2018 was an amazing year for beer in Los Angeles. We saw lots of new breweries open up, existing breweries get stronger, trendy beer styles emerge, and centuries-old styles stay relevant.
When you drink as many beers as we do from as many different breweries that we visit, it’s hard to narrow down a list like this one. But after some serious brainstorming over – yup you guessed it, some beers – here’s our list of the best LA-brewed beers that we enjoyed in 2018.
Arrowmatic – West Coast Double IPA
Arrow Lodge Brewing – Covina, CA
This is a great beer to kick off this list, as Arrow Lodge quickly shot up to one of our favorite breweries in Los Angeles in 2018. Despite killing it across a variety of beer styles, Arrowmatic was a major standout for us right at first sip. It’s a Double IPA brewed with Citra & Mosaic clocking in at 8% bursting with flavors of fresh, resinous pine, citrus, and tropical fruit. Don’t sleep on Arrow Lodge heading into 2019.
Tovarish – Russian Imperial Espresso Stout
Beachwood Brewing Company – Long Beach, CA
No best beers list is complete without an entry from Beachwood. While we could have gone with any one of their West Coast IPAs, their extremely drinkable Foam Top Cream Ale, or one of their new-to-2018 Hazy IPAs, we instead went to the dark side. Their Russian Imperial Espresso Stout, Tovarish, is released each winter and features a beautiful balance of smooth chocolate and roasted coffee behind an incredibly deceptive 11.2% ABV. This beer is the perfect winter warmer that we look forward to each year.
Ask the Dust – Hazy IPA
Brouwerij West – San Pedro
Ask the Dust is one of several Hazy IPAs brewed by Brouwerij West out of San Pedro, but we feel this one is their best. It’s got massive flavors of citrus, pineapple, and delicious tropical flavors from the Citra, Mosaic, and Simcoe hops coupled with a nice, soft mouthfeel from Mecca Grade malted and raw barley, raw spelt, and raw oats. At 6.5%, we could drink this one all day long.
Slide Down My Cellar Door – Barrel-Fermented Wild Ale
Cellador Ales – North Hills, CA
Slide Down My Cellar Door is one of Cellador’s member-exclusive beers that we were lucky to get pours and bottles of in 2018. This deliciously tart, juicy, refreshing, and complex beer sits at 6.5% and is a blend of barrel-aged wild ales with Masumoto Gold Dust Peaches. This beer alone is worth joining their membership for, but better plan ahead, it doesn’t open up again until next year and it’s hard to get into.
Nuclear Power Plant – West Coast Triple IPA
El Segundo Brewing Company – El Segundo, CA
In a year where El Segundo really branched out into new styles and approaches – and did so very successfully – we came back to one of their yearly favorites. Nuclear Power Plant is an extra dry-hopped variant of their Power Plant Triple IPA. Sitting at 12%, this beer is insanely piney, citrusy, melony, and bitter with just a tinge of sweetness that you’ll never believe is as boozy as it is. This is the beer that Pliny the Younger wishes it was.
Lazier Susan – Barrel-Conditioned Fruited Sour Blonde
Highland Park Brewing Company
Lazier Susan takes Highland Park’s Lazy Susan sour blonde base, then ages in French oak barrels with a mix of yeast and bacteria along with organic Masumoto peaches and nectarines. The result is an incredibly mouthwatering mix of funky sour, complex oak, and juicy stone fruit. If you find yourself drooling already, we completely understand.
Find that Juicy Double – Hazy Double IPA
Indie Brewing Company – Boyle Heights, CA
Find the Juicy Double is Indie Brewing Company’s original canned Double IPA. It’s citrusy, it’s tropical, it’s slightly sweet, it’s slightly bitter, it’s insanely refreshing and incredibly drinkable at 8%. It’s as juicy as the name implies and you should get your hands on it next time they release it.
Not a Pineapple Beer – Hazy Double IPA
Los Angeles Ale Works – Hawthorne, CA
The Brewing Company’s Not a Pineapple Beer is a tropical inspired 8.5% Double IPA from Los Angeles Ale Works. This beer features LA Ale Works’ soft and hazy Double IPA that we know and love and adds The Boring Company’s Not a Flamethrower toasted pineapple and coconut for a delicious tropical sweetness that you can’t believe is actually beer. Los Angeles Ale Works is brewing up some awesome beer these days, and Not a Pineapple Beer is just one of them.
Adios Ghost – Hazy Triple IPA
Monkish Brewing Company
I’ll start this by saying we really don’t drink much Monkish beer. Not because we don’t like them, but just because it’s not super easy to get your hands on it. But we did manage to get a can of Adios Ghost, their Triple IPA with all Citra hops and WOW. This is a classic Monkish hazy with massive juicy citrus flavors and extreme drinkability hiding behind 10.2% of alcohol. While most Monkish beers set the bar pretty high, this one took it to another level.
Box Logo #5 – Hazy Double IPA
Mumford Brewing Company – Downtown LA
Mumford’s Box Logo Double IPA series has been running for awhile now, and every batch we’ve tried has been damn good. #5 was the last one released in 2018 and features Citra and Strata hops imparting flavors of grapefruit, pineapple, and juicy dankness. Mumford has been tearing it up and the Box Logo series is at the top of our list.
Bierfest – Festbier
The Brewery at Simmzy’s – Burbank, CA
I haven’t had many Simmzy’s beers, simply because you can really only find them on tap at Simmzy’s pub locations. But on a random day during Oktoberfest season, I stopped into their Burbank brewpub and was blown away by their Festbier. It was light and malty and sweet with a pleasant noble hop spiciness. I can only imagine that their other beers are just as well done. More reason for us all to stop by Simmzy’s and try the beers!
Quercus Circus w/ Citra – Barrel-Conditioned & Dry-Hopped Golden Sour
Smog City Brewing Co
I was hesitant to put this one on the list, simply because my buddy Sean Inman beat me to the punch. But this beer is THAT GOOD it belongs on as many lists as possible! Quercus Circus is a mixed culture golden sour aged in oak barrels and is an amazing combination of sour apple, tart pineapple, earthy pepper and floral notes, and big lemon citrus, all hitting at different points on the palate. The Citra dry-hopped version was the standout though, balancing all of the above with bright and delicious citrus hop flavors.
Family Julius – Milkshake IPA
State Brewing Company – Gardena, CA
We first fell in love with this beer at State Brewing Company’s taproom grand opening in February, where Family Julius debuted as a 8.4% Hazy Double IPA. We got our second taste later in the year when they released it as one of their very first can releases. This time brewed as a 7.1% Hazy IPA, Family Julius features a blend of orange zest, vanilla beans, and lactose to essentially create a creamsicle in a glass. Whether you drink it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or desert, it is a fantastic beer that we can’t wait to drink again.
Blood Junkie – Imperial Red
Three Weavers – Inglewood, CA
Three Weavers has been brewing up Blood Junkie for several years now and it just seems to get better and better and better. Now in cans, Blood Junkie is an Imperial Red Ale sitting strong at 8.7%, dark ruby red in color, and features a big malty body balanced against a bright and resiny hop finish. Blood Junkie is in a class all of its own, which is why it deserves a spot on our best beers list.
The Drift – Dark Mild
Yorkshire Square Brewing Co
Yorkshire Square’s Dark Mild, The Drift, is a standout on this list and the perfect beer to end with. Sitting at a very sessionable 4.2%, The Drift is a slightly untraditional dark mild served on cask with a near perfect soft, roasty, malty, creamy delicious flavor profile. I could drink pint after pint of this beer and not get tired of it. You know what, that sounds like a good plan. I’m gonna go do that now.