You can get lost in a foeder forest maze of beer when visiting Long Beach, but there are times when you need a change of pace. There are two spots, quite near each other, that take you to someplace new in via different routes.
Portuguese Bend Distilling is across the street from Beachwood BBQ and Brewing. The corner property is plated in brown making it visually distinctive. Inside Brenda and Luis Navarro run a small distillery, the first in Long Beach. They took the name from a piece of Long Beach coastal geography. The Bend was a well-used spot by prohibition deniers trying to get their alcohol to the people.
Now the distillery produces two vodkas and two gins. Breakwater Vodka and Breakwater Premium are the vodkas and Smoke Bay and Donna Rosa are the gins. The Rosa name comes from hibiscus. You can order taster flights of either spirit. Rum is next in the product line. The cocktail list is expansive and imaginative and shows a flair for creative names as well.
The distillery also houses a really nice restaurant with straight-up comfort food choices. The fried chicken and mashed potatoes was right on target. When the sun stops blazing down on us for the year, their patio will be perfect for a sunset drink.
Down the street, The 4th Horseman specializes in beer. A well curated list from Ryan Hughes and Martin Svab. They also have cans to buy or if you live in the area, you can get both delivered (within a certain radius of course). But you will come here for the pizza and the atmosphere.
The light level is medium dark. There are TVs playing but no football on them when I was there. The décor is all about the B Movie, Roger Corman, horror feel down the bathroom where you may forget why you were there in the first place.
You can go simple like me and order the Slasher (pepperoni) or you can enter stranger pizza territory with the Memento Mori that has beef bulgogi, gochujang and kimchi or the Angel of Death with blue cheese, bacon and onions.
I found the light level and the fun wall decorations to be a welcome departure from the usual brightness and sometimes industrial feel of your average brewery taproom.
We shuttle only a little ways away for the Non-IPA Beer of the Week, Brouwerij West has been gaining a hazy reputation but with it being Oktoberfest time, I recommend Bears Ears, a Märzen lager bier. There have been quite a few good choices in this style with the sweetness cut by toasted bread notes commonly found. And the Oktoberfest-styled beers seems more popular than pumpkin so far this year.
You can find plenty of Oktoberfest all around the Los Angeles area this weekend, but I want to go another route and have you add some sour beer to your calendar. October 12, Cellador Ales celebrates their 3rd Anniversary. No tickets needed to attend this party, but you will need to stop at the ATM before because their will be no dipping of the chip. This is a cash only party. $10 gets you a souvenir glass and your first pour and after that, each handcrafted and aged beer costs $5 for five ounces.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.