We’re in the golden age of American craft beer, and there’s no sign of it slowing down. But the movement is about more than just drinking great beer. It’s about doing things on the local level - and Los Angeles has taken this call to action and run with it.
From craft breweries with dedicated tap rooms to local bars simply upping their selection, there’s never been a better time to drink beer in LA. Divided up by regions of the city (with a mix of brewery tap rooms and stand-alone bars), here’s our just-updated guide to where you should be drinking craft beer right now.
Santa Monica Brew Works has been brewing and distributing excellent beer for a while now, but we’ve been anxiously awaiting the opening of their full tap room. Well, it’s finally here and it’s fantastic - a big space with tons of long tables ideal for big group day-drinking throwdowns. Their Head In The Clouds hazy IPA is still their best, but their cucumber kolsch is everything you want during this summer’s inevitable permanent heatwave.
The post-grad Fireball consumption zone that is Main Street also happens to be home to one of the best craft beer bars on the Westside. A solid restaurant in its own right (get the bison burger), Library Ale House has roughly 25 taps at any given time (that you can check daily from a live webcam) and hosts extremely popular tap takeover nights from the likes of Modern Times, Monkish, and other local breweries.
The second this massive complex opened along Washington Blvd. in Venice, it became the de facto Westside spot for simultaneous craft beer drinking and sports watching. There’s a huge bar, a full-service area that takes reservations, and a separate first-come, first-serve section by the bar for when you didn’t plan ahead, but still want to eat some food. And now, after a year of operating, they’ve begun brewing right on the premises. Their signature is rustic, unfiltered ales you won’t find anywhere else. Getting a reservation for a big game wouldn’t be a terrible idea.
If you want the absolute best craft beer in LA (and to experience a brewery on the verge of Greatest Of All Time status), head to Monkish immediately. This all-Belgian brewery was the first to start brewing unfiltered Northeast-style IPAs (hazy and juicy) on the West coast, and now every brewery from here to Seattle is following suit. These are some of the best IPAs in all of LA (and arguably the country) and no serious publication worth anything would leave them off a list like this. Their can releases have become so popular, they now only do them on weekdays (lines got too unmanageable on weekends).
If you’re in Torrance, you cannot leave without making a stop at Smog City. While the list of taps is impressive across the board, going for their Coffee Porter is a sure fire hit. That is, if you like beer that tastes like cold brew coffee and will have you rolling around under the table after one pint. For the truly adventurous beer drinker in the group, get a glass of Infinite Wishes - their bourbon barrel-aged stout they only release once a year and checks in at a whopping 12% abv. Hello, goodbye.
With a nice new tap room in El Segundo’s perpetually-overlooked downtown, El Segundo Brewing has made its name by producing some of the hoppiest beer in all of SoCal. There isn’t anyone right now brewing a wider range of IPA’s than El Segundo Brewing. Their Hammerland IPA recently took home the Bistro Double IPA Award for Best in California, so your drive down this weekend is set.
It wasn’t that long ago that Ballast Point was a hard-to-find IPA you’d only hear about from your friend who follows beer stores on Instagram. Now, the San Diego original is one of the biggest craft breweries in California, and they just opened a fantastic bar/restaurant in Long Beach. The massive space is perfect for big groups, and also just grabbing a beer with a friend (or a date) on the patio overlooking the water. Also, their food menu holds up well too.
BrewCo looks like every other South Bay sports bar from the outside, but inside is a totally different story. With over 30 rotating taps and a massive stock of cans and bottles, this is craft beer nirvana and the only place you need to be drinking it in Manhattan Beach. The bar snacks menu is solid (especially the nachos) and the bartenders are cool, welcoming, and extremely knowledgeable.
BBQ and craft beer? Yes please. The brewery itself is most well-known for its stouts and IPAs (there are a lot of them), but with great food and an excellent downtown Long Beach location, it’s fair to say this brewery/restaurant is hitting on all cylinders. They’ve opened their sours-only “Blendery” across the street and just took home the Best Large Brewpub award at the World Beer Cup.
The South Bay’s newest brewery is also its most-talked about. Why? First, Phantom Carriage only produces sours, making it the only the brewery in LA with that distinction. Second, its tap room atmosphere is unparalleled. The whole decor scheme is something out of a haunted house/horror film (sans people jumping out at you), and they even boast a small movie theater showing slasher films every night of the week. They also now bottle, so be on the lookout for these killer (get it?) beers.
Oh, The Goat. One of those places that everybody seems to have a story from, Surly Goat is an LA icon and one of the best bars to drink great beer and get f*cking rowdy. Seriously, the beer here is incredible. On any given night, Pliny The Elder can be found on tap and if that means nothing to you, get on your sh-t. It’s only one of the most sought-after IPAs in the entire world.
