Dive bars are a Los Angeles staple. Thanks to the city’s unending urban sprawl, every neighborhood has its own dark, slightly sticky haunt. Some of these bars are kitschy, some are scary, some are strictly for locals only, and almost all of them have karaoke. LA’s beloved dive bars have played host to rock bands before they made it big, and helped underdeveloped neighborhoods stay afloat during the tough times.
Here are eight awesome dive bars in Los Angeles, from Koreatown to Redondo Beach.
While Los Angeles continues to pile on with new breweries now that the L.A. Ale Works team has passed their Kickstarter funding goal, Orange County has already been buzzing for years with award-winning brews and approachable tasting rooms. For anyone looking to spend a Saturday sipping beneath the Orange Curtain, here’s a handy guide on where to go and what to order. The hardest part now is finding someone to be your designated driver.
TAPS Fish House & Brewery
Begin your beerventure in Brea, tucked along the northern Orange County boundary near Rowland Heights. That’s where you’ll find TAPS Fish House & Brewery, a local favorite watering hole for folks who really like to eat while they drink. It’s probably best if you tuck into a plate of their fresh oysters or, oddly enough, their very non-fishy Sun Devil Burger. That way you’ll have a nice base for all the beer to come. Speaking of which, the pours at TAPS are fresh off the line, thanks to head brewer Victor Novak’s rigorous brewing schedule. And it’s exactly that level of dedication that has had TAPS taking home Great American Beer Festawards since 2005. Their farmhouse Biere de Garde is a silver medal winner that finishes smooth and won’t kick you too hard this early in the day. Other options, like the lighter Bohemian Pilsner, are smart alternatives for easing into an afternoon of beer sipping.
Earlier this year, we shared with you the positive side of purchasing (and frequently filling) a growler from your local brewery. You get to drink fresh beer that may not be commercially available beyond the taproom doors (and at a reduced price, no less), while the breweries lean on the support of growler lovers to help them grow and thrive in their local craft beer environment. In short, growlers are great. Except when they’re confusing, apparently.
The normal process of purchasing and filling a growler is as such: pay for the glassware and the first fill (say, around $17), then bring the growler back to the same brewery you purchased it from at a later date for another fill, minus the cost of the jug itself. It’s a simple, easy transaction that may lead to collecting a few different growlers from the various breweries you frequent, but it’s nothing that a little bit of shelf space can’t solve.
Except, lately, an online rumble surrounding the legal abilities of breweries to fill blank growlers (or even growlers from a competing brewery) has begun to gain a voice. There are some that feel their two liter Stone Brewing growlers aren’t getting the attention they deserve, and they’d love to be able to legally have them filled at their local brewery of choice, instead of waiting to make the haul back down to northern San Diego County. It’s an interesting idea, and could hypothetically solve the issue of growler clutter for some hardcore craft beer fans (or do away with the first time cost of purchasing new glassware), but it’s not exactly legal. Or is it?
Today I wrote about 1,000 words on the proper labeling of craft beer growlers in California. Let’s get specific, y’all!
Where to Enjoy Craft Beer Instead of Champagne This New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve in Los Angeles can be a mixed bag. There are the clubs in Hollywood of course, and you can always slide into 2013 wrapped in some high-backed booth at an old-school Beverly Hills Italian joint. But where is the common man to go? And what to drink when you get there?
Thankfully, Los Angeles has come a long way since the days of black tie hotel parties and champagne-only fetes. There are more craft beer options for New Year’s this year than ever before. And to show us all the love, some of the city’s best beer bars are opening their doors for all-night parties that focus on the brews instead of the bubble. From the beach to Burbank, there’s a craft beer New Year’s Eve party going down nearby, and you’re certainly invited.
