It's been a whirlwind start to 2013 for Los Angeles beer. The scene celebrated it's unofficial third birthday with the near-simultaneous anniversaries of Ladyface, Eagle Rock and Strand brewing companies and El Segundo Brewing Company released its first round of production bottles, which are now spreading even more L.A. beer across Southern California and into San Francisco.
But undoubtedly one of the craziest things to come out of the first month and a half of this year is the sheer number of new breweries being planned for the region and, along with them, the number of crowd-funding campaigns being launched to help them start their beerventures.
L.A. River Brewing Company was the first to go down this road with a Kickstarter that ran from Dec. 5 through Feb. 3. And even though it only made about half of its $75,000 goal, the fact that more than 350 backers put up enough money to fund at least one of the currently running campaigns shows that the need and the cash is there for the cause.
For the next week and a half, there are four (count 'em!) Kickstarters in process for L.A. breweries. If you've ever wanted to invest in the future of local beer in this sprawling city of ours, maybe now is the time. So turn the page for more info about the four breweries that are hoping you'll back their project. Campaigns are listed in the order that funding ends.
Launched: January 1
Ends: March 3
Growing college-homebrew experimentation into a professional brewing career is not an uncommon trajectory in this industry, but CalArts still somehow seems like an unlikely school to spit out the latest crew of young L.A. brewers. With a concept that would sound original even in beer-and-art-soaked Portland, Villain Brewing aims to leave their garage and open a small brewery that will double as an artist-run gallery.
Though beer from the brewery has yet to be tasted outside of their circle of friends, Chris Hahn, Danny Quinonez, Matthew King and Arnulfo Reyes launched Villains' Kickstarter with a strong-but-minimal visual identity and are offering handmade backer rewards (like a laser-engraved metal bottle opener shaped like a credit card!) that are enticing products in their own right.
Launched: January 27
Ends: March 13
With little craft beer to speak of between Azuza's Congregation Ale House and Eureka Burger in Claremont, the eastern San Gabriel Valley seemed nearly immune to the surge of beer bars and breweries popping up around L.A. Named after a long lost booze-loving city from the late 1800s, Alosta aims to fill SGV's void and become the local craft brewery for the greater Covina area.
To date, the three homebrewers behind the Alosta venture say they have poured more than $100,000 of their own money into making a commercial brewery. And with a set location, some equipment and plenty of experience (beers from Alosta's crew have been winning at local, regional and national competitions for more than 10 years), this brewery looks to be just one successfully funded Kickstarter away from opening its doors.
Launched: February 12
Ends: March 14
Cosmic is the only brewery currently running a Kickstarter that's actually sent beer out in the market, with bottles of its Cosmonaut California Blonde and Hell Hound Brown Ale sitting on nearly 400 shelves as far away as Chicago and New York. But after years of contract brewing on a large scale at a San Jose brewery, formerly Corona-based Head Brewer and CEO Chris Briles says he's ready to move back to L.A. and build some intimate digs where he can make small batches and experiment with new Cosmic beers.
If the “Launch the Ship” Kickstarter meets its goal, Cosmic will not only become the first brewery to land on the Westside (Briles is thinking Marina Del Rey or Playa Vista), but also one of the region's first nanobreweries — a tiny microbrewery operation that produces batches no larger than 5-barrels.
Turn the page…
Launched: February 15
Ends: March 22
As we mentioned when we named L.A. Aleworks one of our Top 6 Breweries to Watch in 2013, owners Kristofer “Kip” Barnes and John Rockwell have everything they need to start making and selling their European-style beers — except their own brewery. Last month, they teamed up with Downtown L.A.'s Ohana Brewing to gypsy brew a market-worthy batch of Gams-Bart, a roggenbier (which is like a German hefeweizen but uses rye instead of wheat) that will serve as LAAW's first citywide beer release when it hits bars this weekend.
The beer coincides with the launch of L.A. Aleworks' Kickstarter campaign, which will hopefully fund a production facility for Barnes and Rockwell somewhere off the Expo Line. Release party dates are below. Follow them on Twitter for updates.
February 23, Beer Belly in Koreatown, 4 p.m.
February 24, City Tavern in Culver City, 6 p.m.
March 1, Far Bar
February/March TBD, Eagle Rock Brewery
February/March TBD, Spring Street Smoke House
BONUS! Though technically not a brewery, Beer Belly in Koreatown — that mid-city bastion of L.A.-centric taps — is also in the middle of a very important crowdfunding campaign. The tiny ramen-house-sized beer bar needs $4000 to build patios on either side of the place, a smart move for the growing business that would essentially double its capacity and provide a casual outdoor space to drink local beer and enjoy the SoCal weather (ahh, bliss!). Click here to contribute to Beer Belly's expansion project.
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