In the last year alone, Los Angeles County has become home to at least half a dozen new breweries, all trying to set themselves apart from those that came before in the hopes of earning a share of the region's increasing craft beer market. Of them, MacLeod Ale Brewing Co. in Van Nuys may be the most unlikely newcomer, which is exactly why its precision-brewed, British-style ales are such a welcome break from the IPAs and California saisons trying to push onto tap lists citywide. Not only is MacLeod the first production brewery to open a taproom in the brewery desert of the San Fernando Valley but it's also the first one in L.A. to focus exclusively on “real ales,” or unfiltered beers served from a cask without any forced carbonation. Taking on the challenge of education and the risk of alienating conventional beer drinkers (all pints are poured at a balmy 56 degrees), MacLeod sticks to its guns and provides quality brews — from the Yorkshire Pale to the 60 Shilling Scotch Ale — that are a great introduction to the real ales of the British Isles. —Sarah Bennett
14741 Calvert St., Van Nuys, 91411. (818) 631-1963, macleodale.com.