Since we last checked in with Smog City Brewing just a few short weeks ago, the newest Torrance beer makers have already filled up all of the fermenting tanks with fresh batches, submitted label approval for their new keg rings and opened the roll-up door to customers during its first ever soft-opening weekend a few days ago.
Though the eight beers that have already been brewed in the new facility (including the gold medal-winning Groundworks Coffee Porter) will not be available until the official grand opening party on May 18, co-owners Laurie and Jonathan Porter dug into their reserves for beers to pour during the limited taproom hours that will be in place the next three weekends.
“People ask us if we're afraid to open a brewery, but we're not afraid — we've been doing this for a year,” co-owner Laurie Porter says of how her husband started making and distributing beers under the Smog City brand while still Brewmaster at Tustin Brewing Company in Orange County. “We're only afraid that we haven't gotten our beer out to the people yet!”
Jonathan has not brewed a Smog City beer on Tustin's system for a few months now and the trickle down has left most of the company's 70-ish accounts devoid of such favorites as its XPA (a 4.8% hoppy pale ale), Saber Toothed Squirrel (a bitter amber ale) and L.A. Saison.
But the freedom to brew on his own system away from the structural and spatial confines of a working brewpub will soon bring an even more adventurous side of Jonathan's Smog City beers — one that will only be visible to those who visit the new taproom, where up to 20 taps will feature a rotation of not just year-round and seasonals, but also one-off and test batches.
“We've been waiting for the moment when Porter can really do whatever he wants,” Laurie says. “With the taproom, we are creating a tasting space where we can throw on our pilot or experimental beers and get immediate feedback from our fans.”
The Porters — former professional photographers who moved to L.A. about a decade ago — hope that their reputation for crafting innovative brews (last year, they released one simply called “Weird Beer”) will bring people into the Torrance taproom for the experience of trying new creations, like the Belgian-style blonde that will soon go into eight stainless steel drums along with various fruits.
“We wanted to build a community and that's what we tried to do with our accounts, our blog and now our taproom,” Laurie says. “We want people to feel like they have an investment in us and are connected to us.”
Smog City is the fourth production brewery to open in the City of Torrance in the last three years and it's Del Amo Blvd. warehouse space is walking distance from both Monkish Brewing and Dudes Brewing, the latter of which just announced that it has applied for permits to open a taproom of its own.
With craft beer tours already bringing fans through Smog City's not-really-but-kinda-already-open taproom and a waiting list of 30 draft accounts eagerly hoping to be able to pour the brewery's new beers soon, L.A.'s latest is invigorating the region's growing beer community with even more original creative energy.
“We're not trying to recreate what brewers in other places are doing,” Laurie says. “We love L.A. and we want to help establish it as a beer destination.”
Smog City Brewing: 1901 Del Amo Blvd. Ste. B, Torrance, (310) 320-7664.
Limited taproom hours: Friday 4 p.m.-9 p.m., Saturday 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Grand Opening Party: Saturday May 18 12 p.m. – 9 p.m.