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Brent Giannotta

Brent Giannotta

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A complete guide to East LA and SGV breweries

A complete guide to East LA and SGV breweries

While breweries in the South Bay and Downtown Los Angeles have been leading the charge in LA's growing beer scene, we can't ignore East LA and the San Gabriel Valley's impact on craft beer. The region is sprouting microbreweries like orange groves: from Burbank to San Dimas, Highland Park to El Monte, at least 10 breweries now complement the area’s acclaimed alehouses and tasting rooms to make it an official craft beer destination. With the upcoming 14-barrel Mt. Lowe Brewing Company making its way to Arcadia by the end of 2016, here is your complete guide to breweries in East LA and the SGV. RECOMMENDED: Our guide to craft beer in LA

Listings and reviews (20)

Bar Angeles

Bar Angeles

4 out of 5 stars

There's a purity and pride to Silverlake. It’s a neighborhood where cultural heritage is doggedly preserved, honored and protected from outside adulteration. Exhibit A: an artifact of musical and cultural significance, the mural on Sunset where singer-songwriter Elliott Smith posed for his "Figure 8" album cover before his death in 2003. Fans still come to pay tribute here with candles, flowers and well-wishes written in Sharpie. In the buzzy area, the owners of the space could probably have sold at any time, but instead waited for a buyer who would agree to honor the memory of Smith and his music. Enter Bar Angeles, a proud Italian eatery whose top-notch drinks and communal atmosphere pay homage to Smith’s musical legacy. Bar Angeles—named for Smith’s song, "Angeles"—moved a section of the mural to the building's interior, making it the bar’s back wall and the focal point of the room. Next, they employed chef Joey Booterbaugh, formerly of Cafe Birdie, to devise a vegan-friendly menu of delectable small plates, gourmet pizza and a game-changing cheeseburger, though it's now Patrick Zagorski who took the reigns and now helms the kitchen. Finally, they had barman Greg Mills craft a cocktail program where effervescents breathe new life into old classics, and it's familiar face Alex Barbatsis—formerly of Cafe Birdie's speakeasy bar, Good Housekeeping—who runs the show currently. Bar Angeles has no signage save for a tiny neon placard above the door. It’s easier to find this plac

Salon

Salon

3 out of 5 stars

In L.A.’s growing speakeasy scene, there’s a collective drive toward authenticity: presenting a genuine, impeccably accurate Prohibition-era environment so detailed that it sends a 21st century drinker back in time. Which leads us to a small, wondrous operation hidden on the third floor of a North Hollywood building. Salon, two floors above the Federal Bar on Lankershim Boulevard, is a room right out of a Fitzgerald novel: plush leather sofas, cast iron side tables, velvet drapes. Soft edison lighting falls on a baby grand piano, a false bookcase, an old chess board and old photos hanging on an exposed brick wall. Velour wallpaper begins near a dark wooden island bar where a young mixologist (the only modern fixture in the bar) is serving up classic drinks and innovative, original concoctions. Salon is the brainchild of Damian Windsor, one of the most respected barmen in the game who’s tended at Cliftons, Seven Grand, the Roger Room and the Warwick, among others. Windsor uses no advertising, no signs that acknowledge Salon’s existence. You won’t need a password, just an escorted walk up a back stairway. Often the setting for private parties, reunions and spillover from the concert hall in the next room, the vibe is unpredictable. On quiet nights, Salon is nothing more than L.A.’s most authentic speakeasy. Vitals The scene: Salon is an experiment in opposites.The brooding colors and low lighting create a warm, sophisticated feel reminiscent of an aristocrat’s living room where

Black Rabbit Rose

Black Rabbit Rose

4 out of 5 stars

Nowadays, people want more than just a fancy cocktail and a stool to sit on. They’re looking for experiences, something to dilute the monotony of everyday life, something to transport them to another dimension. Here’s where the Houston brothers come in. Mark and Jonnie, purveyors of nine of the most exciting nightlife spots in L.A., have dropped number 10. Black Rabbit Rose is a magic-themed bar that takes mystery and spectacle to a whole new level. Real-life magicians work the doors and floor of this dimly lit, mini Magic Castle set in turn-of-the-century industrial decor. Small performances materialize in different spots and bartenders shake up alluring libations meant not only to satisfy but to amuse. Through a door to the left of the bar is a hallway leading to a 40-seat theater. The room is engineered with shaking floors, false walls and trick lighting to spotlight the magicians, illusionists, burlesque dancers and others who perform Thursday through Saturday ($25–$40). This haven of nostalgic sophistication is dress code-protected and thus stands in bold contrast to the grimy tourist trap of Hollywood Boulevard. Vitals The scene The Houston brothers specialize in old timey decor, whether it be Cuban (La Descarga), French (Pour Vous) or classic Hollywood (No Vacancy). Black Rabbit Rose takes yesteryear decor past prohibition speakeasies and back to the turn of the century: The lighting’s even darker, the wood’s even older, the furniture is almost Victorian and the ceilin

neat.

neat.

