Tap Into L.A.'s Second Wave Breweries

Los Angeles is a mecca for craft beer

Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Aleworks

In the past three years, countless local breweries with tasting rooms have popped up all over Los Angeles. The equation works again and again: an industrial space, visible fermentation tanks behind a friendly staffed bar, picnic tables, giant Jenga games, and food trucks parked outside. Throw in L.A.’s beautiful weather and you have a recipe for year-round, relaxed enjoyment of quality craft beer right from the source.

Pioneers such as Angel City, Smog City and Eagle Rock Brewery continue to serve up great beers in a fun atmosphere - they're still well worth a visit. The following breweries are continuing the tradition, bringing the neighborhood beer garden to Angelenos from the San Gabriel Valley to the South Bay.

Photo courtesy of Boomtown Brewery, Facebook

Boomtown Brewery

Boomtown Brewery opened its Arts District taproom to the public early in 2017 after a few years of supplying to local bars. They offer a little something for everyone: a blonde, an IPA, a hefe, a Czech-style pilsner. For the more adventurous palates, there's a blonde sour, barrel-aged imperial stout and others. Keeping with the neighborhood vibe, their vast warehouse space is plastered with murals and occupied by sculptures created by local artists, right down to the fixtures. Add in bar games and food trucks outside, and this could be everything you want from a beer hall.

"Yoga + Brew" at Brewyard Beer Company | Instagram by @adri32

Brewyard Beer Company

Glendale’s first craft brewery is run by two lifelong friends who have operated as amateur mechanics, fledgeling musicians, and finally home brewers that went pro with Brewyard Beer Company in 2015. Specializing in “California Common” beers, all of their offerings are made with a unique process that the brewers will happily explain if you happen upon them at their open-floor brewhouse and taproom. Frequent food truck appearances and weekly events like trivia nights and “paint nights” complete the transformation of this warehouse space into a cozy gathering spot.

Brouwerij West

An acclaimed member of the South Bay brewing scene, Brouwerij West (pronounced BROO-ery) found a permanent home in 2016, in the wide-open space of renovated Warehouse #9 near the L.A. Waterfront in San Pedro. Their kid- and dog-friendly indoor/outdoor seating area has the added bonus of being next door to Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles, a huge, weekend artisan market. It’s a beautiful invitation to sip on an innovative Belgian-style saison or a brett-fermented sour while shopping for handmade candles and local artists’ work.

Craftsman beer flight at Maximiliano | Instagram by @maximilianohp

Craftsman Brewing at Maximiliano

The cult of Craftsman beer is a real thing around Los Angeles. This tiny Pasadena brewery has been cranking out small batches of brilliant lager, hefeweizen, and other mainstays for over a decade. If a restaurant managed to land a keg, it was a triumph. Craftsman is till a micro-operation with no on-site tasting facilities, but insiders know that Highland Park trattoria Maximiliano has served as their unofficial “taproom” since 2013. Take your chances on finding a Craftsman beer around town, or head straight to the Eastside for the core offerings and some seasonal selections to boot.

Taproom at Dry River Brewing | Instagram by @dryriverbrewing

Dry River Brewing

One of L.A.’s newest and most boutique breweries, Dry River makes its innovative botanical brews from small batches of wort cooked up in neighboring Indie Brewery. This raw material is then fermented in used wine barrels with house blends of yeasts, making each one a truly unique local product with names like Lady Roja (saison made with red wheat and hibiscus) and Cigana (Brett IPA). For fans of wild ales, out-there farmhouse styles and sours, their Boyle Heights tasting room is a must-visit on weekends.

Frogtown Brewery | Instagram by @horse_of_la

Frogtown Brewery

Located in the slender neighborhood between the L.A. River and the Golden State Freeway, Frogtown Brewery started as a passion project for a couple of home brewing buddies. Since 2015, their dog- and family-friendly taproom has served as a relaxed destination for locals and a fun stop off the L.A. River Bike Path. Beers run the gamut from strong to sessionable, light to dark, crisp to densely hoppy - plenty of options to taste in a flight and choose a favorite to take home in a growler.

