CoffeeBeer >> Pint Pleasures >> Previous Beer Columns >> 4 Pubs in Hollywood, Long Beach, Seal Beach

Previous Pint Pleasures - November 14, 2010

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Blue Palms Brew House, 6124 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, California

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Beachwood Barbecue, 131 1/2 Main Street, Seal Beach, California

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Fuego at Maya Hotel, 700 Queensway Drive, Long Beach, California

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Legends of Aviation Restaurant & Bar, Long Beach Airport, 4100 Donald Douglas Drive, Long Beach, California

Although my hometown of Long Beach, California boasts the oldest brewpub in Southern California, I've never been impressed by the microbrew scene in Long Beach, much less in the entire Los Angeles metropolitan area. On my recent summer visit, however, I was very excited to find that things have changed. Not only are many more venues serving microbrews but the variety and quality of the brews has massively improved.

Before my Bay Area friend Mistah Rick and I embarked on our San Diego Coast brewery tour, we headed up to Hollywood to the Blue Palms Brew House, located on the east end of Hollywood Boulevard near Vine where the Walk of Fame features the signatures and handprints of earlier movie stars like Theda Bara, Pola Negri, George Raft, Dan Duryea, Gracie Fields, and Jeanette MacDonald. In the immediate vicinity is the famous Capitol Records building, a peek-a-boo view of the Hollywood Sign, and the s Gallery and Museum of Death. Directly next door to the Blue Palms is the Music Box Revue Theatre that first opened in 1926 and specialised in musical comedy starring silent film stars. For a decade it was used as a cinema and returned, in the 1980s, to legitimate theatre and live music. I remember seeing live bands here in my last years in California.

But enough reminiscing, because we had come to experience some of the Blue Palms' wide range of craft beers from local, national, and international breweries. There are 24 taps including one hand pump, and the beer list is rotated daily. The Blue Palms prides itself on serving each brew in its proper glass and at its proper temperature.

Rick and I sat at the bar and shared two pints. The West Coast IPA (7.3% ABV, Green Flash Brewing Co, Vista, California) was light amber in colour, slightly cloudy, with a wonderful whopping of hops including Cascade, Centennial, Columbus, and Simcoe. I felt as if I were hopping through clouds like a rabbit angel. Our other pint was Mongo Double IPA (8.5% ABV, Port Brewing Co, San Marcos, California), which was served in a frosty goblet. A pale ale, this was also gorgeously hoppy with a lovely jasmine incense. Both of these pints were served quite cold which may account for the cloudiness.

As the speciality of the Blue Palms menu is the sausage plates, we shared a plate of delicious vegan Italian sausages served with sauerkraut and caramelised onions, and also an appetiser of fish tacos. The food was excellent. As we dined we chatted with the beer-knowledgeable barmaid about other brews, the Museum of Jurassic Technology, and microminiature sculptor Hagop Sandaljian. This was Los Angeles at its finest.

A week later I found myself in Seal Beach with my friends Mary and Toep. Originally known as Anaheim landing, the city of Seal Beach borders Long Beach along the coast, so it was a favourite beach destination when I was growing up. It was incorporated in 1915 and named Seal Beach because of the seals that used to swim in the ocean. In the 1920s it was a popular seaside resort with bath palaces, a rollercoaster, gambling ships, rum runners, a bathing pavilion, and the second longest pier in California. During World War II the Naval Weapons Station was constructed on the edge of the city for the use of the Pacific Fleet and Navy warships docked in Long Beach and San Diego.

Seal Beach still has its quaint Main Street that runs from Pacific Coast Highway to the pier. After a long walk on the beach the three of us strolled down Main Street in search of a pint, and we ended up at the Beachwood Barbecue. This restaurant and bar, "where the fork meets the pork", is very serious about both its barbecued meat and its microbrews, so it's quite popular with carnivorous ale lovers.

The room with the long bar was very crowded, so we sat at a table in the dining room surrounded by people eating burgers, sandwiches, smoked meats and fish, and nouveau Southern-style side dishes such as baked beans, sweet potato fries, cornbread, Texas caviar, hushpuppies, and blue cheese grits.

