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Craft Beer in L.A.

A pint of beer

Southern California has become the nation’s top destination for young brewers, and lately every time you turn around another contender is setting up shop and vying for the crown. While microbrewing may have begun in Sonoma County, there are now more than 30 breweries in the Southland (and counting). L.A. is becoming a virtual utopia of hops -- or “hoptopia” if you will -- and the freeform style that you might expect from Southern California accounts for some very creative concepts. So with L.A. Beer Week just around the corner, we thought we’d help you study up with this rundown of some local breweries you should know about.

Angel City Brewery

 > L.A.’s premier contribution to the SoCal brewing renaissance – and pride of the Arts District since 2010 – Angel City Brewery makes an array of specialty beers to suit the “California palate”, which means some pretty inspiring and unusual stuff (Avocado ale, anyone?). With cask beers, tons of specials, food trucks on Thursdays and live music, this colorful dog friendly corner at Alameda and 2nd St. is the anchor of the booming arts scene in DTLA. You can find ACB on tap as far away as Vegas, and with the distribution power of the Boston Beer Co. in their corner, the Angelino IPA is destined to become a national staple. Word is they even have a “Jameson” brew in the works – that is, beer aged in whiskey barrels brought back from Ireland. Deadly!

Golden Road

 > Founded in 2011, Golden Road is known for their classic IPA and very popular 329 Lager. The buzzword here is “sustainability”. Their newish subsidiary and exclusive Trader Joe’s brand, “Ole Burro Brewery” makes an impressive and affordable IPA just for TJ’s called Tap 79 -- a great bargain from this solid brewery located just east of the L.A. River in Los Feliz. You can try their draught-only special releases on site at their in-house pub located at 5410 W. San Fernando Rd.  

Eagle Rock Brewery

 > In operation since 2009 – making it the first brewery in L.A. proper in more than 60 years – Eagle Rock claims a certain amount of seniority in these parts. “Beer for the people” is their slogan – words to live (and drink) by. You can sling a few back at the tap room and even fill 1 and 2 liter growlers to take with you -- just don’t drink them in the parking lot! They give tours on Sundays and host food trucks to boot.  

We’d be remiss if we didn’t give a shout out to Craftsman in Pasadena, which you can find on tap at Oinkster in Eagle Rock (pulled pork and beer!). Try Craftsman’s Heavenly Hefe or Edgar’s Ale. Also, if you don’t want to leave the immediate vicinity of your new downtown apartment at Eighth and Grand, give Bonaventure a try at 404 S. Figueroa, the new home of head brewer and friend of the hop, David Blackwell -- a man who clearly prefers ales. And if you venture down to Long Beach, you can’t miss Beachwood BBQ and Brewing. They really know what they’re doing at Beachwood “where fork meets pork” and a huge selection of American pales. Located along an unassuming side street just off the main drag, we know you’ll dig their adventurous west-coast style.

What can we say? Life in L.A. gets more exciting every day – especially for beer lovers. On the horizon, we’re looking forward to Smog City Brewing Company currently in Torrance but heading to the South Bay. (They have a special gift for Belgian saisons.) And last – but bound to rise to the top of many “best of” lists – L.A. River Brewing Company. This Kickstarter-funded fledgling is coming soon with high quality, hand crafted, small batch beers like the aptly named, Silverlake Hopster IPA.

Cheers from DTLA!

[photo via Discover Los Angeles]