Smog City Brewing Company
Like many micro-craft breweries, Smog City is a family affair that started off as a passionate hobby. Husband-and-wife founders Jonathan and Laurie Porter got their start brewing beers at the legendary Tustin Brewing Company before opening their own brewpub in 2013. Known for well-balanced, experimental beers, they developed a cult-following with their award-winning Coffee Porter, a dark chocolate-flavored beer infused with fresh roasted Groundworks beans. Their industrial-spaced Torrance taproom gives you a peek behind the curtain as visitors drink among fermenting tanks and fresh batches of seasonal brews (their recent Forager Series featured a Kumquat Saison using the family’s backyard kumquat tree). They also offer free guided tours and host homebrew club meetups.
Monkish Brewing Company
Just around the corner from Smog City is Monkish Brewing from another husband-wife team, who take a monastic approach to creating mind-opening artisanal beers. Henry Nguyen is a mad scientist (and college professor) who collects microorganisms by scouring “funk boxes” (aged wine barrels and giant oak crates) to create his signature sours. The sublime Belgian-style selections can be both polarizing and eye-opening as well. First-timers to the kid and dog-friendly taproom, should opt for a foursome sampler starting with the Shaolin Fist (spiced with Szechuan peppercorns) and the strong, bold, pink-hued Feminist (flavored with hibiscus).
Angel City Brewing
The revitalized Arts District is a fitting location to the brewing renaissance planting down in gentrified downtown LA. This expansive brewpub, located in the historic John A. Roebling building has the look and feel of an old world beer hall with an array of picnic tables beneath a renovated mezzanine. The Art Deco-themed, multi-roomed space is practically a community center that hosts art galleries, live music, a farmer’s market, food trucks and Sunday morning yoga classes (in case you forgot this is LA). Their Mustache Bar taproom features an ever-rotating selection of traditional takes on German styles and inventive ones like the Srirachelada, a love child of Sriracha and the classic Mexican brunch drink. Don’t miss the daily tours, not only because they’re informative, but you get free beer samples at the end.
Eagle Rock Brewery
“Beer for the people” is the motto of this pioneering craft brewery, which led the hip “hop” revolution back in 2009, when they became the first microbrewery to open in LA in over 60 years. The family owned-and-operated brewpub is a craft beer community center where married co-owners (Jeremy Raub and Ting Su) play tour guide and pour master. Their brewer’s beers offer something for every hophead, from the English-style Solidarity to their American pale ale, Revolution. They distribute their beers across SoCal and have recently opened Eagle Rock Brewery Public House a couple blocks away, which aims to unify craft beer and progressive dining.
Highland Park Brewery
One of LA’s smallest craft breweries is also one of its most respected and beloved. Microbrew guru Bob Kunz, is a young veteran of the sud scene, having managed the well-renowned beer programs at Father’s Office and Craftsman Brewery, before opening his 500-square-foot, seven-barrel brewery out of the backroom of the Hermosillo gastropub. Beer geeks rave about HPB’s adventurous, small batch beers that expand palates with crisp and complex flavors that reflect the Highland Park neighborhood. The Yard Beer for example is a saison infused with foraged ingredients from local backyards.
Golden Road Brewery
Hidden behind the train tracks in the industrial section of Atwater Village, this communal, indoor/outdoor space is worth the find, resembling a German beer hall with 20 revolving taps, a retail beer outlet, a vegetarian-friendly menu, multiple flat-screens, lawn games and a doggy deck. Golden Road brew some of the most accessible, sustainable and recognizable micro-beers around with eye-catching aluminum cans emblazoned with iconic photos of SoCal. LA’s largest craft brewery has gone the “macro” beer route after announcing a controversial partnership with Anheuser-Busch. After getting roasted online for selling (out), co-owner Meg Gill vowed to keep their quality of beer intact. Let’s hope so after announcing a new brewpub across from Angel Stadium and becoming the house-brand beer at Trader Joe’s (licensed as Ol’ Burro Brewery).