Golden Road Brewery
During the month of April Happy Hour City will be celebrating all things beer related. Each week we will educate you on the different types of beer. We will also show you how to make beer centered cocktails/drinks, and give you the inside scoop on some of the best beer bars & breweries around Los Angeles.
Happy Hour: $
Golden Road Brewery- Pub
Mon. - Fri.: 3:00-6:00 P.M.
Breweries are like the new coffee shop - there’s one on every corner now, and in DTLA there is no shortage of great ones. With so many to pick from, we decided to visit the Golden Road Brewery pub, more like a beer stall, located inside Grand Central Market. Being that it is in a historic location and has a daily Happy Hour, we had to check it out.
Grand Central Market is busy just about every single day with locals and tourists alike. It was founded in 1917. 100 years later, there are businesses that have been there since the beginning. When you walk in you’re getting an authentic LA experience- an array of delicious and innovative foods at an almost overwhelming rate.
GRB set up shop inside the market about 2 years ago, catering to the locals who don’t want to dive into the middle of the jungle, they also serve an extensive menu and just about everything on it has a vegan option (more on that later). If you also don’t want to walk among the crowds of thousands of people to get to GRB, enter from the Hill St. entrance and you’ll see their neon sign on your right. It’s not completely outside, but the open door entrance of GRB allows visitors to enjoy the gorgeous SoCal weather.
The bar has ample seating with a menu displayed on a TV monitor. The bar is a clean steel top, and you can tell they take care of it. Order food at the register, pick it up on the side, and grab a seat on one of the nearby tables if you don’t want to do the bar. The overall system of the service and the way they have fit so much into a corner of the market is very organized. With so much hustle and bustle from everyday tourists, regulars, guided tours, and crowds, their hygiene and the way they do things here really stood out for us.
Julie, the manager on site during our visit, and the rest of the staff were very attentive to us and the rest of their guests. We were also happy to be informed that GRB is actually the business venture of a young woman Meg Gill and her partner Tony Yanow, who is very hands on when it comes to training her staff. You can tell they have mastered the art of keeping their customers happy in the cluster of the market. Enough about that, let’s dive into this menu.
Happy Hour is held during the week Monday-Friday 3:00-6:00 P.M. they offer 11 different beers at 16 oz for $5 and 20 oz for just $6.50, two wine options for $7, and plenty of bites ranging from as low as $5-$12.
As for the beer options, remember to ask first if they have something just in case they have tapped out for the day. For example, during our visit we just missed the Melon Cart, but they were offering the Mango as a substitute. Specialty beers rotate, beers that tap out are switched out, but the staples that make GRB a local favorite are their 329 Lager, Get Up Off That Brown Ale, Wolf Among Weeds IPA, and Point The Way IPA. During our visit, we got lucky enough to have the specialty beers, Berry Guava Wheat and Dragos Left Hook. For non-beer drinkers, they offer two wine options: a 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon from Old Soul and a 2017 Sauvignon Blanc from La Playa.
The food at GRB is where it’s at. At their main location in Glendale, they began making just about everything with a vegan option, and thus the GRB at Grand Central did as well. Which was super refreshing given that Mariana doesn’t do dairy (Vegan Nachos!) The vegan movement is thriving in Downtown, it’s nice to visit a bar/pub that knows and appreciates the demographic.
Our friend Cameron invited us to provide another opinion on the beers. We ordered flights (...because trying 11 beers at 16 oz just sounded like we wouldn’t be able to walk out of the market) so, that’s what you’ll be seeing here. Each flight is brought with a little dry erase laminate to inform you of what you’re getting. Flight deals are NOT included in the Happy Hour menu and we did try beers outside of the ones on the Happy Hour menu. So with that being said, let’s jump right in to what we ordered.
The HHC Team Shared:
Berry Guava Wheat 5% ABV- American Wheat Ale. Infused with guava and strawberries. The fruity flavors are strong with this one but it is a nice balance. This choice was a seasonal one.
Mango Cart 4% ABV- Wheat Ale. Light and refreshing with loads of fresh Mango, it has a pleasant, slightly tart finish. (Mariana sipped on this one and it was her favorite.)
Get Up Off That Brown 5.5% ABV- English style Brown Ale. Toasty complexity, balanced by rich notes of caramel and chocolate. They are good complex flavors, prominent but not overpowering. This is a good middle of the road choice- not too strong not too mellow and it’s tasty. (Cameron's favorite.)
Wolf Among Weeds 8% ABV- IPA. Golden West Coast IPA. Highest ABV of all the beers. If you're a serious drinker, aim for this right away. It did not disappoint.
Hefeweizen 5% ABV- German Style Hef. This brew has hints of banana and clove. A bit too light for our preference.
