Text and Images by BeachRock Bill, C.C. Hansen, Eleanor, BrewHead Ted, and LSD Luke
Growing up in Glendale California, my best friend Chauncey and I were just a short drive away from fine food, good music, and hip-to-the-jive scenes in Hollywood, West LA, Echo Park, and Laurel Canyon in the ’70s.
As for Glendale itself back then, our hometown was a sleepy suburb where the main hangout was Bob’s Big Boy, the best restaurant was Damon’s on Central, our date nights were hitting a movie at the Alex on Brand Blvd, and our alcohol consumption consisted of illegally purchased six-packs of Coors chugged in our cars at a drinking spot near our boyhood homes.
Fast forward 40 years, and who would ever guess that sleepy old Glendale actually became a rather trendy and hipster place to hang out. In fact, one of the best brew pubs in the whole area, We’re Pouring, is not far from where we grew up.
What’s all this got to do with Radiant Brewing? And how did not only Chauncey, but other SCCBB luminaries like Eleanor, Wife Helen, Son Carl, HopHead Ted, and LSD Luke all end up there last Saturday night? Read on and find out. Chauncey, you’re up…
C. C. Hansen
First off, BRB, I kinda disagree with your characterization of Glendale as a “rather trendy and hipster place to hang out.”
- Rick Caruso’s Americana mall is the “anchor” for Brand Blvd. Trendy? Aren’t we in the Twilight of the Malls? Hipster? No.
- Porto’s is a place that’s always got a line, even during the pandemic–it’s been a fixture on Brand for so long, I’d hate to call it “trendy.” Hipster it’s not.
- Damon’s moved to Brand a number of years ago, and has been slipping down its barstool ever since. Definitely not trendy. Maybe hipster in a nostalgic, retro, “let’s-get-lost-in-a-mai-tai-haze” kind of way. It does have cool tropical fishtanks…
Sadly, BRB, I suspect Glendale will never in our lifetimes be classified as hip. BUT when you let me know about the amazing hazy from Radiant Brewery you had at We’re Pouring recently, I agreed Radiant would be the perfect “halfway destination” (between LA and San Diego Counties) to do our first-ever SCCBB collaboration post.
Readers: BRB, Eleanor, BrewHead Ted, and I have been doing our best to sketch in the So Cal craft beer landscape from our individual perspectives, but Orange County has not yet been adequately represented on the pages of the SCCB Blog.
Consider this post a start towards rectifying that deficiency.
According to the Anaheim-based brewery’s website, Radiant was established in 2020. It’s owned and run by a group of “craft beer lovers and industry veterans, with decades of combined experience.” Key to that experience is a preponderance of alumni from The Bruery in Placentia, at one time on the craft beer cutting edge. But, that’s a story for another time.
Chauncey and Eleanor’s good friend, LSD Luke, lives behind the Orange Curtain and agreed to attend the summit as a guest participant. He may or may not be related to reluctant potential SCCBB contributor “the Mad Scientist.”
Luke, do you want to add any color to the conversation? Luke you there? Hmm, Luke may be off somewhere living up to his nickname.
Seriously, though Luke declined to write his thoughts for this article, he did ask a fellow Radiant Brewing patron to make a record of the SCCB Blogger Summit, using Luke’s cellphone camera. And for that, we’re grateful.
Now, over to you, Eleanor. What’s your angle on the first-ever collab summit?
Initially, BrewHead Ted and I thought we could handle the Cali sun beating down on us as we sat outside at a picnic bench, appropriately painted orange and yellow, and waited for Chauncy to return with our first beer picks–a pale ale for me and a hazy for Ted. Luckily, BeachRock Bill, who may be renamed Barefoot Bill owing to the fact that he showed up at Radiant without any shoes–said he had forgotten them–insisted we move indoors where the air conditioning, if not the tunes, was bumping. Hmmm. Is BRB into the whole need-to-connect-your-soles-to-the-earth movement?
Inside was much cooler if a little spare and cavernous.
Seven of us squeezed around a metal table, and with each one ordering a different beer, and BeachRock Bill-Son Carl and Chauncey ordering flights, there was a lot of tasting going on. I took a sip of Chauncey’s POG smoothie sour–“No Place I’d Rather Be”–and found it to be too tart but loved the frothy texture. I moved on to my very own “One More Time Again,” a pale ale, which was mostly satisfying, if a little on the to-be-expected side.
BeachRock Bill’s Wife Helen went right for the big guns–“All I’ve Ever Wanted”–and was not disappointed. A 12% hazy quadruple IPA, it lived up to its name and was definitely a crowd favorite.
