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Beertown: Los Angeles

The relatively new beer scene in L.A. is making up for lost time with a diverse slate of breweries and bars that are fueling craft beer’s surging popularity.
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The scene at Brouwerij West in San Pedro, Ca. Credit: Port of Los Angeles

Brouwerij West | Photo courtesy of Port of Los Angeles

Once a beer desert, the infamous sprawl of Los Angeles is now dotted with pockets of craft beer culture. Clusters of breweries in every corner of the metropolis, including downtown and the South Bay regions, keep locally brewed beer flowing at bars and restaurants. The scene is developing quickly, and with nearly 50 breweries spread throughout Los Angeles County, there’s plenty to discover—but it takes a sense of adventure to explore it all.

NORTHEAST LA

Highland Park Brewery
Named for the hip neighborhood in northeast LA, Highland Park Brewery is shoehorned into the backroom of The Hermosillo—a popular beer and wine bar. Brewer Bob Kunz is a beloved figure within the LA scene, and he somehow manages to craft a steady stream of new beers in just 480 square feet of brewery space. The Hermosillo’s house beer—a light, snappy ale aptly named Refresh—is the perfect accompaniment for that most-LA of snacks: avocado toast. 5127 York Blvd., hpb.la

SOUTH BAY
Smog City Brewery
The South Bay region of Los Angeles is one of the hottest areas for craft beer in the county, and Smog City Brewing is at the center. The Torrance taproom is small and bare bones, sitting smack in the middle of the brewing operation where fans crowd around a few communal tables. From porters to pilsners, hoppy to sour, there’s something for every palate, including experimental wine-beer hybrids like Grape Ape IPA or the bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout, Infinite Wishes. 1901 Del Amo Blvd., smogcitybrewing.com

Monkish Brewing Co.
Monkish Brewing initially focused on Belgian styles with a twist—like Feminist, a tripel infused with hibiscus. The offerings have evolved as founder Henry Nguyen, a former Marine with a Ph.D. in theology, explores new inspirations that include oak-aged farmhouse ales, fruited mixed-fermentation beers and boisterous IPAs. Guests often spill out of the small bar area, through the brewery and into a buzzing seating area. 20311 S. Western Ave., monkishbrewing.com

El Segundo Brewing
This production brewery in the sleepy city of El Segundo turns out some of LA’s best IPAs with a rotating lineup that ranges from the Mosaicdriven Mayberry to the Nelson Sauvin-powered Hop Tanker double IPA to the sticky and potent Power Plant triple IPA. You might even spot “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, who collaborated with ESBC for his own signature beer (Broken Skull IPA), in the spacious brewhouse adjacent tasting room, where locals gather around tables to catch their favorite team on the big-screen TV. 140 Main St., elsegundobrewing.com

Phantom Carriage Brewery
With a focus on barrel aging and mixed fermentation, this shadowy brewery in Carson drips with spooky. The wood-aged ales are named for classic horror film actors, such as the strong dark sour, Lugosi. Hunker down with a pulled pork panini or house-smoked turkey sandwich. 18525 S. Main St., phantomcarriage.com 

HopSaint Brewing Co.
This new destination in Torrance isn’t your average brewpub: The airy, modern dining room serves up plates ranging from decadent pecan pie to deviled eggs and all other manner of sustainably sourced, elevated spins on Southern cuisine. House beers are elegantly executed: Try the German-style pils or go big with the bold IPA. 5160 W. 190th St., hopsaint.com

HopSaint Brewing Co. | Photo by Kathleen Fisher

HopSaint Brewing Co. | Photo by Kathleen Fisher

SOUTH LA COUNTY

Brouwerij West
This brewery opened the doors to its World War II-era warehouse in San Pedro’s Port of Los Angeles in early 2016. The tasting room and beer garden are leisurely spaces to while away an afternoon sipping farmhouse-style ales made with heirloom grains sourced from small farms in the Pacific Northwest, fruit from the West Coast and the brewery’s own minimenagerie of microbes. 110 E. 22nd St., brouwerijwest.com

Beachwood BBQ & Brewing; Beachwood Blendery
Named both Champion Brewpub at the World Beer Cup in 2016 and Large Brewpub of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival in 2014, the brewpub is reason enough to visit Long Beach. Another reason: It’s added a lambic-style aging and blending facility around the corner that includes a small but trendy tasting room. 210 E. 3rd St.; 247 Long Beach Blvd. beachwoodbbq.com

Beachwood BBQ & Blending

Beachwood BBQ & Blending

CENTRAL LA

Mohawk Bend
Housed in a 100-yearold vaudeville theater serving vegan-friendly food (with plenty of omnivore options), Mohawk Bend’s 72 craft taps spotlight California breweries. The list is hop-heavy, with favorites like Pliny the Elder and various Beachwood IPAs. The large space includes a retro bar, patio with a fireplace and a skylit atrium. 2141 W. Sunset Blvd., mohawk.la

DOWNTOWN LA

Arts District Brewing Co.
An anchor of the Downtown LA beer scene, this sprawling brewpub has an industrial vibe, big patio and full bar to complement the dozen or more house beers from former Pizza Port brewer Devon Randall. Traction IPA is a flagship offering, but the silky smooth Velveteen Rabbit oatmeal stout is perfect for cooler days. There’s fun to be had at the Skee-ball machines, cornhole boards and pingpong tables as well as at the restaurant that offers upmarket hotdogs from celebrity chef Neal Fraser. 828 Traction Ave., artsdistrictbrewing.com

BEACH CITIES

Firestone Walker The Propagator
The long-anticipated Southern California expansion of Paso Robles’ Firestone Walker Brewing Co. finally opened in Venice Beach. The Propagator restaurant often taps rarities from Firestone Walker’s Barrelworks project and barrel-aged Proprietor’s Reserve brews. Be sure to check out the selection of beer to-go. The Propagator should also begin brewing at the on-site automated pilot brewhouse by year’s end. 3205 W. Washington Blvd., firestonebeer.com/visit/venice.php

 

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