Los Angeles has clusters of breweries. Torrance has a grouping that are within a short drive of each other, and Arts District has a herd of breweries within walking distance, but Monrovia has them beat with two breweries that are next door to each other and opened mere months apart as well.
Wingwalker Brewing was the first brewery on Maple Avenue. Founder David Robkin has home brewed since 2010 and has also dabbled in wine and mead and took an aviation theme. You can put your pint glass down on a bar top that is made from the wing of a Cessna 182 airplane. The brewery has been open since January.
Over Town Brewing is the second brewery, with a name that’s part of Catalina Island lingo. The mainland (Los Angeles) is “over town.” They have decked out their taproom in signage that many Angelenos will recognize from a big Hermosa Beach sign to a little white sign pointing the way to Raging Waters and many more adorning the walls. Over Town had their two-day opening this last St. Patrick’s Day weekend with owners Ryan McKay and Carlos Plazola behind the bar.
I would love to report that both breweries came out of the gate swinging, but after one visit and three beers at Over Town and two visits and four beers at Wingwalker, there is still room to grow for both breweries. At Wingwalker, I tried the Dark Matter (great beer name) in both regular and nitro version, Miskatonic Mild Physics Fest beer, and the newer Barnstormer Rye IPA. Of that group, Dark Matter was the clear winner while both the Fest Beer and Rye IPA looked and tasted like they were released too early from the tanks.
Over at Over Town, since the day was hot and sunny, I went with lighter fare like the House Pale Ale, the White Walker White Ale, and the (not hazy) Foggy Lens IPA. The pale had a clear taste of tangerine puree that overwhelmed the hops, and the White Walker was a bit on the plain side. It needed a little more snap of spice and some more yeasty esters to complete the style and the IPA tasted a little young and green. Perhaps this beer needed more time to settle.
There is a lot to like about the neighboring operations. Both spaces are warm and inviting, there is plenty of street parking, and they are easy to reach from the 210 freeway. Both breweries have obviously put care into the drinking environments. Wingwalker has a great little patio, and Over Town has a nice little seating nook off the main room. Both have great brand names and stories to tell. Now it is time to really dial in the beers to take them up a level.
My Non-IPA Beer of the Week is a table beer. Some people may not have heard of this term, but basically it is a beer that is at home every night of the week at the dinner table. Something light, but substantial enough to offset the stress of the day. A slightly more upscale twist on this beer comes from the blending genius of Cellador Ales with their new Famille.
Famille has a mere slip of an ABV at 3.8%. Technically it is a small Saison. The Cellador version is brewed with Oats and California grown malts from Admiral Maltings.
Usually I try to give a little more head’s up when I suggest events to add to your beer calendar, but I thought I would save you a longer drive and point you to Beer Belly and their Koreatown location for March’s One Night Stand (ONS) which is tonight!
8 Bit Brewing Company from Murrieta is on tap. You will probably like the video game puns that grace their beers, and you will probably like the beers even more.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.