Published: May 4, 2023

Stefani H  0:06

Welcome to another episode of Creative Distillation. Your hosts Jeff and Brad from the University of Colorado Boulder is Leeds School of Business discuss entrepreneurship research while enjoying fine craft beverages. As you may recall, we began our LA roadtrip at Real Soda. While there, Real Soda's Danny Ginsburg strongly suggested we visit the HopSaint Brewing in Torrance, California. They're delicious New Orleans inspired menu and ultra clean beers did not disappoint. We sat down with Founder and Director of Operations Steven Roberts and Brewmaster Brian brewer to learn more about HopsSaint's origins and their clear vision for true community built on craft beer. Enjoy and cheers!

Jeff  0:56  
Welcome to Creative distillation where we distill entrepreneurship research and actionable insights. I'm your host, Jeff York, research director at the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship at the Leeds School of Business University of Colorado Boulder. I'm not coming to view from there today, I'm coming from the road. But first let me introduce my co host and champions Brad

Brad  1:13  
Warner here, the Faculty Director at the Deming center, but also entrepreneur and definitely now becoming converted beer drinker. Oh, yeah.

Jeff  1:21  
And if this place doesn't convert you into a beer snob or lover of beer. I don't know what Well, Brad, we're still continuing our la road trip. Where hops sake brewery in Torrance, California.

Brad  1:32  
You got to stop there for a second. Let's talk about why we're actually here. Because why are we actually here? We came here for lunch yesterday is anyone here? We came in here for lunch yesterday and liked it so much that we had to find the owner in the brewer and get them on because this place is

Jeff  1:46  
awesome. It really is. Awesome. You guys are both owners. Fantastic. So we got to join us today. First of all, we got Steve Roberts, who's the founder and co owner of hopsie. And we also have Brian Brewer, co owner and brewer here at Hop Saint. Welcome, Brian.

Steven Roberts  2:01  
Thanks for having us.

Jeff  2:02  
Yeah. So as Brad was saying, we're on a little la road trip. We're visiting USC for a social entrepreneurship conference. But being the rigorous academics that we are, we had to go find breweries to talk to as well. We came in here yesterday. And Joe and I, we literally came here as the closest room you could find. First of all, we drove up and came in the space, the space is amazing. There are paintings of blues guitarists, and you guys do a whole like smoked meat menu, which is something you don't often see in California. Having grown up in Memphis, I'm pretty used to this kind of menu but not a California menu. And then we ate. And we're like, oh my god, the food is good here. And this is a big step above normal brewery food. And then we drink. And we're like, oh, and it's also a big step of a brewery beer. So we were really impressed. Like, seeing Yeah, how did this come to be?

Steven Roberts  2:58  
Just for all the things you just said, you know, it's a lot of food and beer and and Brian and I share that vision. And so we found each other in a unique way. And we're here and what he just said was like kudos to us in the sense that you get what we try to do. And thankfully you enjoy it. That's why we're here. People enjoy what we do great beer. Great. Very much.

Brad  3:25  
So Steve, is this your first brewery?

Steven Roberts  3:27  
It is.

Brad  3:27  
So how do you even decide to attempt the beer industry?

Steven Roberts  3:32  
I've actually brewed beer in the past, I owned the first crash groove citric restaurant bar in the South Bay in the 90s. And that should have been February, my goal was to have a very and so I just kept on the track. And Brian and I found each other and we made this happen. You know, So

Brad  3:53  
how old is the place? Eight years. And by the way, it's almost one o'clock and the place is packed. I mean, that's a real testament to both food and beer. And I think that you know, especially in a Friday, Friday lunch hour can turn into Happy Hour real quick.

Steven Roberts  4:10  
It's always happy hour.

Jeff  4:12  
But not for us because we got to get back to the conference for more presentations, right? Yeah, maybe.

Brad  4:20  
I'm looking at the taps on behind the bar. I mean, how many beers on taps do you have for guys?

Brian Brewer  4:24  
We have 20 taps here. We try to fill out as much as we can with our own libations. Typically, we'll have a minimum of 10 House beers average around 13 to 15. Yeah, looks great.

