Oh shit the LA Beer week reviews continue after yesterday’s Absolution write up gave people srs feels. Today we focus that malt soaked gaze upon some oddly charming macabre upstarts: Phantom Carriage.
So what is the deal with these Carson ballers whipping up american wilds, leveraging in equal measure macabre golden age Horror films and South Bay oil refinery microflora? Their business model at the outset appears to be a “Rare Barrel from the South” of sorts, with an emphasis on barrels, blending, bats and Black Lagoons.
The tasting room is the typical industrial park complex but when you enter the pitch black tasting room it feels like a cross between Disney Thunder Mountain and the Haunted Mansion. There are chalk murals of Boris Karloff and Vincent Price and it looks like it needs one of those dry ice machines and fake cobwebs to nail down the “Horror Section” milieu of a VHS rental store.
The taplist doesn’t offer a incredible variety but that is like going to Kuhnhenn and complaining about the multitude of massive beers. They maintain a decidedly Awa verve and even when they set out into the farmhouse realm it still feels lactic and acidic throughout.
So is their beer any fucking good, or should it be buried in a graveyard with some Troma DVDs?
Broadacres: Their berliner was refreshing, watery, Gatorade with a touch of salinity akin to De Garde Petite Mosaic. Pretty deece.
Ambler: not really farmhouse so much as it was just a straight up sour golden ale you have encountered a billion times before. Nothing exceptionally deficient, but given the layout of most mediocre breweries, this would be top tier for the average brewery, if they had a single sour at all.
Cushing: this is syrupy, acetic, with a cloying abrasiveness in the vein of a less attenuated Upland “lambic.” Shit was WNBA 100% not bitches.
Leapwood with Brett: The special offering of Leapwood with Brett was easily the best beer on draft and was so good that it seemed out of place amongst some of the the forgettable sours padding out the ranks. When placing it against the serviceable but decent Muis, Leapwood seemed like it was from a completely different brewery, this would be legitimately worth seeking out to purposefully avail yourself of this phenomenal beer.
Muis: like a more watery version of Cushing, this was basically all Brett Lambicus, kinda one dimensional, dry, but with a nice lemongrass finish that lingers. 6 nugs on the dro scale.
Their bottle list was on point with a wide array of bottles from local breweries, other Saisons, wilds, Shelton brothers items, and even limited beer from the “would be” competitor, Smog City brewing. You would have to be a persnickety complainer to not be able to find something to enjoy, even if you don’t find Phantom Carriages lineup completely compelling, the guest taps, the variety in the bottles, the collaboration with other breweries like Cascade and LA locals make it a pretty tough spot to really talk shit on.
My main complain is the sheer redundancy of some of their sour blonde iterations OVER and OVER and OVER, like a lesbian who gets her tubes tied: WHAT IS THE POINT OF THIS.
The brewery appears to have its voice dropping with some glimmers of pure athleticism and greatness, with the barrel aged stretch marks of awkward development as an undercurrent at this time. There are some great beers, and a bunch of mediocre barrel fillers. The aphotic movie room with a Vincent Price film on was a magnificent touch if only because I have never seen a brewery with enough balls to go beyond the tragically trite “BARRELS AS TABLES, grain sacks for seats, HEY LOOK A FOOD TRUCK” bit.
While this may be a nonissue to some, I ordered the hummus and baguette and it was really fucking good. The pairing was completely shitty with a flight of Casacade lactic bombs as a sidecar, but that is largely my own negligence.
So what is in store for these guys? I can see them weathering the craft beer storm because they are decidedly focused with intent, branding, and a lineup that seems to be perpetually evolving. When I first tried this brewery at the Beachwood sour fest, it seemed like a few meh Brett trois strains and a sour golden with potential DMS issues. It was initially some Junior Varsity Monkish-tier shit. In a single year they have already improved incredibly and the glints of their best far outweigh their worst at this juncture.
I opened a bottle of Kuhnhenn Raspberry Eisbock with the staff and they all were conversant, really friendly and self aware. While the beers themselves sometimes are not consistent enough to carry the day, the overall experience makes this place a must visit.
They absolutely will need to field a million tired ass Dany Prignon/Fantome Carriage jokes tho, that shit will NEVR get ode.