhat Island—a Caribbean Creole restaurant in Redlands—is slated to open a second location at the old Marie Callender’s location at 69830 Highway 111 in Rancho Mirage. Keep your fingers crossed for an October opening. … Speaking of beer: La Quinta Brewing Co., in Palm Desert, is getting close to an opening date. Watch the pages (online and in print) of the Independent for more details soon, and follow the progress at www.facebook.com/LaQuintaBrewingCo.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

The internationally famous desert resort destination that we call home, as of this moment, has never had a larger-scale commercial brewery that focused on one thing, and one thing only: beer.

Who knows why? Blame the caviar crowd, or maybe the midcentury martini surroundings. In any case, this omission will soon be no longer, thanks to Coachella Valley Brewing Co.

Every craft-beer drinker knows that good beer isn’t possible without competent brewers, proper equipment and a vision. CV Brewing’s chief operating officer and brewmaster, Chris Anderson, started home-brewing in college with an extract kit nearly 20 years ago, and has been brewing his way through competitions and breweries ever since.

He, his colleagues and beer-lovers across the Coachella Valley are all keeping their fingers crossed for a mid-July opening.

Before joining forces with other beer-lovers to start his own brewery in the Coachella Valley, Anderson was part of some incredible commercial craft-brewing teams. Those teams grabbed a bronze at the World Cup of Beer, gold at the Great Alaska Beer and Barley Wine Festival, and gold at the Toronado Barleywine Festival (peoples’ choice), among other honors.

His first medal was Best of Ales and Best of Show at the Alaska State Fair for raspberry/cranberry lambic-style ale, a brew that he will be making seasonally at CVB called “Cranboise.”

An extensive brewing resume isn’t the only thing Anderson brings to the new brewery: CV Brewing is employing a high-efficiency brewing system (or H.E.B.S.). It brews with less malt than other breweries. The system uses 60 percent less water, and produces 65 percent less spent grain solids. It takes only two hours to produce 527 gallons, or 17 barrels, of wort, thus keeping energy costs low. Anderson and company also chose to employ a 50-horsepower Miura steam generator, which is one of the most efficient boilers in existence: It can boil 1,054 gallons of water in less than 40 minutes, while still heating all of the other brewhouse vessels.

So, just how much craft beer can this system produce? Initially, the brewery will have a capacity of 4,500 barrels, or 139,500 gallons, per year, with the ability to quadruple that within the next few years.

“I gravitate to anything beer-related and always have been attracted by the craft-brewing industry and its people,” Anderson says. “Craft brewers are so friendly and welcoming, and many of my fellow brewers are like family to me.”

 

While the Coachella Valley has been home to several breweries—most notably the highly regarded Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse, as well as defunct operations by Indio Brewing Co. and Palm Springs Brewing Co.—none of them have produced beer on the scale planned by CV Brewery.

Anderson blames the relative lack of breweries, in part, on the heat.

“It creates a totally different vibe,” he says. “The valley is tough because of our peaks during season and valleys during the hot months.” That’s why CV Brewing is employing warm-weather brewing techniques which will make brewing in the desert more affordable.

David Humphrey is the CEO, and his wife, Jamie Humphrey, is the director of special events; she’s involved in all aspects of the operation. Gary Grotsky is the director of sales, and Dana Crosby is Coachella Valley Brewing’s CFO.

Chris AndersonAnderson (pictured) previously ran the “Beer School” at Schmidy’s Tavern, and he and Jamie Humphrey both served on the advisory council of The Living Desert’s popular The Brew at the Zoo event. Less than one year ago, Crosby, Jamie Humphrey and Chris Anderson started discussing their shared vision of opening a large scale brewery in the Coachella Valley. David and Chris married their two separate business plans together, and pitched it to a select group of potential investors.

Incorporating local ingredients into the beer is important to Humphrey and Anderson. Coachella Valley Brewing is working with several farms in the area, such as Hadley Fruit Orchards, Seaview and Golden State Herbs.

“We feel like many who visit or live in the valley seasonally don’t even know how important the east valley agriculture is to the state as well as America. Hell, some don’t even know it exists,” Anderson says. “The valley sets the pricing for the year, because our products are first to hit the market (due to the warm climate). I have always wanted to integrate a popular culinary trend, farm-to-table, into beer-brewing, and we thought it would be an incredible way to promote the efforts of the east valley’s farmers while providing our customers with a distinctly desert offering.”

