Years ago I tried a vanilla ale at a brewhouse in Nashville and the experience was life-changing. I am a vanilla freak, and this beer was just fantastic. Recently while on business travel I found a vanilla stout at a brewpub on the east coast and I am now in obsession mode. Must... find... vanilla... beer.
Does anyone know of any brewhouses that make a vanilla beer in the LA area? Or a beer retailer that sells bottles? I'm in the LAX area, so south bay/westside is preferred, but I expect I'm gonna have to travel for this...
Okay, you're going to have some trouble tracking this down. Galco's honestly isn't going to have much for you... call ahead and ask because I don't think you'll find any Vanilla brews on their shelves.
Starting with more locally brewed options... The long definct Pasadena Brewing Company used to feature a coffee vanilla stout, but they closed their doors years ago. And the Thirsty Bear Brewing Company in San Francisco regularly features "Golden Vanilla," but it's a seasonal, and it's probably more of a drive than you were thinking of.
As to bottled options, there are comparatively few. You can order Breckenridge Vanilla Porter from various vendors online... but, as it isn't distributed locally, the only shop in Southern California that has the slightest chance of stocking it is The Stuffed Sandwich, where they carry some otherwise regionally unavailable brews (I'd honestly be very surprised if Sam had it in stock, so try calling ahead).
Finally, if all else fails, and you're absolutely desperate... look around for the big 24 ounce bottles of Michelob Celebrate Vanilla Oak on the shelves of your local BevMo. They were a limited release in 2005, but they can still be found in shops with less turnover. Anheuser-Busch was trying to compete with the craft brewers, and met with mixed success. This is a love it or hate it beer... I'll let you make up your mind as to where you stand on the matter.
Now, if you were looking for more heaviily spiced beers with vanilla notes... there would probably be more options, especially around the holidays... but the generally vanilla would be pretty faint with stronger flavors like ginger and orange peel in the foreground.
OK, this is not a vanilla beer, but if you don't find that I wonder if you'd like Hoegaarten whitbeer (a delicate, creamy, lovely unfiltered Belgian beer brewed with coriander)... it's like the korma of beers to me.
you were at Market Street in downtown Nashville. The beer was a Bohannon's Creme Ale and was probably the most delicious vanilla beer ever made. Unfortunately the brewery shut down and the recipe is a secret. I live here in Nashville and miss the stuff terribly. Never had anything like it.