My next choice was “Let Yourself Free,” a hazy IPA I thought was a shining example of its kind and would order again next time. I followed that up with a sip of another crowd favorite, “Everything in Moderation,” a bourbon BA Pastry Stout–basically a dessert in a glass. I stand alone when I say it was too sweet. Everyone else whooped and hollered about it. Them’s the breaks of sharing some suds.
Sometimes you agree and sometimes you don’t.
BeachRock Bill Chimes In
Hi Eleanor, let me chime in here for just a second. Yes, I forgot my flip-flops, bonehead move definitely, especially as I was walking to the brewery on piping hot pavement after having to park two blocks away. So while you may have initially thought you could handle the Cali sun outdoors, when I walked up to you guys at the table, I audibly heard my sizzling feet screaming “WTF kind of sweltering blast furnace situation have you gotten us into?!”
Connect to the Earth movement? More like connect to the depths of an incandescent Hell.
Thankfully, I had noticed that big air-conditioned room on our way in, and we all happily agreed to relocate inside. It wasn’t the best space aesthetically, kind of nondescript and separate from the rest of the brewery, but its large space fit our needs and we were able to get our whole collab team around a big table with enough space for our many samples.
Come to think of it, all of Radiant feels more like a tasting room than an actual working brewery. Nowhere in sight to the patrons are any signs of brew equipment and grain sacks that are common in most brewery pubs. Of course, being barefoot, I wasn’t really able to look around much….
BrewHead Ted, what about you?
It was so much fun, joining my SCCBB crew in Anaheim, for our Radiant Brewing field trip. I hadn’t been out that way since grad night at Disneyland, many moons ago, and have not visited many breweries outside the San Gabriel Valley. Like my earlier visit to the Happiest Place on Earth, this excursion to Radiant was a fun-filled adventure for the senses, Though instead of the thrill of being chased by pirates or being serenaded by brightly colored, only slightly creepy animatronics, this was a jungle…er…make that *pleasure* cruise for the palate.
As noted by Eleanor, we’d initially staked out a spot at an outdoor picnic table, but I was glad to move inside from the searing heat. One occasional challenge of visiting a brewery in a wheelchair is finding accessible seating. The picnic table didn’t quite fit the bill, but the table BeachRock Bill had found inside was perfect, with the added bonus that I no longer felt like my skin was burning off.
En route from the picnic table to our table inside, I navigated another challenge for a paraplegic beer enthusiast–that of carrying one’s beer. Absent a cup holder on my wheelchair, I’ve adopted–nay, should I say perfected?–the skill of carrying my beverage in one hand, while rolling along using my free hand and an elbow. Thankfully, the terrain was nice and flat along the way, so I managed to arrive at our table without spilling a drop.
(I wasn’t so lucky with this morning’s coffee, but that’s another story.)
But enough about my skills behind the wheel, and on to the beer: I started off with “I’ll Take You There,” a Hazy IPA (generally my preferred style of beer). I have no idea where this pint took me, but wherever it was, it was delicious. As someone who was an avid listener to the oldies radio station growing up, this beer provided not only a pleasant tasting experience, but a wonderful earworm.
Rude Interruption From Chauncey
I’ll always associate that Staples Singers megahit with driving around Southern California one foggy night in high school on a “car rally” (i.e., automobile scavenger hunt) with BeachRock Bill and some other pals, listening to the Wolfman Jack Show on the radio and getting utterly, totally, and hopelessly lost. Good times. By the way, New Yorker editor David Remnick has a nice profile on Mavis Staples in the current issue of the magazine–
Back to BrewHead Ted
Thanks for the deep background, Chauncey. (And thanks for reigning him in, BRB).
Anywho, next up, I sampled “Let Yourself Free,” another hazy. I agree with Eleanor, that this was a great beer, and as with my first pint, I’d definitely order it again. I requested a half pour of “Let Yourself Free,” but would gladly partake of a full pint next time.
I also had a taste of Chauncey’s POG smoothie and found it refreshingly tart. I could definitely see myself enjoying that outside on a warm day (though one more tolerable than the day of our Radiant visit!)
Lastly, I had a sip of “Everything in Moderation” as well, and my sweet tooth was hungry for more. These dessert beers are dangerous for me. Unlike Eleanor’s experience with this beer, the words “too sweet” tend not to exist in my vocabulary!
There are my thoughts for now – who’s next?
Thanks, BHT. Yes, I agree that the ITYT Hazy was delicious, and it confirmed the buzz on the street that in its short time in existence, Radiant is putting out some very worthy beer.
