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Published on March 12th, 2012 | by RLn Staff

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Getting the Best Brew For Your Buck

By Michael Koger, Guest Columnist

Michael Koger is a San Pedro resident, home brewer and self proclaimed beer nerd. He and his friends have brewed India Pale Ales, weizenbocks and are going to be brewing a barley wine. His favorite styles include IPAs, imperial stouts and lambics. In his free time, he likes to try new beers at his favorite brew pubs and breweries in California.

When I tell people I brew my own beer, the reactions range from curiosity to people thinking I’m a wizard.

I’m certainly not an expert, but brewing beer doesn’t have to be complicated. I got into brewing beer by trying different breweries and styles. I started off drinking ciders and Hefeweizens and expanded from there. One thing I’ve learned about beer is that fresh beer makes all the difference. While Los Angeles isn’t yet the hot spot for breweries like San Diego, we do have a number of good options certainly worth checking out and the community is definitely growing.

Being a local, San Pedro Brewing Co. is a great option that isn’t a far drive. For $7.50 you can get a flight of their house ales. Their Point Fermin Pale Ale is excellent and easy to drink. In addition to their regular lineup, they have two seasonals currently on tap that are worth checking out: Terminal Island Black Lager and Beacon Street Barleywine. Both are very delicious and good representatives of their styles. On a scale of 1 to 5 pints, I’d give San Pedro Brewing Co. 4 pints.

San Pedro Brewing bartender, Sean, serving up a glass of barleywine beer.

In Torrance, you can visit Red Car Brewery. While they make English style ales using mostly ingredients from Great Britain, I wasn’t impressed with their house beers. Their IPA didn’t taste like an IPA at all, but that may be because I’m used to American IPAs. Their Porter was pretty decent, but nothing to write home about. Red Car gets 2.5 pints.

If you ever want to get into home brewing, South Bay Brewing Supply is just around the corner. This home brew supply shop has everything to get you started. The staff are knowledgeable, friendly and willing to answer every question. The shop is also home to the Strand Brewing Club which frequently hosts lessons on how to brew beer. Keep an eye out for their Atticus IPA and 24th Street Pale Ale at bars in the area. South Bay gets 4 pints.

Beachwood BBQ and Brewing in Long Beach is definitely worth visiting and one of my favorite places. They have a pretty large brewing capacity, which means brewmaster Julian Shrago is constantly putting out great, fresh beers that are inventive and worth drinking. Their Alpha Master Pale Ale and Dominator IPA are top notch. The food at Beachwood is great if you’re a barbecue fan. They also frequently invite other breweries to come and take over their taps, showing a devotion to the craft beer community. Beachwood gets 5 pints. Check them out.

Golden Road Brewing in downtown Los Angeles is a relatively new operation that is quickly making waves in the LA beer scene. Their Point the Way IPA and hefeweizen are certainly worth checking out. You can find these wonderful canned beers at local Whole Foods and other select retailers. If you make the trip down to the brewery in LA, make sure to stop by their pub for a bite to eat. Golden Road gets 4 pints.

Bootlegger’s Brewery in Fullerton is another favorite of mine. They’ve only been around a few years, but Aaron and his crew are making some fantastic beers. Their Knuckle Sandwich Double IPA is very highly regarded. They have a broad range of styles, so everyone will find something they like. They also have food trucks stop by to help follow your pint. The atmosphere is very casual and low-key. Stop by, get a pint and a growler to go, and enjoy some fine crafted beer. The brewery is open Friday through Sunday. Bootlegger’s Brewery gets 5 pints.

Not far from Bootlegger’s is The Bruery in Placentia. While it is a bit of a drive, The Bruery makes world class beers. If you’re a wine fan and looking to get into beer, go here. If you’re a casual beer drinker and want to get into craft beer, go here. Their Loakal Red and Saison Rue are fantastic beers that are frequently available. Similar to Bootlegger’s, the atmosphere is casual. They also have growlers and bottles to go and have food trucks stop by when The Bruery is open. Combine this with a trip to Bootlegger’s to make your visit to Orange County worth it. The Bruery gets 5 pints.

What makes a brewery or brew pub worth coming back for me is the beer. The beer has to be good. I also like it when they have a variety of styles available. If they are passionate about their craft, it’ll show in the product. It also helps if they have good food available and a great atmosphere. There are even more breweries to check out in Pasadena and south in San Diego. Grab a friend and spend a day off running around to these different beer spots and see what you like. Cheers!

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