3 out of 5 stars

Do you have a special love for whiskey and mezcal? Well, we hope you’re sitting down, because Neat in West L.A. is positively packed with both. What’s more, the bar's casual vibe and incredibly cool staff create a sanctuary from the Westside scene known for taking itself too seriously. Neat has more than 60 mezcals and even more whiskeys. Whether it’s Espadin from Oaxaca or Yamazaki from Japan, there are stories behind each bottle, and the staff is more than happy to tell them. But Neat is no two-trick pony. The bar carries every type of liquor imaginable, plus wine, craft beer and champagne. And the cocktail program is strong. The mixologists work with imagination and precision. However, the Neat staff has a soft spot for brave souls who sit down and ask to be led on a journey through the pages-long menu to discover a new favorite spirit they’ll enjoy in its purest form. You gotta admit, the concept is pretty neat. Vitals The scene: Neat is a laid-back liquor lounge with a sizeable middle space that fills up on weekend nights. Eleven small cocktail tables dot the perimeter and there’s ample space between each one. You can maintain privacy even with 50 others in the place. There’s a semi-private VIP room in back, perfect for parties or hatching a corporate takeover. The dark blue walls make it feel classically cavernous and the messy arrangement of picture frames on the ceiling lend an avant garde flare to the room. Live music on various nights make the vibe even more authent

Mikkeller DTLA

Mikkeller DTLA

4 out of 5 stars

If you're an L.A. beer drinker and have never heard of Mikkeller, that's about to change. Started in a kitchen in Copenhagen in 2006, Mikkeller is now acclaimed as one of the most innovative craft brewers in the world. Locations in Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, Korea and Thailand export suds to more than 40 countries. As for the U.S., all four Mikkeller operations  are in California, and their largest tasting room just happens to be in Downtown L.A. The Downtown menu is packed  with original Mikkeller brews and dozens more from local Southland breweries. The 50-tap system is the only one around that can adjust the Co2 and Nitro balance and even serves beer at different temperatures to accommodate each beer's specifications.  Known for intense, experimental flavors, they aim to make beer that rivals wine and champagne as a match for gourmet food. It seems to be working: Mikkeller has created house beers for Michelin-star restaurants. With a pleasant and knowledgeable  staff, a menu a mile long and a modern beer-hall style venue, Mikkeller could be the last new beerhouse you’ll ever need to discover. Vitals The Scene: Mikkeller is a proper tap house with a clean, IKEA allure. The rows of long tables (light wood atop black iron legs and stools) lay under high, skylight ceilings to accommodate groups of 10 or a mishmash of intrepid Angelenos. The space is minimally decorated with dim lighting and select wall paintings by Philly-based artist Keith Shore. The long front wall is all wi

Birds & Bees

Birds & Bees

3 out of 5 stars

L.A.’s love affair with speakeasies just got a blast of creativity. Birds & Bees, Downtown’s newest and hardest-to-find watering hole, eschews the traditional Prohibition-era decor for a fresh, 1950’s spin on this most celebrated bar style. B&B makes you work to find it. When standing in front of 207 South Broadway Street, ignore the office building and turn left to find the parking lot next door. In the lot’s back corner, a cheery bouncer will emerge from the shadows and lead you down a narrow stairway. Once the door on your left will opens to a cavernous, industrial-chic expanse, you’re now crashing a 50's cocktail party in the ritziest, tri-leveled New York apartment on Fifth Avenue. The room has three sections on different tiers separated by pillars, à la adjoining rooms in a 70-year-old mansion. The lighting is low in many places, creating an extra layer of intimacy. The weekday illusion of this being your own secret hideaway dissolves on weekends, when Angelenos flood the room with the zeitgeist of a mega-city in the midst of a nightlife revolution. Vitals The scene: Take the infamous party scene in Breakfast at Tiffany’s,kill 90-percent of the lights, empty 50-percent of the people and seat the rest in the lap of 50’s swank. In the early evening you’ll share the bar (and make new friends) with locals from nearby lofts and cocktail heads hunting down L.A.’s newest haunts. The man-bunned and mustachioed mixologists are polite and chatty despite wearing truly awful floral

