If White Labs were around when I was in High School, I might have paid a lot more attention during science class. If we talked more about beer in class I suspect I might not have failed chemistry. OK, you got me, I probably still would have failed, but it sure as hell would have been more fun. (On a side note, I have a similar theory for Breaking Bad and meth)
For the past several months, I’ve been chomping at the bit to go and check out White Labs, the whole concept of the place is fascinating to me, but for one reason of another plans to go have seemly gotten derailed at the last moment. Which has been slightly frustrating but also helped to build my anticipation level for checking this place out. I’d like to think I did a pretty good job of keeping my expectations in check.
For those who are unfamiliar with the name, White Labs isn’t your typical brewery. In fact, I don’t even know if brewery is even an accurate word for them. They make yeast. They make yeast for beer, for wine and all the different ways it can be fermented. These guys are freaking scientists! As we know, most scientists have a tendency to go evil and try to take over the word. I’m looking at you Dr. Doom. These guys use their brains for the betterment of humanity, they do what they do to bring us awesome beer and wine. From the biggest of breweries and vineyards all the to the smallest of home brewers, White Labs offers there services to any any all who have an interest in liquid divination.
They also have a tasting room with plenty of beers for drinking.
Now, that said, again, it’s not your typical tasting room. They brew beer here in very small batches, in fact they brew with the standard equipment of the average home brewer. It’s probably safe to call them experimental beers. The point here, from my understanding, is to brew up say, five or six IPA’s, but by using different strains of yeast and fermentation techniques for each one to see how it changes the beer’s flavor profile. They do this with Belgiums, Porters, Pilsners, Saisons – you name it, they do it. Over 30 taps to conduct your own flavor experiments on.
Think on that for a moment.
30 taps. To show off different strains of yeast. These people are crazy in all the right ways.
Personally, I really got a big kick out of lining up five IPA’s that are essentially the same beer, just made with a different strain of yeast and seeing just how unique it could taste. Let me tell you what most anybody who has ever brewed before already knows. Yeast is kinda a big deal. It can change the flavor of a beer in subtle ways, or more overt ways depending on what each brewer is going for. My level of fascination knew no boundaries here.
For the home brewers out there, let me emphasize – you can just walk in here and buy yeast ready to drop in your creations. You can also bring your home brew in for analyzing. If something isn’t working right in your beer, these might be the guys who can help get you on the right track. Or maybe, you’re beers are so awesome you’re ready save the recipe, but you want to know more details about your masterpiece. White Labs is here to help you.
My level of interest in the company is boundless. I could sit there and listen for hours at what the people both behind the bar and in front of it have to say about beers and brewing. It was an education with beer. Someone should run for office on this platform.
Also while there, I handed in a flyer I got at the San Diego International Beer Festival back in June, this flyer entitled me to a free gift which I’m always happy to get. Turns out I’m the fist person to turn one in, kinda crazy, but it get me a pretty cool Yeastman plushie/keychain thing. So I clipped that bad boy to my belt for the rest of the day.
I strongly encourage anyone who has even the slightest interest in brewing beer to swing by and check out the tasting room. I haven’t even described just how fantastic a set-up it is. Hopefully my pictures will do most of the talking on that front.
I’m also going to take a second to mention a book by Chris White, founder of White Labs and Jamil Zainasheff have put out called, surprisingly, “Yeast: A practical guide to beer fermentation”. I’ve only just started the book and have found it to be a very interesting read that does a great job of keeping a non-technical person engaged.
White Labs is located at 9495 Candida Way San Diego, CA 92126, the tasting room is open from 12pm to 8pm Monday-Saturday and they do tours. I recommend the tours…half of what they said was lost on me, but it was still fascinating!
Beer and a little education? You had me at beer.