The Top Craft Beer Bars, Breweries & Restaurants in L.A: Part Two

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Beer flight and sausage at Tony's Darts Away | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Now that you’ve finished tapping into Part One, read on for Part Two of our guide to 28 bars, breweries and restaurants to drink craft beer in L.A. County.

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Beer and salmon sliders at Ladyface Alehouse & Brasserie | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Ladyface Alehouse & Brasserie

Cyrena Nouzille and brewmaster Dave Griffiths teamed on this Belgian-inspired gastropub, with a patio that looks up at namesake Ladyface Mountain. Year-round flagship ales include Blind Ambition dubbel, Ladyface IPA, and Picture City Porter poured on nitrogen. Ladyface rotates in different eclectic and archival ales, depending on the season, possibly Pareidolia black IPA, Reyes Adobe red, and dry-hopped, barrel-aged Vallis Aurea Belgian golden ale. They also regularly feature a naturally carbonated cask, which is served at cellar temperature. For instance, Hawaiian Punch treats Palo Comado IPA to citrus and tropical fruit. Hearty food like poutine po’ boy and moule frites pair well with the house beers.

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Library Alehouse

Owner Dave Lackman opened Library Alehouse in 1995 after developing the business plan as a UCLA senior. The L.A. native originally planned to brew, but zoning laws quickly convinced him otherwise. Instead, he featured West Coast microbrews, and then slowly cast a global craft brew net. The comforting Craftsman-style décor and secluded back patio helped to turn Library Alehouse into a destination. Now, the restaurant/bar has new ownership and Certified Cicerone® (and UCLA Law grad) Alex P. Davis helps ensure that the blackboard beer list is as tight as ever. Davis also schedules frequent nights devoted to visiting breweries and to themed drinking, which varies by season.

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Lucky Baldwin's Delirium Cafe | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Lucky Baldwins Delirium Cafe

Yes, the original Lucky Baldwin’s is still going strong in Old Pasadena, and late co-owner David Farnsworth and remaining partner Peggy Simonian expanded to east Pasadena with Lucky Baldwin’s Trappiste, but Lucky Baldwin’s Delirium Café remains the company’s most charming outpost. This Belgian-inspired bar is located on Sierra Madre’s main square and has armed 65 taps since opening in 2005. Sit on the patio and watch the world stroll by, or sit inside and watch sports. Either way, you’ll have access to some of Belgium’s best beers, plus festivals devoted to themes like Christmas Beers.

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Photo courtesy of Macleod Ale Brewing Co., Facebook

MacLeod Ale Brewing Co.

Jennifer Febre Boase and Alastair Boase teamed with brewer Andy Black on this British-inspired brewery in a Van Nuys industrial park. The space features white concrete walls, a two-part bar, wood counter and tables. MacLeod specializes in naturally conditioned English style ales, six of which flow from casks, and two of which are on tap. Year-round, you’ll find sessionable ales that rarely top 4.3% ABV, including Jackie Tar brown stout, The Little Spree Yorkshire pale ale, and The Session Gap ordinary bitter. Seasonal offerings include Old Toasty dark mild and Yankee Mick’s American brown. All beer names refer to bagpiping tunes, since Alastair was raised in the West Highlands of Scotland. Bonus: four-beer flights are available for a pittance.

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Haiku du Saison at Monkish Brewing | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Monkish Brewing Co.

Henry Nguyen, who has a Ph.D. in Theology and previously taught at Loyola Marymount University, opened a spiritual brewery with wife Adriana in Torrance’s freeway-friendly Del Amo Business Park. The space features wood furniture, blackboard menus, and movies like “American Pie” projected on the wall. A window behind the bar provides a peak into the brewhouse, where barrels double as tables and stainless steel tanks sport an uplifting “Beer, Hope, Love” motto. Monkish pours 12 taps of Belgian-style beers, several brewed with aromatic ingredients like elderflowers (Crux), hibiscus (Feminist) and jasmine flowers (Lumen). Nguyen also experiments with wild cultures like brettanomyces. Recent offerings include Haiku de Saison, a vibrant, tart 6.3% ABV saison aged in white wine oak vats.

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Chef Andre Guerrero at The Oinkster Hollywood | Photo by Joshua Lurie

The Oinkster - Hollywood

The Hollywood outpost of Chef Andre Guerrero’s comfort food concept eschews the homey charm of Eagle Rock’s A-frame in favor of an edgier look from Design, Bitches. The space features a planter-lined patio with black steel tables, a cartoon burger logo in bright red sunglasses, and communal indoor seating. Josh Salinas manages an upgraded craft beer program, which includes a direct-draw system and 10 rotating taps from esteemed breweries like Craftsman, Highland Park and Noble Ale Works. Hollywood has also introduced Wednesday Flight Night, so drink up while loading up on burgers, pastrami, Belgian-style fries and peanut butter and jelly cupcakes.

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Phantom Carriage | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Phantom Carriage

Martin Svab and business partner Simon Ford carved out a spooky niche in a Carson industrial park. It’s pretty much Halloween year-round. The space is dark and candlelit, with skeleton, Vincent Price and monster imagery. Phantom Theater is on-site, along with a separate room for Barrel Guild meetings. The main room features wall-to-wall barrels, a stainless steel bar with wood trim and wood stools, and high-top tables. There’s a good chance you’ll hear heavy metal, possibly Anthrax’s propulsive song, “Indians.” You’ll find guest beers on tap, but mainly tart, barrel-aged Phantom Carriage beers are the primary focus. Options might include dry-hopped Tripel Curse, a Belgian tripel with spicy fruit notes. Speed Demon Cold Brew Coffee Nitro and Muis, a wild Belgian blonde spiked with brettanomyces, are two more possibilities.

