Not to say that taprooms aren’t great, but many are stuck in locales that don’t afford views. Let’s take a trip starting here and moving north to coastal beer stops in California and Oregon that have the tang of salt air and vistas as majestic as the beers.
First stop is at King Harbor Brewing. Their second location (now of three!) is a few steps to the pier and an array of boats and seagulls. Here you can cool down in the heat of summer as the wind and waves roll in while getting a nice array of beers from brewer Phil McDaniel on tap or to-go. Two new beers on the menu are their summer lager, Mr. Samsonite, and their take on the hot new beer style of the moment, Brut IPA, by the name of Salmon of Capistrano.
Hermosa Brewing Company is the second stop just a bit up the busy road. You will have to crane your neck and pick the correct seat, but you are within a really short walk of the pier. The beers from brewer Jorge Delgado are not yet brewed at their location, but they have found a pair of good partner breweries such as 14 Cannons in Westlake Village to create their beers. I was quite fond of their German Pilsner, Windmill, and their hoppy beers like Stand Up IPA and Out the Back DIPA are quite good as well. Plus they have a tight food menu that goes well with what is on tap.
Now let’s take a bigger leap and head off to Ventura. Leashless Brewing is located right off the 101 freeway. They are ½ Belgian in focus and ½ IPAs of all stripes, but what is really unique about this brewery is that they have multiple gluten-reduced beers on tap. No view of the ocean, but the taproom does have a patio that looks out on a lovely park, and there are some great photos of nature inside the brewery as well. Their spin on the Belgian Dubbel, Twinny, has notes of plum, rum, and cinnamon. If you need to get your haze on, they have Foamball that uses organic El Dorado hops or their Fog Bank hazy IPA.
In the Bay Area, San Francisco Brewing Co. is a spot that is marked on my “to-do” list in Ghiradelli Square, which affords a pier (and chocolate) view all its own. This brewery just recently opened up. It is a huge indoor/outdoor space and part of a second wave of users of the pour-your-own RFID tech that is great for those beer adventurers that want to taste the spectrum of beers. The beers are from former Gordon Biersch brewer Justin Boehle. Their start-up core beers are the Broadway IPA, Marina Blonde Ale, and Alcatraz Amber; don’t fret, they also have a chocolate stout with that familiar name.
Leaving California for our final stops, you can stop in Pacific City where Pelican Brewing is almost in the ocean, or to Public Coast Brewing in Cannon Beach and its famous Haystack Rock, but my two choices are in Astoria where the mighty Columbia meets the Pacific. Buoy Beer is first. They are built on pilings over the water and a glass section of the floor lets you look down at resting sea lions. You can taste their really well-made Pilsner while standing at the rail with only water and the coastline of Washington State in front of you or you can look for their latest single-hop beer.
Fort George Brewery + Public House is in Downtown Astoria. If you head to the upper reaches of the former auto shop you will have a view that reaches all around, plus you can sip on their delicious IPAs, notably their three-way collaborations that routinely pop-up. My favorites from the taster tray that I ordered were the excellent and quenching Talisman Pilsner as well as the some forgotten core beer, Quick Wit, which contains lemongrass, coriander and elderflower. The Duane Street location has three bars, two restaurants, and takes up pretty much the whole block. It is an impressive site and they also have special aged beers for sale to-go.
The above list is a mere fraction of the coastal beer action that California and Oregon offers – I didn’t even mention San Diego, Washington and Canada – So wherever your summer beach vacation takes you, look for the local brewery nearby.
To Compare and Contrast beers this week, we seek out West Pico and The Stalking Horse. British beers are on the menu, and we look at two summer options as we head into the heart of SoCal’s hot season. First up is Overly Polite, an appropriately titled Summer Ale. At a mere slip of 4.9% ABV this will be an excellent choice for that first beer after coming in from the heat. Malt will be the dominant force here, coming across as bread-like or biscuity.
Next up is West Pico Pale. This beer will be firmly in the English Pale realm, so don’t expect Sierra Nevada levels of hops. This will again be more malt forward with more herbal hops characteristics as opposed to the punch of the American take on Pale Ale. Again, this is a sessionable ale at 5.5% ABV.
There will be darker beers on the menu but this duo makes a good introduction to how Stalking Horse is approaching British-styled ales.
Now that the 10th edition of L.A. Beer Week is receding into the past, it is time to look outward to other beer cultures. To do that, put this whole weekend on the calendar as Southland Beer is going for a Canada Day Weekend. Starting Saturday, June 30, at 4:30 p.m., and running through last call on Sunday, July 1, you can put on your maple leaf attire and have some beers from the North.
The following beers will be on tap (subject to possible change, of course):
- Dieu du Ciel! Péché Mortel on nitro (imperial coffee stout)
- Le Trou du Diable Dulcis Succubus (wild saison)
- Godspeed Kemuri Smoked Porter
- Plus bottles of Bellwoods Jelly King (dry-hopped sour) and White Picket Fence (blended foeder saison)!
Then raise a toast to Justin Trudeau!
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.