It’s no surprise to readers of my posts that Wife Helen is a high alcohol Hazy fanatic. She gets interested at 9% ABV, happy at 10-11%, and downright passionate at 12% and above. Not many breweries do this Quad+ style, and for the ones that do, even fewer know how to do it right. Needless to say, while sipping Radiant’s “All I Ever Wanted” Quadruple Hazy, Helen started getting that look in her eye.
Mission accomplished, Radiant, in earning the extremely hard-to-come-by “Wife Helen Seal of Approval.”
Chauncey? Time for the rundown of the night’s pourings. Please try to control those completely unrelated asides that nobody with any kind of attention issues can follow. Please?
Standout Radiant Brews
Tap List from the Radiant website. This list was accurate the day after our visit. Clearly, it will change as our post slips away in the rear view mirror. We’ll include highlights from new and noteworthy beers below so we don’t forget them.
No Place I’d Rather Be
(POG Smoothie Sour // 5.2% ABV)
From the Radiant website: Oh, smoothie beers…. when we’re with you, there’s no place we’d rather be; we hope you feel the same about our latest fruited sour ale. With summer right around the corner, we felt compelled to overload a fermentor with Passionfruit, Orange, Guava, and Tangerine to deliver this blender-breaking fruit-filled delight – straight from the Tropics of Radiant, just for you.
Chauncey: Two thumbs up, 4.5 out of five. I really like a sour, and I really like fruit. Also, a nice throwback to the days of collecting POG disks, back when I first met BrewHead Ted. I’m pretty sure he had a complete set of Star Wars® POG disks. Do you know the history of POGs?
BRB: Chauncey, focus! We’re here to talk about the beer, not waddle into the deep weeds of pop culture past.
Everything In Moderation
(Bourbon BA Pastry Stout // 13.1% ABV)
Chauncey: OMG! My daughter Francesca and her family recently visited from Texas. After she got the kids to bed, we watched her friend, Gabby, in her new show, “Winning Time” and ate brownies from a local bakery. When Francesca left, I was having brownie withdrawal. Until I had this beer. Everything’s good now.
BRB: Chauncey, I’m warning you! That said, this was definitely in Wife Helen’s wheelhouse and she’s still talking about it…
You’re My Best Friend
Collaboration with Hello Friend Beer in Berkeley, CA
(IPA // 6.9%)
From the Radiant website: This project reaches far north, and a bit far back in our brewing careers, to collaborate with pals from over a decade ago. Say hello to The Rare Barrel’s aptly named IPA project, Hello Friend Beer, and San Francisco-based designer and artist Dennis Brown. We’ve made new friends, and kept the old, while coming together to make a beer that’s crisp & bright with pleasantly balanced citrus notes and the bite of under-ripe fruit character. Green papaya, young pineapple, mango, and passionfruit notes compliment tangerine, lemon, and grapefruit flavors. Have this one with your BFF, whether they are near or far, new or old, canine or human.
So About That
(West Coast IPA // 7.2% ABV)
BRB: One of my favorites of the night
Keep On Shining
(Double Dry-Hopped IPA // 7.5%)
From the Radiant website: The tropical qualities of hops are made to shine as brightly as possible in this double dry-hopped IPA made with Citra, Strata, Amarillo, and Cashmere hops. Its aroma is bedazzled with notes of tropical fruit, citrus, pineapple, lime, guava, orange zest, and peach gummy rings. Low bitterness takes a backseat to high beams of guava, pineapple, tangelo, and citrus flavors as you sip on this dry and hoppy ray of light.
All I’ve Ever Wanted
(Hazy Quadruple IPA // 12% ABV)
From the Radiant website: There’s no hiding the big flavor and big ABV of this monumental release. Our first quadruple is studded with intense tropical fruit notes and the warming presence of its high alcohol by volume. Notes of pineapple, strawberry, banana, guava, feijoa, papaya, banana daiquiri, and orange sherbet create a stellar swirl of creamy & warming mouthfeel.
Chauncey–I couldn’t want this one as much as I would have liked, since I was the designated driver
We also felt the BBA Imperial stout was amazing.
Carl loved the Pilsner called Everywhere To Me, a collab with more alums from the Bruery– Everywhere Beer Co.
Finally, the Pina Colada Sour was very refreshing, if fruity sours are your jam.
Now THAT Chauncey, is the short and sweet way to review beers, and this is the short and sweet to end a post.BRB
Until next time, CHEERS! from your SoCal Craft Beer crew,
–BeachRock Bill, C.C. Hansen, Eleanor, BrewHead Ted and special guests Wife Helen, Son Carl, and LSD Luke