Between the half-dozen new breweries that opened across the county this year and the unexpected sweeping wins by Kinetic and Beachwood at the Great American Beer Festival in October, there has been no shortage of mini milestones to fuel the momentum of our growing culture.
But it's the continual procession of world-class beers that keeps Angelenos excited about the potential of our local breweries. From summer sours and bourbon barrel-aged beers to more easy-going styles infused with experimental adjuncts like jasmine and coffee, L.A. breweries proved in 2013 that they can nail traditional beer styles, but would also rather push the craft forward, too.
Here are 10 beers from the last year of this mounting L.A. scene that we'd love to still be drinking right now.10. La Grisette, Ladyface Ale Companie
This Belgian-style farmhouse wheat beer was a good drinking buddy throughout the summer months. La Grisette is fruity and grassy (5.8% ABV), but also dry and peppery with plenty of yeast like a good Belgian should have. There's enough hop bitterness to balance any cloying esters. It's a beer whose straw-yellow body and medium white head can best be described as cheery and charming. We hope the working-class French girls for whom the style was named were able to enjoy it as we did (though somehow it's doubtful.)
9. Unity w/ Honey, Eagle Rock Brewing
Every year Eagle Rock brews a beer in honor of L.A. Beer Week, its title and purpose a poetic reminder of the beer community that continues to grow around it. The 2013 edition of Unity, which changes annually, is a red mild (4% ABV) brewed with hibiscus and honey -- the chosen ingredient theme for 2013 L.A. Beer Week. Craig Wickham, who won Best of Show at the Maltose Falcons home brew competition, was chosen to collaborate with Eagle Rock to reproduce his recipe for the occasion. Our only complaint with this easy-drinking brew is its scarcity, as nary a bottle was found after the close of beer week festivities.8. Karma Kolsch, LA AleWorks
Kolsch has gained stylistic popularity in recent years as an offbeat treat because it is an ale that is cold-conditioned after fermenting. This process reduces the creation of esters and clarifies the beer, bridging the gap between ale and lager. For L.A. AleWorks, the style is a great base to which they've added unexpected flavors. Here, they infuse the beer with Thai Spiced Tea resulting in a light-bodied, fruity Kolsch (4.75% ABV). Yeast flavors harmonize with the anise and cinnamon that characterize the tea profile. This isn't the only contender to come out of the brewery this year, but its fun and aromatic flavors make it the most memorable.