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.
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.
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.
is a community of writers, visual artists, musicians, filmmakers, and other great humans.
- You all entered to win a free copy of our new book right? :http://t.co/ZM4DkAUAJu #veg #vegan #lustforleaf
- RT @carciofirosso: "@VICE: California Winemakers Are Mixing Weed with Their Grapes http://t.co/xoGISd471c" @HotKnivez sounds right up your …
- We @HotKnivez will be on KCRW 89.9 w/ @evankleiman at 11am today. Tune in. #LustForLeaf
- We wouldn't want to beat @RandyClemensEsq in another vegan cook-off. (See "chile") @SpaceClown @TheSexyVegan @therealchefaj