Kings of Cucamonga

By Beachrock Bill

Established in 2015 by brothers Jeremiah and Demetrius Cooper, Kings Brewing Company (no relation to previously blogged about Kings and Convicts) had been on my radar ever since I tried a collaboration beer of theirs at North Park Beer Company. Called Frosecito, the beer was a smoothie sour, a style that up until that point was more to Wife Helen’s liking than mine. However, after my first delicious sip, I was a convert, and I went online to look at Kings tap list. They have IPAs? Hazys? Stouts? Lagers? A ton of GABF medals? Checking all my boxes I knew it was just a matter of time before I would make a visit.

[Editor’s note: Cucamonga means sandy place in the Tongva (or Kizh) language. Any place names in L.A. County that end in -nga — Tujunga, Topanga, Cahuenga — indicate their indigenous origin.]

Four hours time to be exact, the typical length of a round-trip drive between my house and Rancho Cucamonga. How bad do I want to go there? I thought. Not bad enough for a dedicated trip. I promised myself however that if by chance I’m ever in the Inland Empire, I would do a side trip to Cucamonga and check them out. ( I would be remiss if I didn’t mention for my editor Chauncey that the city’s name was inspired by the Kucamongan Native American tribe that settled in the region around 1200 A.D.)

Some traffic, as usual

It took about a year of waiting, but I finally got the chance. I was in the area doing a small financial transaction–no, not drugs, a bike–and looking at the gridlock going home on Google maps, I decided now was the perfect time for my side trip. I would finally get to visit the Kingdom.

“Some traffic, as usual”. Thanks for the reminder Google.

Wow, That’s a LOT of taps.

40 taps? Serious potential for a $400 Uber ride home.

I arrived at Kings at 4pm, just as they opened. Walking into the main entrance, I scanned the row of menu screens over the bar. Holy shit–40 taps? I’d barely be able to scratch the surface with so many. A $400 Uber ride and a car left in Cucamonga were NOT part of the plan. I warily forged ahead to the bar where I was greeted by beertender Doreen, and I explained the situation: “It’s my first visit. I’m hoping to get a feel for the place without over-indulging. I love all things hoppy. I’m intrigued by your new lager program. Finally, my main goal is to bring home a smoothie sour that my very picky wife might enjoy.”

Doreen smiled and quickly disappeared with an “I got this” look.

Maybe because it was early and the place was empty, or that I mentioned I was a beertender at a brewery, or because I let slip I was writing a blog post about my visit, but the next thing I knew there were too-many-to-keep-straight tiny samples being placed in front of me. I was stoked!

We call them Fros’e

Since Frosecito was the beer that got me there, Doreen picked out three splashes of that style. I came to learn that Kings was an early pioneer with this “smoothie” style which they call Fros’e. Their versions use a tart Gose base, which they balance out with after-fermentation additions of anything and everything sweet. Currently, there were 10 variations on tap. Looking at the board, I realized that the majority of these “Fros’es” were made in collaboration with other breweries–a testament to King’s prowess in this style.

Doreen said, “The 2019 GABF medal-winning peanut butter & jelly-with-marshmallow-sandwich-inspired Fluffernutter is by far the most popular and anticipated release of King’s Fros’e series. Unfortunately, if you want some, you’ll have to wait in line on its next release.”

PB&J in a beer? Uh, maybe next time.

Instead, Doreen treated me to three variations that would showcase the different ways Kings can take the style. As for my verdicts on these beers, I want to clarify that any sweeter version of this style is much more in Wife Helen and Mabel the Dog Walker’s wheelhouse than mine. With that caveat, I dove in.

“Well done” on the left, “a little too sweet” on the right. Same beer two palates.
  • Afghan Bubba. Orange/banana infused — I liked it. The orange-citrus blend gave some complexity to the sour base, and the banana added sweetness and a creamy mouthfeel. Sweeter than I remembered Frosecito to be, it still tasted like beer more than just a fruit smoothie, and I knew right away I would be taking some home with me.
  • Snozzberries. Blueberry/cranberry/grape/vanilla/marshmallow. Collaboration with Georgia’s Pontoon Brewing. If you like berry marshmallow pie in a glass, this beer would be right up your alley. Personally, I don’t and it wasn’t.
  • Dream State. Orange/Sprite/sour patch-candy-infused Collaboration with Dream State Brewery in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. While I know many beer drinkers who love mixing in soda from time to time for a sweet refresher, it’s never been my thing. Nuff said.

IPA’s and Lagers (Thank God)

After the first round, I needed something bitter ASAP. Right then I would have even enjoyed downing a Goose Island IPA. Ok, that’s absolutely untrue. I would under no circumstance EVER enjoy that.

Fortunately, sitting in front of me were three new splashes–a Vienna Lager and two Hazy IPAs. I mentioned earlier that many of the beers on tap were collaborations with other breweries. For this round, I was glad everything in front of me now was made only by Kings. I would get to see how they handled some of my favorite styles all by themselves.

  • KBC Lagerhaus Slö Pör Pilsner. This German Lager is poured using a special slow-pouring faucet. While my little splash probably only took a few seconds to pour, Kings’ website says a full pint can take anywhere between 5 to 7 minutes resulting in a fluffy pillowy head of foam on top of a crisp and crushable beer. It was just what the doctor ordered after my earlier session of sweetness.
  • Juicy Juice. One of Kings’ core Hazys. Mozaic and Citra hops are a slam dunk in Hazy IPAs. Throw in a little Waimea and Riwaka for added depth, and you have a flavorful, easy-drinking Hazy.
  • Nelson Juice. 100% Nelson Sauvin-hopped Hazy. It’s rare you see a beer hopped solely with the big punchy hop from New Zealand. Nelson’s characteristics are typically described as white wine-y (the name Sauvin is a nod to Sauvignon Blanc), and if not used correctly, its oils can lean more to diesel territory. Thankfully, I got only clean white grape and gooseberry notes, and while I wouldn’t consider it complex, it WAS very tasty. Being a brewer, the best part was that it showcased the Nelson hop in all its glory. It was both a treat AND Hop Education all at once.

A brewery and a candy shop all in one.

Wanting to actually pay for something to support the brewery and tip Doreen for her help, I grabbed a few cans of Afghan Bubba Fros’e to take home and ordered a half-pour of Juicy Juice to enjoy while waiting out the traffic. As I sat sipping and staring at the board, my verdict was: “Kings Brewing was the perfect spot for anyone with a sweet tooth.” I dubbed the brewery, “Candy Store in a Glass.”

Thankfully, they also produce an insane amount of other styles to please everyone’s palate. It’s crazy to think that, on the day that I visited, this small brewery was offering not only 10 various flavored Fros’es, but also three blonds, two West Coast IPAs, seven Hazys, three seltzers, two Milk Stouts, two Imperial Stouts, a Golden Stout, three soda/beer blends, and two Brown Ales. Oh, and don’t forget the five lagers from their new KBC Lagerhaus.

That’s just Coo-Coo Monga crazy when you think about it!

Given the distance that separates us, I’m going to have to leave Kings to those much closer who can visit on a regular basis. These lucky folks have a real innovating gem in their midst.

Until next time, Cheers!

— BeachRock Bill

Instagram: @beachrockbill

3 thoughts on “Kings of Cucamonga

  1. Yesterday, one of my students asked, “So Professor, do you like IPAs or lighter beers?” I responded, “Ask me whether I like pastry stouts, barrel-aged sours, or fros’es instead…”


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