The land of martinis and honey is undergoing a seismic shift toward summery saisons, infused IPAs, savory stouts and bourbon-barreled beers.
So, where in the Coachella Valley can you go to find these intoxicating craft creations?
With locations in New York, Los Angeles, London, Seattle, Portland and, of course, Palm Springs, the Ace Hotel (701 E. Palm Canyon Drive) keeps up with trends in music, art, food and drink. The boutique hotel boasts a nice selection of craft beer in the Amigo Room. In fact, the ever-changing craft-beer variety gets its own chalkboard near the bar. Ace is also home to the popular “Craft Beer Weekend,” a pool party complete with music, grub and beer—perfect for craft connoisseurs and beer beginners alike.
Up Palm Canyon Drive to the north lies a restaurant offering a farm-to-concrete-table dining experience that’s industrial chic and progressive. While the menus at Workshop Kitchen + Bar (800 N. Palm Canyon Drive) are heavy with cocktails and duck fat, the spot also offers a nice selection of beers in their downtown-L.A.-esque bar.
As stated on Workshop’s liquid menu, this is a carefully chosen, opinionated mix of products. The beer bottles are sectioned by “crisp,” “yeasty,” “malty,” “strong or dark’ish” and “hoppy.” The tap list rotates, but offers a nice selection of lighter brews. Available as of this writing are Abita Lemon Wheat, hailing from Louisiana; Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils, from Colorado; Stiegl Goldbrau Märzen, all the way from Salzburg, Austria; and our own local brew, the Belgian-Style Vanilla Blonde Ale from Babe’s. The rotating menu calls attention to Southern California seasonal products, from lemon cucumber and dates to pattypan squash.
Located down the street several blocks is Bar (340 N. Palm Canyon Drive). I’m enamored with Bar’s beer cocktails, its dark and seductive surroundings, the DJ parties and the Picnic Eggs—deviled eggs with Sriracha and wasabi. Pair them with the War Gin (gin and lemon honey pale ale) beer cocktail. If you favor bourbon, order the Burning Bush, made with bourbon, lemon, house grenadine and pilsner. Not daring enough for the beer-and-cocktail blends? The small selection of craft beers will satisfy.
The Purple Room is the swanky new kid at 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive. In bottles, you can enjoy San Diego beers like Ballast Point Longfin Lager and Stone Pale Ale. On tap, enjoy what the Coachella Valley has to offer with brews from Coachella Valley Brewing Co. and Babe’s.
In the heart of downtown Palm Springs, Fame Lounge (155 S. Palm Canyon Drive) is an upscale cigar, wine and microbrew lounge. At the bar, you’ll find a rotation of beers on tap. Recent finds: Ommegang’s Hennepin, Stone 17th Anniversary Götterdämmerung IPA, and New Belgium’s Lips of Faith Coconut Curry Hefeweizen.
Heading east, the aforementioned Coachella Valley Brewing Co. (30640 Gunther St., Thousand Palms) is brewing up some one-off specialty beers perfect for the cooler nights that have arrived. Their Fall Harvest Saison is a 7.3-percent-alcohol, Belgian ale brewed with pumpkin, sweet potatoes and Lance Davis’ 100 percent pure desert gourmet honey. Only two kegs were brewed, so if it’s not already gone, hurry! The Volstead India Pale Lager is a light yet flavorful 7 percent alcohol pre-Prohibition pilsner made with hops from the Czech Republic, as well as lively Motueka hops from New Zealand. Coming up in Coachella Valley’s brewing rotation is Oasis, a hard apple medley—brewed with fresh Julian apples. Look for this release around mid-December. The guys at CVB also just brewed a saison with Torulaspora delbrueckii, a strain of wild yeast isolated from an apple orchard on a deserted island in Denmark. Brewed with rye and spelt, the release is as of yet unnamed, but keep an eye out for this beauty.
