Blue Palms Brewhouse celebrated its fifth anniversary last Sunday with a party that collected nearly 100 kegs from dozens of breweries, and one of L.A.'s craft beer pioneers was at the center of it all.
The festivities weren't limited to Blue Palms’ dining room: Tents and pouring stations were set up in the lobby of the adjacent Music Box Theater and the outdoor area behind the Hollywood landmark. Though revelers were abundant, the only notable lines formed when a special release was tapped. Rare kegs from breweries not often seen in L.A., like Founders Brewing and Southern Tier that owner Brian Lenzo had driven (or flown) across the country himself, were some of the big draws.
One of the first craft-focused establishments in the city, Blue Palms is now one of the tent poles of the movement in Los Angeles, and the future for the scene and the tavern looks bright.
What's next for the dedicated craft advocate? "I'm working on building a brewery downtown right now," Lenzo says. "It's coming along. We're going to partner with somebody, do something new. We want to keep beer alive -- have a good, comfortable place where families can come and drink a beer."
Lenzo was influencing the beer scene in L.A. even before opening Blue Palms in 2008. When he operated the Music Box Theater in the early 2000s, his was one of the first concert venues in the city to pour craft beer. He then partnered with Gabe Gordon (who would later found Beachwood BBQ) on the defunct Arts District pub Royal Claytons before he returned to pouring craft brews in the space adjoining the theater.
Blue Palms was nearly forced to shutter in 2012 when the Music Box's then-operators lost their lease, but the outpouring of support from craft beer fans -- in what became known as the "Occupy Blue Palms" movement -- gave Lenzo the leverage to renegotiate his sublet with the building.
Lenzo is still amazed by the last-minute save made possible by the community. "The beer community was unbelievable," he said. "I've never seen anything like [Occupy Blue Palms] in my entire career, for that many people to step up for a restaurant. Even other beer bar owners. [It] really strengthened the craft beer movement" in L.A.
"In Hollywood it's hard to last," Lenzo said. "You make it two or three years, and wow. To make it five is a testament to our staff and our customers."
Blue Palms Brewhouse, 6124 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 464-2337.
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