I actually could not believe a year had passed since I last talked to brewer/owner Rob Palmer of Palmer Brewery about the year that was in the annual Look Back/Look Ahead Series. I mean, where the hell did that year go, anyway? But, yes, it was time again, so I corralled the ever-busy Rob and sat him down for a brief chat.
Right off the bat, I congratulated Rob on winning a bronze medal at the 2018 Great American Beer Festival in the collaboration beer category with Quarter Celtic Brewpub. I can confirm that Mocha Hipster Bomb is very good indeed, and now back on tap at the brewery. Rob said he is enjoying making collaborations because he enjoys working with the other brewers and the camaraderie involved with that. In April, he will be doing a different kind of collaboration beer with High and Dry Brewing, reportedly a wheat beer with some fun ingredients.
We discussed awards in general (Rob is not in favor of contests with large numbers of awards per category, as if everyone gets a participation award), the recent cancellation of the National IPA Challenge, and the sad demise of the Southwest Brewing News.
I asked about the status of the patio that he and Left Turn Distilling owner/distiller Brian Langwell have been wanting to add for a while. I was able to get a peek at some actual renderings, so there is some progress with that. It is their focus right now, and hopefully it will actually happen by this summer, Rob said. They need more space, period.
They are looking for a taproom site, but do not want to rush anything. It has to be right for them, Rob said. They are growing at their own pace, what demand allows, and are not worried too much about packaging. The current location is already in a very healthy beer area (literally the Brewery District), so they are looking at places that might be more underserved.
The jointly owned taproom space has required the hiring of more bartenders, but Rob is still mostly a one-dude show for brewing operations. Rob said that he needs to buy more fermenters so he can start double batching some beer; he keeps running out of the Low Card Lager, and that takes a long time to produce. They will most certainly need more capacity if they do open another location.
Rob wanted our readers to know about the success of their kitchen, Cocina Amada. Last year, they were really just getting it off the ground. He said the food is great and hugely popular. Rob added that they are so happy with the relationship they hope to get them over to the new taproom when that is established.
Left Turn and Palmer just made their first malt whiskey. Yep, malt whiskey. It’s currently barrel aging, so I did not get to try it (yet!). It doesn’t have to have an age statement, so Rob will just know when it’s ready by continuing to taste test it. There is also a bigger monster of a Cockness Monster (Scotch Ale) barrel aging right now at more than 9-percent ABV. The new spring beer menu has some fun beer cocktails on it as well, another direct way both sides of the business — the brewery and distillery — can work together. Rob said the percentage of sales varies. On some nights, the beer sells more than the cocktails, and sometimes it’s the reverse.
Thanks once again to Rob for his always amazing hospitality. It was a late afternoon on a Friday, so it was especially nice that he agreed to take time out to talk to me at such a busy time. But, that also meant I was able to hang out a bit with Brian and Chris Medina, assistant distiller/sales manager, a former subject of our “Unsung Heroes” series. That’s just a fantastic way to start a weekend!
Happy early St. Patrick’s Day to all. Be safe out there.