Sometime in the early 1990s, Sterling Steffen remembers peering out at the hairpin turn from the grandstand at the Long Beach Grand Prix around the age of 9. He sat near the same turn every year with his father.
Now, he says if his father hadn’t brought him to race weekend from their home in the West Valley, there might not be a Trademark Brewing in Downtown Long Beach, and he’s paying homage to the city’s landmark event.
Steffen, who opened Trademark and moved to the city in 2019 with his wife Ilana, unveiled the first of a series of race-themed beers a few weeks ahead of the 48th Acura Grand Prix this weekend: Morning Drive, a coffee-cream ale.
The beer is a light, 5% ABV, crisp ale that carries distinct notes of fresh coffee beans without an overbearing coffee aroma (we definitely tried it).
Kane Christensen, Trademark’s head brewer, called it a “light drinking, easy, crushable beer” that is palatable for both evening and, yes, morning drinking.
“We added a bunch of whole Ethiopian coffee beans to bring out the nice coffee character without being overwhelmingly, you know, potent in flavor, but we still get like a big burst of coffee aromatics,” Christensen said.
While Morning Drive will only be available until supplies run dry, more race-themed beers will be released throughout the year.
“I would be surprised if we made it more than once a year. It’s a fun novelty,” Steffen said.
For now, the beer is available both on draft and in a particularly striking can. Steffen tapped Norwegian artist Abel Toth to design the wrap-around, which boasts a colorful illustration of a Formula One racer, zooming on a roadway between the ocean and a city skyline.
At first glance, one might assume the illustration is of Shoreline Drive in Long Beach—until you notice the Australian flag. It’s actually Melbourne, where the 2023 Australian Grand Prix took place last month. Trademark Brewing hosted a viewing party for the Aussie race in conjunction with the ale’s debut on March 31.
“That was actually a beautiful coincidence,” Steffen said. “This is a truly collaborative international combination of events.”
With the Australian Grand Prix’s Formula One race and Long Beach’s Grand Prix just weeks apart, Steffen aimed to release the beer as a nod to both race events. Later this year, fans will see more race-themed beers released by Trademark.
“Our Formula One crowd is pretty active and they’re pretty loyal, and the Formula One crowd overlaps a little bit with the Grand Prix of Long Beach crowd,” he said.
This year, that overlap will be heightened as Long Beach welcomes Historic Formula One to Grand Prix weekend. The event will feature cars driven in the series in the 1970s and ‘80s.
As the race is going on, the brewery will also host a special event on Saturday with Sunset Social, hosted by Avants and MOTUL. Fans can head over to the brewery after the race to view race cars, buy swag and meet special guest IndyCar driver Benjamin Pederson. Tickets are $25 to enter the event area, but the rest of the brewery will be open to the public as normal.
On Sunday, Battambong BBQ will be vending at the brewery, where fans can watch the race on large screens with the sound on—”naturally,” Steffen said.
Then, for the rest of the Formula One season, races from all around the world will be shown at the brewery—with some races, such as those in the Middle East, shown at 10 a.m.
By June, Steffen says Long Beachers can look out for another race-themed beer. For now, the beers are not an official collaboration with the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, but he hopes to change that as the series continues.
“We started with (Morning Drive), and we timed it to overlap with the Grand Prix,” he said. “We figured that was the best opportunity to kind of get our foot in the door and make some noise.”
Trademark Brewing, located at 233 E Anaheim St., is generally open from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday. On Friday, the brewery opens at 3 p.m. and on weekends, it opens at noon. Hours will vary based on whether the brewery is hosting an event. Check their calendar for upcoming activities here.