7-11

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This is the next installment in an on-going series highlighting some of the best, and brightest, beer fridges in Los Angeles. Beer heads muttering “7-11…WTF Hot Knives?” please read on!
We’ve always known there was something strange about the 7-11 at Figueroa Street and Avenue 52 in the L.A. neighborhood of Highland Park. For one thing, there’s always extremely loud satellite radio being cranked from the stereo’s surround sound system. The loud music at all hours has earned it a moniker in the area as “The Rock ‘n’ Roll 7-11.” Rumor was, the owner just liked his classic rock playing whether he was there or not.
Well, in the last 2 months a much more promising abnormality has surfaced at this store — one that is starting to earn it another nickname and hopefully some regional fame. Our 7-11 is now a microbrew 7-11. We say “ours” because it lies both conveniently close to Evan’s casa and halfway on Alex’s bike commute from home to work. Needless to say, we’ve contributed a bit of business to the slowly growing beer section (about 100 bottles), but we honestly can’t take any credit for the trend. At all.
Charles is not your average 7-11 owner/manager. He’s a middle-aged, suave dude who wears all black all the time and routinely joins his employees behind the counter. His wife (we presume) often peruses the store stocking various aisles while burping their (we presume) small baby in a chest snuggle pack. This, set to an uncomfortably loud chorus of “Crimson and Clover,” you have to understand, is a sweet David Lynch shopping experience.
The shock comes in the beer locker. One side of the store is occupied by your average 7-11 fridges: energy drinks, Gatorade, bottled water and sparkling water, sodas followed by a trusty grouping of mediocre domestic and Mexican beers. The last rack has a couple flavors of Sparks. But look on the adjacent wall, between the large wine racks and the Hagen Daz ice cream sits two unpretentious but impeccable beer compartments.
The top shelf is entirely Belgians, including the regional hits (Russian River’s Damnation) and the domestic superstars (Three Philosophers) and the ubiquitous international celebrities (Delerium, all Chimays). This alone is unheard of even for most convenient liquor stores, let alone 7-11 chains, but Charles takes it a step further and offers specialty international bottles of St. Bernardus and Uni 15. He told me once that he wants to specialize in Belgians. He also sells proper Belgian glasses, which are prominently displayed next to the gum and the cigarettes.
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The rest of his beer runs the gamut. Only a smattering of six packs, the vast majority is bombers. The six packs he does carry include Stone IPA, Downtown Brown, Indica IPA and Alaskan Amber. In bombers there’s always Alesmith Anvil Ale, Arrogant Bastard and Ruination Ale representing the San Diego scene. An extensive, even overboard, Rogue selection includes Shakespeare Stout, Dead Guy, Hazelnut Brown Ale and at least three others. Both Lagunitas and Anderson Valley are featured, but not the staples you’d expect.
According to Charles, his is the only store of the 40,000 American franchises that have included an extensive list of microbrews and he had to fight the chain of command to do so. Now, he’s proving them wrong with booming beer sales. Last time we spoke, Charles talked about abolishing all six packs in favor of bombers; starting a beer website and hand-producing a 50-foot sign for the side of his store with all of the microbrew logos on it. Thank heavens indeed. Watch this guy, he’s the future of convenient store beer. In fact, drive to our hood and buy from him. Or write and ask for your own microbrew 7-11.
Staff: Charles knows his stuff. And more than one of his seemingly underage staff has chimed in with opinions on rare Belgians.
Refrigeration: Everything.
Split Six Packs: Nope, but not many six packs at that.
Belgians: Proportionally a very strong showing, a little of everything, most geographies represented and some rare ones.
Microbrews: The place will always sell Natty Light, it’s a 7-11, but their microbrew section is as large as the domestic shelf.
Special Powers: Limited editions of regional breweries, Belgians, rotating specials.
Achilles’ Heel: Too much space dedicated to the typical Rogue fare.
Location: Here.

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6 Responses to 7-11

  1. Stonch says:

    You should tell him to take half of that stuff out of the fridge. Surely storing it at a temperature like that will stop secondary fermentation in the case of the bottle conditioned stuff, and in any event most beers wouldn’t be served so cold anyway, so I don’t see the advantage in the chilling, even if they’re to be drunk straight away.

  2. evan says:

    Hmmmm, not a bad suggestion. There are a number of Belgians that could probably be stored so as to encourage secondary bottle fermentation. Two things though: he sells shit quicker than most beer stores, because there’s less inventory so the bottles aren’t losing out on much of an agin opportunity. And second: It’s still a convenience store. People want their beers cold. If we wanted to age this shit, we’d go to one of the next beer stores on our on-going series’ list…Tell us about your favorite British beers though Stonch!?

  3. Stonch says:

    Yeah, I see what you mean about it being a convenience store, and the beers not missing out on much of an opportunity to age.
    My favourite British beers – too many to list! Most of the British stuff I drink is on cask, as opposed to bottled, and the pubs I drink in rotate their casks often. There are literally hundreds of regional and micro breweries over here, often turning out a wide range of beers in small batches. As soon as I find something I really like, something else comes along I like more. At home, more often than not I have Belgian beers at hand.
    I just had another look at the article – I can’t believe this guy sells the Belgian glasses as well, and in a convenience store! Astonishing.
    Is 7-11 a national chain? I always assumed it was a generic term for a convenience store in the US, due to the fact it’s mentioned in American TV and movies so much. I didn’t think it was a single company.

  4. Alex says:

    Meantime Brewery based in Greenwich, London makes quite a nice IPA and a few other decent beers as well: http://meantimebrewing.com/
    Interestingly, being a Portland/Northwest US expat currently living in Southeast London, sometimes it’s hard to find ales that I really like on tap. So many pubs seem to just have shitty fizzy lagers with the obligatory Guinness and John Smiths options. Stonch, you wouldn’t happen to know of some pubs in Southeast that serve small batch beers on cask, do you? I’m interested in learning more about good British beer but haven’t really gotten out there and done any hunting yet.
    7-11 is indeed a massive national chain in the States. I was quite surprised to find that there’s a location specialising in Belgian beer and microbrews. Sounds rad, and so convenient!

  5. WALT! says:

    Sad news. The Rock N Roll 7 Eleven has been sold. Hurry and grab the bombers while you can!

  6. quarrygirl says:

    wait, wait, wait—-has this place really been sold?!?!!??!?!

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