Stouts N Staches - Venice Beach Movember Brew Crawl
The face of men’s health is looking dapper these days as Movember is in full swing. The restaurants and bars of Venice Beach played host to the Stouts N Staches brew crawl on Saturday to honor the cause of spreading awareness for men’s health issues. This event hit close to home as I’m a bearded, beer-loving Venice local.
It all started at Surfside sports bar. Ladies and gentleman came sporting their staches (real and fake). If you didn’t come prepared with a mustache they had some prop ones at the door to try on for size. They even had a few different colors and styles to match your preference. Standard admission was $15, but the $25 VIP was more worthwhile with perks including a bag of goodies provided by Dollar Shave Club, tasting tickets, and different deals all through the crawl.
One of biggest draws for me was the complimentary beard trimming and shave. Typically I trim my beard once a week for overall maintenance, but I decided to let it go a little wild in preparation. Luckily Monique, from the World Famous Venice Barbershop around the corner, was thoroughly prepared for my scruff. It must have been a sight to behold, because as I was getting my neck trimmed a woman asked the stylist if she could get a hot shave just for the sake of experiencing what it’s like. I could understand the appeal. It’s a unique experience that also requires a lot of trust when you have someone with a razor at your neck.
After my trimming it was time to try out the all natural grooming products from the California Beard Oil Company. The crowd favorite seemed to be Sweet Mint and Orange Tree, but I prefered the Original blend with its aroma of tea tree and mint. It left my beard feeling loved and gave me the confidence to keep mingling.
This may have been a stout event, but there were plenty of other good beers to try. Golden Road Brewing was on site with samples of Tart Mango Cart, Wolf Pup Session IPA, Get Up Offa That Brown Ale, and Back Home Gingerbread Stout. Each beer has a time and place, and tonight was Back Home’s time to shine. I enjoyed the toasty seasonal favorite with Surfside’s Korean fries made with caramelized kimchi and bulgogi steak. Craft beer samples were also provided by local Venice Duck Brewery offering their Stoner Duck Hemp Brown Ale and refreshing Lucky Duck Agave Blonde, which paired incredibly with the crispy lemon pepper wings.
Samples of Dr. Scobii Kombucha had plenty to offer if you were looking for a healthier alternative. My favorites were the coconut and pineapple that makes we wonder if they’d go just as well together for a probiotic Pina Colada.
I was happy to see a variety of whiskies available at the upstairs lounge. Heaven Hill Distillery had a full flight of options ranging from the full-bodied Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage to the surprisingly smooth 100 proof Rittenhouse Rye. American Born showcased their bourbon, apple and peach whiskies. The favorite from those around was easily the peach, which would go great in a sweet tea for a southern-style porch sipping cocktail.
The main stage in Surfside stayed crowded through the night. Early on in the event the Jack of Hearts regaled the crowd with some of the best hits from Bob Dylan, including personal favorite “The Man in Me” (abide Lebowski fans). The band was followed by a mustache contest where the best staches on the scene did battle. The night continued with the Gumbo Brothers who brought out the funkiest sounds of New Orleans to the Venice Beach.
While the party kept going at Surfside, I ventured out around Windward Ave to see some of the other stops along the crawl. The first stop was a short walk across the street to Larry’s. It was the ideal place to watch the sunset while enjoying a Boulevard Kolsh and amazing macaroni and cheese bites with cheese dip.
A few doors down, the crowd started to gather at Bank of Venice. The main stout they were touting happened to be one of my favorites: Black House oatmeal coffee stout from Modern Times. I relaxed and enjoyed every sip while looking out at the bright neon lights shining through the dark street. Music and laughter filled the air with hints of reefer and the sea on the nose. It was a Venice kind of night. I wanted to get a better view of the festivities and knew just where to go.
Those looking for a more upscale Venice experience should visit the High Rooftop Lounge at Hotel Erwin. It was a quick walk around the corner and into the lobby lined with surfboards outside of Barlo Kitchen. After a quick elevator ride to the top, I was enjoying an Anderson Valley Stout with some chips and fresh guac. The view didn’t disappoint. You can see the lights from the Santa Monica Pier and the peaceful darkness of the Pacific as evening waves beat upon the shore.
My last stop was the the historic Townhouse and Del Monte Speakeasy for the official after party with beats provided by DJ Jedi. This has been one of my favorite haunts for a while and great place to enjoy a few quality cocktails. I decided to close out the night with a gentlemanly Old Fashioned, all while sitting at the bar attempting to twirl my freshly trimmed stache.
With so many different spots along the crawl it felt like you were sampling what sort of night fit your mood. If you and your entourage wanted to be seen, best go to the Hotel Erwin and the lounge. Want to be more laid back? Chill with a beer and appetizers at Larry’s and Bank of Venice. Or if you felt like a more intimate experience with brews and cocktails, head to Townhouse. For me, the best part of the evening was chilling at Surfside where the spirit of the event burned brightest.
Stouts N Staches has something for everyone. Even if you don’t like stouts are aren’t sporting a stache, there’s plenty of good food, drinks, music and company to enjoy. If you aren’t a local, you’ll definitely feel like one. And it’s important to remember the reason behind the event. Movember Foundation is an invaluable organization helping to remind men everywhere to take care of themselves. It’s easy to take good health or apparent good health for granted, so get checked.