The brewery we named "#1 to watch" earlier this year is now closer than ever to releasing its first beers made in Los Angeles County.
Word came from the Smog City Brewing camp earlier this week that the City of Torrance signed off on the newly built brewery. And on Thursday night, the crew produced its first batch of beer in the new space: Groundworks Coffee Porter.
Though not an official opening yet, the moment of approval and first brew has been a long time coming for award-winning brewer Jonathan Porter, who began working toward getting his own space a few years ago, while still brewmaster at Tustin Brewing. That's when he began brewing his own beers on Tustin's system and releasing them to regional bars under the Smog City brand.
Offerings like Smog City's XPA, Saber Toothed Squirrel amber, L.A. Saison and one-off specialties have given Porter a cult-like following, which was only heightened by a gold-medal win (for the Groundworks Coffee Porter) at the Great American Beer Festival last October.
Porter and his wife Laurie have been working hard for the last six months or so to get their 5,500 square-foot Torrance facility up and running. The two have put in countless hours of manual labor building, painting and installing every big brewery component. And luckily for L.A.'s anxious beer-lovers, the duo has diligently kept us informed every step of the way, from the arrival of their first piece of equipment (a hop storage freezer) to the day they spent picking up and driving their lagering tanks (purchased from a BJs Restaurant and Brewhouse) back to Torrance and every construction milestone in between. This morning, they even posted a photo of active fermentation for the brewhouse's first batch of beer.
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It's worth noting that during all of this, Jonathan was still brewing Smog City beers at Tustin and self-distributing all the kegs. Plus, the couple also has a toddler. Whew!
The approval from Torrance not only means that the hard work is beginning to pay off for the Porters, but that L.A.'s Smog City drought will soon be over. Aside from special events and the occasional keg at City Tavern or Beer Belly, Smog City's beers have been in short supply lately as the opening of the brewery and taproom neared.
The couple is hesitant to announce an official date until they are positive they can keep it. So let's just say that "soon," Jonathan Porter's award-winning beers will flow freely throughout the smog city, and the South Bay will have one more taproom to add to its growing list of L.A. craft beer destinations. Stay tuned...
EDITOR'S NOTE: This post was updated at 10:15 a.m. to add new information about the brewery's first batch.