We’re in the golden age of American craft beer, and there’s no sign of it ending. But it’s about more than just drinking great beer - it’s about doing things on a local level. And Los Angeles has taken this call to action and run with it.
From craft breweries with dedicated taprooms to local bars simply upping their selections, there’s never been a better time to drink beer in LA. Divided up by regions of the city (with a mix of brewery taprooms and stand-alone bars), here’s our freshly updated guide to where you should be drinking craft beer right now.
DOWNTOWN LA & BOYLE HEIGHTS
Our pick for the best brewery in DTLA, Mumford has established itself with solid offerings from their Northeast-style (hazy) IPAs all the way to their stouts (Rolling Blackout - brewed with coffee and vanilla). They have a killer taproom with all the board games you and your friends could want, growlers to-go, and you can even bring in your own food (or have it delivered). Their monthly can releases draw crowds, too.
Despite a name that makes it sound like a USC freshman’s dorm room, Modern Times’ DTLA location serves consistently great beer. Although they’re based in San Diego, the unique tap lists read like a flagship location - they always have 15-20 special release beers on tap, like barrel-aged cider, and an imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels that tastes like blackberry cobbler. It’s a huge location that’s great for groups, and while the food is fine for snacking (get the House Fries), just note that the menu is entirely vegan. If you’re looking for a full meal, we’d go to Shibumi around the block beforehand.
A big spot in Boyle Heights, Indie Brewing is a great alternative to the crowds at some of the DTLA-proper spots. They have a relatively big tap selection - around 17 beers, usually - and rotate through some particularly great high-ABV New England IPAs. We’ve spent many days drinking too much of their table beer Rosé All Day (despite it having a name that belongs on a bachelorette party T-shirt), and their flagship IPA Del Rey is always a great choice, too. If you come here during a Dodgers game or a big soccer match, expect a crowd.
This Boyle Heights brewery is on the same block as Indie - but compared to the latter’s massive space, this place feels like you’re below deck on a beached pirate ship. They specialize in saisons and sours - like the very good Lady Roja farmhouse with hibiscus, and the super-tart Para Sol. Dry River has exactly the kind of beers you want to be drinking in the summertime: light, refreshing, and not too boozy.
After originally opening as a small brewery in Copenhagen in 2006, Mikkeller has slowly crept its way around the globe, developing a serious beer-drinking following along the way. And they recently landed in DTLA. Located in what used to be a discount tire store, Mikkeller’s space is perfect for after-work drinks when the whole team tags along, or grabbing a beer and bite to eat (their burger is very solid) before seeing a game at Staples. And despite its name, any time of day is a good time for their Beer Geek Breakfast - a dark imperial stout brewed with coffee.
Three Weavers is located in the middle of an industrial neighborhood right behind Randy’s Donuts in Inglewood. It’s a big taproom that’s ideal for large groups - we like to come in with a build-your-own picnic and post up for the day at one of their tables. You probably recognize the Expatriate IPA from any decent bar or restaurant tap list in town, but there’s a lot more to like than that - the Midnight Flight imperial stout is boozy, chocolatey, and malty, and the Little Elvis is a great session IPA.
If you want the absolute best craft beer in LA (from a brewery on the verge of “Greatest Of All Time” status), head to Monkish immediately. This all-Belgian brewery was the first to start brewing unfiltered Northeast-style IPAs (hazy and juicy) on the West Coast, and now every brewery from here to Seattle is following suit. These are some of the best IPAs in all of LA (and arguably the country), and their can releases have become so popular, they’re now announced day-of, and require wristbands and per-person limits.
If you’re in Torrance, you cannot leave without making a stop at Smog City. While the list of taps is impressive across the board, their Coffee Porter is a standout. Especially if you like beer that tastes like cold brew coffee and will have you rolling under the table after one pint. For the truly adventurous beer drinker in the group, get a glass of Infinite Wishes - a bourbon barrel-aged stout they only release once a year that clocks in at a whopping 12% ABV. Hello, goodbye.
El Segundo Brewing has a great flagship taproom on Main Street in El Segundo, but we prefer The Slice & Pint, their pizza restaurant right around the corner. It’s a big spot with surprisingly good pizza and picnic tables big enough for just about any group. The Surfin’ Bird Double IPA - a collaboration with Pizza Port - is our favorite of their beers, but you should also know that if you see it, you should definitely try the pine-y, bitter, hop-bomb Power Plant Triple IPA.
Quite possibly the South Bay’s most unique brewery, Phantom Carriage rose to fame thanks to their sours, farmhouse-inspired craft beers, and the unparalleled atmosphere of their taproom. The whole decor scheme is something out of a haunted house/horror movie (the brewery is named in honor of a 1921 Swedish horror film, but obviously you knew that already), and they even boast a small movie theater showing slasher films every night of the week. They also now bottle, so be on the lookout for these killer (get it?!?) beers.
It wasn’t long ago that Ballast Point was a hard-to-find IPA you’d only hear about from your friend who follows beer stores on Instagram. Now, the San Diego original is one of the biggest craft breweries in California, and they just opened a fantastic bar/restaurant in Long Beach. The massive space is perfect for big groups, and also just grabbing a beer with a friend (or a date) on the patio overlooking the water. Also, their food menu holds up well, too.
BBQ and craft beer? Yes please. The brewery itself is most well-known for its stouts and IPAs (there are a lot of them), but with great food and an excellent downtown Long Beach location, it’s fair to say this brewery/restaurant is hitting on all cylinders. Be sure to also check out their sours-only “Blendery” across the street.
