Stock my Fridge
Finally completed a room renovation and it's time to stock the fridge. I love all kinds of beer but I'm not a hardcore enthusiast so when I'm at the store I'm always taking a chance when I buy something. It's not the spent cash that's disappointing it's the sitting down at dinner and having a bad beer that's the downer.
I'm just looking for a well rounded group that's fairly accessible (especially in the Los Angeles area). Once I work my way through the good stock I'll know more about what's my style.
Well, if your style happens to be IPA, you are in luck, as there are lots of great ones available in bottles in Southern California, like Stone, Port Wipeoput, Russian River IPA, Blind Pig, or Pliny the Elder, Bear Republic Racer 5, AleSmith, Green Flash West Coast, Sierra Nevada Torpedo, Ballast Point Big Eye.
If you like hops but prefer them balanced with a bit more maltiness, try any of these amber/ red beers: Stone Levitation, Green Flash Hop Head Red, Bear Republic Red Rocket, Port Sharkbite.
Stouts and porters: Ballast Point Black Marlin, Stone Smoked Porter, Green Flash Double Stout, AleSmith Speedway Stout, North Coast Old Rasputin, Bear Republic Black Bear.
Belgian influenced ales: anything from Lost Abbey or Russian River, Green Flash Trippel or Grand Cru, the Stone Vertical Epic series.
Well, by now you know what I think the best breweries are, at least as far as bottles that are pretty widely available. I admit I have a heavy bias towards breweries local to me.
Juan's list is good, I'd second almost all of his recommendations.
I'd add to his list Telegraph, at least their California Ale and their Stock Porter. You should be able to find them in LA, as they're brewed in Santa Barbara.
If you're open to beer from other countries, I'd suggest checking out some German beers if you can find a good supplier. Look for styles like kolsch, hell, maibock, marzen, and doppelbock. Delicious, flavorful, well-balanced beers for when you're not looking for a lot of hops.
What's a good place to get a good selection of microbrews/good exports? I don't drink at home very often, but I do enjoy drinking good beer. I live on the W. LA, so I'd prefer something close by (W.LA, SM, CC). I usually just pick up something from Ralph's/Albertson's/TJ's, but their selection is usually pretty poor.
juantanamera's list is both solid and extensive. If Iived in SoCal, many of those beers would be in my fridge. In short, you'll be much better off to focus on beers that are brewed locally and fresh. Look on the bottle for bottling dates or best by dates and you'll do well. One trick is to look for dust on the bottles. For some high-alcohol beers aging is preferred, but, in general, fresher beer is better. If there's dust on the bottles, especially on hoppy beers like IPAs, move on.
Typically, you can find a good selection of beer in Whole Foods. TJ's selection, at least in the ones I've been in, appears limited.
I'd also look for anything by The Bruery, which is a new, local SoCal brewery. The owner's name is Patrick Rue, hence the unique spelling of the name.