When David Farnworth first made his way across the pond, he was distraught at the California pub scene or, more accurately, absence thereof. Wanting to recreate the Old World pubs of his English youth, he and his partner Peggy Simonian bought Lucky Baldwin’s in Old Town Pasadena in 1996 and turned it into a warm and inviting mecca for longtime beer enthusiasts and newcomers alike.
A true labor of love, Lucky Baldwin’s has always set itself apart with its passion for excellent and unique beers from around the world. It was Farnworth’s passion specifically for Belgium-brewed beers, known for their strong constitution and complex flavor profiles, that propelled the pub’s standing amongst beer aficionados. Farnworth made regular trips to Belgium to meet with brewers to cut deals to bring barrels of their best beer to America. There was a time when brews now common to American restaurants, like Chimay or Duvel, could only be found flowing from the taps of Lucky Baldwin’s.
Farnworth passed away in the fall of 2011, but Simonian has continued the traditions that made the pub such an iconic place. Seasonal celebrations, like the Belgian Beer Festival and Oktoberfest, continue to bring in unique and rare beers from around the world. Besides the globe-spanning beer list, you’ll find their famous fish and chips, an excellent shepherd’s pie or, if you’re still recovering from the previous night, a full English breakfast complete with eggs, Irish bacon, sausages, roasted tomato slices and, of course, Heinz Baked Beans shipped in from England. And on the day of a big match, doors open as early as 6 a.m. so that football fans in this time zone can enjoy the game as intended—in a pub with good friends and a cold pint in hand.
Images by Paul Mowry