One of the smallest breweries on this guide, Frogtown is the only brewery that doesn’t require getting on the freeway if you live in the Silver Lake/Los Feliz/Echo Park area. It feels a bit like you’re hanging out in your friend’s garage, except there’s an industrial brewing set-up instead of an unused homebrew kit. The Feather In It session IPA is ideal if you’re there in the daytime (it’s only 4.5% ABV), and later on in the day, the Prince George porter is an excellent way to coast into the evening. You can also bring food in - and Wax Paper is right up the block, so you really have no excuse not to (especially after a couple of those Prince Georges).
Oh, The Goat. One of those places that somehow finds its way into almost every epic night out, Surly Goat is an LA icon and one of the best bars to drink great beer and get rowdy. Seriously, the beer here is incredible. Their 27 taps are always rotating, and on any given night, you might find them pouring something like Pliny The Elder - and if that means nothing to you, get on your sh*t. It’s only one of the most sought-after IPAs in the entire world.
Southland Beer is a taproom and bottle store in a random strip mall on Western Ave., but it’s home to one of the best beer stocks in central LA. They’ve got 16 rotating taps, three refrigerators full of bottles you can take home, and a great space to post up with friends and play games all night. There’s also a better-than-it-needs-to-be snack menu for when the hunger pains strike. Check the calendar on their Facebook page for nightly events.
The Eastside, Highland Park, & PAsadena
Stone is the largest independently owned brewery in Southern California - you just wouldn’t know it from their tiny Pasadena location. It’s a retail shop in a strip mall that does growler fills and beers by the glass, but in terms of selection and consistency, it’s among the best places in town to drink beer. They do $12 growler fills of their excellent flagship beers, and always have a unique selection of one-off experimental batches that are some of the best (and funkiest) beers you’ll ever have, like a sour that’s aged in tequila barrels with strawberry, or a high-alcohol oatmeal stout with chili peppers in it. They even age their kegs, so if you’re lucky, sometimes you’ll find a 6-year-old bourbon barrel barleywine that’s 18% ABV.
The Hermosillo is an old-school spot on York in Highland Park with a truly excellent tap list - mostly because it’s run by Highland Park Brewery, and almost exclusively features their great beer. It’s got everything you want in a dive bar, but with way better beer: Big leather booths, an excellent BLT, and surly locals. HPB also has an outpost in Chinatown that we highly recommend - it typically has a completely different beer selection and is a fantastic place to kill some time before a Dodgers game, especially if you don’t mind showing up in the fourth inning.
Located in an old Vaudevillian theater, this Eastside staple is one of the best beer bars in the city. And with over 72 taps of exclusively California beers, it’s hard not to feel local pride. Along with new Stone and Ballast Point releases, Mohawk Bend might be your best shot in town at landing a pint of a mythical Russian River beer as well. And did we mention everything’s about $8? It’s vegan-heavy food menu is solid, too.
Sunset Beer Co. is not only a great place to drink a beer, it’s also a great place to buy some for later. Their to-go selection is impressive, but the rotating taps behind the tiny bar will keep you drinking there for a while. With plenty of board games to go around and outside food encouraged, this glorified beer store is an ideal big-group hangout spot.
Cellador is unique in LA - it’s the only spot in town (and one of the only places in the country) that oak-ages all of its beer, which means that they are extremely funky. The beers often have limited runs and Mad Libs-esque descriptions - “bourbon barrel wild ale with coffee,” “saison sour with apricots,” “barrel-aged Brett sour with red raspberries” - and they rarely repeat recipes, so you can go over and over again without ever having the same thing. If you or someone you know is extremely into beer, and you haven’t made the trip to North Hills for Cellador, we’re really not sure what you’re waiting for. Go now.
From the team that brought us Surly Goat comes this nautical-themed Irish bar that’s the go-to craft beer drinking spot for west Valley locals. “Encino” and “buzzy” have never been directly associated with one another, but with a great tap list, a cool space, and solid pub food, Surly Goat is on the fast-track to changing all that.
Hold up - there’s a craft brewery in Van Nuys? And it’s amazing? Yes and yes. This is an English-style brewery, which means beers are brewed in-cask and poured right from the barrel with little-to-no carbonation. Go try it yourself in MacLeod’s awesome, industrial-style tap room.
The second this massive complex opened along Washington Blvd. in Marina del Rey, it became the de facto Westside spot for simultaneous craft beer drinking and sports watching. There’s a huge bar, a full-service area that takes reservations, and a separate first-come, first-serve section by the bar for when you didn’t plan ahead, but still want to eat some food. And they’ve begun brewing right on the premises, too. Their signatures are rustic, unfiltered ales you won’t find anywhere else. Getting a reservation for a big game wouldn’t be a terrible idea.
Santa Monica Brew Works has been brewing and distributing excellent beer for a while now, but we’ve been anxiously awaiting the opening of their full taproom. Well, it’s finally here, and it’s fantastic - a big space with tons of long tables ideal for big group day-drinking throwdowns. Their Head In The Clouds hazy IPA is still their best, but their cucumber kölsch is everything you want during this summer’s inevitable permanent heatwave.
The post-grad-Fireball-consumption-zone that is Main Street also happens to be home to one of the best craft beer bars on the Westside. A solid restaurant in its own right (get the bison burger), Library Ale House has roughly 25 taps at any given time and hosts extremely popular tap takeover nights from the likes of Modern Times, Monkish, and other local breweries.