When Wil Dee, Ace Patel and chef Greg Daniels expanded on the success of their Old Towne Orange gastropub with an even bigger Haven Gastropub (and house-brewed beer) in Old Pasadena, the trio was probably overly ambitious. Sure, they had a grand space, but it was a bit much to serve goose pastrami and a dessert composed with multiple preparations of beet. Of course, any business takes time to get comfortable and confident, and Haven is now more approachable than ever, with beer-friendly foods like beer marinated meatballs, steak frites and of course multiple burgers in place. Longtime homebrewer Dave Larsen got the brewhouse’s system on track, and more experienced Drake’s Brewing veteran Brian Thorson is now producing a strong craft beer roster using those same tanks.
I recently experienced a flight of four beers for $8, including Rye Over Spilled Milk, a copper-hued 6.8% rye ale; American Blonde, a 5% blonde ale; Azacca Malaka, an amber-tinted 6% single-hop IPA; and SoCal Distortion, a golden 7.25% IPA. None of the beers were stereotypical hop bombs, each glass was fairly sessionable, and it became clear that the beers had improved, both in terms of balance, and by racheting up the clever names.