Venice is a popular tourist destination in Los Angeles and home to Muscle Beach, a circus-esque boardwalk, streetballers, Dog Town, Skate Dancing, hipsters, and ducks. Skreeeeeeeeeck (record scratch). Wait, ducks?! Yes, ducks frequently populate the Venice canals and are an inspiration to one of Los Angeles’s newest craft breweries, Venice Duck Brewery. This locally influenced brewery was created by two guys who probably know the bar and craft beer scene in Venice better than anyone else, Christian Warren and John Henry Binder.
Warren and Binder have both been bartending in Venice for more than twenty years. About ten years ago at the end of the night at a popular local bar called James Beach where they were both bartending, they were having some brews and talking about how Venice needed a brewery of its own. They were BSing like your typical bar conversation goes and brought up a mutual friend who was at a Venice party, got hammered, and woke up in the canals covered in ducks and one goose. The goose stared deep into that inebriated man’s soul and honked like it was passing a golden egg. The ducks flew off and the allegory provided the name of Venice’s first brewery.
Both Warren and Binder had a love for craft beer right out of high school, but they were limited in their craft selection back then. They both tried homebrewing, but it sucked a fat duck (quack, quack… I mean whaaa whaaamp). They found brew master and distil master, John Blair, who’s a genius of beer and spirits. Since Warren and Binder are both bartenders, they know what bar patrons of Venice like and what sells (beyond weed, of course). They knew which direction to take their beers and they articulated their desires to their brewmaster. Blair brewed up a West Coast IPA, a very fitting first beer, but Blair wasn’t pleased even though Warren and Binder were stoked. The second brew of their IPA was dry-hopped a little longer with Simcoe and Citra hops, giving their Dogtown Duck IPA a very floral and citrusy punch in your beak. The Dogtown Duck also has a little more malts than your average IPA, and those Vienna-style malts provide for a complexity that will blow your mind more than seeing a naked dude land a Heelflip Body Varial Frontside 540 on a flaming skateboard.
The Dogtown Duck is their top seller, but Venice Duck has two other duck patrons in their beer lineup. The Stoner Duck is a brown ale brewed with hemp and it’s probably one of the best brown ales that has ever caressed my tongue. The label for this beer has a duck version of Snoop Lion in front of a giant pot leaf. The TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) didn’t want Venice Duck’s labels to have any bong hittin’ connotations, so the TTB pulled their bureaucratic lame card and said “no dice.” The California ABC approved the label because they’re practically high all the time, so Stoner Duck can now only be sold in California.
Another solid beer is their Lucky Duck Agave blonde, a refreshing crisp ale with a touch of agave nectar. This duck gets its name from Abbot Kinney, the man who was able to design Venice’s system of water canals from winning a coin toss. Even if the best thing you’ve ever won from winning a coin toss is to not get slapped in the junk (worst game ever), one taste of this beer makes you the true lucky duck.
The brewery has more beers brewing up in the future that will make you hunt these ducks out until a dog appears from behind a bush and laughs at you. Next up is an Imperial Red Venice Duck followed by a Triple Black Barley Wine Sitting Duck. You can get your dessert on with the Boysenberry Cream Ale Roller Duck and after these, they’ll focus on making a sour or a hefe, name pending (I would like to suggest the Mother Pucker Ducker for the sour).
Venice Duck’s big future aspiration is to secure a brewery location. Currently they are contract brewing out of Hermitage Brewery about ten miles away from where your iPhones are made (not Taiwan, but San Jose). With Warren and Binder’s 20-plus years of bartending, they were able to leverage over twenty accounts instantly in Venice and in the West Side of LA, which increased their production from 25 barrels when they opened a year ago to 200 barrels by 8/14. They plan to open up their own brewery with a 30 barrel system three to four miles outside of Venice (due to zoning laws) within six months with a tasting room at the brewery. They also plan to have a separate tasting room in Venice as well as at James Beach and at Warren’s bar that he owns, Melody’s in Westchester, which currently serve as their tasting rooms.
The popular tourist destination of Venice will soon give you another reason to visit when Venice Duck Brewery opens its brewery and tasting rooms. If you can’t wait that long and you’re in the area, then check out the Venice Duck Anniversary Stache the Duck Party at Melody’s Bar and Grill this Saturday, November 15 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., where a percentage of the proceeds will go to Movember. You won’t duck out of this event anytime soon once you try these ducking fantastic beers. Alright, we got our duck pun quota in for the year folks.