When it comes to the California beer scene, San Diego typically gets all the beer credit, but Los Angeles is a true force, turning out some fantastic beers, especially on the west side and in and around South Bay. And because of the city’s inherent health awareness, L.A. brewers are bringing a certain daytime functionality to their craft. While the city can nail a double IPA, it’s also turning out a bevy of lower-octane beers engineered for long, beach-y days.
Inglewood’s finest brewery is a model citizen when it comes to balanced, well-engineered brews. While a healthy amount of their beer ends up elsewhere in bottle form or on draft, the brewery itself is worth a visit, a simple but inviting warehouse space with bench seating and a convivial atmosphere.
Arguably the craziest about hops of the bunch, the folks at El Segundo are turning out some fantastic IPAs. Set in an expanded garage-like space in the south bay hood it’s named after, the brewery features a hop-heavy lineup of underrated ales. The beers are worthy of a lot more hype and fanfare but at the moment it’s still a relatively quiet taproom pouring plenty of quality.
It’s no brewery, but The Tripel is one of the city’s better tap houses. The Playa del Rey haunt has a small but well-curated draft list of local and Belgian beers, served alongside chef Brooke Williamson’s (of Top Chef fame) excellent grub. They get some interesting bottle offerings, including some rarer releases from Mikkeller.
Angel City Brewing
It’s tough not to mention this pioneering Angeleno label, first launched in 1997 behind celebrated homebrewer Michael Bowe. The label was bought in 2012, but remains committed to quality beer. Try the clean Pilsner or the refreshing Sunbather Session Sour.
This Long Beach outfit is both a brewery and barbecue joint. The dark beers are good but where Beachwood truly excels is in the lighter category. Try the Foam Top Blonde Ale or the Hayabusa Lager.
Los Angeles Ale Works
This Hawthorne brewery is within a stone’s throw of SpaceX, making it a hub for thirsty techies and space cadets. The outdoor patio is expansive and the brick building is welcoming. More importantly, the beers are good, especially the Dead Cowboy Rustic Red Lager and the Sum Sum, a lively dry-hopped summer ale.
Craftsmen Brewing Co.
Based in Pasadena, Craftsmen claims to be the oldest craft brewery in L.A. It was founded in 1995 and continues to turn out a tasty lineup of interesting one-off beers as well as hot-weather pounders like their delightfully dialed-in hefeweizen.
This Manhattan Beach joint touts 45 beers on draft, most of which come from southern California producers. If you get a seat near the front, you can enjoy an IPA while watching surfers navigate the break near the pier.
To begin with, Imperial Western’s location is amazing. The new brewery has taken over the historic Union Station wedged right downtown between the L.A. River and Chinatown. The 80-year-old building is a classic California mix of art deco and mission revival, with a cathedral-like interior. The architecture is the main draw, but the beer ain’t bad either, especially their Superchief IPA, a very west-coast and piney take on the genre.
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