The Friend

The Friend

3 out of 5 stars

What do you get when you take a '50s diner and convert it into a French-themed cocktail bar? The answer is Silver Lake's newest and most aestheticallyridiculous party room: The Friend Bar. With a pink tile floor, baby blue wall paneling, plants everywhere and a pinball machine at the door to greet you, the decorative theme is confusing but deliciously alluring. Simultaneously smacking of gay bar, hospital cafeteria and a spot for 6th grade softball parties, The Friend’s identity complex is embraced by hordes of Silver Lake faithful who turn this place into a raging singles party every weekend night. The cocktail program is shaky, but the beer and wine list is on point, as are the French snacks prepared by Iron Chef alum, Eric Greenspan. Croque Monsieur, a cheese board and a Nutella banana crepe? Yes, please! Vitals The scene: Full disclosure: the bubble gum French diner ambiance will bother some people. But gamers will find some funky charm in the modern art music posters and the disco ball. Whatever waste the decor lays to your spiritual stability, you’ll be hard pressed to find a drinking environment like this anywhere else in L.A. Beards, bangs, leather, skinny jeans and mustaches are out en masse, mixing, drinking, laughing and even swing dancing after café tables make way for a dance floor. The outfits range from tragically hip to just tragic. This is no high-intensity Hollywood lounge with industry climbers trying to out-cool each other. Neither the crowd nor the music

Frogtown Brewery

Frogtown Brewery

3 out of 5 stars

Frogtown Brewery is the newest watering hole in L.A.'s most up-and-coming neighborhood. Officially named Elysian Valley, this last isolated slice of east L.A. snakes along the L.A. River to the east and the 5 freeway to the west, nestled comfortably between Silver Lake and Mount Washington. Given Frogtown's recent boom in shops and restaurants, the small neighborhood was practically screaming for a microbrewery with a community feel and a bright future. Every brew in this spacious yet cozy beer house is surprisingly cultivated, even elite. There’s not a weak spot in their program. From the stout to the saison, the pale to the rye, each of their seven rotating beers on tap packs that elusive combination of flavor and balance. Vitals The scene: Frogtown’s lack of big signage makes it easy to miss among other industrial warehouses on Gilroy street. Once found, the door opens to a deep converted garage with blue-gray walls, soft backyard lights strung overhead and high picnic tables sprinkled about. Lots of space between tables maximizes comfort and invites animated conversation. The cold brick, high ceilings and exposed rafters preserve the space’s industrial feel. It’s almost like you’re outside, but the entire area is spotless. With soft music and the brewing tanks a few feet away, this place conjures a closeness to the beer and to the people that make it. Good for: Bring a group big or small—Frogtown can accommodate. Or come alone and belly up to the custom-made, wraparound c

Ashland Hill Brick Bar

Ashland Hill Brick Bar

3 out of 5 stars

What can you really do to a gin and tonic? A helluva lot, it turns out. Angelenos can now discover the dazzling dexterity of this classic cocktail at Brick Bar, L.A.’s first watering hole solely dedicated to G&Ts. Less a bar and more of a nook, it’s a brick alcove attached to the front of Santa Monica’s Ashland Hill restaurant and biergarten. Veteran mixologist Vincenzo Marianella surveyed the gin and tonic fever sweeping Europe and emerged from his lab with nine groundbreaking recipes. From savory to sweet, his cocktails vary wildly in ways that will appease to a variety of gin preferences—and maybe even convert some gin skeptics. A brief history on the drink: Once British mercantilists discovered that adding gin to tonic cut each other’s bitterness, the anti-malarial elixir morphed into one of the world’s most classic libations. Modern bartenders now unleash the full potential of these two surprisingly versatile ingredients. By varying gin’s botanical profiles, flavoring tonic and adding berries, bitters, garnish, syrups and twists, Marianella and his colleagues are pushing this time-honored drink to the limits. Whether you’re a newbie or a lifelong G&T drinker, head to Brick Bar to experience the cutting edge of a gin and tonic revolution. Vitals Good for: Brick Bar is perfect for a small group that wants a break from the crowded Westside bar scene. Bring close friends with whom you can sample a variety of botanical creations. Additionally, if your team is playing on TV du

