I recently visited some friends over in California and Arizona, and thought I’d have a look at as many beer places as possible. Naturally, there were a few food places on the way too! After getting over my jetlag (and shamelessly drinking a 6 pack of Ballast Point Sculpin’ IPA the night before) I decided to go down to Plaza Market, also known as Craft Beer Kings to see Moe, one of the managers as he kindly had some beers saved for me.
The shop is located in El Monte, which is North LA close to Pasadena and East Los Angeles at 2400 Peck Road. It’s quite easy to get to, just make sure you avoid the hideous LA traffic as best you can. It’s quite modest looking from the outside, and even sells usual stuff American Liquor Stores do, but do not be mistaken. Once you walk to the back of this place, you know what it’s all about. Rows and rows of Fridges with Craft Beer from all across the US and the rest of the world. I was pleasantly surprised to see a good offering of Belgian and British beers too. As well as the fridges pictured, there’s great beer dotted all around this shop, and another isle for beers that don’t need to be kept as cold with glassware to match. I was just about to ask for Moe, when he stepped out of the office as he recognised me. From my experience, bottle shop managers aren’t always the friendliest types but Moe was very welcoming and it was nice of him to save me some great bottles of beer from the likes of Russian River, Firestone Walker, Avery and more (look for these in reviews soon). He was even nice enough to gift me a bottle of Founders KBS, which has long been sought after. Review on that soon! After looking around I selected some more bottles and a glass for Review purposes (I wish I could bring it all home!) Moe was nice enough to give me the glass for free. It all totaled around $100, which was not bad at all. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, you really need to give this place a visit!
As we were a short drive from Glendale, we thought we’d visit the Golden Road pub for a bite to eat and a beer or two. I must say, I really enjoyed the brewery’s location in an industrial area next to a train track with the backdrop of the Verdugo Mountains. The entire complex is quite large, but it’s nice to think that they started in one building and slowly bought the others while expanding.
As it was quite busy, we opted to sit outside but made our way to the bar first. We ordered a Carry On Citrus Ale and a Trouble Ahead Red Ale. I like how most of their beer names rhyme. My favourite out of the two was the Carry On Citrus. It’s a Hopped up American Pale Ale with Local California Citrus added. The Citrus really carried through in the beer, although it wasn’t overpowing and well matched with the hops and malt. The Trouble Ahead Red was great too, just enough hoppiness to assert it’s American brewed source, but the Caramalt and speciality malts made a very balanced brew.
I enjoyed sitting outside with the omnipresent California sun bearing down on us sampling the beers, then as one of the Golden Road staff came over, I remembered another great thing about drinking in America… table service! I opted for the Avacado Tacos and the popular 2020 IPA. The food arrived pretty quickly and was fresh and delicious, the 2020 IPA washed it down well with hints of Citrus as well as a big Pine Character which was very bold. Not a bad day all in all!
The next day, we stopped off in Venice Beach to have a walk around. Venice is a pretty damn crazy place, but it’s worth a visit. Whilst we were there, my good friend said we should check out the Venice Ale House. I’m not one to turn down a beer, so off we went!
The Venice Ale House is a small place right on the Boardwalk, with a big selection on their “Almost Always On Tap” list. I opted for a Smog City Brewing Groundwork Coffee Porter. I was saving my “Hoppy” Palate for the visit to Stone later on in the day and there’s nothing wrong with a Porter whilst enjoying good weather. The beer was really crisp with a huge Coffee Hit! Venice Ale house have a really good food menu as well as a great beer list, and I recommend a visit! After this, it was time for the long drive to Escondido to get to the well-known and loved Stone World Bistro and Gardens.
As soon as I got to Stone, it was a long drive from Venice and the only thing on my mind was the food. Which is lucky, because Stone World Bistro also do some World class food as well as World class beer! I opted for the starter of Hummus and Crackerbread and for the main, Peruvian Chicken. Both really hit the spot, and were cooked and spiced to perfection! Now for the beers. I tried to go for stuff I couldn’t usually get my hands on and started with the Stone Cali-Belgique IPA Aged in Red Wine Barrels. It arrived a Murky Orange with a decent head on it with pretty good retention. On the nose there was some funky Belgian yeast, some nice woody tones and a touch of Citrus and Tannic Red Wine notes. On the Palate it was much the same, but with the well balanced flavours of the original beer coming through with some Sour Notes which was welcome. Probably my favourite of the night. Next up was the Cali-Belgique in White Wine barrels, which was on cask. Personally, this one wasn’t my favourite but still very well balanced. This one was a little boozier, with more of the Grape flavours coming through. Also, there was definitely more of a yeast note as the beer was unfiltered as well as cask – an admirable feat! After this I had the usual, Stone IPA, Stone Smoked Porter, Stone Pale Ale, Stone Ruination. All in fine condition as expected. I then tried the Go To IPA and the Delicious IPA side by side and enjoyed the Go To IPA a lot more. The Delicious was more like a sweet hop tea. Not my thing. After this, time was getting on so I went for the heavy hitting Enjoy by 420 IPA which I’ll be blogging about this Friday and the Chai Spiced Russian Imperial Stout. The Chai Spice was spot on, but I forgot how much this beer isn’t an easy drinker and it took me a while to drink! Don’t get me wrong though, the beer was fantastic, not much head apart from a caramel coloured ring around the glass with tonnes of Roasty Coffee, Rich Dark Chocolate and Chai on the nose. On the Palate the Chai Spice and Coffee are definitely the main flavours first, leaving a creamy chocolately bitterness behind with a hint of booze.
The Atmosphere at Stone was absolutely incredible, they have a huge Garden out the back with it’s own stream, waterfalls, wildlife and more. It’s a must visit if you go to California. It really is a beautiful place.
That’s it for Part 1. Join me next week for Part 2, with a visit to Ballast Points Tasting room, Twisted Manzanita, Firestone Walker Barrelworks and more!