Daytrip – Topa Topa in Ventura, CA

Just as we thought we were out of the heat, it sucks us back in again. We should have seen it coming. September gets hot and we can’t avoid it unless we get outta town. For that, we recommend a day trip to Ventura, CA to sip on some of the fine craft at Topa Topa Brewing Company.

Topa Topa in Ventura, CA

Located just 60 miles North of Los Angeles, you can drive there in about an hour, but why rush. You’re going to enjoy taking the coastal route. It’s prettier than the 101, there’s less traffic and you can make a pit stop at Neptune’s Net for an early lunch of clam chowder and oysters. Their seaside seafood shack open daily 10:30am to around 8:00pm.

Alternatively, you could take Amtrak directly up to Ventura. The Pacific Surfliner departs from Union Station and takes a little less than 2 hours. Trains depart daily at 7:50am, 9:20am and 12:30pm. Tickets are $24 each way, which is way cheaper than an Uber, and the train drops you off at the Ventura Station (VEC) a mere 1,000 feet from the brewery (that’s .2 miles). Just make sure you catch the last train back to LA at 7:37pm otherwise you’ll be trapped in Ventura drinking beer all night.

One of the most shocking things about Topa Topa is that the brewhouse and taproom isn’t tucked away into the back of an industrial park like most Southern California breweries. It’s actually located in a part of town suited for eating and drinking. You know, like a normal business. You’ll find the location right off of the 101 just as soon as the freeway hits the beach.

As soon as you hit the parking lot and see the “Park Here for Beer” printed on the concrete, you get the first sign that that this team knows what they’re doing and you’ll be in good hands.

The taproom is humble in size with a small interior space and a wraparound exterior space, which is where you’ll want to sit to waft the sea air intermittently between your sniffs of their various IPAs. At the time I visited, they had 11 beers on tap: a Pilsner, Belgian Strong Pale, Saison, Cali Common, Pale Ale, Session IPA, West Coast IPA, Nelson IPA, Double IPA, Coffee IPA (I got a growler), and a Nitro Milk Stout with Vanilla Bean.

The beers are top notch and poured with the utmost care. I got my first flight (Nelson IPA, Cali Common, Coffee IPA and Saison) and I remarked to the bartenders that I had never seen four flight glasses in a row that had such consistent head and carbonation. The bartenders replied that they had just taken a class from one of the owners about the importance of beer head, glass cleanliness and maintaining carbonation which is the kind of dedication that elevates breweries to a higher status.

For my second flight I ordered the Milk Stout, Pilsner, Belgian Strong Pale and Double IPA. They were all stellar, but from the day the Milk Stout stood out for it’s elegance, the Pilsner stood out for it’s clarity and clean profile, and the Coffee IPA stood out because it’s a Coffee IPA and it was more balanced than it should be.

You’re likely to run into one of the owners, as I did, or a local business taking the day off early, as I also did. The brewery has only been open since early 2015 and while there are other breweries in the area such as Anacapa, Madewest, Poseidon and Surf, the idea of a local taproom is still somewhat of a new one to Ventura.

If you get hungry, order pizza from next door Tony’s Pizzaria to be delivered right to your picnic table. Or if you were regretting not stopping at Neptune’s Net earlier, you can opt to head over to Spencer Makenzie’s Fish Tacos, a Ventura staple, for world famous fish tacos and more beer (they have Topa Topa’s Chief IPA on tap).

You’re full, you’re happy, you’re buzzed and you’re not quite ready to leave, so after your stay at the Topa Topa taproom, you will probably be inclined to visit the beachside Surfer’s Point Park to take in the sunset. Grab a bottle of water and make the eight minute walk to the beach to soak in the last of the day’s rays and call this tiny trip a success.

104 E Thompson Blvd.
Ventura, CA 93001

Mon to Thur – 12pm – 9pm
Fri & Sat – 12pm – 1Opm
Sun – 11am – 8pm

New Brewery Alert – Indie Brewing Company

You may have seen their beer on shelves, you may have even tasted it, but when you visit their taproom, that’s when you really get to know Indie Brewing Company. Because to know Indie is to know the four guys who run the place: Kevin, James, Morgan and Connor. They’re the brewers, taproom attendants, salesmen, interior designers, tap-handle fabricators, and janitors for this new brewery in DTLA.

It’s technically Boyle Heights, but you could easily say that their taproom is in Downtown LA or even The Arts District. The building, which they share with a handful of apparel companies, is located just off E. 7th Street conveniently close to Iron Triangle Brewing. In fact, while we may not recommend doing it alone, a brisk walk from one brewery to the next wouldn’t be the worst idea.

