Top Selling Beers from Los Angeles Bars

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38 Degrees co-owner Clay Harding took a brief break at the LA Beer Week fest to discuss top sellers.

At the L.A. Beer Week fest on October 23, I asked three of L.A.’s best beer bar owners (and one GM) pointed questions, including, “What’s your top selling beer, and why do you think that’s that the case?” Their responses might surprise you.

Clay Harding (38 Degrees)

The top selling beer is really tough for us, another dynamic for my concept is that I like to feature multiple, multiple styles of beer. What does is allow me to introduce anybody that walks in my place, an opportunity to either try a beer they’ve never tried before, or introduce them to a beer – period – that they didn’t think they would even like beer. I meet people every day that – “I don’t really like beer” – and most of those people are people that grew up drinking some kind of crap domestic beer, whether it was Bud, Miller, the BMC channel, and they were put off from that. What beer really brings to the table is a huge array of flavors and styles that only beer can do.

The only thing I can say over the last two years is I am a little IPA heavy. That would be because – number one – I am a big hophead myself, and I only search out for fresh IPAs. That’s the only way it really should be represented. That’s the way the brewer made it. It doesn’t change a lot in the duration of months, weeks, whatever. That’s my top seller as a style. To say what the top selling brand would be, it would be hard to ratio exactly the availability for how often I can have it on tap. I have Sculpin on tap almost 95% of the time. Big seller. Pliny the Elder, huge seller. Moose Drool brown ale, I would say would be one of my best sellers for a regular beer I have on tap. Nice American brown ale, way more full flavored, full bodied, a very roasty beer that outsells Newcastle. I could put Newcastle next to it on my bar and it would outsell it every day. Another, style wise, hefeweizen’s still big.

Brian Lenzo (Blue Palms Brewhouse)

Actually our best selling beer, Firestone makes a Hefeweizen for us. It won a gold medal last year at the World Beer Cup, and it sells like crazy. I think it’s because we have a lot of tourists in our area, they see Hef and it’s a comfortable style for people. They understand it. Then it’s a house beer, so it sells really quick. People want to have the house stuff, and a Hef is an easy sell.

Tom Kelley (Library Alehouse General Manager)

Allagash White, by far…It’s just a really approachable beer. I think witbier in general is something that people know, and Allagash has really built a strong brand and has a very consistent, delicious product.

Ryan Sweeney (The Surly Goat / Verdugo Bar)

At Verdugo, it’s Weihenstephaner Hefeweize. I think that it’s just a very easy drinking beer. I think it’s approachable, and I think for that vibe, with an outdoor patio and being mellow, I think that it works really well over there.

At Surly Goat, it’s a little different. There is no one beer that sells the best, but if I’d have to name my best seller, it would be [Avery] White Rascal, for pretty much the same reason. We have it on at happy hour, but I find that at Surly Goat, we have much more of a range. People are just more experimental on the beers.


Joshua Lurie

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

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