Their first collaboration beer has been a tasting-room success. Coriolis is a 9.5-percent-alcohol, 120 IBU, wet-hop imperial IPA. Brewed along with Rocks Brewing in Sydney, Australia, with hops from New Zealand and Australia, this is a mouthwatering hop bomb. It’s down to the final keg, so visit their tasting room to check it out. Their brand new Framboysenberry is a raspberry and boysenberry sour wild ale made with Pedio, Brett and Lacto yeasts. This won the peoples’ choice award in Redlands recently and is now on tap for tasters and glasses. Crave more spice in your life? The Monument on Fire, just released, is a double IPA is infused with habañero and hatch chiles, papaya and mango. The Conquistador Quadruple ale will be available in early December, and watch for a special treat: They are stashing some in bourbon barrels.
The appropriately named Burgers and Beer (79815 Highway 111, La Quinta, and 72773 Dinah Shore Drive, Rancho Mirage) has a list of more than 50 bottled beers, like Rogue Dead Guy Ale and Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA. On draft, you’ll find local brews like Babe’s Honey Blonde Ale and CV Brewing’s Monumentous, a West-Coast rye double IPA.
Neighboring Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse (71800 Highway 111, Rancho Mirage)—the granddaddy of local brewers—is Southern California-started chain Yard House. Each Yard House features 100 to 250 tap handles, depending on the location. The Rancho Mirage tap room has 155 beers on tap, ranging from Allagash White and Lost Coast Apricot Wheat to Bootlegger’s Black Phoenix and Port Brewing Shark Attack Red. Also rotating in are seasonal drafts, which are displayed electronically above the bar. Currently tapped are IPAs like Firestone Wookey Jack and Green Flash Hop Head Red, joining Belgians like The Bruery Autumn Maple and Gulden Draak 9000 Quad. Of course, if you’re really thirsty, you can order a draft in 3-foot-tall glass container. Make it a yard!
Schmidy’s Tavern (72286 Highway 111) is a relaxed (unless there’s live music!) craft-beer bar in Palm Desert, with rotating selections like Stone Enjoy By 12-13-13, CV Brewing’s Volstead and Game of Thrones: Take the Black Stout. Enjoy learning more about the craft-beer revolution at their beer school, hosted the last Wednesday of most months. (Beer School is on hiatus during holidays, but the popular class will return on Jan. 29.)
The Beer Hunter (78483 Highway 111, La Quinta) offers a great choice and selection in their sports-themed “Hall of Foam.” Enjoy the game while drinking an Alaskan Amber Ale, Firestone Pale Ale or Ranger IPA from Fort Collins, and log your drinks in the Hall of Foam to eventually have your name emblazoned on the beer plaque. You’ll find local beers from brand-new La Quinta Brewing and CV Brewing.
So Cal chain Eureka! Burger (74985 Highway 111) is helping Indian Wells discover American craft, one burger, whiskey and beer at a time. The craft-beer selection is carefully selected by beverage director, sommelier and company ambassador Jonny Barr. Currently, the selection boasts 20 taps ranging from Drake’s Brewing Bavarian-Style Hefeweizen and Eagle Rock’s Manifesto Wit to Stone Brewing’s Smoked Porter and Great Divide’s Yeti Imperial Stout. All of their bartenders are certified beer servers, which is the first level of a cicerone—the craft-beer equivalent of a sommelier. Artisan recipes and fresh, organic ingredients accompany their signature hand-cut fries and gourmet salads.
Despite the gorgeous display of fermented grain mash available at Eureka!, the suds are not to be overlooked. Even a couple of the whiskeys on offer are made by—you guessed it—breweries. Check out what Anchor has to offer with their Anchor Distilling Old Potrero, single malt 19th-century straight rye whiskey. This is distilled with 100 percent rye malt mash and aged in new charred oak barrels—and is a silver medal winner!
It’s exciting to see restaurants and bars in the valley getting in on the craft-beer revolution, serving a varied choice of beer alongside aperitifs and main courses.
Choice matters. Taste matters. Check out what the Coachella Valley has to offer.
Below: The Coachella Valley Brewing Co.’s Fall Harvest Saison.