Thanks to Alex and Evan from Hot Knives, the Grand Crew '08 ride, held on a cool, sunny Saturday, was a big success. At least 60 riders, including Hair of the Dog Dave and Will Campbell got expert advice on microbrews, tequila and scotch at four beer-buying stops. After meeting at Union Station, we cruised over to Boyle Heights to check out Ramirez Liquor at 736 S. Soto St. Ramirez has wide spreads of German, Belgian and American small production beers, as well as an amazing tequila wall with hundreds of varieties of premium stuff and lots of fun miniatures. Combine a tequila-buying trip to Ramirez with a tasting tour of tamales or tacos, and you've got a hell of a day.I picked up a Stone Brewing's special holiday ale made in partnership with Nogne and Jolly Pumpkin, with chestnuts, juniper berries, white sage and caraway seed.
Next we headed to the Rock 'n Roll 7-11 on Figueroa. I've already written about this 7-11, which is the only one that stocks rare and wonderful craftbrews, but this time I got to meet Charles, the beer geek manager who offered several generous specials to the riders. I picked up a bottle of Avery Ale to the Chief to drink on Inauguration Day. Then it was on to Galco's, which carries beer from dozens of countries, like all the varieties of Hitachino Nest including the zesty ginger brew. The rest of the riders carried on to Glendale's Red Carpet Wine; I pedaled back to pick up my car, but I'm sorry I missed Red Carpet, which is one of Evan and Alex's favorite places to buy beer. Red Carpet has the largest selection of holiday brews around, and it's also apparently mecca for scotch connoisseurs. We all met up on the patio at the Verdugo at sunset to try three winter ales on tap and snacks from Pure Luck and Hot Knives. Now that's my kind of exercise!