Sunday, May 24, 2020

THE COCKTAIL HOUR: The Breweries of the Gold Line

Up here in the foothills of the San Gabriel Valley, our lifeline to the rest of the Los Angeles area has become the Gold Line light rail line. You might have followed along with our original Gold Line pub crawl, or maybe one of the subsequent journeys like this one or this latest one from last week. Or, if you need some food along the way, you might have seen our post on the best places to eat along the line.

Since it is Sunday and time for the Cocktail Hour, we'll go back to the more liquid highlights of the line. We like to use it for that because it involves no driving on our part...we can just go out and have a good time without the worry of getting behind the wheel.

This time, we've come up with the complete list of breweries along the line within walking distance of the stations. We've got a mega brewery, a bunch of craft breweries, a couple of 'micro' breweries that are actually huge companies, and a tasting room or two.

We'll start off at the eastern end of the line in Azusa and work our way towards the other end in Downtown Los Angeles.

AZUSA DOWNTOWN - Our first brewery is a true micro craft brewery - Congregation Ale House. Travis Ensler's small chain of Catholic-themed restaurants brews a pretty extensive line of their own beers at the location just a couple of blocks south of the station on Azusa Avenue. The line up changes a bit from time to time but my wife will always go with whatever sour ale they're pouring and I like their saisons.

IRWINDALE - Although the giant Miller brewery (owned by Canadian company Molson) sits adjacent to the station, it is not open to the public nor does is offer tours. A mile and a half hike (or a short Uber ride) will get you to nearby Lagunitas Brewery...California's largest microbrewer...up on Todd Avenue, a couple of blocks away from the Costco that you can see across the freeway from the station. We have not been there, yet. Currently, the tap room at Lagunitas is closed but a new one is scheduled to open this spring.

MONROVIA - Pacific Plate, about two blocks south of the station on Myrtle Avenue, does brew some very interesting and good beer. We particularly like the agave wheat and the horchata stout. We do not like the tasting room experience, however. It is very cramped and, with the brewing equipment close at hand, gets very hot and sweaty. They have opened a more comfortable location in Glendale but that one is not Gold Line adjacent.

Closer to the station, Hop Secret brewery operates out of a storefront about a 100 yards from the Gold Line platform but has not been open when we've been by.

ARCADIA - Mt. Lowe Brewing Company is just about our favorite. Located a block east of the station, it's a bit hard to find the first time as it sits pretty non-descript among the industrial buildings and warehouses along St. Joseph Street (look for the 150 address). Inside is a large room, filled with tables and booths like a nice restaurant. They serve no food, however, but there's usually a food truck parked just outside the door for your convenience. We are partial to the tacos and mulitas served by Sandoval's Tacos on Tuesday nights and the Firefresh Pizza Truck on the third Friday of every month.

You are also free to bring your own food with you and, with an In 'n Out just around the corner, that is an option we take advantage of frequently.

As for beers, my favorite is their rarely served saison but, on a daily basis, I'll go with their Rubio red. My wife likes their hefeweizen and tears of 1,000 apricots sour ale. Tim goes with their blonde.

An honorable mention should also go to Vendome Liquor store, adjacent to the station, where they also have a nice wine and beer bar.

DEL MAR (Pasadena) - Escondido's Stone Brewing has a tasting room right on the southbound platform at this station, across the patio from the Luggage Room pizza. Don't really care for the beers here but you might.

We should also mention that there's another location of the Congregation Ale House across the street from the station exit on Del Mar Avenue.

CHINATOWN - You'd think Highland Park Brewery's tasting room would have been back at the Highland Park station but it's just opened up here near the Chinatown station. It's brand new so we haven't been there yet. Maybe next time.

LITTLE TOKYO/ARTS DISTRICT - The last station with close-by breweries (as least as much as we know) is right where the line turns back east to go to Boyle Heights and East L.A. Here, there are four breweries close by.

Boomtown Brewery is my favorite of the four so far. It's also the only one on the north end of the station. It's a long, two-block walk...east on Temple, then a bit west on Vignes...but the big room has a lot of space to stretch out, play games, and find a spot for your mates to gather and converse. There's games to play and even a small patio outside.  The Belgian style saisons, strong blondes, and white beers are my favorites here.

Angel City (owned by Boston Brewery - Sam Adams) makes some strong tasting, bitter IPA's. Not really my thing but they do offer others that are either a little lighter in taste or smoother going down but, overall, the beers here are a little to strong and unbalanced for me. The space, however, is spectacular. A former factory that made steel cables (some ended up on the Brooklyn Bridge) it's wide open with lots of room to roam. There's an old spiral slide in the middle of the space that was used to shoot spools of cable to the loading would appreciate it if you didn't take it as a challenge.

It's just a block south of the station on Alameda.

Arts District Brewery is a block east of Angel City. We haven't been into the brewery, where you can play Skee Ball, yet but have had their nitro beers at Fritzi next door, a restaurant that specializes in rotisserie chicken. It's very good.

Mumford Brewery is on the other side of Alameda, firmly within the boundaries of Skid Row.  We haven't been and it's not a comfortable walk to get over there, either.

There you go, a dozen or so places to get a great tasting brew along one of L.A.'s great public transportation routes. Who knows? Maybe we'll run across each other on our next tasting adventure.

Darryl Musick
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