The Unvegan

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It’s a Pita Jungle Out There
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Doing the Impossible at The Counter?

‘Breweries’

Kind of a Burger at Highland Park Brewery

Yeah, that’s actually meatloaf.

It seems like just yesterday that I packed up my bags in Michigan to move to Los Angeles, but alas it was nearly 10 years ago. A lot has changed in those 10 years, and aside from housing prices and traffic much of it has been for the better. Take, for example, breweries. Michigan was littered with them and I found LA barely had one (San Diego was strong, though). Now, they are much easier to find and have even come around to serving brewery food instead of fancy stuff (I’m looking at you, Golden Road, but glad that you have also fixed yourself up!) Highland Park Brewery is one of the new entrants and I set out to test both its food and booze.

Brewing Some Pork Belly at Helio Basin

Taco belly!
Taco belly!

Breweries are the best, right? And they typically have awesome food. That’s why I was pretty excited to find out Phoenix was getting a new brewery called Helio Basin and tried to make my way there at the first opportunity. Plus, it didn’t hurt that I had a connection at the place and wanted to show some support.

Brunching at Eagle Rock Brewery Public House

Sexy on top.
Sexy on top.

You don’t typically associate a brewery with breakfast. But then, Eagle Rock Brewery Public House is less of a brewery than a quaint brunch spot that also happens to serve up a bunch of Eagle Rock Brewery’s beers (the real brewery is located elsewhere in Eagle Rock and is foodless save for the occasional food truck). Thus, after downing a beer I settled on the subject of food.

A Brewing at Les 3 Brasseurs

Some classic poutine.
Some classic poutine.

In need of some food to soak up the booze of the night before, we found ourselves at Les 3 Brasseurs in downtown Montreal. Of course, in English this translates to The 3 Brewers, so it seemed like a good place to get our fill before leaving the lovely city of Montreal. Because it seemed necessary, we started with a couple orders of poutine for the table – including one non-traditional that had pulled pork and bacon.

Ditch Digging at Pearl Street Brewery

Tapping it.
Tapping it.

Downtown Buffalo hosts all sorts of fun events during the summer and so far none more fun than Thursdays at Canalside. But right by Canalside is place called Pearl Street Grill & Brewery, which is supposed to have some good things to eat and drink. As a man who loves brewery food, I was excited at the prospect of Pearl Street and after ordering one of their seasonal beers I took a gander at their menu.

A Quick Fix at Montana Brewing Company

Getting way gorged up.
Getting way gorged up.

Montana. Big sky country. The land of traffic jams caused by cows. Yes, like very few people before us (based on the lack of a line at the border), we returned from the Great White North through Montana. Billings is a long way from the border, but at some point we found ourselves there and in need of eats. Thusly, we discovered the creatively named Montana Brewing Company.

Deep Dishing at CJ’s Brewing Company

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The unthinkable.

Many times I have lamented the lack of a microbrewery in LA. Sure, I’ve heard there’s one in Eagle Rock, but in 3+ years of living in LA I haven’t set foot in Eagle Rock and probably couldn’t point it out on a map. Plus, that’s one (allegedly good) brewery for a city with a metropolitan area of just under 18 million. Blech. But Michigan is another story, with plentiful great microbreweries. One of these is CJ’s Brewing Company in Commerce. And while I’ve had some delicious beers there, as with most microbreweries, the food is just as good.

Brews Over Burgers at Mill Street

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I like this street corner.

For a night in Toronto, I really didn’t have much of a clue about where to eat. Finally, a buddy of mine told me to check out the Mill Street Brewery. I am always up for a microbrewery since that seems to be a lost art in LA, so I looked it up. It turned out that the place was actually pretty easy walk from our hotel, so we headed to Mill Street to see what we could find. After a twenty minute walk through a mildly sketchy part of town featuring a homeless pirate watering plants with a two-liter of Canada Dry, we arrived at the Distillery area. This part of town was once some sort of huge brewery, but now had shops, restaurants, bars and people testing Smart Cars and Segway Scooters. Even before we started drinking, our goal was to take a drunken ride on/in one of these (no, we did not achieve our goal).

The Peak of Brew Burgers at Grizzly Peak

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Looks much better with bacon on top.

Everyone in LA seems to know that the place has no good beer culture, yet no one has really done anything to fix that. Sure, there’s BJ’s (no good) and a couple other microbreweries that are difficult to get to, but come on, LA is a huge city that deserves more. So when I left LA for Ann Arbor for a bit of a bachelor party, we headed to the Grizzly Peak Brewing Company. I’ve loved the Grizzly Peak for a long time, even dating back to before I could drink their beer and drank their micro-brewed root beer. I have a lot of great memories of the place and hoped that my most recent visit wouldn’t be a disappointment.