In celebration of Cinco de Mayo on Sunday, we hit up some of our favorite margarita recipes. But after noticing case after case of Mexican beer fly off the shelves of the grocery store, we were on the hunt for some actual cerveza artisanal.
A recent vacation to Baja California revealed that it’s a little tough to get craft beer in Mexico, but it seems like it would be a natural thing that would happen. Unfortunately the big beer companies, FEMSA and Grupo Modelo, own a huge duopoly over the business of beer permitting, and own all the hops and even the politicians in the country.
But there’s hope – thanks to the refined tastes of San Diegans when it comes to beer, there are Mexican breweries congregated around the California border delivering some pretty awesome Mexican craft beers (on the border they have the access to hops from the States and the audience for it). While we didn’t find any in San Felipe on our trip, back in Los Angeles our favorite spot, Sunset Beer in Echo Park, had just gotten in a shipment of real Mexican craft beer!
Cucapá, one of the first micro breweries in Mexico. Located in Mexicali (the border town to drive through if you don’t go the Tijuana route), the brewery opened in 2002 and then a bottling plant in 2006. Originally it caught my attention because of the labels, which do sport some potentially offensive imagery (see photo).
Cucapá offers a variety of beers, including the Runaway IPA (pictured), Chupacabras American Pale Ale, La Migra Imperial Stout, and more. The Chupacabras Pale is full-bodied, crisp, has a nice citrus aroma, and pours a very light amber. The Runaway IPA is similar in that it has similar characteristics, but has that nice bitterness of the hops. Both are very drinkable, and gives you what you would expect when Mexican beer meets craft beer.
There are also some other craft breweries around the peninsula, including Baja Brewing Company in Cabo San Lucas, and a couple in Tijuana. If craft Mexican beer is your thing, the next fest is the Expo Cerveza Artesanal on May 18 and 19 this year.
I’ve also heard some rumblings of microbreweries taking on Mexican-style pale ales, but other than a taster of Sequoia Brewing Company’s Del Oro (unfortunately it tasted like liquid tortilla chips) we haven’t had much experience.
It’s like Christmas in Spring! Rather, Octoberfest in April!
Yelp’s On Tap is a “month-long craft beer promotion” where you get awesome (and discounted) craft beer throughout the month at a variety of locations around Los Angeles. All beers range from $3 to $5 and although there are a lot of local craft breweries being poured, it’s not limited not California brews.
Tonight, head on over to Palms (Culver City) to The Garage featuring the Motor Club for Deschutes Hop Henge Experimental IPA ($4), Golden Road Berliner Weisse ($4), and L.A. Aleworks GamsBart ($5). If you haven’t had the GamsBart yet, now’s the time!
Starts at 6:00 pm, and meet the brewers of L.A. Ale Works while you enjoy the GamsBart! Happy hour and food specials until 7:00 pm, and Trivia starts at 8:30 pm (winners get a $75 beer tab).
Make sure you mention Yelp’s On Tap to your bartender for the discount.
Events are continually changing, so be sure to check the schedule of events for what’s up next. We’re excited for a couple of things this month – like the Brunch & Beer with Eagle Rock Brewery on the 21st, an Atwater Village Bike Bar Crawl on the 27th… fun stuff!
For your Easter holiday celebrations and the perfect pairing to those addictive marshmallow peeps, we recommend picking up a bottle of The Bruery’s Saison de Lente.
We picked on up a couple of weeks ago just to drink on the patio to celebrate the nice, warm weather that Los Angeles is enjoying (that wasn’t really a winter, was it?). It’s a Belgian Style Saison/Farmhouse ale at mere 6.5% ABV. Pours light in color, a little yeasty, and smells floral but ends up being more crisp and citrusy, then dry at the finish.
Expect to pay around $10 for the bottle, so it’s a good deal as well!
It may have been a weeknight, but last night after a long work day, yoga and then a meeting, we headed on down to Sunset Beer Company in Echo Park for the much-anticipated Deschutes night.
It wasn’t a complete tap take-over, but three of the six taps offered included the Deschutes Armory XPA, Mirror Pond, and the latest year-round release, the River Ale.
The River Ale session release is just in time for Spring – at a low 4% ABV, it’s a perfect match for the coming warm weather. Think afternoon BBQs, taking a big swig to enjoy the bright notes of a pale ale along with a lingering but subtle flavor of Cascade and Crystal hops. It’s a highly accessible beer that might help some newbies to the craft beer drinking put down that faux craft beer (aka Blue Moon) and enter the world of real beer.
