We interrupt this broadcast to bring you a scorching hot list of the best beer spots in Los Angeles, courtesy of friend, graphic designer and killer drummer, Ted Byrnes. Ted and I were emailing yesterday about favorite spots for beer in LA, and his recs were so freaking great, I first had to crack open a beer, and then share his encyclopedic knowledge of LA’s best beer-centric watering holes with you…
The Verdugo in Glassell Park – not only do they have a great selection of American and Euro beers, but they also get nice very limited kegs and casks from Stone, Ballast Point and many other fine San Diegan brewers.
Father’s Office – pretty self explanatory – nice beers from CA AND that damn burger!
Pure Luck - I’m sure as you know – it’s a vegan restaurant frequented by the biker punk set (as in fixed gear track bikes, not motorcycles) that has a beer-obsessed owner. This means they stock special bottles like the Stone Collab beers and rare stuff from Jolly Pumpkin and have limited kegs from the likes of my personal favorite newish brewery The Bruery (from Orange County – they also happen to brew Belgian-style beer better than the Belgians, in my opinion). They might get the award for a great edited beer selection.
Lucky Baldwins – this is the most old school of the great beer bars – it’s in Pasadena and has pretty much everything. Brits, Americans, Belgians, French, German… you name it, they probably have it. It’s usually super crowded, and the food is brit style pub food (so not super awesome) but you will be guaranteed some great beers. It should be noted that this is the preferred beer bar of the beer buyer for the Whole Foods in Pasadena, which happens to have one of the best beer selections around in my opinion – nicely edited and gets cellar-worthy stuff.
Blue Palms – this Hollywood spot is much like the Verdugo in terms of the types of beers they offer – nice rare stuff as well as rock solid stuff (like Stone’s Smoked Porter). They also do the cask / limited keg thing – their casks are usually listed on their site in terms of what they will be getting – I think now they have Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean (which I have not yet had).
El Prado - nowehere near as good or as interesting as the spots listed above (they have less than 10 taps) but it’s in Echo Park (where I live) and they do rotate and usually will have at least one thing that’s really great. Last time I was there (last week) they had a keg of Allagash’s (from Portland, Maine) Curieux which is a very alcoholic beer that is barrel aged – I believe this one is aged in bourbon barrels. It is very good, and rare-ish to see on tap. It is a tripel-style ale (Belgian style).
The Bruery – they are a brewer in Placentia (Orange County) that has a tap room open on the weekends. They brew the best belgian style beers in my opinion. They do bottle a smallish selection of their beers (the Tradewinds Tripel being the seasonal right now – it’s brewed with Thai basil – yummy) but they have AMAZING shit in their taproom. I no longer really drink Belgian beers as these guys do it great. It should also be noted that I am really not pro-America about anything but beer. I think American craft brewers have pretty much surpassed everyone else in the world, and I think the Bruery is a great example of that, particularly because they do more European style beers. That being said, they also know what they are doing with hops – I just had their Humulus Lager on tap at Pure Luck last night and it was up there on the IBU’s – a great beer!—Ted Byrnes
THE FOODINISTA’S NOTE: Check out The Bruery’s Saison Rue—spicy, fruity and a nice hit of citrusy hops.
Update 8/27/09: Be sure to read the comments for more great recs on LA beer joints!!!