If the sun’s out and you want a beer and you’re in Ktown, make moves to Beer Belly. The tiny spot on Western has an all-California tap list and it is excellent. The outdoor patio here is perfect if you’re in the market for some Vitamin D, but the interior works just as well for posting up on Saturday afternoon and catching a game. Either way, the food menu (there are both duck fat fries and bacon fat fries) is everything we’ve ever wanted after our fifth IPA.
Southland Beer is a tap room/bottle store in a random strip mall on Western Ave., but it’s home to one of the best beer stocks in central LA. They’ve got 16 rotating taps, three refrigerators full of bottles you can take home, and a great space to post up with friends and play games all night. There’s also a better-than-it-needs-to-be snack menu for when the hunger pains strike. Check the calendar on their Facebook page for nightly events.
Blue Palms Brewhouse is the best beer bar you probably don’t know about, and the ideal place to grab a pint (or three) before seeing a show at the adjoining Fonda Theater. Keep an eye out for their anniversary party too. This ticketed event showcases some of the rarest beer in the country with unlimited pours. Godspeed beer children.
DTLA / The Eastside
After originally opening as a small brewery in Copenhagen in 2006, Mikkeller has slowly crept its way around the globe, developing a serious following in the beer-drinking world. And they recently landed in DTLA. Located in what used to be a discount tire store, Mikkeller’s space is massive, perfect for after-work drinks when the whole team tags along or grabbing a beer and bite to eat (their burger is very solid) before seeing a game at Staples. Get the Beer Geek Brunch - an imperial stout brewed with coffee.
Our pick for the best brewery in DTLA, Mumford has established itself with solid offerings from their Northeast-style (hazy) IPAs all the way to their stouts (Rolling Blackout - brewed with coffee and vanilla). They have a killer tap room with all the board games you and your friends could want, growlers to-go, and you can even bring in your own food (or have it delivered). Their monthly can releases draw crowds too.
Boomtown is still building out their beer portfolio, but no one can deny their Arts District tap room is best-in-class for a lazy Saturday of beer drinking. The massive space has a great patio, a large indoor area with couches, billiards, and shuffleboard, and even a private event space in the back. Their Limelight Northwestern IPA and After Hours oatmeal stout are the beers to be drinking here.
Located inside Hermosillo Bar in Highland Park, HPB is technically considered small-batch brewing (translation: they don’t make a bunch of beer all at once). And that means quality is through the roof. From their IPAs (Good Green and Neon) to their sours (Raised Eyebrows - with passionfruit and guava), they’ve proven to be one of the most consistently great breweries in LA. Just be sure to grab a seat early - Hermosillo fills up fast and everybody’s there for the beer, the fun crowd, and a bar menu that’s actually pretty great.
Located in the heart of the Arts District, this massive space has skeeball, ping pong, darts, corn hole, and a giant wraparound bar ideal for rolling in with any sized group. The beer list is simply fine, but also accessible enough to anyone in your group who could give two sh*ts about citrusy aftertastes. If you get hungry, there’s a special window where you can pick up all the hotdogs and burgers you want from Fritzi next door.
There’s no stopping the Arts District craft beer train, and now Iron Triangle has thrown its hat into the drinking ring as well. Though they are still in the early stages of building out their full beer lineup, both their dark ale and IPA are excellent and a good sign of things to come. Oh, and with a tap room that wouldn’t be out of place in West World, they might just have the coolest drinking space in the neighborhood.
Angel City has been brewing craft beer for close to two decades, but it wasn’t until they opened their (now iconic) warehouse tap room in the Arts District that they really made their presence known. Sticking mostly to flagship beers (hefe, IPAs, etc.), Angel City offers an accessible beer list in a massive space that always proves to be a good time (read: corn hole and food trucks). Just get down there early. Despite Angel City’s size, the weekend line gets nasty.
Located in an old Vaudevillian theater, this Eastside staple is one of the best beer bars in the city. With over 72 taps of exclusively-California beer, it’s hard not to feel local pride either. Along with new Stone and Ballast Point releases, Mohawk Bend is your best shot in town at landing a pint of a mythical Russian River beer as well. And did we mention everything’s about $7? It’s vegan-heavy food menu is surprisingly solid too.
Sunset Beer Co. is not only a great place to drink a beer, it’s also a great place to buy and take some home for later. Their to-go selection is impressive, but the rotating taps behind the tiny bar will keep you drinking there for awhile. With plenty of board games to go around and outside food encouraged, this glorified beer store is an ideal big group hangout spot.
From the team that brought us Surly Goat comes this nautical-themed Irish bar that’s the go-to craft beer drinking spot for west Valley locals. “Encino” and “buzzy” have never been directly associated with one another, but with a cool space and solid pub food to soak it all up with, Surly Goat is on the fast-track to changing all that.
Hold up. There’s a craft brewery in Van Nuys? And it’s amazing? Yes and yes. This is an English-style brewery, which means beers are brewed in-cask and poured right from the barrel with little to no carbonation. Go try it yourself in MacLeod’s awesome, industrial-style tap room.
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