In many ways, the roughly 16-mile stretch between Burbank and San Gabriel is the cradle of craft beer civilization in L.A. County. It’s where many of the first craft beer bars and bottle shops appeared in our area; it’s home to the county’s oldest craft brewery — Pasadena’s Craftsman Brewing Company; and it continues to be an epicenter for L.A.-area craft beer culture to this day. So to help the residents of the Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena areas better navigate the excellent craft beer options available to them, we’ve compiled a list of just a few of the best bars and bottle shops the area has to offer — all within a short walk, bike or drive.
Craft Beer Bars
Tony’s Darts Away, Burbank
When Tony Yanow opened this namesake bar on Magnolia in 2009, it was just a modest little neighborhood joint specializing in all-California draught beer and vegan bar bites. Now, nearly 16 months later, it’s widely considered to be one of the best craft beer bars in California, if not the United States. But don’t worry — TDA maintains that unassuming neighborhood bar charm.
1710 W Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, www.tonysda.com/
Verdugo Bar, Glassell Park
Verdugo Bar is the first modern craft beer bar to appear within L.A. city limits, and it’s still one of the best places to go for a wide selection of high-quality craft beers. It tends to attract a younger, hipper crowd, and it doesn’t serve food. Food trucks do park outside quite often, though. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, we suggest arriving on the early side. The door opens at 3 p.m. on weekends.
3408 Verdugo Road, Los Angeles, www.verdugobar.com/
38 Degrees Ale House & Grill, Alhambra
Easily one the best craft beer bars in the San Gabriel Valley, 38 Degrees boasts a rotating selection of 38 beers on tap and around 60 beers in bottles. They also have full lunch and dinner menus, so don’t be afraid to come hungry. They open every day at 11:30 a.m.
100 W Main St., Alhambra, www.38degreesalhambra.com/
Craft Beer Bottle Shops
Vendome Wine & Spirits, Toluca Lake
This bottle shop has been around for a while, but it wasn’t until 2006 that it really began to expand its craft beer selection. Today, it’s one of the best places to go in the whole L.A. area for bottles of great craft beer. They also host regular tasting events, so make sure to check their website for dates and times.
10600 Riverside Drive, North Hollywood, www.vendometolucalake.com/
Red Carpet Wine, Glendale
A favorite among local craft beer drinkers, Red Carpet offers a wide selection of domestic craft beer bottles, as well as a large selection of imported bottles, with a heavy emphasis on Belgian and German beers. You can also drink your beer in store (after purchasing it, of course). So you might want to bring a designated driver.
400 E Glenoaks Blvd., Glendale, www.redcarpetwine.com/
Whole Foods Market, Pasadena
The regional flagship store, Whole Foods Market on Arroyo has set the bar for the entire L.A. area. Their craft beer bottle selection is remarkable, thanks to in-store craft beer buyers who really know their stuff, and have a genuine passion for sharing their knowledge with others.
465 S Arroyo Pkwy., Pasadena, www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/pasadena/
Other places worth checking out:
Eagle Rock Brewery, 3056 Roswell St., Atwater Village, www.eaglerockbrewery.com/
The Oinkster, 2005 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock, www.theoinkster.com/
Lucky Baldwins, 17 S. Raymond Ave, Pasadena; 1770 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; 21 Kersting Court, Sierra Madre, www.luckybaldwins.com/
The York, 5018 York Blvd., Highland Park, www.theyorkonyork.com/
SideBar, 1114 N. Pacific Ave., Glendale, www.side-bar.com/
Stuffed Sandwich, 1145 E. Las Tunas Drive, San Gabriel, www.stuffedsandwich.com/
Karl Strauss Brewing Company, 1000 Universal Studios Blvd., Universal City, www.karlstrauss.com/PAGES/Eats/CityWalk.html
Steven Armstrong is a local food and fine beverage writer, and a regular contributor to LA Weekly and the Los Angeles Times. You can follow him on Twitter @Gourmandeez.