Brad  4:37  
We had we tried a few yesterday, which I see we have a tasting setup today, which is fantastic. And I also see that you have that you can beer as

Brian Brewer  4:44  
well. Yeah, yeah, we have a trusted local company come in with their mobile canning line and we do some select runs throughout the year to try to get cans into the hands of customers. We've had we've had to pivot you know, with COVID and the market shifting a little bid. And so that's one of the ways that we did. And it's been great to get get here to more customers. How did you survive? Barely.

Brad  5:09  
I mean, it's like everybody was It was brutal.

Steven Roberts  5:11  
Exactly, yeah, I'll weigh in on that. We're fortunate enough to be in this community and community based business long enough to create a base of that community to support us through our protocol in our steps. Christina, who runs our floor, and the restaurant, part of it really was instrumental in making that happen. And Brian stepped on the pedal with the quality of the beer, and we never lost sight of the quality aspect, and the community aspect. And because of that, we're lucky enough to be here, when others aren't so lucky. I'm very thankful

Brad  5:50  
we hear that a lot. Actually. Community is key to these businesses. Definitely quality, obviously. Right. And also a sense of collaboration. I'm imagining within your industry as well.

Brian Brewer  6:00  
Yes, yeah, we definitely have been doing as much as we can on the collaborative efforts to, you know, cross market and also help shared with the world, other breweries that we hold in high esteem and likewise, right, right.

What is your website? Cop?

H O P S. Okay, so

Brad  6:21  
I'm looking, there's a hell of a beer list here. Yeah,

Brian Brewer  6:24  
we tried to do a full list of West Coast centric, hoppy selections, as well as German and Belgian inspired beers, seasonal offerings. You know, we really do toe the line as best we can, as being a brew pub, which is what you expect and distributing brewery. Okay. But

Brad  6:42  
what really resonated with me was the one beer that you provide $1 per pint for ALS research. Yes. Tell me how that came about. And I think that that's really special.

Brian Brewer  6:53  
So that is our cacophony, IPA, and that's when we do once a year with ales for ALS. It's a fundraising campaign brought on by a consortium of hot growers, sellers and research entities to help in ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. For us, it was a no brainer, I have personally been on this program since before the hop st was even open. So for me, it was a personal story. But Steve was on board with it. And I was happy to continue on a yearly tradition. And it's raised a lot of money for research, right. And

Brad  7:28  
it's personal to many people in this table, too. So we all thank you. You're welcome. Thanks. I mean, I'm looking at the awards and all this, but I'm also looking at the social good. And are there a lot of awards here, folks that are listening to us from Colorado, you've been to the Great American Beer Festival. Right, let's talk about pure attention, because that's the picture I see with a lot of awards hanging

Brian Brewer  7:49  
out. Yeah, we actually won a silver at 2017 JBf. On that one was actually our first time ever entering Great American Beer Festival. So that was a huge honor and surprise, you know, with COVID, we haven't had the emphasis so much on competitions. But we're getting back into that now as we're coming out the backside of that. So hope to see more of those medals on our beers in the near future.

Brad  8:13  
All right, Brian, let's get to it. Let's talk some tasting here. I

Jeff  8:15  
have one quick question. So I've had the duck have had the pork. I have chicken today. How did you guys get into doing your own smoked meats in a brewery?

Steven Roberts  8:27  
Ultimately, it's a natural combination. To me, well, we think sets us apart is that, you know, we're in California. And we're the Motherland for produce. And so we have a connection to small farmers and small farms. It's what drives us. So we get to use the freshest best ingredients that you have at our hand, and to pair it with, you know, great beer with the greatest ingredients and where that's concerned. It's a no brainer. And it's work. You're here. Now, as you said earlier, we're busy. And we're busy for a reason. And we're thankful that people recognize the effort that we put in to bring something different to the table and to your glass, then you would get somewhere else. And you're here. You're here. You found us

Jeff  9:12  
comes out in the food. I mean, it really does. I've, I've eaten in hundreds of breweries. And this is no doubt so the best food I've ever had any brewery. I mean, Joe, and I ate lunch yesterday. And then we ordered a second lunch. Because we just wanted to come between you and your beer brand. I just

Steven Roberts  9:32  
it's not it's not that there's synonymous here. I mean, we wouldn't be here with one or the other. It's combined. It's a brew pub, like Brian said earlier. And they've worked in that way. And for those reasons, and so we take it all serious on both sides of the equation. So and by the way, if you're

Brian Brewer  9:53  
not a meat eater out there, we still do have amazing salad fresh Farmer's Market veggie selections here. So got some for everybody.

