These days, it seems as if every new brewery needs an angle.
Given how competitive the market has gotten, new breweries tend to specialize in something — hazies for the bros, English ales for the persnickety homebrew types, crushable lagers for patio bars.
The first few high-profile projects from Artisanal Brewers Collective ended up fitting that mold. The 12-strong restaurant group runs beery spots across the Southland, from the Belgian-focused Bluebird Brasserie in Sherman Oaks to the English-inspired Stalking Horse Brewery in West L.A.
That wasn’t by design, co-brewer Brandon Edwards says.
“They ended up themed from top to bottom — that was never our intent with ABC,” he says. “The broader plan was always to give us, as well as subsequent brewers, a chance to experiment with lots of style and not just be cranking out the same beers.”
Edwards and fellow Pizza Port alum Noah Regnery are doing beer at the various projects, which are helmed by a group that also includes Tony Yanow, co-founder of Golden Road Brewing. San Diego’s Pizza Port, where Regnery and Edwards cut their teeth, is one of the best-regarded breweries in the country, having won a bevy of medals at the Great American Beer Festival while hopping across categories.
With their latest ABC project, 6th & La Brea, they’re getting back to those roots. The bright, airy space has a kitchen that churns out Asian-influenced California cuisine and a seven-barrel brewery that will do both dark milds and double IPAs.
“It’s about having a balanced list, and having something that every beer drinker will like and that will keep them coming back,” Edwards says.
Across their various brewpubs — Edwards and Regnery do the brewing across the ABC empire, showing up to make beer and then rolling out to the next spot — the guys have made dozens of different beers. So far, they’ve done only five repeats — they were spinning up a new IPA as we spoke.
That’s all part of the plan, Regnery says. They’re returning to the old model of a neighborhood brewpub that makes a little of everything for folks in the ‘hood.
They’re not aiming to package anything, or to create a little Epcot center of worldly pubs. Rather, they want to do what Pizza Port does in the little beach towns of San Diego County, or what the McMenamin brothers do around the Northwest.
“The thing that I fell in love with about the project is just the romanticization of the neighborhood pub — that’s the overall idea, that every neighborhood can sustain a thriving pub,” Regnery says. “And why not have locally brewed beer on-site? We want to be part of every community that we’re in. That’s the ultimate goal for us, not to have bottles and cans to join crowded liquor store shelves.”