This is part six in a series of interviews I’ll be doing for a new segment on Budget and the Beach called Cool Careers. You always hear how you should follow your passion and do what you love. I happen to know a few people who I think are doing just that. Maybe you’ll get some inspiration for your own career. I was not compensated in any way for this article. I just really like a good craft beer! 🙂
A couple months ago, my friend Dave called me up on a particularly hot Friday afternoon, “wanna go grab a pint?” The idea sounded refreshing, and I needed a little social time, so we headed to Absolution Brewery in Torrance, one of the many emerging craft beer tap rooms not only popping up in the South Bay area of LA, but all over LA in general, giving the craft beer hotbeds of San Diego and San Francisco a run for their money.
Absolution is in an unusual location, tucked away in a generic looking office park in Torrance.
I was very surprised at how warm and inviting the place is…since a lot of tap rooms seem to only have that harsh, florescent lighting. But more important to lighting, was how good the beer tasted, and I was in heaven.
Normally I like my IPA’s and Ales, but (we did a 6-beer taster) every single beer was pleasing to my pallet, but my favorite by far was the Fallen Angel.
I liked the place so much that I went back a few weeks later with a couple of my friends, who enjoyed it as much as I did. It was on that occasion that I met Nigel Heath, CEO, or as he likes to call himself, CTO (Chief Tasting Officer) of Absolution. Nigel is a outgoing Englishman, who early in his life studied quantum physics and computer science, and worked as a software programmer, and eventually became CEO of a software company.
In 2013, Nigel partnered up with Wes McCann, head brewer, and longtime friend from the San Diego brew scene, Steve Farguson, VP of Sales, to form Absolution.
I think in the back of my mind, I always thought it would be cool to own my own brewery, so that’s why I decided to profile them in my cool careers series!
How would you describe Absolution beer?
Fantastic! A combination of old-world techniques with new-world ingredients, that produces a unique American/English combination of fine ales and beers.
We don’t take ourselves too seriously – got to have fun, which is reflected in our beer names and vibe at the brewery. We think about the beer style, its origins, and our theme, and then look for fun connections, e.g. Holy Cow, our Milk Stout, Cardinal Sin, which is our Crimson IPA, and Purgatory, which is our Hefeweizen.
Everything is natural, so no nasty chemicals added here. When we do add other ingredients like strawberries in our Belgian Trespasser Ale, it’s all organic in partnership with Tapia Farms of North LA – ‘Farm to Glass’.
What is the best part of what you do?
As Chief Tasting Officer – just doing my job! Interacting with our customers, getting to know them and the local community, and finding ways to support each other.
What is the hardest part of what you do?
Not drinking all of the product!
What advice would you give to anyone who is interested in opening a brewery?
I’m often asked this question, and my usual reply is, if you’re thinking of opening a brewery, think again. Still do it and go for the dream, but it will probably take longer and more money than you plan.
San Diego and San Francisco have always been bigger hotbeds for craft beer – where does LA stand now?
Watch out, we’re coming up very fast in the rearview mirror! We are finding that Angelinos of all ages and walks of life love good beer. They are keen to try different styles, and are ready to learn about the local product, and love spreading the word.
Where are your beers distributed, and what future plans do you have with the brewery?
Currently we are in bars and restaurants in Pasadena, Venice Beach, Manhattan Beach, Torrance, Redondo Beach, and Long Beach, along with San Diego, and many hotspots in between. Soon we will be available statewide.
Awe, sorry folks that live outside of California. 🙁 Maybe someday it will be available locally for you too, or you could just come visit me!
Have you ever thought it would be cool to open your own brewery? What is your favorite beer?