Working in a creative industry brings us into contact with some incredible people along the way. Hearing stories of how others have turned a passion into a viable business reminds us of the journey we've taken over the past 15 years and the continued importance of embracing the inspirations and interests that excite and inspire us. Sometimes these friendships give birth to special projects, and we especially love when this happens because it allows us to share our passions with you.
Our warehouse manager, Roland Torres, is 3sixteen's resident beer guru and has been bringing special and rare beers into the office since his first week on the job. Over time, we've all been drawn into the world of craft beer and have developed a deep appreciation for the care, nuance and attention that goes into making it and making it well. Roland built a relationship with Matthew Garcia, founder and head brewer of Homage Brewing in Pomona, CA, and originally approached him two years ago to collaborate on a special beer called "Gratitude" that was served at our LA flagship's one-year anniversary party. In the beginning of 2019, Roland began a dialogue with Matt to work on a new project which happened to complete in time for our shop's three year anniversary this Saturday. The beer is called "Fortitude" and is a true labor of love. We went down to Pomona to visit the Homage brewery and tasting room, and chatted with Matt about the brewery's beginnings, specialties, and what this new project is all about.
We hope that you'll be able to join us this Saturday - October 12th - at the LA flagship to try "Fortitude" out for yourself.
How did the idea of Homage Brewing come to fruition?
Basically, a career in music started to become unrealistic for me. I was working really hard on home brewing at the time of this revelation and decided to focus all of my creative energy into beer. Both my wife and I became very serious in the idea of creating a unique brand and culture that we felt was non-existent in beer at the time. "Homage” became the idea of paying tribute to all things that influenced us.
One thing we noticed from the jump was how much value Homage puts on its art direction. Those influences that you mentioned shine through in all of your visuals.
Yeah, for us, beer is a part of our everyday life but we also have several interests and influences outside of it. Having Homage Brewing gives us a platform to share those ideas. There’s so much beauty everywhere and we try to bring what we see and like in our life and showcase them through our labels, ambience, and overall aesthetic of our brand. Travel, music, fashion, film, food, and culture are all contributing factors to our brand and that’s why we purposely placed our brewery/taproom in the arts district of Pomona in between two music venues. Visiting new cities and taking in what each city has to offer plays a part in how we see beer. We use these experiences to help develop our art and design direction. Once executed, it’s always nice to reminisce about the story behind it. Passion is something that always drives us and that approach is something that we try and showcase in our brand.
What kind of beers does Homage focus on?
We mostly specialize in Mixed Fermentation Barrel Aged Saisons, Hazy IPAs, and Lagers. Most of our Saisons are brewed with aged hops creating a rustic and cheesy aroma. They will then mature and ferment in previously used wine barrels with wild yeast and bacteria. Once our base beer is matured we then blend to taste using several barrels. Balance is always key in this process. When we’ve settled on a blend it will then go through a re-fermentation on organic fruit from local farms. Our goal is to use the best tasting fruit we can get our hands on. Hazy IPAs we brew for smooth drinkability and the freshest hop aroma we can achieve. For Lagers our goal is to create a beer with a quality malt base, snappy hops, and a crisp and carbonated finish.
I’m sure it takes time for a brewery to settle into what makes it special. How has Homage changed from when you first opened?
As far as our approach, our goal for balance and quality has always stayed the same, but our perspective on marketing and selling beer has constantly evolved. It’s pretty amazing how fast craft beer is growing; every minute craft beer gains a new consumer. We pride ourselves on staying ahead of the game by finding ways to incorporate new ideas into beer as well as reinterpreting our own take on classic styles.
What part of beer making continues to challenge you, and what are some things you are always trying to improve on?
Finding ways to evolve my palate. As a brewer, I know that anybody can brew beer but finding ways to bring out certain qualities in beer that I desire is always the process of trial and error. It’s a challenge that I embrace and look forward to each day I come into work.
Palate-wise, what’s capturing your attention right now?
Last year we fell in love with natural wine. It quickly became a new hobby for us that excited our palate. This year we wanted to make connections with wineries to obtain grapes to merge our Barrel Aged Saisons with Naturally fermented Wine Grapes. There are so many details in the process of Natural Wine making that are quite similar to what we do. We have a few “Skin Contact Wine” influenced projects maturing on grapes right now.
This is the second beer you have worked on with 3sixteen. The first being Gratitude; with Fortitude coming out on Saturday, can you describe these beers and the process behind them?
Gratitude stemmed from our love of Lagers and IPAs. Our idea was to create a snappy and easy drinking beer with the elements of fresh hops exploding in the aroma and each sip! We were excited to debut it at the 3sixteen one year anniversary party in 2017.
Since we had more time to work on Fortitude, we wanted to showcase our most notable style of beer. We coordinated with Roland of 3sixteen to blend and create a Barrel Aged Saison using locally sourced blood oranges that were deep red in color. The pulp and juice from the oranges were juicy, citrusy, and had hints of raspberries. It quickly became apparent that this was a combo that needed to be done. It’s been bottle-conditioning now for several months and we’re super stoked to release it into the wild.
The cool thing about Gratitude is that even though we first released it two years ago, we still run it consistently; it’ll always be a favorite of ours. Having the opportunity to work with such a passionate and quality driven company such as 3sixteen is what we’ve strived from in the beginnings of Homage. Gratitude has now become a fan favorite and represents the values that we will always stand by as our journey evolves.
Fortitude will be on tap at our three year shop anniversary party this Saturday, October 12th from 6-10pm courtesy of Homage Brewing. We will also have bottles available for you to bring home with you. Alongside the beer, we will be releasing special collaborative beer mugs by PKK Ceramics; they're the beautiful hand-thrown mugs you see photographed throughout this piece. Lastly, Radburger LA will be parked outside grilling up free burgers all night. We hope that you'll be able to come up and join us for the celebration!
941 E. 2nd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012