2012 was an amazing year for craft beer in Los Angeles. Existing breweries matured, new breweries popped up across town, and it seemed that more people fell in love with craft beer than ever before. We’re excited for what 2013 will bring, and here are four things that we think will happen (and two more that we hope will happen) to craft beer in Los Angeles during 2013.
What will 2013 Bring?
Dan from the The Full Pint posted his predictions for the craft beer industry in 2013 including: American craft breweries riding the hype generated by the release of Westvleteren 12 by releasing their own Quadruple, on-line beer sales becoming more popular for a breweries special-release beers, and wide-release sour ales from big American producers like Dogfish Head and Allagash. Dan also suggested that The Bruery would expand their retail stores, but of course the opposite held true and the Bruery announced that Orange County’s Provisions store would close.
Billy Broas from the excellent BillyBrew.com has some predictions for the industry as well. He thinks that the “craft vs crafty” debate is far from over and that the line between the two will blur even further, session beers will gain more popularity, and AB InBev will acquire another major player in the craft beer world.
Both posts raise some good questions, but they’re focused more on craft beer as a whole. What will 2013 bring to craft beer in Los Angeles specifically? Here are a few predictions:
The number of LA-based breweries will keep growing
This is an easy one to call; there are two Kickstarters currently running for new breweries (LA River and Villain Brewing), and as the LA Weekly pointed out there are several operations to keep your eye on for 2013.
In addition to these breweries-in-planning, I think that one large midwest or east coast brewery will announce an expansion project in Southern California. Sierra Nevada, Oscar Blues, and New Belgium are all working to increase their national production with new eastern breweries, and it only makes sense that someone will see LA for the (comparatively) wide-open market that it is.
We’ve seen a hint of this with the Boston Beer-backed relaunch of Angel City Brewery, and I predict that the available capital for established brewing operations will lead to a major regional brewery opening a west-coast facility this year.
Dedicated beer retail spaces will blossom
With the continued success of great bottle shops like Sunset Beer Co and Buzz Wine Beer Shop other new retail spaces will open. The combination of a great bottle selection, tasting events, and even on-site taps turn a liquor-store into a destination. The Bruery closing their Provisions retail location in Orange caused an uproar in the community, and some entrepreneurs are going to see the space in the marketplace for high-end beer retail.
Perhaps it will come in the form of individuals opening a shop, or maybe it will be a brewery-owned retail operation (like Stone’s Company Store or the now closed Bruery Provisions), but I’m wagering that there will be some new spots to buy beer by Christmas 2013.
If something could be done about California’s overly-restrictive growler filing laws then Los Angeles could see a real renaissance in true “filling stations.” Imagine walking into your neighborhood bottle shop and getting a growler filled from one of the dozen available taps. They are already living that dream in many places around the country; maybe California can follow suit!
There will be more focus on food and beer pairings
As craft beer continues to surge in popularity LA restaurateurs will continue to embrace craft beer as the perfect accompaniment to their cuisine. We’ll start to see some high-end pairing events occurring at restaurants not normally thought of as being “beer forward.”
Apart from LA’s fine dining scene embracing craft beer I think that we’ll also see more “everyman” beer pairing events. Beer cuisine doesn’t have to be haute cuisine, and traditionally it has been much more common fare (just look at the way food and beer is treated in Belgium. As the dining public becomes more comfortable with craft beer the idea of pairing food with beer – instead of wine – will become much more common in Los Angeles, and I think we’ll see some more approachable pairing events and menu suggestions.
Golden Road Brewing will get more respect from the beer-geek crowd
It’s little secret that Golden Road has been struggling with the perceptions of their operation and their beer, especially among the more dedicated craft beer fans. It’s also little secret that we’re big fans of Golden Road, and we appreciate their efforts to make craft beer in LA more mainstream. They had a very ambitious mission in 2012, and the year wasn’t without fallout. I won’t go into rumor and speculation, but suffice to say GRB needs the beer geeks in their corner if they hope to keep that giant brewhouse operating.
I believe they are listening to their critics, and they will continue to improve their product. When news broke that Brewmaster Jon Carpenter was leaving it was a surprise, but not much of a shock. Very smart business people are behind that brewery and their number one goal is to make a beer that is beloved by Angelenos.
The product that Golden Road puts out in 2013 will be iteratively better than the beer in 2012, and some new and exciting brews will recapture the beer-geek crowd’s imagination.
Two things that I hope will come to pass in 2013
The above predictions are what I think we’ll see happen in 2013, but these two points are just wishful thinking:
- The City and County governments continue to come to their senses regarding new breweries opening or expanding in the city/county. They’ll begin to see the successes of operations like Eagle Rock Brewing and El Segundo Brewing Co and the government leaders will realize that the growth of the craft beer industry in LA can be a big money maker and job creator in our beleaguered state.
- 2013 will see the rise of the brewpub in Los Angeles. We’ll be discussing this in a future editorial, but the short-version is I think that the brewpub model is a better fit than the large production brewery model in a city like Los Angeles. With all the diverse neighborhoods that we are so passionate about it makes so much sense to me to have smaller breweries serving each neighborhood. Take a look at Portland to see a great example of brewpubs thriving in diverse neighborhoods to get a taste of what LA could be like.
Whether my predictions (and hopes) come to pass or not, 2013 promises to be the biggest year for craft beer in Los Angeles since prohibition. Never has so much diverse beer been produced in the city, and never has there been so many diverse peoples enjoying that beer!
One more prediction that’s pretty much guaranteed to come true is LA Beer Week 2013 is going to be huge! We’re already excited about it!
What are your predictions for craft beer in LA in 2013? Let’s hear about them, and what you think about my predictions, in the comments.