As the Roxy Theatre on West Hollywood's Sunset Strip approaches the big 4-0, owner Nic Adler has a dream for reinvention. It could perhaps be called "The Roxy Draft House."
"This is where we want to go," Adler said. "I want to see 40 or 50 beers at the Roxy. We've started taking meetings on draft systems, and we want wine on draft. I have the Roxy draft house concept in the back of my mind."
For now, however, Adler will simply have to be content with having his own beer. Last month, the venerable music venue that opened in 1973 began serving a house beer called No. 1, courtesy of San Diego's Karl Strauss. It's an American-styled golden ale with a midrange alcohol-by-volume percentage and a hop flavoring that leans more citrus than bitter.
"For us, Corona and Budweiser, back and forth, were our number-one-selling beers, so I didn't want to make a bad business decision and bring in something that would be too complicated for people," Adler said.
Since tapping No. 1 at the music venue, it has been the Roxy's top-selling beer. The spot's craft beer makeover, however, really began two years ago, and like most beer-related happenings in L.A. of late, the name Tony Yanow (Mohawk Bend, Golden Road Brewing) is involved. With Yanow's help, Adler has for two years now staged the Vegan Beer Fest and will hold another this spring.
"When we had the Vegan Beer Fest, it was amazing for me to go booth to booth and see how much was out there," Adler said.
The Roxy still has some mass-produced beers but in cans only, because Adler has done away with any bottled beer, citing environmental concerns. In addition to No. 1, the Roxy carries Golden Road and Sierra Nevada on tap and craft breweries such as Oskar Blues and Avery in cans. A pint of No. 1 usually goes for $7, but if one has designs on a $4 can of Pabst Blue Ribbon, for instance, get to the Roxy early.
"As of the first of this year, we will only sell two cases of PBR per night, and then that's it," Adler said. "I want people to have the option for a $4 beer, but I don't feel like it represents the Roxy and what we're trying to do with beer and cocktails.... We want to up the profile of what we do."
Etc.: Speaking of Golden Road, the tap room at the Atwater Village brewery is open for business, serving beer and sandwiches most days from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. … Knuckle Sandwich from Bootlegger's Brewery in Orange County is a monster, a double India pale ale with 10% alcohol-by-volume. The beer made its return in late December and has been showing up and disappearing at bars around L.A. since. On Monday, however, head to Steingarten LA, because the bar unleashes its share of this malty take on the IPA.