For the last two weekends, Michael Bowe has been hosting beer tastings outside of his new Angel City Brewing complex in the Arts District downtown. But this weekend it's the real deal: The official grand opening takes place on Saturday, with a blowout that includes beers, barbecue and live music. And that's before the brewery is even operating.
Bowe says it's at least a month until he can start brewing in the facility--the beers you'll be tasting were made in the former Alpine Village brewery, which Bowe left last spring. And there's still work to be done to the 27,000-square-foot space, like add a few more tasting areas, fill the gift shop, fix up the beer garden, and open a restaurant sometime down the line. But for now, there's a bar and plenty of beer on tap.
There were many reasons for the move, including the desire to increase output. At Alpine Village, Bowe was brewing about 2,000 barrels a year; now, in this new facility at Traction and Alameda, he can do up to 15,000 barrels a year. Bowe also wanted to bring the business to Los Angeles proper, and loves the Arts District. And then there's serendipity.
"The Angel City label always had City Hall on it," says Bowe. "And now, if you stand at the front door, you can see City Hall right there. We're supposed to be here."
The the former John A. Roebling building is pretty magnificent. Built in 1913 as a West Coast warehouse for the company that made steel wire for suspension bridges (i.e. the Brooklyn Bridge), it's the perfect place for a brewery. And Angel City fits right into the burgeoning beer scene--Belgian beer hall Wurstkuche is next door, Nibble Bit Tabby Brewery is nearby, and Eagle Rock Brewery is just a few minutes away.
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Some of the brews you'll taste this weekend include the "CHE" Pale Lager; a strong Belgian ale called Night Train; the big, smooth Rahsaan Roland Kirk Stritch Stout; smooth and mellow Lester Young Porkpie Hat Dark Lager; and Angel City Vitzen, a hefeweizen.
And although Bowe has picked up a few gold and silver medals at the Los Angeles International Beer competition, he says he's not a "gonzo" brewer: "I'm into making beers that are easy to drink, subtle. I mean, if you can't drink three pints of beer, it ain't a great beer."
In that case, we're really happy the Little Tokyo Gold Line station is just a block away.
The Angel City tasting room opens this weekend: today (5 p.m. to 1 a.m.), Saturday (noon to 1 a.m.) and Sunday (2 p.m. to 1 a.m.). Food and drink are pay as you go. Starting next week, the brewery, bar and store will be open Wednesdays through Sundays from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.