Inside the Tony Yanow Empire
If you’re one of Tony Yanow’s growing hordes of supporters, you can toss him some of your hard-earned holiday money at one of his three L.A. outposts. At Golden Road Brewing in Atwater Village, $35 will get you an all-you-can-drink pass until 2am, plus you can spring for food at the bustling kitchen. If you’re itching for something a bit classier, $50 gets you into Chloe’s, the back bar that’s usually reserved for parties or beer industry folks. If you don’t plan on venturing past Echo Park, Mohawk Bend will set you back $45 for a family-style dinner and a New Year’s beer toast, complete with commemorative glass. At Tony’s namesake Darts Away in Burbank, the steeper $95 pricetag nets you unlimited drinks at a reserved indoor seat, plus a passing of appetizers and raffles all night long.
Downtown’s take on an English pub (with significantly upgraded food) manages to pull together one of the city’s best local craft beer menus. The bar is currently tapping kegs of Eagle Rock Brewery, Brouwerij West, Ladyface, Cismontane and Strand. On New Year’s the taps will be getting heavy use thanks to a 10pm - 2am party. The $30 pre-sale level gets you a drink token and some passed appetizers, or you can chance getting in on the night of for $15 and no drink token.
This no-frills craft beer spot in Glassell Park has been quietly putting together some of the best beer events of the past year, including their back patio Oktoberfest celebrations. Now you can duck the crowds and ring in 2013 with a night of your favorite local pints. There’s going to be a DJ inside, but they promise not to play bad music. And the best part? No cover, just good times.
Should you find yourself in Culver City for the night, City Tavern is your best craft beer bet. A $68 ticket gets you unlimited pours from 22 different taps and bottle beers, plus wine and champagne for anyone who wants it. If you’re looking to grab dinner, they’ll knock $10 off the ticket price.
Blue Palms Brewhouse
People about lost their mind in 2012 when Blue Palms Brewhouse was forced to temporarily shutter. The popular craft beer mega-spot is so beloved with beer fans that a movement was started and the place was saved from sinking under a bad lease. Now that the party is back on, you can ring in the new year with a $75 party package that includes unlimited beers from the tap, any entree and a commemorative glass. It’s probably the only thing that will help you remember the night.
The Surly Goat
If you’re looking for one of the more comprehensive tap lists in the city, West Hollywood’s The Surly Goat has you covered. For New Year’s, they’ll be pulling out some fancy pours to go along with their $50 price tag. While the hefty price doesn’t get you dinner or any other big perk, you can drink all night without paying another cent (selected booze and champagne as well), and you’re guaranteed to enjoy the best beers that Southern California and beyond have to offer.
Out in Santa Monica, the Library AleHouse has been spending December with a selection of strong beers. The high-ABV pours have been populating their taps for the past two weeks, and the festival ends when the year does. Thankfully, they’re going out in style, with an 8:30pm five-course dinner seating that includes vintage beer pairings and a champagne toast at midnight. If you’re just heading over for the Strong Ale Festival, you can expect everything from Lost Abbey, North Coast and Drake’s to Kulmbacher, Mikkeller and Heretic.
Here’s a thing I wrote about drinking beer tonight!
When it comes to lagers, ales and all sorts of craft beer wizardry, the snowy state of Colorado tends to lead the way. The state tops the nation in beer production per capita, spread out over nearly 150 breweries, with four of those standing tall in the top 50 breweries in the nation. Yet perhaps their most indelible mark so far has been the resurgence of craft beer canning.
Of course, Colorado didn’t do it all by themselves. While the Oskar Blues Brewery north of Denver began canning their craft concoctions in earnest around 2002, it didn’t take long for breweries right here in the Golden State to follow suit. California - which, surprise surprise, leads the nation in total breweries per state - soon had 21st Amendment Brewery to thank for canning on the Left Coast. This was back in 2006, well before the title wave of aluminum adoration we’re currently in the midst of. So why cans? And why now?
Read the rest here.
Here’s a thing I wrote about canned beer in California.
With summer beer patio sessions winding down and Oktoberfest on the horizon, it’s always nice to be able to slip a full week of drinking into the schedule. Or, rather, eleven full days, but who’s counting? Well, we are. LA Beer Week kicks off on September 20 and runs all throughout the Southland, so we’d like to enjoy every single hour we can.
