An L.A. Beer Scene, At Long Last

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Craft Beer Los Angeles

Every Thursday night, I distribute the L.A. Beer Blast, a newsletter that lets Food GPS readers know what’s new and exciting at select L.A. bars and restaurants. In assembling the Blast, a central message has become increasingly clear; there’s never been a better time to be a beer lover in Los Angeles.

The backbone of a city’s beer scene is undoubtedly the people behind it. L.A. has a coterie of passionate bar owners, home brewers (and finally) professional brewers who have mobilized consumers (and me) to want to learn more about what’s in each glass and who brewed it.

The number of great L.A. beer bars can no longer be counted on two hands. At this stage, Angelenos should be familiar with noteworthy stalwarts like The Stuffed Sandwich in San Gabriel, Library Alehouse and The Daily Pint in Santa Monica, Naja’s Place in Redondo Beach and Lucky Baldwin’s in Pasadena (and Sierra Madre). However, a new crop is championing craft beer’s cause.

Gabe Gordon opened Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach in 2007. Since then, Ryan Sweeney, Kyle Bilowitz, Brandon Bradford and Cherith Spicer debuted Verdugo Bar on a formerly anonymous stretch of Glassell Park, and Brian Lenzo opened Blue Palms Brewhouse in Hollywood. Those are probably the Big Three from the new crop, but a number of other viable bars have entered the malty fray.

Last summer, Clay Harding spearheaded his partnership’s beer efforts at 38 Degrees in Alhambra. Jason Bernstein and James Starr run The Golden State on Fairfax. Sweeney and Bradford have gone on to co-found The Surly Goat in West Hollywood. Simmzy’s in Manhattan Beach, Tony’s Darts Away in Burbank and Boneyard Bistro version 2.0 in Sherman Oaks have also made notable contributions. Even liquor stores like Vendome Toluca Lake are getting into the act, offering themed tastings every Saturday afternoon.

It’s no longer good enough for a bar just to offer rotating taps that dispense stylistically balanced, seasonally influenced beers. To stand out, bars and restaurants now feature beer-pairing dinners, tout beer education, and host special brewery nights where brewmasters bring rare kegs and bottles.

When it comes to local craft breweries, Craftsman set the bar when Mark Jilg debuted in Pasadena in 1996. Last fall, Jeremy Raub and father Steve broke the beer barrier when they opened the first brewery in the City of Los Angeles in 60 years. Now Nibble Bit Tabby Brewery and Ohana Brewing Company are next in line downtown. Strand is rocking a hoppier-than-thou pale ale in Torrance, and is already planning expansion. The Bruery and Bootlegger’s Brewery are going strong in Orange County. Ladyface Alehouse anchors the western fringe in Agoura Hills and Hangar 24 holds down the eastern border, in Redlands.

It’s not just that residents of Los Angeles and satellite counties are able to enjoy more breweries, it’s the way that the expansion is taking place that’s encouraging. For example, when Nibble Bit Tabby recently debuted, Jeremy Raub featured their Irish red ale on draught in the Eagle Rock Brewery taproom. So much for cutthroat.

Los Angeles also has its very own Beer Week. Last year, an alliance of bar owners, breweries and distributors banded together to fill a calendar for 11 days. This year’s LA Beer Week begins on October 7 and features dozens of awesome beer-focused events, culminating with an October 17 blowout tasting event at Union Station. For L.A. beer lovers, life is certainly sweet, sour, bitter, malty and more.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

Blog Comments

On the Hunt for Nibble Bit Tabby « Strange Brews LA

[…] check out what Food GPS blogger Joshua Lurie had to say: “It’s not just that residents of Los Angeles and satellite […]

Also, did you know Ryan is one of LA’s first Cicerone’s?

It’s basically a sommelier of beer.


I did know that about Ryan. His expertise certainly comes across in beer related conversations.

Not only is the beer great, but the people in the beer community do so much to balance out the pomp and frill that the LA food scene is so vulnerable to.

