The great thing about this whole Unvegan Hero/Unvegan Villain thing is that there are so many opportunities to praise Detroit/Michigan athletes and knock down their rivals. But when I found out a little something about Jeff Francoer, I knew I had to give a rival his due.
First off, no, there is no such thing as unlimited libation at Golden Road Brewing. But I just couldn’t resist making the painfully obvious Grateful Dead reference. Especially because there was nothing at all Grateful Dead about the brewery. As one of the few microbreweries in LA, Golden Road resides in a sketchy part of Glendale and is kind of personifies a blend of collar and hipster, at least in decor and architecture. The food menu tries to bridge that gap as well, but leans heavier on the latter than the former, with a frightening number of vegan menu items and a couple of sandwiches to scare any blue collar visitors back to the smelting plant.
Ever walk into a “pizza parlor” that actually functions as more of a full-on Italian restaurant? Or how about a “Japanese place” that only serves sushi? We are constantly being misled into restaurants that either offer a lot more than expected or a lot less. And then there is Hinano Cafe in Venice, which only a crackhead would consider to be a cafe. You see, Hinano is pretty much the definition of a dive bar. Sawdust coats the floor, there are maybe five real tables and the two guys behind the bar take turns dishing out beer or flipping burgers on the lone griddle in the middle of the bar.
Two of the things I love most in this world are beer and my belly. No, I don’t have a beer belly…much, but when a gastropub in Koreatown called Beer Belly opened up, I figured I had to try it out. I was meeting a group of people, and arrived to find the place packed. And this was not a big place. Like about 8 tables and a few bar stools big, and all of them were loaded. Plus, it was first come, first served, so we got to hang around the tables like vultures surrounding a wounded gazelle. It was the tail end of happy hour, though, so I ordered a beer and hoped a table would clear out soon. Fast forward thirty minutes and we’re still waiting when a woman working the place asks if we’re waiting for a table. Uh, no, lady, we’re just standing here awkwardly for the hell of it. She then proceeded to ask us if we wanted to be on the list. This “list” was new to us, and apparently also new to her, as she told us she had just started it. Well, at least we wouldn’t have to stand awkwardly any longer.
In my continuing quest to find the perfect beer for every occasion, I happened Henry Weinhard’s Private Reserve. Further research has taught me that Henry Weinhard’s has a history even older than my beloved Leinenkugel’s. I also learned that the beer is affectionately called Henry’s (as though you could call a beer anything not affectionate). Described as a Classic Northwest Lager on the label, I hoped the Private Reserve would be good for the situation I was in – namely, I wanted good beer, but I was pretty full for dinner. I had no desire for a Coors Light-esque beer, but don’t get me wrong, I know the Silver Bullet has its place. At $9.99 for a twelve pack, Henry’s was definitely worth a try.
Two summers ago, I went to Bridge’s Bar in Lake Nebagamon after years of drinking dirt cheap pitchers of Leinenkugel’s there. But upon arrival, I found that the Leinie’s was missing. It was just about the scariest moment of my life. As I wallowed in sorrow, a friend brought a pitcher of beer to me excitedly. “They have Spotted Cow,” he proclaimed. I was unswayed, but he poured me a glass and I drank it because it sounded better than the Bud Light that was also on tap. My disappointment disappeared and I vowed never to return to Wisconsin again without drinking some Spotted Cow.
Well, someone finally beat me to the punch. Ever since I moved to the west side of LA, I’ve thought that downtown Culver City has needed a real bar. Kay ‘n Dave’s and Rush Street are good places, but they are first and foremost restaurants. Finally, the guys behind Rush Street have pumped out City Tavern (in the location that formerly housed the Meltdown grilled cheese joint) and I don’t think I could have done it better myself. I arrived a solid 45 minutes before my friends, which gave me a chance to put our name on the list for a table and to sample the beers they were purveying.
The Federal Bar in North Hollywood just opened last month and it wasn’t a moment too soon. North Hollywood has desperately needed some bar variety, because you can only go to Big Wangs and Pitfire Pizza so often. Plus, The Federal Bar is not simply a bar, it is a gastropub featuring a tasty-looking menu just waiting for an unvegan visit. The visit came on St. Patrick’s Day, when my coworkers and I were in dire need of a beer and didn’t want to wait in line anywhere. We were amazed to find The Federal Bar had a surplus of seats available and sat down to see what it was all about.
You know what’s great? Sausage. You know what goes great with sausage? Beer. So what does Steingarten, a recently opened restaurant/bar in West LA, have to offer? That’s right, sausage and beer. But not just any sausage and beer, sure they have your generic bratwurst, buckwurst, Polish and Italian sausages, but similar to Wurstkuche, they like to get exotic. With rabbit, venison, alligator and elk, these are truly some sausages to be reckoned with and not for those with a weak stomach.
It’s really not summer until you’ve had some Oberon. Sure, the weather may be warm, the grass may be green and the county may be forcing you to water your lawn only on odd-numbered days, but in truth, none of this matters until you get some Oberon in you. Now, you may be wondering, “What is Oberon?” If you turn to Wikipedia (the source of all knowledge), you will be lead to believe that Oberon is the king of the fairies. But this is just hogwash. In fact, Oberon is more likely to be a king of beers. No, not the king of beers…some brewery in St. Louis has that copyrighted.