How to plan a craft beer crawl along the Metro Gold Line
By John Verive
Jan 12, 2017 | 10:45 AM
The public transportation system in Los Angeles is maturing fast, and it’s a great way to explore the region — especially when you’re most interested in discovering its great bars and restaurants. If you’ve already tackled the Metro Red Line beer crawl, here are even more breweries, craft beer bars and beer-focused restaurants spread across the the 31-mile Gold Line.
Currently, the Gold Line runs from East L.A. through downtown and across some of the San Gabriel Valley. Here are a couple dozen highlights to hit within a short stroll of a Gold Line station.
The Metro Gold Line runs in two directions from L.A.’s grand train station. If you’re starting your pub crawl here, as we suggested on our Metro Red Line beer crawl, visit the station’s Traxx restaurant, grab some barbecue with your brew at the nearby Spring Street Smokehouse or start with the famous french dip sandwich at Philippe the Original.
Then, choose which direction on the Gold Line is next. Head toward Little Tokyo and East L.A., or through Chinatown and into the San Gabriel Valley.
The first stop in this direction is the reopened station between Little Tokyo and downtown’s Arts District. Northwest from the station along 1st Street, you’ll find Far Bar. The bar and restaurant offer a deep craft beer selection — including a long list of Japanese beers in bottles and on draft — and an even longer list of whiskeys. A block away on 2nd Street, Wolf & Crane offers a few local brews, a hip atmosphere and DJs spinning tunes several nights a week.
Head southeast from the station and you’ll find a cluster of craft breweries in the Arts District. Temple Street is home to one of the newest: Boomtown Brewery. Though Boomtown’s tasting room isn’t yet open for regular hours, the brewery is pouring in its events space on weekend evenings; check the brewery’s site before planning a visit. Angel City Brewery is just three blocks south of the station on Alameda Street, and it’s the oldest in the Arts District. The blocks around the brewery are lively with shops, restaurants and bars — many offering craft or, in the case of the popular Wurstküche, imported brews.
Head a few blocks southeast from Angel City and you’ll find Arts District Brewing Co. The brewpub features a long list of house-made brews and guest beers, and food from chef Neal Fraser’s Fritzi (both in an attached dining room and via an order window inside the bar area). There are also pub games from darts to cornhole to throwback coin-op Skee-Ball lanes like you used to play at Chuck E. Cheese's. Half a mile west of Arts District Brewing is Mumford Brewing, where the hoppy beers in the airy tasting room are some of downtown’s best.
After Little Tokyo, the Gold Line turns east and crosses the L.A. River into Boyle Heights. The next station on the line is near two more young breweries: Indie Brewing Co. and Dry River Brewing. The latter produces mostly barrel-fermented ales, and though Dry River’s on-site tasting room is not yet open, a stone’s throw away is Indie Brewing Co.’s newly open tasting room. The pair represent an exciting contrast of brewing styles, with Indie focusing on clean and often lower-alcohol brews, and Dry River producing beer that is complex, sour and funky.
If you opt for the 20-mile journey into the San Gabriel Valley northeast of downtown, your first stop on the northbound train from Union Station is Chinatown and the Melody Lounge. It’s easy to miss the Hill Street bar, but drop into the low-key space for a wonderful selection of craft beers skewed toward locally brewed favorites. There are sandwiches, often DJs spinning and occasionally, karaoke. The nearby Pok Pok restaurant is better known for its cocktail program, but the restaurant does offer a few craft beer taps if you’re looking to match brews with your Thai food.
Two stops up the line from the Chinatown station (skip the Lincoln/Cypress station) and a half-mile walk down Figueroa Street, is Footsie’s bar. The dive-y spot has cheap well drinks, a serviceable selection of craft brews, a pool table and the all-important patio.
Two stops past the Heritage Square station and you’re into Highland Park, amid a cluster of popular drinking destinations along Figueroa Street. A quick two-block stroll takes you to the stylish ETA cocktail bar, which offers a handful of local craft brews — often including sought-after IPAs from Beachwood Brewing. Across the street is the stunning, recently refurbished Highland Park Bowl. While the bowling alley has been around for decades, it isn’t the lanes of your youth — there’s a wood-fired pizza oven, some serious cocktails, a dozen craft beers on tap, and the clientele to match. Even if you don’t bowl any frames, Highland Park Bowl is worth a stop just for the people watching. A few blocks farther along (southwest) Figueroa Street is the Greyhound Bar & Grill, which serves lunch, dinner and brunch (on the weekends) alongside a long line of craft beers on tap and some great happy hour deals (4-7 p.m. every day).
Keep on the rails past Highland Park and into Pasadena, and there’s another dense cluster of beer bars and restaurants. Just steps outside the Del Mar station south of Old Town Pasadena is the Los Angeles outpost of San Diego’s gargantuan Stone Brewing Co. The Stone Company Store offers beer to go, growler and crowler fills, beer-based barbecue sauces and a wide selection of Stone’s core brews and special releases. Walk south on Raymond Avenue from the station and you’ll find Congregation Ale House. The Pasadena chapter of the mini-chain of pubs serves sausages and flatbreads and pours a wide selection of craft beers from across the country, as well as house beers made a little farther down the Gold Line at the Congregation Brewpub in Azusa.
The next stop brings you into Old Town Pasadena. Lucky Baldwins on Raymond Avenue has been serving pub food and beer (more than 60 on tap!) for more than 20 years, and it’s still a great spot to get Belgian imports and local craft brews. (It also has a great patio.) Another take on pub grub and craft brews (and patio seating) is the nearby Kings Row Gastropub on Colorado Boulevard. Then there are Slater’s 50/50 and DogHaus, both fast-casual spots serving burgers and hotdogs along with craft beers on draft.
Just blocks from the Memorial Park station are Der Wolfskopf and the Blind Donkey. The former is styled as a German beer hall, with the sausages and imported brews to match, while the latter is a wonderful whiskey bar with 10 well curated taps of craft beer (with lots of local options). Harlowe’s French Dip is a new restaurant from chef Tony Alcazar (the Bottle Room) that serves up traditional Los Angeles-style French dip sandwiches and the craft brews to wash them down.
Once you’ve traveled east of the Memorial Park station, the beer destinations thin out, but there are still some worthwhile stops farther down the line. The first is Lucky Baldwins Trappiste on Colorado Boulevard half a mile south of the Allen station. Similar to the Old Town Lucky Baldwins location, the Trappiste pub puts an even heavier emphasis on Belgian imports and Belgian-style brews, as well as a wide selection of Craftsman Brewing’s beers and other local favorites.
The third stop past Monrovia, and just one stop short of the end of the Gold Line, is the midcentury downtown of Azusa, and the brewpub location of the Congregation Ale House chain. One of L.A.’s often overlooked craft breweries, Congregation makes a variety of beers ranging from an American amber ale to potent Belgian strong ales. The house brews are solid, and the list is filled out by 20 additional taps of guest beers. So you can always find something to sip.