Jeff  10:01  
Yeah, no, we had some of the vegan options as well. That was good. Everything was delicious. I guess. I don't know. There's just a lot of love in your food. We kiss everything.

Steven Roberts  10:11  
Smoke, you know? Yeah. And the kitchen wise and and think about what we do here. And Brian embrace that as partners is that we think that great quality gets off. That's our motto and we stick to that. All right.

Brad  10:27  
I'm gonna transplant from Chicago to Colorado. And I will tell you, it's worth getting on a plane to have lunch in a couple of beers here. I really

Brian Brewer  10:35  
close to LA. Okay, let's talk. All right. All right. So we got a little flight here. The three beers I chose for you guys were the kulshan up to German style blonde ale. The pure intention which we mentioned before, which is a pale ale but not in the traditional West Coast sense. It's got a little bit of specialty malt and color to it. As opposed to most of the West Coast IPAs and pale ales you see or you know, blonde and bone dry. I think it brings something special to the table with the combination of the hops and malt that we use on that one. And then thirdly, we have the cacophony IPA, which we also mentioned, which is our yearly ales for ALS. Funds generating beer. Awesome. So I'm gonna start off with the Colts. Cheers. Cheers.

Jeff  11:25  
Cheers. Cheers. Man that's clean. It is.

Brian Brewer  11:30  
Yeah, it's a it's a very dry complex beer. It has some little fruity esters from the special German yeast that we use. But it doesn't get in the way of of the dryness and the drink ability of the beer. It's a great entry level beer for somebody who's not familiar with many craft styles. goes great with the food. And it's not just a one dimensional boring beer.

Brad  11:54  
And that's a session beer to write. All day long. That's

Brian Brewer  11:56  
under 5%. It's really 4.8% was clocking in at so it's relatively dry, light, easy to drink.

Jeff  12:04  
I mean, I know you're using an ale yeast and then lagering those right?

Brian Brewer  12:08  
Yeah, yeah, so we use a German coal. She's from the Cologne region. Wow. And we get that in and we treat it much like they would in Germany and for men at ale temps I'll be at slightly lower. And then we give it an extended salary and lagering phase like you would a traditional lager yeast.

Jeff  12:25  
So Brian has become somewhat obsessed with loggers and the course of the podcast, or your thoughts on this. He's gonna think it's fantastic.

Brad  12:31  
It is it's like it's it's, it doesn't blow your tastebuds away. There's no lingering aftertaste. I think it's a great go to beer

Jeff  12:41  
and get that nice hen have like fruitiness like, almost like a little apple is why pick up

Brian Brewer  12:47  
the pear and apple is what it's referenced as in the fruit esters generated by that specific yeast.

Jeff  12:53  
And this one's also a prize winner I saw on the board of Yeah,

Brian Brewer  12:56  
we went to a few medals. I think it was San Diego International beer competition and La international beer competition.

Jeff  13:06  
ribbons of metal. So it's

Steven Roberts  13:09  
it's funny. You said you made a mention earlier. It's really clean. Well, when I'm out and about and you know, in the conversation, I always refer to Brian's beer is Brian's clean beer. Yeah.

Jeff  13:22  
Right. And there's nowhere to hide with a beer like this, right? It's kind of like the difference between like, playing a solo on electric guitar versus an acoustic band and a bluegrass man, exactly. stumbled through it in a bluegrass band and get away with some stuff and then strong. But when you're plugged into, like, you know, you got your Les Paul, and you're out there with your stack, everybody's gonna hear every note. And this beer or if there's anything off, you're gonna taste it. It's just so, so clean,

Brian Brewer  13:47  
recognizing that I take pride in our German inspired beers, and they are definitely the more technical beers to execute.

