Tom Kelley: Library Alehouse

Craft Beer Los Angeles

Every week, like clockwork, you get your L.A. Beer Blast e-mail. And, if you are the inquisitive sort, you might ask who are these people that Josh mentions amongst the new tap selections.

To answer that burning question, I will occasionally profile the hard working folks behind these great craft beer lists over the course of the rest of the year. Today, we travel to Main Street in Santa Monica to the Library Alehouse to learn a little about Sustainability Manager Tom Kelley.

After talking about the recent Beer vs. Wine competition (which craft beer won!) I started off by asking what his first beer was because we need to remember where we started to truly appreciate what we have now. And I finally found someone whose first came in a 10 ounce stubby like me. Tom’s was Miller Hi-Life that is quite an improvement on the Buckhorn beer that I first sipped.

With the past out of the way, we moved on to the topic of real beer and the challenges of educating people about the world of craft beer. The Library Alehouse has 29 taps. 20 of which are basically locked down with what the bar regulars order. It obviously points out the sophistication of the customers because these aren’t safe choices. Mad River, Alaskan, Bootleggers and Anderson Valley are familiar names to beer geeks but to those new to beer these are not household names.

This leaves a good amount of taps to rotate and this is where Tom has to become a master scheduler. He has the enviable problem of choice and lots of it. This makes his job both easier and more difficult because kegs of beer are available that may satisfy the beer hunters and the curious but it may hang around occupying a tap that could go to the next beer that may have a wider customer base. It is a juggling act but Tom understands that he is choosing not for himself but for his customers.

And he has seen in just a short time that these customers are becoming savvier as the Los Angeles craft beer market has expanded. At first, Stella Artois was the #1 tap. It has now dropped to #6 as beers like Allagash White and Weihenstephan’s Vitus become more and more popular.

There is still education needed. Some people are still wary of dark beers. Even an easy drinker like Port Brewing’s Midnight Sessions lager but Tom is very aware that he has to build bridges between what people are drinking now to more adventurous choices. And that is why, I recommend the Library Alehouse to friends and it is why it is a popular destination.

One of the favorite styles at the Library Alehouse is the west coast hoppy IPA and your beer of the week is a new entry into the field from Widmer. Earlier this year they released a limited run of a Cascadian Dark IPA and now comes their 4pack Imperial IPA called Deadlift. For an imperial, it masks it’s 8%+ alcohol well and is really floral with notes of citrus. And if you let it breathe and get to close to room temperature, the Nelson Sauvin hops come out and you get a layer of grape taste too.

Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.

Address: 2911 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90405

Sean Inman

Find more of Sean Inman's writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.

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