1st Visit – Western Station

After driving by it many, many, many times, I finally made a point of stopping at Western Station a mostly wine (but also beer) bar in Eagle Rock.

It is a small and dim but not dark space with a group setting in front but mostly bar seating. The beer and wine lists are chalked up in frames on one side. There is also a side wall with bottles of wine and a couple coolers with a small but nicely curated choice of beers. Any place that has Duvel bottles is a step ahead of the game.

The small draft list had Highland Park, There Does Not Exist and a pair of Craftsman beers and since I had not had the famous for Los Angeles 1903 Lager in quite some time, I went with that.

File Western Station under where you want to go when you have bi-curious beverage groups. Wine fans will find something and beer fans will too.

1st Visit – Trusted Gut

The old King Harbor space on 182nd Avenue did not stay quiet for long as it was quickly taken by Trusted Gut Beverages.  A Long Beach company that does not only beer but seltzer and kombucha too.  It has taken me too long to visit but I finally made it.

And though the space can louden up real quick and the food truck outside was generating a generator racket, the beer list was a happy surprise. Saison, Kolsch, Amber Ale and a Schwarzbier among many styles to pick from. I went Kristalweizen and followed with a Scottish Ale because, don’t know when I will see either on draft in the near future.

Both were solid examples of their styles with the K-weizen being my favorite. I did not the either of the two kombuchas or the POG seltzer but I would come back when next in the Lawndale / Redondo borderlands to hit up some of the other lesser seen beers.

1st Visit – Audio Graph Brewing

Yes, this is a bit of a cheat since Audio Graph Beer Co. is the same brewery just with a new name but I thought I would re-1st visit anyway.

I started with a flight comprised of the fairly new Ambient Amber Lager, Flathead Hazy Pale, Noise Violation DIPA, finishing with Bass Clef Barrel-Aged Barleywine at a whopping 15.45% ABV.  The last was rich and boozy and I am glad I savored that at the end.  

Of that group the amber, a throwback to microbreweries past was my pick.  Malty and filling and just great for a cloudy day.

I also got small tastes of the pils, the berry sour and the fermented michelada which was super savory and spicy (for a wuss like me) and really tasty.

And despite the LAFC contingent offending my Timbers vibe, it is still the same cool DTLA space that many don’t know about but should.

1st Visit – Long Beach Beer Lab Zaferia

It was an eventful first visit to the second Long Beach Beer Lab location in the Zaferia District of Long Beach. I had taken a couple sips of Brut IPA (you remember that sub-style right?) when that too familiar crunch sound made me swivel on mybar stool.

There was one car flipped over and one car with all air bags deployed. The fire and police departments were soon on the scene and attention could be turned back to the space and the beer and the pizza.

I have to say that the Wrigley location is more my speed but the more I thought, if this was in my neighborhood, I would be glad it was there. Yes, too many TVs but thankfully, most were about the brewery and bakery. And the cooler with mix and match and 4-packs is great.

And I did love the Brut (Brewte IPA) which was super dry but sweet with a pear note. So, thumbs up even for someone not from the neighborhood.

Last 1st Visits of 2023

So, I traveled over to El Segundo to check out two new breweries that I have posted about before. One The Boardroom was shut for a private party.

But I did get to taste the beers of nearby Five Point Five Brewing which has taken over the former Surfridge Brewing space.

The space remains the same. No drastic changes inside. The change is outside with a bright big paint job with the brewery name in big letters.

The beers were surprisingly good but in styles that I was a bit surprised by. In my sampler tray were two IPA’s, a hoppy blonde, a Nitro Red Ale and a big stout. The Hoppy Blonde, I Love That for You was my top choice. Light yellow in color. Nice flavor with a little hoppy burst that came through well.

The Proud Mary Irish Red on Nitro highlighted the creamy dispense very well and when that flavor dissipated, the malt flavors took over for a second round.

A promising start for sure that I might re-check.

To make this last 1st Visits post of 2023 factually plural, I tacked on a visit to Long Beach and the former promenade home of Beachwood Brewing that is now ISM Brewing. Ian McCall who brewed at this very location is back with his eponymous initials brewery and the word is good.

I had five tasters covering a bit of their beer menu and came away very impressed. Especially with their New Zealand hopped beers. A pilsner, Lag Rope and an IPA, Kiwi Fingers. Both really let that Nelson hop shine. Also quite impressive was a simple ale called Peaches for Days that harmed no peaches but the aroma and taste was 100% stonefruit. A hop magic trick for sure.