Brad  13:58  
What's your process for deciding what beer you're gonna put on? Tap? What beer you're going to brew?

Brian Brewer  14:03  
Well, at this point, I mean, it's kind of taken my entire career, and put it all together as far as what I've learned what I know, I like as far as yeast and drain for specific beer styles and what I think will be well received in this market. So the combination of both

Steven Roberts  14:17  
it's a marketplace thing for sure, but staying true to what you really do. Well, the buyer saying,

Brian Brewer  14:24  
hey, oh, yeah, of course. And the sales sales don't lie. So I, you know,

Jeff  14:29  
before we started the podcast, we were talking to a couple who just got engaged and they weren't here celebrating. I mean, I think that's

Brian Brewer  14:35  
great to hear. Yeah. That's what we want to be. We want to be your community. Family space, cedary watering hole, celebration, space, all of that. It's awesome. Okay, what's up. Next we have the pure intention. So this is our paleo. It's a mosaic heavy on the dry hop with a little bit of Eldorado. So it's going to have a very tropical forward knows I get almost a guava blueberry note on it with a little bit of citrus Ryan. That's that's all the combination of the hops with the specific specialty malts we use if we were to dry out this beer, say an IPA with these exact hops, you wouldn't get the exact tropical fruit guava expression. It's it's kind of something we stumbled upon and stuck with it because it was just very unique.

Jeff  15:26  
We think this is what I got yesterday. And that's why I was like, Oh, we got we got to talk to these guys somehow. Cuz I there's so much hop in the nose. And then we when you drink it, though,

Brian Brewer  15:39  
yeah, this has dried up heavily at approximately three pounds per barrel, which is what we do our IPAs so it's a pale ale, but it's dried up like an IPA, which is why it has that expressive nose. It's super balanced.

Steven Roberts  15:49  
I like to call it entry level IPA. Yeah.Day IPA is

Jeff  15:56  
to me this perfect video kind of where I had been with my beer consumption lately, because I kind of went over the top with IPA. Like, I just drink so many. I mean, we were from Colorado and like, every frickin breweries like yeah, we're gonna do an East Coast hazy like that actually. was hot, well,

Brian Brewer  16:13  
can be they can be annihilating and body and thickness and calories and hop IBUs and all that we try to avoid all the extremes here and try to find the balance with the expression and uniqueness in it. You know, to make it our

Steven Roberts  16:25  
own. I'm gonna go back to Brian's clean beer moniker. No clean, super clean, great beers in Colorado and all over the country right now. The movement is real, not going away IPA. Say oh, you know, you're gonna disown IPA. Well, so I'm sorry. It's in the numbers. IPA is here to stay. Oh, yeah. The thing about it is is striking balance. And keep it super clean. And Brian's a master

Jeff  16:53  
No, I totally agree with you because like I mean, you know, this isn't a have to have a big alcohol on the Super overdone hops where you can like have a beer. I mean, I've done a lot of brewing and I mean, yeah, you make a huge IPA, you can make a lot of mistakes and kind of get away with it with people that don't know what they're drinking. But this beer again, nowhere to hide. Super clean. You get all that nice hot flavor. Without that burning bitterness on the back of your throat that you get with like a really hot beer. And you can actually drink a few of these at lunch and then like function today, which is that was which was good yesterday cuz we had to go do more podcasting after lunch. So I ended up yeah, that

Brian Brewer  17:29  
was pretty much the idea for that beer is people want an IPA and they want to be able to have one or more or maybe two for lunch and not be right drunk. I despise session IPAs. I think they taste like Yes. And hay an overly hot beer. There's no balance to them. At least the ones I've tried and the ones I've so this was kind of it fit that you know, lower alcohol IPA like beer?

Jeff  17:53  
Yeah, yeah, I'm not a big session IPA guy, either. I we got

Steven Roberts  17:57  
it for a reason. IPA. Session session is either like, you know, that's a search session or a beer session.

