Craft Beer of the Week

L.A.'s Golden Road Brewing Arrives In Arizona

Beer: Wolf Among Weeds Brewery: Golden Road Brewing Style: Imperial IPA ABV: 8 percent

People travel to Los Angeles to see a number of things: Hollywood. High-speed chases. Breast implants. But a craft beer destination L.A. is not. Perhaps, however, that should change. There are a few oases in the western waste, and one of them is now available in Arizona.

Golden Road Brewing was founded in the L.A. suburb of Glendale in October 2011 with a focus on sustainability and community support. Though the brewery produces several seasonal specialties and one-offs at its industrial brewpub location, just five brews are made year-round: 329 Lager, Point the Way IPA, Hefeweizen, Get Up Offa That Brown, and Wolf Among Weeds. The latter is undoubtedly the best of these, brewed since July 2012 with a blend of grains that includes malted rye and a hop bill consisting of zesty American varieties: Cascade, Columbus, Simcoe and Chinook.

The beer's name, according to Golden Road, is a direct translation of the Latin Humulus lupulus, the scientific moniker of the common hop plant. While the first half of that designation is of uncertain origin, lupulus most definitely means "small wolf," an association that likely comes from the Roman historian Pliny the Elder, who described the hop plant in his Naturalis Historia as one that "strangles by its light, climbing embraces, as the wolf does a sheep."

Side note: it's believed that the English name for humulus lupulus' flowers, hop, comes from the Anglo-Saxon word hoppan, which means "to climb." Isn't etymology fun?

While we're on words, let's discuss the one that best describes Wolf Among Weeds: dank. Sticky icky weed permeates the beer's pungent, smell-it-from-a-foot-away bouquet, blanketing the softer notes of lime peel, lemongrass, white grapefruit, onion, garlic, and bread crust. Take a sip of the gently hazed, goldenrod-colored brew and you'll find a scoop of honey added to this perfume, balancing the intense hop character with rock candy-sweetness. Soft tropical notes are added to the mix before the finish, where mild bitterness grips the tongue with orange peel fingers. The body is a creamy medium; the carbonation soft and pleasant. It's a well-balanced double IPA, complex but not fatiguing.

Golden Road's beers are available now in four-packs of cans and on draft across the state. Try them out to get all the taste of L.A. without any of the traffic.

Zach Fowle is a BJCP-recognized beer judge and a Certified Cicerone. He works at World of Beer in Tempe.

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Zach Fowle
Contact: Zach Fowle