You have to stand in line to get a beer at Macleod now, and what a beautiful inconvenience it is.
On a Monday, with the $4 pints, I get it. But Tuesday? It’s a testimony to the eternal verities of hard work, creativity and persistence of Alastair and Jennifer.
And a new brewer. And a whole new menu of beers.
And guts. Expanding just when business seemed to be at a nadir.
In the very early going, there were discussions whether there should be television on the wall. An unknown amount of sports bar revenue was left on the table when it was decided flat screens were not the direction they were trying to go.
In retrospect, the wisest move Alistair and Jennifer made was the one which took the longest to pay off. Macleod is nothing without talk, and television would have killed the conversation in the room. It would have led them away from the darts. And the gamers. And the knitters. And the poets. And the artists. When the brewery started I had fanciful ideas it would launch a reformation of Van Nuys. It’s done more than that. Macleod has pulled the Venn diagram of the Valley tighter. This week I encountered three separate groups of people in the dart room I’ve known from non-overlapping social circles elsewhere. And by no overlap, I mean totally different castes and geographic zones.
I used to bitch to myself about the absence of proper muraling in Van Nuys. Now I run into actual muralists bellying up to the bar. We bitch to each other about the indefensible absence of Nury Martinez on this issue. Progress, I say. A glass of well-crafted beer can be democracy in liquid form. An ideal marriage of blue-collar craftsmanship, chemistry and white-collar marketing. In a toxically divided nation, it is our demilitarized zone. Our Pooh Corner. Our happy place.
The ales have come a long way. Where once there were five, now there are twelve. There seems to be a new offering every couple weeks. They keep getting better.
I may have found my ideal Macleod creation: the Sully. Which is odd, for in general, I like my beer strong, with a bias toward imperial stouts. I enjoy a kick in the head. Anyone can bitter up an IPA to the point its like chewing the bark off a pine tree, but underplaying a proper English bitter is a more delicate art. In a market already crowded with Pineapple Sculpin and Boulevard Rye-on-Rye, its not easy to create a rich, memorable, deliciousness on a 5% malt that will call you back for an encore, but they’ve done it.
So I’m sitting there with Amy and Oscar and Andrew and Rebecca, in a state of contentment, when it occurs to me holy guacamole, my life may already be half over, but damn if this doesn’t taste good. Not that I made it myself, but I wished such a thing as Macleod to be in Van Nuys, and here it is, like a gift from Genesis. If I -sip-sip- count from the age of maturity, I might only be a third of the way to my grave. Not so bad. Now that I think about it, if I -sip-sip- if I start counting from the point when I actually got my sh*t together in life, I’m barely a teenager. Things are just getting interesting! I may still be in debt, but I’m no longer drowning in it. I may be stuck in Van Nuys, which is so un-cool, it’s actually cool to be here, except now that it may become hip will it become uncool to be here for this very reason?
Damn, Sully, my glass is empty. I’ll have another.