Food Daily Dish

What makes a great beer bar? Stop by 38 Degrees' birthday party and find out

Good beer, fantastic food, knowledgeable staff and an 'X-factor' keep fans coming to 38 Degrees
Alhambra's 38 Degrees, one of the best beer bars in Southern California, is celebrating its fifth birthday

What makes a beer bar one of the best? I’d say it needs to be great at four things: an amazing beer list filled with local brews; fantastic food that elevates the brews; a caring, attentive and knowledgeable service staff; and a certain X-factor that keeps patrons coming back.

Thrillist posted a list of the 33 best beer bars in the country this week, and while the ever-popular Father’s Office got a nod, the website unsurprisingly missed some of L.A.’s best beer destinations.

38 Degrees Ale House in downtown Alhambra excels in all four of those categories I named. The beer list is always stacked with fan-favorite brews, the gastro-pub fare is both decadent and creative, and the staff is always ready to serve up on-point recommendations. The X-factor for 38 Degrees is its reputation for throwing some killer parties and beer events, and this Saturday, the craft-beer-obsessed 38 Degrees team will celebrate its fifth anniversary with a beer bash on an epic scale.

Co-owner Clay Harding has made it a mission to bring the best in the craft beer world to his customers in the San Gabriel Valley and beyond, and he’s seen the beer scene in Los Angeles develop greatly in the last five years.

“We started to see an influx of guests from various cities around L.A. and O.C. in 2010 as our notoriety improved,” Harding says, “and we’ve been so proud as these fun-seeking travelers continue to find 38 Degrees a great destination for amazing beers and our fresh take on New American cuisine.”

When 38 Degrees opened in 2009, Alhambra was far from a craft beer hot spot. “We had many a doubter in our choice of location for a craft beer restaurant,” Harding wrote in an email, “and I am now proud to say, Alhambra is one of the best beer communities in all of L.A., [and] opening in Alhambra has proved that all types of people in every community in L.A. can learn to appreciate fine beers and even fall in love.”

Harding says what has surprised him most is that, while the endless escalation in quality and creativity of local craft brewers has been amazing, "I have not stopped tasting beers that are so different from one another and feature so many dynamic flavors. And instead of researching and travelling to find these unique brewers, they are being introduced to me here in Alhambra by the numerous representatives of brewing brands.”

Harding’s passion for exploring the variety offered by craft beer is always on display at 38 Degrees, and Saturday’s anniversary party will feature a long list or rare treats, barrel-aged brews, and sought-after favorites. The festivities begin at noon!

38 Degrees, 100 W. Main St., Alhambra, (626) 282-2038

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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