BEER TREK 2012: New Adventures in the Beer-o-Sphere

The continuing saga of Michael 'fezz' Nazarec at large in the world of beer, hunting down new and varied species of the fermented ambrosia in its natural habitat: breweries, brewpubs, beer bars, restaurants, train stations, airports and beer festivals.
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Current Posts: fezz's picks: the Top 12 of 2012; Back to Brussels, London Calling; Get Lost in Maastricht; Amsterdam and Beyond; In Bruges and Ghent; Mussels in Brussels; Brussels Beer Weekend #14; Further Adventures in the Beer-o-Sphere; Calgary's Best & Wurst; A Wee Peak at Vancouver Craft Beer Week 2012; A night out in Denver; Drinking Beer in L.A.

Drinking Beer in L.A.

I was lucky enough recently to escape the the doldrums of a cool, late Spring by flying to L.A. on business. This of course lent itself immediately to the prospects of beer hunting in a city that has only recently embraced the craft beer revolution. The last five years has seen a huge growth in interest and quality, local craft breweries and many beer bars now dot the landscape for those on the prowl. We were staying in the grand Hotel Bonaventure, right in downtown L.A., background to a host of blockbuster movies over the years,

and still a majestic place to stay. On my first search, I came up with about a dozen places conceivably within walking distance of the hotel. 'Excellent!' I thought, as we arrived at the hotel, the sun setting and the clock ticking. The concierge informed me of a brewpub actually located in the hotel, up on the 4th level. But it was closed for a private event this Saturday evening. Also closed was the Weiland Brewery Restaurant, just steps from the hotel. So, with other enthusiasts in tow, we headed south on Flower Street in search of Bottlerock, a renowned restaurant/beer bar not far away. Instead, we first came upon a neon craft beer sign beckoning us. This was Public School 612, a cool little spot, self-serve sporty pub upstairs and a more relaxed dining area downstairs in the Daily Grill.
Public School 612 offers 10 great beers on tap, but also has a daily written list of 8 more rotating taps. All in all, quite a lovely variety of region and style. They also have 10 tall Belgian and other 'Study Groups' of specialties available in 650 ml and 750 ml bottles. No need to go downstairs, we found ourselves a table in front of the darts area, where we settled in, ordered tapas and watched the hockey game.
I started with Deviant Dale's IPA, an 8%, well hopped, copper coloured contender from Oskar Blues Brewery in Lyons, CO, served up in a Belgian style tulip glass. Very fresh aroma, the hops float over a solid malt base, well balanced and smooth, light lacing, dryish finish. Next from the Lost Abbey line from Port Brewing in San Diego, CA, Lost & Found Abbey Ale, a 7.5% Abbey dubbel made with raisins. Yummy! Chocolate notes abound, deep brown, complex, hints of dried fruit and bread. Darkly aromatic, foamy head with a long, pensive finish. The night cap of the evening was an Avery Maharaj 10% IPA, out of Boulder, CO. Big hop nose here, tight head, grapefruit splashed palate balanced against a warm maltiness, beautiful amber hue, big beer yet smooth and intriguing. Also enjoyed at our table was the 4.5% Golden Road Hefe Weizen from Glendale, CA., appropriately cloudy, tart with hints of clove and banana, big rocky head, refreshing, nourishing and coy.
By now the young, latino darts crowd had arrived and drifted into heated competition and loud conversation in front of us, also immensely enjoying the selection of beers. We slipped out into the very warm and quiet night and made our way back up the few blocks to our hotel. Drinking beer in L.A. Cool start.

The next night, a Sunday night in the heart of downtown L.A, we found ourselves arriving late to the celebrations. The Staples Center had hosted two events that day, a Lakers/Mavericks basketball game in the afternoon, but also game 3 of the Kings/Canucks playoff series in the evening. The surrounding area, known as L.A. Live, is an entertainment district, and had been entertaining people all day. By the time we arrived, most places were closed or closing. But we were just in time for first Last Call at the Yard House. This is a high end beer operation, with loactions in other major markets, they offer 200 beers on tap, craft,
international ales and lagers, a staggeringly good selection, should be more than enough for anyone. I enjoyed a McChouffe from Belgium, as I took in the ambience of the dying evening, the still-loud-and-boistrous-but-the-kitchen's-closed crowd slowly drifting off into the night, the weekend done. We convinced our friendly and knowledgeable bartender to pour one more, so it was a Green Flash IPA from San Diego, CA. for me, a managerie of hops evident in this yummy, multi-dementional brew. I swear I floated right back to the hotel after this...

And right into the Bonaventure Brewing Co. pub at our hotel. No one left, and the staff deep into clean up mode, but they were friendly enough to offer us last call. They actually brew on premise, small batches of their specialities, but are also paired with a sister company, the Belmont Brewing Co. in Long Beach where larger batches can be produced. They were serving four of their own this night; Pale Ale (5.5%) well balanced dry & fruity; Blonde Ale (4.8%) crisp & clean; Strawberry Blonde (4.8%) fruity, sweetish and finally, a lovely & surprisingly light tasting Black IPA, roasted malts evident, but balanced against a fresh hoppiness on the palate and in the nose, smooth, nutty, easy to drink, hints of chocolate & coffee, a swirl of flavour. They also offer a number of rotating guest taps. While we were there they had: Smoked Porter (5.9%) from Stone, Racer 5 IPA (7%) from Bear Republic, Black Market Hefe-Weizen (5%), Ale Smith Nautical Nut Brown (4.8%) & Mermaid's Red (5.7%) from Coronado, a ruby brew infused with cocoa, lavender & dates.
Needless to say, this was the last stop every night we were in L.A. Friendly staff, decent selection of beers and an easy stumble to our rooms made this a tasty no brainer.             

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