But we were there for the beer. It was hard for us to believe there's a pub in Seal Beach with a choice of 21 microbrews, and we were quite excited. For our first round I had a pint of Pliny the Elder (8% ABV, Russian River Brewing Co, Santa Rosa, California), a double IPA that tastes like solid hops I could bite into. I instantly fell in love with my sharkbite of a pint. Mary had a pint of Alesmith IPA (7.25% ABV, Alesmith Brewing Company, San Diego, California), a single IPA with a velvety bitter malt that slathered across the tongue like tasteful spackle redecorating the mouth. Toep had a pint of Warrior Black IPA (7.3% ABV, Port Brewing Co, San Marcos, CA), a smoothly nice brew, fruity, black, friendly, and not stoutly demanding. It's a more slender stout than usual.

For our second round I suggested the more unusual choices. Mary had a pint of Bornem Tripel (9.0% ABV, Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V., Ertvelde, Belgium), a Belgian beer that tasted of summer fruit, peaches, nectarines, and apple cider. It was nice and refreshing. Mine was the most adventurous on the menu: Hesjeøl Smoked Beer (7.0% ABV, Haand Bryggeriet, Drammen, Norway). This has got to be the most unusual beer I've ever tasted. It was smoky like a fireplace in a Norwegian ice hotel where somebody had thrown a butchered plesiosaur onto the fire. It transformed into other things as the dinner cooked: many things. I was off to Finland now; I was dancing the tango in a polished wood hut on a frozen abyss. When Mary tasted it she immediately thought of wood, and Toep's sampling caused him to say "Spearmint" and suddenly remember Kool Cigarettes. Hesjeøl Smoked Beer is truly a unique tasting experience.

Beachwood also has a huge list of bottled beers including Dark Island by Orkney Brewing ($38 for a 750ml bottle) and three Harviestoun selections.

The next day I went for lunch near downtown Long Beach with my friend Kimmer. We sat out on the waterside deck of Fuego, a nouveau Mexican restaurant at the Maya Hotel, with a panoramic view of the downtown skyline, the Queen Mary, Shoreline Village, and the southern seacoast. Although Fuego is not a pub, I am mentioning my lunch here because I had the chance to try my first Mexican microbrew. Growing up in California I naturally ate lot of Mexican food, and the only Mexican beers with which I was familiar were Dos Equis, Corona, Negra Modelo, Tecate, and the like. This, combined with the fact that I was an "X-Files" fan, meant I couldn't help but try a pint of Chubacabras (5.8% ABV, Cucapá Brewing Company, Mexicali, Mexico). I have to say this is the best Mexican beer I've ever had. It's nice and bitter and heavy on the hops -- or rather, lúpulo. Although I didn't spot any goat-sucking creatures on the horizon as I sipped it, I couldn't help expecting Muller and Scully to join us any minute.

Our lunch was very good, too, with our mahi mahi tacos melting in the mouth and the black beans made perfectly. And the view was breathtaking.

Because I was flying to Seattle from Southern California, I had the opportunity to forego the mass chaos of LAX and fly out of the forever charming Long Beach Airport. Consisting of only one terminal with eight gates, Long Beach Airport started life as Daugherty Field and in 1923 was opened as the first municipal airport. It was used as a naval air base and later an army airfield during World War II. Formerly used by United Airlines and American Airlines, it currently offers flights to many Western US destinations as well as a few to the East Coast.

Upstairs in the terminal is the Legends of Aviation Bar and Restaurant, offering a view of planes taxiing around this classic gem of an airport, with art-deco light fixtures matching the "Streamline Moderne" style of the airport signage. As my flight was leaving around noon, we decided to have breakfast here while we waited.

But when I noticed the two microbrews on tap, I decided to be decadent and have a pre-noon Bon Voyage pint of Tower 10 IPA (6.5% ABV, Karl Strauss Brewery, San Diego, California). This is nicely HOP-CHOP-Hoppy, as are all of these new Pacific Northwest-style IPAs I'd been sampling on this Southern California trip, but with a nice caramelly but unsweet malt character. What a wonderful decadent pint for well before the passing of the sun over the yardarm. When my Pint Pleasures logo model Eileen arrived to meet us she tasted it, smiled, and said, "Wow!" and ordered a pint. Daisy had a pint of Endless Summer (3.4% ABV, Karl Strauss Brewery, San Diego, California), a more reasonable strength for a brunchtime brew. This is a very smooth pale ale but with that same unsweet malt. Godverdomme! It's a Belgian style that made my Belgian friend happy. Even my non-beer-drinking mother ordered a pint of Endless Summer, undoubtedly wishing my summer visit from England would have been endless.

Blue Palms Updates
(Last updated 26 May 2012)

Beachwood BBQ Updates
(Last updated 29 June 2014)