BEER BROS: Absolution’s Bart Bullington, Rock ‘n’ Roll & real green beer
by Ed Solt
For some reason, when I picture Absolution Brewing Company an Eddie Van Halen screeching solo is played in the background while a high kicking David Lee Roth is tossing and catching pint glasses working the bar like he worked the Forum, circa 1980. My abstract thought is not too far from reality. You’re not going to hear a synthesized groan from the latest electronic beat on Absolution’s Torrance tasting room’s sound system. While head brewer Bart Bullington isn’t going to go into DLR’s on-stage antics while wearing skin tight spandex in between his brite tanks, he adds heaps of rock n’ roll with his hops. We met up with Bullington to discuss the phenomenon of St. Patty’s day green beer.
ER: Bart, tell us about yourself.
BB: I stumbled into Laguna Beach Brewery in 1994 and didn’t stumble out for 12 years. I have never homebrewed. But I had an interest in how it worked. So I apprenticed under Jack Whybark for several years until I took my first position as head brewer at Old Baldy Brewing Company in Upland, one of Southern California’s first microbreweries. In 2004, Jack stepped down, and I took over as head brewer in Laguna Beach as well. I ran both breweries until 2006 when both breweries coincidentally shut their doors within weeks of each other. The Laguna Beach building landlord approached me about decommissioning the brewery there. It eventually was sold and needed to be moved to San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, so I went with it. I spent a year building the Baja Brewing Co. before returning to the states to build and restore breweries in Colorado, Laughlin, Solvang, Hermosa Beach, Vernal, Utah, and finally to Torrance to build the state of the art Prospero 15 bbl brewhouse, with eight 30 bbl fermenters, two 30 bbl brite tanks, and our Martin Robotics eight shooter bottling line.
ER: Can you describe the St. Patty’s Day beer you are brewing? So, you’re not just putting two drops of green dye in light beer that lends itself to green puke?
BB: I am a traditional brewer, and yet the L.A. beer market thrives on adding ingredients to beer. So for our St. Patrick’s Day beer, rather than just add green dye that serves no flavor purpose, I sought out ingredients that would bring out the green color we love to celebrate but are still traditional brewing ingredients.
I kept coming back to woodruff, which is a medicinal herb used to improve liver and digestive functions. Germans use woodruff to color punches and beers in celebration of May Day. But I figured it’s warm enough here in March; we can make an exception.
ER: Is your St. Patty’s Day beer session-able? Or is it going to be something to knock your shamrocks off?
BB: Woodruff offers flavors of vanilla, spearmint and a hint of fresh cut grass in our Amber Lager. At 5.9% [ABV], It’s a great session brew that I think St. Patrick would approve of. Especially because we only brew water that has been blessed. I’m sure all the Irish and the wannabe Irish that come out will enjoy our unique take.
ER: Speaking of deities, a rock deity, Steve Perkins is going to be at your anniversary party March 18. What can we expect?
BB: Our third anniversary party will feature special brews, food, and festivities. JACK 93.1 FM will be broadcasting in the afternoon. Bartz Barbecue will be on hand. Nasty Bad Habit will bring some classic rock. And the evening will conclude with Steven Perkins [drummer for Jane’s Addiction and Porno for Pyros] performing with his gritty rock band Tabitha.
ER: A special St. Patty’s day release, a third anniversary party the next day, you have nothing planned for Sunday, March 17, right?
BB: Business will be open for business as usual on Sunday. I, however, plan to be on my usual Sunday morning skate.
Absolution Brewing Company’s 3rd Anniversary party takes place this Saturday, March 18 starting at 11 a.m. For more information, check out absolutionbrewingcompany.com.
Honest Abe Cidery is thanking everybody for their patronage by making kegs of Lucky available for St. Paddy’s day. Lucky is traditional Farmhouse Apple Cider made green with an all-natural coloring.
On March 18, Rob Rubens Distilling and Brewing will be supporting the El Segundo Co-op Nursery School’s “Casino Night” at the El Segundo Automobile Driving Museum. It will be a night filled with RDB drinks, games, and the sounds of South Bay’s mega Elvis tribute band, “Graceband.” For ticket information: elsegundocoop.org.
