The Last Name in Craft Beer

LNB_Logo_NewDale Bros. Brewery has always been on a last name basis. But from now on, Curt and Andy Dale, the brother owners of Dale Bros., will literally refer to their popular Upland brewery by its last name.

That’s because Dale Bros. Brewery has changed its name to Last Name Brewing.

Announced Saturday at the highly anticipated “The Big Reveal” special event, the brewery built mystery over the past month for the special announcement. Naturally, it came as part of a big celebration with live music, food and the release of the brewery’s first Belgian White Ale.

LNB_Bottles_Year-RoundAfter 13 years under the Dale Bros. moniker, the change was done for trademarking purposes and officially goes into effect today, May 1.

“It turns out there’s another Dale in craft brewing, and in all fairness, he was here first,” said Andy Dale.

His brother added, “While it was really hard to think about giving up our company’s name, we knew it was the right thing to do.”

Established in 2003 by brewmaster Curt Dale, the brewery was one of the founding breweries of the Los Angeles-area craft beer movement and is considered the “dean” of local breweries. In 2007, Andy Dale joined the company to head up business development and help with the brewery’s first substantial expansion at the brewery and into restaurants and bars. They eventually began bottling their beers, which are currently available at most local stores that sell craft beer.

“Being two brothers with the last name Dale, it seemed like calling the company Dale Bros. Brewery was a natural,” said Curt Dale.

LNB_Bottles_SeasonalBest known for its flagship amber lager Pomona Queen, Last Name Brewing will still be located at 2120 Porterfield Way and will continue to brew Pomona Queen and its vast assortment of year-round, special and seasonal brews, including several new beer releases later this year, said Karen McMillen, Last Name Brewing co-owner and marketing chief.

“Call us whatever you want,” said Andy Dale. “We’re still the same people, making the same great beer.”

McMillen said the brewery team worked with Pasadena-based branding and advertising agency Echo-Factory to develop the new name.

“We wanted something that we could transition our existing branding to easily and that captured the feel of who we are,” McMillen said. “With the boom in the craft beer industry over the last decade, trying to come up with a new name that both ‘fit us’ and that we could trademark was a challenge.”

The Best Beers? Ask the Judges

thumb_IMG_6506_1024Tables for two filled the spacious room typically filled with wine tasters during the annual Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona. With the Fair still months away, the space leading from the Fairplex Flower and Garden building usually sits quiet during this time of year.

But for two days in early April, the room was bustling with activity. Servers attentively cleared empty glasses and pitchers at each of the tables, diligently replacing them with fresh beverages and ensuring that each of the nearly 100 guests would not go thirsty.

The gathering of distinguished craft brewers, home brewers, beer industry professionals, alcoholic beverage writers and Beer Judge Certification Program certified judges from throughout Southern California examined more than 1,000 beers from around the world in 97 different categories to determine the winners of this year’s Los Angeles International Commercial Beer Competition.

thumb_IMG_6508_1024When the foam settled, an English Old Ale aged for a year in oak barrels with Brettanomyces yeast emerged as the 2016 Best of Show. Gaderian from San Diego’s Council Brewing Co. was declared the top entry by the expert panel, which included the most celebrated beer judge in California, Jim Wilson, from Redondo Beach.

“Usually, higher alcohol beers with more intense flavors fare well in the Best of Show judging,” said Wilson, noting that last year a Chocolate Coffee Imperial Stout from New English Brewing in San Diego won the top prize.

Wilson is the only Grand Master Level III BJCP Certified judge in California and the state’s only Grand Master of any ranking living south of Santa Barbara. To further put his expertise in perspective, there are 9,500 BJCP judges worldwide, and only 14 have earned Wilson’s rank or higher.

This year’s entries included beers from around the globe, including Brazil, Bavaria, Belgium, Canada and all corners of the United States.

“I’ve judged 10 of the last 12 Los Angeles International Beer Competitions. Over that time the contest has become sophisticated, well organized and huge with thousands of entries judged in 97 different categories,” Wilson said.

Another judge, home brewer Stephanie Collins from Claremont, noted that the reviewing panels included “a good mix with a lot of talent and people who love beer.” A fan of sour beers, she was paired with me in evaluating French and Belgian-Style Saisons, Brown Porters and Belgian-Style Fruit Beers.thumb_IMG_6520_1024

The complete list of medal-winning beers is posted at Entries will be available to sample at LA on Tap, a public tasting event on May 7 benefiting The Learning Centers at Fairplex. For more information about the participating breweries and to purchase tickets, visit

Be sure to check out my other stories at IEShineOn and the Foothills Reader Sunday insert in the Los Angeles Times.

The Secret Club

12973042_10153795661978813_6381892529046587664_oProhibition era-style speakeasies are once again returning to prominence, except now they are legal. While Los Angeles and other major cities around the nation have their share of these hidden bars, there has yet to be one thumb_IMG_3392_1024surface in the Inland Empire — unless it’s so secret that I haven’t heard about it. The closest thing to a speakeasy now operates in the Claremont Village. To find out where it is and what makes it special, read my story on IEShineOn.

Over the Top

Draft-Beer-web1The Brewers Association — the trade association representing small and independent American craft brewers — in March released 2015 industry report, with the number of craft breweries continuing on a steep incline. Check out my article at IEShineOn to read the latest facts and stats about the rapid industry growth, along with tidbits about what’s to come locally in the months ahead.


Image courtesy of The Brewers Association

Winging It

thumb_IMG_6382_1024Hangar 24 Brewery in Redlands recently released a rebranded version of its popular barrel-aged American Barleywine. Formerly known as Hammerhead, Wing Over was released on March 26 in two variations as part of Hangar 24’s Barrel Roll Series of barrel-aged beers. My review of the brews can be found at IEShineOn, the “Inland Empire Good Time Guide.”

Please check out IEShineOn to find fantastic guides and listings for all that’s fun around the Inland Empire. And, of course, to read my articles about “sips, suds and spirits.”