The interior of the space feels like it was curated by four guys who work in beer for a living. Hand-made picnic tables, jockey boxes, beer cans, corn hole and a couple of futons. Imagine the cleanest version of a frat house with the best beer selection.

Your beer will be poured for you by one of the four owners who are more than eager to chat about what’s in their Superfood Saison (blackberries, goji berries, acai & pitaya) or what hops are in their IPA Del Rey (Citra and Equinox).

So after chatting with the owners, sitting in one of their futons, sipping their beer and hanging out in their space you’ll begin to fully understand Indie Brewing Company and all that goes into craft beer.

Your only chance to visit their taproom is on Friday evenings from 5-10pm, but that will change to more regular brewery hours once they get a few details ironed out. Keep watch on our website for Indie to start being featured on our East & Central LA brewery tour or on any of our private tours.

Indie Brewing Company the new brewery in LA
IPA Del Rey at Indie Brewing Company

The St. Patrick’s Day Brewery Guide

St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow. So here’s a quick guide to what breweries you can let your inner Irish out at.

MacLeod Ale Brewing Co. – Van Nuys

This one’s obvious. They make true British Cask Ale run by a Scotsman and they have a Dry Irish Stout on cask all day.

Arts District Brewing Co. – DTLA

They have a Dry Irish Stout on nitro, but the real kicker is that they’ve got Jameson as well… (Because they have a full bar license).

Smog City Brewing – Torrance

This week they released three new beers: Double IPA, Dry Irish Stout on Nitro and Dry Irish Stout on CO2. And if you have any luck of the Irish, they’ll have something sour in bottles to take home.

Angel City Brewery – DTLA

Live music, food trucks and both Imperial Irish Ale and an Irish Red Cask Ale on tap and they’re open till Midnight.

Mumford Brewing – DTLA

Well, this one is cheating, but their wonderful nextdoor neighbor The Escondite (Hideout) is having their 5th Annual St. Patty’s Extravaganza: Corned Beef, Cabbage, live music, Guinness will be flowing and Jameson will be slammed.

Golden Road Sold Out to Anheuser-Busch Inbev

Well, it’s happened. Golden Road Brewery has now become, “Golden Road, a wholly owned property of ‘Craft’, the operating subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch, a global conglomerate partnership with Inbev” or some other junk like that. Golden Road sold out and now they’re not ours anymore.

It was announced this morning that Golden Road would be bought by ABI. No details were made about the purchase price (hopefully they will emerge somewhere). Their immediate plans are to operate as planned, which includes opening a facility in Anaheim and a tasting room in Grand Central Station in DTLA. Co-Founder Tony Yanow made a mention on his Facebook page that he’ll be stepping aside to let Co-Founder Meg Gill run the operations with ABI. Yanow will shift his focus to his own craft beer bars (will they still be craft beer bars if they’re pouring a bunch of GRB?) Tony’s Darts Away and Mohawk Bend.

What does that mean for us? Will we still bring tours there? Will we still sing the praises of how Golden Road is constantly improving and being an advocate for our fledgling brewery scene in Los Angeles?

I don’t know.

The last time this happened was with the purchase of Angel City Brewery by Boston Beer Company. And what we learned from that experience is that it doesn’t matter who owns the brewery. What matters is how the owners treat their beer, their customers and the community. Our team and our customers were treated poorly by the management at Angel City and as a result, we don’t take tours there anymore. Currently, they are the only brewery in LA that we don’t visit.

Our relationship with Golden Road has been an excellent one up to this point. Our customers enjoy their beers, their mangement team and bartenders are wonderful to work with, and their tasting room is a delight. If any of that changes, we will reevaluate our relationship with them, but I imagine it will take quite some time for any of that to change.

What will happen for us is that we will be very clear to our customers about the ownership of Golden Road and we will be tasting their beer very carefully, keeping our fingers crossed for improvements.

Cheese & Beer Tour in October

It’s back and it’s cheesier than ever. We’re doing our Cheese & Beer tour on October 10th and this time we’re headed South. We’re colloborating with the brilliant Vagabond Cheese Company to pair the excellent beers of the South Bay with an incredible variety of cheeses and bring you all the fun and funk you want out of a delicious cheese pairing.

When: Saturday, October 10 at 12:00pm

Where: South Bay – we’re hitting Phantom Carriage, Monkish and Three Weavers

What: We’re doing a flight of four beers at each location, with a flight of cheeses at the first two locations and raclette service at Three Weavers. Check out a video of Raclette here.

Why: Did you see the Raclette video?

