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.

Hollywood & Vine

Day 2 of Drinking Beer in L.A. started at the Weiland Brewery Restaurant Underground, a mere two blocks from the hotel and one storey below ground. Once a large regional brewing concern, before prohibition, Weiland now operates this restaurant in the heart of the business district and contract brews off site.They offer 4 taps of their own: an Amber, an IPA, a Honey and a tasty Hefe-Weizen. The Hefe is citric, American style wheat beer, light, cloudy and refreshing. Weiland's also features 7 guest taps, from Firestone IPA to Anderson Valley Oatmeal Stout. we tasted the Ommegang Witte, an excellent Belgian style White beer from Cooperstown, NY. A soft and hazy beer, mildly spiced with coriander & dried orange peel.

From here we jumped on L.A.'s Metro system to Koreatown, hoping to lunch at Beer Belly, I'm told a well respected beer bar specializing in California's best brews, but alas, closed on Tuesdays. Just up the street is Biergarten, but not open until 4 pm. Whoa, bad karma or something. Koreatown in daytime isn't much too see. Hidden in behind Western Ave. are some nice neighbourhoods and homes, but on the main drag used furniture stores abound between Pho and Korean BBQ. So, we bused it up to Hollywood Blvd. and
then walked to Vine, reading all the stars in the sidewalk and hoping along the way to drop by the Blue Palms Brewery, but, alas, also not open until 5 pm. Should have done my homework, three strikes, you're out! I think to myself as Jimmy spots Dillon's Irish Pub. It's hot, we're hungry, we're at Hollywood & Vine, this will do nicely. And it did, 33 beers on tap and an extensive pub menu, a large, sprawling place, tall ceilings, old school island bar, cute servers in short plaid skirts. They didn't know much about the beer, but there you go, that's the trade off. We're in Hollywood! Everyone's auditioning for something! The Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA was a nice hoppy accompaniment to the spicy pulled pork sandwich I ordered. Oh, I almost forgot the best part - all beers are $3 a pint, some rotating
specials might be $5. Not bad for Hollywood & Vine.

After lunch we did the tourist thing, walked to Grauman's Chinese, gawked at the hand and footprints of long dead stars, encountered a 6 foot tall Yoda, 2 Darth Vaders, Spider Woman, Snoop Dogg and a handful of other characters all vying for our attention and wallets. But we weren't far from Lucky Devils, a great little beer bar right on Hollywood Blvd. We continued our people watching from the tiny patio out on the street, whilst enjoying a Golden Road Point the Way IPA (5.2%) and a Coronado Islander IPA (7.5%), which was one of my favourite IPAs in L.A., a citric grapefuit/orange hop character, with a caramelly malt backbone. They have 22 other craft beers on tap, and one I just had to try, Stone's Ruination Double IPA (7.7%), a dense and resiny brew, with just enough malt to keep the overwhelming hops in check, just barely.

I shuffled to the metro after this, heading back to Koreatown, to meet a friend at Biergarten, now open and his local haunt, it turns out. They sport 30 taps, local, national and international brands, plus a few specialty bottles, Japanese sake and its Korean equivalent. I stuck to beer, sampling a very delicious Eagle Rock Solidarity Black Mild Ale (4%) from the fairly local LA Brewery. A little too cold out of the tap, but once a touch warmer displayed a subtle complexity, a nice balance of dark malts and an underlying, hidden hop, smooth and long in the finish. They make their own good, light and crisp potato chips here too, yummy. Paul showed up & treated me to an evening of Blue Moon Wit, steaks on the BBQ and stories just a couple of blocks away at his house. It was nice to catch up over a home cooked meal, meet his family and just relax after a couple of very busy days. Thanks Paul & Arielle!

I didn't really see much in the way of liquor or beer stores in my travels around Los Angeles, but I didn't travel too far from the center of town. I did manage to make it back to Bottlerock before I had to head out of town. I picked up a few things I knew I wouldn't find at home, like the deliciously fresh & hop accented Pliny the Elder (8%) and the cherry infused, Pinot Noir barrel-aged Supplication (7%), another corked specialty, both from Russian River, in Santa Rose, CA. I also picked up the Coronado Islander IPA, some Hangar 24 Altbier and Pale Ale for the boys at home. There sure are some delicious beers to be found for those interested in hunting them down, and I only scratched the surface. There are more popping up all of the time, as beer bars and brewpubs are becoming even more popular in this vast urban sprawl known as the city of Angels.

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