FAREWELL, IRON TRIANGLE
by Dan Sinclair
Some people have a problem saying goodbye.
Some even carry around a garbage bag full of stuffed animals for two and a half decades across three states, before finally getting rid of them right before they turned 30… even if they kept a stuffed frog named EJ and vowed to fight anyone who tried to take him away.
Iron Triangle Brewing Company will be serving beer for the last time on Sunday, June 30, 2019.
Now, I haven’t been to Iron Triangle, or even the Arts District downtown for quite some time. Checking my Untappd account tells me I haven’t consumed an Iron Triangle beer since 9/28/18 when I rated their Live by Night brown ale a 4.5-- whoa! Hey, shit! That was a goddamn good-ass boozy beer.
Well, fuck... now I’m even sadder they’re closing. And a bit ashamed that I haven’t drank more of their beer over the years.
I was there for the grand opening in 2016. I remember waiting in line outside for almost an hour. Thought multiple times about taking off, but never did. I was definitely in that “I have to try every brewery in LA as soon as it opens” phase of my beer-drinking life. That “phase” is still a tiny part of that same said life, but these days with a two-year-old son at home, it’s much more of a nice thought than anything ever put into practice.
But once inside, it was quite the grand event! They had some sort of band playing some sort of music… Okay, yeah I don’t remember the band too well, but I do remember they had a second mini-bar open in the loading dock section of the taproom.
That’s where I had my first red IPA-- Land of the Fire! I loved it! Tasted like Hawaiian Punch, but you know, beer! Again, I’m looking at my Untappd, and it says there that Land of the Fire is a BRUT red IPA. That’s weird. I don’t remember it being a brut, but then again, back then I hadn’t heard of brut IPAs, and even now these days that I do know what a brut IPA is, I honestly wish I didn’t. All I knew then was that Land of the Fire was a delicious beer, and Iron Triangle instantly became one of my favorite LA breweries because of it. I also remember really digging on their Dark ale, too.
That night, as I was sipping on some brut-y, red-y goodness, a man with the biggest smile I had even seen struck up a conversation with me. He asked me how my night was going, and I explained that it was going quite well now that I was inside drinking these Iron Triangle beers. He told me his night had been going well, too, but his life hadn’t, so he was thinking of killing himself later. I couldn’t tell if he was joking or not, and to be honest, I don’t know if he could tell, either. I’m pretty sure I said something along the lines of, “Well, I really hope you don’t do that, and I know I’m not the only one.” He smiled, thanked me for talking to him, and then quickly disappeared into the crowd, and then possibly into thin air right after that.
I still think about that man. Wonder what happened to him. Obviously, I really hope he didn’t end his life that night, or any night after that, but how would I even know? I didn’t know he was alive before I talked to him that night, and I still don’t.
I know this is a very strange story to include in what initially appeared to just be a lighthearted tribute to a local brewery, but it’s the strongest memory I have tied to Iron Triangle, so I couldn’t write true without it.
But it’s not the only memory I have of Iron Triangle…
-Went there with my dad one of the times he came out to visit LA. He enjoyed the beer, the location, the service, and even bought me a T-shirt. I actually wore that shirt to a music festival in Pasadena a few years later, not knowing that Iron Triangle had a booth there. In line, the owner noticed my shirt. I asked for a discount. He told me he couldn’t do that, but would buy me a beer if I wore the shirt to the brewery one day. I thought it was a fair deal until right this moment when I realized that festival was, like, three years ago, and I’ve yet to receive any free beer.
-Met a buddy from college there when he was in town for some sort of literary convention or something. We caught up, had some beers, had some laughs, and had some more beers. When the lovely bartender heard we were both writers, she recited us one of her poems, which bother writers enjoyed. He gave me his new book, which I ended up leaving in the backseat of his other friend who was kind enough to give me a ride back to the Valley after the party shifted from Iron Triangle to Cole’s to Hank’s. Fuck. I just realized I still don’t have that book.
-Had a couple day drinks there with my filmmaking friends, where during a nice buzz, I pitched a documentary I wanted to make about what “success in life” really meant. I tried to sound all deep and shit, but really it was just a cheap response to the dread that I had a 20-year high school reunion coming up, and all the fucked-up feelings I had about it. I didn’t go to the reunion and I never made the film.
-My halftime beer for Superbowl LII was an Iron Triangle BBA Jawbone Imperial Stout. It was not only delicious, it also may have been just the right amount of good luck my Philadelphia Eagles needed to take down the New England Patriots 41-33! Okay, so my son Holden was there, too, and knowing that he hadn’t been there for the almost-four decades prior of football suffering I’d experienced, he’ll get most of the credit. I guess also, the Eagles players and coaches should get a little credit, too… but that’s, like, third after Holden and Iron Triangle.
So, yeah, okay, I’ll admit it-- I was the one I was talking about at the beginning! It was not “some people”! It was ME, damn it!
I have a hard time saying goodbye, I have a stuffed frog named EJ, and I’m gonna miss the hell out of Iron Triangle Brewing Company.
I’m super sorry I didn’t drink more of your beer when I could have.
Rest in peace, my friends.