The Tasting Panel magazine

February 2014

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28 / the tasting panel / february 2014 BREWS AND VIEWS H aving recently spent several years exploring San Francisco's bar and restaurant scene, I was struck by one obvious theme: Most beer selections are now dominated by local and craft brews. Now that I've relocated to Los Angeles I'm seeing similar trends as the demand for craft beer brings about competi- tion over shelf space, particularly here in Southern California, where new breweries are on the rise. In addition to keeping up consumer demands, bar manag- ers are under pressure to design unique programs, and three staple L.A. establishments are doing just that: Library Alehouse, City Tavern and Little Bear. Alex P. Davis, Bar Manager at the Library Alehouse in Santa Monica, was a student of law, and had even passed the bar exam, but gave it all up and switched careers—attributing his about-face to one glass of the bold-tasting Westmalle Trappist Tripel. "Craft beer enthusiasts typically go for beers with high alcohol content and bitter, hoppy lavors," says Davis, "so I strive to maintain a selection at the restaurant that will satisfy these drinkers as well as the broader range of drinkers." While the taps at Library Alehouse represent brewers all over the country, Davis maintains a bias for California beer, which dominates the list, a noticeable theme among many of the city's beer haunts. On the edge of downtown Culver City is City Tavern, where all 22 brews on tap hail from California. "Personally, I could sip on sour ales all day everyday," says Bar Manager Ryan Hughes, "but West Coast IPAs are quite popular." To balance her preferences with those of City Tavern's clientele, Hughes offers a wide spectrum of quality local and rotating beers; as a result, the place has gained a reputation among beer geeks. Hughes makes use of City Tavern's online presence (@CityTavernCC) to post new selections, and she's cultivated a following. City Tavern is opening a second location in Downtown L.A. in early 2014. Little Bear is tucked into a corner on Industrial Street in Downtown L.A.'s Arts District. Bar Manager Andrew Kelley, who also is fond of sour ales, has culti- vated an all Belgian-style craft selection of 17 beers on tap and 50 by-the-bottle offerings. Little Bear's theme comes about because "Belgian beer and Belgian food go so well together," says Kelley, adding that "Belgian yeast has a distinctive lavor proile," which he prefers. With L.A. digging into its craft-beer renaissance, I'm excited for new year of personal discovery and experi- mentation, through my pint glass. Pulling Pints NEW TO THE BEER SCENE IN LOS ANGELES, A FORMER SAN FRANCISCAN GETS HER GLASS ON WITH CRAFT BREWS COURTESY OF THREE SAVVY BAR MANAGERS by Elena Nardini, with Jonathan Cristaldi At City Tavern in Los Angeles, Bar Manager Ryan Hughes (left) and Elena Nardini, writer and bartender at Seventy 7 Lounge, sip on some sour ales and talk craft beer. PHOTO: JONATHAN CRISTALDI

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