Two Off Beats Coming Together to Make a Rhythm: Syncopated Brewing
By John Grossi
When Jason Van Fleet moved to Bixby Terrace in Bixby Knolls, his postal carrier Dan Kaufman took notice of all the “beer-related” mail he was getting. “What, do you own a brewery or something?” asked Dan. “Yah, actually I do,” said Van Fleet.
Van Fleet was referring to Dutch’s Brewhouse, his Bixby Knolls “Brew on Premise” concept that has become a neighborhood treasure, thanks to its great beer, great pizza, family atmosphere, and off the beaten path vibe… I mean you can just walk into this place and brew your own beer for hop’s sake!
Turns out that “Dan the Mailman,” when he wasn’t delivering mail, was a craft beer connoisseur and a big part of the local beer community. Dan invited Van Fleet over for a Labor Day BBQ where Jason met, among others, Chris Klein, the head brewer for Ballast Point!
Klein had moved up to Long Beach to help open Ballast Point’s flagship location on the water after serving as head brewer at their original San Diego location. There he oversaw research and development including “scaling” for the entire brand. Many of the sculpins and sours people enjoy nationwide were created either directly by, or under, Chris Klein.
Van Fleet and Klein became fast friends. The two talked about opening up a brewery together in 2019, and had started looking around at spaces. Then Covid hit. Ballast Point halted all remote brewing operations, including Chris Klein’s in Long Beach.
Van Fleet considered the tough reality of continuing business operations during a pandemic – and then chose fight over flight. In this case, “fight” meant buying a brewery and ramping up beer production.
The two “offbeats” came together. Syncopated Brewing was born, officially opening on Synco-De-Mayo 2021.
The Brewery We’d Want
What do you get when two beer fanatics and music lovers, guys with a fun-loving sense of humor, come together to create a brewery? A syncopation of games, live music, and loud jokes coming from behind the bar. Plus a selection of really good, off-the-beaten-path type beers. Syncopated offers an amazing IPA and Hazy IPA “in sync” with current trends, but they also have a wide selection of other beer types you don’t often see featured at breweries these days.
Syncopated offers 14 beers on tap, none of them the same type. From wheat ales to pale ales to stouts and red lagers, Klein’s goal as brewer is to make tasty, approachable beers that can be appreciated both by people new to the craft community and long-time connoisseurs. His pride and joy is the “Nothing But Brown” Ale (named after a Jackson Browne song, get it?) which Syncopated regularly takes to beer competitions and festivals.
A Bar for All
Syncopated’s got one of those funky beats that we can all dig. Indoor, outdoor, and bar seating brings the capacity to well over 100. The brewery is Pride-friendly, dog-friendly, family-friendly, and food-friendly. Bring your own bites or enjoy food trucks that park outside serving tasty eats during weekend lunch and dinner.
There’s a certain vintage feel to the space that helps make this Brewery the project they dreamt of. It’s located in a business park like so many of the original Southern California breweries, which means Syncopated can do lots of fun stuff in its locale and surrounding parking lot. Stuff like hosting food trucks and live (usually vintage) music every weekend. The TVs are generally turned off, and instead, patrons enjoy each other, of course with the natural lubrication of good beer and games. There’s shuffleboard, a ring toss, cornhole, and just about every board game you could imagine! There’s even a monthly pickleball tournament in the parking lot!
Most of all, Van Fleet and Klein hope you fall in love with the beer and brewery concept they’ve always wanted. “We’re here completely doing our own thing, how we want, when we want, and why we want,” says Chris Klein about the brewery. “We’re putting on music we like and brewing beer we want to drink. We know if you try it, you’ll like it too!”