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.

To Venice Beach & Back

Now comes the real fun part, two days off in L.A. What a treat! Good friend Bubba insisted we take the express bus to Santa Monica and go from there to Venice Beach. We were on the Santa Monica pier by noon, did a quick, touristy walkabout on the main shopping street, then headed south vaguely wanting lunch, beer, entertainment. Half way to the beach we come across a no name Caribbean hut/restaurant with excellent island fare, from jerk to tostada to plantains to their own delicious ginger beer. No license, but you can BYOB, if you know in advance!
Sated after our journey to get there, we now hit the beach, rented bicycles and proceeded to the fabled beach strip. A pourporri of shops from trendy to tourist, a slew of bars and restaurants and a beach that seems to go on forever. The bike path runs in and out of parks, tennis courts, pickle ball courts, out door weight training facilities, and the commerce eventually gives way to residential, and much interesting architecture, the path ending at the water and across the bay is Marina del Rey.

Along the way we found the Venice Ale House, beach side with a wonderful little patio outside in the warm sun, a few tall tables and bar seating inside overlooking the 18 regular and 18 rotating guest taps, an impressive array, the chalk board must change every day. Here we found Oscar Blues Dales Pale Ale, Hi Hop XPA, Golden Road Hefe-Weizen and my Green Flash Le Freak Belgian IPA (9.2%). Few breweries make this Belgian/IPA style of beer, some are exceptional, this is one of them. Long and dry, with a Belgian yeast prominent, a parade of hops on displays, big & virile, not for the light-hearted, but rewarding, a good malt base, seductive floral aromatics, full marks.
Refreshed, we enjoyed the beach trail and some side adventures into the local neighbourhood to view the varied historical and modern unique houses and architectural statements. Fascinating and cool.

In several Top Ten lists I viewed on line for the L.A. beer scene, The Daily Pint was always at or near the top. That's where we hiked to next, slightly uphill, about 20 blocks. Could have taken the 207 Pico bus, but it was a lovely day to walk the side streets amongst the palms and other indigenous  flora. Once on the main street, one could easily miss the front door, mistaking it for some sort of dive, but once inside there is no mistake. 34 beers on tap when we were there, all written neatly on the chalk board, rewritten as the beers change. I bought the first round: 2 Ballast Point Yellowtail Pale Ales (4.6%), a Bruery Humulus Lager (7.4%) and a Dogfish Head Festiva Peche (4.5%) for myself. On tap this neo-Berliner Weisse is positively refreshing, especially with the peachy sourness spiraling through it, fresh and effervescent, a perfect tonic for the walk up here. They also had a cask on: Firestone's Velvet Merlin Bourbon Barrel Aged Oatmeal Stout (5.5%). Hard to resist such a mouthful. Deliciously decadent, tones of dark chocolate & rich espresso, creamy with only a fleeting touch of wood & whiskey, but full bodied and smooth, with enough hops to dry out a long wonderfully sensuous finish.
Bubba was beside himself when he ordered The Vixen, a chocolate chili bock beer from Sam Adams. I stepped up to the plate and helped him out though, for this was a big beer to finish on.
This 8.5% brew pours black, hues of brown & a touch of ruby, has a subtle nose of roasted malts, nuts & oats. The chili remains in the background on the palate, mingling with the chocolate, just above the hops, this is a smooth, well balanced brew, heady, malty and to the point.

We had just enough time to catch the last express bus back into Downtown L.A. As fate would have it, we were dropped off right near the Staples Center at L.A. Live, and as we headed instinctively for Flower Street we found Bottlerock, the aforementioned beer bar, a perfect place for rest and refreshment. This funky eatery is modern open concept, with their walls being shelves full of the wine and beer they sell. You can buy it to go, or stay in and enjoy the wide variety on the menu. They have 22 beers on tap, at least 20 in various sized bottles and a huge wine list. There was a special event going on in one end of the restaurant, people were shopping in the other and we were eating in between. The food was quite good, modern Italian, from lasagna to seafood, very tasty.
We ordered North Coast Scrimshaw American Pilsner (4.4%) and Hangar 24 Alt Bier (6%). The former is pale straw, crisp and clean pilsner, with subtle hop and a dry finish. The latter is a deeper amber, displays copper hues & caramel notes, with a malty edge and a long smooth finish.
Bottlerock has a delectable cheese list too, so I opted for a trio to go with the Russian River Sanctification (6.75%) I just had to have. This refreshing sour golden ale, humming with subtle Brettanomyces, aged in corked champagne bottles, went very well with the piquant St. Peter's Gorgonzola (Wisconsin), the sharp Cabot Clothbound Cheddar (Vermont) and the gooey goat Capriago (Bohemia). What a great way to close out a great day!
Stay tuned folks, for Day 2... after, of course, a night cap at the Bonaventure !

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