Wiretap Brewing

Always Listening.

Wiretap Brewing is a micro scale craft brewery in the neighborhood of Lincoln Heights minutes away from downtown Los Angeles. Our beers are available by the can, bottle, and keg both direct and wholesale. Wiretap also imports and sells a boutique line of Italian wines.

Luchaleno

When Luchador Became Luchaleno

At one point Wiretap made a beer called Luchador, a Mexican Strong Ale. A lot of people loved the identity of a craft beer that had roots from south of the border. Those that are beer scholars coughed heavily at a non BJCP defined beer style since, amazingly, if you’re from Africa, Latin America, Southeast and Eastern Asia, or some major countries in Europe, the BJCP does not define nor allow for competition, styles of brewing beer which might be centric or relateable to your specific country or region.

If you’re from LA you’ve been to a taco place right? Even not from LA but to a “Latin” or “Mexican” place? The beer on tap is Modelo? Pacifico? Bohemia, Estrella Jalisco, Montejo, etc? Did you have one of those MEXICAN beers? Did you enjoy that MEXICAN beer versus other stuff they might have had on tap, like Bud Light, and American beer? Did you notice I italicized MEXICAN and but didn’t American?

Well it’s worth noting that while just about anyone would agree Mexican beers have a distinct quality the BJCP doesn’t define them as a style.

So, is Wiretap on a quest to fight the BJCP? No, not at all, we actually commend the BJCP for in a way professionalizing the analysis of beer. If you want to have competitions you need metrics and someone needs to own those metrics. They’re standardized by the BJCP and that’s good. However, we don’t agree on the countries that have unique styles that the BJCP permits. Just like our example above most of us can agree Japanese beers have a unique style. So, if someone outside of Japan wants to brew a beer similar to other styles of Japanese beer a) there’s no classification or style guidelines which defines a widely known type of beer, and b) if they ever want to submit that beer to a competition they’ll need to re-assess what random category of other stuff it might fit in. Annoying? Yes, considering the things that are categories.

FOR EXAMPLE, there is an entire category for HISTORICAL BEERS. Had a KENTUCKY COMMON lately? If someone said KENTUCKY COMMON would you think it’s a bourbon drink before you guessed beer? We know you would. Does it come in a green bottle or a brown bottle?

PRE-PROHIBITION LAGER. Seriously.

IPA? There’s eight types of IPAs.

PALE MALTY EUROPEAN LAGERS. Munich Helles, Helles Bock, and Festbier. We have a category carved out for beer that’s made for festivals -literally.

Alright so probably close to half of the 2015 edition of the BJCP style guidelines has beers most Americans have never had but what about globally popular styles? Like JAPANESE BEER! Oh I’m sorry that’s not a category. Maybe some of the oddly malty or oddly watery beers from places like Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, you know? SOUTHEAST ASIA? What about an entire continent called South America that might, due to trade issues like in Brazil, not have inexpensive access to certain types of hops? Or in Wiretap’s case, MEXICO. People just can’t leave us alone because there’s technically no such thing as a Mexican Strong Ale because there’s no such thing as MEXICAN beers.

And yeah, we get it. Modelo is made in Mexico and that makes it a Mexican beer by definition but by the book not a style. I think a lot of people, including the folks at Wiretap, would argue that just like the Mexican beer discussion above people would generally classify Corona, Dos Equis, Bohemia, Modelo, and others of similarity that they have a flavor commonality that most would agree is MEXICAN STYLE.

Just Sayin.

As you can see there’s so much buried in an identity and we had thought about this so much in talking about the Mexican Strong Ale labeling we has on our Luchador cans. As we thought more about the name we decided “Luchador” didn’t grasp what we were going for either. It’s a cool name but it’s not centric to where it was born. Wiretap was started as an LA brand, we specifically wanted to be in a certain neighborhood, and ultimately that’s who we are and that’s who we want to represent. So, in our best effort, we present Luchaleno -a Luchador and an Angeleno.

Our newly branded Luchaleno cans roll out this weekend debuting at Smorgasbord in DTLA and shortly thereafter at all the existing awesome places you can find our beer. In addition to the name change, and much appreciated by those scholars, the label now accurately reflects “Belgian-Style Ale.” As it is.

lucha por tu derecho a la fiesta

Arigato.

