It wasn't the first beer-soaked lie a drunkard ever told, but it's certainly one of the most enduring. As the story goes, two German nobelmen were drinking when one fell off his beer barrel. Rather than admit he was drunk, he insisted that a nearby billy goat (known as a "bock" in German) had charged him. Whether or not his compatriot bought the story, no one knows. But since then, bock has come to mean "strong lager" -- i.e. a beer so strong that, like a belligerent goat, it knocks you over.
The billy goat and all its attendant iconography was also the inspiration for Ryan Sweeney when conceiving his newest bar, The Surly Goat, which opens in West Hollywood on Monday after two months of delays. Sweeney and his Verdugo Bar co-owner Brandon Bradford have teamed up with Alen Aivazian and silent partner Adolfo Suaya of Osaka and BoHo (where Sweeney curates the beer list) to open a beer bar that offers popular craft beers alongside rare, hard-to-find brews for more erudite beer nerds. The walls are decorated with dozens of vintage and reproduced beer posters featuring goats.
With 26 taps offering a rotating selection one cask engine (currently stocked with Ballast Point's Victory at Sea; $5/half-a-pint), The Surly Goat's menu features The Bruery's Sour in the Rye, an American wild ale ($7/pint); Stone Brewing's Old Guardian 2008, a beer that's aged in red wine barrels ($7/pint); Old Rasputin 12, which is aged in bourbon barrels ($10/8 oz.); Russian River Brewing's Pliny the Elder, an American double IPA ($8); Firestone's Velvet Merkin oatmeal stout ($7/pint); Craftsman Cabernale, a combo of beer and wine ($7); Delirium Tremens ($8); Wiehenstephaner Hefeweizen ($7); and Spaten Lager ($6).
In some cases, the bar will offer exclusive beers. San Francisco brewery Speakeasy is making its Public Enemy Pilsner, an peanut-tinged heritage beer that dates to the pre-Prohibition era, only for Surly Goat and Verdugo.
The Surly Goat won't officially open to the public until Monday, but between now and then, look for the bar to open its doors to friends, family and neighbors. For more pictures, turn the page.
The Surly Goat: 7929 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood; (323) 650-4628.