If beer geeks have their own holidays, then Saturday’s LA Craft Beer Crawl is Beer Hanukkah. Instead of eight nights of gifts, there are seven different stops along the way. And in lieu of potato latkes, there’s beer. Lots and lots of glorious beer. In this, the third year of the crawl, 35 different breweries were represented and each brought a few different brews to sample, which meant that crawlers had the chance to taste more than 75 awesome beers.
Going with a crawl instead of a convention-style setup meant that nobody had to worry about waiting in massive lines all day. Plus, you got to drink beer in its natural habitat: bars. It was a great way to structure the event and the only major snag was distance between venues and the oppressive August heat. The bars themselves (Seven Grand, Golden Gopher, Broadway Bar), are all part of the 213 Nightlife Group owned by Cedd Moses — and each spot had its own vibe, making for some sort of a beer-soaked version of It’s A Small World as you made your way around downtown Los Angeles.
The beers themselves were an eclectic mix that reflected just how diverse the LA beer scene has become. There was something for everyone: yeasty Belgians, hopped-up IPAs, stouts that hit the Venn diagram intersection of coffee and chocolate, and just about everything in between. While there were a few brands from as far away as Belgium (Brasserie D’Achouffe, Duvel), most of the suds came from California, and the Cali brews were definitely the most interesting of the bunch.
Golden Road Brewing poured their tequila barrel–aged hefeweizen called El Hefe (a play on the Spanish word for boss), while LA microbrew godfather Craftsman offered up their Triple White Sage, a sage-infused Belgian triple. After trying the Helles, a Munich-style lager from TAPS, one girl in attendence couldn’t get over how much she liked it. “That is like muy awesome,” she said. Lucky for everyone participating, pretty much all of the beers being poured were muy awesome.
After the crawl, we asked Jason Bernstein, beer aficionado and owner of LA craft beer haven The Golden State, what he thought of the whole thing. “The craft beer scene is at an interesting crossroads and the Beer Crawl almost perfectly encapsulates it,” he told me. “I saw a TON of industry professionals there, which shows it’s an event to be taken seriously in terms of its offerings.”
What he was most enthusiastic about, though, were the attendees who had no background in beer. “These were people that had no real idea what craft beer was but they were so excited by what they were trying. In fact, these were the people I was most excited to talk to because many of these flavors were new to them. It was pretty rad.”
During Beer Hanukkah, everything is pretty rad. L’chaim.
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