San Fernando Road is an artery of warehouses and manufacturing plants that parallels railroad tracks from Lincoln Heights to the city of San Fernando. It may not look like much as you drive the nearly 20-mile-long street, but along the way you'll pass through Glassell Park, Glendale, downtown Burbank and Pacoima — places that, over the past six years, have become home to new microbreweries and craft beer bars.
With last week's grand opening of Brewyard Beer Company in Glendale, there are now five breweries (with four taprooms) and three bars all within spitting distance of the main road, which is now being called the San Fernando Road Craft Beer Corridor.
On its Southern end is Eagle Rock Brewery, L.A.'s first new brewery since Prohibition, which opened a block off San Fernando Road in January 2010, and Verdugo Bar, the first watering hole from Ryan Sweeney, who has since launched craft beer destinations like Surly Goat, the Woodman and Sweeney's Ale House. Continue driving north on San Fernando Road and you'll come to the Glendale Tap, a neighborhood bar with an always-killer tap list, then Golden Road Brewery, the largest brewery in L.A., which has a vegan-friendly restaurant on site (the brewer recently sold to beer giant AB-Inbev). When passing through downtown Burbank, the road narrows and becomes lined with shopping and dining options; here is where you'll find Story Tavern, a Craftsman-style wood-and-glass bar with a rotating draft list and a ping-pong room.
Anchoring the corridor's northernmost end is Pac City Brewing, which is still only open and pouring at special events, and San Fernando Brewing, with its massive tasting room built for lounging and for solid, locally inspired beers.
Filling in the brewery gap between Golden Road and Pac City is now Brewyard, Glendale's first brewery, hidden inside an industrial park under a bridge just off San Fernando Road.
Brewmaster Sherwin Antonio and partner Kirk Nishikawa have been home-brewing together for the last decade, mostly out of Antonio's house in Mission Hills. The four beers on draft when we visited Brewyard's taproom on opening day last Wednesday came directly from their favorite home-brew recipes and included sophisticated first batches of Tropico Saison, a sweet Belgian-style beer infused with passion fruit, and Soul Cal, a hoppy California Common, which is a hybrid beer style native to the state. Also on draft were two lagers: a roasty, light-bodied black lager called Black Sunrise and a crisp, bitter India Pale Lager (like a lighter IPA) called Split Shift. A spiced root beer was available in tasters or pints but not to take home (yet). It is the first brewery-made root beer we've found in L.A.
The taproom is a comfortable place to kill a few hours drinking their beers and playing board games and darts. The vintage 1930s delivery truck that inspired Antonio and Nishikawa to open a production brewery when they bought it a few years ago sits restored but still rustic in the middle of the space, its wooden bed available as a place to sit or rest your drinks.
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For now, you'll have to stop by the brewery in order to taste Brewyard's beers. Nishikawa says that eventually they will be rotating in more new beers and soon will start self-distributing kegs to a few select bars.
"First things first, though," he says. "Giving people the best possible experience and beers in our taproom is our priority right now."
906 Western Ave., Glendale; brewyardbeercompany.com.