Starting out by contracting the Dale Bros. facility in Upland, CA and brewing every two weeks, Noble Ale Works finally has their own facility. And in a way, while it might not be their intent, the microbrewery’s strict focus on quality is giving a twist on the idea of the Noble Experiment. We sent our host Jace Milstead down to their brewery in Anaheim, CA to discuss all that is beer with co-founder Jerry Kolbly.
Naming is never easy. After two months of brainstorming and a chance talk with the man behind the UCI Anteater mascot, the team found themselves driving up to Sacramento to check out a brewing system. Jerry declared that they would decide on a name during the trip.
His input, “the only thing I want is Ale Works, because I’m a down to the grind, son of a blue collar worker. Let’s come up with a name as long as it has Ale Works.” The word Noble came up and started gaining favor with the team.
High fives all around lasted about ten minutes until the usual doubts started creeping back in, but Jerry made short work of that. [quote align=right]
He likes to have a level of control, “I’m the kind of guy who wants my hands on it for as long as I can. Just to know the product we’re getting out there and the way we’re running our business. Even the way a dynamic tasting room goes. That kind of stuff I want control of because I know my vision.”
Past and future
Jerry’s professional beer life started at Newport Beach Brewing Co. which he ran for a dozen years. He says, “I’ve always loved beer, but I didn’t realize how much I really, really loved beer until I got there.”
[quote2]When he finally go the idea of starting his own brewery, Jerry didn’t predict how rough it might be, saying “it has been a very rocky road.” So much that he actually quit for three months. But the mantra “I just know the end result is going to be big for us” persisted in his head.
But not as big as you’d think in terms of production size. Jerry says, “I don’t want to become someone bigger than what I want. My goal is to get to maybe 50 barrels and that’s it.” Instead of pumping out big numbers, “I just want to be able to maintain our beers and the quality that we’re brewing.”
The culmination, seen in the second batch brewing in their own system, is still surreal to Jerry, “we brewed yesterday morning and I came back last night and saw beer in the tank. It’s still weird to me. It feels like the journey has been so long. It feels like I started this thing before I could even drink.”
Head Brewer, Tracy Simmons, and Jerry had known each other in the past, but there chance encounter was nothing short of perfect timing, “people say certain things happen for a reason and this definitely was one of them”. When Jerry started his head brewer hunt, Tracy had left his job a week before and was thinking of quitting the business. Jerry gave Tracy an open door which he eventually opened.
Jace sampled five beers from Noble with Jerry. Here’s some compiled commentary.
Alpha Red – Imperial Red Ale, hopped up big malt that cleans up really well at the end. 7.2% ABV. Jace notes the nice finish doesn’t kill the palate.
Dark Sybian IPA – Black IPA. Originally created out of their homebrew system which could have been better. So Tracey went to Settle on a Black IPA tasting trip. They tweaked it into it’s current balanced form.
IPA – 6.8-6.6 ABV. Typical west coast IPA, which was “Tracey’s claim to fame back in the day”. An IPA that “Start’s good and ends even better.”
Barrel Aged Alpha Red – in a Heaven hill bourbon barrel aged for 10 days. A malt and hop balance with attention to the bourbon not overpowering the other flavors.
Nobility – flagship beer brewed twice a year. All grain Double IPA, 8.5-8.6 ABV. Brewed with Citra hops and dry hopped three times.
Jerry’s favorites are either Nobility or Knight Changer. He notes that the type of beers Noble makes are “American style, big hop, full body beers” as well as personally being “a big German purity law kind of brewer.”
A nobler experiment
Noble harkens to Noble Hops, hops being a big thing with Jerry. But on a more romantic level, it relates back to the Noble Experiment, which he says is “completely the opposite of who we are.” The experiment’s belief was that alcohol is the cause of everything bad in the world: crime, corruption, poverty, etc.
Politicians back then made one mistake, alcohol itself isn’t the problem, bad alcohol is! Unknowingly, Noble’s main focus on making the best West Coast IPA out there is changing the world for the better. Why get in trouble when you can drown in the majesty of hop glory? Jerry might have a little more to do with the Noble Experiment than he thinks.
A J & J production
See host Jace Milstead’s full interview with Jerry.