Last week, California Dreamin' became California Drinkin'.
TheCraftBeerGuru touched down in Los Angeles last Sunday and departed late on the following Thursday. Many delicious beers were consumed in the interim. Which was the very best?
Only continued reading will tell :)
First stop was Naja's Place in Redondo Beach.
The beer here is better than the service. Given the quality of the selection though, that is a sacrifice favorable for the beer lover.
Pliny the Elder was on tap and, of course, chosen.
Yet, Pliny may have been overshadowed by the brew that preceded it, Rugbrod from The Bruery, an absolutely excellently crafted rye beer.
Naja's Place is notable for two reasons: 1. Location 2. Selection (of beer, that is).
Naja's is favorably grimey and a dive bar through and through, but nestled perfectly on the Redondo Beach pier, with a welcoming marina view. Parking is simple and cheap, and the neighborhood offers immense delights. Although, for the beer enthusiast, one would be challenged to find a locale in the area better than Naja's.
Revelry days later would include a trip to the Belmont Brewing Company for dinner with friends. There, the house Black IPA, included as a Happy Hour special, challenged for the title of the best beer of the week.
Belmont Brewing's Black IPA is unlike any other black India Pale Ale. Its "blackness" is more resultant of rich maltiness than rye or any other "special" ingredient. It's hoppy, but refined. Not as smoky as Wookey Jack, but nearly as delicious.
The most enjoyable pub experience in California was at the one offering the smallest selection of beers: Joe Jost's in Long Beach. Visiting Jost's for a late lunch (which, by the way, consists of a sausage sandwiched between two pieces of rye, a pickled egg, and a goblet of Red Hook's ESB; and is, as a whole, amazing) is a developing (and, hopefully, ongoing) tradition.
Relative to the many (hundreds??) of dive bars previously visited, Joe Jost's is certainly near best in class. Even upon departing at noon, the parking lot can be seen quickly filling. Inside, at the same time, the bar is jammed by patrons; mostly retirees, some professionals, and all drinking from goblets no matter their work status.
The last beer enjoyed in California was at Karl Strauss' in the LAX airport. The Tower Ten IPA was enjoyable, but not especially notable. It served its purpose, and many hours of sleep were enjoyed on the plane after drinking plenty.
Conversation with the Asian female barkeep at Karl Strauss' was entertaining, and worth the visit, but the television (unable to change channels due to a lost remote) was not. But, if flying United out of LAX, Karl Strauss' is adequate for whetting the whistle of terminal 7 beer enthusiasts.
To this east coaster's delight, a local pub not far from the Seal Beach hotel at which TheCraftBeerGuru was staying offered this:
...And Enjoy By was as satisfying as anticipated. This is a beer worthy of its hype.
Enjoy By needs very few words in its review because it delivers exactly as expected: big, fresh hops. Delectable balancing malts. Just exquisite. And a very happy surprise to be discovered in a sleepy beach town.
Yet, as far as the sampling of beer goes, the highlight of the trip occurred at Beachwood BBQ, at Beachwood's original location, also in Seal Beach.
First, it must be said that Beachwood's location in Long Beach is both bigger and better than than the original in Seal Beach. The Long Beach location is better in the sense that all house beers are offered (and brewed) there, while only one or two were on tap in Seal Beach. The excellent Hop Jitsu was sadly absent in Seal Beach.
Also unfortunate: During this trip to Beachwood, the taps were still mostly dedicated to Ballast Point because of an event from the night before. Despite how remarkably well Ballast Point hit the mark with Sculpin, the rest of the their collection tends to divert disappointingly from that perfection.
Nevertheless, the single most delicious beer enjoyed by TheCraftBeerGuru during his latest California experience was consumed at Beachwood BBQ.
And, it was?
Hop 15 by Port Brewing. An outstanding double IPA that delivers everything expected of the category. Big, thick, and bold, with some fruit characteristics, but happily not overly sweet. The hops bite, but are not so spicy as to overwhelm. Hop 15 is an outstanding beer and receives TheCraftBeerGuru's highest recommendation.
Like, the Seal Beach afternoon, unfortunately...
...all good things must come to an end.
Until next time, California; thanks for the memories.
Cheers! From TheCraftBeerGuru.com.