The brewery will be using citrus, kumquats, tangelo, mandarin and various oranges. They will also be incorporating spices like coriander, sage, Thai basil, jasmine, lavender, rosemary, bergamot, paradise seed and thyme. They plan to use berries, Oak Glen apples and—of course—the Coachella Valley’s famous dates. To top it all off, they have a small farm that yields approximately 100 pounds of hops annually. The brewery will use these in a wet-hop or green-hop India pale ale.

The facilities will keep 14 taps flowing at all times. Anderson loves all of his beers, of course, but one of his favorites is the Big Cat Saison, which is made with local sage, paradise seed, rosemary and thyme. This will be brewed for The Living Desert, and a percentage of the profits will go to the zoo and botanical garden.

Other favorites: Monumentous IPA is a West Coast IPA made with New Zealand hops. Dubbel Date is a Belgian abbey-style dubbel made with Medjool dates. Desert Swarm is a honey-double witbier made with local Africanized killer-bee honey, east valley citrus, and coriander. Oasis is an apple ale made with Oak Glen Spartan apples.

Palms to Pines Imperial India Pale Ale is named after the historic California State Route 74, aka the Palms to Pines Scenic Byway. The CV Brewing founders felt that a seasonal release was in order to commemorate the topography changes when driving from the desert floor to the Idyllwild forest. Only American hops are employed in this beer: Warrior, Chinook, Simcoe, Cascade, Citra and Centennial. To tie the pines in, they added freshly picked spruce tips from the mountains of Idyllwild; for the palms, they incorporated a palm sugar.

CV Brewing will also be making Belgian-inspired ales, hoppy West Coast-style ales and sour ales. The Belgians and hopped-up brews will be released immediately, while the sours will likely not make an appearance until 2015. CVB’s barrel-aged offerings will make appearances in late 2013 and early 2014.

The craft-brewer ethos embodies kindness toward fellow brewers, and many craft brewers are taking that inspiration to the bottle—by creating special, limited-edition beers, usually with special ingredients, and with both breweries getting top billing. CV Brewing plans on collaborating with Black Market Brewing Co., Ritual, Hangar 24, Rip Current, Anchorage Brewing, Broken Tooth Brewing, and Gilgamesh.

Anderson wants to collaborate with more breweries beyond those, too.

“I would love to work with Alpine. I love their beers, and they are bar none my favorite brewery,” he says. “I am a fan of Mikkeller. His beers are so imaginative and innovative. … Also I would love to work with Russian River. I love everything they do, and I am also a sour-ale maniac. I love Societe as well. Everything they do is stellar.”

 

CV Brewing has some fans in high places who are eagerly anticipating the opening. One such fan is Steve Pougnet, the mayor of Palm Springs.

“The fact that Coachella Valley Brewing Co. is partnering with local farms is fantastic and definitely affects our local economy,” he says in an email. “This is a strategy that any new business in the Coachella Valley that is in the food and beverage industry should emulate. We hear from the farmers at our local farmers’ market about the quality of the food and how much it benefits them to work with the local community. From a sustainability standpoint, you are looking at less vehicle miles traveled, reductions in emissions, support of local pollinators and biodiversity, and most definitely support of our local farmers and their families. … This will be a wonderful new attraction for our residents and visitors from all over the world!”

Currently, CV Brewing has approximately 30 commercial customers awaiting their brews, which will be available in bars, restaurants and stores. Special releases will only be available at the tasting room or at special venues, like the Ace Hotel and Swim Club, Schmidy’s Tavern, Mic and Moe’s, and LQ Wine.

CV Brewing’s operators plan to saturate the valley first, using self-distribution. Then, they plan to take on outside distribution, working first in Southern California and later moving north. Hawaii is slated to be the second state where the beers will be available, followed by Nevada, Oregon, Idaho and the Southwest. Anderson and Humphrey want to stay in areas not totally saturated with craft beer—and desert areas that can identify with their branding.

As part of their ambitious five-year plan, they hope to open a second tasting room on El Paseo in Palm Desert. In 10 years, the brewery hopes to acquire a still and create small-batch spirits and honey wine.

They know that to reach these lofty goals, they’ll need to maintain passion, creativity and commitment.

“I love that it’s an outlet for my creative and artistic side. … I am passionate about it, and I truly enjoy doing it,” Anderson says.

Coachella Valley Brewing Co. is located at 30640 Gunther St., in Thousand Palms. Its owners are hoping for a mid-July opening. For more information, call 760-343-5973; visit www.cvbco.com; or track down the brewery on Facebook.

Published in Features & Profiles

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