Samantha Cohen and Alex Castle enjoy a cold beer at the Glendale Tap. (Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles…)
As the L.A. area's beer scene continues to grow, the Glendale Tap makes a compelling argument that Glendale could be its ground zero. After all, the Glendale Tap is just a short drive to two of that city's most respected breweries.
Glendale Tap is a reversal of trends. The city has had no shortage of craft beer spots opening up, with many of them falling into the fancy-pants gastro-pub category complete with a burger that comes equipped with Gruyère cheese. At Glendale Tap, there are peanut shells on the floor, and you can get a pretzel heated up. Though only about 6 months old, Glendale Tap feels lived in. "We wanted to re-create a bar that maybe your dad or granddad went to. We want it to have an old look," said co-owner Glyn Samuel.
The bar, on San Fernando Road just north of Los Feliz Boulevard in Glendale, is located between Golden Road Brewing and Eagle Rock Brewery. There was no sign until just a few days ago, but that wasn't part of a plot to stay hidden. Co-owner Steve Skorupa wanted Glendale Tap to recall the neighborhood taverns he grew up with in Chicago, where a sign advertising Old Style on tap was often larger than the name of the bar. "Those were taverns," said Skorupa. "You didn't have to put the name up. You just put the Old Style sign up and the neighborhood knew what it was. It was the pub, it was the local."
If it weren't for the two pool tables and the 13 seats at the bar, Glendale Tap would a feel a bit like an old-timey garage.
Vintage beer signs and car memorabilia line the walls, but the thin bar is Glendale Tap's conversation piece. The top is actually an old bowling lane, rescued from Chicago's shuttered 80-lane Marzano's Miami Bowl, which operated for nearly 50 years on the city's southwestern side. The bowling arrows are present on the bar, and because there was no room to install sinks and soda fountains, the bar is completely open, with no wall between patron and barkeep. Sit down and enjoy the leg room.
You don't have much in the way of choice, as Glendale Tap's liquor license grants the bar the right to sell only beer, and that's how it is going to be for the foreseeable future.
"We're thinking of expanding the existing license down the road," says Samuel, "but we want to be established with beer." No matter, as with 52 taps devoted to small-batch brews, many of them local, the bar is designed for exploration.
There are wheat beers, sours, India Pale Ales, stouts and the styles in between, and bartenders are willing to give samples to ensure that beers find happy homes. "To give a person a few tastes is important," said Skorupa. "I don't have a lot of free time. I want to enjoy myself. I don't want to pay $6, $7 or $9 for a beer I don't really dig."
Glendale Tap, 4227 San Fernando Road, Glendale. 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Monday-Thursday; 1 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday-Sunday. http://www.facebook.com/glendaletap