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Wednesday, December 20, 2006 

Craftsman Brewing Co.

In the Los Angeles area there is very little to call your own in the way fine, locally made beer. San Diego has a ton. The Bay Area has even more. Los Angeles has one: Craftsman - and even that is in Pasadena.

Their woefully outdated and terribly unhip website paints a picture of another era and another place. A brewing company that is about making fine beer for people that appreciate fine beer.

I first came across Craftsman offering at Lucky Baldwins in Pasadena. It seemed for years that this was the only place I could get their fine brews. Over the past couple of years, Craftsman has been popping up all over the place. Restaurants that understand local values such as Lucques and Engine Co. #28, have their beer to pair with fine dining. Newer beer bars like Library Bar and The 3rd Stop understand the helping LA out of the beer desert includes nurturing from within. All of this is painting a better beer 2007 for Los Angeles and Craftsman looks to be a contributing factor.

Craftsman Holiday Ale

81 / 100

This is a fine example of a Winter Warmer transplanted to Los Angeles. Unlike some, Craftsman's version remains somewhat light and subtle on the spicing. In colder climates this might be a bit thin - a thick, hearty Anchor Our Special Ale is what you need. This has the cinnamon and the malts but it also has a slight hoppiness to it. It finishes sweet with a slight brown sugar flavor.

Craftsman IPA

85 / 100

Last time I was at Lucky Baldwins, the IPA was out - thankfully this time, it wasn't. It came in a perfectly poured pint glass - a deep amber hue with a well retained 2 finger head. It's aroma was of glorious hops: mostly floral, but some pine too. Taste is blessed with hops too, with a sweet maltiness hidden inside. Plenty of hoppiness but very well balanced. This is one of those West Coast IPAs you could drink a bunch of.

Our first encounter with Craftsman was at the 3rd Stop not long ago. My unindicted co-conspirator ordered the IPA, but we were both sure that it was a lager or something -- perfectly blonde, no hops to speak of, generally unimpressive. He went up to the counter to doublecheck that he'd gotten the right beer, and they poured him another, but it was more of the same.

They must have gotten their tubes crossed. We'll make sure and try some Craftsman somewhere else.

That wouldn't surprise me about 3rd Stop, as my one trip there was not terribly pleasant.

Likewise. We were so excited about a place with 30 beers on tap, but it exemplifies the LA beer curse: a zillion lagers, Guinness, and possibly a decent ale (but not necessarily). Why can't we be more like San Diego or San Francisco? Why, lord, whyyyyy????

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