131 1/2 Main Street, Seal Beach, CA (map)
After our last epic Beer-venture! that took us on 50 miles of train track and 25 miles of road riding, this was a piece of cake. It also shows that sometimes you don't have to go too far to find good beer. This was a nice quick ride down the road from our place. A ride we're quite familiar with actually, as Laura does it on a daily basis to get to work.
Let me warn you that Beachwood is small (despite the fact that it expanded to the neighboring space in less than a year!). When we got there the place was packed! At 2pm there was a line out the door and wait list. Granted, there happened to be a huge party there that took up most of the restaurant, but from what I understand this is not an uncommon occurence. Be prepared for a wait before your reward of good beer.
There's the list...
Let's get a little closer...
Beachwood BBQ changes out their beer selection regularly, hence the easy-to-change chalkboard listings. In fact, our waitress told us they change out 8-10 kegs each week.
When faced with such an incredible selection, how do you choose? Well, nobody says you can only try one...
Black Flag Imperial Sout
Laura says: The Black Flag was actually the only stout they had on tap, so it was the obvious first choice for me. And I have to say that I was delighted by this beer. Appearance is a dark black, with a thin creamy tan head. The first swig is thick, very creamy. You get a mouthful of toasty malts. Tastes like very dark roast espresso that has been only barely sweetened. This beer is rich and dense in your mouth, yet mellow and very well-balanced. The flavor lingers just enough, with the slightest bitter aftertaste. For me, this is the kind of beer that I look forward to, that I can take a sip and sit back and sink into my chair. Maybe it helped that our weather has been grey and rainy lately and stouts are excellent winter beers, but the Black Flag felt beautifully rich and full and (can I say it?) perfect. I will happily drink this anytime. 5
Russ says: After reading an article on where to get micros in Los Angeles and seeing the name Craftsman come up, I was excited to see it on tap (it replaced the slot for Racer 5 which I had there only a few days ago). It poured a dark golden color with surprisingly little to no head. The nose had some mild fruity notes but not the big hop smell I was expecting. The body is light-medium and not as resiny as I was expecting. In all honesty, I wanted more bite from this beer. I'm not sure if it is because I've been downing lots of big beer lately, but for an IPA this particular pint was really mild. More a pale ale than IPA. That's not to say it wasn't good. It had a good balance and had a dry clean finish, but there was no hoppy pucker that made you salivating for more. Could be that it was near the end of the keg or was just a bad sampling but this particular Craftsman left me unimpressed. Pleasant and drinkable but nothing to write home about. 3.5
Hair of the Dog Barleywine from 2000
When it was time to move on to a second beer, we started wondering if, perhaps, they had another stout hiding somewhere, maybe even in bottle. Gabe, the owner, came over and talked with us for a bit, explaining that he was waiting to get a new refrigerated case for all his bottles before releasing a bottle list. So, he wasn't really sure what all he had, since it wasn't all cold, and wasn't particularly organized. But, then he remembered that he had this barleywine and decided this is what we should try. A few minutes later, two samples arrived for our tasting pleasure.
This is one of the beautiful things about smaller owned restaurants, something that would never happen at a Rockbottom or Hard Rock, the owner going a little out of his way to get us something special. What he brought out was a Hair of the Dog barleywine from 2000. It was a bit of an experiment and he himself admitted sometimes you didn't know how these beers would age, but that this one developed rather nicely.
The barleywine poured a golden amber with a creamy one finger head that stuck around through the whole glass. The smell was raisiny and alcoholic, a bit strong. It was medium-heavy in the mouth. Amazingly, it went down super smooth with an really clean finish. It's hard to describe but there was almost no aftertaste. The major flavors were plum and raisin and a light pineapple (nothing like the Stone Double). They say barleywines mellow with age and this 8 year old sample was definitely mellow. I was expecting more of a kick but this had a nice rounded flavor and was pleasant to drink, as long as you didn't drink too much. We had a tiny taster and it was more than enough to send us a little loopy. We didn't get the ABV but my guess is that it was well into the double digits.
Seal Beach is a lovely little beach town. And Main Street is something out of a 1950s beach movie. It's this small little area that just doesn't feel like it's ready to greet the 21st century. But, to be quite honest, it's a bit refreshing. It's a great area to walk around, people are very friendly, and there are a lot of bikes.
Bike facilities along Main Street are pretty good, with a fair number of staples dotting the sidewalks. While there are no parking meters, there are also plenty of signposts, should you not be right next to an open staple.
And, less than half a block down the street from Beachwood is the Seal Beach pier, one of the longest in Southern California. If you take the time to walk all the way to the Ruby's at the end and back, you'll probably be alert enough to hop back on your bike and pedal home.