It was announced recently that Valiant will be closing its doors on March 31, 2017. If you just found out from reading this post, be sure to read the letter from owner/head brewer Brian (link at bottom).
As you can see, I chose this topic as my very first post on this newly-launched website. You’ll learn more about me, my passion for craft beer and my take on the industry as a whole in posts to come. For now, I’m getting right into the middle of things.
The nicknames “hidden gem” or “diamond in the rough” are phrases I’ve repeatedly heard from first-time visitors and diehard Valiant fans alike. The brewery isn’t intentionally hard to find, but it is. In fact, plenty of fans would argue this quirk was a positive one—it means less customers to wait in line behind! But finding a brewery wedged amongst a plethora of manufacturing, fabrication and other industrial facilities is nothing new to the Southern California craft beer enthusiast. That first cold pint does seem to taste a bit better when you had to work a little harder for it. At Valiant, that definitely holds true. Hearing comments like “this was worth it!” or “why haven’t I come here until now?” truly solidifies the notion of being a hidden gem.
Perfectly paired with that notion is the laid-back and communal atmosphere you feel when walking inside. It’s immediately apparent that this is a place to relax, have a beer and simply be yourself. Maybe it’s the garage doors and DIY keg-tables, maybe it’s the good music and today’s game on TV, or maybe it’s the staff being genuinely excited to tell you about the latest creations. Whatever the reason, it just feels right, like that one friend you always visited simply because being at their house was more comforting than being at your own.
Then there’s the beer. Where to begin… Big, barrel-aged Belgians and stouts, (too) easy to drink lagers, IPAs galore, candy sours?! It takes five tasting flights for just one roundtrip across the menu (and a perfect reason to go back)! Plus, the sweeter, low ABV offerings have caused me to lose track of how many friends I’ve turned from non-beer drinkers into craft beer believers.
Recently, I was fortunate enough to actually brew one of the beers currently on tap—California Gloom (you should try it). Having that opportunity is just one example of the camaraderie shared by everyone at Valiant. No one showed up to simply work their shift, collect a paycheck and head home until next time. We collaborate and share ideas, and we care about ensuring the best possible experience for our guests, and each other. Seeing this level of commitment helped solidify my assumption that this is the industry I belong in.
I’m also proud to be a woman in an industry and culture that’s mostly associated with and dominated by men. Yes, brewing, bottling, kegging, storing and serving beer properly—plus all the associated cleaning—are physically demanding, I get it. Surprisingly, makeup and a manicure don’t get in the way of carrying 50-pound bags of grain, or moving pallets of kegs around with a forklift, or wax dipping 500 bottles in a row! You always have to prove your worth when starting a new job, but as a woman and given the type of work involved, the stakes were certainly greater than usual. I was absolutely up for the challenge, and I think I’ve changed a few opinions along the way.
As for the future, I’m 100% committed to continuing my journey in the craft beer industry. The experiences and knowledge I’ve gained from my time at Valiant has set me up for some awesome new prospects. Odds are, you’ll see me at another OC tasting room in the very near future. Until then, enjoy a few final beers in Valiant’s tasting room (including all five candy sours this weekend)! Cheers!
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Bonus read: The Experience: Valiant Brewing Company by Beerface McGilicutty
Read the original letter from Brian Schroepfer.