There’s a new brewery lighting up Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena: family-owned Wild Parrot Brewing, which is set for its debut this weekend.
The new business is the brainchild of co-owners, married couple John and Kirsten Jackson. They are Pasadena locals who have deep roots in Los Angeles County. And though they’ve been big fans of brewing for a long time, their backgrounds, John says, are about as far from beer as they could get.
“Kirsten is a teacher at Burbank Unified School District and I worked at an urban planning firm in Los Angeles for 15 years,” John, who left his job in June to open the brewery, told me. “We picked this industry because, [first] I like brewing beer, and [second], we really enjoyed hosting beer parties and serving beer at events. We saw how beer brings people together and wanted to expand that to a larger scale but on a local level.”
The brewery itself, though, is close to home – literally located about two blocks from where John and Kirsten live with their two kids. “Honestly, it was the only choice,” John said. “When we started our location search, our top priority was to locate in Pasadena. That alone made the process extremely long because there are so few suitable places in this city and rents are really expensive.”
“It truly fits our vision of creating a neighborhood pub,” he continued, “because it is literally our neighbors that are walking to grab a beer. Our hope is the brewery becomes the go-to spot when people in our part of town want to meet up with friends.”
Their opening tap list is a tight group of six beers: an American lager, a German-style pils, an amber, a lime sour, a West Coast IPA, and a coffee stout.
You’ll notice that half of their opening list is dedicated to lagers, and, in fact, the next three beers they are rolling out will be, too. This is a very conscious decision. “Generally, we are focusing on putting out a decent percentage of lagers,” John, who is also the head brewer, explained. “We are fans of clean and crisp beers that you can have a few of, so you won’t see too many higher ABV options. Among our initial beers, we are maxing out at 6.2%.”
“I’m most juiced about the pilsner,” he added. “It’s my favorite style and I’m happy with how this initial brew turned out. It’s crisp, bright, and flavorful. If I can consistently brew that beer like it turned out this first time, I’ll be a happy man.”
If the space looks a bit like a coffee shop – or you’re confused by the sign on the door – it’s because the Jacksons share the space with Rosebud Coffee, which employs and trains homeless and at-risk youth to be baristas and run a business. On top of sharing a location with a business like Rosebud, with its great reputation and mission, John said there’s another big benefit to sharing the space.
“Lots of coffee drinkers are beer drinkers too,” he said. “So we have a built-in customer base from the get-go. [Also,] our brewery pad is right out in the open, so people drinking their coffee can watch me on brew day sweating my ass off, trying not to make a fool of myself.”
The goal with the taproom and the back parking lot patio – both of which are family-friendly – is to create a casual and fun atmosphere. “We don’t have a place like that in our area and we strongly believe that beer is for fun times,” John told me. “Our space design, art, and music all play into that. We understand that good beer is super important, but for most people, the customer experience is what brings them back.”
Wild Parrot opens to the public this weekend, September 23-25, and is open daily. On top of beer – and Rosebud Coffee, in the daytime – they have a small kitchen serving nachos (courtesy of Home Boy Industries) and a soft pretzel, with plans to expand the menu in the future.