If you’ve spent time in LA, you’ve probably seen a handful of the local breweries pumping out delicious craft beer. It’s not just SoCal that’s experiencing a microbrewery renaissance, as small breweries have been flourishing all over the USA for the past decade. Microbreweries are great places to take a date, hang out with friends, or just chill by yourself with a book, but with hundreds of options, it’s hard to know what to order. I stopped by Blue Palms Brewhouse in Hollywood to try out a few stars of the California craft beer scene, so next time you see ‘em on the menu order a pint (or a goblet, or a snifter, or a tulip) and enjoy the ride.
Brouwerij West – Tripel (Belgian Tripel 9% ABV)
Brouwerij West is a great microbrewery with a funky name located in San Pedro. Their unassumingly strong Tripel craft beer starts sour but quickly turns sweet in your mouth. It has a yeasty aroma, but the flavor palate consists of banana and orange notes that rest on the back of your tongue. It’s fairly bitter but has a low acidity, and the medium level of carbonation makes this an all-too-easy beer to drink.
Russian River – Pliny the Elder (Double IPA 8% ABV)
Nestled in the Bay Area, Russian River is known for their very hoppy ales. Pliny the Elder is probably their most famous brew and it’s a delicious double IPA. On the nose, it’s very floral and the hops come out swinging. The earthy flavors start strong but the body is smooth, and the bitterness resonates as it rests in your mouth. For hop-addicts, Pliny the Elder should be a no-brainer.
Yorkshire Square – Double Doors (Imperial Bitter 7.7% ABV)
You might never guess that Torrance is home to a British styled brewery, but Yorkshire Square should definitely be on your radar. Their Double Doors is an Imperial Bitter which is a type of beer you may not be familiar with. You instantly smell citrus fruits and in my first taste, I was reminded of a dry champagne. This acid is balanced by a nutty and smokey flavor that lingers comfortably. The Double Doors is a great full-bodied brew that’ll have you saying, “Cheerio!”
Golden Street Cider – Elder Tree (BA Apple Cider 7.7% ABV)
Golden Street cider proves that Sonoma County isn’t just a destination for wine. Their Elder Tree cider is a barrel aged apple cider with a higher ABV than you might be used to. On the nose you can really smell the apples, but upon drinking the strictly apple notes give way to other pome fruits like pears. This cider is very acidic and has an almost cocktail-like sharpness with hints of bark and tree nuts. See if you can also find the taste of oatmeal cookies and strawberry jam in this exciting apple cider.
Bonus brew! (not pictured)
FiftyFifty Brewing – Donner Party (BA Porter 6.7% ABV)
Not a part of my original flight, I was persuaded by my waitress to try this barrel aged Porter from FiftyFifty Brewing, located in the small town of Truckee, CA. I’m usually not a fan of darker beers, but the Donner Party had me grinning. It has a strong aroma of caramel and espresso, and the coffee continues on through your first sip. Slightly dry, the porter tastes almost like a mocha frappuccino with a heavy cocoa aftertaste. While not sickeningly sweet, there are also notes of maple and hard candies like toffee in the end. If you usually stay away from porters and stouts, this beer may bring you over to the “dark side.”