So it was with that dilemma that I decided to venture a little farther west to the latest addition in LA's ever growing beer scene: Steingarten LA. I was able to swing by a couple of weeks ago for a Lakers Blazers game to see what they're up to. The German sounding beer bar keeps a fairly low profile, stashed away on the border of West Los Angeles and Culver City and is really more of a Belgian bar than the name might suggest.
Walking into the bar it was much bigger than I expected and what they lack in signage or website – it's a rather nondescript area on Pico – they certainly make up for with a gigantic space.
On the far side of the restaurant are some great long German Beer Hall style tables. In addition to the roomy interior and high ceilings, there's a large retractable skylight above the tables that gives the bar a natural light feel that you can't beat. Ahh, no more wasting the days away drinking in the dark. You can see by the pictures, that decor is actually quite nice, they've obviously spent some money on the layout and decorating the place. I especially liked the non-desrcript taps.
There's also a small outdoor area with heat lamps.
Guided under the tutelage of Dave Watrous, who has worked with Broadway Alehouse, the Woodshop Series, and Tony's, the beer selection is excellent. There are 20 taps, all of which rotate. The night we were there, some of the highlights were New Belgium's La Terroir, Firestone's Double Jack, Brasserie Dieu de Ciel's Rosee d'Hibiscus, Lost Abbey's Serpent's Stout, Port's Mongo, and many more; American, Belgian, German, Czech, and ahhh... what the hell, British brewing too, all represented here.
Looking elsewhere off their menu of broad and diverse selection of rotating taps, Dave really loves bottle conditioned beers, so their bottle collection has a number of excellent selections. Here are some highlights, Russian River's Pliny the Elder and Supplication (which we could not resist ordering a bottle of), Mikkeller Rausch Geek Breakfast, Firestone Abacus, Cantillon de Rose Gambrinus and others.
In addition to their extensive beer collection, kept properly stored at appropriate temperatures in their beer cellar and fridge, they are doing mixed drinks. I'm not as knowledgeable about mixed drinks, but I am a fan. The charge is being led by Luke Wederbrook who is to spirits what Dave is to beer. Bartenders were mixing up some impressive concoctions, handing out samples, and the bar was littered with some of the most exotic bitters I've ever seen. On one of my subsequent visits I definitely plan on trying a special hopped up whiskey that I saw on the menu.
They've got a few brand new LCD TVs, which were perfect for sitting at the bar and watching the game. I wore the appropriate attire:
We weren't exceptionally hungry so we ordered a pretzel and a deer salami sandwich. The pretzel was pretty good, very soft, served hot with a sweet mustard. It could have used some big salt flakes, but otherwise we enjoyed it.
The deer salami sandwich was a little harder to pick out from their exotic list of game meat sausages and sandwiches, but we ordered it upon recommendation. The salami itself was very good, however, the rest of the toppings didn't live up to the salami and overall it was sort of dry. They're highlighting their sausages though, so next time I plan on trying some of those.
The place was sparsely crowded when we got there at around 7pm, but really hopping when we left around 10pm. The crowd was a mix of co-workers, groups of friends, and a few dates, mostly in the late 20s to mid 30s range. On the night, I drank a Double Jack, Serpent's Stout, and finished with one of my favorite Wild Ale's, Supplication. Megan had a La Terroir, Rosee d'Hibiscus, and split the Supplication with me.
Otherwise it was a great time and the Blazers even won, which was a nice button on the night. I'm actually glad it didn't turn out to be a traditional German Beer Hall. While I enjoy said places of Bavarian inebriation, I can't help but feel that with the westside Wurstkutche opening in the old Air Conditioning building this summer, we're reaching our tipping point in LA. Steingarten offers its own take on something between European bar and an American Gastropub that gives it a bit of distinct character. With excellent taps and room to stretch your legs it's a great place to get a beer that I'll be adding to my short Westside list. Dave has really made sure that the servers all have at least a rudimentary knowledge in beer, which means they can answer your questions and have taken the time to serve your beer properly. Best of all, Dave has a wealth of beer knowledge he can share with you. I'll be interested to see how the mixology goes for them. When I was there, it was a about 60/40 beer to mixed drinks and Dave said they're hoping to incorporate some cocktails with beer in them. Be sure to check it out!
Steingarten LA is located at 10543 W Pico Blvd in West Los Angeles.