Eagle Rock Brewery gets the bulk of L.A.’s beer press, but there’s another new brewery in L.A. County: Strand Brewing Co. Founders Rich Marcello, Joel Elliott and Jeff Parker brewed their first batch of beer in a Torrance industrial park on September 2, 2009. Before long, their first keg was online at nearby Naja’s Place. Genesis was a malt-mad ale that resulted from underestimating the efficiency of their new equipment. Strand soon found balance and selected 24th Street Pale Ale as their flagship beer, a hoppy 6.1% ale that scored them prized tap handles at most of the city’s best beer bars.
The longtime friends originally home brewed at 24th & Strand in Hermosa Beach. Thus the name of the brewery, and the name of their ale. They took eight months to build the brewery by hand. The space is bare bones, with a fermentation room that holds three seven-barrel tanks, a small office, and a storage room for hops, malt and kegs.
Leading up to the launch, Elliott worked in fashion photography and filmed surf movies. He also worked construction and remodeling, just like his father. Marcello spent 20 years working in restaurants, bars and clubs, beginning by washing dishes at the Redondo Beach Chart House. From 2007-09, he ran Maloy O’Neill Vineyards. Until recently, Marcello was working at a PR firm in the morning, and hustling for new accounts in the afternoon at night. Parker started out as the Strand brewmaster, but that title now belongs to Elliott, who’s been brewing Strand’s ale since Batch #5, learning on the job from Parker. During my visit, Batch #19 was fresh to the stainless steel tank.
Rich Marcello and Joel Elliott
During our visit, Marcello poured the pale ale at three different stages of its development. The first glass featured 24th Street pale ale that still wasn’t ready for filtration or dry hopping, so it was cloudy and sweet. There was a creamy ale that had just been carbonated and was destined for Blue Palms. Finally, the finished product was copper hued, with a hoppy finish.
Strand is currently relying on 24th Street Pale Ale, but Elliott recently brewed “pilot batches” of black double IPA and amber ale. If all goes well, you could soon find those beers in the brewery’s tanks. “The idea is not to do six beers, two of them great and two mediocre,” says Marcello. “The idea is to do one great beer, then move on to the next one.”
In the meantime, if you’re looking for a new twist on 24th Street Pale Ale, head to Naja’s Place on April 21-28, for Naja’s 2nd IPA Fest. They’ll be tapping firkins of pale ale accented with Amarillo and Perle hops.
Strand’s pale ale is currently available at Beachwood BBQ, Blue Palms Brewhouse, The Factory, Naja’s Place, Kincaid’s, Café Boogaloo, Mediterraneo, Simmzy’s, Manhattan Beach Brew Co., Paul Martin’s American Bistro, Ford’s Filling Station, Tender Greens, Library Alehouse and The Golden State. According to Marcello, “These are places I’d send family and friends to, and places I’d go drink.” So far, every single Strand account has reordered beer.