1st Visit – La Jara Brewing

La Jara Brewing which has only been open a couple of months is right off the 5 and Carmenita in that not Orange County not Los Angeles County zone.  If you look up at the right time you will catch the sign on the building as you drive.  

It is very bright and colorful inside the industrial space.  Murals on the walls are well done and create an oasis like feel despite the sprawl of concrete everywhere outside the building.  I really like the rocking chairs to the side of the bar as well as the wooden bar thar looks onto the brew floor. Or you can choose the side outdoor patio.

The staff were super friendly in that new brewery way. The space filled up quickly after the opening bell, so to speak, has been rung. The beer menu is in the style of Pizza Port with plenty of info to make your choices from. Nine beers were on tap from blonde to wheat and the IPA swath.

Let’s move to the beers…

Gateway Dark Lager – little spice to this semi-dark lager. closer to a Vienna to my tastebuds.

Hindsight Cold IPA – has an IPL look to it. Darkish but clear yellow.  Fruity aroma. Earthy hops in the lead with pils notes coming through behind it.

Backhaul Hazy – an unfiltered juice look here so off to a good start. Has the signature hop tongue scrape indicative of early hazes. That earthy hop note is present here too.

Stunt Dubbel – this comes on strong like a spirit but not in an ABV way, just assertive. Comes off as just a little green to me. Balance of sweet and malt is not bad though.

Thunderbolt

I veer into cocktails on occasion, actually bulking up my bar this year for once, so I was excited to try Thunderbolt and their primarily pre-made drinks.

I started with one of two cocktails on the menu that had a charity component to it. $2.00 from the Highball of the Month goes to the Another Round Another Rally fund for hospitality workers. The glass and the slab of ice was very eyecatching with the red/pink of the brambled gin. This is a raspberry drink that you can drink all day.

Next was a final attempt at the famous Negroni. I have had two before this and the strange Campari flavor had left me unfulfilled. The Thunderbolt version was fine but it put the nailin the coffin of me liking Negroni’s.

The location on Temple is done up real well with a dark bar vibe that is pierced by sunlight from two sides. They also have beer and cider but the star is the spirited concoctions.

1st Visit – La Bodega Brewing

You walk past the windows of La Bodega Brewing in Whittier, seeing the fermenters and other brewing equipment but then you enter and if you are slow like me, you might be confused, is it a butcher?  Then you might not take the neon hint of what is the password or lack of entrance before being carefully led in by one of the many kind staff to the easy speakeasy behind the cooler door.  

Inside is one of the swankiest environs for a brewery that I have been into.  Blue lights, movie house ceilings, low light.  Prohibition vibe.

And lagers.  Mexican, dark, regular plus a blonde ale.  The Mala Suerte was a solid start, the Pale Ale was dialed in.  Bright and citrus. The Hazlitt Hazy was a little letdown from the first two.  Creamy and hoppy but lacking a dominant flavor.  Toma, the Double IPA was in between.  Better than the hazy but dull compared to the pale. I wish I had gone for the three lagers and the pale for the taster tray.

Plus food that is steakhouse meets LA plus Fosselman’s ice cream makes this brewery more of a special night out

1st Visit – Shadow Grove

The continued pandemic has not stopped breweries from opening up and now I travel to San Fernando to the still in softly opened phase, Shadow Grove Brewing.

Now, this is a curated space.  From the outside, you cannot tell what you are walking into.  Which is a woodland, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.  The outside windows let in plenty of light but the inside is moody with distinct seating areas.  British punk on the playlist added another note to the experience.

Five beers on tap for this second soft weekend. An old school classic style set.  So old school that there was a Nut Brown on offer.  No IPA either.  You read that right.  And the taster comes with what looks like a tarot card. Nice Wonderland touch. I also liked that they had a little chalkboard with which beer is low.  Nice sales touch that.

Pale Ale was my least favorite.  It was fine.  More earthy than hoppy which actually fits the motif but I am looking for a divergent note when you have this type of list. The lager was fine as well, had a bit of wine character to me.  The Hefeweizen hit the banana clove combo well and had a nice spritz to it.  Three beers in, I an thinking that they are off fo a solid start.  That this isn’t just atmosphere.  The Nut Brown is on mark.  Perfect for watching the new season of the Premier League. Everything is so low ABV too which is great. The sweet stout hit the markers as well.

I do not say this lightly or often but do not sleep on Shadow Grove.  

1st Visit – Telco Brewery

Time for a belated visit to Telco Brewery in Santa Clarita.

Waited out the traffic and arrived right at opening and there were already a few couples seated and drinking.  Telco is an Old school industrial park space, I passed sound stages and medical instrument companies on the way.  

Tip and Ring Pale – Dark and quite malty. British in temperament. Bit of berry note to it.

Static Haze – Has the right murk to it. soft on the palate.  bit of fruit and a bit of pine needles to it.

Busy Line Belgian Golden – has that initial Belgian quality but then it fades off into a place close to menthol. 

