Lucky Baldwin's in Pasadena, California, by joedecruyenaere on flickr.
I’m in America for a month, on a bit of a beery safari. I’m staying with my friend Bob who is an amazing brewer and the person who first turned me on to good beer. So, when I arrived some fresh, homebrewed Kolsh and a super-grapefruity American Pale Ale welcomed me.
We’d decided that we’d brave the frat-guy atmosphere of the Yard House (a place that serves beer to bone heads in yard-long glasses) because they have an extensive menu of beers on draft. Our plan was foiled when I got carded! (To Brits, this means you are asked for ID to prove you are over 21). I was completely out of the habit of carrying ID with me, as I don’t have to do this in London. All I had with me was my expired California ID which proved I was old enough to be the waitress’ mother, but since it was expired she refused to serve me. A surreal moment indeed!
So we ended up at Lucky Baldwin’s in Pasadena, an “English” pub which had an array of English beers on draft that would put most pubs in England to shame. And, unlike most British pubs, we were able to luxuriate outside in the sun in mid January wearing only tee shirts, and as evening came on we ordered another round and the fairy lights came on in the beer garden.
I ended up trying two beers I’ve been curious about, both by the American brewery, Stone. I started with the Smoked Porter and was impressed with the sneaky smoke note, and the overall drinkabilty. Next up was the Arrogant Bastard ale, a beer beloved of certain British friends, probably because they like saying the name. Bob described it as a barley wine. It did have a malty middle that I associate with a barley wine, but bookended by an oily, resinous hoppiness that coated the mouth completely. I had a pint of this because they only serve pints here…I had to nurse the damn thing, happy it would be my last beer of the night. My palate was done for. It was a reminder that I am now in the US, and things could get mighty hoppy.