One of America’s most prominent craft beer breweries is doubling down on Los Angeles, with plans to open a large-scale production facility well east of Downtown. Lagunitas Brewing Company, which is based north of San Francisco in Petaluma but also has a brewery in Chicago, is among the most recognizable names on bottle shop shelves, having been in the business for nearly 25 years crafting mostly West Coast-style IPAs and pale ales.
On Twitter last night, owner Tony Magee (@LagunitasT) began dropping hints as to the growing future of the brand, eventually revealing that the Southern California location would be held in Azusa, California, a small foothills suburb in the San Gabriel Valley. The city itself currently hosts a population of only around 50,000 people, but is within easy freeway distance of several major metropolitan areas and comes complete with lots of light industrial zoning.
Firestone Walker’s foray into the Southland has been a long time coming. The move by the Paso Robles beer giant into two adjacent Venice properties was first brought to light back in 2013, and since then it seems like slow going for the brewhouse/taproom/restaurant space. Mostly because there’s a lot of work to be done.
Continuing their recent tradition of limited edition Custom IPAs, Golden Road Brewing in Atwater Village recently unveiled their 16 ounce pint cans of Better Weather IPA. The playful name, stamped on the photo-quality cans with an image of an inviting, shimmering pool, says it all. This is a town that thrives on better weather than most of the rest of America, so it’s time we started drinking like it.
As one of three great up-and-coming breweries in Los Angeles profiled recently on Serious Eats, the Pipe Dream team of Brian Holter and Kingsley Toby certainly know how to make beer. The duo have been homebrewing for years, churning out award winners and local favorites on a regular basis. And by local, that means Toby’s garage in Culver City.
To be fair, the Pipe Dream (home)brewhouse is hardly makeshift, with a fully realized brewing operation that mimics large commercial breweries, a walk in cold storage area and a few casks for aging their own concoctions.
On a recent weekend, Toby and Holter let me poke around, sample their fantastic Green Dragon IPA and get a peek inside the Pipe Dream garage.
“Arrowhead’s got the water … Big Bear’s got the beer!” That’s the sentiment behind Big Bear Mountain Brewery, the small yellow house just off Big Bear Boulevard that’s home to the mountain’s only commercial brewing operation. Sure, pulling into the parking lot might make you think you’re stopping over at someone’s private residence for a beer. And sure, you’re just as likely to find yourself sitting inside on a floral love seat as you are a barstool, but that’s just the way Big Bear Mountain Brewery is. Cozy, quiet, unassuming; their beer is much the same.
Still, it’s a fun atmosphere at Big Bear Mountain Brewery, with plenty of beer signs, old glass bottles and signed dollar bills tacked up to the wood paneling. There’s a small piano in one corner, lots of old black and white photographs, and enough Americana to make you red white and blue in the face. In other words, it’s classic Big Bear: woodsy and historical, with a fun sense of exactly its place in the universe. And with a chatty staff that will happily let you nose around all the kitsch, it’s not a bad place to spend a Saturday afternoon, after a few hours in the snow or lakeside summer sun.
It doesn’t take a scientist to tell you why ice cream and fizzy sodas work well together. The slowly melting ice cream becomes laced with thousands of little trapped soda bubbles that each impart a bit of their flavor onto the ice cream before you take a bite. As you continue on, the thicker, richer soda begins to mix completely with the warming ice cream to create a new, third taste: it’s not quite ice cream or soda, it’s a hybrid mix of the best from each. Creamy and bubbly and fully infused with all of the flavors from whatever beverage began in your glass, these thick sips and spoonfuls are what takes the idea of floating ice cream in soda to a whole other level. As a summertime specialty, it’s a near-perfect cooling device that’s much more than a collection of two simple ingredients.
So what happens when you take out the soda, and put in beer? Both beverages can offer bold, rich flavors in a tightly carbonated package. And both mix well with the simple creaminess of a scoop of ice cream, but soda falls short when it comes to the satisfying twang of alcohol fermentation. There’s an underlying bite to beer floats, a snappiness that cuts through all of that sweet indulgence to create a summertime ice cream drink that can actually be surprisingly refreshing.
German Kölsch beers may not be very common in America, but they represent a pinnacle of summer drinking refreshment. While true versions are brewed exclusively in the Rhineland city of Cologne, Kölsch (and American-brewed “Kölsch-style”) beers pour a light golden color and offer unfussy taste with plenty of crisp, dry balance to help cool down overheated drinkers. During brewing, the beer is fermented at lower temperatures than other, heavier ales, resulting in a cleaner overall taste that works perfectly when served cold. Sound like the perfect summer sipping? You can go to just about any worthwhile beer store in Los Angeles and pick some up right now, thanks to Golden Road Brewing.