Revving up the craft brew scene in the greater Palm Springs area is a microbrewery that is expanding rapidly. The quality beer that La Quinta Brewing Co. is making has to potential to find its way across Southern California and even the US.
With many award winning beers under its belt La Quinta Brewing Co. is wowing tourists and locals alike. This brewery has the potential to spread, as tourists clamor for their favorite La Quinta Brewing Co. beer in their home states.
Frugal Homebrew had the opportunity to interview Scott Stokes the owner mastermind behind La Quinta Brewing Co. Scott has a background in homebrewing and business which made it inevitable that he would open his own brewery.
Below we discuss with Scott what its like owning a brewery, particularly a desert brewery. But First! A meme.
Hopefully that meme reminded you that you needed to grab a beer, now that you are all stocked up lets dive in.
Advice for Homebrewers Entering Competitions
La Quinta brewing has a long list of awards from many international beer competitions. Do you have any tips for homebrewers looking to enter their first competition?
I’d focus on the process of making quality beer. If you have a good process (sanitation, temperature control, etc), quality ingredients and a good recipe, you can make good tasting beer.
Scott is right when it comes down to it mastering the basics is probably the most important part. While Sanitation is constantly harped on, temperature control is another important factor.
While you may not always be able to control temperature completely, knowing your yeast and how it does in specific temperatures is an important skill to learn.
The First Beers to Brew at a Microbrewery
Which beers were the first at La Quinta Brewing when it opened? Did they have a special meaning?
We started with Poolside Blonde, Indian Canyon IPA, One Eleven Pale Ale and Windy Point Wheat Ale. Soon thereafter, we added Koffi Porter. The idea was more to have a wide spectrum of beers opposed to being old recipes we had from home brewing.
Trials of Opening a Brewery
Is opening a brewery different than what you thought it would be, do you think being an experienced homebrewer helped out?
My background in business/finance helped me more than anything, including home brewing. I hired an experienced brewer, so I didn’t have to worry about the beer. While being in the brewing industry is better than selling toilet paper, in most respects it’s similar to every other business (payroll, insurance, human resources, finance, etc).
Thoughts on Brewing a Hazy IPA
I see you have a hazy IPA on the menu. Did brewing an award winning west coast IPA give you an edge in making a hazy?
Brewing a hazy may be harder than most people think. It can be hard to keep it hazy after a keg is sitting in a cooler for a month – gravity wins out sooner or later.
This is particularly interesting since hazy beers are very popular. But, there is a lot that goes into making a hazy that many don’t think about least of which is how it holds up over time.
This might be something to think about when buying a hazy that’s been sitting on a shelf for some time. You may be better off buying it straight from the source.
Favorite Hop to Use
What is your favorite type of hop? What tips can you give homebrewers about pairing hops to establish a good flavor profile?
I like Mosaic. Frankly, this is probably a better question for our brewer. While I occasionally will brew a batch on our 1 bbl system, he’s the pro.
Mosiac hops are known for their berry and stone fruit flavors and aromas. It has anywhere from 10-14% alpha acids.
It most closely resembles Simco hops and is generally used in Pale Ales and IPA’s although you could pair its blueberry and pine flavors with some darker beers. Sadly these hops are patented and can only be purchased rather than grown from seed.
Yeast Choices at La Quinta Brewing
What is the most common yeast type that you use? Is this the same as your favorite yeast?
For most of our beers, we use Cal Ale. Most of our beers are clean tasting without much contribution from the yeast. We use an English Ale Yeast for our hazy and of course a different yeast for our lagers.
Cal Ale yeast is a great choice if you want to focus on the hops in your beer. The clean taste will let the hops and malt shine. The English Ale yeast is a lower flocculating yeast which leads to a cloudier/hazy look.
English ale yeast and Mosiac hops have me thinking about an interesting and delicious beer, since English Ale Yeast sports fruity esters, which can be an interesting compliment to Mosiac hops, might have to try that out.
Saving Water in the Desert
Water is a pretty precious commodity out in the desert, what efforts do you make to be environmentally friendly and save water?
We do re-claim the water used for our heat exchanger – so that saves a lot of water.
Capturing the water after use and having it cool back to room temperature is a great way to re-use water that’s not used in the beer itself.
Brew More Beer and Save Money
Not to give away any trade secrets, but what do you think your biggest cost savings is when brewing beer, as either a brewery or homebrewer?
Brew more beer. As a brewer, costs can be saved by buying grain in bigger sacks (totes) and re-pitching yeast. As a homebrewer, it’s probably a bit harder getting those efficiencies.
This is why homebrewing is best done with a group of friends!
What interesting changes have you made to adapt to the challenges 2020 has presented?
We’ve had to sell almost everything “to-go” for the past 6 months. We did delivery for a while. Fortunately, we just been able to open up all 3 taprooms.
Expanding The Brewery
According to your website La Quinta Brewing opened a new brewery facility. What can we expect from this new expansion? More beers? A cool Hangout?
We started on a 14,000 sf brewery/taproom/beer garden in July. The taproom will be 3-4x bigger and we’ll have a kitchen. Should be fun.
Beer Making Choices in the Desert.
Is there anything in particular that you would want to tell the craft beer enthusiasts out there about your beer?
I think we produce clean/smooth drinking beers that pair well with our climate here in the desert. Being it’s 100+ degrees for 5-6 months out of the year, we’ve focused on brewing highly quaffable beers.
This might give La Quinta Brewing Co. an edge when it comes to other microbreweries since its forced to focus on beers that have mass appeal. Next time your feeling a bit parched in the Palm Springs area be sure to check out La Quinta Brewing Co.