The path taken by Brouwerij West, a San Pedro California based brewery, is unlike many you’ll find in modern American brewing. What they’ve accomplished as a result of their winding route is something akin to 40 days and 40 nights of finding one’s way in the wilderness: a difficult series of trials that only make one stronger.
The concept and brand of the brewery was founded by Brian Mercer in 2010, who was then working as an importer of Belgian Candi Sugar. He became enamored by the methods utilized by Belgian brewers in making authentic beers with a simple approach. It was a concept that centered on the largest percentage of what makes a beer – malt & water – to guide raw material selection and styles, to eventually inform the brewery’s current endeavors.
In those early days, working as a nomadic or “gypsy” brewer – contract brewing his creations at other breweries across California, Mercer focused his energy on Belgian styles. And yes, “Brouwerij” (pronounced brewery) is a tribute to these Belgian-inspired beginnings. And this was the entirety of their beer focus until 2016, when along with Business Operations Manager David Holop, Brouwerij West created a unique new space in Mercer’s hometown of San Pedro.
This permanent location is like no other brewery you’ll visit. Taking up residence in a former World War II naval warehouse, it encompasses 26,000 square feet, with 17,000 sq ft of that devoted to an outdoor beer garden and 8,000 sq ft for the tasting room event space where they’ve hosted concerts, weddings, beer festivals, and more.
As for the brewhouse, now housing their own specialized equipment and a much larger capacity for experimentation & growth, it embodies an approach that puts efficiency and environmental impact at the fore. For instance, their mash filter can provide 98% malt efficiency, which means 30% less water use, as well as a rooftop solar array that generates more electricity than their operation uses.
It was later in 2016 that Brouwerij West created their first IPAs and what has become their flagship beer, Popfuji Pilsner. Since then, their releases have more often revolved around the growth of more malt forward Northeast or Hazy IPAs that showcase use of raw spelt such as Picnic Lightning, Starfish, Supercollider, and Dig My Earth DIPA. And yes, they still brew those classic Farmhouse Ales and Fruited Saisons (such as Dog Ate My Homework, a Saison with Blackberries), but also Light Lagers, Berliner Weisses, and even a new line of fruited Hard Seltzers called Things … For Your Head.
No profile of Brouwerij West would be complete without acknowledging their groundbreaking approach to label art. Utilizing the talents of a variety of artists and employing the latest technology, they’ve created designs for can art unlike any done before. It’s hard to describe what Mercer refers to as “three-dimensional sculpture art,” though the video above displays it quite well.
We’ve been lucky to work with Brouwerij West since April of 2019, having brought 28 different unique styles into Oregon over that time. This week we’re excited to showcase some of our favorites, as well as a few new offerings. Currently being delivered to bottle shops throughout the state are the aforementioned Popfuji Pilsner (a Kellerbier-inspired Unfilteted Pilsner made for slow pours), Picnic Lightning (a Hazy IPA with Citra, Simcoe, and Centennial), Dog Ate My Homework (a Blackberry-forward Saison), Dig My Earth (a Double IPA with Amarillo, Simcoe, and Centennial), as well as the new-to-Oregon Bounce (a West Coast IPA with Citra, Mosaic, and Centennial), plus a new batch of Things … For Your Head (a Hard Seltzer with Mango). And stay tuned for more fruited varieties of Things … For Your Head and more Brouwerij West soon!