February 27th, 2012


Beer at the Belasco

On Sunday afternoon I attended ColLAboration Winterfest at the Belasco theatre downtown. Like many LA theatre's the Belasco is wonderfully ornate: lush red curtains and lighting in most of the rooms and opulent decorated moldings on all the ceilings. It was a beautiful space, although the requirements of serving hundreds of people from multiple bars should have warranted a little more attention to organisation such as posted maps of the venue or signs. We had several hours to explore while drinking, so I think we found everywhere in the end.

There were five serving stations, each with four to six beers at a time, and with reasonably frequent rotations. In most cases there was one badly lit (and extremely un-camera-phone-friendly) sign mentioning the beers that were on tap. The lines were long, but moved pretty quickly, with the glaring exception of the only bar that served food. After spending the best part of an hour camped in that line (initially for beer) we reached the front of the line to discover that if we wanted food (and by that time we were considering it) we would have to wait over an hour. The food looked good, but it was typical bar fare,* so nothing particularly inspiring. That effectively meant there was no food available. If it hadn't been a Sunday, we would have gone across the street to the little taquería, and in hindsight, we should have gone looking for somewhere else in the neighbourhood, but that didn't occur to me at the time.

Those negatives aside, the beer selection was quite broad and there were some interesting brews on display.** My favourite was probably the first I tried, the Strand 2nd Anniversary Braggot (a kind of beer-mead hybrid, as I understand it) which had definite floral, fruit, vanilla and honey notes. Also of note were the Lagunitas Cappucino Stout which didn't really taste of coffee at all, rather elderflower and a hint of chili (but without the heat), the Hangar 24 Vinaceous (an English Old Ale brewed with grapes and brown sugar, so somewhat like a sweeter, more mellow version of the Stone Vertical Epic 10.10.10). There was even an Epic Imperial IPA with a note saying it was the first time it had been tapped in California, but the surly bartender didn't know whether it was the NZ brewery or the other Epic in Utah. I think it was the latter.

The real problem with the lack of food was the high alcohol content of most of the beers. All of those listed above clocked in at over 8%, and they all paled in comparison to the Dogfish Head World Wide Stout at a ridiculous 18%. I have to say that I'm a little over high alcohol beers.

So, a good afternoon, but next time I'll take my own food. In a city with such excellent mobile food vendors, it's kinda criminal when you have to wait for any serious length of time to get food at a beer event.

* Typical for a good quality bar, that is.
** I'm entering my notes into Untappd at the moment.