It’s the year of the ‘pig’s ear,’ my dear
By Terry Miller and Susan Motander
Ask any self-deprecating cockney in London what his beverage of choice might be, and you’d be hard pressed to find one who didn’t say, “Well, it’s a pig’s ear mate?” That definitive statement seems most appropriate now as it is, in fact, the year of the pig according to the Chinese Lunar calendar.
Now, for those of you who are divided by a common language, “Pig’s Ear” is British colloquial for beer. For brevity, a Londoner might say “can I buy you a pig?” The ever brilliant rhyming slang is believed to have originated in the mid-19th century in the East End of London, no doubt after a snifter or two.
This wonderful history has now been passed to this side of the pond. The enormous growth of the craft beer breweries in the states is now a multi-billion dollar business.
So put on your “whistle and flute” (suit), take the “trouble and strife” (wife), and pop down to your local pub down the “frog and toad” (road) here in Monrovia. For by mid-March, there will be no less than four remarkable breweries to tempt even the most discerning beer palate within the city limits. As responsible drinkers, consider taking Lyft from pub to pub. Remember, within Monrovia shared rides are only $1. Below is a list of local drinking holes:
Pacific Plate Brewing Company
– 1999 S. Myrtle Ave.
– Open: Monday – Friday 4-10 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday noon-10 p.m.
– Microbrewery with Latin-inspired beers.
Hop Secret Brewing Company
– 162 W. Pomona Ave.
Open: Monday – Wednesday 4–10 p.m., Thursday and Friday 4-11 p.m., Saturday noon-11 p.m., and Sunday noon – 9 p.m.
– 235 W. Maple Ave.
Open: Thursday 5-10 p.m., Friday 5-11 p.m., Saturday noon-11 p.m., and Sunday noon-10 p.m.
Over Town Brewing Company
– 227 W. Maple Ave.
– Opening the weekend of March 15.
A highly edited and very selective history of beer follows:
In 1716 the tavern that will become known as the Wayside Inn after being immortalized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Tales of a Wayside Inn” opens in Sudbury, Mass. Nearly 300 years later it’s the oldest continuously operating Inn in the United States.
In 1944 because it is not practical to ship beer, the HMS Menestheus, a British mine-laying ship, is converted into a floating brewery to supply beer to British and Allied troops in the Asian theater during World War II. These ships were built at the insistence of Winston Churchill himself and were not only to include breweries, but also cinemas, dance halls and other amenities, which is why they then became known as amenity ships. These ships — the HMS Menetheus and HMS Agamemnon — were sent to Vancouver in early 1945 to be refitted.
In 1957 the late author “The Beer Hunter” Michael Jackson (not the gloved one as he was not born until the next year), drinks his first beer at the Castle Hill Hotel in Huddersfield, Yorkshire. Twenty years later, he writes “The World Guide to Beer,” one of the inspirations for the “beer revolution.”
Development of cascade hops begins in Corvallis, Ore., in 1956. The hop is released to brewers in 1972 and becomes a hallmark aroma and flavor for beer from American small-batch brewers.
In 2008 Smithsonian Magazine states: “The best beers in the world today are being made in the U.S.” much to the disdain of the Brits and Germans who’ve been brewing before the beginning of time.
In 2014 craft brewers reached 11 percent volume of the total U.S. beer market. Additionally, craft dollar share of the total U.S. beer market reached 19.3 percent in 2014, as retail dollar value from craft brewers was estimated at $19.6 billion. More than 3,400 U.S. breweries operated for some or all of 2014, of which 99 percent were small and independent craft brewers as defined by the Brewers Association. Of those craft breweries, there were 1,412 brewpubs, 1,871 microbreweries and 135 regional craft breweries.
Craft brewers reached 12.7 percent volume of the total U.S. beer market in 2017. The retail dollar value from craft brewers was estimated at $26 billion. More than 7,000 U.S. breweries operated for some or all of 2018. Monrovia’s own Pacific Plate is named one of the 50 fastest growing microbreweries in the country.
This brings us back to the concept of this story, which of course is all about craft beer and the amazing number of really good local craft breweries opening up all over the world. Monrovia is no exception.
To date, there are already three established local breweries that are concocting small to medium quantities of the amber nectar of the gods to the delight of local beer aficionados. The fourth will open next month.
Take Hop Secret, for example, this tiny little brewery located really near the Gold Line station is an example of exquisite hops combined with a truly friendly and knowledgeable master brewer, Gary Gates.
Pacific Plate was the first microbrewery in town and served beers and ales some with a Latin flavor such as their popular Horchata Stout and Flan de Leche. But they also have a wide range of IPAs, stouts, porters and even a Belgian style ale.
Wingwalker Brewing offers delicious craft beers and community spirit in a spirit of adventure. They have a philosophy, “We began with community connections and the motto: ‘Always drink with smart people.’ The challenge was making a friendly place for good beer and a community.”
The owner David Robkin wrote on the brewery’s website, “Making the magic for TV, theatre and movies was fun, but craft beer called.” Originally a home-brewer, Robkin opened Wingwalker just last weekend to the general approval.
Ryan McKay, the principal of the soon to open Over Town Brewing Company even showed up at the opening to show support for his neighbor. Over Town will be opening just two doors down from Wingwalker. McKay explained the name of his brewery. He was from Avalon on Catalina Island. On the Island, the mainland is referred to as Over Town, hence the name. He plans to open the weekend of March 15 with the exact hours to be determined.