After eighteen years of churning out Manhattan Beach Blondes and Rat Beach Reds, brewpub Manhattan Beach Brewing will soon be retiring its fermentation tanks. On September 8, the pub will close for a month-long renovation that will include eliminating the six brewing tanks currently located behind the bar.
Karl Kmeto, head brewer for the past 17 years, says brewing in such a small restaurant space over the years has been challenging. He typically brews in the early morning hours, long before wait staff descend upon the bar. But it's not uncommon for Kmeto to finish brewing steps, such as steeping the hops, when customers arrive.
"It's hard in the morning when we're behind on brewing," says the Czechoslovakian native who prefers to drink his home country's light, lower alcohol pilsners when pulling his own pint. "There's not much room behind the bar for the brew tanks and the staff, and customers ask why it smells strange in the restaurant, all yeasty like a brewery."
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The redesigned pub, called Brewco, is scheduled to open in October. Plans include beach-view windows, a revised menu and four dozen international beers on tap. Several dozen readily available commercial beers are already offered in bottles, including Blue Moon, Heineken and Sam Adams.
After Kmeto brews his last IPA, he will shift into a management position on the restaurant floor.
As for trading a life of hops for one of hungry customers, Kmeto shrugs and hands over a sample of hefeweizen midway through its fermentation metamorphosis. "Change can be good."
Manhattan Beach Brewing Company: 124 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Manhattan Beach, (310) 798-2744.