Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Where to Drink in LA - Part 1, Westside

This month I thought I'd put together a little list of where to go in Los Angeles to find good Craft Beer on tap.  Now for some of you, this information may be pretty mundane, in fact you may not learn anything new at all.  However, there's a whole new generation of people just discovering Craft Beer and have no idea that there are great bars just down the street or around the corner from them.  Los Angeles has had a surge of beer bars in the past year and hopefully this post will help you to discover some new places.  In addition to some proper "beer bars," I've included some places you might not think of.  So, coming to you in four parts over four weeks, I've organized the best places by neighborhoods, starting with my own:

Santa Monica/Venice

Probably my favorite Westside beer bar.  Not only do they rotate their taps often, they bring in great selections, host events for charity, and put together interesting beer pairing dinners.  To top that off they have a great dining room with very excellent food.  They have 29 taps and a long menu of great options.

FO with their 36 taps, is probably the first place people think of when they think of Craft beer.  Even with two locations (one in Culver City) it can still be a bit hard to find seating at this jam packed gastropub.  The beers rotate seasonally, although they usually keep some select names year round.  Personally, I'd like to see them rotate a little more often, but their selection is always sublime.  When it comes to getting a burger and beer, there may not be a better place than this.

This is a quirky little hole in the wall bar just off the Promenade in Santa Monica.  While I've never tried the food here, they have 20 taps, which they rotate often, and you won't have to fight for a seat like some of the other places.  It's a much quieter venue to grab a beer with a few friends.  Since their music is often run off a laptop, sometimes you can talk the bartender into letting you DJ.

An Irish Pub with darts, shuffle board, pool, karaoke, foosball, and TVs for big games, this bar is guaranteed to have something for everyone.  What's more, they have a really great selection of craft beers, including 2 cask ales every day of the week.  In case you're not feeling like beer, they have an amazing selection of reasonably priced Single Malt Scotches to choose from.

Now a Venice mainstay, this place can get pretty crowded on weekends and extremely loud.  While they're not known for rotating their taps much, or well... at all really, they do have some good standard Crafts on tap and in the bottle.  It's dark, hip, and very much a scene, but I appreciate that they still bring some beers to the party.

This place is literally brand new, and when I say literally, I mean last week.  When I visited, it seemed like they're going through all the opening week jitters, getting all their ducks in order.  And despite the fact that they had kicked about 6 taps when I was there, they do seem to have a number of decent drafts from California as well as some oldies but goodies from Oregon, Alaska, and Colorado.  The selection wasn't too mind boggling, but I certainly found a few beers I liked and they seem committed to bringing in better beer.  We'll see what happens with this place, but for now I'll get behind them since they're serving organic food and have the balls to open up this kind of establishment on the boardwalk.

Next Week: Hollywood!


jaime ryan heintz said...

THANK YOU! can't wait for the others!

quetzpalin said...

Nice little write-up.

Although the Library Alehouse is my favorite as well, I would disagree that they rotate well. Of the 29 taps, over 20 are on the immovable menu. They do a great job with the seven or eight taps that do rotate, but that's a far cry from places that have no set taps. Also, you didn't mention their fantastic happy hour, with a good selection of cheap eats as well as beer.

The Daily Pint has the best selection of those mentioned, but at the worst prices. Way too much for something standard like a Stone Pale, then they add a $1 surcharge to everything on weekends. Ugh. It would easily be my favorite if it weren't for the prices (and the karaoke). The two casks are usually great, though, typically with at least one Stone beer that have some special hops added.

Fifth Amendment, which may or may not have changed their name to Broadway Alehouse, has actually been growing on me. I'm becoming convinced that even though they only have 20 taps, they have the best curated list in Santa Monica. Still, there is a slightly weird vibe to the place, which I can't quite place, or shake.

You nailed my feelings about the others.

microbrewster said...

Thanks for your comments, totally agree with you by the way. It'll be interesting to see what happens with 5th Amendment over the next year, it's a tough location.

Definitely be interested to hear opinions over the next couple weeks as I list more neighborhoods around town.