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Also- public radio does an amazing background of the spelling of Angeleno with an ‘e’ versus ‘i’ as well as the ‘n’ an ‘ñ’ or a ‘n’. We’re pretty sold on it being an ‘e’ :)

You guys had your first operating quarter, stopped being open Thursdays, and did a bunch of other stuff April edition!

Hey great job guys following through on that monthly blog post.
— No one ever.

To those of you checking back on the site (we see you in Google analytics) we’re sorry. If this is your first time here then hey, welcome to Wiretap Brewing, we do blog posts every month!

The reality is that I’ve been trying to figure out what to write -where to start? What’s a good amount of time coverage to talk about? Do I talk about sales? New products? Does anyone give a shit?

You guys had your first operating quarter, stopped being open Thursdays, and did a bunch of other stuff April edition!

From the business ops side Q1 was pretty cool. We did technically start selling in Q4 of ‘17 but I’m gonna wave a magic executive hand and say it doesn’t count. We spent most of Q4 figuring our shit out anyways. Right, so we kicked off Q1 being open Thurs-Saturday and staying open until the grandma hours of 10:30. At the end of Q1 we stopped being open Thursdays.

What happened? Are you guys going out of business? Are you gonna be open other days instead?
— the public

No and no.

We’re a pretty lean crew and rely heavily on process and technology. As such, some of our beers won some awards and more and more places are discovering the liquid gold known as Luchador and our brew schedule took off. It’s hard to run the business, brew, do deliveries, customer appointments, and then, at least on Thursday, also stand in the tasting room another 6 hours. Yes, to all our friends who have kindly copied and pasted all the articles they could find in a google search about how profitable tap room sales are: we get it. Turns out we know how to do math too. But guess what? Wiretap is executing on a business model that focuses on distribution and not just having a cool spot to hang out. We’re executing really well on the distribution part so for the sake of our team having room to breathe we’re not open Thursdays. And we’re not sure we’re gonna open more days either. There, we said it.

What else is good?

We started to focus on having a cadence of events for the days we’re open and it’s been awesome. Last month we hired our first full time salesperson and it turns out she’s a standup comedian both on and off the job and produces a show called Whiskey N Donuts -no apostrophe on the N btdubs- which aptly becomes Beer N Donuts once a month at Wiretap. If you haven’t been to a show yet you’re missing out. We get a food truck/popup, usually have a new special beer on tap, and deck the space out with extra seating and custom lighting. It costs a raging zero dollars to get in.

In addition to comedy we have a roving art show that’s come through twice and features some really spectacular installations which you can see on our walls any time as well as night-of stuff like live paintings as well as raffles. When we first started to partner with local artists and the event organiser we really didn’t know if it was gonna be cool or weird or whatever and it’s been overwhelmingly dope. If you’re into street art, illusionism, multi-dimensionalism, aliens, abstract, tag, or modern art we got it!

Products?

We made new stuff. Real good new stuff. In the rotation now we’ve brought back our classical Kolsch, added a Belgian Saison, an English Special Bitter, oh, and two super cool development beers. The first is in the vein of Luchador but instead a low calorie, Mexican style, beer called Flaca. The second is my quest to re-live standing outside of a Lawson’s in Tokyo drinking some random Japanese beer that I have no idea what it is. Japanese beers, especially Japanese beers brewed in Japan and not the ones you get here in the US are quite (super) malty. Like, most of them are all just really malty. I’m not being mean or making that up. I guess the powers that be have determined the Japanese beer market should be nearly devoid of hop flavor and that’s what the people get and hence that’s what we’re making. No, it’s not a no-hop beer but it’s got some really cool magic that involves Sorachi Ace and rice. The name? Nama Biru. Yeah. That’s how you say “draft beer” in Japanese and I have this great plan to can it so it’ll be Draft Beer but in a can and I think it’s hilarious. Literally no one else at Wiretap thinks that’s a good idea and even accused me of calling it dumb if anyone else did it. We’ll see.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I swear I’m gonna do more posts frequently so stay tuned. There’s a draft of a really cool post on how Wiretap uses technology to manage brew schedules, tank resources, and inventory, but our legal department is probably gonna redline a lot of it.

 

Stay listening.

Who Is Your Daddy And What Does He Do?

Our first post of 2018. No idea why we needed to reference Kindergarten Cop other than its an episode of talk about yourself.

