The coronavirus pandemic has been rough for everyone, but as far as breweries are concerned, Los Angeles County’s brewers are suffering more than those in the rest of California. L.A. County is currently the only county in the Golden State that is not allowing breweries to open for onsite consumption due to strict regulations by the L.A. County Department of Public Health.
If you can, we ask you to help by signing the petition to save L.A. Breweries and supporting the Los Angeles County Brewers Guild, who list out ways to help here. As for us here at Hopped LA, founder Gary Magnone recently hosted an Instagram Live encouraging local beer lovers to reach out to representatives, and we’ve been drinking, well, as much Southland beer as we can. Our livers are suffering for you and our beloved L.A., and we don’t mind at all.
Here are five of the best beers we drank in August. We encourage you to seek these out and more of your favorites or new finds from the more than 90 breweries located in Los Angeles County. As always, drink up and drink local.
1. Highland Park Brewery’s Competition IPA
I first tried this beer on draft at Mohawk Bend’s LA IPA Festival back in February with the Hopped LA team (Rachel’s review video here & Jeremiah’s here). It kind of slid under the radar for me that day amongst all of the other outstanding IPAs, but Highland Park recently brought the beer back, this time in cans, and I have fully taken notice. The beer pours light gold with a bright white head bursting with tropical citrus hop aromas. On first sip, the bouquet of Strata, Citra, and Mosaic hops really comes together with flavors of fresh strawberry (fruit, leaves, stem and all), pineapple, orange peel, and a touch of pine on a bright and dry body, finished with a quick hit of bitterness. There are not many beers I’m going back for seconds for, but this beer is absolutely one of them.
– Gary Magnone, Hopped LA Founder
2. Santa Monica Brew Works’ Rip City Skates IPA
I never thought I’d say this, but I am so sick of Hazy IPAs. If they’re done well, sure, great, give me a taster, but the haze craze has taken on a mind of its own. Brewers are sick of making these beers, and I’m sick of my brews tasting like orange juice. That’s why I was psyched when the guys over at SMBW told me I would dig their new Rip City Skates IPA, and they were right. The 6.5% ABV brew is a heavier hitter than most single IPAs, but it’s the dank qualities, not alcohol, that hit you right upfront in this dry brew. Strong resin notes hit right up top, followed by a bitter-yet-tropical biscuit flavor from the Amarillo, Idaho 7, Waimea, and Mosaic hops blending with Maris Otter malt. The beer pours a gorgeous marmalade hue, and the can art — which pays homage to the city’s Dogtown heritage and was crafted just for Rip City, the last skate shop in Santa Monica — just doubles down on what makes this such a winning beer for me.
– Emily Krauser, Hopped LA Editorial Director
3. Monkish Brewing’s Sticky Traffic
Previously named Sticky Green Bad Traffic but shortened to the more dynamic Sticky Traffic, this re-released IPA-ish, cloudy and murky kind of beer is what I love from Monkish! This beer pours very cloudy, with a light yellow-orange hue. Sauvin and Galaxy hops burst out with dank aromas that merge with light citrus fruits like peach and gooseberry. The first taste brings forth flavors of dry white wine, lychee, and ripe grapefruit. As this haze-adjacent beer slowly warms up, the dank and dry qualities stick out to me prominently, but there are still plenty of great fruit notes to enjoy. This is a fresh batch! But I still love the bite from these hop-forward Monkish brews.
– Conrad Ytuarte, Hopped LA Video Producer
4. El Segundo Brewing Company’s Smooth Deep Blues IPA
Yes, of course, El Segundo is a go-to anytime they release a new West Coast IPA. Yes, I do live 75 miles away from it. And yes, I drove 75 miles just to try it. Verdict? It’s one hell of a tasty and drinkable brew. It has a clean, crispy, pilsner-like quality that balances nicely with a fresh West Coast bitterness, and its tropical fruit qualities don’t hit you in the face, which is a good thing here. Right in line with its name, Smooth Deep Blues, the well-designed art on the can personifies and compliments the beer inside. This IPA drinks clean and bright, and, without hesitation, was my favorite new L.A. beer this month.
– Sal Castrejon, Designer and Photographer
5. Party Beer Co.’s Pizza Cat Pilsner
Falling in love with a pilsner? Who am I? My go-to beers are typically IPAs and stouts — yes, the latter even in the summer — but this pilsner defied my expectations. Clean and crisp, it was the perfect beer to drink while waiting in line for Party Beer’s socially distanced first-ever brewery drop. There was nothing bitter or off-putting about this beer, nor was it watered down like many I have tried lately. It was simply a classic pilsner, and that was a really nice thing to clean my palette after one too many adjuncts lately. The amazing laser cat can art? Well that was just a happy bonus — and quite possibly an entry for the best label of 2020.
What was your favorite local beer this month? Let us know in the comments below!