Q & A With Haven Brewing's Dave Larsen: L.A. Beer Week, New Zealand Hops + Stone's First Local Collaboration
The fourth annual Los Angeles Beer Week might have officially ended with Sunday's festival at Union Station, but there's still one more special LABW brew that has yet to be released. Too bad it's not even ready to drink yet.
Photo courtesy of Dave Larsen Larsen's feet stick out of the barrel during the Haven/Stone collaboration brew day.
That's because early in the morning on Thursday, Sept. 20 -- while many establishments were still setting up for their LABW kick-off events -- Haven Brewing Brewmaster Dave Larsen and Stone Brewing's Steve Gonzales were busy making a milestone collaboration beer at Haven Gastropub + Brewery in Old Town Pasadena.
Though Stone is famous for churning out collaboration beers with breweries as close as Orange County and as far away as Denmark and Japan, the yet-unnamed black rye IPA marks the first time Stone has ever collaborated with a Los Angeles brewery. And its release after several more weeks of dry hopping may just coincide with the late October opening of the craft beer giant's first company store outside of San Diego County, which is going in just down the street from Haven.
Making this collaboration beer even more awesome is the fact that Stone sent not its Brewmaster Mitch Steele or CEO Greg Koch on brew day, but Gonzalez -- the company's Research, Small Batch and Barrel Manager. Gonzalez' experience with experimental beers coupled with Larsen's recent (Haven Gastropub + Brewery opened last December) transition from homebrewing to commercial brewing made the duo the perfect team to create a brew that represents the city's burgeoning beer scene.
We caught up with Temecula-born Larsen last week -- as the collaboration beer was deep into fermentation -- and talked about his first co-brewing experience, Stone's Old Town Pasadena takeover and the ways in which drinking beer is like listening to music.
Squid Ink: How did you guys score Stone's first L.A. brewery collaboration?
Photo courtesy of Dave Larsen Haven's Dave Larsen (left) and Stone's Steve Gonzalez get ready to add the hops to their collaboration beer, made on the first day of Los Angeles Beer Week
Dave Larsen: Our rep has been talking it up and saying it would be a good idea and so he had a lot to do with it. And then with them moving into Pasadena with their storefront, it just made sense. Since they're coming onto our turf, they thought it would be nice to do a collaboration. We've always been on great terms with Stone and we always carry Stone beers so it's a perfect fit.
SI: How did you and Steve collaborate on this beer before brew day?
DL: We talked several times over phone and emails to think of something that Haven and Stone could both have on tap at any time. We were talking about a few things. I wanted to do an Imperial Pilsner at first, or maybe a session IPA and centerpiece the hops. And then Steve said, "Let's just do an IPA -- I have these New Zealand hops we can use." I said OK, but I already had two IPAs on draft.
So I thought what if we did a black IPA? And he came back and said, "How about a rye IPA?" Perfect. I have a rye beer on the board that we did, but this one we just made is a black rye IPA with New Zealand hops, which is completely different from anything Haven has done and anything Stone has in their catalog. The rye should really complement the New Zealand hops so I'm excited for it.
SI: Have you collaborated with another brewer before?