If you’d like to check out a bit more on Ryan Sweeney and the Surly Goat…

I’m one of your fans in Florida, and enjoy reading about your new endeavors. It is clear from reading your reviews and comments that you are highly respected in your field. It’s enlightening to read about your new branches of “eats” and “drinks.” Keep it up!


Thanks for your support, as always.


Hollywood Nights Beverage

[…] Food GPS » An L.A. Beer Scene, At Long Last Every Thursday night I distribute the L.A. Beer Blast, a newsletter that lets Food GPS readers know what's new and exciting at select L.A. bars and restaurants. In assembling the Blast, a central message has become increasingly clear; I give major kudos to Blue Palms, Delancey's and Lucky Devils, for finally bringing good beer to Hollywood's cocktail-oriented nightlife. Tony's Darts Away for whipping up enthusiasm for good beer in Burbank, where it was sorely needed . […]

Great article Josh! be sure to check out our beer festival/crawl that is happening downtown on September 25th! All the best beers and brewers will be there!


Sean Inman already referenced the Craft Beer Crawl on the 25th.

Sounds like a fun event. Do you know what you’ll be pouring at Tony’s, or will it come as a day-of surprise?

And even better when new places are opening up all the time and you can barely keep up! Speaking of shout outs, I should have added BoHo to that Hollywood List – a big fan of their rotating selection and perfect location next to Amoeba Records 😉 Also, 1739 Public House in Los Feliz gets a nod as well, huge beer list and great jukebox! Ah, I wish I still lived in that area sometimes. I moved out to Simi last year where good beer is even more rare than a decent restaurant.

Beer has indeed finally found a new appreciation in LA. It took a lot of hard work, but with one of the great beer cities of the world just two hours south of us, motivation was easy to come by! I give major kudos to Blue Palms, Delancey’s and Lucky Devils, for finally bringing good beer to Hollywood’s cocktail-oriented nightlife. Tony’s Darts Away for whipping up enthusiasm for good beer in Burbank, where it was sorely needed for years (if not decades). And let us not forget Father’s Office, always a strong ally of craft beer over the years when not many seemed to care. It is a wonderful time to make, buy, drink and share beer in LA – and it will only get better!

Steve, Good idea to give a shout out to Father’s Office, which I should have done in my article. There are certainly plenty of other bars worth mentioning. To me, it’s great when you have an overview and people can still point out worthy additions.

Checked out Rock & Brews in El Segundo last night. Surprisingly good beer line-up (Port Hop 15, Hop Rod Rye, a couple of Dale’s selection) — worth checking out and posting in the Thursday round-up if they change out their taps regularly.


Thanks for the head’s up about Rock & Brews. This is the first I’ve heard of that bar.

I have compiled a list of places serving Craft Beer on tap by neighborhood over four areas in LA. It may be helpful for some of you looking to find new places to drink a beer. You can check it out here:

Dave, thanks for linking up your neighborhood beer bar guides. Those should come in handy to people.

Great post! Do you have any other suggestions for the West Hollywood area?


Beer recs for the West Hollywood area? Your two best bets are The Golden State and The Surly Goat. If you’re looking to increase your beer radius, head to Blue Palms.

Hurrah, it’s about time! Also noteworthy are the increasing number of restaurants with smaller but still interesting beer lists.

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Alltop Food, Steve Brinser. Steve Brinser said: Food GPS » An L.A. Beer Scene, At Long Last: Every Thursday night, I distribute the L.A. Beer Blast, a newsletter … […]

great post. I also have noticed that LA has a great beer scene now. bravo

Mattatouille, what are your favorite places to grab a beer in L.A. at this point?


World Wide News Flash

An L.A. Beer Scene, At Long Last…

I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

Thank you for your endless hard work, Joshua. It’s very much appreciated by lovers of great beer in LA. I’m glad to see there’s such a great community developing here.

Doug and Jessy, thanks for the support. Now stop commenting and grab a beer at one of these spots tonight.

I agree. I am tired of the same old same old. I have to travel the country just to get a great beer. I love to read you post because you always know what is in.

You’re my hero.

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