Weekend Wanderings: Crawling the Gold Line
By Susan Motander
Last weekend, John Wilson led an intrepid group of Arcadia Rotarians (and a few wives) on a pub-crawl along the Gold Line. We wandered through the Arts District, stopped at the Del Mar Station in Pasadena and finally returned to Arcadia with a final stop at Mt. Lowe Brewery within walking distance of the station there. Fortunately, there was a wide selection of food at most of these stops so it was not a day of too many pitchers and not enough pizza for this group.
With the exception of the stop in Arcadia, parking is very limited in these areas, so using the Gold Line is a great alternative and a round trip ticket is only $3.50 on the weekends, a bargain compared to the stress of finding parking (not to mention the cost there). And one gets to feel self-righteous about using public transportation – not to mention, it is rather fun to go with a group. And a diverse group we were: a retired pharmacist, a Superior Court judge, a businessman, and the executive director of the Boys and Girls Club and three wives with equally diverse occupations.
With part of the group boarding the train in Monrovia and meeting up at the Arcadia Station with most of the rest of the group, we took off on our crawl. First stop was the Arts District/Little Tokyo station of the Gold Line (one beyond Union Station) from there it was a straight walk down Alameda to our first brewery, Angel City. With the lights and traffic in your favor, the walk is only about 4-5 minutes.
This stop had one of the widest selections of beer styles, with everything from IPAs (India Pale Ale) and Lagers to Wheat Beers and Amber Ales, all the way to a Rauchbier, a smoked beer that, as the name indicates, originated in Germany. As with most of our stops, the brewery offered tasting flight of 4 oz. pours. Most of us opted for a flight in order to experience more of their offering. Since we had varied palates, the reviews differed. I found several in my favorite styles. I suggest you talk to the bartenders and explain your preferences.
The taproom is a bit of an open barn and a bit drafty so a jacket may be wise in cooler weather. While there is no kitchen at the brewery, there is a schedule on their website of the food trucks that appear at there. When we visited it was gourmet tacos. Angel City Brewery, 216 Alameda St., Los Angeles, CA.
A short walk east on 4th Street and a quick jog over to Tractor Avenue takes one to one of the newest breweries in the downtown area, Art District Brewing Company. Here the list is prodigious with 18 selections on the day we visited. As a lover of dark beers (that for the most part have lower IBUs – a bitterness measurement), I was delighted with a wide selection of darker brews. Here the group again used tasters to try more selecions. A favorite of many of us was Dahlia, a dark Baltic Porter (obviously a tribute, of sorts, to the historic and famous Black Dahlia unsolved murder. Again those behind the bar are your best guide in making your selections.
The main room here is also a huge space that can accommodate 500 people, but there is a more intimate open air patio. This has the advantage of ta view of the lovingly maintained, vintage convertible Corvair owned by one of the bartenders. Fortunately there is a take-out window from Neal Fraser’s Fritzi’s restaurant for lots of bar snacks and very juicy hamburgers. 828 Tracton Avenue.
From there it was another walk, this one through some interesting areas. The scents of what most would refer to as skid row can be rather strong on a warm afternoon. For once I was glad my hay fever kicked in at that point. It is a walk back up 4th to 3rd and then across Alameda to San Pedro and a jog down to Boyd Street and Mumford Brewery. The walk was not preparation for the more upscale ambiance of this place. To my mind it was more yuppie than the shabby chic, more bohemian ambiance of the first two spots. Here I will admit I did not notice any food supplied, and I was a bit underwhelmed by the beer. Of all our downtown stops this one had the smallest selection, but others in our group quite like several of the beers they sampled. 416 Boyd Street.
From there is back to Alameda and the Gold Line Station for a return to the San Gabriel Valley and a stop at the Del Mar station. Here we stopped again for a pint at The Stone Brewing Company, at the old Santa Fe Station on Raymond in Old Town Pasadena. It is only steps off the Metro Gold Line into this outpost of the Escondido Brewery. It features an indoor tasting pub or, even better, tables on the patio.
Since this brewery specializes in IPAs (not a favorite of mine – too hoppy and bitter for my taste), it was not my favorite stop. However, they regularly have special releases and seasonal beers and I was able to find a very nice stout to my liking.
The do not have food service here, but they encourage you to bring in your own. Fortunately, right across the patio is the Luggage Room Pizzeria. The pizza was quite good. 220 S. Raymond.
Then it was back on the Gold Line and a return to Arcadia and the Mt. Lowe Brewery. It is just north on first to Saint Joseph Street. This is Arcadia first Microbrwery, it opened just last December. The beers are quite good with a good selection of styles. I would have liked more stouts and porters, but I am in the minority on this. They did have on of each of my favorites and so I tried a couple of others including a very nice Honeynton Hef (obvious a honey wheat beer and a pun on Huntington). 150 E. Saint Joseph St., Arcadia, CA 91006
No article on a pub-crawl along the Gold Line would be incomplete (not to mention disloyal of me) not to mention Monrovia’s own Pacific Plate Brewery. Even though we did not stop there on this trip, Jonathan, Steve and Steven would never forgive me if I left them out. Monrovia’s first microbrewery (they opening in 2014) is always a stand out with their creative tastes (Horchata Stout, Cardamom Ginger Saison, Mango IPA – OK this one I like) and the yeasts nurtured by Steve, that mad scientist. They are just down the street from Monrovia’s Gold Line Station at 1999 South Myrtle (if you reach the Fire Station, you’ve gone too far).