On the 21st Amendment Bandwagon in L.A.

I finally fell into bed at 1:30 am.

That was what happens when you travel from one Goat Group bar to another with Ryan Sweeney and the co-founders of 21st Amendment Brewery of San Leandro & San Francisco.

As with Greg Koch of Stone Brewing, Shaun O’Sullivan and Nicco Freccia have Westside LA roots and this pub crawl was a chance for the duo to tell stories of their early days.

The tour started at the Valley Surly Goat in Encino before hitting Pasadena for stops at The Blind Donkey and Der Wolfskopf (where I joined the group) before the end of the line at The Verdugo Bar. In between there were cans of Toaster Pastry and Down to Earth Session IPA, I learned the backstory about each plus details on a new IPA in the pipeline, Blah-Blah-Blah. I even asked if they would be joining the fruit IPA bandwagon and got a resounding no.

I also heard about a cool and immersive beer dinner that they are planning that involves a speakeasy, being “arrested”, a boat trip to Alcatraz and dinner from the Alcatraz cookbook as interpreted by modern chefs. With 21A beers, of course.

This bus trip proved the point that beer people are cool and learning even just a few tidbits of what is behind the beer can add to the pleasure when you drink one.

Der Wolfskopf – Photos

I wrote about Der Wolfskopf a couple days ago over on Food GPS but I thought I would add some photos here to give you a visual idea for the bar with the Germanic curated tap list.

The hazy and honey tasting Grevensteiner Landbier.
The hazy and honey tasting Grevensteiner Landbier.
The main taps with Veltins off camera to the left and the Weihenstephan special tap to the right.
The main taps with Veltins off camera to the left and the Weihenstephan special tap to the right.
Page 1 of the tap list.
Page 1 of the tap list.
Flying the flags.
Flying the flags.


The non-stop team behind the animal themed bars of Surly Goat/Phoenix/Verdugo Bar/Blind Donkey are now headed to Sherman Oaks with The Woodman.

Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 7.48.37 PM

Departure name wise but you can bet the beer you crave will be on tap.  It will be opening soon so keep your eye out on their Facebook presence for the latest details and hours.

FoodGPS Teaser – Not Beer Centric

Tomorrow on my weekly FoodGPS post about beer in Los Angeles, I venture to two spots where beer is not the center of the universe.

First is the latest venture from Ryan Sweeney and Brandon Bradford, Blind Donkey. It is primarily whiskey with over 60 bottles of American craft whiskey and Scotch. On the side they also serves draft beer, 10 taps, akin to the great selections you see at Little Bear or Surly Goat. (see the trend)

Second is the Colorado Wine Company. They also run the popular and well stocked Sunset Beer Co. but their first venture has just moved and has added six taps of beer to their fun wine flights.

You will learn more plus a classic holiday ale for the beer of the week. Oh, and some craft beer homework too.

First Look – Little Bear LA

When you bring together the talent behind the Oinkster and Maximillianos with the beer savvy behind The Verdugo and the Surly Goat, what do you get?

Little Bear in downtown-ish Los Angeles. Here are some photos and my reaction on my first visit.

You drive by darkened warehouses on the eastern edge of downtown Los Angeles. Very noir. Then on Industrial Street there is an oasis and life going on. Strollers out and about. Dogs being walked and two restaurants across a skinny street from each other and one is the new (since Friday) Little Bear.
I scan the beer list and pick # 1 on the list, Duvel Single. Solid list with a good variety of choices. The industrial space is bright and warm. Nice mix of tables and a bar to choose from too. I really like the artwork including the Little Bear badge outside and the iconic Belgian beer logos on one wall.
My beer arrives as does my grilled cheese (which could use a lighter hand on the onion marmalade) and then my second beer (Ommegang Three Philosophers) which goes amazingly well with the Chocolate and Cheese plate provided by Ryan Sweeney.
It is an value for the price. You have to try the cheese and chocolate together. I was wary at first but it works quite well. Especially the stilton with a bit of dark chocolate.

photo courtesy of Richard Rosen
As of now, they are open only at night but lunch will be coming soon and you can expect a rotating list of Belgians and Belgian inspired beers on tap and in bottles. I highly suggest checking out the latest addition to the L.A. craft beer scene.

One refreshed, One almost opened and One in the works

And they are all under the Andre Guerrero banner.

First, The Oinkster the always crowded (and with good reason) BBQ joint in Eagle Rock with a great beer list has been renovated from tables and chairs to menu board. If you didn’t already go for the beer, check out it’s updated look.

Next up is Maximiliano in Highland Park. It is yet to open but if Oinkster is any indication, this will be yet another spot for great beer and Italian food.

UPDATE – I just tried Maximiliano and I have to say that it is great. The interior is way cool. Great windows make it an airy space. I have tried a good chunk of the desserts which are great and the potato pizza that I had was really good. On the beer front, they are going to carry primarily Craftsman beers including a special beer made just for the restaurant. The place gets a thumbs up from me for sure after one visit.

Last is the news (now, not so new) that a third spot will be created downtown called Little Bear! With the always friendly and beer savvy Ryan Sweeney on board. Check out the details HERE. Thanks to Eater for always finding the latest scoop!

Beer VS Wine

Let’s throw some numbers at you. (3) courses, (1) cheese from the wine camp and one from the beer, (1) main course from each faction and then (1) dessert offering from each group.

The crowd looked wine friendly but the breakdown was only slightly tilted to the vino crowd with many more having no preference. So I was expecting a wine win but hoping for a tie.
I was blown away by the results. Wine received the most votes on the first cheese and then beer won the next (5) rounds. And not nail biters either. These were double digit wins.

The best pairing of the night for me was Tomme de Savoie cheese with toasted rye cracker and apricot chutney with Saison Rue from The Bruery. I have not had Saison Rue in a long time but it really pairs well with food.

I have to say that this was a well organized event. I know some of the people involved, so I am a little biased, but the food and drink was served at proper intervals and was well done. The voting system was easy to use and their was plenty of staff to help. The only thing I can see improving is the sound system because after a few rounds the noise level markedly increased.

Photos from the Surly Goat

If you are a craft beer lover and you live in Los Angeles, get your taste buds to the Surly Goat.
If you are a fan of the Verdugo, then you will love the Surly Goat.
Why such high praise? Because the beer list is great, the bottle list is great and they care about educating the consumer and have knowledgeable staff.

LA Beer Week – Oktoberfest @ the Verdugo

A blazing hot October day in the valley, but that didn’t stop beer lovers from coming out to sample some authentic German beer and to try some Firestone-Walker, Skyscraper and Shmalz Brewing as well.


Here is what I had….
Julius Echter Hefeweizen – a new entry to the SoCal market. This Hefe has the clove part down but could use some banana flavor upgrading. Very filling for a Hefe.

Firestone Oaktoberfest
– Orange brown in color. Had a little of everything. Malty, sparkly, alcoholic and sweet. Awesome for a colder day.

Skyscraper Backhoe Brown
– A very nice brown ale. At 6% alcohol it is not wimpy. Nicely balanced beer. Some browns are too sweet but this is not. I really like the seasonals from these guys.

Schneider Hopfen-Weiss – Second time trying this beer and I still can’t get it. Medicinal to me. The hops are weird, the weiss is strong. Not my favorite.

Kostritzer Pilsner – Pretty tasty pils. I liked it. Did not have the tinny taste of some that I have had. Perfect college football beer. Crisp and clean.

There was German music blaring and drinking contests and coaster building. Everyone seemed to be having a good time.

P.S. I made a point to ask people what their favorite beer was and all gave me a different answer. That must mean a good selection across the board.