Pacific Seas

Pacific Seas

3 out of 5 stars

On the fourth floor of Clifton's Republic lies a portal to a mythical south seas adventure. Pacific Seas is more than a tiki bar: it’s a pan-Polynesian spectacle. In November 2016, owner Andrew Meieran (of Edison fame) unveiled his grand tribute to the original Pacific Seas that Clifton's founder Clifford Clinton opened in the 1930s, an attempt to lift Angelenos’ spirits during the Great Depression. More than eighty years later, Pacific Seas’ glitzy reincarnation boasts some of Clinton’s original artifacts along with pieces Meieran found on Ebay and from defunct tiki bars around L.A. (there's a 26-foot outrigger canoe hanging from the ceiling). The result is an island paradise in an urban jungle with tropical cocktails, friendly service and an experience that straddles the line between Hollywood glamour and full-on kitsch. Vitals: Good for: A small group of six or less is best for seated conversation. By early evening, seats fill up and a standing room develops. Bring that friend who loves theme bars replete with extravagant decor—he’ll flip at the bamboo, palm fronds and thatched furniture—or consider Pacific Seas to entertain guests from out of town. Sure, they'll have been to tiki bars and Caribbean resorts where the decorations are as cheap as the rum, but they’ve probably never seen a place where patrons are transported straight into the lap of Polynesian luxury. Lines form on weekends and security is oddly ubiquitous. Drinks aren’t cheap, but the bartenders could not be

Tribute

Tribute

3 out of 5 stars

“Hey, let’s go to Sherman Oaks for craft cocktails!” said no one...until now.  It’s undeniable that the San Fernando Valley has upped its drinking game as of late. In Sherman Oaks, gastropubs, wine bars and hookah lounges now dot Ventura Boulevard, and now there's Tribute: an elegant lounge dedicated to high-end craft cocktails and really cool vibes.  The ethos is right in the name. Head manager Matt Wallace, of Seven Grand fame, calls his newest project a tribute to everything we love about neighborhood bars. The music doesn’t blare and the TVs don’t exist. Wallace poached veteran mixologists Christopher Day, from Chinatown’s General Lee's, and Fernando Betancourt, from WeHo’s Church Key, to guarantee topnotch, innovative quality that would complement the cozy atmosphere. With scarce signage directing patrons to the bar, this refined yet unpretentious watering hole remains yours to discover. Vitals Good for: Come for some quality time with an old friend, to impress a romantic interest or to start your solo quest for some fantastic cocktails. The tunes will take you back and the friendly crowd will be poised for spirited conversation. The scene: A suited doorman directs you through an entrance with a red neon “cocktails” sign overhead. Inside, a polished red oak bar hosts 12 comfy stools and a team of amicable bartenders mixing and chatting up imbibers. Dark red stucco walls give the room a cavernous feel akin to the Mexican sports bar next door, Te’kila, under the same owner

Brack Shop Tavern

Brack Shop Tavern

4 out of 5 stars

What makes a bar "chill"? At its core, chill means low-key, devoid of intensity, overstimulation or chaos. But for something to be wholly chill, it must also be supremely enjoyable, not in spite of being low-key, but because of it. Now that we’ve agreed to terms, allow me to introduce the chillest bar in Downtown L.A. right now: Brack Shop Tavern. The atmosphere is seductive. The black brick and deep blue paint that wrap around the long, narrow space lit by soft bulbs and candles on every table soothes and invites. Young professionals congregate on dates and in small groups. They’re over the club scene and now demand high-quality drinks and eats served without a hint of pretension—and that’s exactly what Brack Shop delivers. Previously the neighborhood beer haunt, Barrel Down, Brack launched itself into the big leagues by adding an elite cocktail program and gourmet plates to a strong beer selection that appeals to every palate. On a Friday night you’d peg it for hipster-chic by the bearded, tattooed barbacks in denim aprons mixing premium drinks, but you’d be wrong. Each server will befriend you and insist you come back for Sunday brunch, when the neighborhood gathers to watch NFL Ticket on a massive screen above the bar. Six other flat screens dot the back walls, to be viewed while patrons feast on a mimosa-laden brunch that regulars can’t stop raving about. Understated and never too crowded, there’s something about this place that captures the heart like few bars can. Vita