In October we had a triumphant post about finally getting our licenses and moving on with being a business and not some sort of in-flux God-only-knows-whats-next drama. Today's post is sort of a maybe-brief recap of time since then, our commitment for more recurring blog posts, and a look down the rabbit hole.

For those of you who haven't read the stories below this post- we opened in October of 2017. We had a whale of a tale with licenses and waiting for godot and literally got our license on a Friday and opened, somewhat stupidly, the very next day. This post tries to talk about what it's been like for 3 people -all of whom work for Wiretap full time, 1 person who thought two full time jobs was a good idea, and 2 more people who have full time jobs but reserve their heart for the business (yes that's a total of 6 on a good day). To know more about the backstory, people, LA city zoning, and other drama, read the previous posts.

We got our license to sell alcohol on the last Friday in September. Instead of celebrating and getting our ducks in a row we decided to blast on social media a flash opening the very next day. We barely had growlers, there was literally no service bar, and we might not even have had some drywall painted. Dumb.

October was basically Friday and Saturday, noon till about 8. That ran into November and December and we didn't really promote the space much. I think most of it was trepidation over "being open for service" and also part that we dont focus as much on having a "tap room." We have a tasting room and focus on being open for events and times that center on folks trying out our beer and less so being a "bar." Lots of quote symbols in this paragraph, sorry. 

In January we kicked off a new initiative of being open during hours that actually made sense. Closing at 8pm on a Friday or Saturday was kinda dumb; we get that now. So we launched Thursday, Friday, Saturday, open till about 10, opening Thursday at 5 and Fri/Sat at 3. The change was substantial. A lot of neighborhood people and folks from the community loved coming in on Thursday and Friday, and Saturday tended to be more people in the LA area looking for new stuff. That change was great and we look forward to exploring new options -we might look at more stuff in the week or focus on Sunday related things. We also plan on dialing in on the fact that home plate of dodger stadium is 1.18 miles from our front door so we make for a perfect place to pre-game or watch the game; probably less-so post game on account of us and our abuelita hours.

Outside of retail stuff we've made some leaps and gains in the wholesale space which is where we put the bulk of our effort. In October we showed up for the Burbank Beer Festival, in November we ran some of the longest lines at the LA Pizza+Beer fest, and in January we were the only independently owned beer company at the Santa Anita Fine Wine Festival at the Santa Anita Racetrack.  Granted our only companion was Golden Road, it was great to be an independent brand amongst a sea of big names. Outside of events we started to claim some territory as well! We expanded our deliveries from City of LA to include spots in Burbank, South Pasadena, Arcadia Monrovia, and as far East as Upland and as far South as Irvine. A big shoutout to BJ's Brewhouse for picking us up in select locations. 

Finally, when it comes to retail product we've made some more moves. When we first started in October we had one 22oz bottle in distribution which was Luchador at 5%. A fun trivia thing you'll never find documented is that Luchador was originally a 5% session beer -but when we let the yeast fully attenuate became 7%. We decided to rename the variant El Borracho from the game Loteria. However, customers quickly began to sell out on the 7% version so Luchador became El Borracho and kept the name Luchador. As of December we had five brands in retail packs -Echelon, Luchador, CTRL+ALT, Vauxhall Cross, and NSA. Last month we decided to move Vauxhall (English Coffee Stout) and CTRL+ALT (German Altbier) to "seasonal" status which let in Serial Czechnology (Czech Pils) and KryptoKolsch (German Kolsch) into main production levels. We continue to have another seasonal, Cymbopogon, our lemongrass IPA, float in and out of availability.

Up next?

We're delighted to announce:

  • A Red Saison
  • An English Special Bitter which will be a branch from Echelon
  • A German Dunkel
  • A German Ale fermented with a Mexican yeast and dry hopped with a British hop. Lose your mind now we have no idea what it's going to be called.
  • Plus! Some California red wine barrel aged nonsense!

In Retrospect

We're super thankful to be open. We're super thankful to be a City of LA brand. We're super thankful to Lincoln Heights. And we're pleased as punch to bring really good beer to market and continue to grow the brand.

Thank you. Come thru. 

It's so weird to be talking about being thankful to be doing business than crying about some political bs.

You're awesome for reading this far. DM us on IG for a coupon.

©2018 Wiretap Brewing Corporation. Wiretap is a registered trademark.