The last of our US-based articles takes us a lazy 900km from Ukiah to Redondo Beach in Los Angeles. First up was San Francisco, where we stayed in a dive of a motel, complete with a mulleted and moustached freak who spent much of his time peering into peoples’ rooms and carrying a circular saw around. We didn’t let this deter us however, venturing out of our room to check out what the city has to offer, including the view from Corona Heights Park and of course, The Golden Gate Bridge.
We drove on to Santa Barbara, calling in at The Brewhouse on our first night for an Elephant Seal XX IPA, which seemed more than appropriate after copping our first sighting of the creatures earlier in the day. The next night we hit up another brewpub, the Santa Barbara Brewing Company for a couple of beers with dinner. It ended up being a home-wrecker of a night, but if my memory serves me correctly, the Double IPA went down the best.
Our time in Los Angeles couldn’t have started any better – our friends Laura and Matt meeting us at Hermosa Beach and taking us for our first beer in LA at the Hermosa Beach Yacht Club, which is the only bar that I’ve come across that advertises its staff’s working hours to punters… Later it was on to Naja’s Place, where they have 88 beers on tap. We sampled nearby Strand Brewing Company’s Atticus IPA, before finally getting hold of the much sought-after Pliny the Elder from Russian River Brewing Company.
The next day saw a 50km round-trip on bicycle from Redondo Beach to Santa Monica Pier, a journey that made us question the bad rap that LA generally gets from other travellers. We also went to West Hollywood to visit some famous rock bars, including the Rainbow Bar and Grill, Viper Room and Whisky a Go Go. The Doors had been the house band at The Whisky in 1966 and the evening was made even more poignant with a minute’s silence for keyboardist Ray Manzarek, who had sadly passed away that day.
Luckily, there was still time for more craft beer after all of this and we caught up with Sarah Bennett on our last night in the US. Sarah writes about beer, music, art and local culture for various publications, such as the Long Beach Post and more recently, Beer Paper LA, co-founded by her boyfriend earlier this year.
Sarah picked us up in Redondo Beach and we drove to The Bruery Tasting Room in Orange County – a classy set up where you can try their wide variety of beers by the glass or by pre-set and custom flight sheets. We went with the Hop-Forward Flight, consisting of: Grant is Pale, Mischief, Loakal Red, Imperial Loakal Red and Humulus Lager. The Bruery offers three levels of membership, each of which give punters access to limited edition beers, discounts, merchandise and invitations to various events.
Next up was Sarah’s hometown of Long Beach and a trip to Beachwood Brewing & BBQ. Along with the tremendous pulled-pork sandwiches, we tried their Hops of Brixton ESB and The Falcon West Coast India Pale Ale. Sarah went with Noble Ale Works’ Naughty Sauce – a blonde coffee milk stout served on nitro-draught. I knew there were blonde stouts out there, but this was the first time I’d ever seen or tasted one.
The night was a great way to end our month in the US and Sarah’s willingness to drive two complete strangers well over 100km for the sake of craft beer was just another demonstration of how close-knit the community is. The fact that I saw this collaborative approach demonstrated in every country that I visited over the (almost) twelve month trip makes the lure of joining the craft beer industry even more attractive…