Don’t think for a moment that there won’t be enough events happening around town to keep you occupied. The event organizers have teamed up with everyone from local craft brewers to Westside beer taverns, the Pasadena arm of the Stone Brewing company store and at least one Mongolian BBQ spot — and that’s just the first day. Weekend events include barrel-aged beers at City Tavern in Culver City, tap takeovers from Whittier to Calabasas, and a sour beer fun run with the folks from Firestone Walker. Basically, they’ll be pulling names out of a hat between Golden Road, Verdugo Bar, 38 Degrees, Far Bar and Blue Palms to determine where to go next on Saturday the 22nd, unloading a single barrel of their special pours at each stop.
Other sure-to-be-popular events cascading into next week include a Dogfish Head Ancient Ales Dinner, happening at Little Bear downtown. KCET already loves Little Bear and the Midas Touch ancient ale from Dogfish Head is one of the best we’ve tasted, so get your tickets now. Tony’s Darts Away in Burbank is using the LA Beer Week as an excuse to host an IPA festival from Sunday the 23rd through Friday the 28th, which overtakes (but doesn’t outshine) Cismontane Brewing’s Night Beer & Bacon happening at The York. Wowzers.
The pièce de résistance, of course, is the Sunday night unlimited tasting event, happening at downtown LA’s Union Station. Your $50 presale ticket gets you unlimited four-ounce pours from more than 70 different beer brewers. The locals are sure to be heavily represented, but fantastic international breweries like Schneider-Weisse, Affligem, Chimay and Birra Moretti will also be on hand for the fete. You can also expect plenty of food trucks and snack stations to be set up around the perimeter, making sure you spend your time — and money — wisely over the course of the four-hour event. And since it’s all happening at Union Station, public transportation is practically a must.
You can check out the full event calendar here, although more great nights of fun and beer are being added all the time. And since these great events are happening all over the land, there’s likely one right in your backyard. Not that you needed an excuse to fill up your week with beer.
For more food and drink events visit kcet.org/events/food.
L.A. BEER WEEK! L.A. BEER WEEK!
What’s in a name? For downtown’s The King Eddy Saloon, perhaps everything - and nothing.
Often dubbed the last authentic dive bar in Los Angeles, the Skid Row staple is slowly preparing for a change of ownership, and that’s got some folks nervous. Fans of the corner bar’s grimy appeal are worried that new owners Michael Leko and Will Shamlian won’t be as gentle with the aging space as time has been. Leko and Shamlian are in familiar territory with the purchase, having previously become partners in Library Bar, Pizzeria Urbano and a host of other revamped downtown spaces. For their part, Leko and Shamlian have expressed an interest to the LA Times and elsewhere that they would simply like to revive the sagging saloon with the purchase. If anything, it seems, the men would like to trade on its history against the backdrop of a revitalized downtown Los Angeles. What that means for the barstools and the patrons who frequent them remains to be seen. At least they’re keeping the name.
Here’s a little piece I put together about summertime drinking. You’re welcome.
As we roll into August and the inevitable end of yet another summer, it’s important to stay focused. Jobs, friends, money … it all comes and goes. What’s here to stay is summertime drinking. All alone or with a group of buddies, there are few things more enjoyable than a pint of cold beer on an outdoor patio, with the sun or the stars floating their image in the amber of your glass.
Not sure where to go for a drink amongst the elements? Let us guide you. There are plenty of great places in Los Angeles to sit back with some suds. Here are five of the best outdoor beer drinking spots on the Eastside.
Golden Road Brew Pub
As a natural extension of the flagship Golden Road Brewing operation, the Golden Road brew pub sits in an industrial cut of buildings at the northern tip of Atwater Village. Eschewing old wooden benches and waves of ivy for a decidedly more urban look, the patio is open to the air (and the occasional passing train) on one full side, giving summertime drinkers a nice breeze and plenty of shade. The beers you’re looking for are inside the warehouse, along with a selection of finely-tuned bar food. This being Tony Yanow’s place and all, the beers are mostly from the brewing operation next door, but a few California competitors are usually snuck up on the chalkboard as well. It’s also a great summertime spot for a Midnight Snack.
