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Column: Flee from the mob with this beer inspired by Grateful Dead
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Cherry Street Brewing pays homage to The Grateful Dead with its single-hop IPA, West L.A. Hopaway. - photo by Kelsey Podo

Twenty-one hops, but one will do. 

Nearly seven years ago, Nick Tanner, founder and brewmaster of Cherry Street Brewing in Cumming, decided to pay homage to one of his staff’s favorite bands with the birth of West L.A. Hopaway.

The Grateful Dead’s “West L.A. Fadeaway” kicks off with the line, “I’m looking for a chateau, 21 rooms, but one will do.”

Drawing inspiration from the song, Tanner decided to use only Mosaic hops when brewing the West Coast-style IPA. 

“In all the other IPAs, we could use so many different types of hops, but this one is the one hop,” Tanner said. “It really lets the flavor of the hop variety shine. That’s kind of the whole point behind it.”

Not every variety offers a complex profile to stand alone like Mosaic hops. West L.A. Hopaway offers a balanced IPA taste that doesn’t decimate your tastebuds with a grenade of bitterness nor lull you into the sweet haze of New England-style IPAs.

The mango and stone fruit characteristics of the hops take the spotlight. The beer isn’t quite lawn-mower material, but it’s moderate bitterness and tiny whisper of a toast note, make it hard to put down.

It’s a solid IPA that I would recommend to anyone wanting an inoffensive beer that offers a bit of flavor-deciphering entertainment. There’s a lot to unpack with this one, despite the single-hop recipe. 

For the aspiring beer snobs out there eager to train their palates to pinpoint different hops,  West L.A. Hopaway is a fantastic place to start.

West L.A. Hopaway

Brewery: Cherry Street Brewing

Alcohol by volume: 6.8%

Style: West Coast-style IPA

Bottom line: A balanced IPA that allows a single hop to shine through

Now, enough about the flavor, let’s focus on this summer vibes-inducing can design. 

Toward the end of the song, “West L.A. Fadeaway,” the lyrics mention hauling items for the mob.

The vintage car on the can is driving away as hops fly out the window. Tanner said this image aims to provoke a “Bonnie and Clyde” feel.

“The car itself is a getaway car,” he said. “You get caught up dealing with the mob, and now you got to get away.”

Because West L.A. Hopaway is one of Cherry Street Brewing’s flagship beers, you shouldn’t have a difficult time finding it at your local beer shop. 

Cherry Street Brewing has locations at 5817 S. Vickery in Cumming and 6640 Town Square in Alpharetta. For more information about the brewery’s available beer, visit cherrystreetbrewing.com.

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