The blossoming craft beer scene in the City of Angels is beginning to get some national attention, and recently even the vaunted Beer Advocate magazine decided it was time to spotlight the city’s best bars and breweries with a Beer Destinations column. Highlighting just a dozen destinations among the region’s long list of top-tier venues for craft beer is a challenging task, and I’m proud to say that the Beer Advocate editorial staff turned to yours truly to handle the job. Read on to hear what spots I picked and what I had to leave off.
I was tasked with highlighting 12-14 bars, restaurants, and breweries in the area as the best of the city’s destinations for craft beer, and I immediately knew the task was going to be tough. The beer culture in Los Angeles has been built by bars and restaurants in the years before breweries began to open around town, and I’m acquainted with many of the owners and operators of these places. Choosing just a dozen was going to mean leaving some great spots off the list, so my first decision was to constrain my choices to businesses operating within the city of Los Angeles. Of course, I broke my own rules in a couple of cases, but hey – it’s my party!
Brewster’s Beererie – Four Points LAX: If you’re visiting LA and flying into LAX, this beer-focused hotel bar should be your first stop.
- Eagle Rock Brewery: Pioneers in LA beer, I simply cannot give ERB enough credit for laying the foundation for the growth we are now seeing in LA.
- Angel City Brewery: Represents national interest in our scene, and the Public House is a fantastic space that defines “destination”.
- Father’s Office (Helms Bakery location): The OG LA Gastropub, and some of the best beertenders in the city. THE best burger in the city.
- Blue Palms Brewhouse: Call me biased, but my local haunt is hands-down one of the best places for beer in Los Angeles.
- Beachwood BBQ and Brewing*: Not in LA, but as I noted in the article, no list about beer in LA is complete without a mention of Beachwood.
- The Pub at Golden Road: Love them or hate them there is no denying that GRB is an important force in LA beer, and the pub is so very “LA” (in a good way).
- Beer Belly: You don’t need me to explain this one, right? Jimmy and his crew are the best and Beer Belly has got the sizzle and the steak!
- Sunset Beer Co.: We need more bottleshop-slash-taprooms staffed by affable, knowledgeable beer people in Los Angeles. Select Beer Store is another gem in the South Bay.
- Mohawk Bend: I waffled between Mohawk and sister property Tony’s Darts Away for inclusion, and I settled on Mohawk as it’s less of a locals joint, and it has one of the longest lists of quality taps in the city.
- The Glendale Tap*: Not LA city, but only by a couple of blocks. This is a beer-drinkers beer bar that caught on quickly with beer industry workers and now the word is getting out.
- Little Bear: Another tough decision on which Ryan Sweeney (Surly Goat, Verdugo Bar, et al) property to include, but Little Bear is too unique and wonderful to leave off this list. I dare you to find a better beer-brunch in Los Angeles.
- 38 Degrees Ale House*: Not LA, not even close really, but 38 Degrees is just that good.
- Barbara’s at the Brewery: I’m probably going to catch some flack for including Barbara’s on this list. Not because they don’t deserve it, but because Barbara’s fans seem keen to keep it a secret. Sorry.
Fourteen of the best craft beer venues that the city of Los Angeles has to offer.
It was a tough job that I took seriously, and there were of course a few places that didn’t make the final list. The two whose omission gave me the greatest pause were Surly Goat and Santa Monica’s Library Alehouse. I rationalized leaving Library off the list as it’s not within LA city limits, and 38 degrees JUST edged it out, but I really agonized over that decision. Not giving any of the South Bay’s awesome spots any love was also tough, but someday I’ll get to write Beer Destinations: South Bay.
Grab a gratis copy of Issue #85 at your favorite beer bar, buy a copy on the newsstand, or download it to read the full list and what I had to say about each location! (And go ahead and let BA editorial know what an awesome job I did….)
Now the fun part: what did I miss? What did I include that you don’t agree with? I want to hear about it in the comments!