You don’t want to be drinking the wrong beer. We don’t want to be drinking the wrong beer. And these six LA beer experts damn sure don’t want EITHER OF US to be drinking the wrong beer, which’s why they helped us put together this: a definitive list of the top 11 LA breweries.
11. Golden Road Brewing, 8 points
Golden Road may be the most ubiquitous and accessible (and Workaholics-cameo-ing) craft beer in the city, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing -- more than anyone else on this list, it's responsible for turning the mainstream onto local craft beer, thanks in no small part to its game-laden, ultra-fun brewpub.
Experts say: “Cans of their saisons, lagers, and IPAs can be found at nearly every corner liquor store in the county and the quality and consistency of those beers makes it easy to grab a pack and go.” - Sarah Bennett (LA Weekly; Beer Paper LA)
Key beers: Heal the Bay IPA, Get Up Offa That Brown
10. Ladyface Ale Companie, 13 points
With its Art Nouveau aesthetic, Ladyface takes a more elegant approach to beer crafting. The beers are clean, crisp, and consistently good. If you live over the hill, it’s a bit of a trek to its brewery in Agoura Hills -- but worth it for tastes straight from the brewers.
Experts say: “Worth the trip to the San Fernando Valley.” - Thomas Galvin (Eagle Rock Homebrewing Supply)
Key beers: La Grisette, Blind Ambition
9. MacLeod Ale Brewing Co., 23 points
MacLeod is a cask-only brewery that makes the best British ales in LA (and well, well beyond). The owner is Scottish and his wife is in a local bagpipe band, which makes them the coolest couple ever/adds to the authenticity.
Experts say: “ [MacLeod puts out] British-style ales that are heavenly history lessons in an imperial pint glass -- the very antithesis of what's considered the West Coast craft brewing style.” - Tomm Carroll (Celebrator Beer News)
Key beers: The King's Taxes Scottish Ale, Little Spree Yorkshire Pale Ale
8. Three Weavers Brewing Company, 26 points
Close-to-LAX Three Weavers is barely a year old, but brewmaster Alexandra Nowell and crew have already impressed the LA beer community by creating a variety of deliciously crafted beers right out of the gate/terminal.
Experts say: “They have a strong lineup of solid offerings and continue to exceed expectations.” - Wes Jacobs (Select Beer Store)
Key beers: Deep Roots ESB, Stateside Session IPA
7. El Segundo Brewing Co., 26 points
If you're an IPA fan, chances are you love ESBC’s beers or have at least visited Rob Croxall and his team's tap room, which is also a stone’s throw away from LAX.
Experts say: “With a deep lineup of IPAs and pale ales that showcase unique aromas over punishing bitterness and a tireless dedication to freshness, ESBC is skyrocketing in popularity.” - John Verive (Los Angeles Times; BeerOfTomorrow.com)
Key beers: Mayberry IPA, Citra Pale Ale
6. Craftsman Brewing, 27 points
Pasadena's Craftsman was founded in 1995 and for the last 20 years has been dedicated to perfecting quality, not quantity; it's one of the most respected breweries in the city, and yet it doesn’t even have a tap room to visit.
Experts say: “Craftsman continues to put unique, interesting, and fun beers on the table for us all to try.” - Wes Jacobs (Select Beer Store)
Key beers: 1903 Pre-Prohibition Lager, Triple White Sage (Belgian-style tripel with sage)
5. Eagle Rock Brewery, 28 points
The first established brick-and-mortar -- and some say still best -- brewery in the city is known not just for great beers, but for attentiveness to the community of homebrewers via in-house seminars and brewer meet and greets, all of which help it live up to its slogan: “Beer for the people.”
Experts say: “Light, complex, and sessionable beers that stand the test of time.” - Sarah Bennett (LA Weekly; Beer Paper LA)
Key beers: Solidarity Black Mild, Populist IPA
4. Highland Park Brewery, 28 points
Fairly new to the game, the four partners (Bob Kunz, Ross Stephenson, Michael Blackman, and Dustin Lancaster) who make up Highland Park Brewery are making some big waves locally. The brewery is located in the old Hermosillo Club on York Blvd, and there you'll find some very unique beers like its Ham Porter (yes, it has HAM in it) and consistently changing seasonal brews that'll make you keep coming back.
Experts say: “Highland Park brewhouse may be small, but it's certainly fierce.” - Frances Michelle Lopez (LA County Brewers Guild; TheFullPint.com)
Key beers: Beer Spaceship, Cherry Spazz Wild Ale
3. Monkish Brewing Co., 40 points
Henry Nguyen and his crew don't play into the promotional game as much as the other breweries, which means his complex and delicious Belgian-style beers do the talking themselves (sorry, hop heads: no IPAs here).
Experts say: “I urge everyone to get their hands on some of the funky, tart, Brett-aged results of Henry's constant experimentations.” - Sarah Bennett (LA Weekly; Beer Paper LA)
Key beers: Seme Della Vita, Crux
2. Smog City Brewing Co., 42 points
Originally a homebrewer out of Tustin, Jonathan Porter and his wife Laurie moved their operation to Torrance in 2012 and since, then have been on a roll -- they’ve won three Great American Beer Festival medals, including a gold for their Groundwork Coffee Porter.
