Hallie Beaune was composed and comfortable last week when we sat down at Public School 612 — the gastropub-within-a-restaurant that recently opened at the Daily Grill’s downtown location. She had good reason to feel at home. Not only did she craft the beer list at Public School 612, but by the end of 2011, Beaune and Beer Chicks compadre Christina Perozzi will have consulted on a dozen beer programs in the downtown area.
“Downtown’s my favorite place to go right now in L.A.,” Beaune says over a glass of Eagle Rock Solidarity, a light-bodied Dark Mild Ale brewed in an industrial park just a few miles north of L.A.’s Historic Core.
But Beaune admits her experience downtown was not always so bright. When she first moved to Los Angeles ten years ago, her apartment near the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion left much to be desired. “There was nothing to do down here,” she says. “It was so dead. We’d go to bars in Los Feliz.” But now, as the city center grows more vibrant, she foresees an increasingly bright future:
“There’s so much room for growth now,” Beaune asserts. “It’s silly to think there’s not room for a million more beer bars, wine bars, jazz bars, and coffee shops. There’s room for so many different things.”
Beaune approaches the beer menu at Public School 612 with a similar philosophy, keeping the area’s growing diversity in mind when choosing the brews.
“You can’t expect people to walk through the door and know what they want,” she says. “For a place like this, I think it’s important to bring in a good variety of flavors, but to keep it approachable. There’s something here for everyone.”
But Beaune thinks her contributions to Public School 612’s beer program would be for naught if it weren’t for Grill Concepts’ dedication to education.
“They’re serious about training here,” Beaune says. ‘When you have a good beer list, training is really important. Otherwise, what’s the point? I’d rather have a smaller beer list and more knowledge than a huge beer list and no knowledge. People are learning a lot about beer, but not everyone’s a beer geek.”
In addition to keeping the list approachable, and educating the bar about the beers, Beaune chose brews that would compliment the gastropub’s culinary offerings. For the cured meat board, Beaune recommends pairing one of the hoppier brews — like the Bear Republic Racer 5. Or for some of the smokier meats, you might try the Eagle Rock Solidarity. Beaune also suggests pairing the Colorado lamb burger — one of the highlights from the food menu — with the Grimbergen Dubbel, a sweet and earthy ale brewed in Belgium. If you want a vegetarian option, a bottle of Orval pairs very well with the wild mushroom & Taleggio lavash.
As for Beaune’s choice of canned beers from Oscar Blues, Maui Brewing Company and Young’s, the criteria was simple: “I basically just picked my favorite beers in cans,” she says. “The hoppiness in Mama’s Lil’ Yella Pils goes great with the food. The Maui CocoNut Porter is one of my top ten beers of all time. And the Young’s Double Chocolate Stout is one of my favorite desserts — just by itself. They make a beer float with it here.”
When asked what prompted her to include canned beer on the beer menu at Public School 612, Beaune didn’t hesitate: “I love beer in cans,” she says. “I like nostalgia mixed with quality. I think that’s probably what I want in most things.”