LA Craft Beer Crawl: The Best Of 60 Brews
On Saturday afternoon and evening, groups of very happy and perhaps slightly dazed people were seen roaming the streets of downtown LA clutching empty five-ounce beer glasses. It wasn't a mass exodus from LA Live; it was the Los Angeles Craft Beer Crawl. The event, sponsored by the 213 nightlife group and The Beer Chicks, featured 60 craft brews served at all seven of 213's historic downtown bars. I was there, imbibing as much beer as possible in the name of work. It went like this:
2:55pm – Beer 1: Cask Double Dry Hopped 24th Street Pale Ale by Strand Brewery
The "flagship ale" of Torrance’s Strand Brewery is put in a cask with whole flower Amarillo hops and carbonates naturally as it ages. "It's a unique, living thing," says Strand's Vice President Rich Marcello. With its silky, velvety mouthfeel with bright, floral fruit notes, it's also a delicious thing.
Casey's Irish Pub
3:05pm – Beers 2 & 3: Hopsickle Imperial IPA by Moylan's Brewery, Double Stout by Green Flash Brewing Company
A lot of people aren't into ultra-hoppy brews. I'm not one of them. Moylan's crisp, refreshing Hopsickle goes down ultra-easy, and I realize the importance of pacing myself it I want to make it 'til evening. This stout from San Diego's Green Flash is sweet, rich, and with an alcohol content of 8.9 percent, potent. Like I said, pacing myself ... Trying to.
Casey's Irish Pub
Story continues after slideshow. All photos by Katie Bain
3:45pm - Beer 4: Sour Braggot by Craftsmen Brewing Company.
This light, golden brew tastes like an actual slice of sourdough, which is unusual, and incredible. Drinkable bread = carb lover fantasy.
3:57pm – Beer 5: Black Butte Porter by Deschutes Brewery.
This porter by Bend, Oregon's Deschutes is surprisingly light, malty and herbal. Yum, I say.
4:10pm – Beer 6: Aphrodite by Brewery Ommegang.
This sweet, fruity cherry-hued brew out of New York's Brewery Ommegang is a refreshingly mid-afternoon sweet treat that I would go back for seconds on if the task at hand wasn't to drink as many varieties of beer as possible. The brew is named after the goddess of love for good reason, as I swoon for it.
4:20pm – Beer 7: Solace Wheat Ale by Firestone Walker Fine Ales.
This light hefeweizen levels out my buzz enough to steady me for the jaunt to Golden Gopher. It also makes me want a shandy.
4:45pm – Beer 8: 1500 Dry-Hopped Pale Ale by Drake's Brewing
Golden Gopher’s bustling patio is buzzing with enthusiastic smokers and beer drinkers, who are of course also buzzing. The slight bite of this pale ale from San Leandro's Drakes Brewing is pleasingly crisp.
5:08pm – Beer 9: Coffee Citizen Common by Cismontane Brewery
Citizen Common is brewed year round by Rancho Santa Margarita's tiny Cismontane Brewery, but for this batch, they opened up the keg and poured the coffee right in. Beer plus a rich coffee flavor equals best of both beverage worlds. Was so into this beer that I almost forgot to take a picture.
5:29pm – Beer 10: Tart of Darkness by The Bruery
"You have to try the Tart of Darkness" says a man offering unsolicited advice on Broadway Bar's patio. So I do. This unusual brew out of Placentia, CA has a mild, sour flavor, which sounds like a bad thing but is actually quite the opposite. Thanks, patio guy.
5:40pm – Beer 11: Lucky 13 Altbier by Lagunitas Brewing Company
This IPA has a hint of sweetness, as did the woman I meet in line for the bathroom who lets me go ahead of her because I have to go so bad. Making new friends!
5:43pm – Beer 12: Neo Colonial Stout by TAPS Fish House & Brewery
“What do you recommend?” I ask the guy serving for Brea, CA’s TAPS. "The coffee stout, but I like coffee, and I like stout," he replies. Me too. Sold.
5:45pm –Beer 13: Chimay Tripel Draft by Chimay
I’ve never met a Chimay I didn’t like. (And didn’t want more of). No difference in this scenario. All hail.
6:03pm – Beer 14: Tangerine Wheat by Lost Coast Brewing Company
This tangerine wheat is a bit light for my taste, but the guy who offers me one of the pickles he’s purchased from behind the bar absolutely loves it. And it does go well with the pickle.
6:20pm – Beer 15: 9 Tripel by Brouwerij West
"We can't afford our own brewery," says the representative from Palos Verdes' Brouwerij West, "so we rent out other facilities late at night." This rich, honey-flavored tripel suggests that whatever these guys are doing at other people's breweries in the wee hours of the morning is well worth the effort.
6:35pm – Beer 16: Solidarity Black Mile Ale by Eagle Rock Brewery
The hint of vanilla in this dark ale by LA's own Eagle Rock makes it the perfect desert brew to close the crawl with. I toast with a crowd of fellow crawlers, hug some new friends goodbye and begin walking to the Metro. On my way, I stop to note that I am "full, satisfied and slightly drunk." Mission accomplished.
Venues Visited: 6 (Sorry, Cana Rum Bar)
Beers Drank: 16
Percentage of beers available that I tried: 26%
Favorite Brew: Brewery Ommegang's Aphrodite
Number of Beer Spills in My Notebook: 4
Numbers of Tacos Eaten: 3
New Friends Made: Several. (Hey Joe! Hi Javier!)