Experts say: “They are passionate and engaged, which is an added bonus to their delicious beer.” - Frances Michelle Lopez (LA County Brewers Guild; TheFullPint.com)
Key beers: Groundwork Coffee Porter, Little Bo Pils
1. Beachwood Brewing, 52 points
No surprise that Beachwood came handily in first: Julian Shrago's beers have won more beer awards than any other in Los Angeles, and aside from his incredibly popular IPAs, Julian and his crew make beers for both the beer nerd and casual drinker.
Experts say: “Brewmaster Julian Shrago is a wizard equally adept at crafting bombastic IPAs and delicate style classics.” - John Verive (Los Angeles Times; BeerOfTomorrow.com)
Key beers: Citraholic IPA, Knucklehead Red
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Sean Johnson has been a craft beer geek since his first Anderson Valley beer over a decade ago with his friends. You can buy him a pint at any of the aforementioned establishments. Find him on both Instagram and Twitter at @OtikRecords.
1. Golden Road Brewing5410 W San Fernando Rd, Los Angeles
2. Ladyface Alehouse & Brasserie29281 Agoura Rd, Agoura Hills
3. MacLeod Ale Brewing Co.14741 Calvert St, Van Nuys
4. Three Weavers Brewery1031 W Manchester Blvd, Inglewood
5. El Segundo Brewing Company140 Main St, El Segundo
6. Eagle Rock Brewery3056 Roswell St, Los Angeles
7. The Hermosillo5125 York Blvd, Los Angeles
8. Monkish Brewing Co.20311 S Western Ave, Torrance
9. Smog City Brewing Company1901 Del Amo Blvd, Torrance
10. Beachwood BBQ & Brewing210 E 3rd St, Long Beach
Golden Road is the perfect place for anyone who loves drinking while playing games, because they've got giant Jenga, ping pong, and more, plus tons of outdoor seats, and some of LA's best local beer that's brewed right there. Enjoy a pint with some of the venue's delectable globally-inspired pub fare.
An LA and California favorite, Ladyface has been headlining the LA craft brew scene for years. This casual Agora Hills brewpub is inspired by Europe in all aspects, from its gray brick awning to its Parisian, industrial vibe to its fare. Plates of steak tartare and oysters for sharing, and large mains like the daily fresh fish and succulent roasted chicken combine American and French tastes and techniques. Meanwhile, the beer is all Belgian-style -- the La Blonde ale, Imperial IPA, and the Farmhouse Wheat are all light and approachable, just as the Belgians intended.
The authentic, cask-only, British ales at this Van Nuys brewery are the product of a couple who spent years in the United Kingdom and wanted to bring the old-world ales to LA. In some ways, their beers are the opposite of many West Coast craft breweries, but that's what makes them special. Check their twitter (@MacLeodAle) to see which food trucks will be serving from the taproom that day.
This beer "community" is located in Inglewood and serves craft beers, like its Stateside Session IPA, Midnight Flight Imperial Stout, and the Hounslow Porter. The selection of beers changes regularly, with usually around ten or eleven options on tap at the Tasting Room. Food (when available) is courtesy of third party chefs and restaurants.
El Segundo Brewing Company was created explicitly to brew hop-forward beers, because that's what owner and head brewer Rob Croxall wanted. Now, the brewery not only sells its beer across Los Angeles, but it also offers the option to order a keg -- which is super important. And for those of you who don't actually know anything about craft beer and would like to learn and fit in with, well, everyone else, El Segundo offers classes, like Craft Beer 101 -- seriously. Sign us up.
Just opened in, well, Eagle Rock, ERB's a microbrewery devoted to helping people learn about the nuances of beer, started by a dude who used to work as a movie music editor and his father, both of whom moved to LA from Upstate NY, which is somewhere past even, like, Harlem or something.
Sip on tasty beer from local breweries at The Hermosillo, a former escort club and now cool spot in Highland Park. The craft beer and wine bar does some of its own brewing in-house in the form of the Highland Park Brewery, which churns out craft beers with unique flavors and some local ingredients. A great drink selection is accompanied by tasty bar snacks, like pork belly tacos and brussels sprouts cooked in bacon fat.
This brewery has its tasting room in Torrance, where guests can sample and purchase the Belgian style beers produced on site, with the notable exception of any IPAs. Snacks are available, but they also welcome you to bring your own food. Sandwiches and personal pies in a taproom? Now that's our kind of picnic. Red gingham blanket optional.
What started as a small home-brewing operation fueled by the fermentation tanks at Tustin Brewing Co., Smog City Brewing Co. is now a fully operating, self-sufficient craft brewery in Torrance, with a tap room to boot. Smog City is known for its Groundworks Coffee Porter, likely due to the fact that it's been awarded numerous medals from the Great American Beer Festival. Stop by the tap room to taste the gold medal winner for yourself, along with one-off experimental brews, and take home a growler or several of your favorites from Smog City.
Beachwood's Long Beach location is perfect for relaxing after catching some surf -- get a few brews, an indulgent entree (mac and cheese, without a doubt), and kick back. Beachwood specializes in BBQ fare in a laid back, diner-style setting. Quaint midcentury modern touches take the decor one step farther and go perfectly with the "so good it must be homemade" plates.