The Brewer’s Association released their list of the Top 50 Breweries in 2011, and as expected Los Angeles is no where on the list. The top three are the big-boys of the craft beer world; Boston Beer Co, Sierra Nevada, and New Belgium respectively with Shiner Bock-producing The Gambrinus Co. and Deschutes rounding out the top 5. California breweries make up another 12 spots on the top-50, but only Escondido’s giant, Stone Brewing, and Huntington Beach-based brew-pub chain BJ’s are anywhere near the city of angels. Los Angeles is the second most populous city in the country; why are no equally large craft brewing operations located in the city to support that population, and is brewery size even a useful metric for evaluating the strength of the craft beer culture in a city?
Looking at other major American city’s breweries we see that New York has one entry on the list (Brooklyn Brewery at #13) while Chicago, Houston, and Philly account for a single spot in the top-50 (Houston’s St. Arnold Brewing at #43). According to Meg Gill, co-founder of Los Angeles’ largest craft brewery, it is notoriously hard to work with the city of LA when launching a brewing operation, and these political roadblocks need to be reduced before the city can attract more, and larger, breweries.
Do you think that it is more breweries, and not necessarily larger breweries, that is key to creating a thriving craft beer scene? Or would Los Angeles be better served by one or two larger brewing operations?
- Remixed photo from the University of Texas at Austin via Wikimedia Commons