In the world of collaborators in Long Beach, Chef Chad Phuong—the Cambodian Cowboy behind the massively and rightfully popular Battambong BBQ popup—is one that is rarely paralleled.
Phuong has created a Khmer lager with Ten Mile Brewing for Cambodian New Year (and also held a Cambodian New Year celebration at Trademark Brewing as well). He partnered with Ten Mile again for their own own Cajun food celebration, creating a crawfish boil that was a complete deviation from his barbecue. He stepped into the world of Mexican cuisine by collaborating with Chef Ulises Pineda-Alfaro of El Barrio Cantina for a special Mother’s Day dinner.
Phuong is the epitome of melding cultures in the name of collaboration—and he has yet another beer collab under his belt: A Cambodian coffee stout that will be brewed and canned by Inglewood’s OG craft beer haven, Three Weavers.
Collaborations: Good people, right food, right brews
“When it comes down to it, it’s really just about creating that magical mix of good people, the right food, the right brews, and bring everyone together,” Phuong said. “It’s just like what we’ve been doing in Long Beach: I was over in a corner until Dan and Jesse [Sundstrom, owners of Ten Mile Brewing] pulled me aside and said, ‘Hey man, do you mind coming to my brewery?'”
And when it came to working with Three Weavers, Inglewood’s OG brewery nearing nearly a decade in bringing craft beer to the surrounding neighborhood, things weren’t much different: Good people, food, and beer can bring about some amazing things—and it also doesn’t hurt that Phuong’s spirit is naturally one that seeks and fosters partnerships.
Parking up every other Saturday and expanding his presence beyond Long Beach, Battambong has proved not only great business—not unexpectedly, the Cambodian Cowboy has not only brought out the crowd but garnered a new legion of followers that grasp his distinct take on barbecue—
“Having Chad here really reminded us of the scope that beer pairings can have,” said Chris Gonzales, director of brewery operations at Three Weavers. “And with this, it came down to doing something different while still paying homage to Cambodian culture
Defining the Cambodian Cowboy stout and its pairing with barbecue
“This is something totally different from what we’ve done before,” Gonzales said. “Using palm sugar, for example or lactose—we might have used lactose in one beer in the last nine years? And with a dark beer like the Cambodian Cowboy stout, you can actually do a lot with it when comes to pairings and even cooking.”
Even though it has the lactose and palm sugar, Three Weavers and their brews always lean toward dry in their flavor profiles in beers—and while one might assume palm sugar throws that out the window, it doesn’t quite fully: Palm sugar is a far more nuanced sweet than, say, cane sugar, which tends to be single-noted and flat. It has an umami-almost-salty quality that plays perfect with, well, barbecue.
“It’s not dessert-y sweet but smokey sweet—like the char and crisp from the caramelization of fats and sauces on the edges of those ribs when you barbecue,” Gonzales said. “Sweetness doesn’t have to be the component but a component you can work with to create something really balanced.”
The result of the Cambodian Cowboy stout is one that is creamy and umami on the first hit, with notes of dark chocolate and earth following out a semi-dry finish—and it is a brew that would pair mightily with Phuong’s smoked treats, where the heartland of American meats is melded with not-so-subtle Cambodian flavors ranging from lemongrass and fish sauce to fermented rice and green papaya. In other words, the beer dances on peppery and smokey notes.
And how can one plan on getting their hands on this brew?
Three Weavers and Battambong plan on a post-Thanksgiving blow-out: Chef Chad will take on a whole hog—yes, a head-to-tail masterpiece where folks can literally just walk up, point to the part of the pig they want, and pair it with the stout or whatever their heart desires—and a possible dessert. (Think beignets.)
“It’s cool that you can have the beers both ways,” Gonzales said. “You can have it with the dessert, which most people will think to immediately go for, but you can have it with the hog and get the full experience. It’s a nice little treat after we just celebrated our ninth anniversary.”
Praise the Cambodian food and beer gods.
Three Weavers will be releasing its Cambodian Cowboy stout on Saturday, Nov. 25, when it opens it doors at noon. It is located at 1031 W. Manchester Blvd., across suites A & B, in Inglewood.