When Meg Gill and Tony Yanow founded Golden Road Brewing Co. in 2011 they set out to lead the craft beer segment in Los Angeles County. In its first year, Golden Road produced 7,500 barrels of beer. In 2013 it reached 15,000 barrels, and the brewery expects to hit 30,000 by the end of 2014. Gill and Yanow’s passion for their city extends beyond their own business—Golden Road has partnered with Heal the Bay, a group working to protect Southern California watersheds, and also Greenway 2020, an initiative to create a greenway next to the L.A. River. Two beers—Heal the Bay IPA and 2020 IPA—have helped raise funds and awareness for these groups. Year-round offerings include Point the Way IPA, Golden Road Hefeweizen, Get Up Offa That Brown, Cabrillo Kölsch, Wolf Among Weeds IPA and 329 Lager. The cans feature photos from around L.A.—not iconic scenes like the Hollywood sign but local landmarks, ones people who know L.A. would recognize and appreciate. Gill and Yanow filled us in on their philosophy and devotion to their city.
How does L.A. inspire you, your brewery and your beers?
YANOW: I moved to L.A. thinking that I was going to move here for a year. I’m from Vancouver in Canada, where it rains every day. I thought that I wasn’t going to like L.A. because I think when you don’t live in L.A., the perception is that it’s all fake this and plastic that. That was over 17 years ago. I’m so in love with this city and everything about it. When you ask what about L.A. inspires the beer that we make, I honestly feel like this is the best place to live. I could live anywhere in the world and I choose to live here. Everything you could want is here, but it’s still got the great laid back vibe. And you can’t beat the weather.
GILL: It’s hard to put life as journey driven and adventure driven into words so it doesn’t sound cheesy. And it’s hard to put that feeling in a beer, but that’s what we try to do with every beer that we brew. Tony and I, and Jesse, our brewmaster, have similar palates and what we like to drink. We feel that’s pretty indicative of what people in L.A. would like to drink as well. Crisp, clean, dry, hop-forward beers that we all love to drink and enjoy with the lifestyle here.
What do you think the drinker in L.A. is looking for?
YANOW: What we are realizing is that there’s a separation happening in craft beer all over, and it’s happening in L.A. too. Beer geeks are looking for easy drinking but subtly nuanced flavors. Or they’re looking for those punch-in-the-mouth, completely overpowering flavor sets. Most people are just looking for great tasting easy-to-drink beers, not watered down or dumbed down beers, but delicious ones with interesting flavors.
GILL: The L.A. community in particular hasn’t been much exposed to fresh, local beer, or beers on the shelf that are a week old. It’s incredible to have the opportunity to give that to them.
What does the artwork on your cans say about Golden Road?
GILL: It’s an aspirational feeling of you’ve made it. Not necessarily success, but you’ve made it as far as life enjoyment. It’s a good feeling of you’re in the right place. Tony dragged me down here and I couldn’t be more thankful or happier to be in L.A. I feel the same way that he feels about the culture, the geography, the outdoors, the weather. Even the people are just fantastic here. So we try to evoke that through the images.