On the Beer Trail: A Comedian Consumes in California

On the Beer Trail

Exploring the country, beer by beer.

Editor's Note: Ethan Fixell tours the country as a comedian—and as a beer drinker. Can he sip a local beer in every state? Watch him try. Got a local brewery you want him to check out? Let Ethan know in the comments section.


[Illustration: Robyn Lee]

I'm ashamed to admit that in four separate trips to Los Angeles this year, I failed to taste an ounce of local craft beer. The first three visits, I was hurried in and out of town for performances on the Tonight Show. (Would it kill Jay to pick up a little Lagunitas for the green room?) The fourth visit was to meet with production companies about a script my comedy partner Dave and I wrote. (Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, meet your less handsome, hairier successors.) But on my fifth trip, for a show at Loyola Marymount University, I made sure to build in time for tasting at one of the best new beer bars the Los Angeles area has to offer.

The Tripel in Playa Del Rey epitomizes what I love about gastropubs: identical tap handles pouring drastically different brews; industrial-style lighting suspended from exposed wooden arches; intimate seating; tasty food. The Tripel's décor is masculine enough for a dudes-night-out, but romantic enough for a first date. Forget tequila or Champagne—the giant sign that reads "LUBRICATION" above the tap handles confirms that beer is now both the chummiest and sexiest libation in town...

If you assumed that a bar named after a high gravity Belgian style would have plenty of bad boys to offer, you'd assume correctly. But having touched down a mere 45 minutes earlier, I needed something fairly light to ease me into a West coast state of mind. Plus, with a performance less than two hours away, this was no time to get blitzed. (I once did a wasted improv show in New York. The only people laughing were on stage.)

I explained my situation to the friendly bartender, and he steered me towards Port Brewing Company's High Tide IPA. It offered a gentle introduction to the brewery, with sweet citrus scents and a fresh, snappy essence. The hops were certainly present in the pale yellow beverage, but not overwhelmingly so. While many IPAs try to shock your mouth with bitterness, High Tide gently invites you in with smooth and creamy texture.

People often ask me if I've thought about moving to Los Angeles, considering all of the showbiz opportunities out there. Sure, I've thought about it. Hell, most successful comedians eventually make it their home at one point or another, and now I know that the city's got plenty of killer beer. (On the draft list at The Tripel now: Coronado Islander, Monkish Brewing Co's Tripelist, Ladyface 3rd Anniversary Ale, The Bruery's Rugbrød, and Craftsman's Key Lime Wit, among others.)

But it can be hard out there in Hollywood. If you don't have a job waiting for you already, in just six months you could end up drained of all finances and hope, waiting tables on other despairing actors with no prospects but the role of "pool boy" in some softcore porn for Mexican Cinemax.

So I think I'll stay in New York for now. We've got great beer, too, you know.

The Tripel

333 Culver Boulevard Playa Del Rey, CA 90293 (map) 310-821-0333; thetripel.com/