Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Where to Drink in LA - Part 4, The Valley

This is the final week of my four part series, "Where to Drink Craft Beer on Tap in LA."  This week we finish the series with a region that can only be summed up by two words...

The Valley

This is Ryan Sweeney's original LA bar, and while it's tucked away on a dark street in Glassell Park, it still serves the Craft selection that made it a success.  With their 22 taps of diverse selections, it's dark, moody, and there's some sort of beer for everyone.  There's no food, but there's usually a truck, and they have a big outdoor patio for you to enjoy it on.  I especially like all the different room choices you have to enjoy a beer in, gives you some options to stay out of the crowd or be in the thick of it.  More spacious than some of the crowded Hollywood and Westside spots.

Sorry guys, I still think this is the worst bar name ever, maybe the nickname "Tony's," can catch on somehow.  To be fair, the name is inspired from the original name of the bar, Tony's, which they took over last year.  Apparently, the old Tony's was a bit of a landmark, however, wasn't kept up well at all; the new Tony came in and changed all that.  They make up for any confusing names with GREAT beer selection and awesome events every night of the week.  These guys do an awesome job of loading all their 36 taps with only California beers as they are dedicated to fostering the local economy.  I personally enjoy the entire page dedicated to IPAs.  Enjoy a fine meat or vegan sausage with your beer and check out their website for events that they have, pretty much every night.  Tony is working on a new restaurant/gastropub in Echo Park that sounds like it's going to be amazing.  I wish this place was closer, I would go there every night.

This place recently rennovated and I was lucky enough to have time to swing by last week.  The idea is a lot like Beechwood, except a whole lot closer: BBQ and beer.  With 42 beers on tap, an extensive bottle list, and tons of BBQ, what's not to love here?  It's an interesting selection of classics like Avery, Russian River, and The Bruery, mixed with smaller local breweries like Coronado, Ladyface, and Hangar 24.  Their menu has a laundry list of different meats, including a few combo plates meant for 8 to 12.  A must try is their appetizer, Kobe Beef Chili Filled Donuts.  They're pretty tasty and have a real SoCal signature to them.  I loved the Fried Mac and Cheese and the pulled pork was good, but the real highlight of the evening was their burgers; they list 6 in all, each with their own style and set of toppings.  I tried The OMG, which, true to it's name was definitely worth mentioning.  Perfectly cooked, great meat, unique toppings which showed both quality and character, this was an unbelievable burger.  But probably my favorite part of this place is all the space you get.  So many beer bars around town feel really packed in, but this place is spacious and you can relax comfortably.
While it is slightly outside of the referenced area, Eagle Rock to be exact, it is certainly worth mentioning on this list for being the closest Craft Brewer around (no one better write back asking about Angel City Brewing).  They have a tap room that is open Friday, Saturday, and Sundays, serving their 5 different beers, and yes, you can fill your growler here!  There's no food, but you can bring your own or visit a nearby food truck, and they give tours of their brewery on Sundays.  Rumor has it they're working on a soon to be debuted IPA.

Also not technically in this area, but close enough to be considered, The York on York, or just, "The York," offers up 13 taps of carefully selected Craft Brew from 3pm to 2am every day.  In addition to a tasty menu of food items, they have a fine selection of bottles for you to choose from.  This can sometimes become an Occidental Student hangout, but like Boneyard, they feature my favorite gastropub interior of brick walls and chalkboard menus.  They also have a jukebox.

8 1/2 Tavern
This place was just recently brought to my attention, so I haven't had a chance to check it out yet.  Located in Studio City, this place makes for a great beer stop after your studio pitch.  From what I can tell it seems to be a fusion of relaxed slightly upscale dining and gastropub.  The menu skews Italian, with a fair amount of pizzas to choose from.  The beer list features 12 taps with names like Allagash, Ballast Point, Alesmith, and Stone, they also have a small, but excellent bottle menu.

With 16 beers on tap and plenty of burgers and good food to be had, Laurel Tavern seems to be a hot spot among the Valley locals.  It can be hard to grab a seat here on the weekend, but the wood interior bar makes for a nice venue if you can find a seat.  My favorite thing about this place is their $5 and $6 beer menu, a nice change of cost for Craft Brews.  Taps include labels like Lost Coast, North Coast, Rogue, Coronado, and Craftsman.  While I haven't eaten here, I did take a look at the menu which features simple items with no need for description.

And that's my list!  My apologies to South Bay and Inland for leaving some places out that fall in the "father east or south than I'd like to drive," category, most notably: Beachwood38 DegreesLucky BaldwinsStuffed SandwichLadyface Alehouse, and Naja's Place.  But for the most part these are some of the best places in and around town to hang your hat and have a cold one.  If you'd like to stay on top of what's on tap at some of these places, make sure you're subscribed to the weekly Beer Blast, an email that updates you to tap changes around town.

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