How Much: $80/person and it includes all the beer and all the cheese and the most elegant nap you’ll ever have afterwards.

Tickets are on sale now and we only have 14 seats available so get yours as soon as you can.

Feel free to give us a shout at if you have any questions.

New Brewery Alert – Mumford

And so it begins, the great transformation of Downtown LA into a walkable wonderland of craft beer destinations, with the advent of Mumford Brewing in the Arts District. The best part? They’re making good beer.

Located in “Skid Rowkyo” – the part of Downtown that’s smack in the middle between Skid Row and Little Tokyo – Mumford Brewing had their grand opening last weekend. Opened by brothers Todd and Peter Mumford along with Todd’s wife Tien, this small team has built everything great about a craft beer haven. Good beer. Family friendly. Local art. And food delivered from the Escondite next door.

Right now, they’re open Saturdays and Sundays, but are rolling out more and more hours as the Summer burns on.

Our favorite: Black Mamba – their flagship black ale that has all the right roasted and cocoa moves of a dark beer with the drinkability of something significantly lighter. Although, their Experimental IPA #1 has some depth and complexity that’s miles ahead of average for a young brewery. 

Coming soon to DTLA will be Boomtown Brewing, Iron Triangle, Indie Brew Co, Arts District Brewing and Dry River Brewing. It’s gonna be a big year. And once they’re all open, you better believe we’ll be organizing walking tours of Downtown. Look forward to it. 

Crawl for Nepal

Of course you want to help Nepal, you’re a good person who does good things for people, but you also want to enjoy your Saturday.  So the craft beer community of Los Angeles and Orange County is going to help you help others by hosting “Crawl 4 Nepal” an all-day multi-brewery event with proceeds going to Nepal. Here are the details:

Nick Gingold (of CA Brewmasters) and Kelly Erickson (of Girls Who Like Beer) are organizing a drinking fundraiser on Saturday, May 9th to benefit Nepal. A bunch of breweries (the list is still growing) are going to select one beer and donate 100% of proceeds from that beer all day long. So far here’s the list of breweries:

Tony’s Darts Away
Mohawk Bend
Golden Road Brewing
Eagle Rock Brewing Co
The Rookery Ale House
Ritual Brewing Co
Sunset Beer Co
Bread & Barley
Sanctum Brewing Co.
Three Weavers
Barley Forge
Cismontane Brewing

Check their Facebook Page for updates on more participating breweries. You can bet you’ll see our buses at Three Weavers, Sunset Beer Co, Eagle Rock and Golden Road.

All you have to do is go to any of those breweries on Saturday, May 9th and drink. If you don’t want to do that (which is crazy) you can just go directly to their website and donate there. They will be donating the money to GlobalGiving and here’s their link.

New Brewery Alert – Phantom Carriage

Carson. It’s a city in Los Angeles. You know it, even though you may not think you do. Cal State Dominguez Hills is here. They’ve got the Stubhub Center. The Goodyear Blimp sleeps here. And now, they have the first sour beer brewery in Los Angeles – Phantom Carriage.

Phantom Carriage Brewery is focused on crafting small-batch sour beers, which is basically done by a process that makes beer taste better by letting it go bad for an extended amount of time (sometimes up to three years). Other breweries like Smog City, Eagle Rock Brewery and Highland Park Brewing have dabbled in the Tart Arts, but Phantom Carriage is the first one in LA to dedicate themselves to it. Beachwood Blendery will be opening up soon and joining the sour conversation, but until then, Phantom is what we’ve got and we’re incredibly happy about it.

The taproom has only been open since Mid-December and in that time they’ve already become the talk of the beer community. But, even though their taproom is still in its infancy, their beers are anything but. They’ve been quietly souring their beers for quite some time now, so their offerings are fully mature and ready to drink. And it’s worth mentioning that half their beers are currently well over 10% in alcohol, so plan on ubering and explaining to your driver why you’re headed down some dark, desolate industrial road in Carson.

It’s located on Main Street in Carson, about spitting distance from the Goodyear Blimp, and while the exterior is nothing to write home about, the interior of the brewery & taproom is on a level that matches the complexity and deliciousness of the beer. It’s really good looking. And big. So feel free to bring some friends and you’ll have ample to room to stretch out and even possibly catch a screening of a classic horror movie (they have a small screening room that showcases owner Martin Svab’s love of all things spooky).

But fear not if you are someone who hasn’t found their fancy in the funky side of beer yet. They have a handful of guests taps as well that will feature a well curated list of other beers from other wonderful breweries. And coffee and cider. And food. They have a full menu there that slings farm-to-table items like pulled pork sandwiches, meat and cheese plates and (gasp) salads.

