This past Sunday Congregation Ale House opened another chapter for craft beer in Los Angeles by reviving the old Crown City Brewing space in Pasadena.
Hearty souls braved the tree limb strewn streets and lined up hours in advance of the 11am grand opening to snare a special “trinity” glass and be one of the first to have beer in this spot since Crown City shuttered a few years back
Before the doors swung open to the crowd, ceremony had to be observed. There was a blessing of the spot with some beer, an homage to the trail that was blazed by Crown City and then the inaugural hanging of the tablets that listed all of the beer that was available. Then finally the ribbon could be cut and the beer could flow.
This is now the third Congregation outpost following the original in Long Beach and the recently opened Azusa location. It is next to a Gold Line stop and the Pasadena Central Park just south of Old Town Pasadena.
I wish I could tell you more about the décor and ambience of the space but the crowd was so large that I could not get in! And that is a great thing. Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved to quaff a brew in the newly christened space but to see close to 200 people lining up really speaks volumes to how far craft beer has come in the Los Angeles area. And besides, if one beer bar is busy, we now have choices. You are not stuck out in the cold, literally.
For the craft Beer of the Week, I recommend Anchor Brewing’s Merry Christmas & Happy New Year Holiday ale. Since Los Angeles is winter weather challenged (except for that aforementioned freaky wind storm), it can be hard to get in the holiday spirit. For me though, it is truly the holidays not when snow is falling but when the iconic red and green tree labeled brew from San Francisco is in my ‘fridge. This year’s model is less pine tree tasting than year’s past with a decidedly biscuit and toast flavor to it that makes it much more amenable to food pairing. So pick up a sixer or a magnum and maybe even cellar some to try next year. Maybe alongside some older versions. I have seen magnums of the 2010 in some finer beer stores.
Your Homework this week is to buy three bottles of the same beer. Perhaps Hair of the Dog Doggie Claws or the Anchor Christmas Ale, and take tasting notes as you crack one open this month. Then grab the second one in two months and then the last one six months from now. The goal is to see how much (or how little) the beer changes over time without having to create a massive craft beer cellar.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.