In its early days, L.A.’s craft beer movement had one goal: to convince the masses that flavorful, hand-crafted beer is better than the so-called “fizzy yellow stuff.”
Nearly a decade later, at least some portion of that dream has been realized. Everything from IPA to Berliner weisse now can be found at nearly every supermarket and liquor store, right next to the fizzy yellow stuff. But where do you go to buy beer beyond the year-round Firestone Walker and Stone releases? What if you want to try something entirely new but don’t know where to begin?
From Long Beach to Westlake Village, El Monte to Redondo Beach, these are the best bottle shops in L.A. County — the ones that care about the craft beer community, stock the best and rarest brews, and can always be counted on to sell both new and limited releases from independent local breweries, nationally known brands and international heavyweights alike.
As the name implies, Beverage Warehouse is a huge industrial building with rows of alcohol bottles that seem to go for miles. Bypass the soda, energy drinks and the mind-boggling selection of high-end, small-batch spirits (including every Saint George gin ever) and you’ll eventually find the beer, which, though secondary to the business’s focus, continues to be an impressive stockpile of regional and international brews. It might not have the latest El Segundo IPA, but only here can you find entire lineups from Japanese breweries like Hitachino Nest and Yoho, along with Russian River sours, Rogue Farms seasonal ales and more Belgian-made stalwarts than anywhere else around.
4935 McConnell Ave., Del Rey; (310) 306-2822, beveragewarehouse.com.
Sunset Beer Company
One of L.A.’s original bottle shop/tasting room concepts, Sunset Beer Company is part cozy beer bar, part overstuffed liquor store — a dual-purpose establishment hiding in the back corner unit of a strip mall. Enter this dimly lit neighborhood hangout and you’ll pass through the bottle shop first, where a fridge by the door invites you to build your own six-pack with dozens of loose cans for sale. In the stacks of boxes and fridges beyond are bottles of all sizes from around the world, including the latest releases from some of L.A.’s 50-plus breweries (look for the fridge marked “California”). Not ready to go home yet? A $2 corkage fee lets you drink anything from the bottle shop at the bar next door.
1498 Sunset Blvd, Echo Park; (213) 481-2337, sunsetbeerco.com.
Cap N’ Cork
Take an old-school library with movable ladders going up to the ceiling and replace all the books with alcohol bottles, and you can begin to visualize what it looks like behind the counter at Los Feliz’s Cap N’ Cork. Built into the other wall of this warehouse-sized neighborhood bottle shop is its crown jewel: a diverse stock of all-refrigerated craft beer from around the world. No fewer than 30 fridges are stacked with meticulously organized six-packs, bombers and singles, all separated by country of origin, color and style.
1674 Hillhurst Ave., Los Feliz; (323) 665-1260, capncork.com.
The Heights Deli & Bottle Shop
Lincoln Heights is one of the oldest neighborhoods in L.A., so it’s about time that the quiet neighborhood nestled in the rolling hills outside of downtown gets a respectable bottle shop to call its own. The Heights Deli & Bottle Shop concept is simple: Combine a Boar’s Head deli that makes sandwiches and pizza with two walls of brightly lit fridges stocked exclusively with uncommon California craft beer. Each fridge is labeled by beer style (lagers, sours, browns, saisons, etc.) and filled with a well-curated selection of bottles and cans from locals such as Eagle Rock and NorCal favorites Knee Deep; it’s also still the only shop in L.A. that consistently carries beers from all five of the Baja craft breweries that distribute in the United States. Look out for a new gastropub, Lincoln Kitchen & Tap, coming a few blocks down from the same owners.
2927 N. Broadway, Lincoln Heights; (323) 223-0708, theheightsdeli.com.
Ramirez Beverage Center
Walking into Ramirez Beverage Center, it’s easy to feel as if you’ve accidentally stumbled into a massively expanded version of Costco’s alcohol section. In addition to every kind of crazy tequila bottle you could ever want (yup, they have the ones that look like AK-47s), this mega-store in Boyle Heights is a legendary craft beer bottle shop with longtime accounts that net it some of the most coveted IPAs, sours and wax-dipped bottles in the industry. A smaller outpost with some of the same selection (Pliny!) lives just a few blocks away, but unless you need a keg, stick with the Beverage Center location, where you’re guaranteed to walk out with a beer you’ve never seen or heard of before.