Deschutes rep Chelsea was on-hand to promote the brews, describing the Pacific Northwest brewery as offering more “malt-forward” beers as opposed to something overwhelmingly hoppy (which a lot of California beers tend to be – think Sierra Nevada Pale Ale). Which is why I also went for the experimental IPA, the Armory XPA. Pours a little darker, crisp with a little caramel/butterscotch, and finishes dry with that delicious hops flavor.
Overall, Deschutes is really one of my favorite breweries because of its accessibility as an “any day” kind of beer, definitely cost-effective for those of us on a budget, and is just an overall great brewery.
While you’re there at Sunset Beer Company, also take advantage of the Craftsman French Toast on tap. It has that slight maple syrup sweetness along with vanilla, but isn’t sticky or thick. Deeeelicious.
I love where I grew up – I really do. I can see why my parents raised us kids there – a quiet mountain town just a hop skip and a jump away from Yosemite National Park. But like most people, I didn’t always have the same love for my home town. As teenagers we couldn’t wait to get out; I even remember blasting a Less Than Jake song the day I left for college, singing along to the lyrics: “A boring life in a boring town / With the same old crowd / … / That’s always been around / And I always thought I’d be / The first to go.”
I wasn’t the first to go but I do go back quite often to visit the family and sleep a couple of nights without the sounds of helicopters, dogs barking, and street cleaners. Over the past 30 years we have witnessed that little town get bigger and even take on some of the trends I see here in the big city of Los Angeles: Starbucks, skinny jeans, and maybe a few things I thought were maybe too big for our small town (when they put in the first stop light, I was just a few years old but remember worrying the town was getting too big). But one trend I am extremely excited about and proud of? Definitely not the Starbucks (there are TWO of them!), but the burgeoning craft beer scene taking place.
Home brewing isn’t new to the area (neither is moonshine!), but craft beer choices used to be pretty limited in the liquor and grocery stores. But now that California produces more craft beer than any other state, it’s finding its way to even my little town.
Enter: Prospectors Brewing Company. Just a 30 minute drive further into the mountains, and you’ll find yourself in the just over 2,000 population town of Mariposa, California. Mariposa Brewing Company once existed here (amazingly, I found their beer down here in Los Angeles sort of randomly), but has since closed up shop. Prospectors Brewing Company opened up just late last year with the help of Brew Master Justin Burnsed. The taproom is intimate but not tiny, with a few bar stools, tables, and six taps. The day we visited they were releasing their barley wine called Dirt Nap, which, according to the bartender there, was being well received.
You may have heard Angel City Brewery finally opened the doors of its Arts District/Downtown Los Angeles brewery earlier this month. Although technically a reboot after Alchemy & Science bought it in 2011, the Angel City beers are completely reinvented under head brewer Dieter Foerstner.
Now that the tap room is open, you can get their on-location only beers like the Angel City Vanilla Porter and the French Sip. In the tap room, try and resist the urge to use the roped-off slide (yep, a slide) in the middle of the room.
In celebration of another craft brewery in Los Angeles, we are having our first GIVEAWAY! We have a few of the Angel City bottle openers to give away, so there will be multiple winners (chosen at random). It starts today, February 27 and ends March 9, 2013. All you have to do is “like” Girls Who Like Beer on Facebook or Tweet about this cool prize using the widget below. We’ll contact you, get your mailing address, and you’ll receive the Angel City bottle opener in the mail.
If you’re visiting Angel City Brewery, it’s open Thursday-Friday from 4 pm – 10 pm, Saturday from 1pm – 10 pm, and Sunday from 1 pm – 8 pm. Angel City is located 216 South Alameda Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Even though we’re halfway through February and it’s about 70 degrees and sunny here in Los Angeles, this winter we’ve been coveting all the craft beers that are both seasonal and perfect for the winter. Though drinking delicious, melt-in-your-mouth craft beers with limited availability can get expensive, we’re convinced you can still do it on a budget. Here are our top picks under 10 bucks, after the jump.
The best Valentine’s Day plans always seem to arise from you and the one you love, doing something you both love, not what others tell you you should be doing to commemorate the day. Why shell out for roses if the only time your lady likes them is when they’re floating in a Randall? Then something like Avery Sour Valentine dinner at Blue Palms Brewhouse comes across your radar, and you know a couple of beer geeks like my husband and I suddenly have got plans. So what if it was a day early?
The entire six-course dinner and beer pairing was tailor-made for geeks of various stripes. While Blue Palms has always had great pub food and one of the best tap lists in Los Angeles, I had no idea what a food geek proprietor Brian Lenzo was until he unveiled this amazing menu.
