Greg Bechtel is a former bartender, a partner in the new brewery at Simmzy’s Burbank and L.A.'s only Advanced Cicerone. What is an Advanced Cicerone, you might ask? It's the third level in the Cicerone certification program, a beer education and certification process similar to the Court of Master Sommelier distinctions for wine professionals.
Bechtel and his team, including new head brewer Brian Herbertson (of Wicks Brewing Co.), have recently launched the first three beers of the Burbank brewery's lineup, just in time for L.A. Beer Week. To mark the occasion of the city's weeklong beer celebration, Bechtel leads us on a tour of his favorite places to drink beer in Los Angeles — and provides a guide to what you should eat as well.
“At Sausal they curate a beer list that focuses on great examples of classic styles while giving a nod to the local scene. I often order a local IPA, like the Three Weavers Expatriate, and am sure to check out their Cicerone Stash of bottles. Fun stuff to be drank! They do an awesome job of elevating old-school, California rancho-style cooking with fresh, local ingredients. Expect lots of wood-fire cooking and roasting. I love stopping in for some tacos and a pint at lunch. My favorite is the beef brisket barbacoa.” 219 Main St., El Segundo; (310) 322-2721, sausal.com.
6. Bottle Room
“The Bottle Room's draft list focuses on great local one-offs and hoppy beer and is always well selected. Last time I was there, I enjoyed some Eagle Rock Brewery Tarte Noir. I am usually eyeing up their sour beer selection or asking the bartender what’s fresh and hoppy. They do some killer burgers, but I like the smaller bites, like the pork belly tostadas or the house pastrami poutine with a side order of Tony tots.” 6741 Greenleaf Ave., Whittier; (562) 696-8000, thebottleroombar.com.
“The beer selection at Bestia is small and L.A.-focused. I love drinking a snappy Citra Pale from ESBC, or Smog City’s Sabre Tooth Squirrel if I’m in the mood for a slightly darker malt profile. Bestia’s pasta is great, but their charcuterie is my favorite, along with an order of marrow bone.” 2121 E. Seventh Place, downtown; (213) 514-5724, bestiala.com.
“The list at Playground always has some awesome stuff from local O.C. breweries, like the Jack Handy IPA from Chapman Crafted. Be sure to check out their bottle list as well. Lots of amazing sour beer to be had. I love the Wagyu tri-tip and pan-roasted wild mushrooms.” 220 E. Fourth St., Santa Ana; (714) 560-4444, playgrounddtsa.com.
3. L&E Oyster Bar
“Their beer list has a great balance of seafood-friendly styles. I’m also a big fan of the IPAs from Highland Park Brewing that are frequently on the menu, like their Bonkers IPA. I love a great raw bar. I like to start with a stout and some oysters, then finish it up with their awesome lobster roll.” 1637 Silver Lake Blvd., Silver Lake; (323) 660-2255, leoysterbar.com.
“This is my local spot for tapas and happy hour. The draft list is a wide selection that covers a lot of bases. Since I’m usually there on the early side, I like to order something sour or light like a Craftsman Sourdough. I usually order up a bunch of smaller bites and some charcuterie and cheese. Chorizo Bilbao and the roasted red pepper and feta dip are some of my regulars.” 73 Pier Ave., Hermosa Beach; (310) 318-2666, themedhb.com.
1. Beer Belly
“The beer list is always moving at Beer Belly and has a variety of things to fit any mood you are in. I can always rely on some awesome local IPAs on tap, like the Mumford Brewing Third Term or Beachwood Brewing Citraholic. Perfect to cut through the fat of those fries. The duck fat fries topped with duck confit is something I have to order. If I have any room after that, it goes to the grilled cheese or one of their burgers.” 532 S. Western Ave., Koreatown; (213) 387-2337, beerbellyla.com.