SF Bay Area
Food and drink that has us seeing gold
Lucky are those who survived this past Friday the 13th. For those in the know in Carson, it was extra. Tucked away off the beaten path, hidden away in what is otherwise primarily industrial space, the “little” and “odd” brewery Eddie Munster might have adored, Phantom Carriage Brewery and Blendery rears its not-quite-severed head with delightfully spooky and nostalgic treats for all of its creepy, kooky, and spooky guests…some of which also have similar names.
The Phantom Carriage Brewery and Blendery was founded in 2014 to the delight of many beer and horror movie aficionados. The bar has layers of depth to its story, even beyond being the first sour beer-focused brewery in Los Angeles. Its love of the horror genre runs deep, enough to possibly get the approval of those six feet under. But wait, this isn’t the bar your grandma talked about…unless she was a “Munsters” or “Addams Family”-watching grandma like mine.
Growing up in the suburbs of Illinois was a lot different in my family. While many folks in the Midwest would be all about decking the halls and singing holiday carols, my family was more about celebrating the scary things in life and pop culture: the gore and glory of haunted houses, cobwebbed crypts, witches’ brew, costumes, creepy comics, and old and new scary films and TV shows. You’d more likely catch our family watching “Creepshow” than “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
My grandparents on my dad’s side were especially interested in this genre. They were avid horror and supernatural fans, and if it was cheesy and campy, this was something my grandmother particularly enjoyed. I remember finding a copy of the classic ’70s horror film “Frogs” and sending it her way to laugh about. Years later, I sent her a copy of “Cockneys vs Zombies” which had some elderly and comedic link to it. She loved them equally.
Old horror movie lovers like my family and I catch the first note of bittersweet bliss before they even get in the door of a place like Phantom Carriage.
The bar was christened after the 1921 film with a similar name. According to legend, per the silent film “The Phantom Carriage,” directed by Victor Sjöström, the last person to die on New Year’s Eve is the person who will drive the infamous phantom carriage. The classic film chronicles the story of an alcoholic who ends up meeting his maker and taking his place as the driver of the phantom carriage. “Phantom Carriage” is an allegory to the grim reaper.
Upon entering, you’ll see immediately the bar is completely devoted to horror films in all their nostalgic glory, some of which are frequently shown on the walls within the dungeon-esque brewery. The walls also have bats and cobwebs on them. It’s dark and there’s a chill in the air. But the story goes far further than just the awesome name and decor.
Each beer is carefully crafted on-site in a process which showcases an array of flavor spectrums, ranging from lambic-veering sweeter sours to guezues and beyond. Beer flights are a common choice to sample the different unique brews, and you’ll want to catch some of their several sour offerings on tap. Additionally, there are some available to take home in cans, which are all named in reference to—you guessed it—classic horror films.
The brewery features big names all around the board with rotating options and throwbacks to classic and modern horror films, including a wild ale style beer called Lugosi, a blackberry Belgian Imperial Stout with bittersweet finish named Sea Worthy, and a retro pale ale beer named Death Dream.
Consider a trek over to Carson and pay your respects to the nostalgic named beers, environment, and nibbles at Phantom Carriage Brewery and Blendery. Grandma gives five stars from the grave in approval…or at least mine does.