Blonde 4.8% ABV- Nice, light, and refreshing. We preferred it over the Hef. Worth trying.
Drago's Left Hook 7.7% ABV- Red Rye IPA. A collaboration between the GRB in the OC and in Glendale by Obed Salazar. It has hints of stone fruit, guava, and pineapple. You taste them one right after the other as if they were layered. It is red in color, medium bodied, with a pleasantly dry finish. This beer took us by complete surprise, the complexity and the way it drinks blew our minds. (HHC Team favorite)
El Nitro Stout 4.2% ABV- Irish Style Stout. Dry, smooth, and roasty. The team agreed, if you have never had a Nitro because the high ABV terrified you, this is a good place to get acquainted.
GRB IPA 6.5% ABV- Pale Ale. Medium bodied, characterized by a bright citrus aroma and light floral notes. Good standard IPA that hit all the right notes, but with so many other great choices...
Wolf Pup 4.5% ABV- Classic Session IPA. Light in body and color. Lots of tropical fruits and citrus aroma and flavor. The finish was a pleasant dry. The flavors were all there and it left us wanting more.
Point The Way 5.9% ABV- Balanced IPA. Tropical, citrus, and piney. The pine at the end with a slight hop aftertaste is a great balance and overall bitter but not too bitter IPA. (Cameron's favorite)
Heal The Bay IPA 6.5% ABV- West Coast IPA. Fruity, lots of tropical fruit and citrus. Has a more bitter hop aftertaste than fruity. (Alex's favorite)
So in lieu of the fact I am not that big on beer, I opted for the wine options. The house white and the house red are two young wines. The red was a 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon called Old Soul from Lodi Central Valley, California and the white was a 2017 Sauvignon Blanc from the Cochalgua Valle, Chile. If you're not at GRB to drink any of their beers, I would recommend the Blanc over the Cab, but I would recommend the Mango Cart beer over both of them. The white was too sour and the red simply too syrupy.
Our official wine expert, Xena informed me that, for the white, this may be perhaps because Chile is a warm country and it's by the coast. So, their Sauvignon Blanc grapes must have a slight resemblance to pear and very sour taste, due to their vintage. It's a table wine that's meant to be consumed at the moment and not age.
As for the red, she said, this Cab probably had a high tannin and low alcohol content. Due to that, you will get a taste of some very strong berry/plum/tart cherry flavors. The syrupy context is probably due to the body texture being a little thicker. This age red blend tends to form a brown-red brick tone at the edger when you look at it under a light. This specific California young Cab won't have a high tannin anyway. They tend to be lower, heavy in berry flavors with an aromatic spice. Due to the weather of California, specifically the harsh sun hitting the grapes, they ripen to a fruitier taste and that's why it was too sweet. Sometimes, you can taste even more than berries, a little vanilla here and it isn't strange.
The HHC Team Shared:
M: Ah vegan nachos, my dream come true. Before I even gave up dairy I would never have nachos because nacho cheese grossed me out. So these are a double treat for me, and when they are made well it's even better. These definitely are good nachos, the cashew cheese isn't too "plasticy" or "fake”, like some vegan cheeses tend to be. The use of soyrizo was another bonus point and yes, that is vegan sour cream. I only shared a few with the team, I ate most of them. My only complaint was there wasn't enough chips to finish the delicious ingredients left behind.
M: The batter to onion ratio is 2:1 which I guess happens sometimes. At least it's a good batter. It comes with vegan ranch and BBQ sauce. The vegan ranch was a little too watery for my taste. I have some at home and it is of a creamier consistency.
C: I just love regular ranch so much it doesn't compare for me. But if I were eating these with my eyes closed it would be hard to tell the difference. The rings were super crispy, I liked them.
M: This pretzel is giant... I skipped on making this one a vegan choice on the sauces because pretzel's are Alex's jam. However, as far as the breading goes, I absolutely loved it.
C: Big enough for sharing, probably my favorite snack in the bunch. But for me, the beer cheese was just okay.
A: This pretzel is so soft and good. It stayed warm throughout and it has a nice glaze on the outside. Bread is well-made not too doughy, not too overbaked. As for the beer cheese, I prefer a bit more cheesiness to it but at least they nailed the flavor with a hint of some sort of green chili as a slight aftertaste. Compared to the other beer pretzels I have had so far this is the best one.
M: When we got these I thought they were chicken legs. Which confused me but I picked them up as such and the breading fell apart immediately. The crispiness I expected was missing. I tried a little anyway and given that the batter was lemon peppered flavored I think the acidity of the artichoke took away all lemon pepper flavor.
C: I agree with Mariana they are really soggy, consistency not there, it kinda threw me off. Maybe we got a bad batch. I can tell it is the similar breading to onion rings, but these are on the completely opposite spectrum of the ring's crispiness.
