Fresh Off the Golden Road Brewery Sale, Tony Yanow Opens Bluebird Brasserie in Sherman Oaks.
The swanky spot is Belgium inspired—and we’re not just talkin’ beer.
- CategoryEat & Drink
- Written byJoshua Lurie
Tony Yanow is a guy who knows beer. He co-founded Golden Road Brewing, which Anheuser-Busch acquired in 2015. He’s also the proprietor behind two other noteworthy LA-area beer bars, Mohawk Bend and Tony’s Darts Away. For the past couple of years, he has been rapidly rolling out beer-centric establishments across SoCal with the Artisanal Brewers Collective partnership. The latest inclusion, Bluebird Brasserie in Sherman Oaks, was an idea born out of a trip Tony took to Belgium. “The original idea came from a day I spent in the countryside—you guessed it— drinking beer. I saw the most delightful little bluebirds. I knew while I was on that trip that I wanted to bring a bit of the Belgian brewpub experience to Los Angeles,” Tony shares. The Artisanal partnership group took over the lease in the old Señor Fred spot and renovated the space to resemble La Trappiste, a famed beer bar in Bruges. Reminiscent of a cellar, it features red brick arches, copper accents and high-top tables that offer views of the glass-fronted brewhouse. Award-winning brewer Noah Regnery helms “hoperations.” As he does with The Stalking Horse Brewery & Freehouse in Rancho Park and The Bell Marker in San Diego—two other brewpubs the group owns—he prides himself on innovation. “As long as I haven’t lost my mind completely and am keeping things within a reasonable parameter, we have free reign to create and riff,” Noah explains. The Belgian-inspired program starts with house beers like the light Chapeau du Jour amber, sweeter Les Incompetents saison and Dubbel Dutch, their darker, maltier dubbel. Noah points out, “Everything is prefaced with ‘Belgian-style,’ because we’re not in Belgium.” Paige Reilly, who is the director of operations, adds, “What’s really awesome about Belgian beer is that they don’t ‘taste like beer …’ you know, the yellow fizzy stuff that [people] may be used to drinking.” For now Bluebird varietals, brewed right on site, are only available here. In theory, they could fill all 15 taps with their house-made beers. Instead the brewery supplements with guest taps of Belgian-style brews from trusted domestic brands like The Lost Abbey and The Bruery. Select bottles from Belgium are also offered.
Paige views Bluebird’s detailed beer menu as a conversation starter. “A) We always put the ABV on because we never want to give someone a 13% beer and have them say, ‘These are great. I’ll take three!’ B) Who makes it? We want to of course give credit to the awesome brewers who make the stuff. C) We put the style because for those who understand beer, it will give them a description. For those who don’t understand beer, they’ll at least have something to help them ask a question.”
The food menu is about what you’d expect. Along with standard bistro fare like roasted chicken and a turkey sandwich, Bluebird offers several Belgian dishes including four varieties of moules frites (mussels and fries), two steak frites entrees and beer cheese croquettes.
“This spot really spoke to us when we first saw it, and we haven’t second guessed it,” says Tony. Considering his vaunted track record and team, perhaps we shouldn’t either.
13730 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks
Drink It In
The team from Bluebird Brasserie offers advice on how to truly experience craft beer.
Noah: Be open-minded. We’re probably going to have things that you’ve never pictured as beer.
Paige: Drink everything. I remember when I first started in the beer industry, I tasted so many things that I didn’t think I would like that I did like.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
Paige: Generally, people who don’t think they like beer or don’t know a lot about beer, stay away from darker and richer beers. That’s actually not what they should do. Most of the time, darker and richer beers are going to be creamier, sweeter and feel different in your mouth. They’re going to be a lot less “beer-y.”
Help a Guy Out
Noah: Have an idea of what you’re in the mood for, so you can articulate that to the server, i.e., “I like bitter things.” Or “I like spicy food.” Know what flavors you prefer in general and see if there’s a beer that fits that.
Stay True to Your Buds
Noah: No matter what your taste, you’re never wrong. I always cringe when people dictate flavor descriptions or aroma descriptions or any kind of sensory experience because it’s always an individual experience, no matter what. Trust in what you taste and what you like, and don’t let somebody push you around.