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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Golden Road Brewing Is Bringing LA-Style Craft Beer to St. Louis

Posted By on Tue, Nov 15, 2016 at 6:17 AM

click to enlarge Meg Gill - COURTESY OF GOLDEN ROAD
  • Courtesy of Golden Road
  • Meg Gill
Meg Gill, founder of Golden Road Brewing, knew right away that St. Louis was the perfect place for her beer. "The more we learned about the St. Louis market, the more we realized that there was a real excitement for craft beer, and the SoCal style that we are about."

Golden Road Brewing may be new to town, but the Los Angeles-based craft brewery has been a West Coast darling since Gill co-founded it in 2011. In just a few short years, the small brewery gained a reputation among beer enthusiasts for its hop-forward style and lively brew pubs. Golden Road soon grew to become the largest craft brewery in L.A. and a major player in the development of the city's craft beer scene.

When Gill started Golden Road, however, it was San Francisco — not L.A. — that was the first place people thought of for beer in California. However, after meeting with investors, she realized she should set her sights south, and she hasn't looked back.

Now, after being bought by AB-InBev last year, Gill is focused on branching out of the West Coast and has tapped St. Louis as one of the first new markets for Golden Road's beer. Those in the know are eager to get their hands on the brewery's "Wolf Among Weeds" IPA, a bold, hoppy brew that is named after the first known reference to hops, in 79 A.D.

For those looking for something with a little less bite, Gill recommends the "Wolf Pup," a session IPA that has the bright fruity hops of the "Wolf Among Weeds" though softer and with less alcohol. "It's for people who want to have more than one beer at lunch but still need to go back to work," she says.

Successful as she's been, Gill never thought she'd make her name in beer. A competitive swimmer, the Yale alum had left New Haven for Colorado in search of a place to practice swimming while she was preparing for Olympic trials. "I also needed a job," she laughs. "Swimming competitively isn't exactly the most lucrative thing, and I needed a way to pay off that Ivy League debt."

Gill got a job at Oskar Blues Brewery to make money, and found herself so enamored with the craft brewery scene that she became a sales department of one. "They told me that if I could figure out how to sell X number of cases that I could have a job," Gill says. "They said, 'Prove to us that we need you and that you can pay for yourself, and we'll let you into the business.'"

The experience at Oskar Blues lit a fire in Gill that eventually led her to co-found Golden Road Brewing with business partner Tony Yanow. Under her leadership, the brewery became the largest craft brewery in LA, and developed a reputation among beer enthusiasts for its hop-forward beers.

Golden Road was sold to Ab-InBev in 2015, but Gill bought back in as a stakeholder and is making sure that the brand stays true to her original vision. "The brand's ideals are similar to my life ideals," she explains. "It's about living life with swagger, ambition and optimism that anything can happen with hard work."

She laughs that this vision seems to be at odds with the perception of her millennial generation. "People are always complaining about how my generation is living at home in their parents' basements, and we want to present the opposite of that," Gill says. "It's a nice story about California dreams and American dreams."

Golden Road Brewing's beers are now available on tap at several restaurants and bars around town, including Olive + Oak and Llywelyn's, as well as in most grocery and liquor stores.

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