2 Rings IPA – starts off quite bright citrusy but the aromas and flavors quickly fade.

Overall, I kind of expected the quality to be higher for a brewery that has been around for more than a year (maybe two?).

Finally, on a more positive note the Telco branded phone booth is a great touch.  Great for photo ops.

1st Visit – Far Field Beer Co.

Far Field Beer Co. opened on Saturday after months of doing to-go only and here is my report on the beers and the taproom…

Feller Hoppy Pilsner – very toasty and malt forward.  Not much in the way of hoppiniess though. if sold as lager would work better for me.

Home Range IPA – quite dank. heavy bitterness. pine first and foremost. a little one note. many people ordered it but it lacked depth.

All Terrain Cream Ale – my favorite of the three. no head to it at all though. other than that it has a nice taste to it. a little refining and a little more body and it will be solid.

The taproom is a lovely little spot in the middle of a fast moving Rosecrans Avenue.  It is tucked in between auto shops, thankfully they have a nice big sign to guide you in.  big roll up doors to a small outdoor patio.  long reverse shaped L bar with comfy wooden stools.  7 beers on tap on opening day with 3 IPAs, a hoppy pilsner, a cream ale, a California Common and a Berliner Weisse. 10 barrels tucked into the corner might already be in use though I saw no stouts on the menu. Nice metalwork touches on the upstairs that match the design of the logo and merch. Though the second floor seemed empty at present.

1st Visit – Radiant Beer

I made a trek down to Radiant Beer Co. on a sunny day in early May to get a feel as to their range of beers. I have has a few Radiant cans up to this point but I wanted to sample a hazy IPA made with Phantasm! powder which is a grape product akin to hop powder.

Before that, I started with the Light and the Crispy. Blank Slate witbier and Sun Spangles amber. The wit has chamomile but it was a little too faint for me. The amber was solid which is a good indicator that attention was paid.

Then it was on to the hoppy portion of the taster tray. Hazy pale, Secondary Motion was a strong contender for best beer. Spoiler, it kept the #1 spot Super soft with a citrus smoothie taste to it. Then it was on to the Sounds Phantastic! which was another well done hazy. Both the pale and the IPA have the haze but didn’t have that ugly brown unfiltered cider look. They were colorful yellow in keeping with the brewery name . Lastly was the On Chill IPA (yes, i stayed away from the pastry stouts on purpose), it was my least favorite of the group. The combo of hops used ended up being a muddle to me

The location is right up next to a railroad track on busy Lincoln Ave. so when safe, I would recommend staying indoors which is a lovely space. I like the bright colors too. Visually makes one happy. And the staff was super friendly and helpful which I appreciated.

Certainly add this to any Anaheim brewery adventure.

1st Visit – Lawless Brewing in North Hollywood

The end of April saw the opening of Lawless Brewing and I quickly hopped over to check it out for a first visit.

The warehouse space outside doesn’t hint at the silver, metallic two floor space inside. There is the usual bar and indoor seating but because of the height it doesn’t seem constrained. Personally, I hope the mezzanine seating is opened because you can get a nice view of the brewing area and have some people watching.

The beer list was split in thirds by pilsner/lager, hoppy and stout. Between myself and beer buddy Richard, we tasted at least one from each category and found the light beers the best of the group. I voted the Mexican Lager winner with the Bohemian pilsner second over the West Coast IPA.

The time we visited issues arose for both their QR code menu and ordering system as well as their credit card system but the staff was friendly and gave updates and were flexible which made all the difference. That is key to return visits which is also helped by a new Single Hop Strata pils that is in the pipeline.

1st Visit – All Seasons Brewing

Crazy to think that breweries have been opening in this post inaugural less crazy time. But they have been and I made a quick first can release visit under cloudy L.A. skies to All Seasons Brewing.

The corner lot is just south of Wilshire in the middle of a flurry of subway and condo activity. It has a big outdoor but covered patio and some colorful murals (not to my taste) on one side near medium sized silo. Obviously indoors was shut but there was a line forming at the stroke of noon when they opened to sell their first three beers. Pilsner, lager and West Coast IPA. I would like to have seen something a little more left field for the third beer. A Belgian Tripel or hoppy red ale and I am not a fan of the branding design. I would lean more into the old-time race car aesthetic. All Season has a tire tie-in but I would have gone with some racing term instead.

But what about the beer, you say? The Pilsner defeated the Bullitt IPA but both could use a bit of tweaking to make them really sing. The Pilsner water profile was a little off key to me and the IPA was fine but is currently middle of the pack in a competitive style.

In Actual Hi-Def

When I spoke to 2/3 of the HiDef Brewing team, one thing that stood out was the comment, “If you can’t drink two of them then you screwed up.”

The other was that a German guy looking to buy a condo, probably based his decision on the fact that the the brewery was close.

More info on LA’s newest brewery to come next month over on Food GPS.