ISM is only a month old but they are already firing out hits so mark it as your first to visit next year.

1st Visit – Altar Society Brewing

Pine Street is both a prime and not so much prime location in Long Beach. A city that has a few micro cool neighborhoods outside the downtown core which has some not so nice spots.

Which makes Altar Society so needed and different. It is not just a brewery but a coffee shop and an event space. An all day one stop shop. And it was hopping. I grabbed a two top near the front after getting my first beer which was the All Seeing IPA. It was not bad. Mid pack which is not a bad start. You can tell a lot by an IPA from a new-ish brewery.

The space is large. And there are some great seats that overlook the fermenters on the floor below. They have a nice selection of styles including seltzers so it makes a good spot for a wide group range.

My second beer was the one that I had my eye on. A stout made with the coffee from their sister coffee shop. I did like that and appreciated that it was a low ABV version as well.

1st Visit – Creature Comforts LA

I am still scratching my head as to when it was first reported that Georgia based Creature Comforts Brewing was going to plant an outpost in Los Angeles, but it has been years.

I moseyed down to their San Julian and 12th address to see what the space and beers look like…

…and it is a really cool space. The Russo Brothers Motion Picture Universe is above them and they have two floors of space for brewing and canning.

The block also includes a coffee shop, a pizza place and the fancy Rossoblu restaurant as well plus it is super near the hustle and bustle of Santee Alley which is an L.A. institution.

I had four beers from different sections of the menu. A double dry hopped version of their flagship IPA, Tropicalia. Bibo pilsner as well as their sour Neon Cylinders, a rotating version, this time Rowdy Red which was 8% but tasted like 4%.

My favorite was the last. Just filled with cranberry and super tasty but within months, we will start to see Los Angeles brewed beer and that will require a second visit.

Some Dry Goods Too

Stanley’s Wet Goods is part of the Los Angeles trend towards fancy grocery shops that every cool neighborhood has to have.  SWG is on Venice a few short blocks off the confusing road patterns of downtown Culver City.

Big high ceilings houses what, to me, is a goodly sized wine selection.  There are tinned fish cans because this is also de rigeur in L.A. now.  A liquor selection that is better gin wise than bourbon and a smallish, kinda old look can collection for craft beer fans.

There is a nice sized bar area, inside and out and predominantly wine by the glass along with a food menu that is a little bigger than what I have seen at other shop and stop spots.

If you need a beer, draft is a better choice.  Only five options but two are Radiant Beer Co. which are always solid.  

The best option is the RTD cooler.  Lots of great options from Ventura Spirits and Death & Co.  and you could get a canned French 75 too.

1st Visit – Wagon Wheel Brewing

I expect breweries to be located in many types of buildings. Industrial parks, on the pier, in a food cart pod but Wagon Wheel Brewing is the first that seems to be an anchor tenant of a large condo complex.

The space is massive. There is a bar to the left and another to the right. Space upstairs (I think) and a large outdoor patio. Even a small little communal table area for parties. Full restaurant as well and a bar which is actually integrated with the beers beyond just Micheladas.

Since Oxnard is known for strawberries, I went for the special strawberry salad and it was really good. Outshone the beers actually and that is not because the beers were not good.

So, I had a taster tray with two West Coast IPAs, a pilsner and a coffee stout. The Pinch Pils was my clear winner with the coffee stout needing a bit more coffee punch to it and being labeled as Imperial, had me looking for more lushness and ABV behind it. The IPA duo was fine. Neither differentiated from the other beyond name to me.

For me, I would probably pick a Ventura brewery over stopping here but if on a trip with less beer inclined folks, this might be a better stop.

In the Tap Lines for February 2023

Technically the shortest month of the year, unless you know me, then it is sooo long because I really do like my birthday month and I like to find a really cool beer to have for that special day. So there’s that and…

~ e-visits to (3) breweries from the Sacramento area in preparation for the California Craft Beer Summit in March.

~ special featured reviews of my birthday beer!

~Heads-Up on Los Angeles Beer Events

~ Three suggested beers to buy this month. One light, one medium and one dark

~ A Book & A Beer reads The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

~ A Podcast & A Beer listens to Let’s Make a Sci-Fi

~ Sports & A Beer returns for month two with All Star Games

~ New Beer Releases and Best Beers of the Month

~ I will tap the Firkin and give my no holds barred opinion on the craft beer world.