On Saturday in Los Angeles, ”Beer Chicks” Christina Perozzi and Hallie Beaune, local craft beer mavens and authors of The Naked Pint: An Adulterated Guide to Craft Beer, re-teamed with Cedd Moses, the Cosimo de’ Medici of L.A.’s cocktail renaissance, to host the second annual L.A. Craft Beer Crawl—a two-part, seven-hour beer tasting event that led intrepid imbibers on a bibulous journey through the city’s Historic Core.
Whether you’re aware of it or not, Los Angeles is in the midst of a craft beer revolution—the size, speed, and strength of which continues to astound even the most hopeful observers. Four years ago, L.A. was a craft beer desert—a barren wasteland in an otherwise fertile craft beer-producing state. But today, the L.A. Metropolitan Area ranks among the fastest growing craft beer markets in the nation, thanks to a recent proliferation of craft beer-serving bars and restaurants, and a burgeoning brew scene led by such local favorites as Craftsman Brewing Company (Pasadena), Ladyface Ale Companie (Agoura Hills), Strand Brewing Company (Torrance), The Bruery (Placentia), and Eagle Rock Brewery (Los Angeles).
The return of the L.A. Craft Beer Crawl further evinces L.A.’s growing love affair with craft beer. And the fact that two competing large-scale craft beer events took place on the same day, at the same time (Hollywood’s Blue Palms Brewhouse—a leader in the local craft beer revolution—celebrated its 3rd anniversary that afternoon), demonstrates just how expansive the local movement has become.
Unfortunately, the unforgettable zeitgeist of last year’s L.A. Craft Beer Crawl did not seem to carry over to Saturday’s event. That may be partly due to the concurrence of the Blue Palms celebration, which—with its more esoteric tap list—drew the lion’s share of L.A. beer geeks. But I think this year’s emotional drop-off had more to do with the organizers’ decision to divide the crawl into two sessions: an earlier, limited admission VIP event, and a later general admission event. The division made for a much more relaxed crawl. But it also took the steam out of the event; the second annual L.A. Craft Beer Crawl never quite reached critical mass, and it failed to imbue participants with that vital sense of camaraderie. Last year’s participants left feeling like they’d been a part of something special. But this year’s participants left feeling like they’d got what they paid for: a pleasant afternoon featuring unrestricted access to plenty of great beer.
Among the fifty or so beers on tap that afternoon, these seven L.A. area beers stood out as my favorites:
- Cismontane Brewing Co.’s Antigua Caturra Infused Citizen. A California Common infused with coarse ground coffee to impart a rich coffee flavor without affecting the brew’s golden hue.
- Craftsman Brewing Co.’s Smoked Black Lager. Los Angeles craft brewing pioneer Mark Jilg’s take on a traditional Schwarzbier.
- Craftsman Brewing Company’s Sour Braggot. This beer has a sour nose that tickles the back of the throat, but it goes down like honey (with a bite). If you like sour beers, Craftsman’s Sour Braggot is a must-try.
- Eagle Rock Brewery’s Stimulus. This Belgian-style Amber is infused with Intelligentsia coffee. Try it alongside the Antigua Caturra Infused Citizen.
- Strand Brewing Co.’s Double Dry Hopped 24th Street Pale Ale. Poured from a fresh cask, this beer smells of citrus and gumballs, and tastes like heaven.
- TAPS Fish House & Brewery Helles Lager. Brewmaster Victor Novak’s crisp, easy-drinking, traditional German-style lager.
- TAPS Fish House & Brewery Oak Aged Thomas Jefferson. An American Strong Ale aged for a year in American oak. A full-bodied beer with layers of vanilla, caramel, and toffee.