For much of the last few years, if you wanted to drink beer from L.A.’s newer and smaller breweries you had to travel to their taprooms or seek it out on draft. Cans of Golden Road’s Point the Way IPA and bottles of Eagle Rock Brewery’s Solidarity might be ubiquitous at local bars and liquor stores, but for many other breweries, time-sensitive growlers have been the only way for fans to share beer at a party or drink a pint at home.
MacLeod Ale Brewing in Van Nuys, Three Weavers Brewing in Inglewood and King Harbor in Redondo Beach are just a few of the county’s breweries that recently opened with nary a bottled beer in sight.
In the last six months, though, all of these and more have either announced intentions to or have released bottles, adding even more local options to the craft beers available at Whole Foods, Sunset Beer Company and any of the other bottle shops dotting the L.A. landscape. Breweries such as Beachwood BBQ and Brewing (which has been releasing small numbers of cases of its world-class brews for more than two years), Ohana (which had sparingly released bottles) and El Segundo Brewing (which continues to add hoppy beers to its packaged lineup) are ramping up production of bottled beer.
“Bottling our beer has always been a goal, from our inception,” says Omar Douglas, sales manager at Three Weavers. “We love the beer we are producing and want to share our passion with as many people as possible. You are able to reach a greater number of people with bottles.”
While many of the newly released L.A. bottles are year-round beers, some breweries' bottle releases never make it to the shelf, available instead in limited quantities direct from the brewery. Since December, L.A. has seen an increase in both the number of barrel-aged specialties (such as Infinite Wishes from Smog City Brewing in Torrance) and one-off releases of bottle-conditioned, bacteria-infected beers (like Lazy Susan from Highland Park Brewery).
Having local craft beer options available at supermarkets, liquor stores and restaurants — where it sits next to other California craft beers as well as macro competition — also helps expand awareness about L.A.’s growing craft beer scene.
“When it comes down to it, bottling makes a ton of sense for a small brewery despite the work and worry,” says Andy Black, head brewer at MacLeod Ale Brewing, which will be bottle-conditioning its normally casked ales. “It makes our beer more accessible to the L.A. market, extends the geographic reach of our small production brewery … and the best reason of all, for me anyway, is readily available sample bottles for portfolio tastings.”