For years, Torrance seemed to be the place where breweries converged. Sometimes across the street or a parking lot from each other. DTLA has also sprouted a bounty of options, to the point that they can have their own mini-guild and their own festival.
Now you can debate whether or not Bixby Knolls and nearby Signal Hill is the biggest brewing hot spot in the SoCal region. In addition to a Smog City Brewing outpost at SteelCraft, you have Ten Mile Brewing and Long Beach Beer Lab. Now throw in Liberation Brewing and the in-progress Ambitious Ales and you have a lot of ground to cover. Heck, there is even a spot where you can brew-your-own beer!
Despite being neighbors, Signal Hill is its own city, taking the reins so as not to be annexed into Long Beach. Bixby Knolls is part of the LBC, though it certainly has a different freeway adjacent typical L.A. feel (to me) more so than the city’s Queen Mary/Pine Street side. With that fact and opinion out of the way, let’s concoct an itinerary for a visit.
Start at Long Beach Beer Lab (technically located in a 3rd neighborhood, Wrigley) so that you can also do a bit of bread shopping. That’s right, this brewery bakes bread as well. Milk the Moustache, an approachable Wild Ale is a good starting bet. Expect a good variety and some interesting takes from IPA to Kvass-styled Rye, and Saisons. A Van Gogh-y star leads up a staircase to a seating area in this large and fun spot.
Stay on Willow Avenue and look for a cemetery as you cross into Signal Hill for Ten Mile Brewery. Here you can satisfy your hop mania, but I would suggest starting with their Kentucky Common, Hidden Hollow, or their Segway to Munich Kolsch. As with LBBL, this is a bright airy space where you can look at the tanks.
Head up to SteelCraft to fill your belly with some food. Be it pizza, waffles, or ramen. Then find a bench near the 2nd of soon to be 3 locations of stalwart L.A. brewery, Smog City Brewing. I strongly suggest first kicking back with one of their iconic beers. Maybe Little Bo Pils if the weather is hot and then move on to one of their sour offerings as a dessert treat. Devil Up a Tree or Cuddlebug would do the trick.
Liberation Brewing Co. is around the corner on Atlantic Avenue. I have a first visit marked for when I am next in the area, but I sampled two of their beers during L.A. Beer Week and both were very good for a newcomer. Lucy, a blonde ale, had a nice hop kick, but didn’t shy away from being a simple ale. I also tasted the Learning Curve Amber and thought it did the job as well.
You can make the short trek to Beachwood BBQ and Brewery to cap off your night. After all that, you will probably need the next day off.
When you think of craft beer hotspots, the first state or even the tenth on your list is probably not Wyoming, but Roadhouse Brewing Co. of Jackson Hole made a trip down to Arts District Brewing during the recent L.A. Beer Week to show off their wares. Two beers that made a mark were their Belgian Strong Ales that come in stubby 12-ounce bottles. Not a common format in these 16-ounce canned days. The beer names foretell how strong they are.
Avarice & Greed is brewed with premium Pilsen malt and utilizes Belgian yeast to create a really big, strong golden ale. The beer pours with a nice foamy head. The initial taste is Like a hefe, but way bigger. I detected lots of clove notes and this beer is well balanced for the most part, though there is a bit of alcohol burn at the end of each sip. The three-word descriptor on the label is spot on. Warm, dry, and estery.
Siren Song measures in at a whopping 5% higher than Avarice and Greed, but tastes milder. Getting fruitcakey flavors. A mix of citrus and raisins with a tiny dash of menthol aroma. The yeast esters come through here, but more wet and herbal. Spice, maybe rye notes round out the beer.
If you get the chance to attend a Roadhouse event in the future or you happen to head to Wyoming, I would suggest checking the range of beers out.
Another new brewery to join the L.A. family is almost here as the long journey to taproom for Hand-Brewed Beer is finally at an end. July 13, they open up their Chatsworth location for a grand opening celebration from 2 p.m. – 11 p.m. Which you should add to the calendar even though it is late notice.
You may have seen Hand-Brewed Beer pouring at L.A. Brewers Guild events and in scattered craft friendly establishments close to their base, but now they can really show their beers off. HBB will also be open on Saturday and Sunday and will be posting their regular hours in the usual internet places.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.