Every Thursday, you get the L.A. Beer Blast by e-mail or online from Food GPS. You start scrolling down the list of taps and bottles available and you realize that the weekend is not nearly as long as you are going to need. But do not get discouraged or overwhelmed – you can make the most of this resource without having to spend hours researching or driving all across Los Angeles. What follows is a list of questions to ask yourself in order to whittle down the list to maximize your beer adventures. Usually, I find answering even one of the questions gives me a clear plan A to follow.
1) What are you in the mood to drink?
I have been hankering for British ESB’s and session beers. I want something light to match the hot weather and I am not in the mood for an IPA or a Belgian style beer. Using last week’s blast as an example, I’d glance down the list of beers and see if I get any matches to my mood. Lo and behold, Lucky Baldwin’s is pouring the Craftsman .5 IPA. A session IPA. Looks like I may have a winner. But wait. Simmzy’s is pouring a Rogue Soba ale. That would be light and refreshing too See how fast that is? Now all I have to do is choose between (2) beers. Or not “choose” at all and go to both. One on Saturday and one on Sunday.
2) How much time do you really have?
If you have a birthday party on Saturday and a yoga class on Sunday plus other errands and chores to do then you may only have a couple of hours. For me, that answer means that I may head to Verdugo Bar or Lucky Baldwin’s. If time is in short supply then just look at the list for the establishments closest to you, then check out their beer list for what intrigues you more, hop in the car and start driving. If your weekend is free and you are not looking for a specific beer or style then your decision may be based more on if you want to go someplace new or back to a familiar haunt.
3) Are there any limited edition beers that are being tapped or are about to run out?
This is my favorite strategy of them all. See which seasonal or special beers are now available that weren’t before and follow the tap line. Thanks to the burgeoning craft beer scene in Los Angeles, you can usually find something new or unusual each weekend. Doing this each weekend for a year would be an excellent idea. Gazing again at last week’s Beer Blast, the Oaktoberfest from Firestone-Walker jumps out at me. It’s seasonal, it’s a limited release, the decisions practically make themselves.
Here are some other questions that I ask myself before I head out the door:
• Do you like crowds? If you do, then go on a Friday or Saturday night. I prefer a slower pace and an unimpeded path to the bar so I go on weeknights and early in the afternoon.
• Do you want food with your beer or just snacks? When I want both, that makes me think of The Golden State. Then I can have a beer float dessert.
• Are you going with a big group or just a couple of friends? If that’s the case, the beer bar that can accommodate your crew/posse/entourage may be the best choice for a fun evening.
From enthusiastic craft beer newbie to seasoned beer veteran, the Food GPS Beer Blast can make planning your next beer adventure a snap.
Next week, I will recap the events at the Great American Beer Festival in snowy Denver.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.