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Spring St. Bar & Sandwich Shop

Will Shamlian and Michael Leko preside over this casual neighborhood bar in downtown’s Old Bank District, including reclaimed wood walls, communal seating and a patio that’s well suited to people watching. Spring St. has amassed one of the larger selections of Craftsman Brewing Co. beers in the city, a badge of honor in craft beer circles, since Craftsman founder Mark Jilg doesn’t just sell to anybody who asks. Spring St.’s 26 taps showcase other area breweries, including TAPS and Strand. The bar also has sandwiches, which are excellent, each arriving on toasted sesame bread with a choice of chips, cucumber quinoa salad, or potato salad. Their meatball sub is the biggest winner.

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Beer flight at Smog City Brewing | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Smog City Brewing

Brewmaster Jonathan Porter and wife Laurie launched Smog City in Avoian Business Center, a Torrance industrial park. A wood counter hugs a wall opposite the bar and beer blackboard menu. Deeper inside the space, you’ll find wood tables facing stainless steel tanks and barrel racks in Smog City’s 15-barrel brewhouse. Yes, there’s even a cutout of a Dolorean on the wall. Care to go Back to the Future? Some of Porter’s beers taste futuristic, including tart Black Currant Saison with beautiful purple color and Bourbon Barrel Aged Smoked Smaug, named for “The Hobbit” dragon. This beer tastes like liquid caramel and is brewed with beechwood-smoked malt.

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Tasting room at Strand Brewing | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Strand Brewing Co.

Rich Marcello and brewmaster Joel Elliott started with a 900-square-foot cubbyhole and recently took over 36,000 square feet in a nearby Torrance industrial park. The new space features raw wood picnic tables and benches, metal stools stationed at grey 55-gallon drums, and a bar backed by a sea blue and white wall and blackboard menu. The north gate also opens to allow for rotating food trucks like Serendoggity and BrewWings. Strand tends to focus on core beers like 24th Street Pale Ale, Beach House Amber, and Atticus IPA, though they add flourishes at the tasting room. We recently experienced rosemary-infused Amber and a cask of 24th Street infused with Cascade Hops grown hyper-locally in a regular patron’s backyard.

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Sweeney's Ale House | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Sweeney's Ale House

Ryan Sweeney, Brandon Bradford, who’ve also contributed high quality, well-focused bars like Little Bear, The Surly Goat, and Verdugo Bar to the community, teamed on this Encino destination with Alen Aivazian. A planter-lined patio fronts this gastropub, which houses a 60-foot wood bar, twin shuffleboard tables, flat-screen TVs to play obscure ’80s movies, and a surprisingly large amount of nautical memorabilia. Sweeney, a Certified Cicerone® who now wields considerable purchasing power, which allows him to rotate 28 taps with primarily American craft beers, many of which you won’t find elsewhere.

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Three Weavers | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Three Weavers

The three Weavers are Lynne Weaver and her two daughters. This Inglewood brewery set up shop near iconic Randy’s Donuts and LAX. The elevated space operates in the back of an industrial park with a sunny patio, exposed rafters, and fun views of the brewhouse. Framed photos of famed brewers like Vinnie Cilurzo (Russian River Brewing) and Ken Grossman (Sierra Nevada Brewing) hang on the walls, watching over picnic tables like patron saints. Brewmaster Alexandra Nowell fills 12 taps, 22-ounce bottles and growlers with excellent California-style ales. Their saison is pleasantly funky. Return of Sassy IPA is a spicy golden collaboration with Arts District Brewing's Devon Randall.

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Beer flight and sausage at Tony's Darts Away | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Tony's Darts Away

Tony Yanow changed the trajectory of the Burbank beer scene by taking over and upgrading this neighborhood bar. This wood-paneled establishment features twin patios, dartboards that are perpetually under fire, a pool table, craft beer reading library, and a food menu with an emphasis on sausages. California craft beer courses through 38 taps, divided by IPA and Not IPA. Yes, India Pale Ales are that prominent in California, and represented accordingly at Tony’s Darts Away. Expect some of the state’s best IPAs from leading breweries like Bear Republic, Russian River, and Green Flash.

Verdugo Bar

In 2007, Ryan Sweeney, Brandon Bradford, Kyle Bilowitz, and Cherith Spicer teamed on Verdugo Bar, which they named for the establishment’s street. The space once housed a dive bar called the Kopper Keg, but Verdugo Bar is now quite polished, with a curvy S-shaped wood bar, flat screen TVs that play cult classic movies on mute, sumptuous leather booths, and a back patio with communal tables and decorative brewery tins lining an olive green wall. The space is built for hanging out, with a near nightly DJ, a rotating fleet of food trucks that park in the lot, and a BBQ grill that hides behind fencing. YES, the illuminated sign touts “COCKTAILS,” but the 20 taps and beer fridge, which Sweeney curates, are some of the most deeply rooted in craft of any bar in L.A.