Altadena Ale House opened on April 30 on an unlikely stretch of North Fair Oaks Avenue, and the proprietor took me by surprise. It’s Judah Casburn, the original owner of Lucky Baldwin’s, widely considered to be the first serious beer bar in Los Angeles. Casburn is a Yorkshire native who moved to L.A. to escape the rain. In 1992, took over an Old Pasadena sandwich shop that just happened to have a beer and wine license. He built Lucky Baldwin’s into a beer powerhouse before selling to current owner David Farnsworth in 1997.
He and wife Gail (a schoolteacher) spent summers in the south of France. Now they’re back full time, taking over a longtime neighborhood bar with a sign that just says The Pub. Judah Casburn made some upgrades before opening, building the plywood bar by hand, adding two TVs and revamping the main hall.
Their opening list consisted of only two draught beers – Guinness and Craftsman Poppyfields Pale Ale. They’re currently up to five kegs and almost 60 bottles, which are classified by “Domestic, English, Belgium & Belgium Style, German, and Lager. Bottles run $3.50 – $20. Draught beers are either $5 or $6, and half-pints are available.
This is just the beginning. The Casburns will soon feature 20 beers on tap, primarily English ales, American craft beers and a smattering of Belgians, relying on a short draft system that draws from the naturally cool cellar below. The Casburns fell for French wine while living there, so expect some hard-to-find French wines at the alehouse.
Since Judah Casburn is British, and a futbol fan, he’s featured World Cup games at the alehouse. In the future, look for ploughman platters and sandwiches. Judah Casburn also said, “An English pub wouldn’t be complete without a curry.”