There’s a delicate balance in the relationship between a local bike shop and it’s customers. Riders stroll in at the eleventh hour requesting “quick” service tasks that can take a minimum of 12 hours and an overnight shipment of parts – all which somehow miraculously gets pulled off in time for tomorrow’s race. We try to do our favorite shop right and always offer a token of appreciation when we stop in. 


So when it was time for a bearing replacement project on our (…gulp) road bikes, we took the job to our friends at Stage 21. They had the tools and the Enduro bearings for our American Classic hubs, and we had the special release Modern Times Black House Stout. 

First, a bit about Stage 21. This shop is tucked away in Laguna Woods, CA. They’re a small shop, a hidden gem, if you will, offering up insanely high-end bikes for only the most discerning customers. Pinarello, Lightweight, and Cannondale are their primarily lines. Cannondale is long time relationship that comes from co-owner Noah Holcomb’s background as an XC pro. The shop’s service side is handled by co-owner and pro mechanic Mike Mayefske.

A lap around the inside of the shop shows off an assortment of interesting details. Signed items from Cavendish, Greg LeMond, and Hans Rey are scattered amidst the leather furniture and custom items from the likes of Oakley and other great brands. These guys are legit, for sure.

Modern Times is a San Diego brewery that is in style at the moment. What we like about them is their wide variety of brews. It’s all too common for a California brewery to turn up the IPA dial to 11. Or even 12. But Modern times cooks up a variety of styles and disciplines. While IPA’s are definitely part of their menu, their “Special Release” series is full of browns, Belgians, stouts, and and ambers. 

Once the bearing swap was underway, we popped the top of the Black House. It pours a lovely, almost black color with a foamy head that settled quickly. Lots of deep, bitter sweet chocolate coffee notes on the nose with just a bit of nuttiness – most likely from the toasted coconut which wasn’t overly obvious. In other words, this does not have the aroma of sun tan lotion. 

The taste was where we gave this one another high score. Deep coffee and chocolate flavors without being too sweet. A “comfortable” amount of carbonation, yet it seemed a bit thin. It was quite good but it lacked a bit of that nice thick stout mouthfeel. The toasted coconut added to the bouquet, but we really had to search the pallet to find it in the flavor. It was there, but it was subtle. 

Mike finished the wheels about the same time as we finished our pours, and we all agreed with his closing thoughts, “I’d drink it again”. 

So there you have it: 3 beer snobs in a bike shop would go back for more.