2765 E. Olympic Blvd., Boyle Heights; (323) 266-2337, ramirezliquor.com/store.
San Fernando Valley
Wades Wines started as a wine shop and tasting room catering to the Malibu winery set, but for the last decade or so it has quietly emerged as a destination for craft beer fans, too. Follow the endless maze of wine bottles and you’ll soon discover a quiet back room where the beers live. A few fridges and some more floor-to-ceiling aisles always includes European and Belgian beers (think: Chimay, De Ranke, Sam Smith), plus L.A.-area bottles from Cellador, Eagle Rock, El Segundo and more. The Malibu Sundowner tasting room next door offers beer flights from its 100 taps and guided beer tastings throughout the week.
30961 W. Agoura Road, Westlake Village; (818) 597-9463, wadeswines.com.
Valley Beverage Co.
When a once predictably suburban liquor store along the cruising stretch of Ventura Boulevard gets unparalleled access to new craft beers and turns over most of its shelves and fridge space to stocking them, it’s bound to become a destination bottle shop. Valley Beverage’s selection has always showed impressive breadth, with a healthy stock of both small and large bottles from California, the Midwest and beyond. These days, however, it’s all about the cans, and it seems as if nearly every day another new arrival — from breweries like Mikkeller, Artifex, Fremont, Kern River and more — makes its way into the store.
14901 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; (818) 655-0102, valleybev.com.
San Gabriel Valley
El Monte might seem like a long drive just to pick up a few bottles of beer, but if you keep up with the Plaza Market liquor store on Instagram, you’ll quickly see why the store (also known as Craft Beer Kings) has become a destination for craft fans from across the Southland. Since the early days of the craft beer movement, this corner liquor store has boasted an expansive beer selection that includes all the hard-to-find, barrel-aged booze bombs (like Founders KBS and Hangar 24’s Barrel Roll series), plus daily arrivals of “freshie” IPAs, out-of-state sours and more. Can’t make it out to El Monte? Orders can be placed online and delivered to your door — for the same reasonable prices found at the store.
2400 Peck Road, El Monte; (626) 444-4454, craftbeerkings.com.
Select Beer Company
The heart of the South Bay beer scene pumps through Select Beer Company, a small but mighty bottle shop and tasting room that’s an integral part of the region’s craft beer movement. With fridges of fresh local cans and bottles on one side of the bar and shelves of European and large-format brews on the other wall, owner Wes Jacobs strikes a balance between #LAbeer booster and worldly educator. Mainly, though, Select is known for being the hometown shop for everyone from El Segundo Brewing to Redondo Beach’s own King Harbor. Monkish even makes a collaboration beer for the shop’s anniversary each year, a coveted release called Select Monk.
1613 S. Pacific Coast Hwy., Redondo Beach; (310) 540-1221, selectbeerstore.com.
Uncle Henry’s Deli
The first thing you notice when you walk into Uncle Henry's Deli is the hypnotizing rows of 100-plus taps along the back wall, which are always rotating through rare and specialty brews from local and national breweries. Then, you notice that the vintage deli itself has been overtaken by shelves and refrigerators stocked to the ceiling with equally rare and vintage bottles (from 2013 FiftyFifty Eclipse to Epic Brewing’s Brainless series) available for purchase to go — all personally curated by George Gaul Jr., the beer-obsessed 20-something grand-nephew of the real Uncle Henry.
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7400 Florence Ave., Downey; (562) 927-0114, unclehenrysdeli.com.
The Cellar Bottle Shop
Uptown Whittier isn’t lacking in places to drink craft beer. There’s the Rusty Monk, the Bottle Room, the Commoner and even the fancy-fideo-serving Bizarra Capital. But the Cellar — owned by the iconic Ramirez Liquor familia — is the only place on the block where you can drink a few draft beers at the bar in back and then grab some bottles to go. The fridges are stocked with the latest from small breweries across L.A., O.C. and the Inland Empire (like Sour Cellars, Sanctum, Good Beer Company, the Blendery) and is always among the first to stock breweries new to the region, like Oklahoma’s American Solera, Grimms from Brooklyn and Sweden’s Omnipollo.
531 Greenleaf Ave, Whittier; (562) 698-2337, thecellarbottleshop.com.