Beef is not what usually comes to mind when imagining a great beer, but head brewer of Innovation Beer Works, Philip Cowart, created a beer with flavors that made naming it “beef unit” the most appropriate title.

The brew is a smoked beer named after the beef unit that served as a slaughterhouse on the Cal Poly Pomona campus years ago.

“We try to name our beers after Cal Poly Pomona history,” said Eric Bassett, operations brewmaster of Innovation Brew Works.

A flight of cold beers fresh from the tap. (Brian Sease | The Poly Post)

Bassett explains, “The smoked flavor in this beer comes strictly from the barley. The maltser (someone whose job it is to kiln and roast barley and turn into malt) will smoke the germinated barley using a variety of different types of wood. For our ‘beef unit,’ we used Apple Wood smoked malt from Virginia. The smoking process will impart the smoked flavors and mouthfeel onto the beer.”

The result is a flavor Innovation Brew Works describes as a “barbeque in a glass.”

This style of beer, known as a Rauchbier, is a medium-strength lager.

Originating in Germany, the name Rauchbier translates to “smoke beer”.

A beer with this distinct flavor profile is not the typical beer that can be easily found in Los Angeles where IPA’s are having a moment, but rather its popularity is prevalent in Franconia and Bamberg Germany, according to Bassett.

The marinara sauce used on the in-house pizza complements a cold glass of “beef unit” surprisingly well.

Paired with the fresh basil that is topped on the vegetarian pizza, “beef unit” is an interesting and unique new take on the classic duo of pizza and beer that can only be found at Innovation Brew Works once a year every year since its opening in 2015.

Innovation Brew Work’s vegetarian pizza coupled with an array of beers. (Brian Sease | The Poly Post)

For those who do not care for a barbeque flavor in their beer, Brew Works is serving a beer with a less robust flavor named “Ortiz Orange.”

This beer pairs nicely with the pizza as well, but without overpowering it.

With a taste similar to a sweet version of a pilsner, the “Ortiz Orange” has a drinkable taste many can enjoy with or without food.  

Innovation Brew Works releases one to two new beers monthly, all created by Cowart and brewed in-house.

The brewery currently working on a German Pale Ale and a Mexican-style lager in time for Cinco de Mayo.

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