South Bay beer from the Strand Brewing Co. (John Verive )
California has been a leader in the country's craft beer revolution, but the brewing scene in Los Angeles has long lagged behind that in the rest of the state. While the tide is turning on L.A.'s beer scene, there is one area in Los Angeles that's been ahead of the curve. The South Bay is a hotbed of craft breweries, brewpubs and beer-focused bars, and some of L.A.'s best beers are being brewed in the industrial parks that dot the communities from El Segundo to San Pedro.
Strand Brewing Co, in Torrance, was one of the first breweries to call the South Bay home, and its taproom has become a favorite local hangout. Strand's beers, including the excellent 24th Street Pale Ale, can also be found at fine bars and restaurants across Los Angeles. Torrance is also home to the year-old Monkish Brewing -- likewise situated in a nondescript industrial park just up the road from Strand.
Monkish Brewing, started by Henry Nguyen and his wife, Adriana, after Henry discovered a love for real ale while living in Scotland as he worked on his doctorate in theology, is known for crafting creative and off-beat Belgian-inspired ales brewed with uncommon ingredients. Signature beers such as Florasion -- a hibiscus- and chamomile-spiked farmhouse ale -- and Feminist -- a nearly 10% ABV hoppy tripel -- are poured from Monkish's popular small taproom and from an increasing number of taps from the beach to downtown.
One more brewery is now calling Torrance home: Smog City Brewing has been a rising star in the L.A. beer scene since late 2011, when Jonathan Porter began brewing his own creations while working as the head brewer at Tustin Brewing Co. Porter formed an agreement with Tustin Brewing that allowed him to use its extra production capacity to create his own beers, and he began to build his brand. The results are some of L.A.'s best brews -- such as the Great American Beer Fest gold medal-winning Groundwork Coffee Porter. Porter's moonlighting will come to an end this spring when Smog City's new brewery and taproom opens on Del Amo Boulevard.
Torrance may be the center of the South Bay's brewing renaissance, but the region's other neighborhoods are not left out. El Segundo has the eponymously named El Segundo Brewing Co, which just started bottling its White Dog IPA (one of our favorites); Redondo Beach is home to Naja's Place; and Manhattan Beach has Simmzy's -- both are great beer bars to find the best local brews on tap; and the newly revamped Brewery at Abigale brewpub in Hermosa Beach serves its own creations and a range of other craft brews.
Want to get a taste of several of the South Bay's craft beer destinations? Catch the LA Beer Hop's South Bay tour for a guided exploration of one of region's hottest beer areas.
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