Phantom Carriage

18525 Main St. Carson, CA

Cheese & Beer Pairing! – October 5th

Beer & Cheese share an incredible amount of similarities. They both have flavor profiles like tangy, funky, musty, nutty and earthy. They’re both made using historic methods employing microflora to do a lot of the heavy lifting. And most notably, there is a massive gap between what’s readily available to the public and “The Good Stuff”. On October 5th we’re going to take you on a special Food & Beer Hop where we’re going to examine exactly what the good stuff is in both cheese and beer and how they can work together to make mind-blowing pairings.

There is a cheese made by Chimay (those Beer & Cheese making Monks have the best job) and a Hereford Hop cheese that’s encrusted in toasted hops and those will pair incredibly naturally with beers. But how about a Humboldt Fog with a Saison Dupont to complement both the creamy nature of the cheese and the light spice, fruit and grass notes of the beer.


Or some local fresh burrata paired with the amazingly tart and crisp Hottenroth from The Bruery to bring out it’s natural fruit flavors of green apple and lemon? Maybe we’ll bring out Smog City’s Coffee Porter with notes of rich espresso, dark chocolate and coffee to pair with a Bleu Cheese. Or get really funky and pair Mimolette, a cheese that achieves its flavor from aging with “cheese-mites” with a St. Louis Gueuze Fond Tradition which gets it’s flavors from aging with equally strange wild yeast and bacteria. It’s gonna get weird folks, so come prepared to dive into the deep end with us and learn something along with way. 

The Cheese & Beer Pairing is hosted by Hal Mooney of the LA Beer Hop and John Verive, a cheese enthusiast, beer writer for the LA Times and Beer Paper LA, a Certified Cicerone and a general man about town. The tour is on Sunday, October 5th and will include beer and cheese along the way. We’ll be visiting Sunset Beer Company, Surly Goat and finishing off at Beer Belly where you’ll be able to purchase a cheese inspired dinner if all of the cheese, bread and beer that we give you isn’t enough. Tickets are available on our website on our SCHEDULE.

See you soon!

PS. If you’re a woman and this kind of thing interests you, check out the Women’s Beer Forum at Eagle Rock Brewery on September 17th. They’re doing a class on Cheese & Beer pairing and it’ll be great. I’d be there, except I’m not a woman, but you’ll probably see Cindy Mooney there.

PPS. Due to Cindy and my ability to consume cheese rapidly, the cover photo of the Lucerne Mexican Cheese was the only cheese I had in my fridge at the time of posting.

New Brewery Alert – Progress Brewing

Looking for handmade beer in LA? There’s a new player in South El Monte that not only hand makes delicious craft beer, but hand makes the equipment too: Progress Brewing.

As a quick side note, Progress opened their brewery a few months ago under the name “Federal Brewing” but because of its shared name with “The Federal Bar” of North Hollywood and Long Beach, they were forced to change it to “Progress”. I’m a fan of the new name. It has a nice ring to it and there isn’t any more explanation that “it’s not that bar in downtown Long Beach”.

Started by Diego Benitez and Kevin Ogilby, Progress Brewing is South El Monte’s first brewery and currently its only brewery and the greeting on the wall outside this industrial space is just as friendly and welcome as the beers and people inside of it. 

Cindy and I made our way over to their taproom last week (after a quick pitstop at the newly opened Jimmy John’s in Pasadena, which, if you’re a Midwesterner like I am, is big news). The Progress taproom sits proudly on a corner space in a heavy industrial area sandwiched between the 10 and the 60 Freeways just West of the 605.

A quick trip around the block confirms that the signless building on the corner is in fact a brewery. Parking is ample and the entrance into the taproom is located on the other side the building from the “Cerveza / Craft Beer” painting (seen above).

Once inside, you’ll find that the guys at Progress have been busy. At the time we went, they had 7 beers on tap, had just blown through the last of another beer, and were preparing to tap a new red ale.

They’ve also been busy slanging beers. We were there at 3:30pm on a Monday afternoon (cause that’s what you do when you drive a beer bus all weekend). The entire bar was full and there was a constant stream of people coming in to fill their growlers. It seems like the people of South El Monte have found a home in this brewery. 

The beers were solid with a lot of promise for the future. The Bronco, a belgian pale, has been one of their best sellers and I can easily see why because of it’s incredible drinkability with a distinctive belgian flare. It will be exciting to see their beer list grow and even more exciting to see how they will grow their brewery given that all of their equipment is handmade.