When one thinks of Pasadena, California, one immediately thinks Rose Bowl, and the Tournament of Roses Parade. One does not think great craft beer, but I am happy to say the city of Pasadena has an outstanding craft brewery in the Craftsman Brewing Company. Established in 1995 by owner and founder Mark Jilig, this is a very small, very local, one man operation that only produces about 2, 500 bbls of beer a year.
Craftman Brewing is an example of grass roots brewing at its very best. For to get a crack at these beers? You will need to make the trek to Southern California, and try Craftman beers at their source in their very local markets. Craftman might be small, but the beers that Mark Jilig brews are anything but. Mark is a true practitioner of the art and craft of brewing and the variety of beer styles that Craftsman brews is amazing. That is the true beauty of a local, small craft brewer or brewpub. Brewing on a small scale allows the brewer to experiment and to try an number of styles that a lager brewer just would not be able to even attempt to brew because of scale.
Belgian beer styles, British beer styles, German beer styles, American IPA's, fruit beers, beers brewed with herbs and spices, lagers, ales. You name it, odds are Craftsman has brewed it. I was not able to visit the brewery on a recent visit to Pasadena, CA but was fortunate enough to try two outstanding Craftsman beers on draught at an outstanding beer bar in Old Town Pasadena called Lucky Balwin's. This place has 63 beers pouring, and they are heavy on California and West Coast brewed beers, something that is a very good sign indeed. What is even better is they carry their hometown brewed beers, Craftsman, which are prominently featured at Luck Baldwin's.
I was able to enjoy the Craftman .5 IPA. This beer is a great example of a small beer that isn't big on alcohol, but delivers big on hop aromas, flavors, and bitterness. This was a great pint after pint beer, one that you could have a session with and lose a day at the bar enjoying. I was also able to try a pint of Craftsman Saison which was a zesty, herbal, sweet and spicy version of saison, with complex aromas and flavors. This is one to sip and savor and not to be missed where ever you find a Craftsman tap. Local beer is a very good thing indeed. For more information visit: www.craftsmanbrewing.com. For more information on a good place to try Craftsman beers visit: www.luckybaldwins.com