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The best breweries in LA

Want killer craft beer straight from the source? Head to these breweries for a taste of what's on tap.

Photograph: Courtesy Smog City Brewing Co.

If it seems like a new brewery pops up in a Torrance warehouse or a garage in Highland Park every few months, it's because it does. Despite LA's impressive selection of beer bars, we're also a city full of artisans who like taking matters into our own hands—including brewing beer. In fact, there's so much fantastic craft beer in this city that compiling a list of the best breweries had to come with restrictions. Here, we focused on the breweries that have a taproom you can actually visit (hence why Craftsman, a veritable local brewery with a devoted following but no actual public space, is not on here). So put down your Miller Lite and check out our list, then raise a pint to LA's growing craft beer scene. Cheers!

RECOMMENDED: Guide to craft beer in LA

LA's best breweries

Beachwood Brewing and BBQ

Craving some serious eats with your booze tonight? Check out Beachwood Brewing and BBQ for 22 rotating taps of craft beers. Favored by brewers and serious beer drinkers across Los Angeles, Beachwood is known for their offering of rare and unique beers, as well as a solid selection of local brews. People come here for the food, too: Their menu boasts everything from ribs to pulled pork to brisket, all dry rubbed and slow smoked with the sauce on the side. Try the Black Moon Rising, a Belgian dark ale.

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Long Beach

Smog City Brewing Co.

You might pass right by the Smog City taproom if you don't pay attention. From the outside, this small brewery looks just like all the other warehouses on Del Amo Boulevard: white, boxy, industrial. 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. After scanning the blackboard for beers on tap, 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.

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Torrance
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Arts District Brewing Co.

Skee-ball, darts, pingpong, great bar food—Arts District Brewing is more than just a brewery, it's a bonafide party spot. Head brewmaster Devon Randall has brewed some stellar varieties here, including Traction, an IPA infused with papaya and mango, and Mateo, an easy golden ale that is effortlessly paired with some comfort food from Fritzi next door (a take-out window opens up into the brewery). There's a full cocktail bar if you want to amp things up a bit, but first timers should opt for a beer flight to sample.

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Downtown Arts District

Eagle Rock Brewery

Though the taproom at Eagle Rock Brewery might be small—a few tables and chairs, where visitors can take advantage of the board games on hand—the beers on tap pack in big flavor. A handful of brews are offered year-round, including Solidarity, Populist, Manifesto and Revolution, along with a selection of seasonal beers that we wish would stick around longer. We highly recommend the Populist, a West Coast IPA and a great summer beer  (good thing it's always summer in LA).If you're just getting into craft beer, Eagle Rock Brewery is a perfect place to start: the tours are highly informative, and regular events include the Women's Beer Forum, where ladies who drink can sample and discuss a flight of four beers on the third Wednesday of each month. Want a look around? Free brewhouse tours are on Sundays at 1, 2:30 and 4pm.

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Glassel Park
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Golden Road Brewing

The reigning king of the southland beer scene, Golden Road in Glendale’s Atwater Village is LA’s largest brewery. The company’s much-maligned 2015 acquisition by Anheuser-Busch hasn’t degraded GRB’s 12-tap, hop-forward beer selection, or bustling German beer garden atmosphere. A grownup fraternity house meets French cafe, GRB’s spacious indoor and shaded outdoor areas buzz with 30-somethings, happy toddlers, beer pong and live music. Golden Road is heavy on IPAs, but also serves wine, gluten-free cider and vegan food options. Tours of the brewery run Friday through Sunday, but their delicious beers flow seven days a week. Try the Get Up Offa That Brown, a thick, malty brown ale that rolls around in your mouth.

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Glendale

Angel City Brewery

After closing up its Alpine Village storefront in 2010, Angel City Brewery rooted itself in an expansive, century-old John A. Roebling building in Downtown LA, the former production site for suspension cables that made their way to the likes of the Brooklyn and Golden Gate bridges. The industrial space has a bare-bones, beer hall feel, with plenty of room to spread out among picnic tables beneath a renovated mezzanine while you sip on IPAs, pilsners, lagers and limited releases. Tacos & Trivia Tuesdays bring beer nerds together each week, while karaoke, art shows and one-off events make this communal gathering space a place for more than just beer. If you're a first-time, order the Eureka Wit, a Belgian brew that's remarkably crisp and fruity with a hoppy finish. For IPA fans, the Angeleno IPA is a solid choice with a bold, grapefruit-infused flavor.

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Downtown Arts District
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MacLeod Ale Brewing Co.

MacLeod Ale owners Alastair and Jennifer Boase know a thing or two about “real” ale. The small-batch beers at this Van Nuys brewery are made with imported English grains, naturally carbonated, cask conditioned and served at cellar temperature straight from the casks they were fermented in. In addition to serving some of the best cask beers in LA, the brewery also offers a vast selection of draft and nitro beers. For local beer drinkers, MacLeod provides a taste of something different in a laid-back, friendly atmosphere. For British expats, it’s quite possibly the only place in LA you can get a proper pint. All of the pints are priced at a reasonable $7, with beer flights available for those who fancy a bit of everything. Little Spree, a Yorkshire Pale Ale, is a good place to start your re-education.

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Van Nuys

Congregation Ale House

At their alehouse in Pasadena and brewpub in Azusa, Congregation’s Trappist monastery theme (stained glass, wrought iron chandeliers and Old English script) provokes actual complaints of blasphemy. Servers in Catholic schoolgirl outfits likely don’t help. Undeterred, this seasoned brewery has perfected an eclectic list of appropriately named beers: Passion of the Kolsch, Dark of the Covenant, Praise on Saison and the popular “Forbidden Fruit” Blackberry Tart Belgian Wit. The Pasadena location’s 20-somethings crowd loves the outdoor seating, 32-tap system with local guest beers and premium imports, full food menu (order the Homemade Brewpub Pretzel) and the explosive Wednesday trivia night.

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Azusa
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Monkish Brewing Co.

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.

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Torrance

Ohana Brewing Co.

Ohana Brewing Co.'s actual brewery may be located in a Downtown warehouse, but its tasting room is far from industrial—and far from the actual brewery. Instead, head to Alhambra, where a quaint storefront window reads "Ohana Brewing Co." in Hawaiian-inspired script. The family-run operation started in a garage a few years ago, but the tasting room only opened at the beginning of 2014, and it's already offering incredible beers (though tastings are limited to four per customer). A small list of beers range from Saison Miel, a fruitier, honey-infused option, to the Special Tap, which is a rotating selection that Ohana uses to play around with ingredients like cucumber, coffee and kumquat. If you're into beers that are slightly malty, Pacific Ale is a great choice. 

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Alhambra
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