Biergarten at The Standard Hotel
Whatever you may think of the clientele that flocks to downtown’s The Standard hotel in the summer time, there’s no denying that they’ve got a pretty great rooftop set up going on. There’s the pool, perpetually clogged with hardbodies and young out-of-towners. Then there’s the biergarten, a small but sufficient ode to Austrian and German fare. They’ve got all the basics covered, in some approximation: the turf that stands in for real grass, the long wooden tables, the rising shrubbery. Nothing can take away from the sweeping views of downtown Los Angeles though. On warm summer nights, as the heat begins to lift away and the lights from some poor schmuck’s office window illuminates the distance, there are few better places to be caught with a stein in your hand.
See more here!
I WRITE ABOUT BEER! LET’S BE FRIENDS!
People with a predilection for the vino or bubbly, avert your eyes. Better yet, pull down the shades and stay inside for the next few days, because for the rest of us, it’s American Craft Beer Week! That’s right, a weeklong raising of glasses nationwide to celebrate those small-batch geniuses who keep us on our barstools.
You likely won’t be able to drive more than a mile or two in any direction without stumbling upon some sort of mini-celebration in accordance with American Craft Beer Week. Out east, Golden Road Brewing is turning their taps back over to some of the best beers they’ve come across in the short amount of time they’ve been open. That means rare pours, collaborations, and all sorts of madness behind the bar. Just a few miles away, Tony Yanow will be keeping himself busy at Tony’s Darts Away with a night of Firestone Walker beers. They’re driving down the coast with some out-of-stock selections that you won’t want to miss.
More centrally located, Koreatown’s Beer Belly is putting Wednesday night to good use as they host yet another leg of The Bruery’s fourth anniversary celebration. Like the previous versions from the well-known OC brewers, expect a keg of their rare Fruet to be tapped and quickly depleted. Or, if you’re headed to the beach this weekend, consider stopping off near the airport (ugh, we know) to try the newest double IPA from El Segundo Brewing. They’re celebrating one year in the game with their first ever batch of the hoppy stuff, and have planned a VIP celebration that includes custom growlers and first-in-line fills of their newest creation. $50 gets you in the door early, or hold out until 2pm to get in with everyone else.
There are plenty of craft beer spots around town worth celebrating, so head out to your local hotspot. There’s a better than even chance that they’ll be having some sort of fun for American Craft Beer Week.
For more food and drink events visit kcet.org/events/food.
It’s week two of the new KCET alcohol event listings I do. Check ‘em out!
Grab your coats and hail a cab: Tom Bergin’s is back! Starting last night, the popular Carthay Circle-adjacent Irish bar on Fairfax is up and running again. After a prolonged construction period that forced them to miss their first St. Patrick’s Day in decades, the whiskey and Guinness is once again flowing like… well, whiskey and Guinness.
A bit further south in Culver City, the Unibroue folks from way up north (Quebec, to be specific) are pouring some beers at L’Épicerie Market. The $45 price tag comes along with five courses of casual French fare and a selection of tasty beers to wash it down with. Just down the street, City Tavern is giving you Sunday respite from your Mother’s Day woes by pairing up four courses with a glass of premium brew as well.
Elsewhere, Naja’s Place in Redondo Beach is putting the wraps on their 4th annual IPA festival. They’ve been dedicating the majority of their taps to hoppy IPAs from all around the country, but the event closes on the 10th, so plan accordingly. In Alhambra, The Bruery opens up a keg of rare beer in celebration of their fourth anniversary. The popular Orange County brewery will be hitting the road for ten different events in the coming days, with the Alhambra fete slated for 38 Degrees Ale House & Grill.
Between the beach city IPA festival and the mid-city Tom Bergin’s reemergence, there’s no reason not to stop off for a pint this week. Whatever your local watering hole happens to be.
For more food and drink events visit kcet.org/events/food.