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Meet the Craft Brewers of Torrance, L.A.’s Craft Beer Capitol

[dropcap size=big]B[/dropcap]rewers of all sizes and styles strive for a well-balanced beer. Thus, it was destiny that Torrance, whose motto is “a balanced city,” has become hallowed ground in Los Angeles’ brewing craft beer scene. There are over 30 breweries in LA now, with more on the way, but the working-class coastal community, known more for its industrial warehouses than its sandy beaches, is where the movement exploded. Here's a rundown to get you acquainted with the faces behind the places that make up South Bay's craft capital. 

Strand Brewing Company

2201 Dominguez St.

Torrance, CA 90501

(310) 517 0900

Business partners Rich Marcello and Joel Elliott were the first ones to plant their barley seeds in the 90501 when they opened up Strand Brewing Company in a desolate business park in 2009. Named after the famous Strand bike path that runs along the South Bay shoreline, they quickly established themselves with their “grain to glass” motto featuring hand-crafted, easy-to-drink beers (like their flagship 24th Street Pale Ale and Atticus IPA), that fit into the South Bay lifestyle of backyard barbecues and sunset happy hours. The beer pioneers have grown along with the scene they help start, recently moving into a sprawling Torrance location that will see production double from 4,000 barrels in 2014 to 8,000 this year. The warehouse-set taproom is kid-and-dog-friendly (like most on this list), featuring a 12-foot long bar, picnic tables and a rotating food truck bay.

Taproom hours: Wed-Fri 4pm-9pm, Sat noon-9pm, Sun noon-8pm.

Smog City Brewing Company

1901 Del Amo Blvd., Ste B

Torrance, CA 90501

(310) 320-7664

Husband-and-wife founders Jonathan and Laurie Porter (talk about destiny) got their start brewing beers at the legendary Tustin Brewing Company in Orange County before opening their own brewery in 2013. Known for expertly-crafted, well-balanced, experimental beers, they developed a cult-following with their 2012 Great American Beer Fest Gold Medal winning Coffee Porter (what else?), a dark chocolate-flavored beer infused with fresh roasted Groundworks beans. Their commercial-spaced taproom gives you a peak behind the brew curtain as visitors drink among fermenting tanks and fresh batches of seasonal brews such as their Kumquat Saison, whose ingredients came from the family’s backyard kumquat tree. They also offer free guided tours and host home-brew club meet-ups.

Taproom hours: Wed-Fri 4pm-9pm, Sat noon-8pm, Sun noon-6pm

Monkish Brewing Company

20311 Western Ave. 

Torrance, CA 90501

(310) 295-2157

One of the best kept secrets among beer geeks is now out thanks to numerous awards for Henry Nguyen's signature sours. Monkish, just around the corner from Smog City, is another mom-and-pop shop, who take a monastic approach to creating inspiring Belgian-style beers. Nguyen is a mad scientist (and college professor) who collects microorganisms by scouring “funk boxes” (wine barrels and giant oak crates).  Nguyen brews what he finds to create sublime flavors that can be polarizing or enlightening, depending on your palate. Just don't ask for an IPA (as the sign says). First-timers should seek guidance from his wife and curator, Adriana, or order a foursome sampler starting with the Shaolin Fist (spiced with Szechuan peppercorns) and the pink-hued, hibiscus-flavored Feminist.

Taproom hours: Wed-Thu 4pm-1opm, Fri 3pm-10pm, Sat 1pm-8pm, Sun 1pm-6pm

The Dudes’ Brewing Company

1840 W. 208th St.

Torrance, CA 90501

(424) 271 2951

Head Dude, Jeff Parker, went from home-brewer to head brewmaster at the Strand, before teaming up with a couple of drinking buddies (Toby Humes and Mike Holwick) to start this canned line of eclectic craft beers in 2012. Their decision to go tin can over glass bottle proved to be prophetic as recent studies confirm that canned beers are not only better for the environment, but allow less air and light in to protect the beer from getting "skunked." Parker designed the computer-automated brewing system, while Humes' construction company built the brewery and taproom which features five-custom grain silos spelling out D-U-D-E-S. Their hands-on approach extends to the ingredients as they peeled an entire palette of blood oranges for their Juicebox Blood Orange Amber Ale and toasted real Georgia pecans (rather than using extract) for their signature Grandma's Pecan Brown. They recently signed a distribution deal with Southern Wine and Spirits with plans to quadruple production and expand their craft beer selection under new head brewmaster Alex Rabe.

Taproom hours: Thu-Fri 3pm-10pm, Sat-Sun noon-10pm

Absolution Brewing Company

2878 Columbia St.

Torrance, CA 90503

Originally planning to open in the saturated San Diego craft beer market (80-plus and counting breweries), owners Steve Ferguson and Nigel Heath made the pilgrimage up the 5 to the 405. Their religious-themed brewery was consecrated in 2014, preaching “Old World-style and New World ingredients” to create lower ABV (Alcohol By Volume) session style ales made in small batches (5 to 6 barrels) for higher quality. Their taproom offers church pew-seating where you can commit to sinful beers (Cardinal Sin Red Ale, Sinner Stout) and guilt-free sodas (try the ABC Root Beer) for the little angels. Unlike most breweries on this list, they offer no tours through the sacred facility for fear of hop heretics spreading their craft secrets.

Red Car Brewery

1266 Sartori Ave.

Torrance, CA 90501

(310) 782-0222

Often lost in all the craft brew-ha-ha is this Old Town Torrance brewpub that's been making artisan ales since 2000. Owner Bob Brandt aka "the godfather of Torrance micro-brews,” started brewing his own English-style beers to pair up with his pub grub. Taking its moniker from the old electric railway cars that ran through the city back in the day, Brandt’s backroom system pumps out fresh batches of traditional ales using Old World ingredients. You can see the beer barrels of neighborhood favorites such as the Motorman Mild and 2Rail Pale Ale on display behind the bar.

Scholb Premium Ales 

2964 Columbia St.

Torrance, CA 90503

Here's a story that sounds like the premise of a television sitcom. After meeting at their childrens' art class, two families decide to open up a brewery. They get funded from a successful Kickstarter campaign, build a brewery from the ground-up on the same street as a popular brewery and are set-to open just in time for a Christmas special. Well, truth is stranger-than-fiction as the Schulz and Kolb families (Schulz + Kolb = Scholb) did all that, and are set to open a 7,075-square-foot brewery and tasting room (down the block from Absolution) in time for the holiday season. They will focus on bold IPA’s, Old World English ales and Belgian beers using American hops.

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Cosmic Ales

20316 Gramercy Pl.

Torrance, CA 90501

(424) 259-2337

Cosmic Ale's Christopher Briles has been a familiar face at local craft beer events, pouring festival favorites such as his Hell Hound Brown Ale and Cosmonaut Blond Ale. After years of gypsy-brewing and pounding the pavement to peddle his home-brews, the Playa Del Rey resident, had been looking to set-up a hop shop in the Westside, but the rent was too high. Briles finally touched down in Torrance’s “Beermuda Triangle” with a 5,000-square-foot brewery and tasting room set to open by the end of the year just around the corner from Smog City, Monkish and Dude’s, setting-up an epic beer crawl that I can't wait to get lost in.

Hop Saint

5160 W. 190th St.

Torrance, CA 90503

This upcoming smokehouse brewpub is set to open by the end of 2015 at a revitalized strip mall in West Torrance. Steve Roberts, a co-owner of Charlie’s New York Italian in Redondo Beach, promises that beers will be just as important as the barbecue with an on-site microbrewery that plans on churning out 60,000 gallons of craft beer a year.

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