(Editor’s Note: This is part of a series in which we scoured the country to find 30 innovative brewers and beer professionals under 30 years old, each of whom hopes to further the scope and breadth of the American craft beer scene. *Jon Carpenter left Golden Road Brewing in early 2013. He later joined Angel City Brewery.)
Meg Gill (27, President) and Jon Carpenter* (30, Brewmaster)
All About Beer: Tell us about your brewery.
Meg Gill: It is the largest craft brewery in Los Angeles founded by myself and Tony Yanow, perhaps the smartest businessman and most passionate beer dude I’ve met.
How did you first get into brewing?
Jon Carpenter: I first began home-brewing in college in 2000 (age 18), with Scott Vaccaro, who’s now the owner of Capt. Lawrence Brewing Co. Later on, I pursued Bachelor of Science in Brewing Science at the University of California, Davis.
Gill: I do not brew beer. I first got into the business of beer at Oskar Blues Brewery (OBB) when I was 22. I managed an events series and OBB was my sponsor. Working with OBB Founder Dale [Katechis] was so fun that I dropped everything to be a part of a new revolution, of the canned kind, that I gave up everything. Including a salary.
What was the first beer you ever brewed and where did you do it?
Carpenter: Not sure what it was, but it was home-brewed in the garage in college with Scott [Vaccaro]. My first professional batch was created when I was an intern with Drakes Brewing Co. I believe it was Drakes IPA.
Gill: I helped brew a Dale’s Pale Ale at Oskar Blues right when Dale built a new brewery in Longmont, Colo.
What’s your favorite beer style?
Carpenter: Hard to say. To me, the beautiful thing about beer is the immense variety and the ability to have such different amazing beers for any mood or occasion.
Gill: California IPAs. Anything Cantillon.
Do you have a mentor in the brewing world?
Carpenter: Charlie Bamforth of UC Davis and Floris Delée.
Gill: Kim Jordan of New Belgium Brewing Co.
What inspires you when you’re brewing?
Carpenter: Just about everything. Brewing can be such a sublime mix of art and science. It inspires new challenges at every turn and is growing is such amazing ways, especially in the US, that boundaries are always being pushed and there seems to be no limit to our collective creativity. The brewing community is very much a collective power and team focused on improving our craft rather than competing for market share against one another. The family we build within and outside our brewery walls cant be matched in almost any other industry I know of.
Gill: I’m inspired to create flavorful beer and foster beer culture in Los Angeles—the largest beer market in the world without a well-known local brewery. Great local beer you can get at a grocery store. We are trying to give people in LA what they have been missing and what they’re demanding!
What do you attribute to your success?
Gill: Focus, blind ambition, and having amazing mentors.
Carpenter: The people around me. Sure, there’s a vast amount of commitment, effort and aptitude that are necessary to continue to improve, but really the team we have here at Golden Road is responsible as a whole for any of our success. And certainly the community in the craft brewing world that pushes each other to improve and also continually helps one another further our success every year and every day.
What do you think drives the popularity of craft beer?
Carpenter: In a sentence, craft beer is great! I think with any artisanal outlet, once the general public begins to appreciate the quality of something created out of love, hard work and creativity, it’s hard to go back.
In general, how do you think the next generation of brewers will shake up the craft beer world?
Gill: The craft beer world is getting smarter and more competitive. The big three and regional will get stronger; the ones with sub-par beer won’t make it. This new competition will help grow the segment.
In particular, how will you contribute to that shake up?
We will not contribute nationally. We will start to show up in regional data and hope to grow the segment in LA. We are not a high-priced, exploration beer. We hope we are inviting people into the category, broadening the category as well as creating loyalty within the craft space as a consistent local brewer. Local brewers play by a different set of rules. Our consumer is everything from the guy wanting to support local who doesn’t know what IPA means, to the beer geeks taking their freshest local beer camping with them in 16oz cans. In this way, we hope that by taking a philosophical local approach, we are contributing to the craft segment and greater global beer industry in a positive way.
Last one: Cascadian Dark Ale or Black IPA?
Gill: I don’t tend toward either. It’s too hot in LA. I’ve been savoring Burning Bush, our smoked IPA. That’s the closest to a malt-forward IPA that I tend toward.
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