South Bay brewery guide
You might pass right by the Smog City taproom if you don't pay attention. Pull into their parking lot, though, and you'll immediately spot beer-wielding Torrance folk spilling out of the door. The family-run brewery started making beer in 2011, and over the next two years built up enough of a presence in LA's craft beer scene to open their own brewery in 2013. Now their taproom is a place where locals can pick up growlers of Smog City staples (the Make Out Session Pale Ale and the Hoptonic IPA are serious crowd-pleasers) or put their stamp of approval on any variations being tried out in the tanks housed in the back. Order a couple tastes or a pint at the counter, fill up a bag with some free popcorn, then find a spot at one of the handful of tables and get ready to shoot the shit with complete strangers.
El Segundo Brewing Co. was started by Rob Croxall, a former aerospace finance guy who left his job to enter the craft beer world. More specifically, the hoppy craft beer world—El Segundo beer is heavy on the hops which, while not for everyone, is in stark contrast to some neighboring breweries like Monkish. Stop by their taproom for a pint of Citra Pale Ale, Station No. 1 Red Ale, Mayberry IPA and more suds straight from the source.
Three Weavers Brewing Co. opened in Inglewood in June of 2013. Founded by Lynne Weaver—one of LA's few badass lady brewers—the variety of beer coming out of this industrial warehouse spans the gamut, from IPAs to stouts, tripels to pale ales. There are more than 10 Three Weavers brews in the taproom at any given time; we highly recommend the caramel-y Expatriate IPA. Once you've found your favorite, settle in for an afternoon on one of their shaded indoor picnic benches for a couple hours of easy sipping.
Opened in 2009, Strand Brewing was one of the South Bay's first craft breweries to bring quality suds to Torrance. The brewery has grown at an exponential rate, recently moving into a larger facility to accommodate the beer's demand. Its massive warehouse is sparsley decorated, holding only the brewing equipment and a few picnic tables and stools. There's nothing simple about the beer, though. Heavy on the IPAs, Strand has produced some fantastic brews that include 24th Street Pale Ale, Musashi Black IPA, Second Sleep Russian Imperial Stout and a few more. Choose from a selection of games while you play—UNO, shuffleboard and the like. There's even a kid's table if you're planning on bringing the little ones (just, you know, maybe don't get too sloppy in front of them?).
Just around the corner from Torrance's Smog City is Monkish Brewing Co., a family-operated brewery that opened in 2012 and specializes in Belgian beers. You won't find IPAs here—they flat-out don't brew 'em—but who needs an IPA when there's a blonde Galaxy Defender infused with grapefruit, or the Seme Della Vita, a tripel brewed with pistachios and vanilla? First timers should opt for a sampler of four beers: head to the tasting room bar, where they'll give you four wooden tokens and a glass. Beers are poured one at a time and you must bring them back for a quick rinse before your next drink, but if you can't finish all four in one sitting, save your chip and use it for another visit. Need to nosh on something as well? Food trucks sometimes stop by, but you can also help yourself to pretzels and peanuts in the tasting room.
There's something wicked in the water at Phantom Carriage. The horror-themed brewery specializes in sours, a fitting niche for a warehouse that makes you shudder when you enter. Dark and ghoulish, the space embraces its theme with a room dedicated to showing old horror movies (the brewery's name is derived from the 1921 film The Phantom Carriage), skulls, flickering candles and Frankenstein-esque script gracing their menu. Sip on dark, blonde and wild sours, along with the occasional Belgian blonde; if you're hungry, Phantom Carriage has a food menu that includes a phenomenal brisket sandwich and something called Ploughman's Lunch—a selection of meats, cheeses, breads, pickles, mustard, paté, you name it. It's a sophisticated spread for a space so haunting—but who says ghouls can't be classy?
After nearly five years without a permanent home, Brouwerij West planted roots in one of two WWII-era Navy warehouses at the Crafted at the Port of LA site, a massive 120,000-square foot building built in 1944. Their tasting room and full-production brewery is in full swing, but you'll also find a bottle shop and cafe opening inside the brewery in the near future. So what makes this brewery stand out among all the other South Bay beer houses? A commitment to green energy, with an entire roof covered in solar panels and an eco-friendly Meura 2001 Micro mash filter to brew its ales, a century-old method that extracts more flavor while using 30 percent less water than traditional breweries use. Speaking of beer: You'll find plenty of saisons, blonde ales and wits here, all with beautiful artwork from various local artists donning the bottles.
Part gastropub, part brewery, HopSaint Brewing draws just as many people in for its food as it does for the outstanding beers brewed on the premises. Open daily starting at noon, HopSaint is a solid lunch and dinner spot if you're looking for hearty burgers, shrimp stew, lamb meatballs and gumbo. But if it's beer you're after, there's a whole menu for HopSaint's housebrewed suds, too. Try the OB Blonde Kenobi, an imperial blonde with orange blossom honey, or the Eleven-Eight, a malty British-style ale. IPAs aren't a focus here, though there are certainly one or two for fans of the style. Be sure to stick around for dessert: that experimental stout batch would pair quite nicely with a slice of pecan pie.
Absolve your sins at Absolution Brewing Co., where there's no guilt associated with downing a couple pints of the Torrance brewery's throughtfully crafted beers. With an extensive list of core and seasonal beers, Absolution always has something that will satisfy your beer preferences. Try the Angel's Demise IPA, Cardinal Sin Red Ale, Holy Cow Milk Stout or the American Revelation, a bourbon barrel-aged rye IPA. Designated drivers should take advantage of the brewery's housemade root beer and cream soda. Want a tour of the brewery? All you have to do is ask and the jovial staff will show you around.
Is there a more South Bay name for a brewery than the Dudes' Brewing? Inside the spacious tasting room, tanks spelling out "D-U-D-E-S" are lined up in a row, while a few picnic tables are scattered nearby for easy sipping. Grab some free popcorn and make your picks: Double Trunk, an IPA; Grandma's Pecan, and English-style brown ale; Surfrider, an American Pale Ale; or go all out and sample four at a time with a flight. On Sunday nights, the brewery features a local artist playing acoustic jams, and on every second Saturday you can roll out your yoga mat on the brewery floor for a morning of Yoga + Beer. It's, like, totally chill, dude.
Meccas of downright delicious craft beer, King Harbor Brewing Company resides in the heart of Redondo Beach. These ale aficionados fill up your mugs with everything from coffee-inspired brews to citrusy pineapple ales, hoppy to mild—you name it. Stop on in for hourly tastings, trivia nights and more at this hub for the beer devout.
When the Shulz and Kolb families met through their kids, they quickly became friends—and then further solidified their bond by opening a brewery together. Now the Torrance brewery offers 12 unique beers, from a session IPA to a brown ale to a variety of porters. The taproom is spacious and bright, and welcomes outdoor food to pair with your beer purchases (though there's usually a rotating list of food trucks that stop by). Plus, free pretzels—'nuff said.