In this new series, we’re meeting the members of the Hopped LA team that make all our content possible. Today, we’re talking to Conrad Ytuarte, @conradscraftbeers on Instagram, and the man responsible for taking poorly recorded audio files and turning them into podcasts that you all can listen to!
How did you get into craft beer?
I grew up in Minnesota where Surly Brewing Company was really the main focus of the craft beer scene there. When I moved to Los Angeles in 2008, that’s when craft beer was really starting to pick up. One day I walked into a bottle shop and asked the guy what beer would really represent Southern California at that time and he introduced me to Arrogant Bastard by Stone Brewing. I can’t say that I liked it at first, but as I dug into it, I really started coming around to the intense flavors. That beer ignited something in me that drove me to dive deeper into the craft beer world.
From there, my wife and I started exploring the craft beer bars around Los Angeles, and one in particular near our home became a fast favorite. The Local Peasant in Sherman Oaks has played a large part in helping me discover new beers and pointing me towards different styles of beer that I haven’t tried before. These early experiences help open my eyes to a whole world of things that I just didn’t even know existed.
Since then, whenever my wife and I travel (pre-pandemic), we always look up what breweries we can visit along the way. San Diego became a popular destination for us right away just because of the density of breweries and the proximity to Los Angeles. It was a really exciting time to start exploring, checking out new places, and getting recommendations from friends. And that’s the part that really drew me in was the community aspect of beer, making friends, sharing beers and recommendations of the next new spot to check out before they blew up and got too popular.
What beers stood out to you early in your craft beer journey?
Other than Arrogant Bastard, Hell by Surly Brewing was certainly a go-to for me. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is another one that I would always reach for at the grocery store as well. Unfortunately, when I was in living in Phoenix, the beer scene was nothing like what it is today, but I still visit my wife’s family in the Tuscon area and always enjoy the beers at Arizona Beer House and the IPA from Mother Road Brewing.
How did you get into audio post-production?
Initially, I was in school for music and music business and during that time I would get together with friends and play music. That led us into stumbling into music engineering because if you want to record something, you either have to have money to get it done professionally or figure out how to do it yourselves. So, we figured out how to do it ourselves. That ignited a curiosity in me that led me to enroll in an engineering school in Arizona that specialized in audio for live sound, post-production, and music production. Once I graduated, I was able to transition to an internship at Ocean Studios in Burbank and begin my professional career in audio post-production. In a nutshell, it became a shift from making music to more of a focus on post-production as a means of making a living.
What kinds of things do you like to do for fun?
Well, this might be assumed by many, but being from Minnesota, I watch hockey and I love to play hockey. I have a full set of ice and roller gear and before the pandemic happened, I was getting up on Sunday mornings at 6:30am and going to the rink for pickup scrimmages with other guys.
Outside of my work as a project manager for a studio, I also try and pick up audio post-production freelance work when I can, and its not a conflict of interest with the day job. I also try and play music when I can, finding a good trail in LA for hiking, and some video games to occupy some of the downtime during the lockdown.
Ok, so let’s jump into the rapid-fire portion of the interview…
Favorite beer style: West Coast IPA
Favorite beer of all time: I’m going Russian River, but I’m might not go the direction you think – Happy Hops by Russian River
Most underrated brewery: Fall Brewing in San Diego. I really love that place and I don’t think they get enough recognition.
What beer in your collection are you most anxious to open: This is easy for me cause I’ve been sitting on this one for so long. Coffee M8 from Monkish. It’s a coffee stout and its got this beautiful artwork on it, like a stain glass window out of a Roman Catholic church. I’m waiting for the right moment of inspiration to open it up. I’ve never had it, I don’t know what to expect, but I am anxious about it for sure.
When you open up a beer you don’t like, do you dump it or power through? That’s a tough one. My gut is I dump it. I’m trying to do my best to keep in shape these days and there’s a lot of empty calories in beer. I love beer, but I can’t justify drinking a beer if I’m not going to enjoy it.
How do you prefer your Hazy IPAs: Thick and creamy or bright and juicy? I like thick and creamy, but I like it with aggressive hop complexity. I don’t want hop burn, but I want something that’s going to kind of hit me in the face with some flavor.
How do you prefer your West Coast IPAs: Bright and tropical or dank and resiny? Dank and resiny. The old school dank and resiny flavors are definitely what I’m after in a good West Coast IPA.
What’s your next bucket list beer trip: If I had a ticket in hand today, I’d probably make the trip to Berlin. I mean, it’s like a beer mecca, you know? I would want to see some of those older styles in their original habitat before beer kind of took over the world, and I would say that Germany is on my list for sure. But don’t get me wrong, I don’t want the thrill of an international trip to overshadow how excited I am about local and regional destinations. There are a lot of local spots that I want to go back to and there are a lot of regional spots that I want to explore for the first time. I’m going back to San Diego as soon as I can, and then a trip up the coast to Alvarado Street and all the way up to Great Notion in Portland Oregon.