Every fourth Saturday, RDB is holding an all-level yoga class inside the brick walls of the brewery followed by a refreshing brew or cocktail.
Did you know Michelle from Flights Beer Bar is an accomplished skater and can bust kick flips on command?
“We have March Madness taking way. We are having our 2nd Annual St. Patrick’s Day party with our own Local Los Angeles Ale Works taking over four of our taps as well as a live DJ, Food Specials and beer specials on Friday March 17,” she said. “On March 22 Drake’s Brewing Company will be taking over four of our taps with an awesome tap takeover.”
Dad is back, errr, Dad’s IPA is back on tap at Schlob’s Brewing Company’s tasting room. Coinciding with Dad’s return one of the other IPA’s typically skips town, however, this time, they will all remain. This rare opportunity will allow for a full taster flight of five great IPA’s. Come and see if your favorite is Dad’s, Hop Nozzle, Tall Dank & Handsome, Fins & Chrome or Bat Ray.
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Phantom Carriage and enjoy a house-made corned beef brisket and cabbage sandwich on freshly baked baguette. Pair this authentic dish with Bulldog, an Irish Dry Stout-style beer (on nitro) brewed over at Beachwood BBQ & Brewing. Other tasty beer offerings will make an appearance too. And it wouldn’t be St. Patrick’s Day day without creepy leprechaun cinema in the movie theatre all day ‘n night along with a delightful musical playlist. March 21, is this month’s terrifying trivia and test your knowledge on monstrous, disastrous and outbreak films. Food and drink specials will be available from the taproom. As always, the terrifying troika of a verbal, audio and visual rounds will keep you on your toes. March 25, Phantom Carriage is celebrating their two year anniversary and will feature 22+ wild beer (including archived goodies) plus rare guest offerings.This evil congregation is one not to miss.
Dustin Bartz from Bartz Barbecue will be slanging Texas style March 15 and 22 at LA Ale Works, St. Patrick’s Day evening and March 19 at Strand Brewing Company, St. Patrick’s Day night and March 18 at Absolution, and March 30 at Honest Abe Cidery.
Sabrina from Cosmic Brewing Company said, “O’ to be a brewer on St. Paddy’s day brings out the stout in me! Speaking of Irish stouts, want to try our new St. Paddy’s Day Irish stout? Get it while you can, cuz this will be our limited stout release. We’ll be holding a contest for best Leprechaun and Fair (Irish) Maiden costume. Come in green, and you save 15 percent! Come in Orange, well you’ll be outta luck.”
El Segundo Brewing Company’s “Bursted” Single Hop Series is available at the tasting room. Traditionally beers are bittered by adding relatively small amounts of hop at the beginning of the boil – this results in the firm bitterness that IPA fiends have come to love. A somewhat newer approach often referred to as “bursting” employs the technique of adding huge amounts of hops very late in the boil, or even after the kettle has been turned off. The large volume gives ample bitterness and the added bonus of massive flavor components. This series is all about exploring what each hop adds to both the bitterness and the flavor of the beer when employed only in late additions, no early additions.
On Thursday, March 16, King Harbor Brewing Company will be hosting an Irish influenced beer pairing dinner.
“Chef Jen has constructed an awesome four-course menu, each course paired with a delicious King Harbor brew including our once a year release, St. Jameson Stout,” said Tom Dunbabin, owner.”
St. Jameson Stout will be available in cans and on tap St. Patrick’s Day.
“It’s time to party! Three years down and we have a lot of beer to drink to celebrate,” Dunbabin said. “Tickets go on sale Thursday, March 16 for our April 1 3rd Anniversary Party.”
As a craft beer bar, Naja’s Place manager Jay Ousten respects craft beer. Not fake green beer.
“We don’t do green beer,” he said. “If you want a place to enjoy good beer on St. Patty’s away from the amateurs, we’re here. Local South Bay band, Four Fingers will be rocking away.”
On March 23, notable Northern California brewery, Hanger 24 Brewery will be occupying Naja’s taps. Starting at 6 p,m., in honor of Hanger 24, Top Gun will be showing. Aviators, towels and cut-off shorts encouraged.
To contribute to the brew of local craft beer culture, email ESolt@EasyReaderNews.com. ER