One of L.A. County's first breweries — Strand Brewing Co., which front man Rich Marcello and business brewmaster/partner Joel Elliott founded in 2009 in a Torrance industrial park — is now expanding to a new facility that’s an astounding 40 times its original size.
By August, Strand should be up and running in northern Torrance, taking over a warehouse that previously held a plywood factory and commercial car studio. The company jumps from 900 square feet to 36,000 square feet, and the move gets them closer to other South Bay breweries like Smog City, Monkish, Absolution, Dudes’ and Phantom Carriage, bolstering an area that already calls for a craft beer crawl.
“I’m not surprised that we’re in here,” says Marcello, sitting amid tanks in an otherwise empty warehouse on a recent tour. “I’m more pleasantly surprised with how fun our journey has been, and how quickly it’s arrived.”
Strand will continue to keg and bottle beer, and with the new space they’ll introduce a canning line. Increased production also means increased distribution, which will soon extend from San Diego to the Oregon border.
They’ll have a 5,000-square-foot taproom with picnic tables and strings of lights in clear view of the brewhouse. Right outside double doors, a food truck bay will rotate different options, and customers can still bring their own food as well. Strand will also host private events on Mondays and Tuesdays, when the taproom’s closed.
In June, Assemblyman David Hadley honored Strand in Sacramento as the Small Business of the Year for the 66th Assembly, a rare honor for any small business, but especially a brewery.
“People think that if you have a brewery, all you do is sit around all day and drink beer, and that’s not the case," Marcello says. "It's a business. It has to be a business first to be sustainable, and it’s so much hard work and effort that goes into making that business thrive and succeed that it’s great to be recognized as a business first.”
Marcello attributes the brewery's success to two cornerstones: great beer, like their now-classic 24th Street Pale Ale, and strong relationships with the proprietors who serve the product. Marcello still makes the rounds to bars and restaurants daily. “I make sure people still enjoy selling it. I make sure people still enjoy drinking it,” he says.
In June alone, he personally poured Strand beers at 38 different events, everything from a series of Gelson’s tastings in far flung neighborhoods to a beer-pairing dinner at Santa Monica’s Pono Burger to the L.A. Brewers Guild tap takeover at Naja’s Place during L.A. Beer Week. Strand also supports charitable fundraisers for organizations like Palos Verdes’ Malaga Cove Library.
Core offerings like 24th Street, Beach House Amber and Atticus IPA will continue to flow, but so will more esoteric beers like White Sand Imperial IPA, Cherry Blossom Berlinerweisse and Bagheera, an "East India Pale Ale" made with curry, cumin, clove, tamarind fruit and coconut. Elliott is building a small pilot system within the brewery to have those types of beers on tap.
Production started with 350 barrels in 2010, followed by 900 barrels in 2011, 2,400 barrels in 2012, and 4,000 barrels in 2013 and 2014. By 2016, production will jump to over 8,000 barrels. The original Telo Avenue location contains a 7-barrel brewhouse, and the new one on Dominguez Street will be 30 barrels. Equipment from the original location has been sold to an unnamed brewery, and the Telo space will be released back into the wild.
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“We wouldn’t be building this facility if there wasn’t demand for our beer,” Marcello says. Now he and Elliott just have to make and sell a whole lot more of it.
2201 Dominguez St., Torrance, strandbrewing.com