A: I also am not the biggest fan... They offer them in different flavors, we picked the lemon pepper and even that mix needed more lemon. They were a little too oily, thick and with the heavy batter. I'm guessing they maybe marinated them too much or they were not dried off properly.
M: I tried the Lemon Pepper Wings, and I only really tasted the lemon on the soggier part of the wing. It was a plain piece of chicken otherwise. The BBQ ones were great in my opinion, I like sweeter BBQ than most. Served once again with the vegan ranch I skipped it this time around. I like that they come in a little salad bed.
C: I had the buffalo wings, the sauce is there for the lovers of all things spicy. But I would say I think these wings are the victim of this AC unit we are sitting nearby.
A: I also tried the Buffalo Wings and thought they were very good. The sauce is nice and lightly spread. It had the right spice, kinda tangy, all around good. Wings aren't too crispy on the outside, but they are not overly battered which was a good thing. GRB just isn't a place I'd come to eat wings, I thought the seasoning and how tender the chicken was on point for both the BBQ and Buffalo. But the lemon pepper was light in flavor, it wasn’t overpowering, which isn’t bad but usually, when people order wings they want their fingers drenched in the sauce and flavor of the meat. And that did not happen with LP. It wasn’t bad, but I am not going out of my way to get wings here. Not when the other items on the menu are better.
Vegan Parmesan Fries:
M: This was another dish I sort of inhaled and didn't share too much with the team. I loved them—I have missed Parmesan so much! Also, anything cooked right with cilantro is pretty much perfect to me. This was my favorite of all the food we tried.
C: To me, it doesn't replace real Parmesan. But they're good Kennebec fries.
A: If you are lactose intolerant, vegan, or gave up dairy like Mariana if you've been nostalgic for Parmesan these are a hit. I prefer my fries on the crispier side. These aren’t but they don’t have that soggy/crappy texture, that sometimes ruins the flavor. They are well made.
Beyond Meat Vegan Burger:
M: Just to clarify, I am not a vegan, just don't do dairy. But I was curious as to what a vegan burger tastes like. Plus more cashew cheese, yes, please! They also added some shredded lettuce, one tomato slice, and cilantro. The color and the look of the patty is there, it was sadly a trick of the eye. It wasn't at all juicy, nor thick like meat, I don’t know what vegan meat is supposed to taste like but if it is trying to imitate meat, it missed the mark. "Beyond Meat" is not a GRB creation so it's not a critique of them, their buns held the burger, together well and it wasn't a soggy mess.
C: The Beyond Meat patty broke apart immediately. As a standalone food, it had awful texture and it tastes like a paste. In the burger, it is masked by the other delicious ingredients.
A: My vegan friends, if you already know what Beyond Meat patties are like, then okay. But if not, order a different vegan meal on the menu. To me, it had the consistency of canned dog food. It was a bit too salty as well, by itself. The burger, however, with the lettuce and sauces overpower it in a good way. The patty on its own- has not reached the standard of real meat and I think that’s what vegans look for. It has a very different texture, it doesn’t hold well, but yeah this is Beyond Meat's fault, not GRB’s. They did a good job with the rest of the ingredients.
M: Much, much, much better! Patty was cooked to perfection, not too juicy, but enough to soak the bun in flavor. The addition of sun dried tomatoes and remoulade was a genius touch.
C: The presentation of the burger itself is just nicer. It looks more well put together and it was delicious.
A: This just goes to prove that GRB knows a good burger, and they use quality meat. Great tasting ingredients and condiments.
The Overall Experience:
Tourists and locals that rarely frequent in DTLA will have heard of the Grand Central Market at some point or another. If you decide to pop in make Golden Road Brewery one of your stops, especially during Happy Hour. They are also one of the few places on the grounds that serve brunch.
Enjoy the vibes, the vibrant music, culture, and history of this LA staple. If you're one of those people who has a group of friends with vegan diets and you never know where to go- the food and the prices at GRB are incomparable (just maybe skip the vegan burger). Julie recommends the pretzel always, and since she began working at GRB when they opened, she has always favored the Get Up Off That Brown. We advise to try that and the Drago's Left Hook. Grab a seat at the bar and just people watch, put your phone down, enjoy a strong IPA, and take it all in. We certainly did and had a great time.
Overall Score: 4/5
Happy Hour Score: 4/5
We'd like to thank Julie and Renata for accommodating us and taking the time to answer our questions. Beer month is all about celebrating those who take the time to run a good stall/pub and Golden Road inside the Grand Central Market is representing their Glendale brewery well. They should be proud.
We hope you have enjoyed our second reivew for our official Beer month. Thanks for reading, and as always...