It is 11 miles from Bluebird Brasserie to 6th & La Brea and another 5.6 miles from that corner to The Stalking Horse. That is the route that brewers Noah Regnery and Brandon Edwards travel around Los Angeles. This is not just highway and stoplight travel either. They’re also traveling from one country’s style of beer to another.
All three brewpubs are part of the Artisanal Brewers Collective fronted by L.A. craft beer pioneer Tony Yanow. There are, of course, many more outlets this now sprawling collection of brewpubs and bars that cover ground from Santa Monica to Eagle Rock, but let’s focus on these three brewing locations on the map.
Bluebird Brasserie on Ventura near Woodman is the trio’s most themed concept. Large open windows bring the sun deep into the small space that is all brick arches and faux medieval chandeliers.Three large TVs break the spell cast by the design, especially the cool tap tower effect, with one half of the brass taps disappearing into brick before re-appearing on the other side of the bar.
The helpful beertender guided me to three beers that were all tasty – TJ’s Tripel, Stay Gold Blonde, and Chapeau du Jour Amber – as well as the hoppy Saison and (my favorite) Les Incompetents Rillo. As you may have surmised, these are Belgian-style beers. All of which are good, but they seem a little dialed back from more powerful versions that could really accentuate the Belgian yeast character.
Over on Pico Boulevard, The Stalking Horse just turned one-year-old yesterday. Here the country is England and the beers go from bitter to Porter and Cream ale. The list of beers being brewed seems longest here, edging out Bluebird if you go strictly by website count.
The Stalking Horse is evenly split amongst bar area, dining area, and a semi-outdoors section that is both English and country with dark woods while still being bright and inviting. Happy Hour Cream ale and the Dodgy Dark Mild were the stand-outs from the beer menu, but again, I felt that the beers were a bit restrained from the full English experience. More cask offerings might offset that deficit.
Lastly, 6th & La Brea is the group’s outlier. No country is represented here. The corner location is super bright with a white color dominating the interior and amplifying the sun. The beer list features offerings from Bluebird, The Stalking Horse and even San Diego brewery, The Bell Marker, that is also part of ABC.
On one visit, the brewery still hadn’t received the go-ahead from the myriad permitting agencies that bedevil new breweries. On my second visit, there were still only two beers under the 6th & La Brea banner and that one, a Session IPA, was brewed at The Bell Marker. An incomplete grade is all I can give right now.
All in all, much like the traffic between the three brewpubs, I experienced a stop-and-go start. The beers are quality and hopefully will grow bolder and more assured.
It is now September, so without seasonal creep, I can talk about fall Festbiers. First up is the recently released Three Weavers FestBier which debuted last Saturday. Available in 16-ounce cans, this Oktoberfest-style lager should be excellent considering how well brewer Alexandra Nowell does with another German style, her Seafarer Kolsch.
Contrast that with the heavyweight combo of Sierra Nevada and German icon Weihenstephan for the 2018 version of the annual Oktoberfest release. This beer came out in late August. A bit of seasonal creep, but it wins a pass because this is such a zippy example of the style.
Mark you calendar for a 5-year anniversary extravaganza as Monrovia’s Pacific Plate Brewing celebrates starting at 4 p.m. on Friday, September 14, all the way to 10 p.m. on Sunday, September16. They will be releasing new beers that you can drink in their beer garden. Expect comedy, car shows, raffles, food trucks, and live music.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.