The Hermosillo & Highland Park Brewery

Founded in 2014 on busy York Boulevard, Highland Park Brewing’s small-scale, great quality beers have become cult favorites with both locals and visitors to this hip Eastside neighborhood. An exception to the picnic tables-string lights norm in craft taprooms, this brewery is located inside a historic drinking den called The Hermosillo, and for now their beers are only available on site. It's perfect for those seeking an adults-only bar with a full kitchen and a well-loved shuffleboard table. The good news for fans of their “holy trinity of lagers, hoppy beer, and mixed fermentation” is that in March 2018 a second brewery site opened with a tasting room in Chinatown, which enables wider distribution.

Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Aleworks

Los Angeles Aleworks

If the term “grassroots” ever applied to a brewery, it applies to Los Angeles Aleworks. Beer blogger and community stalwart, Kristofor “Kip” Barnes went through a “tenant brewer” period at Alhambra’s Ohana Brewing and a crowdfunding campaign to open up the first brewery in the Hawthorne neighborhood of southeast L.A. With so much planning that went into the product, the tasting room does not disappoint - there's a steady stream of food trucks, sports on TV, and 25 constantly changing taps, many with onsite-only offerings.

MacLeod Ale Brewing Co. | Instagram by @mean1dean

MacLeod Ale Brewing Co.

Anglophiles: head to Van Nuys. Founded by a husband and wife team of bagpipe enthusiasts, the first brewery to open in the San Fernando Valley is a singular experience in L.A., serving house-brewed British style ales, many of them from a cask. Cask ale, or “real ale,” as it’s called by its proponents in England, is naturally effervescent beer poured straight from the cask at cellar temperature (about 50 degrees) with no additional carbonation. The result is smooth, creamy, and warmer than American beer drinkers are used to. The dog- and kid-friendly tasting room is frequently visited by food trucks and hosts trivia nights and live music on the weekends, adding to that friendly neighborhood pub feel.

"Frida" special barrel release at Progress Brewing | Instagram by kimmeel0ve

Progress Brewing

As South El Monte’s first and only craft brewery, the two chemists who founded Progress Brewing take their responsibility to the drinkers of the San Gabriel Valley seriously. A respected brew program using English, German and American malts offers a range of entry points for craft beer neophytes, aiming to inspire big-brand drinkers to try something new. Lots of TVs showing L.A. sports teams, a genial crowd, and ample outdoor space make this a neighborhood favorite.

Instagram by @santamonicabrewworks

Santa Monica Brew Works

Producing their sun- and surf-inspired beers for westside bars since 2012, Santa Monica Brew Works finally opened their own taproom several years ago, with a full line of year-round and seasonal selections, as well as apparel and growlers for sale. Draughts such as the 310 California Blonde Ale and the PCH Golden Porter show off a commitment to the beach life even before you get to the artwork with skaters and palm trees on the walls. Check their website for a food truck schedule and event calendar.

Three Weavers Brewing Company

Since opening in 2014, this Inglewood gem has dispelled the idea that West Coast beers are all hop-bombs. Brewmaster Alexandra Nowell and owner Lynne Weaver serve up a program that includes an English style Porter, American Pale Ale, Kolsch and of course a classic West Coast IPA to satisfy as many palates as there are visitors to this cool indoor-outdoor tasting room. No food is available at the brewery, but a neighboring pizzeria is more than happy to step up with delivery. Their community-centric vibe is apparent in the communal tables and selection of family-friendly board games.

Beer flight at Verdugo West Brewing Co. | Instagram by @vagabondcheese

Verdugo West Brewing Co.

Verdugo West was one of several breweries to open in Burbank recently, making the area a bit of a beer destination in itself. Not to be confused with the popular Glassell Park beer pub Verdugo Bar, the Verdugo West taproom is open seven days a week and offers a full range of styles: lagers, IPAs, saisons and sours, as well as a one-off cask draught, tapped every Friday. A cozier space than some of its warehouse-dwelling counterparts, Verdugo West still appeals to the dog-and-family set and offers a bar menu of burgers and pizza for noshing.