In the last few years, coffee and beer have become inextricably blended together, both literally, as collaboration beers between roasters and brewers, and in delivery, through Stumptown’s continued innovation with kegging (and pouring from nitrogen taps) its cold brew. The marriage makes sense — after all, they’re the yin and yang of most people's daily rituals.
Then, the coffee-beer connection went next-level, with Stumptown selling its on-tap cold brew to go by putting it into the same 64-ounce brown jugs you usually get filled with beer at a brewery. Without the dreaded 72-hour shelf life of beer growlers (carbonation, ugh) and the added bonus of saved time and money when you can just pour your own pre-made morning joe into a cup at home, the concept took off.
From Portland, the practice trickled down to their downtown L.A. flagship and was passed along to shops that serve Stumptown cold brew around town. Now that it’s common practice for new independent third-wave coffee shops to offer some sort of cold brew option — and in L.A., where there’s barely a bad time of year for iced coffee — you can get a growler of the stuff to take home at numerous places around the city.
Beyond the original Stumptown shop in the Arts District where it all began, here are our favorite six.
Open Space Cafe
Is Open Space a comedy club and event space with a rad cafe attached? Or is it a great community cafe with a killer entertainment lineup in the back theater? You decide at this Fairfax anomaly, which opened in prime real estate amid sneaker stores and John Shook and Vinny Dotalato restaurants earlier this year. The enthusiastic owner is usually behind the counter, heartfelt in his welcome speech for first-timers and proud of his lineup of sandwiches and salads, which come on real plates and suit the space’s stay-awhile vibe. Open Space also makes their own cold brew, which they keg and serve on a tap adjacent to the register. Get a full growler fill for $20 (including the glass) and a mini 32-ounce growlette for $13. Refills are $14 and $7, respectively. 457 N Fairfax Ave, Fairfax; (323) 424-3059; openspacela.com
Alfred Coffee and Kitchen
Walking into the Alfred on Melrose Place is like entering a too-cool Alice in Wonderland party. To order at this oddly laid out coffee shop, you have to cross the patio, somehow always filled with L.A.’s most beautiful people, walk through a small room with a black-and-white motif and floral-print wallpaper, down a half flight of stairs (under the “But First, Coffee” sign) and into a basement-like nook where you inevitably wait in line and walk by a mini market of Sqirl jams and Mountain High glass bottles of water before ordering your Stumptown cold brew on nitro. A growler fill of the stuff is $24 and is also available at Alfred’s newer Brentwood and Silver Lake locations. Various locations; alfredcoffee.com
The only L.A. outpost of this mid-sized Seattle roastery has stayed relatively undiscovered compared to other national-coffee-brand transplants, despite its prominent location in the spacious corner storefront across from Vista Theater in Silver Lake. With two stories of hangout space where you can sit and use the wifi, you may never need to take coffee home. But if you do, their cold brew is an excellent option, made from the company’s popular Theo Blend, made in collaboration with famed Northwest chocolatier Theo Chocolate. The blend was designed to pair well with chocolate but it also has enough vanilla, dark fruit and herbal flavors to serve as a superb daily cup. A branded glass growler plus the first fill will set you back $38, with future fills costing $22. 4459 Sunset Blvd, Silver Lake; (323) 663-6340; caffevita.com
One of the first independent Stumptown-stocking stores to start offering growler fills, Lo/Cal caters to the students and residents that call Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica part of their commute. The tiny shop has not only the widest selection of cold brew options — three kinds on tap at all times, including a rotating single-origin — but it also has a friendly staff of passionate coffee nerds willing to help you navigate through it all. For those reasons and more (they also have a little market inside!), we named it the best place to get a growler of cold brew. It’s $20 a fill if you bring your own growler, $32 including a new glass. 2214 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica; 424-322-2710; local-coffee.com
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Recreational’s growlers are printed with the downtown Long Beach shop’s angular logo on the front and the phrase “This Is Not Cold Brew” in big letters on the back. Read the fine print and you’ll see that Recreational doesn’t do cold brew, they do iced coffee, brewed the old fashioned way — with hot water via the pour-over method — then left to cool. On a recent visit, they were using Ethiopian Mogeyes beans from Case Roaster, but they rotate depending on what’s in stock for daily cups. Fills are only $17. 237 Long Beach Blvd, Long Beach; (562) 436-4954; recreationalcoffee.com
At the L.A. offshoot of Oakland’s two-wheel-loving organic, fair-trade roastery, it’s all about community. The owners (one of whom is the founder of Fixed Magazine) host monthly art shows, let cyclists roll their steeds into the shop and even have a free-coffee Friday program, which doles out free cups for a few hours every week. Their cold brew is notoriously cheaper than most at only $3 a cup — savings that are passed on to the growler fills. $12 will get you a 32-ounce growlette (perfect for riding home with); subsequent fills are only $6. 5427 Santa Monica Blvd, East Hollywood; bicyclecoffeeco.com