Jeff  18:10  
Session beer, like is beer that is it called Session beers. Like when you go to the UK, and you get hand cast full of beer. And it's only 3% But man, it's just full of flavor. And nobody's session. That was my that was my really bad cockney accent. Okay. Yeah, we

Steven Roberts  18:32  
could go back.

Brian Brewer  18:35  
We do the East Coast, hazy slash hazy. appears here too. And we put our own spin on it. You know, we don't try to go, you know, super thick bodied with it where you can actually have a pint or two as well. Those and a little drier than some. Sure.

Brad  18:50  
All right, Brian. We have another beer here. Yeah, so

Brian Brewer  18:53  
this is the cacophony IPA. It's made with a special hot blend that comes out every year from ales for ALS. Most of these actually are experimental hops each year and can be a new blend every year. This year, I believe it was mosaic Citra Simcoe and a mix of about three or four different experimental which are numbers only at this point, which makes it very fun because these are new, the new to the brewers and the public and it's very good cause so it's kind of a three fold makes you feel good. It's exciting. And it tastes great. It tastes great. Actually.

Jeff  19:29  
We're developing your beer nerdiness here. Give us some descriptions. What are you tasting?

Brad  19:34  
So first of all, what am I smelling? I'm smelling a little bit of fruitiness I don't know what kind of fruit though. Taste is I just want to drink more so I don't I don't know what you describe that feeling is it's not alcoholism. It's just

Brian Brewer  19:49  
this particular year had a very tropical citrus, forward nose, little bit of pine and of a mango lingering note on the on the flavor and it goes very well with the West Coast IPA. Yeah, it

Brad  20:03  
doesn't the finish isn't too strong and doesn't stay with you. Too long, right? There's a there's a finish. But it's I've had finishes that just don't go away I

Brian Brewer  20:12  
said we, we really toe the line of west coast but with balance, right. And so our IPAs while you might find certain West Coast IPAs bitter to 70 IBUs. And above ours is closer to around 50 to 55. The pure intention we just had, which is the pails 35 to 40 range. So you're about 10% less than average and the industry for West Coast IPA, but I think it lends itself to the drink ability, and you actually taste more of the flavor components of the hop instead of the bitterness.

Brad  20:42  
Yeah, and the beer is great, I'd have another one of these,

Jeff  20:44  
it's got a lot of complexity to it. It's not super, like, assertive, like I would even say I wouldn't say the pure intentions more assertive in the hop area. But this one, I don't know, man, there's a lot of different like, layers of hops, even like I mean different types of hot flavors that come through, it's

Brian Brewer  21:00  
really cool. That's the fun of those experimental. So you know, it's it's a grab bag. And every year in fact, one year, we had the honor to be one of the selectors for the Hopland. Each year, they select multiple lots, multiple Experimentals, and a group of great brewers get together and I, you know, always looked up to that group and one year was super lucky to do it. And so I have, you know, even more of a tie to this, this yearly program now, I'm happy to be a part of it.

Steven Roberts  21:30  
You know, when you get into the tasting part of it didn't what you said I could, you could have your conversation, you can have this conversation, right, I could have the all different conversations. I think when you get into the flavor profile and how that all works. The whole thing about it is there's so many different things out there on the marketplace. I think when you find something that you really like, yeah, you tune into it.

Jeff  21:52  
Yeah, well, and everybody, I mean, everybody tastes the things differently. Absolutely. Like you were saying to you, I mean, the one thing that people taste consistently is when beer is of high quality, clean, clean. Well done.

Brian Brewer  22:08  
You may not know how to describe the beer. Right? But you know if you like it, and you want another one Yeah,

Jeff  22:13  
yeah, absolutely. Well, cheers to that. Yeah. Cheers.

Brad  22:16  
This is new for me because I'd my pips I'm gonna go with our number three choice. If I was here, just have another beer. This is the beer I'm going with you have

Jeff  22:25  
never chosen and ever, ever. And you had a pills earlier. And Pilsner has been his go to know the bills is

Brad  22:33  
gravy. I'm thinking that we have to go to an academic conference. I'd rather sit here for some of these things.