Between each course he went into great detail about all of the care that went into each element and how he chose to pair the food with Avery’s sours. Hand-cranking vanilla ice cream while slowing adding the discontinued Avery sour Immitis into the mix, finding the perfect cut of venison for the carpaccio, exposing cucumbers to lactobacillus for pickles…. Brian and his team really went for the gold on this, his first food and beer pairing dinner. It’s always delightful to see a sweet guy like Brian beaming and totally in his element, you can really feel the love.
El Segundo Brewing Company’s tasting room is nestled just off the street in a small basement room that might be your dad’s dream of converting the garage into a bar come to life. Sacks naming different hops hung on the walls and the pretzels on the sparkly green tables give the subterranean nook a little more coziness despite the chill of this rainy day. But who needs coziness? We’re here for beer.
It was early in the afternoon and the tasting room attendants had just returned from an event, so they seemed in a hurry to get things organized for the later rush. Much to my chagrin the magical fruit salad of a beer that lured me to El Segundo, the Blue House Citra, was nowhere to be found, nor was their new DIPA. However, in an attempt to kick the keg, they were offering a full pint of rum oak cask Hyperion Stout for a measly $2, which was a highlight of their offerings.
I found most of their beers to be light in body but still flavorful, with the latte-ish Hyperion Stout with vanilla bean being another stand out. Their Standard Crude Imperial Stout was remarkably light-bodied for an imperial but the boozy spoke to its higher ABV. Approachability’s the name of the game at El Segundo; they keep their ABV’s low and their flavor profiles straightforward but tasty. Comparing the Blue House Pale & Blue House IPA was instructive, but damned if I didn’t miss that Citra to round out the trifecta. El Segundo is now bottling some of their offerings and had a stocked fridge for those who wanted to take some home.
Next we headed across the street for Rock N Brews, admittedly, not the kind of place I’d usually choose. It’s a mostly outdoor Hard Rock Café type of place that’s owned by classic rock promoter Dave Furano. I shouldn’t have judged an album by its cover. I was completely taken aback by the quality of the beer list, both on tap and in bottles.
Among some more standard craft offerings on tap, they had Victory’s Ranch R DIPA, Alesmith’s My Bloody Valentine, Eagle Rock Brewery’s Threes, and Hangar 24’s Vinaceous (an old ale made with Mourvedic grapes). Some of my compatriots opted to split a bottle of Jolly Pumpkin’s La Parcela pumpkin ale, whose delicious funk makes it the king of all pumpkin ales in my eyes. Seeing that kind of list in a mainstream, family-friendly place like this makes me hopeful for the continued expansion of craft beer into restaurants where just a few years ago you would have been lucky to get a Blue Moon. Despite the chill in the air, armed with my Victory under a heat lamp, I was a happy camper.
Megan Rosenbloom is a librarian, photographer, and craft beer lover living in Los Angeles.
In endeavoring to review the Westvleteren XII, I can’t help but be reminded of the challenge faced by Chuck Klosterman in his review of Guns N Roses’ Chinese Democracy (to date, my all-time favorite review of anything). Finally experiencing a new record from his favorite band that was 15 years and more than $13 million in the making, Klosterman didn’t quite know where to begin.
Reviewing Chinese Democracy is not like reviewing music. It’s more like reviewing a unicorn. Should I primarily be blown away that it exists at all? Am I supposed to compare it to conventional horses? To a rhinoceros? Does its pre-existing mythology impact its actual value, or must it be examined inside a cultural vacuum, as if this creature is no more (or less) special than the remainder of the animal kingdom?
In some ways, the Westvleteren XII is the Chinese Democracy of beers. One cannot extricate the beer from the myth that surrounds it, fortified by its almost comical elusiveness. The abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren’s website describes the ordeal one must endure to score this legendary Belgian quadrupel. First, you must call the abbey, nestled in the Flemish countryside, at a prescribed time. You will probably get a busy signal for a very long time. They even admit that “it’s a matter of having a lot of patience as well as a lot of luck.” Not a surprising viewpoint, coming from a bunch of Trappist monks. One cannot simply walk into a beer store, or even into the abbey itself, and grab a bottle of Westvleteren. These beers are only available in person, by appointment, at the abbey in Belgium, if you’re lucky.
That is, until 2012. The monks, needing a new roof for their crumbling abbey, decided to make the Westvleteren XII available in 6 pack “bricks” in the United States as a fundraiser. The Westie had never been distributed to the United States, and according to the monks, it will never be available here again.
About this siteGirls Who Like Beer is a rustic girl's guide to navigating the beer taps in Los Angeles. A collaborative effort about beer, cocktails, irresistible eats, and how to explore your neighborhood, this is a light-hearted website fueled by beer (and occasionally margaritas... and wine).