Jeff  22:40  
But bread, we've got to get back. Because you gotta go to your first paper session that's riveted. It's gonna take a couple IPAs, and there will be no beer there, sadly, but they will take some with us. So we're gonna we gotta grab a few beers. Sure, we want to take them to go. We're gonna go back to the conference. We're going to get people to come talk to us about their paper and feed them this beer. And to spread the word about how great Hop scene is. This place is fantastic. Yeah, guys,

Brad  23:07  
thank you very much.

Steven Roberts  23:08  
Thank you guys for being here. And finally tucked in the corner. We're thankful.

Jeff  23:14  
Yeah, we was we heard about this place. We were at real soda and real bottles. Danny Ginsburg. Were talking to him. And he is like, in my mind, epitomizes the California spirit of just like, I think he said something like, I'm an eccentric guy. Somebody says Don't cross this line. I immediately jump over and go, Well, why not? And he, we were talking to him about beer. And he's like, You guys gotta get over the hump. Say, he's the best brewery around here. And you will love the guys there. And he was right. Thanks for the shout out. Thanks, Danny. We appreciate it. Thank you for everything. Yeah, it's all about.

Steven Roberts  23:50  
Yeah, that's why we're here. Word of mouth. Yeah, he's the power. Well,

Jeff  23:57  
we will certainly spread it to this place. It's fantastic. So again, that top St. Torrance, California, you're in the LA area, make sure you get out here. Can people buy your beer? Like, where you distributed guys?

Brian Brewer  24:07  
We're just in California at the moment, predominantly Southern California, but we're looking into, you know, direct to consumer options. And we're growing. So yeah.

Jeff  24:17  
And their design and logos are really cool, too. So if people want to go your website, I'm assuming they can order that stuff. They're made. Yeah, we're

Brian Brewer  24:22  
working on online merch and marketplace and all of that. So as you know, like I said, now we're coming out of pandemic. We're focused and we're looking at getting into more hands. So you'll see us around.

Jeff  24:33  
Good enough for Brad to jump on a flight to have lunch in a few beers.

Brad  24:37  
I'm serious. I want to speak that's awesome.

Jeff  24:41  
I mean, I'm pretty good. I am good enough to jump on a flight.

Brian Brewer  24:45  
That would be if you got those miles, might as well use them. Right,

Jeff  24:49  
guys. Thanks again for having us here. This is great. We really appreciate your time. And we know you're busy because this brewhouse has been cranking it took us quite a while to actually get somebody to like talk to because you guys were too busy. Bruins. Watch. It's all

Brian Brewer  25:00  
Some Yeah, appreciate your time and appreciate you seeking us out. Really cool to have you here.

Jeff  25:07  
Our pleasure one mile from the beach. It's awesome. So, so again, I'm Jeff York, research director at the Demings AirFrance partnership at the University of Colorado Boulder. I was here today with my co host a new IP a fan.

Brad  25:19  
Think about that. Did you ever think that you would say that to me?

Jeff  25:22  
I you know you're I never thought we would taste a Kolsch a pale ale, a pilsner, and IPA and Brad was like going for the IP. That's That's how good this place is really

Brad  25:33  
good. I'm Brad Warner. I'm an entrepreneur. And I'm a real fan of half saying

Jeff  25:39  
he's getting ready to go to his first academic conference other Here we go. Hit the road. See you next time.

Stefani H  25:47  
We hope you enjoyed this episode of Creative Distillation recorded on location at HopSaint Brewing Company in Torrance, California. Learn more and order merch at We'd love to hear your feedback and ideas, email us at, and please be sure to subscribe to Creative Distillation wherever you get your podcasts. The Creative Distillation podcast is made possible by the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado Boulder's Leeds School of Business. For more information, please visit That's d-e-m-i-n-g and click the Creative Distillation link. Creative Distillation is produced by Joel Davis at Analog Digital Arts. Our theme music is "Whiskey Before Breakfast" performed by your humble hosts, Brad and Jeff. Thanks for listening. We'll see you back here for another episode of Creative Distillation. If you've enjoyed this episode, you may also enjoy Leeds Business Insights, check them out at